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Feb 28, 2020

HTB Happenings

welcome to the last day of february!  i have such a hard time believing that march will be here as of tomorrow (and daylight savings time is just a week away...yay!).  i'm so excited for more sunlight, runs outside, and spriiiinnnngggg!  like, it makes me want to break out into a song.

("ttthhhheeee hiiiiillllssss are alliiiivvvveee!")

ok, enough of my craziness (can you tell i have a touch of cabin fever?!).

here's what you might have missed this week on heavens to betsy:

+ i got a hair cut on tuesday!  nothing drastic, just a trim...but it's amazing how just getting your dead ends snipped off makes you feel so much better!
+ i loved hearing all about your coffee cup moments this week...aj told me that he liked me over a cup of coffee, and i'm a bit of a mug addict, which means that i also drink a lot of that liquid gold.
+ i got a voxbox from influenster for testing purposes with nyc's big & bold angel lash mascara and big & bold felt-tipped eyeliner.  as it were, i'm also a bit of a mascara addict, and i love the way these products plump my lashes and frame my eyes!
+ i was gifted this scarf made my melissa of sew what scarves, and i love it!  i basically haven't taken it off all week!

in case you missed it:
+ you won't believe how easy it is to make your own mercury glass!
+ aj took over the blog on thursday for our second guys behind the blog link up!
+ i designed a couple of movie night games to go along with disney's big hero 6!  if you haven't seen it yet, you need to!  it's adorable.
+ i shared 5 ideas for quick and easy home decor refreshes that you can do for under $10!
+ i talked a little bit about five star coffee's romantic moments collection, and there's a giveaway going on until monday for a free coffee sampler box!

don't miss these:
+ i love how rachel shared her journey to ethical fashion this week!
+ wardrobe updates must be trending (spring cleaning, anyone?), because daisy shared her 5 goals for a capsule wardrobe!
+ i loved madison's tips on increasing spiritual intimacy!
+ i've been wanting to visit harry potter world, and meg's 10 things to do there have me wanting to schedule a trip asap!
+ cassie is a total pro on twitter, and she shared 11 easy steps to becoming a tweet master on her blog this week!

Feb 27, 2020

Big Hero 6 Movie Night Games

this post has been compensated by collective bias, inc. and it's advertiser.  all opinions and ideas are my own.  #collectivebias #bighero6movienight

one thing that my family has always loved is a good movie night!  especially in the winter, there's nothing better than snuggling down in your sweats and watching a good movie.  i've discussed my love of all things disney on the blog before, but can i just say once again that i will never be too old to enjoy a disney animated movie?  disney's big hero 6 hit stores on blu-ray and dvd this week, and if you haven't seen it yet, you're missing out!

i popped into target on tuesday to pick up big hero 6 when it came out, and was happy to find it right in the front of the store!  not that i ever need an excuse to go to target, but my wallet is much happier when i don't venture too far into that magical land (who's with me?).

the movie is an adorable story based off of a marvel comic book.  i had heard so many good things about it, and since it's from the minds of the disney greats, i of course had high expectations, but it blew those expectations out of the water!  kids or not, you'll love it.

i thought it would be fun to have a little movie night with a few family members.  my parents always love checking out the movies that were nominated for academy awards, and since big hero 6 won best animated feature, i thought they might like to see it with me.  we grabbed our popcorn and i designed a couple of printable games to make the evening a little bit more fun.

the first game is a list of 10 trivia questions that older kids and adults can enjoy...some are a bit easier, but others will take a keen eye or ear!  the second is a movie challenge that the whole family can play, but is especially geared toward younger kids.  i'm actually thinking about watching a bit of big hero 6 with my preschool class and using this game to make it even more fun.

if you're planning your own big hero 6 movie night, then scroll down and grab the free downloadable printables of these games to add a little something extra to your evening!  or, maybe you want to take a fun spin on your family game night, and turn it into a movie/game night hybrid with these printable games!

and here is a better look at each of the games i designed to use for your big hero 6 movie night!  you can download printable versions for free at the links below each game.

download the free printable movie trivia here

download the free printable movie challenge here

have you seen big hero 6?  do you have any movie night traditions?

Feb 26, 2020

The Guys Behind the Blog // February Link-Up

i'm so excited for another guys behind the blog link-up!  i can't believe that twenty-eight of you joined in with me on this crazy little idea for a post last month.  you're awesome!  it was so much fun to read all of your posts and hear from your guys that i just had to do another one this month!  so grab your guy and force him bribe him give him the honor of taking over your blog for the day again!

this has been a fun way for aj to contribute to my blog once in a while, especially since we're long distance.  if you're a newer reader and don't know much about aj, here's our story in three sentences:  aj is finishing his degree in music production and engineering at berklee college of music in boston.  we've been long-distance since he transferred there in the fall of 2013 and we've been dating since valentine's day 2012.  on christmas eve, he popped the question, and we're getting married in august! (you can read our whole love story here)

1 // if you could write a book, what topic would you write about and why?
well i guess it would have to be about something i know really well.. so maybe something like a history of the recording industry?? … sounds boring to most people so i probably wouldn’t make much off of it but it’s also a rather short history so i wouldn’t have to work toooooo hard. haha

2 // what is one thing on your bucket list, or one thing that you'd like to do or accomplish in your lifetime?
i think i have two answers… firstly, it would be incredible to produce a grammy winning album or record, which is an obvious answer for anyone going into my field i suppose … it’s like a football player answering “winning the super bowl… second would be seeing the eagles win the super bowl :)

3 // if you could look out your window and only see one view for the rest of your life, what would you want to see?
nothing! i would love to live somewhere like a farm where i’m just surrounded by land and peace and quiet. this is probably because i spent so much of my life driving through lancaster pa and just loving the views that i saw driving every morning. also, i’m nearly positive that this could start a serious conversation with my fiancé about where we both want to end up … 

4 // imagine you're opening a shop.  what are you selling?
stuff that i bought at target. target is the perfect store and i would not dare even try to compete.  

5 // if you could have 50lbs of anything other than money, what would it be?
gold. we don’t use it as currency anymore … so i think i beat the system. also gold is worth $1,203.02 as of my answering this … so thats like …. $818,416. feel free to fact check that. 

6 // time to brag on your girl...tell us one thing that makes you proud of your fiancé!  
hmmmmmmm…. well there are a lot of things that i am proud of betsy for, and i like to think that i do a good job at telling her that. but If i had to pick one thing right now it would be her creativity. she’s incredibly good at taking fun little things like hand lettering, or making scarves, or even blogging to a new level. she can turn anything she enjoys into something fruitful that other people can enjoy. i envy that ability, but more than that i am so proud when i look at the kind of community her creative outlets can turn into!

ok, that last one made me tear up a little bit!  he's so sweet, and i could brag on him for a long time.  he's much more talented than he gives himself credit for.  keep an eye out for his name at the grammys in a few years...we'll be there!  the eagles winning the super bowl might be a different story however...

and if you want to get a head start on march's questions, here they are!
1 // do you have a good luck charm or ritual? (like a lucky coin, or you always used to listen to a certain pump-up song when you played sports in high school or college?)
2 // what is your favorite dish that your wife/fiance/girlfriend makes for you?  do you have any fun memories of a time when she tried to cook and it totally flopped or does she get it right every time?
3 // what did you want to be when you were growing up?
4 // which of the five senses is your strongest?
5 // would you ever run for president?

Feb 25, 2020

Quick Home Decor Refreshes for Under $10

it never fails that sometime in february, the winter blues sink in for me.  i know that spring is on the horizon, but i'm just wishing for it so badly that i am starting to go a little crazy.  can i get an amen??

one of the things that always helps is to freshen up my decor around the house!  i love constantly changing the decor around my space, and i'm all about doing it on a budget, so as spring has been approaching, i've been working on repurposing things i already had laying around or making small home decor updates for ten dollars or less.

when your'e stuck inside for so long due to snow and cold, it's so easy to get bored with your space!  i love what designer nate berkus says about freshening up your home decor:  "when you get bored with your room, the easiest thing to do is switch it up!  consider moving your sofa to another wall, bring in a side table from another room, swap out your throw pillows.  you can totally refresh a room without spending a cent.  for curtains, couches and rugs that can't be washed, a few spritzes of unstoppable fabric refresher will add long-lasting freshness."  he's so right...you don't have to spend a fortune to update or refresh your space.

if you're feeling those winter blues like me, here are a few quick updates that you can do in your home to mix it up and make being stuck inside a little bit easier!

1.  pick up a clipboard // 
one of my newfound loves is clipboards.  they're crazy cheap (you may even have one lying around already), and they're great for displaying photos, quotes, or other paper mementos like ticket stubs or cards!  you can easily hang a few on a wall (i have three above my couch, each holding a hand lettered print), or you can set it on a desk top, like pictured here.  clipboards are so inexpensive and versatile, that they're practically a design staple as much as they're a necessity in the office.

2.  books & wood can be decor //
this one might seem obvious, but i love displaying books around my room!  there are so many pretty book covers out there which makes them easy to display, and they can become great points of conversation.  another thing i love using in decor is slabs of wood.  white birch is hands down my favorite, and i actually got this little cutting at a friend's wedding (she used them in her centerpieces). they are great for adding height to candles or for simply displaying!  any wood works, and all you need is some wood, like a fallen tree or a branch or stump, and a chainsaw (or in my case, a willing dad who happens to have a chainsaw).

3.  repurpose items you already have //
i just shared this easy diy to turn votives you already have laying around into gold mercury glass.  this update literally cost me the $3 that i spent on the paint.  i already had the votives in a box in my basement, but if you don't, you can find some at goodwill for about $0.50!  you can also repurpose things like cake stands and mugs to utilize outside of the kitchen.  i love the way these votive holders look on the cake stand, and i also often use a cake stand to display my perfume collection.  mugs are great for using as flower planters or even as a pretty way to hold spare change.

4. go picking //
one of my favorite places to find decor items is in my grandparent's basement.  my grandfather's old workshop is a treasure trove that aj and i have rescued tons of old items from.  this fan is just one of our finds, and i threw a coat of mustard-hued paint on it and made it an accent piece.  i also have an old toolbox of his that i use to hold mail, and a few other items that i love seeing daily because they're great daily reminders of my grandfather.  if you don't have a grandparent with a basement ripe for picking through, consider keeping your eyes peeled for estate sale, garage sales, auction, and even rifle through your local goodwill or salvation army store from time to time!  it's amazing what sorts of pieces you can find for little to no money, and if you keep an open mind and consider the potential of the pieces you come across, you'll find that you can get some really great steals!

5.  don't underestimate the power of scents! // 
scent decor is just as important in setting a mood for a room as is visual decor.  i never remember that fact until we reach the depths of winter and everything is just so bleh.  but lighting a candle or spraying some fabric refresher can take a room from drab winter to the freshest spring!  the new line of p&g unstopables is perfect for incorporating springy scents into any room.  the entire line includes candles, fabric refreshers, laundry scent boosters, oil warmers, and air fresheners, and comes in three scents:  fresh, lush, and shimmer, so you can choose a signature fragrance and carry that scent into every area of your home.  each p&g unstopables product smells luxurious but is available at an accessible price point.  these long-lasting scent products can help you choose and design your own scent decor - a personal scent profile that you can use to style and upscale your environment day in and day out!

i was selected for this opportunity as a member of clever girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Feb 24, 2020

Love, A Cup of Coffee, & a Giveaway!

thanks to the peachtree coffee group and five star coffee for sponsoring today's post!  i received this product free of charge for review purposes, but all opinions are mine.

it was over a cup of coffee that aj told me he maybe sort of had a huge crush on me.  he's not a big coffee drinker, but i love it.  (for real, go look at my instagram feed).  however, we've started nearly every road trip we've taken with a warm drink in our hands and i've been known to call him on my way to his house to see if he wanted me to pick something up for him (aka so i wouldn't look rude when i showed up with a latte for me and nothing for him).

when we started our premarital counseling a few weeks ago, we were given the homework of praying together and reading certain scripture passages together before our next session.  for me, reading that scripture looks something like an open bible and notebook...and of course, a cup of coffee.

when i got the opportunity to try out five star coffee's romantic moments collection sampler box, i couldn't say no!  i'm a "light and sweet" kind of girl....which means i love flavored coffees and i love flavored creamers in them, and each romantic moments box features four flavored 12-cup sampler bags of coffee (perfect for those moments where you're just brewing for two!).

my box featured georgia pecan, hazelnut creme, english toffee, and cinnamon stick coffee, and honestly, i can't choose a favorite!  each flavor was smooth, rich, and met all of my expectations for a good cup of coffee.

what i love even more about each bag is that the label is tagged with a bible verse about love, and the back of each pack has a little devotional thought to do together.  i love the question that is posed on the back of the georgia pecan bag:  "...consider how your love might be different if you did not know god..."  that is certainly a question that aj and i are pondering as we approach marriage.

i think it's great that five star coffee has taken the simple act of drinking coffee together (something that so many couples do) and made it easy to turn it into intentional time with one another and with jesus.  i love imagining what the morning routine that i share with aj some day will look like, and i hope that it includes some mornings of having breakfast and coffee together and sharing some time spent in the word.

and five star coffee has offered to give one heavens to betsy reader the opportunity to try out their own romantic moments sampler box!  check out the rafflecopter for ways to enter.  you must complete both mandatory entries to be eligible to win!

all entries will be verified, so please play fair.  good luck!

Feb 23, 2020

DIY Gold Mercury Glass

if you're anything like me, then you can't get enough mercury glass.  i pick it up whenever i find it on sale, and i love decorating with little mercury glass votives!  when i started thinking about wedding decor, i immediately knew i wanted to incorporate mercury glass into my centerpieces, but i had two problems:  while we're incorporating both gold and silver into our decor, gold is our main metallic in our color scheme and traditionally, mercury glass is silver, not gold.  also, it's not exactly cheap.  the solution?  diy!

i have a whole list of diy ideas for our wedding, and amongst them was making my own faux mercury glass votives.  after checking out a few ways to do it with mirror-finish paint, i thought i'd try adapting what i had read using gold paint to create some pieces that would better fit our color palette. i'm happy to report that i was not disappointed!  this diy was so easy to do, and for this instant-gratification-loving girl, was even better because it could be done in an afternoon!

so let's dive right into it.  here are the instructions for creating your own gold faux mercury glass votives!

here's what you'll need:
a spray bottle (i picked this one up for less than a dollar in the travel section at target)
gold metallic spray paint
glass votives or jars
napkins or paper towels
paint tape or masking tape

1 // line your work surface with newspaper (if you can, it's probably better to do this outside, but if you're stuck in an arctic tundra like me, work in a ventilated space and cover your table!)

2 // using your masking tape or painter's tape, tape around the top of your votives.  this 2" wide tape was perfect and helped protect the outside of my glassware from overspray.

3 // spray a light layer of water on the inside of your glassware.  you want the water to bead up.  then, spray a light layer of paint around the inside of the glassware.  the paint won't stick to the glass where the water beads are.  let your votives set for a few minutes.  they don't need to be completely dry, just tacky.

4 // take a paper towel or napkin, roll it up, and soak up the excess water and paint that has pooled at the bottom of the votive holder. try not to touch the walls of your glassware.

5 // then, repeat steps 3 and 4 two more times.  spray water lightly, then paint lightly.    (you can adjust the number of coats you apply to fit the look you want.  i found that two coats just wasn't enough, but that three gave me the look i wanted.  play around with it and find what works for you!)

6 // when your last coat is mostly dry and doesn't smear to the touch, take a paper towel or napkin and run it around the interior of your glassware, loosening the paint that hardened over the water bubbles. this will give your glassware that "mercury glass" look, and will allow light to shine through the holes in the paint.

7 // remove the tape from the outside of your votives, and once they're completely dry, put a votive inside and light them up!  be sure to use votives that have the metal holder around them.  if wax gets on the inside of your glassware, it will likely take the paint off of your votive holders.  if you choose to use this method on a larger piece to use it as a vase, be sure to put another jar inside of your mercury glass vase, as water will also damage the paint.

that's all there is to it!  i love the way mercury glass makes candles flicker and glow and the gold casts a really nice warm glow in a room, and even when they're not lit, these bring great color and texture to a decor scheme. i'm so excited to use these in our centerpieces!

and if you'd like to pin this diy (which i would love you forever for!), feel free to pin the full picture tutorial here:

do you love mercury glass?  do you think you'd ever try to make your own?

Feb 21, 2020

HTB Happenings

we made it to the weekend yet again!  (can i get an amen?!)  this week was a weird one...aj went back to boston on tuesday night and so that meant trying to get back into my groove midweek.  i love when he's home, but my work rhythms are totally thrown off.  i focus on spending as much time as i can with him and then it always takes a few days to get back into my routine.  (but of course, i'd always rather have him here!)

here's what you might have missed this week on heavens to betsy:

+ i've been living in this blousey, comfy shirt from anthropologie.  i picked it up in nyc right after christmas and it quickly became one of my faves!  gotta love flowy shirts!
+ if you haven't checked out the new line of prints in my etsy shop, i'd be honored if you did!  this not all who wander are lost print is just one of the new designs. 
+ this pup is just so much fun to have around.  he has so much personality and it cracks me up!  we almost didn't get another dog after our last one passed away two summers ago, but i think we're all super happy that ollie joined our family!
+ i don't know about you, but i'm in the process of some early spring cleaning!  i want to seriously thin out my closet/possessions this season, and being stuck inside because of the cold and snow has proven to be motivation.

in case you missed it:
+ i wrote about my thoughts on fifty shades of grey yesterday.  i'm avoiding the franchise, and here's why.
+ i finished my whole30 last weekend, and answered a few frequently asked questions about the experience on the blog this week!
+ lent started on wednesday, and while i'm still figuring out how i want to observe it, i wrote a few thoughts on what lent really means.
+ my preschool students love disney, and love playing on the ipad, and i got a chance to try out disney's new imagicademy arts app, and they loved it!
+ i started the week with a grateful heart post.

don't miss these:
+ i love ashley's style, and this green midi skirt looks so great on her!
+ beks' post about why your daughter won't wait until she's married and why you should stop telling her to was sooo good!
+ laura's post about her capsule wardrobe has me inspired!
+ em's post about how travel changes you was great!
+ these stuffed apples with liberte yogurt look yummy!

Feb 20, 2020

Why I'm Avoiding Fifty Shades of Grey

it's been just about a week since 50 shades of grey hit theaters, and i've read countless articles and blog posts about why christian women (and, really, anyone) should forgo seeing this film.  i remember when the books came out and their was a similar response in the blog-o-sphere.  for the most part, i choose to refrain from writing posts about these types of media-hyped controversies.  not because i don't have an opinion or because i'm afraid of offending my readers, but because there are so many voices out there who have already said what i'm thinking more eloquently than i probably will (check the end of this post for a few of those voices!).

but this whole 50 shades thing hit a nerve with me.  maybe because it's because i'm engaged and so sex is a very real topic of conversation as my fiancé and i head towards marriage.  maybe it's because i've known dear friends who have fought addictions and been affected by the porn industry.  either way, as i think more closely about what sex was designed for, it doesn't include abuse, rape, or manipulation.

so here are a few reasons why i'm avoiding fifty shades of grey:

it promotes unhealthy desires for sex //
let's be honest ladies:  who hasn't dreamt about that scene in the notebook where ryan gosling shouts "it wasn't over for me!  it still isn't over!" at rachel mcadams?  so much of what we fantasize about our relationships and sex lives (whether you're waiting for marriage or not), can be inspired by what we've seen in movies with far less explicit sex scenes.  fifty shades is no different:  by seeing this movie, we open ourselves up to unhealthy practices that have been glamorized for the big screen, therefore planting unrealistic and unhealthy desires for our own bedrooms.  no matter how many times we tell ourselves that real life isn't the movies, it doesn't change the fact that we're influenced by what we see when we hit the theater.  you can, however, make sure that what you're being influenced by isn't promoting a dangerous relationship.

it says that abuse is ok // 
consensual or not, the relationship between the two main characters is not ok.  abuse in any relationship, romantic or otherwise, is never ok.  period.  verbal, physical, and sexual abuse should never be acceptable in any form, whether the person signs a contract (as in this movie) or not.  fifty shades glamorizes a relationship filled with abuse, and even goes so far as to promote it as romantic or a love story.  and the storyline seems to suggest that the "heroine" can change her abuser because, well they love one another.

it depicts women as weak, vulnerable, and objects that men can do whatever they please with //
sure, there are plenty of movies out there with a naive and less-than-strong female lead.  but fifty shades of grey goes one step further as the male lead controls, manipulates, and then uses her body to fulfill his sexual desires.  in addition, the so-called heroine is coerced into this manipulative relationship while under the influence of alcohol, and is portrayed as a naive and helpless, balancing the dominant christian grey and turning him into a hero-figure.

because sex wasn't designed for this //
i'll admit that i'm not exactly experienced when it comes to sex.  both aj and i have made the commitment to wait until we're married to have sex, and while fighting that temptation isn't easy, we're honoring that commitment.  but as we begin to talk about what sex within the covenant of marriage looks like, it's far from what it looks like in fifty shades of grey.  whether you believe in god or not, i hope you value sex as a way to connect with, sacrifice for, and love another person, and not a cheap way to feel good or get what you want.  fifty shades of grey cheapens sex and promotes that it's just a way to feel good at the cost of how the other person feels.

if we can take anything positive from fifty shades of grey, i hope that it's honest conversations with your spouse (or fiancé, if you're engaged) about what you'd like your sex life to look like.  the more i read and hear from married couples, and the more aj and i prepare for our marriage, the more i realize that sex can be such a taboo topic.  but as we're discovering just how important communication is in a   relationship, we're also learning that sex is important and it's paramount to communicate with your partner about sex.  it's uncomfortable to talk to your significant other about what you want out of your relationship, let alone what you want out of sex, but guess what?  it's vital to a healthy marriage.

i know there are a lot of articles out there about why you shouldn't go see this movie.  and maybe what you've just read said the same things as the rest.  but i think it's still worth talking about.  because even though in the long run, fifty shades is just one little blip on the radar, we still need to acknowledge why movies like this, movies that the media blows up about and that culture tries to convince us are just sexy fun, we need to acknowledge that they're not ok.  and while yes, there are far bigger fish to fry in the world we live in today, i'm convinced that if we ignore the little things, then eventually they become the big things.

so let's be culture-shapers, friends.  let's be the ones to demand higher standards.  let's use the media attention that fifty shades of grey is getting to open the conversation and to talk about the big picture here and the messages that this movie is really sending.

what others are saying //
a psychiatrist's letter to young people about 50 shades of grey
fifty shades of grey: why we're not cool with it and why you shouldn't be either on fight the new drug
5 reasons to avoid 50 shades of grey on oak & oats
so much more to sex than fifty shades on christianity today
the real abuse at the heart of fifty shades of grey on relevant magazine

Feb 19, 2020

Creative Learning with Disney

i'm over halfway through my first year of teaching preschool and if i've learned anything, it's that preschool kids love craft projects.  one of my students comes up to me every morning and asks "miss betsy?  what are we going to make today?"  it's adorable, but what's even more adorable is seeing them get so excited as they run towards their parents at the end of the day, anxious to show off their latest creation.

in all honesty, i feel kind of bad for my students' parents!  i've sent so many art projects home that they probably need a whole tub to store them if they're keeping them!  but these kids love being creative, and i love getting to help foster that creativity.

back in december, i wrote this post all about disney's new imagicademy app, mickey's magical math world.  my students love when i break out the ipad, and they love disney, so incorporating that app into my classroom was a no brainer.  when i heard that disney was expanding the imagicademy family of apps to include mickey's magical arts world, i was so excited!

we tested out this fun new app in the classroom and my kids loved it!  it's engaging, interactive, and showcases all of their favorite disney characters in animations and games while also building basic creative arts concepts in kids ages 3-8.  from costuming and voicing their own characters to directing the band with mickey to designing buildings with minnie, there are so many ways to explore mickey's magical arts world.

while some education apps can become boring over time, the disney imagicademy apps just get better.  each child loved exploring the different activities within mickey's magical arts world, and they were able to flex different creative muscles than we can offer them in our classroom, such as building and creating with materials that we'd never be able to replicate.  as a teacher, i loved that mickey's magical arts world covered music basics, drawing skills, design principles, dramatic play, and art materials and tools...i felt like nothing was left out!

the disney imagicademy family also aims to resource parents through the imagicademy parents app, which you can access through mickey's magical arts world.  the parent portal is loaded with ideas for fun, creative, and educational activities and i seriously need to keep it in mind for future lesson plans!  if you have kids, this app is a fantastic resource that includes everything from themed dinner ideas to grocery store scavenger hunts to fun science experiments you can do at home.  it really is a one-stop shop for activities filled with disney's trademark creativity woven into every detail!  the disney imagicademy apps are available for ipad and iphone, so you can keep your kiddo entertained (and learning!) while you're on the go.

what are some ways you teach your kids creative arts topics?  would you ever consider utilizing the disney imagicademy apps?

i was selected for this opportunity as a member of clever girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Feb 18, 2020

Lent // Sacrifice, Preparation, + Reflection

this post was written for gt church's easter blog.  the blog will consist of weekly blog posts, scripture readings, and journal prompts in the weeks leading up to easter, and then daily posts through the week between palm sunday and easter.  subscribe to have the blog delivered to your email inbox here.

i grew up in a more liturgical church than the one i go to now.  somewhere in the midst of elementary school, i learned that the forty days leading up to easter, the lenten season, meant a time of giving something up.  i never really considered the why behind making a small sacrifice during that time, and while I observed the practice, it really signified nothing more than that i couldn’t eat ice cream (or whatever food item i had inevitably chosen) for the forty days. 

when my family started attending gt, i remember feeling some confusion over the lack of recognition of this season in the church calendar, but ultimately, i didn’t feel a huge sense of loss over it.  lent, after all, was just forty days to me.  while i was saved at a young age, the liturgical church calendar didn’t hold a big significance in my walk with christ, but was more of a way to measure the year. 

but as lent begins this year, i’ve found myself desiring to take time to intentionally prepare myself for the celebration of easter.  traditionally, lent covers a period of approximately six weeks leading up to easter sunday and is marked by practices of prayer, repentance, generosity (or almsgiving), and fasting.  while we at gt may not observe lent in the way that our more liturgical brothers & sisters do, i believe that this time of preparation is one that could be made more meaningful by adopting some of the traditional practices of the season.

prayer, fasting, and generosity are things that we should all be practicing regularly, and what better time to get into the habit of these practices than during the weeks leading up to the greatest sacrifice ever made?

maybe for you, it’s choosing something (like a food item or social media site) that you’d like to give up for the next forty days while you spend time in prayer instead of indulging in that specific thing.  perhaps find yourself a lent devotional, or follow along with us through the lenten season on our easter blog.  or possibly decide to live more generously in the next forty days.  whatever way you choose to observe lent this year, i pray that it will be out of a desire to grow closer to jesus, and not out of a sense of obligation.

throughout the month of march, gt church be unpacking some of the miracles of jesus as we prepare to consider the greatest miracle of all:  jesus’s death and resurrection.  join us on this journey to easter sunday, and spend these next few weeks growing closer to god through the wonder of the cross.  you can subscribe to get the weekly blog posts delivered to your email inbox here.  

Feb 17, 2020

On the Other Side of Whole30 // FAQ

i've officially come to the other side of my whole30!  it feels really good to have accomplished thirty days of clean eating.  i did take before/after photos, but since i didn't have the foresight to take web-appropriate photos (i took them in running leggings and a sports bra), i won't be posting them. but, read on as i answer some of the questions that i had when i first started my whole30, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about my experience!

1 // what is whole30?  what made you decide to do it?
whole30 is a thirty-day cleanse.  you commit to a modified diet for 30 days, no excuses, no cheating.  essentially, you eliminate 4 types of inflammatory food from your diet:  grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes (including soy).  there are a few exceptions to those rules (you're allowed to have green beans and snow peas), but the goal is to completely axe all four of those from your diet.  you also agree to not weigh or measure yourself for the duration of the cleanse, except for once on day 1 and once on day 30.  i decided to do whole30 because i needed to reset my system.  you can read more about that decision here!

2 // was it hard to give all of that up for 30 days?
yes.  and no.  there were a lot of moments when i just wanted to give in and have the darn creamer in my coffee, but i went in with the mindset that i was going to commit to it, so i was able to talk myself out of the temptations that i had.

3 // did you lose weight?  how did you feel?
i lost 8 pounds and over twelve inches total on my body (eight of which were on my waist and stomach).  other than a short period in the middle of week two, i really didn't feel bloated at all throughout my thirty days.  i did have some headaches as i cut sugar out of my diet and i also went through a short period of feeling pretty tired.  once i got into my third week, however, all of the negative side effects i was feeling as my body adjusted were gone and i was feeling good.

4 // what other benefits did you notice about whole30?
the whole30 community is all about celebrating "non-scale victories", which is part of why you're not allowed to weigh or measure yourself during the thirty days.  other than not feeling bloated, i noticed that my skin was clearer and i just felt healthier and stronger.

5 // did you exercise?
yes!  i got into a bad routine of not working out regularly in the last few months of 2014, so making exercise a priority was something i planned on doing in the new year anyway.  i really wanted to get back to running and cycling, so i did a lot of that!

6 // how did you stay motivated?
you can't help but be motivated by how good you feel knowing that you're putting whole, healthy foods into your body!  but i won't lie, there will be times when you just want to quit.  here are a few ways i found motivation to keep going on those rough days
+ i downloaded the whole eating app, which proved to be a great way to keep track of where i was in the cleanse (it has a countdown), as well as offered daily motivation, a shopping list, recipes, and a quick reference of what i could and couldn't eat.
+ check out the #whole30 and #whole30results hashtag on social media...they're great ways to find others who are in this thing too and to find inspiration!
+ the biggest source of inspiration was the "tough love" section of the whole30 website.  when i first started exploring whole30, that jumped right out to me, and i repeated the phrase "i can do anything for 30 days" to myself over and over throughout the cleanse!
+ read the whole30 timeline, so that you know what to expect throughout your 30 days!

7 // healthy foods are expensive, did it break the bank?
not really.  yes, fresh, healthy foods can be expensive. but you shouldn't be doing a lot of snacking and you also aren't buying all of the not-so-healthy stuff that you're used to having in your pantry, so it evens out for the most part.

8 // did you still crave foods that weren't whole30 approved?
yep.  in fact, i broke my whole30 by splitting breakfast with aj for valentines day, part of which was the best french toast ever.  while i definitely find it easier to say no to foods that aren't allowed on the whole30, it doesn't mean the cravings totally went away!  in fact, my dad mentioned captain crunch to me in week one, and despite the fact that i can't remember the last time i had that cereal, i still craved it for most of the thirty days!  either way, it does get a little bit easier, and you feel really good knowing that you can say no to foods that aren't good for you!

9 // how will your eating change now that you finished whole30?
i felt really good on the whole30, and i want to continue eating this way.  it is definitely a manageable way of eating, and i have a goal that i'd like to be at for our wedding, so i plan to maintain this lifestyle.  aj adopted a paleo diet (which is largely the same as whole30) when i started my whole30, and so we both plan to continue eating a paleo diet.  i do plan to have non-compliant foods from time to time (paleo allows you to have two non-paleo meals each week), but for the most part, i will be sticking to the way i was eating during the whole30.

10 // would you do it again?
yes!  in fact, i think that i'd like to do another whole30 again soon.  as i said, i plan to continue eating this way, so i hope that it becomes a complete lifestyle and that doing another strict whole30 in the future will be easier.

have you done the whole30?  do you have any questions about it?

Feb 16, 2020

Grateful for This Weekend

i haven't opened my computer much since last tuesday.  i headed into the second part of last week with my blog posts scheduled and when i went to bed on tuesday night, i closed my computer and it didn't open again for over 24 hours.  friends, that never happens.  but on wednesday morning, i hopped in my car and headed north towards new york city....and my fiancé.  aj took a bus early wednesday morning to the city, where his sister goes to school, and i met up with them and amanda's boyfriend, zac to see late night with seth meyers on wednesday evening.  then, aj and i headed back to pa for a whole weekend of being together.

we've been in a long distance relationship for over a year and a half now, and while we've kind of gotten used to the distance, it doesn't change the fact i want to soak up every moment we can spend together.  being engaged has only amplified that, as every time he's home we also have to tackle a few things on our wedding to-do list (this weekend it was starting our premarital counseling and doing a little wedding ring shopping).

and so, as this long weekend is winding down (he flies back to boston tomorrow evening), i can't help but be a little sad that it's almost over, but also overjoyed and filled with gratitude for this time.  this was our fourth valentine's day together, and marked exactly three years of being in a relationship.  and i'm so grateful for the way god brought this man into my life.  i'm grateful for the ways that he compliments me and how he's my best friend.  i'm grateful for the way he makes me laugh and the way he wants to fix it when i cry.

and i'm especially grateful for the opportunity to slow my pace for a few days and spend precious time with him.  we're in an exciting season of our relationship, and i'm grateful for these little weekends, soaking up every minute we can with one another.

of course, i'm also grateful for things like warm scarves and cups of coffee and really, really good french toast to end my whole30, and all of the other little blessings that god bestows day in and day out.  but today (and every day), i'm grateful for the bigger things.

i'm linking up with ember grey for grateful heart monday.  i hope you'll join in!  what are you grateful for today?

Feb 14, 2020

HTB Happenings

i hope you had a happy valentine's day yesterday!  i started off my valentine's day celebrations with a bunch of cards and candy from a class full of adorable three and four year olds, and yesterday, i got to celebrate my first (and only) valentine's day as a fiancé!  i hope that you're enjoying your weekend, no matter what your plans.  spend some time being grateful for the people in your life who you love!

here's what you might have missed this week on heavens to betsy:

+ we celebrated my grandmother's birthday last weekend with a few little parties and a whole lotta puzzles.  maybe i'm an old lady, but i could do puzzles for days.
+ aj came home on wednesday (and is here until tuesday night!) and it's been so great to have him around for a few days! 
+ i worked like crazy to get all of my hours in from sunday-tuesday because of aj being home, so i maybe drank a lot of coffee this week!
+ i drove up to nyc on wednesday to meet aj, zac, and amanda and we all went to see late night with seth meyers.  it was a ton of fun.  if you ever get the opportunity to see a late night show, do it!

in case you missed it:
+ a whole new line of prints launched in the shop this week!  check them out in this post, or head directly to the shop!
+ i blogged a little bit about my winter haircare routine and my experience with head & shoulders' new moisture care line.
+ do you ever consider exercise to be a form of worship?  i'm excited to dive into this lent devotional by vaulter fit that combines exercise and time spent with jesus!
+ i joined in on the golden vlog and answered faith's questions about childhood memories and valentine's plans!
+ i blogged a list of 5 ways to make valentine's day great...and some of them are good for any day of the year!

don't miss these:
+ these black bean burgers (yum!) from rachel.
+ do you lead a life of simplicity?  if not, here are 5 areas of our lives that need simplicity.
+ if you're engaged, read this post on why premarital counseling is a must!  aj and i had our first session this week and it was so good!
+ these yummy juice recipes from sarah!  (my mom and i are planning a juice cleanse for the end of february!)
+ beth has 5 great reasons that you should avoid 50 shades of grey!

and if you're a fan of anthropologie, then be sure to check out the giveaway that i'm a part of on instagram...you could win a $120 giftcard!

Feb 13, 2020

5 Tips for Having the Best Valentine's Day Ever

before i started dating aj, i didn't love valentines day.  it wasn't anything special to me and, well, i didn't have anyone to share it with.  but now, on the other side of things, being in a relationship, i've realized that valentine's day can be such a disappointment if you let it be.  it's so easy to build up our expectations of what we think should happen on this magical holiday of love.  maybe you're fantasizing that the guy you like will finally sweep you off your feet and declare his love.  maybe you are dreaming that your boyfriend will propose, or that your husband will surprise you with a romantic weekend getaway.  but if i've learned anything from three valentines days in a serious relationship, it's that the big, grandiose plans seldom turn out the way you dream.

for example, our first valentines day together was also the day we decided to start dating, and was filled with awkward "what do we do?" kind of conversations and worries.  it was special in it's own way, but we were both figuring out how to navigate that holiday.  our second was spent with both of us fighting the flu.  enough said.  and last year started off with the best intentions...secret reservations made to a great restaurant...which ended up having a weird and expensive fixed menu.

so no matter if you're single or dating or engaged or married, i think it's incredibly easy to set valentine's day up in your mind to be this great day, and can easily be disappointed.  so, here's 5 tips to consider (single or in a relationship!) this valentine's day.

1.  be surprised // the reality is that valentine's day is a commercialized holiday that sets our expectations high.  but the reality is that valentine's day really is just a day where we get an excuse to eat a little more chocolate.  don't set yourself up for disappointment by expecting your life to be a movie.  go buy yourself some chocolate, expect nothing, and be surprised!

2.  pretend you're in elementary school //  think about what made valentine's day so great in school:  you got to give and get those fun little valentines to all of your friends!  i'll let you in on a little secret:  those little cards still make valentine's day fun in adulthood.  grab a box and give them out to your besties at work or school...i guarantee they'll bring back fun memories and put a smile on people's faces!

3.  take the initiative // ladies, i know...we want to have our guys plan a whole big exciting date for us.  but if i've learned anything from dating an introvert, it's that sometimes guys really do enjoy having us take the lead.  plan a fun day or dinner for you and your guy, and surprise him!  chances are he'll love having the pressure taken off and will enjoy the thought that you put into it.  and if you're like me, and love surprising people, it might even be better than if he was surprising you!

4.  celebrate all love // yes, valentine's day is centered around romantic love, but why not take some time to celebrate all love?  tell your parents that you love them and that you're grateful for them.  text a friend and celebrate the unique love that you have with your besties.  none of us would be who or where we are without the love that we've received from those closest to us, so use this holiday as a day to celebrate it all!  no one ever minds getting candy or flowers, so surprise someone special in your life (who isn't your significant other) this holiday....i promise they won't see it coming!

5.  have fun // i think we put so much pressure on valentine's day to be this super romantic day straight from an episode of the bachelor.  but when you strip those expectations away, it really can be a fun holiday.  so remember to have fun on valentine's day this year...send a card to a friend or your grandma (grandma's love that stuff), or go on a romantic date with your man, or have a fun valentine's (or galentine's) party and play some minute to win it games and dance around to 90's boy band music (because let's be real...nothing gets you moving with your girls like blasting some n'sync)!

what are your thoughts on valentine's day?  do you have any tips for making it great, whether you're in a relationship or not?

Feb 12, 2020

The Golden Vlog // February

i'm so excited to be joining in with faith over at life with mrs. g and the artist today for her monthly series, the golden vlog!  this monthly link-up is turning out to be one of my favorites.  i love checking out the other blogs that link-up and i really feel like you get to know bloggers better when you can watch them on video.  there's just something about actually hearing someone's voice that makes this whole blog thing a little more personal.

i actually filmed this whole vlog over the weekend at the end of a good hair & makeup day.  apparently it didn't export properly the first time, and when i went back to export it again, the file was totally gone!  sad day.  oh, technology!

do you have any plans for valentine's day?  did you join in on the golden vlog this month?

Feb 11, 2020

Heavens To Betsy Handmade's Spring Line

last week i got the itch to create.  it's been a busy month and a half getting wedding plans into place, and i haven't had a ton of time to work on my hand lettering and calligraphy.  but i had a few nights last week when i had a little bit of free time, and i pulled out some of my favorite quotes and got to work!  i'm really excited about how these prints turned out, and i can't wait to hang a few of them on my walls.  the shop has been in desperate need of some fresh ink, so these are all now available and for sale!

but thanks be to god who gives us victory through our lord jesus christ // here

there is no such thing as a perfect decision // here

we walk by faith not by sight // here

life is either a daring adventure or nothing // here

not all who wander are lost // here

incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain // here

be strong and courageous // here

let us fix our eyes on jesus // here

dream no small dream // here

so do not fear, for i am with you; do not be dismayed, for i am your god // here

what do you think of the new prints?  any verses, quotes, or lyrics you'd like to see in the shop?

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