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. 

Messy Kitchens + Discount Code

Good morning friends! I hope each and every one of you are having such a wonderful Monday morning. This is my "day off" which really just means I can wake up with the sun rather that before and focus all my work time on house stuff, blog designs, and my Etsy shop orders. So Mondays are still "work days" for me but so relaxed!

This past weekend was a funky one. I baked all weekend at The Biscuit Shop because my boss went out of town. She normally does all the baking so it was kinda a stressful weekend but so much fun. I love my job and am so grateful that not only did the Lord provide a way for me to help our family financially, but He gave me a job that falls so much in line with my passion for food and the kitchen. 

Ben's family also came in town and hung out most of the day Saturday which was fun. While I was so wiped out from work, it was nice to have people in the house and enjoying watching football together. I fell asleep on the couch with our pup and it was just a great day of recharging and resting. We were able to see some dear college friends over breakfast Sunday morning. These two guys live in Texas now so we don't get to see either of them much anymore, but they were in our wedding and Ben's fraternity brothers and great friends so it was nice to spend time with them over food and coffee. I made buttermilk biscuits, and sausage and cheddar biscuits, which was fun to make at home for the first time. 

Funny story though, I am so used to making 96-100 biscuits at once that we ended up with wayy more biscuits than the 4 of us could eat. So I sent bags of biscuits home with the guys and we have biscuits to munch on for breakfast for the rest of the week! Score!! 

I also was able to spend a good bit of time yesterday just pouring myself out creatively in Photoshop and Illustrator. I have had such a specific vision for my Etsy shop, and I wanted to create some prints that coincide with my overall vision for the shop. I spent some time designing a few prints that I wanted to share with you all today! 

I love the relief that comes from creating a total mess in the kitchen. I hate for the kitchen to stay messy...don't get me wrong, I am a clean person!! PROMISE! But it feels so good to dig my hands deep into flour, or cut veggies and throw them into hot pans without care about some dropping or getting on my clothes. Messes create memories. And messy kitchens are always rich with laughter, and joy, and memories!! I am all about creating products that provide visual reminders of deep and meaningful SLOW DOWN, unwind...let go, and make a mess every once and while. 

This song by Sovereign Grace Music always brings me to tears. Music moves me so much, and often speaks to me in such powerful ways. But this song, man y'all...the Lord is so good to love us despite our sin. It truly is a mystery why He chose us...why he wanted a people that left to their own devices would reject Him...he extends grace and love to us, and it is an AMAZING MYSTERY!! 

This final print is so special to me. This is one of my favorite old hymns, and was sung at our wedding by my brother and sister! I love the progression through each verse and the way the Lord is celebrated in it all. It is easy for us to dismiss the love of the Lord by elevating our own "goodness"...but we are all wicked and undeserving of what the Lord has richly poured out on us, and so this love should push us to awe and worship! 

All of these prints can be purchased in the Etsy shop started at $8. They come in 2 sizes, and I can even customize the colors for you to match your style and home more perfectly. AND today only I will have a sale on these prints, use code OHSIMPLEJOYS10 for 10% off all the prints! I pray these bring you encouragement and life and truth to the walls of your home! 

Meet Oh Simple Joys - LAUNCH DAY!! / Giveaway!

It is Monday, and I am back from a wonderful weekend with some of the sweetest blog ladies around. It was good for my soul, and refreshing for my mind on so many levels. I know I stepped away for a few days last week, and I thank each one of you for being so understanding and encouraging. From comments, to texts and kind words you all made me feel so affirmed in my decision to step back. So thanks, after a few days away in the mountain drinking lots of coffee and laughing a ton I am returning to you all so eager to dig deep into my vision for this space and to pour myself into this blog once again! 

Now without further delay...IT IS LAUNCH DAY! I have dreamed for months now about opening an Etsy shop. After facing so many delays, discouragement, and uncertainty I could not be more giddy about opening up this shop today!  Meet Oh Simple Joys!

Oh Simple Joys is about just that...simple joys. This is a shop the celebrates the little things like coffee filled with cold cream, and sunlight dancing on the walls. The products are designed with intention and so much love and thought. My hope is that each product causes those that see them to desire simple pleasures, slower living, and laughter. I want for each person to feel warm and fuzzy, and laugh out loud because of how happy these products make them! 

The goal is to slow down, and notice the "mundane" things that we normally neglect to see. The Lord has surrounded us with beauty and gifts that we too often choose not to thank him for daily. From messes created by healthy children, to a cool breeze in the are everywhere waiting to be discovered. 

Oh Simple Joys is about love, and digging deep into the here and now. 

My deepest desire with this shop is to encourage you. It is not to make tons of money, or sell out of all my products in minutes, or to have everyone know who I am...though I would welcome those things. My goal is you...for you to be lifted up, for you to get your hands on physical items that can serve as reminders of the call to go against the cultural pull to run as fast possible from point A to B. I pray that every t-shirt, tote bag, and coffee mug serves as a little "altar" of senses that reminds you of the calling the Lord has placed on your life, and the many gifts he surrounds you with. 

All of my products are PRE ORDER only right now. I will be placing orders for all products this week, and should have them to ship out in a few short weeks. I am using all the money I make to put towards my trips to Hope Spoken, and The Influence Conference in 2015, so your support means the world to me. 

Hand Lettered Abide T-shirt

Farmer's Market / Grocery Tote. So simple, but so cute!

I will also be selling my crochet items in the shop AND will be accepting custom orders on scarves! More products will be coming in the future. I am a firm believer that less is more, and that quality products are more important than having an abundance of items! I pray these products bring you deep joy in the simple things! 

Because I love you guys, and it is launch day which means we should celebrate, I am giving away one mug, and one tote bag today to two lucky winners! Also, you should keep your eyes out on Instagram today!! (hint hint).

Thank you again for all your encouragement and support in this new venture! I am so excited to begin to use the gift of creativity to bless others, and you each make this dream reality by supporting handmade and shopping with me! You are wonderful!

Handcrafted + Vintage Inspired + Whimsy = MUST HAVE

It is no secret that I love Etsy, and more than Etsy, I love the small businesses and faces behind all the shops. I think it is incredible that women all around the world are using their creativity and passion to create unique things to sell to others. I have a big time crush on water color, and handwritten pieces also, so when Rachel of East West Design Co. reached out to me I knew I wanted to share them with you. Rachel & Lindsey are the creative minds behind this shop, and it is obvious to see how they pour themselves into each piece they create. I hope you check them out and share some love with these ladies. 

Use promo code OHSIMPLETHOUGHTS for 20% off all items in the store from now until August 3rd! Hurry over and capitalize on this awesome savings! 

What inspired you to open up shop?

Rachel: We've been living on different sides of the country for a year now, and we've always talked with each other about how "one day" we'll open up an Etsy shop together. We both had the same interest at the same time, but we were holding back because of the distance. Finally one day, Lindsey asked me, "What's really holding us back?" So we went for it!

Lindsey: It just seemed like the right timing.  Well, actually it seemed like the completely wrong timing, but we felt God telling us to do it anyway.  

What drives the prints and products you create? 

Lindsey: Sometimes I try to.  I want to be the one in charge.  I sit down with an idea & a plan & I start to paint, & it just doesn’t work out.  No matter what I do, nothing looks good.  But when I sit down to paint & I just DO it, I feel like the end result is almost always something that I’m pleased with.  If I just let what I feel like God is doing in my heart out, onto paper, I like what I’ve created.

Rachel: I definitely have to agree. When I try to imitate something I see on Pinterest or something Lindsey creates, it's never as good! When I just paint or letter and go with it, that's when it looks the best. 

What are your favorite items to make? 

Rachel: I love making custom birthday calendar orders! They're fun to make and I love when I can be creative with the colors. 

Lindsey: This changes almost daily. Right now I’m really liking the look of the stripes & the marbled background of this one.  It’s just fun when you try something new & it actually works, & that’s how I feel about the Be Still My Soul print.

What is your favorite summer beverage? 

Rachel: I've always had a weakness for the lemon berry slushie from Sonic, heavy on the lemon. Amazing. 

Lindsey: Ooh, hard to pick.  I love a strawberry limeade from Sonic, but we don’t have one of those here.  I would say the Java Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks is probably my current favorite.

A big thanks to Rachel and Lindsey for letting me share their work with you all today! These ladies are TALENTED and they love Jesus BIG! so please show them some love this week, and head over to their shop with that promo code!!

Handmade Highlight - Holly's Joy Design

First things first, a little correction and note from yesterday's post on the Bread & Wine Project... It came to my attention yesterday afternoon that there is another link up on the first Wednesday of ever month. SO, because I love this other link up, and never want to create an environment of competition on this space I am moving the first link up to WEDNESDAY JULY 9TH! :) The link up will happen the second Wednesday of every month now instead of the first! 

ALSO, I will be having co hosts with this link up, and the first 5 people to sign up can use promo code BREADANDWINE for 50% off! Cannot wait to see you there! 

Now, moving right along! :) 

I love this series! So so much! It is such a joy to highlight small business and godly women who are working hard for Jesus through their gifts. If you want to read my heart behind Handmade Highlights and how it all began check out this post. 

Today I have the sweet privilege of introducing you all to a dear blog friend, Holly of Holly's Joy Design. Holly's heart for Jesus and incredible testimony of commitment in the midst of trials are inspirational. This lovely lady has big dreams, and is working hard to see them become reality! So without rambling, meet this gem of a lady, and check out her interview before to get to know her a little better!

What inspired you to pursue opening an Etsy Shop?
Owning my own business has been a long time dream of mine. My father always encouraged me to dream big and work for myself so I was an entrepreneur from a young age. I sold my artwork along with a number of odd jobs throughout high school and college. As an avid DIYer, I knew I wanted to create just about everything for Derek and my wedding, including our invitations. After our wedding, I began designing invitations and stationery suites for friends and family and absolutely loved it! I opened my Etsy shop this past year and love being able to use my creativity and talents for God’s glory. Going beyond invitations, I now create wall art, notecards, organizational tools, and custom designs – all designed to bring you closer to what matters most in life.

What has been the greatest joy for you in this business?
Joy :) One of my favorite words! I actually named my business “Holly's Joy” as a play on words. My name is Holly Joy, and my absolute favorite part of my business is getting to know the people behind the purchases - the faces on the other side of the computer screen! We may never meet in person, but they have invited me into their lives to create something beautiful for their home. It brings me such joy to be able work with my clients and bring their visions to life! 

What are your favorite items to make?
My absolute favorite items to make are custom designs. As I mentioned earlier, I love people, so getting to hear my client’s ideas and then work together to bring their vision to life is incredible! I have been blessed with a number of scripture customs lately. Writing the Word brings the text to life for me and it turns work into worship. 

How do you stay inspired?
Inspiration is something I struggled with when first starting out… I used to get lost in Pinterest, overwhelmed by how many amazing designers are out there. Now instead of online, I look at life for inspiration. Scripture, books, nature, and life experiences all get compiled to come back to when I’m ready to create. I also take a ton of pictures of things that inspire me – so much that my phone is totally full!

What is one thing the Lord is teaching you right now?
Contentment and patience in waiting - On the business side of things, it is so easy to fall into comparing with others through social media. "Why don't I have more sales/followers/success like other people seem to have overnight?" I have a desk print from Lara Casey that is an incredible reminder of what is most important in life - being content with what I have because I have Jesus. He is enough. On the personal side, my husband Derek and I have had a tough year. He has dealt with some major health issues and at times things have seemed so hopeless. We have postponed many dreams and goals (home renovation, starting a family, along with a few others) to focus on him returning to health. Having patience to wait for God's timing has been and is incredibly difficult; but looking back even on just the last 6 months He has taught me so much. We have a wonderful home despite the projects we want to accomplish, this time with just me and Derek is precious because everything changes when children come into the picture, and I have met the most amazing supportive community through the good and bad times. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners?
Be you! After first opening my shop I went through a time where there was so much to learn and was slightly obsessed with achieving perfection right off the bat. Well, perfection is impossible to achieve, and I spent way too many hours being pushed down by the comparison trap. I tried to be just like other successful businesses because if it was working for them, why wouldn't "it" work for me too? When I learned to let all that go and be myself, I began creating work that I was proud of and attracting clients who I LOVE to work with! I often cling to 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about though we are one body we have many parts. Each one of our stories is unique and important to this life's journey so just be yourself!

Follow Holly and keep up with all her new designs!! :) AND use promo code OHSIMPLETHOUGHTS for 10% off anything you order from Holly's shop today!! :) YAY! 

A Harvest of Blessing
Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do!

Handmade Highlight - Riley Writes Scout

It is time again for another Handmade Highlight. To read my heart behind this series, and why I support handmade big and small check out this post. I am so happy to introduce to you Katherine, or Kat from Riley Writes Scout today! Katherine and I both went to Mississippi State University, and even were in a Bible study together with some mutual friends during our time in college. Katherine has a passion for hand lettering, and she has a talent to match! I hope you will all go check out her adorable Etsy shop! So without further delay, meet Katherine!
Photo Credit - Rebecca Long Photography
I fell in love with Katherine's work when one of my bridesmaids asked her to create my lingerie shower invitation! It turned out so adorable, and classy...I have been head over heels for all her products since then!

Now for some fun questions to get to know Katherine a little better!

What inspired you to open up shop full time?
I loved paper & pens growing up, so much so that the majority of my allowance as a kid went to purchasing them at every opportunity. I can’t tell you how many dozens of Pilot Precise Extra Fine pens are probably lying around my parents’ house to this day… Fast-forward to college & my escape from the stress of studying engineering was doodling in my Moleskine journal & designing shower invitations for my sorority sisters. That over time led to me teaching myself calligraphy & designing almost all of my own wedding paper products. And I loved every minute of it. So why not create a business doing what you love?

What has been the greatest joy for you in creating something for others?
It’s the honor in helping people create something special to show their love for those in their life, such as a print for a bride’s maid of honor of her favorite bible verse or designing an invitation for sweet little boy’s first birthday.

What is the story behind the name Riley Writes Scout?
RileyWrites Scout gets its name from a little daydream of mine. Riley was the name of our first pup that unfortunately came home from the shelter as a combo set with a pretty mean virus. He was the sweetest dog, and I like to think that one day Riley will write letters to his future sibling, Scout, about how to soften up her owners to allow puppy snuggles in bed, where the best places are to hide toys, how to act like the family’s protector, etc. Basically how to live a long and happy life.

What has been my favorite thing to make?
A custom baptism invitation for the daughter of dear family friends. We all attend First Methodist in my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and the artwork request for their invitation was what was really special: to hand draw the Rose Window from our sanctuary. First Methodist has been a generational church on my dad’s side, and some of my family helped in the building our lovely cathedral, including donating the Rose Window. So to be able to draw something of sentimental significance to me for such sweet friends in honoring their daughter’s baptism will always be one of my favorite projects.

What is one thing the Lord is teaching you right now?
To trust in his timing. My husband & I are in the stage of life where we’re trying to figure out where to go from here. We moved to the DC area right after getting married, but both of our families still live 800+ miles away. So do we stay or do we move closer? If we move, do we move sooner or later? What will our job(s) situation look like? So it’s been a lot of being still and researching and being still… But in the meantime, we’ll continue to have a great experience in living where we are & reminding ourselves that we are where we need to be at the moment.

What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners?
Know the boundaries between your business & your life. There’s always something else you could work on, but remember to actually live your life, too. Small business burnout is a real thing, plus your day-to-day life & adventures will always be what refreshes & inspires you to try new things within your business. So work hard, but not too hard.

Thanks so much Katherine for letting my showcase your wonderful talent on the blog today! :) Follow Katherine - WEBSITE // ETSY // INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK 

Also, I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to one of my wonderful May sponsors, Leah of Hope Collective! Leah is new to the blogging world, but had made her blog a space to enjoy and share wedding planning inspiration, as well as updates on her Etsy shop!

Here are some fun little interview questions so you can get to know sweet Leah better!

What is your favorite part of blogging?
My favorite part of blogging I would have to say is getting to share my corner of the world with people from all over - whether it's Alaska, Australia, or Raleigh. I think that is really really awesome. Not to mention beginning to make connections with other bloggers, and hopefully that turning into good friendships. Also, the inspiration! I love checking out people's pictures and DIY projects.

What are you craving right now?
Tacos. Because it's Cinco de Mayo! 

What are you reading?
Wedding magazines. haha But really, I was on a roll at the beginning of this year to read books I owned that I hadn't touched yet, and I had done really well with that but have come to a stall. Now I'm going to pick up a few books I own that I only partially read (I have a bad habit of not finishing books). My Bible Study group read through the Envy of Eve last year, and I read all of it but one chapter I believe, so I'm going to go back and finish that. I highly recommend that book for women - it addresses different areas of our lives where women tend to covet, and it's Biblically based. The lady who wrote it lives here in Charlotte, NC.

How would you describe your ideal day?
My ideal day would involve getting to sleep in, followed by a little reading before I got out of bed. Then I'd get my coffee going, and make an omelette for a late breakfast, with hashbrowns....mmm. I'd eat my breakfast, then put some music on and make jewelry for most of the day. :) I would play around with some painting, probably watercolors. I'd do some sort of exercise in the afternoon then have dinner with my family. Now that would be my ideal day when I don't get to see my fiance (he works offshore). If he was here, off of work, my ideal day would be spending it with him, walking around downtown Matthews, going to little shops, grabbing lunch together at the really delicious BBQ place, and maybe going to a park for the afternoon, followed by a date night with him. :)

So thankful to know you Leah, and congrats again on your new engagement!

A Harvest of Blessing

Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!

Handmade Highlight - Two Sisters Shoppe

I am so excited to introduce to you another AMAZING Etsy shop today. This is a sister duo that work together to make adorable paper goods and baby products! Meet Natalie and Laurie of The Two Sister Shoppe Go grab your morning tea or coffee and come link up over at Tuesday Tea with SamanthaJenni, and Renee!

How gorgeous are these gals? So so lovely! And guess what? They are both mamas to some adorable little ones! 

Sweet Babies! :) So these sisters love Jesus and they are so talented at making lovely things. Take a look at some of their handiwork...

Ah, I just swoon over all this loveliness. As usual I asked Natalie and Laurie some questions so you could get to know them a little bit better! (Natalie answered the questions since Laurie is a super new mommy and spending her time adjusting to her new baby girl and recovering from delivery)

What inspired you both to open up shop? 
We have always been busy creating something.  From dramatic beanie baby plays (yeah, you read that right) to painting cute canvases or sewing bags and skirts. Recently my creativity veered towards art prints and painting on pillows (by the way, these will be coming to the shop very soon) while Laurie started sewing baby accessories, pillows and drawing art prints as well.  People started showing interest in our new creations and after many long nights of preparation and a lot of help from our supportive husbands, we opened up an Etsy shop.

What has been the greatest joy for you in creating something for others? 

A lot of what I like to paint or draw is verses from the bible. I am thrilled that God is using me to be an encouragement to people. It is an honor to be the source behind the painting that is able to remind them that God deeply loves them and that He is faithful.  I also make note cards that people have bought for ministry purposes.  I so enjoy caring for and loving on people and I am privileged that people buy my cards to do just that. 

What is it like being in business with your sister?
 Okay so I am the type of person that adlibs and creates spur of the moment whenever I feel a whim of inspiration. When Laurie creates, it is well thought out, planned, organized and well, uh, perfect.  When we put our heads together it was like…hello! Ideal combination!  She brings order and beauty to the business. I bring personality and uniqueness to the business.  Being partners in the shop has never been a problem.  We work really well together and when there are tense situations we usually yell, look at each other, and laugh. ;) Laurie is my interpreter through and through and I completely understand Laurie and can read her like a book. All in all, being in business with my sister is just plain fun.  

What has been your favorite part of newlywed life/motherhood?
 Marriage has been beyond wonderful.  I married my childhood crush, who was also my best friend in high school.  Doing life with this passionate guy is the best and I love that I am the one who gets to fix a big breakfast for him, wrestle with him, cut the back of his hair for him, watch movies at 2 am with him, clip his toenails for him.  It so fun getting to know him better and better every day. We are genuinely best friends. Now, being a mother came sooner than I thought! We were married a month and a half when I found out I was pregnant with Kyler. I would never, ever, trade it for the anything. Being a young parent isn’t as tough as people think. It is FUN and amazing! Kyler has grown me a lot as well as taught me a lot.  He has also spoiled me by being such an easy and well behaved baby.  I thank God every single day for my guys.  Life would be dull and slobber-less without them. 

What is one thing the Lord is teaching you right now? 
To stay focused on Him.  You’d think because I am a stay-at-home mom who is not in school that I would have all the time in the world. NOT so. I consider it an honor to keep our house clean and beautiful and to take care of my sweet baby Kyler. It is a full time job, however.  Not to mention all the other activities or responsibilities that pop up constantly.  I wouldn’t say all this is hard at all but I will say that it can all get very distracting.  Without God, none of this would even matter.  It is so important to read His word and pray daily.  It is so important to praise Him when things are good and to praise Him when things are not so good.  I am here on this earth to bring glory to God! That is my focus everyday and I pray that it will always continue to be. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners? 
 Two things: 1) Pray about it, and give the business over to the Lord. 2) Do what you love. It will get busy and you will feel overrun but if it is what you love doing…you will do it and keep on loving it; even when it gets crazy.  

What are your favorite items to create? 
I absolutely love painting (on anything) but I think my favorite has been doing art prints and note cards. The reason being, I can sketch in bed or on the couch next to Justin.  It’s the best because I can get business done and be with my husband at the same time and get his opinion on it every now and then. And I love, love doodling and hand lettering. I also love designing custom invitation/prints/canvases.  I have done a lot of custom designs for locals and I want to start offering custom invitations on our Etsy.  Custom is so much fun because it is always different and I love creating something special for someone that is just for them.

Thank you so much Natalie and Laurie for letting me highlight you guys! I hope you all show them some love and go check out their adorable shop!

What are your favorite Two Sisters Shoppe items shown?

Also... Happy April Fool's Day! It's no joke - I have teamed up with 12 other bloggers to bring you a $225 Spring Fashion Giveaway. One winner will receive $100 to J.Crew, $75 to Gap and $50 to Loft. Enter below and don't forget to check out all these gorgeous blogs! Good Luck :) 

It is giveaway week over here haha...not really but kinda. It is so much fun to get to participate in such fun giveaways though! Make sure to enter!

Also, come join me for a "coffee date" first thing tomorrow morning! It will simply be a time for us to share our hearts with each other, and really encourage each other as bloggers and sisters in Christ! Come link up and get to know some incredible ladies!!!

Much Love,