Capturing Memories - Newborn Photos

I have been so excited about sharing these photos with the world. I knew when I was looking for a photographer that I wanted someone who would capture images that reflected more of a lifestyle look over a studio look and was so excited to have Sarah Watson Photography take our pictures. Sarah was so easy going and great to work with. Caroline thankfully did very well, she loves being wrapped up tight so the swaddles throughout the whole photoshoot were right up her ally. These pictures are so special to me as I think about how we will always look back on them remember the early days of becoming parents and a family of 3. It has been such a special time and so challenging in ways I don't want to forget. Thankfully we have these gorgeous images that will be with us forever. 

A Birth Story - Caroline Elizabeth Cox

Today is officially my due date. I am sitting here sipping coffee, watching the Today's Show, and holding a sleeping baby on my chest. Needless to say I didn't make it to my due date. I have wanted to write out Caroline's birth story for several days now but haven't found the time to do it. So this morning as I reflect on the past three weeks that this baby was supposed to still be inside me I wanted to finally write out this story. 

On May 22nd I went into the Dr. for my weekly appointment just like normal, I was 36 weeks pregnant at that point. I was feeling fine other than the fact that my clothes were beginning to not fit and I felt like a whale. I was called back to the back and the nurse took my vitals. She knew I tended to have a higher BP on the first take for whatever reason so when the screen read 140/91 she just took it again...same reading, 140/91...and again...140/91. Okay so high BP but not crazy alarming or anything. They tested my urine sample and there were not any signs of protien so I was feeling relieved. Well the nurse comes into my room where I am waiting to see my Dr. and says they want to do some blood work and have me perform a 24 hour uninalysis...so I did begin to get slightly concerned. However, I remained calm and knew they just wanted to be sure of everything and keep Caroline and I safe. 

Fast forward to Friday, May 25th (mine and Ben's 5 year wedding anniversary)...I had dropped off my urine jug earlier in the week and was waiting on my results. I had a prenatal massage lined up for the next day, so in light of everything going on I decided to call my OB and just double check I was okay to still go to the massage. Well...that call is the call that suddenly changed everything. My favorite nurse decided to keep me on the line after telling me I really shouldn't go for the massage (I was sooo bummed) and said she would be right back with my test results. When she got back on the line she proceeded to tell me that my urine had shown high levels of protien so that coupled with the high BP meant I was going to be induced...the following Wednesday. WHAT?! I remained calm on the phone but then hung up and immediately called Ben and began to melt down...all the tears and sobbing and freaking out. I could not believe suddenly it was our last weekend just us, and in just 5 days I would be induced. We had so much to do still on the house and to be ready for Caroline's arrival...I was flipping out. Ben remained really calm and was so encouraging and supportive (even though I know he was freaking out too since he thought he still had a few weeks to line everything up at work for his leave time). We hung up the phone and I was able to breath again and called my mom and sister. Both of them remained calm, talked me down, and reminded me how exciting it was that I was going to get to meet my little girl sooner than we thought. 

 
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That night Ben and I decided to celebrate our anniversary at our very favorite steakhouse in Jackson, Shapley's. We enjoyed nice steaks and a sweet evening of just us together reminiscing on the past 5 years together and talking of all the was about to come in the next week. The following five days were somewhat of a blur and packed with prepping things for Caroline to join us. By the time Wednesday arrived we were ready...we woke up slowly that morning to a gorgeous sunny day. We enjoyed coffee together and time in prayer outside on our back porch, I managed to take a little nap preparing for labor later that day and we packed our bags and headed to the hospital about 3:00pm on Wednesday, May 30th. 

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We checked into the hospital and got shown to our room, and the first awesome God moment happened. I had been SO NERVOUS and when our nurse walked into our room it was the nurse that we had LOVED that taught our child birth class. It instantly helped me to calm down and feel at peace and in good hands. Rebecca was amazing and was so encouraging to us both as we began the whole process of being induced. Let me back up...I didn't tell you, I was not dilated AT ALL nor was I effaced AT ALL. So to start the process a more natural way, my Dr. inserted a Foley Catheter Balloon into my cervix that would begin contractions mechanically and in theory was supposed to get me to 4cm dilated before it would be taken out. So I had the balloon in all night which was interesting for sure and surely did start contractions...whew. I slept off and on throughout the night (special shoutout to Stadol, the magic medicine that let me sleep through mild contractions, you the real MVP). 

The next morning my Dr. came in to remove the balloon and sadly I was only about 2 cm dilated and slightly thinned out. Little did I know I would never progress beyond this point. That was about 6:30am and once the balloon was removed I was started on Petocin to really kick up the contractions...geez did they really get stronger. We had our praise and worship music playing and when a tough contraction would come along I would just grab Ben's hand, squeeze it tight, breath, and mouth the words to some of my favorite songs full of truth about the Lord's faithfulness to us. Sidenote - it was so amazing to see my husband interact with me and other during this whole process. He was so tender, attentive, and supportive. Wouldn't want any other birthing partner, he was wonderful. 

So every 3-4 hours my Dr. would come back to check me and every single time I was still only 2cm dilated...womp womp womp...it was getting pretty discouraging. I held out as long as I could before getting my epidural, but once I had this placed I was much more relaxed and comfortable. About lunchtime on Thursday things began to take a bit of a downward turn...my contractions were not progressing or falling into a pattern like was desired, my blood pressure had started to rise, and my heart rate had continued to stay pretty high. This was the first time that a C Section was mentioned...my Dr. said to Ben and I that it things didn't change when she came back to check me again later that we may need to go that route. She left the room, and Ben and I both cried. We were caught off guard and a section was definitely not what I wanted...but we knew that nothing that was happening had caught the Lord by surprise and that we were recieving amazing care so we came to terms with what may happen ahead and really did feel a peace about it. 

Things continued to go south after this point...my BP stayed high as did my heart rate, and I had begun to show signs of an infection with a fever...then suddenly Caroline's heart rate began to sky rocket over 200 BPM and that is when the call was made...about 4:00pm it was decided we would be having a C Section and would be meeting our daughter within the hour. I was scared but more relieved than anything. There was an end in sight. In what feels like a blur I was prepped for surgery, Ben was given scrubs to cover up with, and I was wheeled down to the OR for the procedure. It all happened SO FAST at this point. There were people everywhere prepping the room for me and the area where they would care for Caroline. I was given more medicine in my epidural until I could not feel anything from my chest down. Ben was sitting by my head and the procedure began. I could not feel anything at all but still had to remind myself to breath and remain calm. I had to be given oxygen to help me breath at one point...but all of it faded away when suddenly I heard that little (not so little) cry...Oh that moment. I cried, Ben cried, the nurses cried seeing Ben cry...it was the sweetest moment. They wrapped up Caroline and showed her to me and snapped some pictures of us while the Dr. was finishing sewing me back up. 

 
 

Ben was able to watch Caroline be cleaned off and weighed and then he took her back to the nursery for a bath and to meet our families. This is the part that is hard for me if I am being honest...I really have not struggler with my "birth plan" going differently than I had hoped. I knew this was the best thing for me and for Caroline and have had true peace with this decision and path we had to go down. BUT...not getting to see our parents and my sister meet Caroline for the first time has been sad for me, and I think that is okay. A good friend and fellow mama told me before labor to allow myself to grieve the things I had to give up, and to not feel bad about that grief. So this was a sad part of having a c section for me and that is okay. 

 
 

Once I was all taken care of I was wheeled back to our room and was reunited with my precious daughter a few minutes later. We were able to have skin on skin time and I was able to nurse her right away which was magical and so sweet. She was so tiny weighing 6lbs 4oz and had the most gorgeous head full of hair. I was in love with her immediately and could not believe she had been inside me just a few minutes earlier. What a miracle it is to birth a child. 

 
 

Later that evening we were moved over to our postpartum room and things began to settle down. I had no idea about the recovery from a C Section and was caught off guard by being kept in the bed for 24 hours and the pain that came the next day. Simple tasks like sitting up, walking, coughing, laughing, and even just going to the bathroom were super hard and really tiring. But it truly was worth it all and I would do every bit of it again in a heartbeat to have this little girl in my arms. John 16:21 is such a verse of truth, "When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world." The anguish was gone and the joy was there and there in fullness. We are so grateful to the Lord to have been given this gift of parenthood. We cannot believe the miarcle that is pregnancy and birth, what a testimony to the goodness of our Heavenly Father! 

Our Caroline Elizabeth

So on October 8th, 2017 everything came to a standstill. I can remember randomly on a whim deciding to grab that lone pregnancy test in my bathroom and open it up...why? I honestly have no idea. I was only maybe a day or two late but just decided to take it for fun I guess? I honestly don't know. Anyways, fast forward nearly an hour later I had taken the test, set it down on the bathroom floor and honestly forgotten about it. I came back, picked up, and gasped. Two faint pink lines. STILLNESS. I told Ben who just kept saying, okay, okay, okay...haha we were both so caught off guard. We jumped in the car and ran to the drug store and probably spent $40 on pregnancy tests...all which said the same thing, we were expecting. 

The emotions that followed that day are ones I will never forget. Brand new feelings I have never felt before. Unknown, fear of the unknown, excitement in the midst of the unknown, fear again, excitement, and on and on it goes. I will say that I have never been more amazed by something or in awe of the handiwork of our Father God in my entire life. My body is capable of growing a life and that is simply the most amazing and magical thing I have ever experienced. 

I am now officially 20 weeks pregnant with our little girl, Caroline Elizabeth, and loving every minute. The first trimester, and really up until about 18 weeks, was very rough. I was so sick, barely able to keep food down and lost a lot of weight, but now at 20 weeks the sickness is pretty much gone, energy is coming back and I feel more like myself again which is an immense blessing. We chose the name Caroline simply because it struck me one day when I heard it said and I fell in love with it, I began dreaming of our daughter and knew, her name was supposed to be Caroline. Elizabeth was my precious Grammy's name and is my middle name. I loved and admired my Grammy so much and have always known my first daughter would carry her precious name. I pray our sweet Caroline can grow to be just like the woman that my grandmother was while she walked on this earth. 

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Since finding out we are having a girl I have begun to buy ALL. THE. BOWS. I seriously cannot help myself and know I am going to have to dig deep in the days and years ahead to find some self control when it comes to girl clothes and everything floral. It is just all so beautiful. I bought this sweet little onsie below the day we found out we were having a girl, and just think it is the most precious thing. So say a prayer for me for self control and grace from my husband on the shopping for all the things front! :) 

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I have already begun to plan out Caroline's nursery, and have been having way too much fun with this. Of course the designer in me had to create an inspiration board which you can find below. Her bedding will be all white, with a large custom made wooden sign above the bed and a felt garland drapped over it for some color. The sign is one thing I am the most excited about for the nursery...it will have Numbers 6:24-26 on it in a beautiful script font, which is the verse my own mother spoke over my siblings and I nearly every night as a prayer of blessing before we went to sleep. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ We are planning to leave the walls the same color as they are now, Mindful Grey by Sherwin Williams, and really keep things very soft and neutral with minimal accents of coral, blush pink, and deep green. 

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HEALTH 

Like I said, overall sickness is gone with the exceptions a day or two here and there every two weeks. Praise the good Lord above!! I have some pretty bad skin changes on my face, mainly just small non itchy bumps and lots of dryness which has taken some getting used to when it comes to how I apply makeup and such. YIKES! I have also had pretty terrible sinus issues, sooo much mucus! TMI? But overall, second trimester is a breeze compared to the first and I am super grateful for that! 

  • Weight Gain - Still have not gained any weight BUT I am really thankful to not have lost anymore. I lost over 20lbs to start with from all the sickness so it is a blessing to be at a steady spot now and maintaining weight. 
  • Stretch Marks - a few if I am being honest! Mainly on my hips but not so much on my belly...as of a few months ago I have been religious about applying lotion a few times a day! 
  • Maternity Clothes - Yes kinda, I am wearing maternity jeans because rubberbands aren't cutting it anymore, but I can still wear all my leggings and tops for the most part. I have had to break down and invest in new bras twice now...those girls just keep on growing! HA!
  • Movement - YES! I have an anterior placenta so it has taken time to really feel much movement, and even now I do not feel her consistently throughout the day, but I definitely feel my sweet girl multiple times a day. I cannot wait for her little kicks and punches to be strong enough for Ben or feel from the outside, I have a feeling it won't be too much longer. 

EMOTIONS

Overall, pretty normal. But bless my poor husband on the days I go slightly insane. I am either fine OR totally irritable and weepy for really no reason. So while I have always been a pretty emotional person this has taken that to a whole new level. Praise the Lord for grace within marriage and lots of humility during this process. 

CRAVINGS / AVERSIONS

Still totally unable to eat plain chicken or really handle raw chicken to cook with. Your girl can go nuts on some fried chicken just not a plain piece of grilled or baked chicken for whatever reason. I have no cravings whatsoever for Mexican food and also cannot really deal with seafood. So we are eating lots of pasta, sausage instead of chicken and ground beef. 

Cravings have been all the terrible things. Cheeseburgers, cheese fries (especially those from Outback and Steak N Shake), pickles (especially fried), Chick-Fil-A, and Cheetos! So random but all so intense. I have given myself a lot of grace on the eating front, after losing over 20lbs in the first trimester I am letting myself indulge some in what sounds good for now. 

CURRENTLY LOVING

Like previously mentioned...all the girl things. I spend more time than I care to admit drooling over baby girl clothes and hair bows. I have found so much joy in designing Caroline's nursery and putting together our registry. Both tasks were overwhelming but I am happy with our decisions and more eager than ever to begin making some purchases and working on the nursery. You can view our registry here

MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO

First and foremost I am most looking forward to having our house renovation at a stopping point. We are getting so close and Ben has worked so hard the last several months. We really just lack getting the butcher block top for the island cut and installed (we being BEN 100%) and then laying down all our hardwood floors. So I am hoping we will be done by April and able to turn our attention to the nursery at that point. 

I am also looking forward to begin to make more purchases and check things off the list. So far our only big purchase has been the crib. So I cannot wait to begin really knocking some of the bigger things off our list. 

How to Combat Insecurity as a Self Taught Designer

Being a self taught anything can be hard sometimes. Fighting feelings of insecurity and impostor syndrome are not fun. Here are 10 ways to fight those feelings and win. 

I don't know about you but I have found myself many a time in a place of self doubt and insecurity as a self taught freelancer and business owner. It is very easy to begin to believe the lies that "you are not good enough", or "you don't know what in the world you are talking about". Whenever I begin listening to these lies I am paralyzed, game over. My business is at a complete stand still, I find myself unsure of how to go forward, I am totally stuck in my insecurity feeling like a big fat poser. 

For most creatives this poser or impostor mentality is at an all time high when one or more of the following things has happened...

  • A client is unhappy with a product or design.
  • They begin to compare themselves to other designers who are making what seems like millions more $$$ while doing about the same amount of work. 
  • They find themselves wanting to be a "true designer" but feel like they don't have it together enough to use that title.
  • They fixate on the fact that they do not have a degree or formal training/experience in any sort of design. 

Can anyone out there relate? I am pretty sure most creatives run into this feeling at least once or twice. Nonetheless it is not a fun place to find yourself, it is just discouraging and it halts all productivity for your business which is never a good thing. 

So what do you do when you find yourself in this dark place? 

  1. Pull Away from the Noise.

    Turn off the phone, step away from the computer, mute your social media. Just step away. Sometimes the biggest triggers for my self doubt come from pouring over a million "how to" posts. While they are often helpful, sometimes they leave me second guessing myself and my abilities. So if you are feeling unsure of yourself, turn off all the noise and just breath. 
  2. Take Some Time Just for You.

    Taking breaks is a huge part of being successful in a creative business. I have learned this the hard way. The harder I push myself the faster I end up either burned out or in this place of creative paralysis. Set aside intentional time to take care of yourself and enjoy some much needed alone time, this can be as simple as afternoon tea or coffee, or a walk around the block.
  3. Stop the Comparison Game.

    We all want to be successful, and it is all too easy in this digital age to look at others who are making money, have thousands of followers, and seem to have it all together and beat yourself up. Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and I would also say it is the thief of productivity, creativity, and unique content. Get out of the heads of others, and get inside your own head. 
  4. Give Yourself a Pep Talk.

    Nothing cheers me up like a good old fashioned pep talk. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are good at what you do, and others think so too. Also, it never hurts to throw on some lipstick, and a little Beyonce and dance it out while affirming yourself. 
  5. Look Back at How Far You Have Come.

    When I look back at the very first things I ever designed in Photoshop I literally cringe. There is nothing more encouraging to me creatively than to look back to where I started and to see how far I have come. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it is amazing how confident you will feel after reviewing your progress.
  6. Read Client Testimonials.

    Encouraging words are my love language. Seriously, just write me a kind note and I will love you forever. I save every note I ever receive in shoe boxes, and love to go back and look over them when I feel down. Same goes for my design life. I keep all my kind emails from clients, testimonials, and uplifting conversations and go back over them when I begin to question my abilities. Works every time!
  7. Accept that Mistakes are Part of Life.

    It is so easy as women to internalize all of our mistakes and take them on ourselves. In business of any kind you will make mistakes...heck just in life in general we are going to make mistakes. Accepting this makes it easier to deal with. Don't question everything about your business or creative decisions if a client points out a mistake or criticizes your methods. Embrace the mistakes as part of your growing process, and learn to have tough skin rather than being hyper sensitive.  
  8. Remember that We are all still Learners.

    No matter what it may seem like from the outside looking in no one has it all together. No matter what their Instagram looks like or how polished their website is, we are all still learners. You will be learning for the rest of your life, just like everyone else. So take your eyes off those you have placed on pedestals, and remember we are all just on a journey to be the best we can be. 
  9. Seek Out Encouragement from Others. 

    When you find yourself feeling insecure and questioning everything about your business, stop and call a friend. I love talking to my husband about this because he stops and reminds me of truth and points out the lies I am believing. Having a fresh set of ears to listen to you talk all your thoughts out helps so much to bring you back down to earth and calm you down.
  10. Embrace Who You Are.

    More importantly than anything else, really grab onto who you are. For me, I am a self taught designer that has no degree in anything to do with design. But I love learning, and have come a long way when it comes to freelancing. I am a people pleaser that has to actively strive to guard myself from being overly sensitive. I struggle to not compare my success to the success of others. By embracing these truths about myself I am able to really own them, learn from them, and grow in these areas. 

If you still feel like a poser take a minute...pick two, just two things from this list and go do them and see how you feel after. Also, drop me a line in the comments below, I would love to be your cheerleader from one self doubter to another. 

Do you struggle with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy in your field? 

 

 

Avenue 410 Boho Boutique Brand Launch

You may notice a few changes over here in the next few weeks, Oh Simple Joys has gotten a face lift and a new focus. I have mentioned several times in these brand posts that I am a self taught designer/freelancer. I love learning about design and I want to share what I learn with you! So be on the look out for more posts about my experiences as a self taught designer in the days ahead. 

Recently I had the opportunity to partner with two lovely ladies that happen to be sister in laws. These ladies had a dream of opening up a bohemian inspired online boutique with long term goals of a brick and mortar store on down the line. Enter Avenue 410, I was thrilled to work on the branding, logo, and web design for this project. 

We wanted to go for very rich, bold, feminine colors, and modern images that allude to the boho aesthetic and style that Avenue 410 carries in their products. 

I created 4 logo designs, and had a lot of fun drawing the little hanger. Ultimately we went with the first option and added in colors.

I created several collateral items including stickers, discount cards, thank you cards, and social media banners. They all turned out super cute!!

This was a super fun project to work on, and I know you will love all the clothes sold by Avenue 410, so check them out. (Hint, they have free shipping right now!! Hurry!!)

Meet Our New Home

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2016 is the year of change for the Cox household. Ben has officially become a Dr. of Civil Engineering, we have moved to a new city, bought our first home, and are renovating the house. It is a crazy time but filled with memory making. I wanted to take a minute to give you a "before" tour of the house. These are the pictures taken before we moved anything in. I will also share some of our renovations that we have completed. 

We have made lots of progress and still have a long ways to go. But you can follow our progress on Instagram following the #thecoxcasa hashtag and on Facebook! We are so excited to have so many of you following along with our renovation journey. 

Pursuing Balance Blog Design

2015 was such an exciting year for me with my design freelancing. I am completely self taught as many of you that have been around here awhile know. So to continue to see this business grow and mature has been such an exciting journey for me. I began by doing blog designs here and there and now while I still offer blog design services my clients have become much more diverse. 

Samantha and Nicole contacted me about designing there blog and I was so excited to have a blog design to work on in the midst of my other project. These two ladies are both so filled with passion I knew it was going to be fun to collaborate together. They were a joy to work with. Pursuing Balance is their joint lifestyle blog that chronicles their journey to a life of balance. Their wit and charm is seen in every post and makes it so fun to follow along with their adventures. 

We went with a very calm color palette because the idea of pursuing balance just exudes the need for calm and peaceful colors. The deep navy and purple create some depth while the teal and khaki keep things light and airy. 

I got really into the logo design and ended up with five logo concepts this time around instead of my normal 3. Oops! Inspiration struck though. So I just went with it. I played around with some scale drawing and various fonts that were whimsical yet still professional and clean. 

Nicole and Samantha chose the second logo concept and I think t is perfect. Very simple and clean while still being feminine and unique. 

Overall this was a great project thanks to Nicole and Samantha for being such easy clients to please. They made this job a breeze, and I cannot recommend enough that you go check out their witty and practical blog! Visit them by clicking the button below! 

Formula for Planning 6 Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (plus 1 week of recipes)

Ok I need to be honest here...for the first few years of marriage meal planning was a weekly task that really stressed me out. Anybody else out there felt this way? Well I did. I could not decide on what I wanted to cook, or I would plan for 5 or 6 elaborate meals with insanely long ingredient lists...I hardly ever landed at a balance. And talk about busting the budget, yikes, but that is another post for another day. 

Awhile back I worked at a bakery as a head kitchen assistant and during my time there I began to notice something about my boss...she NEVER used recipes. Like ever, and she never had to plan meals. I was so amazed by her ability to throw ingredients together to make something delicious with minimal effort (all while running a successful business and being a mom to 9 year old triplets and a 7 year old, hello super woman), and the longer I worked closely with her the more I learned to be this way in the kitchen. 

Now, I am quite the type A personality, so not meal planning would not work for me like it did for my boss. However, I have taken the principles I learned from working at the bakery and created my own simple meal planning formula that I try to stick to every week. It is broad and really just a road map for me to keep planning simple and stress free. 

Simple Meal Planning Formula! Super handy for making meal planning stress free and QUICK! YES!

MEAL PLANNING RULES OF THUMB 

  • MAKE IT YOUR TIME - Set aside your own uninterrupted time to get this done. I usually make out my weekly meal plan on Sunday afternoons. I will sit at the dining room table with my laptop, meal planning journal, recipe book, and a cup of coffee and go to town.
  • BROWSE RECIPES BEFORE YOU START- I take about 5-10 minutes to look through Pinterest, recipe books, and my own printed recipes before starting to meal plan. I make notes of recipes that interest me as I go. 
  • TAKE INVENTORY - Before I start planning out my meals I do a quick pantry, freezer, and fridge scan to make sure I know what I have to work with. Saves money every time. Check out my previous post on Meal Planning 101 for more tips to make the before, during, and after process less stressful also. 

Now for my super simple formula, I have five categories I try to stick to loosely. These categories help me fly through my planning, and rarely do I spend longer than 30 minutes beginning to end scratching out a meal plan for the whole week. 

Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

2 QUICK MEALS

I say that a meal is quick if it takes less than 30 minutes from the time you cut your oven on to the time you are at the table serving your family. OR it is a meal that is frozen ahead of time, or a crock pot meal. So I try to get creative but always plan for two simple, no fuss meals. 

1 NEW OR ETHNIC MEAL

As a self proclaimed foodie I really enjoy trying new dishes. So I limit myself, for my husband's sake (he is not a huge ethnic food fan) and for the sake of our budget to one meal a week. I may try a new ingredient I have never worked with or a new technique with something as basic as chicken. This meal keeps me excited to be in the kitchen every week. 

1 MEAL IN A BOWL

Oh the endless possibilities in this category. Rice bowls are my favorite. I will use barley, quinoa or rice, add in some protein and sauteed veggies and call it a day. Salads are a great option, as is any pasta dish. HELLO CARBS IN A CREAM SAUCE!!! Also during the winter months we have some type of soup almost weekly. 

1 MEAL ON THE GRILL

As Mississippi residents it is never too cold for us to grill outside, but for those of you that may actually have a winter you can grill inside with those nifty little grill pans that can be found anywhere these days. We usually grill out once during the weekend. It feels different than our normal meals during the week so it is an exciting way for us to usher in a relaxing time off from work. 

1 REPURPOSED MEAL

Repurposed meals are my favorite because they push me to get creative. Basically I take any leftovers from the week and make a dish out of it. Sometimes it may be a soup, other times it may be a frittata or quiche, and other it is simply breakfast for dinner night. Creativity is key in this category.

1 DATE NIGHT

Last but not least, my husband and I have an out to eat date night once a week. Because who doesn't love a night off?! 

Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

Meal planning can be simple when you follow this easy formula. Think of it as a simple road map to help you detour stress and to save time!! Below I have listed our meal plan for this week (by category) for you all to use as an example. 

Quick Meals -

New / Ethnic Meal - 

Meal in a Bowl - 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (also a repurposed meal made with broth from bones of the flat roasted chicken, leftover chicken meat, leftover veggies - BIG MONEY SAVER right here!!)

Meal on the Grill - 

Repurposed Meal -

  • Mixed veggie, sweet potato, and kale frittata (not really a recipe on this one, I just follow my gut)

How do you make meal planning less stressful? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! Have questions? Drop me a line!

Cookies & Grace Brand Launch + We bought a house!

Somehow Christmas, News Years Eve, and 2016 all snuck up on me. I blame it on the void of routine in my life right now, but man I just love fresh starts so I am trying to still seize the spirit of a new year even though we are a few days in. Many of you follow me on social media so you know that Ben and I just moved to Clinton, MS, bought a house, AND are renovating said house (are we crazy or what?!). We are super happy, super tired, and super thankful for the provision that this house is for us. 

In the midst of all the crazy I nearly forgot to highlight this gorgeous client of mine, Cookies & Grace. Author and baking extraordinaire, Ali Grace, was a joy to work with and is so much fun to follow. Her blog is all about raw truth and sweets, so of course you should check it out. Ali Grace wanted a very professional look while still having some whimsy and pops of her favorite colors. 

For her inspiration board I pulled in images with elements that nod to her passion for baking while also giving off a cozy vibe that describes Ali Grace's personality to a T. The navy and mustard are such a fun color combo. 

Logo concepts are always the most daunting and exciting part of the design process for me. They are scary sometimes because you have no idea what the client will think, but exciting because your creative juices are allowed to flow at an all time high speed. I pulled in brush lettering, professional fonts, and some fun graphics to create four unique logo concepts. Ali Grace chose a variation of the first logo, and we got to work on the rest. 

I also was able to design business cards for this sweet lady and I loved being able to bring in all the shades of blue along with the logo. They turned out great! 

Overall this was one of my favorite projects to work on, it was so whimsical and fun, and getting to know my clients during our Skype chats and endless emails is always the best part of the job. Be sure and click the button below to see the live site in action, and say hello to Ali Grace! (you will seriously be drooling over her gorgeous cookies!!)

If you or someone you know is interested in logo design, website design, branding, or print design be sure to check out my design process, packages and portfolio. My 2016 design schedule has several openings and I would love to work with you! 

Also, for those interested below is my picture of our house, new post coming soon giving you the "before" tour! 

Laura Kittrell Photography Brand Launch

To say that I am excited about this post would be an understatement. Oh Simple Joys has grown exponentially in the past 6 months and I am grateful for this growth for so many reasons. One of the many reasons is because I have been able to work with so many business women lately. While I am still very much offering my design services for bloggers, lately I have been working with published authors, college professors, fitness studio owners, photographers, videographers, bakers, and more...it has truly been inspirational. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet new clients, and Laura Kittrell has been one of those clients. 

Christmas + Cards = Nostalgic Bliss

I do not know about you but my favorite time of year is Christmas time. I look forward to it all year long and love the magic that comes with Christmas. But the part I love most is the nostalgia. Reminiscing about past Christmases, pulling out decorations you have had for years, or looking back through old Christmas cards, I love how nostalgic the season is. 

This year I wanted to design some Christmas cards for my Etsy shop in an effort to share that joy I feel from the nostalgic tradition of sending cards to friends and family during the holidays. All of these can be found in my shop and can be customized however you would like. 

Victoria's Monograms & More Logo Design

I recently left my day job as a kitchen assistant in a fast paced, growing bakery to come home and pursue creativity full time. There were a million little reasons that led me to this decision, but my goal has always been to figure out a way to make money from home doing something I love. While I am still not at the point that I can say this business I am doing is paying our bills like my full time bakery job, I can say it is growing every week and that is amazing to me. I started out doing blog designs a few years ago only know a little bit about graphic design and coding. Now I am designing for published writers, small and big business owners, creative shop owners, and more...the Lord has blown me away at his faithfulness. 

The hardest yet most rewarding part of every design project for me is creating a logo. I have continued to learn and grow in this area, but every time I find myself with sweaty hands when I send the logo concepts off to the client to proof. Logo design is such a huge part of the brand development so I really find it sets the tone for the entire project. Such was the case with my most recent logo client, Victoria's Monograms & More. 

Victoria wanted a more mature and professional design while still maintaining a colorful and young aesthetic. She love monograms and being from the south so we went with images that inspire these two loves and I was very pleased with how the inspiration board turned out. 

The deep purple and khaki mixed with the pops of coral and pinks really created a mature feel while still keeping the branding young and vibrant. 

Above are the initial logo concepts, I wanted to use color and text to create something unique while trying to still integrate some "monogram" elements. Victoria liked the second and third option the best so I took these two concepts and continued to build on each a little more. 

We decided to go with option number 3 from this set, though I love them all. So then I got to work on a circular logo for Victoria to use throughout her social media outlets and Etsy shop. 

Victoria also had business cards designed to go along with her new branding and logo. 

I love how classy these cards are, so professional! I would encourage you to check out Victoria's Etsy shop using the button below, like her shop, and maybe even make a purchase! Thanks for the opportunity to work together Victoria. 

Are you or someone you know interested in a new logo, branding, or website for your business? Message me and let's talk about working together! 

25 More Free Date Nights (that you haven't seen anywhere else)

Romance is something everyone is drawn to. We just love love, and we love the idea of being pursued by someone we love. As a believer I believe that is because the Lord wired us this way, he created us with the desire to be loved and to love as a picture of his great love story found in the Gospel! I think this is why my most popular post of all time was this one right here. It has been pinned well over 100,000 times and has new hits every day even several years after being published. People love the idea of dating, and of course we love anything that claims to be free, can I get an amen?! 

My original post listed 52 almost free dates nights, and I turned them into a cute little date night jar for my husband as a birthday present! One date a week for a whole year. It was a really fun way to make a special gift without spending a single penny (first year of marriage probs) . Today I want to share with you 25 new fresh ideas for a free (or almost free) date nights, all of which are not listed on the original list! 

1. DIY Date Night  

My husband and I are big DIYers and we love to always have a project happening. So pick something, big or small, and tackle it together one evening. Some of our favorite projects have been picture frames, chalk boards, end tables, and pillow cases! Get creative! 

2. Passport Date

Pick a spot on the map you want to go, and create an evening in honor of that place. Paris? Cook a French meal and enjoy yummy wine and pastries. China? Make homemade take out and fortune cookies! Think anywhere! This could be done regularly too to try out different cuisine! 

3. "Blind" Date

This is not your traditional blind date. Write 3 dinner places down on slips of paper, three free activities outside of the house, and 3 dessert ideas. Place in different hats and close your eyes and draw one slip of paper out of each hat. You have a "blind" date that is sure to be fun! 

4. Gourmet Campfire Date

Fire + S'mores + Gourmet flair...think peanut butter, nutella, homemade marshmallows, nuts, biscoff cookies, or even a savory option with brie or other cheeses. Step up the typical campfire food with a gourmet twist. 

5. Random Acts of Kindness Date

Think of something to do for a neighbor or stranger and do it. Bake cookies and leave them on a doorstep, pay for someone's meal, surprise young parents by babysitting...something nice and do it for free! 

6. Paint Party

Paint together, whether it is furniture, a chalkboard, a canvas, or a fence...painting with your loved one is always sure to be a good time. I mean hello paint fights and lots of giggles! 

7. Dream Vacay Planning

Plan out your perfect vacation, with all the bells and whistles, and enjoy the freedom of dreaming for free! 

8. Plan out your "Must Have's" and "No Ways" for a future home

My husband and I are in the middle of buying a house so there have been many nights with a legal pad and pen that we have spent writing down out must have's and no way's...lots of fun, and a great way to talk out some of our differences! :) 

9. Try All the New Things

It doesn't matter what you do but only new things go...new foods, new movies, new shows, new activities! New everything!!

10. Sports Night

Tennis, Running, Golf...whatever floats your boat but get physical together! (in a out of the house kind of way;))

11. Childhood Game Night

Whip out the old school games of Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Bop It, and Guess Who and have fun reliving your glory days of being a kid. 

12. Blind Candy Tasting 

My hubs and I love to do this with each other with jellybeans. We give each other candy and make the other close their eyes and try to figure out the flavor. You will be surprised at how hard it is to guess when you cannot see what color the candy is! 

13. Tailgate Dinner at your Favorite Spot

Pop down the tailgate (if you have a truck) or pop open the hood, throw in some blankets and have a picnic of sorts outside! 

14. Window Shopping Date

This is a favorite for us, we love walking around malls, Walmart, Lowe's and other stores open after 8 or 9 and just window shopping! It is free but gets us out of the house! 

15. Bingo Night

16. Classic Video Game Night 

Think Pacman, Super Mario Brothers, Mario Kart and the classics of the good old days of Nintendo! 

17. Climb on your roof (or any roof) and just talk!

Again another favorite for us. We will climb up our roof and sit up there and just look at the stars and cars going by and just talk to each other for hours. So relaxing and fun. 

18. Make your Christmas Wishlist

19. Have a Cooking Competition (Chopped Style)

Have your spouse or significant other pick out 5 "basket ingredients" and time yourselves to make the other a delicious dish only using the ingredients you were given! Sure to provide some laughs and interesting eats! 

20. Netflix Documentary Night

My husband and I are nerds and we love to learn. We really enjoy educational films and documentaries so this is a really fun date night in for us. 

21. Make Homemade ___________

Think of something that is always labeled as "too difficult" in your mind when it comes to the kitchen...marshmallows, homemade bread, pasta, caramel...whatever it is. Try to learn and tackle it together. 

22. Home Videos Night

Pull out those old videos, and watch with your significant other. There is nothing quite as special as seeing my husband as a little one...it is really intimate in a strange way! 

23. Book Store Scavenger Hunt

Think of fun things for the other to find and go on a hunt to find them all first. Things like...a fun recipe to cook, a favorite children's book, a quote that moves us...a fun way to pass the time after dinner and get out of the house! 

24. Go for a Ride

We love to do this. We just hit the road with no where in particular in mind. We will look at houses and dream big dreams about future kids and so on. It is really relaxing and we often try to leave our phones and just enjoy the time to be together. 

25. Make your Ultimate Bucket List

As a couple make a list of things you want to accomplish 5 years from now, 10, 15 20...and try to mark on off the list the night you make it! 


What are your favorite date nights?

Why I Switched from Blogger to Squarespace

In the internet world there are so many hot topics, every seasoned blogger or business owner has an opinion on where to host, who to use for design services, what to write about, how often to write...and the list goes on. For me when it comes to where to host my blog I pledge my allegiances to Squarespace until the end! Many creatives are making the switch over to this clean, user friendly platform. I haven't always been a Squarespace user, I previously used the free Blogger platform. However my blog began to grow, as did my love for design, and I began to feel very discontent with my set up. I knew it was time for me to step towards something more suitable for me.

Then I read this post by my sweet friend Lauren, and knew I had to jump ship. It was time for me to make a change, and I was eager to host on a platform that could grow with me and my business in the years to come. So queue Squarespace...and all the praise hands! Why did I switch, and why do I recommend this platform to every client I work with? Let me tell you! 

1. ANYONE CAN USE IT + Bye Bye HTML!!

With many platforms out there customizing your blog or website requires a knowledge of HTML/CSS code. This is a language of its own, and it not only difficult to learn but is incredibly tedious and time consuming. When I was on Blogger I had to use HTML or CSS for every little customization...it was so much work. With Squarespace anyone can set up a website and maintain the website, without having to know how to write code. (Can you hear the angels singing yet?)

I do know quite a bit about writing HTML/CSS code but due to the tedious nature of writing code (I mean come on...one little comma or dot makes the whole code break! YIKES) I prefer to avoid it if at all possible. Squarespace makes this possible almost all the time. There are a few rare occasions in which I choose to still write my own code, but 9 times out of 10 I do not have to. With Squarespace anyone can get a professional and unique website without writing code, which was seriously enough to convince me. 

2. it is EASY ON THE WALLET

I knew at the end of 2014 I wanted to make a change when it came to my blog. I was heavily considering switching to Wordpress, but was hung up on the cost. It was adding up quickly to self host, and pay someone to help me export everything, plus set up my framework...and so on. I was overwhelmed and had not nearly enough money for all that the platform required. 

Squarespace on the other hand offers the customization I was looking for but for a fraction of the cost. There are different monthly payment plans, none of which are more than $30, that meet different needs for users. I was able to transfer my current domain and select the package that suits my needs. I pay no more than $20 a month and that is perfect for where my little blog and business is right now. (I use the Business plan but the Personal would be suitable for most bloggers that do not use ecommerce, view payment plans here)

3.there are ENDLESS OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH

This is my favorite aspect of the Squarespace platform. It is not just for bloggers. It is for small business owners, creatives, churches, shop owners, farmer's markets, fitness studios...and literally anything else you can think of. Squarespace has the capability built into the interface for ecommerce, so users that sell products or services can sell their items in one place rather than using third-party sites such as Etsy or BigCartel. 

Users are able to integrate so much in one place. I think of it as a one stop shop. I can have a cover page, portfolio, blog, contact page, gallery pages, and a shop all one one website without ever setting up account on other site! Hello simple expansion! 

4. UPDATING IS EASY AS PIE

Easy is the name of the game with Squarespace. Everything is updated for you so you do not have to waste precious time updating widgets and your framework. This is done for you. (does this make you want to do a little happy dance?!)

In addition, Squarespace has numerous templates to choose from. Each template offers a very unique look that can be further customized to create a one of a kind look for each user. Switching from template to template is literally as easy as pie and helps create fresh new looks. (like the one Oh Simple Joys is sporting this morning, what do you think?) 

5. IT IS JUST PRETTY

As a designer I am drawn to things that are pretty to look at, and Squarespace is just that. Without customizing a thing the templates are a beautiful. They are the perfect place to start for those that may be new business owners or bloggers, and for those that may be looking for a custom brand and website, Squarespace lends itself to so much potential for personalization and beautiful design. It really is the best choice in my humble opinion, and this is why I personally use it and recommend it to everyone I work with (and everyone I don't work with too! haha)


I am a huge fan of this platform, and after making the switch I truly never looked back. I love everything about Squarespace and sing its praises to everyone that asks me about it. Are you in a similar spot as I was before making my switch? Looking to step up your blogging game but not wanting to mess with the hassle of HTML/CSS or the price of self hosting? Let's work together to create a perfect website for you and your business/blog! 




Simply Sweet Melissa Brand Launch

Brand launches are my favorite, I love having the opportunity to work with creative bloggers, business owners, and dreamers to design unique websites and brands for such amazing people! This design was one of my favorites, it was designed using the Blogger platform, and is seriously my favorite blogger design to date. 

Melissa of Simply Sweet Melissa has been a blog friend for years, really since I started my journey 3 years ago. She is a sweet soul that loves feminine flair and whimsy just as much as I do with a little dash of sass thrown in. Her description of the vision for her brand was simple..."Sex in the City meets Steel Magnolias"! Classy meets sassy and southern and lovely! Done and done. 

We pulled images with that soft feminine touch that still gave you a little feeling of mystery. We originally had a few pastel colors included in the palette but as the design progressed we pulled away from those and primarily used the navys, blues, and copper accents. 

For her logo concepts I focused on whimsical fonts paired with more professional fonts to create the sexy but innocent look Melissa was looking for! 

Melissa liked the fonts from the third option best but wanted to combine them with the pineapple graphic and for the colors to be tweaked in order to pop more! Below is the final product for Simply Sweet Melissa's logo, and I just love it. The pineapple has become quite popular and is a symbol for hospitality! Perfect for that Steel Magnolias vibe.

For the brand board we also pulled in some patterns that are used throughout the design! And as mentioned earlier we tweaked the color scheme to better reflect the direction of the design.

The website just turned out so lovely! It is perfectly feminine while giving off an air of professionalism! I just love it! Now is the part where you go check it out, and swoon over all of Melissa's GORGEOUS wedding photos! Give her some love! 

If you are a blogger, small business owner, or creative interested in branding, logo design, or website design message me and let's chat about working together!

Meal Planning 101 - How to Plan and Budget (even when that is not your thing)

For the greater part of my life my approach to managing money has been to follow my impulses. Yes I have always been "that girl". I was not raised in a family that used a written budget so I grew up clueless as to how to go about using or creating a budget. I did not write things down, did not plan, and I did not check myself other than looking at my online bank statement from time to time. Then I met my husband...when it comes to managing money Ben and I could not have been more opposite. I was the impulsive free spender, never looking ahead, and he was/is the calculated budgeter that puts thought into every purchase. Opposites attract right?! 

Once we got married and were living on a newlywed income I was in for a rude awakening. I had no clue how to use a budget, and even less of an idea of how to meal plan (or even cook really). But I began researching, trying things I had never tried before, and honestly, between you and I, I FAILED/busted the budget/went over/whatever you want to call it A LOT. So today I am sharing some tips that I have learned from my mistakes and how you can become a planner (even if you are like me and tend to spend impulsively!)


CREATE A BUDGET (and stick with it)


Our family spends about $75-85 a week, and we try to stay within the budget of $300 a month. Some weeks may be $85, while others may be $65. I am sure some of you are thinking this is crazy, we have to be starving ourselves or eating ramen noodles all the time right? Well we aren't, in fact as crazy as it sounds I have never had ramen noodles, though my husband claims they are actually quite tasty. We eat 3 meals a day, and I plan out 5-6 meals a week that I cook at home. We plan for one night out to eat as a date night, and one meal a week with our church family (this is potluck style so what I bring varies from salads to main dishes and desserts). 

How do we do this? Well here are a few things to keep in mind when making your budget...

  • Leftovers are your friend! Save money by eating leftovers for lunch the next day, freeze leftover soups, stews, or chili to have as a quick meal later on. 
  • Don't be brand specific! We shop sales, and are not ashamed of buying the grocery store brand. I have learned that most everything tastes just as good as that "name brand" food item I love. So save a few bucks by being brand neutral. 
  • Do it yourself. Rather than buying spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, stocks, pizza dough...and the list goes on. Try making more pantry staples yourself! 

EVALUATE YOUR STOCK


Before you even sit down to start planning out your meals take 5-10 minutes to browse through your pantry and fridge. Check to see what you have and take note of those things. I almost always have a variety of grains, beans, frozen veggies, and sauces. I write these things down and try to incorporate them in my planning. Also I look to see what items may be expiring soon. If I have milk about to go bad I make up a batch of homemade pudding or yogurt. Eggs? I will usually plan for a breakfast for dinner night or make a veggie frittata. The key to keeping a lower budget is to use what you have and avoid wasting anything! 


CHECK FOR SALES & COUPONS


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Another key part to successfully staying on budget when it comes to meal planning is shopping the sales and buying seasonal ingredients. Grocery stores always have sales, so plan your meals around the sale items rather than creating a menu and making your list fit the menu. Make the sales work for you! 

Also, seasonal ingredients are the fruits and veggies that are growing at any given season. As we go into fall you will begin to notice the prices will drop on things like winter squash, kale, Brussel sprouts, beets, cabbage, and more. Plan meals around these things, you will be saving money and eating what the earth is naturally growing during any time of the year. 


PLAN YOUR MEALS 


Now is the time that I sit down to write out my meals for the week. Like I mentioned earlier I plan to cook 5-6 meals a week. I try to never plan out my meals on the same day I go grocery shopping, it becomes exaughsting and leaves me feeling overwhelmed and frantic. I try to take some time over the weekend to browse for recipes, and get my head together before ever venturing into a store. 

My rule of thumb is that I plan for meals that have leftovers we can eat them the next day for lunches, I try to have one meatless meal, and one "leftovers" dinner per week.

I use a variety of resources for my meal inspiration every week. Below are some of my most used food blogs, and then of course I have an arsenal of recipes that I rotate through regularly. (side note, if you do not have a binder of recipes you LOVE I would highly recommend creating one. Pinterest is great but I love my recipe binder that is full of tested and hubby approved recipes)


NEVER SHOP UNPREPARED


After all the planning you have put into your meals you do not want to get to the grocery store and find yourself unprepared. You will be able to unravel all the planning in just a few minutes (or at least that is how I am).

I always have my list written out (I use my lovely Seasonal Meal Planning Journal from my friend Natasha Red) and I always have a pen and calculator ready to go. 

I make sure that I am not hungry before I walk into the store (this is the meal planner's mortal sin! eat before you go!!) and I plan to go at a time that is not overcrowded with people (usually early in the morning or late at night). 

I only buy the items on my list, and I try very hard to calculate everything I place in my buggy as I go so that I am not shocked by my total at checkout. (which even now still manages to happen to me from time to time). 


REMEMBER THIS IS A GUIDELINE, NOT A LAW


Meal planning and budgeting require lots of time and energy. Some weeks I slip up and am not able to prepare the way I usually do...those weeks are usually the times that I bust the budget. AND THAT IS OKAY! Life is short, and I am all too quick to beat myself up over spending $10 more than I meant to. Budgeting is a guideline to make your life less stressful and more free...but do not let it become something that causes you stress and becomes a shackle rather than a freedom! 

Busting the budget is not worth your tears!! (this is coming from the queen of crying over groceries) 


OUR MEAL PLAN THIS WEEK


I plan my meals around 7 day periods so this week the first of the month happens on a Thursday so this is day one of this 7 day plan. 

Do you meal plan? What tips do you have for making the process easier? 

314 Productions Launch Day + Brand Design

Some of my favorite projects to work on are custom branding designs. Recently I have found that many of my clients are branching out of just blogging. I have been privileged to work with photographers, fitness boutiques, Etsy shop owners, small business owners, and even one amazing husband and wife videography team! It has been such a joy to learn more about design and share that love and passion with others while creating a unique brand to express a clients business online and in real life. 

Today I wanted to give you all a sneak peek into my latest brand design. This was a website/logo design project that I was able to work on for a dear online / real life friend Nicole Cole of 314 Productions. Nicole along with her husband Tyler use their amazing talents to capture some of life's most precious moments on film both through video and photography. Their work is literally amazing, and their hearts and passion for celebrating life shine through in all they do. 

Nicole wanted to take their brand to a more professional level and create something that was easier for them to grow into as their business continues to grow and evolve. She wanted neutrals, soft tones, and a very calm aesthetic. 

The inspiration board focused on clean lines, muted tones, and celebrating life! I adore the vibe that this little graphic gives off, it screams happiness! 

For the logo I wanted something very subtle but memorable, so I focused on very muted earth tones and soft feminine fonts. 

Nicole chose to go with the second logo so we began to craft the brand board. 

The website came together beautifully when I began to add in all of Nicole and Tyler's gorgeous images! Their photography style fits perfectly into the overall rebrand, it was simply gorgeous! 

It truly was such an honor to work for such a beautiful couple that have such passion for what they do! If you have not seen the new 314 Productions website in person yet please hop over there and check it out!


Interested in working together to create your own unique brand or website? Message me and let's start creating! 

Welcome to Oh Simple Joys

If you are reading this then you successfully made the switch! YAY! Oh Simple Thoughts is no more (sad face emoji entered here), and Oh Simple Joys is here to stay. Oh Simple Thoughts was my first real lifestyle blog I started when I got engaged to my now husband. Managing Oh Simple Thoughts served me so well, and taught me so much about the world of blogging. Since that very first day I have grown and learned so much about the online world and how I want to use my influence. It has been quite a journey to get here but here I am.

I am excited to launch this new website as a fresh start for a more focused way forward. Oh Simple Joys is a handmade shop that focuses on a variety of products and services to bring little joys to you through very ordinary objects. Here you will find coffee mugs, crochet goods, home decor, and graphic design services...each of these things may seem disconnected but to me they truly bring simple joy in their own unique way. 

I have recently stepped away from my day job to pursue this world of online creativity and business full time. (so scary and so exciting all at once!) What can you expect moving forward? 

Well a lot will seem very much the same around here. I am working on new products all the time for the shop, and always using this space to share my recent design projects and inspiration with you. This is a place to celebrate joy! To bring attention to the things that often pass us by. So here in this space joy in the simplest and smallest places will be celebrated in the big ways! Excited?! I hope so! Each of you make this journey so worth it, and you truly inspire me to pursue bigger dreams every day. 

Don't forget use code HAPPY20 for 20% off any purchase in the store! This can also be applied toward design services as well!!!

The Fit Teacher Launch

In the past month my email has been flooded with design clients that are small business owners, entrepreneurs, dreamers! I have loved my job lately. Oh, and in case you missed it on social media, I have officially launched myself into full time self employment. AH! So exciting and scary all at once. I am jumping out in a leap of faith and trust the Lord to direct my steps. It has seemed he has been leading me to this point for quite some time, but I did not know the day would come so quickly. 

However it has been a joy to work with photographers, videographers, boutique owners, fitness coaches, and small business owners to create unique websites and blogs! Jen of The Fit Teacher was one of those creative women I have been privileged to work with this past month. I knew Jen from college, and was thrilled to get to work with her now as she is a fitness coach for Beach Body! 

Jen wanted to merge her passions for teaching and fitness, so I gathered images that inspired both passions. 

I had so much fun with these colors, and the images took me back to school supply shopping. Needless to say I found myself feeling all nostalgic for those sweet school days! As I moved into the logo concepts for Jen I wanted to merge the fitness and teacher aspects again so I drew some illustrations to create a one of a kind logo. 

Jen decided to combine elements from logo #1 and #2. I loved the final look, it is classy, whimsical and perfect for Jen's peppy, go getter attitude. 

Jen has such a motivating personality, and her website is full of inspiration for healthy living! Be sure to check her out below! 

Just Go Left Launch Day

It is time to launch another website!! And I have been excited about this one for quite sometime! Ashten contacted me several months ago about designing her new blog and I was thrilled to be commissioned for the job! After just a few minutes on the phone with Ashten I was inspired, her passion, energy, and drive are amazing and it was such an honor to hear her story and vision for her new space! 

Ashten wanted her space to be calming, beachy, and clean! So here is what we started with in the inspiration board...

How precious right? Dogs are a huge part of Ashten's life and story so of course I had to include a few cuddly friends in the board! Next I began creating her logo concepts. 

Our goal was to create a logo that is whimsical while also being warm and beachy like the sun on your back! The decision was made to go with the last logo, which I love since it includes the leftward pointing arrow! 

I am in love with the way Just Go Left turned out. It is clean, simple, and calming. The color palette reminds me of the beach or a cozy coffee shop which makes me just want to sit and curl up and read for awhile! 

Make sure and wish Ashten a happy launch day and check out the blog in all it's glory for yourself! 

I am currently accepting just a few more Squarespace and Blogger clients for September and October! Also I have listed several new design offerings!! Check them out, sign up this week for 10% off any package!!