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Sep 30, 2020

The Preschool Diaries

for those of you who may be newer to heavens to betsy, let me give you a little background about me.  i went to college and ended up with a b.a. in psychology, which is basically a degree that you follow up by saying "and then i went to grad school for..."

so, then i went to grad school for education.  i graduated with my m.ed in multicultural education and my certification is in pre-k through 6th grade.  i student taught in 3rd grade, and it was my sweet spot.  i didn't end up with a teaching job right out of grad school and instead landed in a creative position at my rather large church, which i absolutely love.  but this summer, i was approached by the directors of our preschool and asked to take over a class.  they had a teacher resign at the last minute, and so, two weeks before school started, i found myself agreeing to take on a class of 13 3-year-olds.  

it was only two days a week, how hard could it be?  well, i'm finding out.  and here are a few lessons i'm learning along the way:

we like to use gluesticks as if they were crayons.  i learned quickly that 3 year olds just don't know what to do with glue.  it's the most fascinating thing to them, and they will attempt to smear it anywhere given the opportunity.

walking in a straight line is an impossible task.  even when holding onto a rope, it is very difficult to keep small children walking at the same pace and staying behind the person in front of them.  for the most part, the rope helps.  but then it also causes insane jumbles when the child in the back of the line uses it as a sort of corral when she tries to get to the front of the line, ensnaring the rest of the class along the way.

dressing up weather frog is the coolest thing ever.  seriously, everybody wants to do it.  best part of the day.

make sure you thank the right person when praying for the snack.  because if you thank jesus for providing the food, you might just get corrected (mid prayer) by the child who brought in the snack that day.

mommy is coming back. i promise.  the concept of time is a difficult one for a three year old to understand.  it doesn't matter how many times you say the word "soon" or "an hour", they will continually cry and ask when it's time to go home.

ice cream is a healthy food.  well, anything you suggest is a healthy food, as preschoolers mostly just answer "yes" whenever their teacher asks them a question.  oy vey.  

the list goes on, but i think i'll save them for another day.  let's just say that i've blown enough slobbery noses and soaked up enough toddler tears with my shoulder in the past four weeks to last a life time.  mommas of three-year-olds out there, i have a new appreciation for you!

Sep 29, 2020

Grateful Heart Monday // Today is a Tough One

i'm gonna be really real with you today....finding things to be grateful for is tough this morning.  sure, there's plenty of little things; the arrival of fall, a warm cup of coffee, my puppy's first birthday.  but this weekend was a rough one.

my dad has been battling cancer for the past sixteen months and has been on new chemo treatment for the past nine weeks.  he had some chest pain on thursday night and my mom took him down to penn, where he's being treated, on friday.  after a chest ct scan, they discovered that the tumor in his lung had grown and that the chemo wasn't working.  this blow, this set back, makes me want to scream, "whyyyy???" and just get angry with god.

it's not fair that my dad is going through this.  it's not fair that anyone goes through this.  he was otherwise completely healthy and the diagnosis came as a shock, and now, with every treatment, we hang onto hope that this, this will be the thing to kick it to the curb.  it's weekends like these that make my heart feel less-than grateful, but the only way i've found to deal with this roller coaster has been to find the positive, and lean into jesus.

so i'm grateful today that we discovered this setback.  i'm grateful because it gives my dad's medical team a few days to figure out the next step, the next treatment before he goes for his regularly-scheduled appointment on thursday.  i'm grateful that today, he's feeling a little bit better.  i'm grateful that he's learning to rest and abide and not go, go, go.  i'm grateful for the community of believers and friends who have risen up around us to support us.  and i'm grateful for the hope that's found in christ, because i don't know how anyone walks this road without that hope.

i covet your prayers today, friends.  prayers for peace, for comfort, and most of all, for healing.  i'm grateful for you.

so stop by the grateful heart link-up …i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!  if posting on a monday doesn't suit your blogging schedule, good news!  the link-up is open all week long!

what are you grateful for today?

Sep 26, 2020

Reader Survey!

hi friends!

i don't think i tell you this enough, but you are awesome!  i'm so completely blown away that you all take the time to stop by heavens to betsy, read, comment, and just do life with me!  because this space has grown over the past year or two, i think it's high time that i get to hear what you think about this blog!

i would love for you to take a minute or two and fill out this survey.  i promise that it's super short (like, 8 questions!), that there are no mandatory questions, and that if you choose to, you can fill it all out and then give me your email address for a chance to win a starbucks gift card!  i would love to hear what you think about heavens to betsy, and would love to continue shaping this space around what you want to get from it!

whether this is your first time stopping by or you come around every week, i'd love to get your input!

if the survey isn't loading for you, click here.

the survey will be open for a week, and i'll email the winner to send them their gift card!  thanks friends!

Sep 25, 2020

Fall Favorites

so i'm teaming up with joelle over at joelle charming to talk about some of my #fallfavorites, and to offer you all a chance to score $75 to jesus's coffee shop starbucks!

last fall, i created a little "fall to-do list", and it just feels right to bring that back again....because i still love and am looking forward to everything on it!

so yeah...that pretty much sums up everything i could want out of fall....and this is one to-do list that i absolutely need to accomplish!

and here are a few other thoughts about this glorious season:
i love waking up under a pile of blankets and still being chilly in the morning
it is wonderful to go running and not being super hot
my black-leather interior car isn't roasting when i get in it!
jeans...i love jeans, but hate being hot in them...fall is perfect for combatting this!
apple cider donuts (if only i still lived in new england)
fall makes me take better care of myself for some reason
boots.  and flats.  i love sandals, but i'm ready to put them away
being cozy in general.
dressing for fall...its my season, you guys.  i love it.


and if a warm drink is at the top of your fall list, then don't miss out on this awesome giveaway!

Sep 24, 2020

Photography // Posing Couples

aside from my regular day job and running this little blog, i also am a sometimes-freelance photographer.  honestly, i love photography.  every time i do a shoot, the thought "i could do this full time" pops into my head.  i love working with people and i love the artistic outlet that photography provides me!

i've shot everything from weddings to newborns to live concerts...but probably my favorite type of shoot is an engagement session!  these are so fun...you have two people to work with and there is always so much love and usually a fun dynamic between the bride and groom-to-be.

there are also tons of different ways to pose a couple for an engagement shoot...really, the possibilities are endless!

the ring shot. there are so many ways to do this, from featuring the girl's hand to posing it somewhere.  this leaf photo is probably one of my favorite ways i've ever posed a ring!

the fun couple.  ok, so technically neither of the following shots are from engagement shoots!  andrea and dave had an unfortunate experience with their wedding photos, so we did a shoot somewhere around their tenth anniversary to redeem those!  natalie and mark just volunteered to let me practice with them one day...but both couples were fun because they let me use some props, like this tandem bike and these books!  kassia and steven showed up to their shoot with their favorite starbucks drinks, which were fun to incorporate into their shots.

feature the groom.  most wedding and engagement photographs are focused gal...but i like to make it a point to feature the groom!  get him looking at the camera while the bride-to-be buries her face in his chest or cheek....the look on his face will say it all.

the height difference.  brad and nora asked me to do a shoot with them before brad went off to training for the marines.  they're always a fun and challenging couple to shoot, because brad is one of the tallest people i know and nora is one of the tiniest!  she's even wearing serious heels in this photo, but you can still see the difference.  we decided to embrace it and play on it with her looking up towards him!

lay down.  sometimes a couple who is really comfortable with one another and in front of the camera will feel ok laying down...i try to always bring a pretty (and big) blanket to shoots, and having the girl pose with her head on her guy's chest makes for a photo that really shows off how comfortable they are together!

stand one, sit one.  ok, so this isn't an engagement shoot either.  it's actually my parents!  (adorable, right?!)  we found this great railing and having my mom perch on it brought her right to my dad's level, which was perfect for them to touch foreheads and look at one another....friends, this is what 30 years of marriage can look like.  (i'm so in awe of them!)

sit down.  i love when a couple is totally willing to do whatever i ask of them!  nora showed up to her e-shoot with brad in a dress and three-inch heels.  but when i suggested that they sit on a blanket in a field of yellow flowers, she was totally down!  kassia found this second pose on pinterest and wanted to recreate it.  i love when a bride comes with ideas or inspiration, and i love recreating the look and making it unique for them!  and if you can find a great set of stairs, then positioning the girl a step or two below the guy adds some great levels to a photo.

while a lot of these poses are created as a shoot develops, i'd be lying if i told you i didn't have a pinterest board filled with inspiration!  i always do a little research for ideas before i head to a shoot...and often will keep a folder of inspiration on my phone to pull out when walking from one location to another during a shoot for some ideas in the moment!

every couple is different and you really just have to feel out how comfortable they are together and in front of the camera.  make sure you go into a shoot with ideas, but be flexible and utilize parts of your setting and any ideas that the couple has to give them images that they'll hang on their walls for years to come.

Sep 23, 2020

Tour Through Blogland

i was tagged a few weeks ago by kaitlin over at sew my soul to participate in the tour through blogland!  i think this is a really fun concept...you get a chance to peek into the lives of other bloggers and check out their blogging/writing process and space.

i'm going to be completely transparent with you and tell you that most of the time, my writing space is a mess (and i hate that).  i have this great big table-top desk from ikea and its white and clean and pretty, but i tend to dump stuff on it....its scattered with notebooks and mugs and half-done calligraphy or doodles.  when it's at its finest, this space is totally tranquil...but when i'm rushing in and out of my room, it can be a disaster.  so these photos?  yeah, they encapsulate the perfect picture i want it to always be, but don't be fooled.

i love my desk (so much so that i have the exact same one at work).  even when it's messy and crazy, i love having a fairly large desktop space to work with!

ok...so now that you've seen my space, here's a little bit more about my process!

what are you working on? 
a lot.  i got into a good routine this summer with writing on the weekends and scheduling posts out, but then kind of fell off the bandwagon these last few weeks.  so i'm working on getting back on that bandwagon and getting back into the habit of having all of my posts scheduled for the week by sunday evening!  i'm also knee-deep in creating a blogging community called the peony project.  if you haven't heard of it, or joined, then you should definitely come check us out!

how does you work differ from others from its genre?
this is such a hard question, because there are so many amazing bloggers out there!  i would categorize this blog as a lifestyle blog mixed with a lot of faith-based writing.  honestly, there are so many other ladies who fit into this same category that i think are doing an awesome job and that i really look up to!  i like to think that i write how i would talk, and that when you stop by my blog, you feel like you're sitting down to have coffee with a friend.  i also really try to create community and engagement around my blog, so hopefully, that is something you know you can find when you come by!

why do you write or create what you do?
i never really considered myself to be a writer.  i first fell in love with reading blogs, and one day decided i'd give this thing a go.  and for a long time (like, years), no one but my mom read my blog!  i went through spells of never writing to times of just posting photos to times of pouring my heart out to no one, and then, one day, i realized i loved this blogging thing.  and i started slowly discovering that there was this whole community of other bloggers out there.  and that's what keeps me coming back...i have met so many amazing women through our blogs and some of them i really consider to be good friends!

how does your writing process work?
i am constantly thinking up blog posts...sometimes they fizzle into nothing, other times, they get jotted down in my planner or on a post-it and stuck to my wall.  i also am constantly starting new posts and saving them as drafts in blogger.  i pretty much always have 10-12 posts sitting in my draft folder just waiting to be developed.  some are started, some are just a title.  once i get to writing or completing a post, it usually doesn't take me too long, and photos are usually the last things to get done!

and now, i get to nominate three other lovely ladies for this tour!  check out these girls:

they'll be posting their own tour through blogland post in the coming weeks, but be sure to check out their blogs in the meantime!

Sep 22, 2020

Getting Grateful this Morning!

every monday, i like to link up with ember grey for her grateful heart monday link-up.  we post about things that we're grateful for that day, and it's an awesome way to start off your week.

typically, i write up a little list of things i'm grateful for.  i like finding gratitude in the everyday, in a cup of coffee or a parking space.  and this week, i'm in need of the perspective that this post brings.  because today is day one of a juice fast, and i'm hungry.  so i'm ready to refocus my heart a little and think of some things i'm grateful for!

here's what i'm particularly grateful for on this first day of fall...
fresh-pressed juice (see?  i'm trying!)
a couple of great workouts this weekend
some new shoes
beautiful weather
a fantastic book
payday this week! 
that fall is finally (officially) here
time spent with family
time spent with friends (and an upcoming girls night!)
peanut butter m&ms (because they're all i can think about today while only consuming juice)

so stop by the grateful heart link-up …i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!  if posting on a monday doesn't suit your blogging schedule, good news!  the link-up is open all week long!

what are you grateful for today?

Sep 21, 2020

Chalkboard Bridal Shower Games

i (finally) designed a new set of bridal shower games!  this has been on my to-do list for quite some time, and i'm excited to bring you this set of chalkboard-inspired games.

these games are great to use as whole-group or individual games during a shower.  they can also be completed by guests while the bride-to-be is opening gifts, which is always a welcome time-filler!

if you're interested in purchasing customized versions of these games, shoot me an email at [email protected] and i'd love to chat with you further!

for more info on my design services, click here.

also check out these other bridal shower game designs:

Sep 20, 2020

Product Review // Luxquisite Leave-In

disclaimer:  i receive this product gratis in exchange for a review.  all opinions are my own!

i have incredibly dry and coarse hair that breaks so easily.  that's why moisturizing is a must for me!  i'm always looking to try out new products and i love discovering new ones that work for me.  and its even better when they use natural ingredients like aloe and green tea!

i've been using luxquisite long and strong leave-in for about a month now and i love it!  i've tried a ton of products from a ton of different companies, both drugstore and salon brand, and this is definitely one of my top picks.

here's what i love about this leave-in conditioner:
it smells great...that green tea and aloe is so crisp and fresh!
light and doesn't leave a residue
super moisturizing
includes natural ingredients
controls frizz
adds shine
helps combat and prevent split ends
4oz bottle is perfect for my gym bag or traveling
made in the usa!  (woohoo!)
you can order it through amazon...super easy!

when i was offered this product, i said yes without even realizing that it was called "long and strong conditioner"....that was like an extra bonus when i received the product!  i've been attempting to be really good to my hair so that it can grow...(i've never had my hair grow quickly, so this is always a challenge).  finding a leave-in that was specifically formulated for helping your hair grow long and strong made me so excited!

i would definitely suggest checking out the luxquisite long and strong leave-in...if you like to try out new products and your hair craves extra moisture, then this is for you!

and right now, luxquisite is offering all readers the opportunity to get $3 off of their leave-in conditioner with the code "F6FTCXXK", so hurry over and order!

Sep 19, 2020

Behind the Blog

so a few months ago, my friend z did a fantastic "behind the blog" post where she talked about a few posts from her blog's archives and what she was thinking when she wrote them!  i love this idea, and figured what better time to take a trip down memory lane than after celebrating heavens to betsy's 5th birthday last month?!

this was a fun post to write...it allows you to celebrate posts that you loved doing and then reflect on ones that may have been hard to write.  for me, this is mostly just a really good round-up of what i'd say is some of the best (and worst) of htb!

so, here we go...

favorite post to write // i'd have to say that some of my favorite posts to write are the ones that i do to link-up with emily's grateful heart mondays.  emily is such a gem and her little link-up is the perfect way to start my week!  check these posts out here.

most frustrating photo shoot // ooooh...i don't know!  any one where i'm pictured...haha!  i once asked my brother to take photos of me....and then i've also tried the wonders of the self-timer and the self-timer app for my phone...but still, i feel awkward in front of the camera and awkward = frustrating sometimes!

post i'm most proud of // probably anything from my girl talk series.  especially this one about dreams and this one i wrote for overcome the lie.  oh, and also the ones that i write in my blogging series.  i love writing those!

popular post i didn't think would be a big deal // this recipe for baked oatmeal with fruit.  i should probably repost this one at some point, because its going on three years old and people still pin it!  its a really good recipe too!

post i was expecting to take off that didn't // this list of 20 date ideas!  i thought i was being fun and inventive and maybe i wasn't?  haha....it got a few comments and some pins, but for the most part, flopped.

the closest to pinterest-famous i've ever gotten // bridal shower games!  i designed these for my best friend's shower last fall and one of them has over 22,000 repins and another has over 16,000!  haha....i don't even understand how that's possible...it seriously blows my mind!

quickest post i've ever written // any instagram update.  those are a go-to!  they whip-up in a flash and are quick to read, since they're mostly photos!  i like them too, because they group all of my instagram pics into little snapshots of my week or month.  they're fun to look back at!

most successful link-up post // definitely the last time i co-hosted ashley's little friday link-up!  i don't really run link-ups, (mostly because of a coding issue that i can't figure out how to solve that makes the thumbnails go wonky), but this one is fun to co-host and is always successful!

weirdest search term to find my blog // "princes charming girls pics" i have no idea what that even means but i don't think i like it.  and i'm not sure how it lead someone here!  i've had another really weird one at one point that i can't remember, but now, most people who find me via a search engine get here by searching my name, the peony project, bridal shower games, or through product reviews that i've done, so that's kind of boring.

thanks, z, for letting me steal this idea!

what blog posts are you most proud of?  what are your favorites to write?

Sep 17, 2020

Girl Talk // That Familiar Free Fall

i can't believe that we've passed the halfway point in september already.  i feel like a week ago, it was summer, and now here we are, barreling towards the soft amber glow of october.

its been a while since i've written one of these girl talk posts.  my heart has been longing to write one, to pour out some snippet of truth or encouragement.  this series originally started in hopes of creating community and conversation, and in the year or so since i launched it, it has become one of my favorite series to write.  but its also become a neglected one, because, well, these posts aren't always easy.

i'm the kind of person that loves to be busy.  i'd rather have a to-do list a mile long than one that's totally empty.  but there is a fine line between being busy, and being overwhelmed.

and lately, i've just felt overwhelmed.

between beginning my first year as a preschool teacher and saying goodbye to my boyfriend as he headed off to boston for his last year of college, and chaperoning a youth group retreat and then visiting that boyfriend in boston and juggling responsibilities for my part-time job at church, its felt like a little bit more than i'd like to handle.

things have been neglected, like my attempted recommitment to exercise and that new devotional plan that i'm working on.  even this blog has been an afterthought.

maybe you feel that same pull....that you're teetering just on the edge of keeping it all together while still finding time to curl your hair in the morning and of completely free-falling.

this sort of thing hits me once in a while, and i'm noticing that it's often associated with fall.  while all of the leaves are starting to die and make their way downward, i feel almost a sense of renewal.  its the kind of renewal that only a tidal wave of business can bring...the kind that washes you of that carefree summer glow and brings you back to shore, ready to face the new school year, even if you're not a student.

i sometimes wonder if my life will ever not feel dictated by the school calendar (probably not, since i'm a teacher...), or if the fall will ever cease to bring this renewal.  because though its hard and almost suffocating at times, i feel like i need it.  its like this free-fall...and in the midst of it, i'm tugging at my parachute strings but its just. not. opening.  and then, all of a sudden, it does, and i glide into the best part of this season...the part filled with bonfires and crisp breezes and scarves and boots...the part that i love.  but not until that initial jump out of the plane called summer.

and once my feet hit the ground, in this new season, there is so much opportunity if i just open my eyes to it.  fall is a wake-up call.  its a time of inspiration and of growth.  a time to reflect and a time to act.

one of my favorite verses right now is isaiah 43:19.  it reads: "see, i am doing a new thing!  now it springs up; do you not perceive it? i am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

i love that verse because it's a reminder that god is always doing something.  even in the midst of the business, the to-do lists, and the juggling of life.  even at a time of year when things outside are ending their season of beauty, he is at work in us.  he is doing a new thing.  we just need to perceive it.

new to the girl talk series?  here are a few posts you might want to check out!

Sep 16, 2020

Grateful Heart // Boston Edition

i spent the past week in boston visiting aj.  he's all moved into his apartment and is into his second week of classes at berklee.  hopefully (crossing my fingers!), this will be his last fall there.

can i just say how much i love this city?  i'm currently sitting at the airport waiting to fly home to philly and when i think about boston, my heart smiles.  there are just so many good memories here, from my days in college just north of the city to these new memories that aj and i are making together.  it's a place of growing up, and every time i come back, i'm flooded with this feeling that this city, this place, just feels like home.  of course, i get that same feeling (even more so), when i fly into philly, but boston just holds this excitement for me.

so, today's grateful heart post will be focused on all of the wonderful things that this week in boston held!

here's what i'm thankful for after this past week:
spending a whole week with aj
having a few days to walk and explore boston and enjoy one another's company
extra sleep
good food
finally purchasing a longchamp bag! (and then returning it, and getting a bigger one...long story)
beautiful weather
discovering the best (free!) airport shuttle ever
the onset of fall (it's here!!)
long walks
rediscovering a love of n64 (because i basically lived with boys for a week)

i am, of course, incredibly excited about fall.  it is my absolute favorite season!  but is it just me or did it come on kind of quickly?  i was just at the beach a little over a week ago, and now i'm wearing jeans and sweaters and i'm about to break out a few scarves.  i feel like i left pa in summer and am returning, just a week later, into full-fledged fall.  (not complaining, though!)

and of course, i'm linking up with emily at ember grey!  em hosts this week-long grateful heart link-up every week and these posts are some of my favorite to write each week.  i encourage you to join in and check out some of the other posts!

Sep 15, 2020

Going Green with ALOHA

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Aloha, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #MyAloha #AlohaMoment  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

if you've been reading my blog for the past few months (or actually, a little over a year), you have probably heard me mention my dad's ongoing battle with cancer (which we're confident he will win!).   when my dad was first diagnosed, my parents made a quick and decisive switch to a plant-based diet. one that includes lots of juicing, raw foods, and just plain 'ol healthy eating in order to help his body fight the disease and tolerate treatments.

while i'm not as good as they are, i do try to be aware of what i'm putting in my body.  our family has incorporated juicing into our diets because when you drink your nutrients, it helps your body to absorb them even faster and takes the work out of digesting your food, meaning that your cells are getting the nutrition that they need at really quick speeds!  when he doesn't have enough time to juice, my dad will often use a powdered form of greens that he mixes into a smoothie or just water.

i decided to try it out too and ordered the aloha daily good greens blend box.  the box came with three different flavors:  original greens, berry, and chocolate, and each pack contains a whole foods blend that is vegan (woohoo!), sugar-free, 100% natural, and promises to energize, cleanse, and hydrate.  you get 2 servings of fruit and veggies in each pack, plus tons of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin d...which, for a girl who doesn't love milk, is a definitely plus!).

what i love the most about this concept is that it really doesn't take a whole lot of prep.  trust me, i love juicing, and it's so good for you, but sometimes, you want all of the benefits without putting the time into it (or, if you're like me, sometimes you just don't prepare as well as you should!).  i tried the original good greens pack just mixed into water, and also in a smoothie.  both options were super quick, and left me feeling like i had done something great for my body!

here's what i threw into my smoothie:
1 pack of aloha's the daily good berry blend
1/4 c almond milk
a handful of blueberries
4-5 chunks of frozen mango
3-4 frozen strawberries
a handful of spinach
a few ice cubes

i threw all of these ingredients in the vitamix and blended! you might have to add some more almond milk (or a little water) to thin out your smoothie as it blends.

pair this smoothie with a piece of fruit and some almonds for a great mid-afternoon or post workout snack or a great light lunch!  so quick and easy!

and here's the best part...you can get a free trial of the aloha daily good greens blend box to try at home!  all you need to do is pay shipping, and they'll send you a box of 6 packets (two of each flavor!).  you'll also have the benefit of being auto-enrolled in aloha's monthly subscription, so you can get the daily good in your mailbox every month!  there are a ton of different ways to incorporate aloha into your daily routine, and you'll feel awesome for doing it!

what are some things you do to stay healthy?  have you ever tried a dried green juice powder like aloha?

Sep 14, 2020

I Moved!

hey friends!

you may notice a little change around here!  heavens to betsy has moved from betsygettis.blogspot.com to just betsygettis.com!  i'm really excited about this change and i hope you'll continue to follow along!

nothing has really changed...you'll still see the same content and everything still looks the same, and if you go to the old url, it should reroute you to my new home!  but i'm still working out some glitches, so bear with me!

if you notice something just plain 'ol not working, then i'd be so appreciative if you'd shoot me an email at [email protected] to let me know!

thanks friends!

Sep 12, 2020

Dear Blogger // Here's Some Advice from a Friend...

part of growing as a blogger is learning from others who are in the trenches with you.  while i've been blogging for five years, i certainly don't have it all figured out, and i love hearing about the experiences of other bloggers!  there is a lot that can be learned from your peers in this industry.  i decided to ask some of the girls from the peony project what advice they'd give to a blogger who is just starting out.  this list is long, but it's so good.  whether you've been blogging for a day or a decade, i hope you can gain something from the advice of these women!

don't post about things that you think people want to read. post about what matters to you and what you're passionate for. the posts will be worded better, more enjoyable to read, and be more authentic. this was a lesson i learned over time and i am so glad i finally figured it out! -natalie, a tiny traveler

write when inspired. don't apologize or make a big deal out of a semi-break from blogging. write what you feel like even if you think it could be repetitive. if it's on your heart, the bottom line is to write. for him, and for your soul--write.
 -meghan, a northern belle

blogging is hard work at first. you aren't going to see tons of people coming to your blog to see what you have to say. you need to work at it, just like working at any hobby or craft. don't despair if you feel like no one "hears" you. your voice is important. your story is important. and it will be heard. it just takes time, generosity, and learning the ropes. go socialize on social media and go blog on your blog and do your thing. your community, friends, family will come. it just takes time.
-jenna, a mama collective

get to know other bloggers. don't be too shy or afraid to comment on a post you love or reach out to a blogger with an email. most of the time, it'll make their day that you care enough to say hello! as another note, develop thick skin, it'll help when you don't get a response to an email or you get a mean comment. -madison, wetherills say i do

i think it's important in whatever we do, including blogging, to pay attention first and foremost to what our "non-internet-lives" are like. sometimes it's easy for me to get lost in the blogging world, so determined to get content out, that i'll give all my time and energy to improving my blog and not my heart. when i do that, i end up feeling like i'm running on empty and i'm not able to write as genuinely, because i don't have any depth to write from. so my advice would be to care for your heart - prayer, good relationships, regular quiet time away from the computer. when i do this, my life and heart are much healthier and i have much better things to share on my blog, too! -bonnie, strong and sweet

take your time and work on your craft. make sure you're blogging for the right reasons, your working to a schedule that works for you, and that you aren't comparing yourselves to others who you deem to be successful. if you follow those steps i think you are less likely to be disappointed or frustrated by your output and more likely to enjoy it - which will shine through your work too. sherisse, nurebelle

start with creating a mission statement and determine what the purpose of your blog is. check back regularly to be sure you are staying on track! reach out to other bloggers from the start. start a list of bloggers you love and visit their posts regularly, comment and share. getting connected is key! jenna, a savory feast

take your sidebar seriously!!! it's not a place to just dump the stuff that you don't have anywhere else to put. it's a critical part of your blog and that space should be considered premium. -ashley, forever ashley

learn about your niche and people/blogs in it. it will be great to learn from bloggers in other categories but a lot of what works for them won't work for you if you are in totally different genres. it is great to connect with people in other categories but don't get stuck comparing yourself to them and feel discouraged when things that work for them don't work for you. ie: a food blog will get a lot of traffic from pinterest, a blog discussing theology or principles of education may not. do not let discouragement and comparion beat you down. write what you want to write for yourself. be you!!!! people will connect with who you are. they want to read your voice. you don't have to imitate someone else and be a copy cat. be different. there are 100s of the same blog out there. -ali, sometimes i do silly things

my advice would be to be social, and keep a proper balance in blogging. if you want other people to read what you have to say, especially when you are first starting out, you have to go read what they have to say! visit other blogs, make thoughtful comments, and make some blog friends! i takes blogging more fun too. and if you are going to last in the blogging world, through the ebb and flow of the numbers, through life changes, you need to know your limits. set up healthy boundaries for when you will blog, know why you are blogging and keep that in sight, and if you are starting to feel that "burn out" don't be afraid to take a step back until you start to feel inspired again! callie, through clouded glass

the biggest thing i have learned (along with all of the above things)? get a "tribe"! find bloggers like yourself and get to know them the community and support (like this group!) are what make blogging so rewarding for me. the friends i have made along the way have made a huge difference in my experience. use these friends for advice, tips, ideas, and overall support.  i actually wrote a post about this too. -anne, love the here and now

don't be afraid of the "publish" button! so many times i'm afraid of posting something because i think it's not interesting enough, or meaningful enough, but you never know who you're going to reach through a post! writing is also one of those things that gets better over time. sometimes i like to look back on my older writing to see how i've grown and matured. so don't be afraid of starting a blog just because you think you're not a good writer. 
-kelly, i am kelly ann

if you want to start a conversation online, be prepared to continue it offline. don't retell a story or post on a topic that you wouldn't be willing to sit down and hash out with a friend. i use my blogging as a means for processing life, but always with the awareness that it is a public forum. -lacy, lacy blaine

i would have to say two of the most important things that i have learned are 1) stay true to you! don't try and do what other people are doing, be true and provide original content! 2) become involved, so much can be gained from joining the blogging community! you get out what you put in! -laura, the suzie lou blog

respond to comments. no matter what. the best way to build community, keep your readers coming back, and encourage more comment leaving, is to show them that you're reading what they write and that they matter. because they do. -kristen, when at home

don't be afraid to dream big! -beth, oak & oats

there you have it, folks!  i hope some of this advice helps you on your journey in the world of blogging.  i'm so blessed to call these ladies friends, and if i can give you any advice, it would be to find your niche and find a community and get engaged!  the best possible thing you can do for yourself as a blogger is to not be alone in the world of blogging.  make some friends, be authentic, and connect with bloggers that you admire!

want more blogging tips?  check out some of the other posts in my blogging series here:

Sep 10, 2020


first off, let me say that i fully realize that 25 is not that old.  but it sure doesn't feel that way.  i feel like i hit this milestone....a quarter of a century!  halfway through my twenties!  and it's exciting and a little terrifying all at once.  did anyone else feel that way when they hit 25?

i've never done a "25 before 25" type of thing, but since this birthday does just feel big to me, i thought i'd take my own spin on it!

so here are 25 things i'd love to accomplish in my 25th year.

1.  grow in my relationship with jesus...i have just been feeling a yearning to know him more, which should always be there.  i'm working on getting into a devo routine, so hoping that i stick to that!

2.  spend more time with my family...always a goal!

3.  clean out...i need to simplify!  specifically when it comes to my closet.  i've seen so many of you blogging about your capsule wardrobes and it's been encouraging me to really be honest with what i do and do not need in mine!

4.  take a few creative classes...hand lettering, illustrator, maybe photography?  i want to build on those very self-taught skill sets!

5.  get fit.  like, really...i want to be toned, i want to be healthy, and i want to feel good.  i originally put a number to this one, but i recently saw a photo of a girl who actually gain 10lbs in the past year and looks so good now compared to her "starting" weight, because she lost fat but gained muscle.  so yes, that number on the scale needs to go down, but i'm not going to be disappointed if it doesn't go down as far as i want as long as i'm building muscle and feeling good.

6.  and going along with that...run a half marathon!

7.  complain less...whether its external or internal, i want to be all-around less grumbly.  haha

8.  be an awesome small group leader...this past weekend left me feeling really close to my girls...i want to pour into them more than ever this year!

9.  travel more...boston, maybe another nashville trip?

10.  spend more time with people...i do not see my friends nearly enough, and that needs to change this year!

11.  eat better...ok, this one goes along with 5, but i want to feel good about what i put into my body!

12.  save more...i would love to see my saving account significantly increase in the next year.

13.  pay off my loans faster...maybe counter-intuitive to saving more, but i would really like to take a good chunk out of my student loans in the next year!

14.  choose my attitude...i'm a firm believer that you can choose your attitude towards situations, and i want to make sure i'm choosing the right attitude!

15.  be grateful everyday...if you've read my blog before, you've probably seen my grateful heart posts...i love practicing gratitude and want to continue to make it a habit!

16.  open an etsy shop (or otherwise)...filled with prints and hand lettering and custom design work, of course!

17.  knit...i have like 4 half-finished scarves lying around.  i want to finish them!

18.  give 100% to teaching...preschool is not where i ever thought i'd land, and frankly, the first couple of days have been challenging!  but i'm going to give it my all this year, no matter how i feel.

19.  read more...y'all know have stacks upon stacks of books...i need to make more time to read!

20.  lead a generous life...from my tithe to random acts of giving, i want to be on the lookout for opportunities to be generous every day!

21.  cultivate a soft and gracious spirit...i so admire women who are just soft and gentle...the italian in me does not naturally lean in that direction, but i sure would like to work on it!

22.  attend a blog conference...ok, i really want to be at influence next year.  technically, by then, i'll be 26.  but its going on the list anyway.

23.  look for opportunities to help others...i try to always do this, so i'd like to continue it and do even more!

24.  take this blog places...it's growing fast, and i'm so excited about that!  i want to continue to cultivate a community around it and keep building the community that is taking off in the peony project!

25.  dream big.  if there's anything i've been learning these past few months, its to dream big and chase those dreams.  i want to keep verbalizing and going after the big dreams!

did you make any goals for yourself on your next birthday?  what were some of them?

Sep 9, 2020

My Heart is Grateful, and Here's Why...

every monday, i like to link up with ember grey for her grateful heart monday link-up.  we post about things that we're grateful for that day, and it's an awesome way to start off your week.  since my birthday was on sunday, i took yesterday to offer a giveaway to all of you lovely readers, so this week, it's grateful heart tuesday!

typically, i write up a little list of things i'm grateful for.  i like finding gratitude in the everyday, in a cup of coffee or a parking space.  but this week, i just feel like my heart is brimming.

i got to spend this past weekend at the beach with my church's youth ministry.  after being on staff with them for over two years and now going into my third year of being a small group leader, this ministry is particularly dear to my heart.  we took close to 300 6th-12th graders to new jersey for a weekend of fun and of meeting with jesus.  i'm going to be honest, i wasn't looking forward to it on friday.  i was already tired from a busy week, fighting a cold, and just wanted sleep, which i was not going to get.

but friends, jesus is good.  i'm firmly convinced that he allows us to get to the places where we feel most useless so that he can use us for his glory.  walls were broken down this year at that beach.  kids met jesus; kids were baptized; kids worshipped and prayed and were prayed for.  his presence was just so sweet, ya know?  it was the kind of sweet that i just wanted to sit in for forever.

so that's just one thing i'm grateful for this week.  i'm grateful for the opportunity to lead a small group and pour into the girls that i get to lead.  i'm grateful for all that they teach me.  i'm grateful for the freedom to worship my god and for a community that is seeking after him wholeheartedly.

oh, and i'm grateful for other things, like birthdays and being 25 (which just feels different than 24), and for ice cream and for trips to boston (tomorrow!) and for accountability partners (looking at you, leeenda!), and for big suitcases that make packing easier, and for a great team at work, and for fall (because it's here!).

but today?  today, i'm the most grateful for jesus.  because he is so, so good.

so stop by the grateful heart link-up …i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!  if posting on a monday doesn't suit your blogging schedule, good news!  the link-up is open all week long!

what are you grateful for today?
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