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. 

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!!!

My Journey to Ethical Fashion

Back in my college days I attended a popular Christian conference over one of my Christmas breaks. I went with my two roommates and we met up with several other friends from Mississippi State for a weekend of refreshment in the Word and Godly fellowship. Little did we know at the weekend's beginning that we would acquire information during our time at the conference that would seep deep into our hearts and souls and call us to action. We learned about human trafficking. 

I had never heard of this problem before believe it or not, and I can remember for days after we returned from the conference my roommates and I would sit around our kitchen counter discussing this issue. We were so burdened yet so unsure of how to play a part in the ending of trafficking. After many emotional conversations we came up with the idea of hosting a 5K to raise money for International Justice Mission and their fight against injustice around the world. 

This race began a work in my heart that deepened my compassion for others and opened my eyes to the reality of human depravity around the world...it also led me to my husband, which is a funny story for another day! All this to say, once I became aware of human trafficking I simply could not forget about it. 

So what does this have to do with fashion? 

Well I desire to live my life in a way that aids the fight against human trafficking. Ben and I have made small decisions since marriage that we believe are truly making a difference. We buy our coffee every month from Sweet Aroma Coffee, a company that gives money to different organizations around the world who fight trafficking. I also have made the decision to buy jewelry from companies such as , a company that creates jobs and has ethical production practices. So now I want to take this to my closet. 

For quite some time I have felt as though the clothes hanging in my closet did not fit me. I do not mean I could not get them on my body or hated the way they hung on me (though this is true in some case)...no I mean they don't match my current season of life. I was married right out of college, so my wardrobe is full of "sorority college girl" clothes. Everything is oversized, too dressy, and flashy. Nowadays basic tees are acceptable every single day, even at church since we attend a laid back home church. I have been eager to figure out "my style" and even more eager to build a wardrobe that is both fitting and ethical. 


The first step is to learn about the differences between ethical or sustainable fashion and fast or mainstream fashion. Similar to the slow food versus fast food movement, ethical fashion is about promoting sustainable sourcing and quality garment production. In contrast, the fast fashion movement is in a perpetual race to the bottom to create more garments in less time and less money. The inevitable result is a frenetic industry that depends on unsustainable resources and often exploitative production. Ethical fashion turns this model on its head and promotes quality items made with sustainable materials and by workers paid a fair wage.

I feel that these words by sustainable fashion advocate,  Danielle L. Vermeer, describe it the best, ethical fashion is about promoting sustainability and high quality products. For me ethical fashion is also buying from companies that are transparent about their production process, factory conditions, and worker conditions. These things can often be hard to find but with some really great resources out there on the internet today we can learn a lot more about clothing production than we could 10 years ago. My goal today is to share my findings after hours of research.


  • Know The ChainA company that works hard to provide production information on hundreds of business and clothing companies.
  • Free to Work - This company provides scorecards for different clothing brands based on policies, transparency, monitoring, and worker rights. 
  • GoodGuide - A website where you can find product reviews for ethical, green, and environmentally safe products. 
  • FairTrade USA - Great starting point to help you understand what fair trade is, what companies there are out there, and more. 

Also, as a result of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, all companies that make a certain amount of money every year are required to disclose what they are doing to fight human trafficking and forced labor slavery within their production process. So you can go to a website like Gap, or Anthropologie, and by law they must have a statement about their practices that you can read. 


This is not an all inclusive list by any means. I was amazed at how many companies out their are a part of this ethical, slow clothing movement. For more lists check out these here, here, and here. I have included the companies that best fit within the style I am working towards for myself! 

  • Everlane - I list this company at the very top of my list for a reason. They are amazing. I recently purchased two simple tees from Everlane, and am in love. The quality is amazing, and the prices are not too terrible either. But my favorite part about this company...radical transparency is their motto. They list every single factory they use in their production process, as well as the exact costs of every item on their site. This is a must visit site even if you do not go to another option listed below. 
  • Alternative Apparel - A little more pricey, but full of beautiful staple closet pieces. I am looking at this tank, and this dress for my spring capsule. 
  • Seamly - Another beautiful site full of simple basics, this company celebrates creativity and art in the form of clothing. 
  • Threads for Thought - I have recently gotten really into holy yoga, and the collection of trendy tights, tanks, and tees are amazing on this site. 
  • TheRootCollective - This shoe and accessories company partners with small scale businesses in marginalized communities to create jobs. Their ballet flats are a must have. 

  • Cana Collection - Similar to Lululemon, this fitness clothing company features trendy work out clothing for men and women. 

Again, this is not an complete list, but simply some of my favorites out of all the companies I have stumbled upon through my research. I would love for you to leave other suggestions of fair trade, ethical companies that you know of in the comment section below. 

To be honest I am a littler scared about beginning this journey. It is so easy to purchase cheap clothing that I can afford right now on all the different trendy websites out there. However, I know this is worth the patience, money saving, and research that this practice requires. So I am committed to only buying ethically, as best as I am able, for the rest of 2015! Ah...I cannot believe I just typed that. Here we go! 

Do you shop ethically? What are your favorite companies? 

Seasons with the Strattons Design

Earlier this week I shared about my new design services , and about my desire to grow more as a designer in the days ahead. So I wanted to take a minute to share my most recent blog design. Martha Kate and I went to the same college and even sat side by side in an English class once, we both kinda dreaded the class but the company was nice. So when Martha Kate came to me to help her with her design (for the second time) I was thrilled. Martha Kate had a pretty good vision for the fresh look she wanted, which makes my job easy. 

We spent a little bit of time emailing about colors, vision, and overall feel for the design and there was one word that emerged the main theme...peaceful. Martha Kate wanted something a little more professional than her previous design, yet still wanted it to be feminine and whimsical while exuding peaceful/calming vibes. We settled on pale blues, greens, and corals for the colors and a whimsical calligraphy font for the header. 

I love this design. I fall in love with design all over again every time I am able to work with a new client and help their dream become a reality. It is so much fun and such an incredible way to stretch my creative skills. 

MK's husband is a baseball player! While Seasons with the Strattons is not only about baseball there are mentions of it since the sport touches a large part of the strattons lives. I wanted to include some ode to this in the design, but wanted it to be subtle and whimsical. I made the O's into tiny baseballs and left it at that, subtle and adorable in my opinion. 

Watercolor elements were included to further create a sense of peace when readers visit the page, and grays were brought in to bring a depth to the color scheme and a readable shade for important text on the page. 

It was such a joy to put together this design for Martha Kate and Seasons with the Strattons. I hope you will pop in and give MK some love! 

If you are interested in working together on a design check out my packages, design process, and portfolio! I would love to make something beautiful for you!! 

Insta Love

First things first, I made the switch to Squarespace over the weekend. YAY! I have been in love with the clean and simple interface that Squarespace has to offer for quite sometime, and was amazed at how quick and easy the switch was for me. I am still making some changes to past content and working to integrate my advertising options and such, but overall it has been a lovely transition. I will be sharing more info about the switch and my experience in the days ahead. 

Happy Monday! I have to say this weekend was one of the most restful weekends at our house that we have had in quite some time. I slept forever, and even took a nap Saturday AND Sunday. Ben and I took Piper on a long walk downtown, we sat in our porch swing for a long time and just talked, and watched several episodes of The Big Bang Theory. It was glorious!

One thing I love to do on the weekends is to retreat. I find it so refreshing to step away from social media for a day or two over the weekends and focus on my little family. It does wonders for my soul, and really helps me to keep social media in check. However, I love spending Sunday night or Monday morning catching up on Instagram, my favorite social media platform. 

So I thought I would take a few minutes to share a few of my posts from the past week!. 

. Beanies have hit the Oh Simple Joys shop, and I have this feeling that there may even be a giveaway happening on my favorite social media spot this morning sometime...hint hint! 

2. My sweet husband had to go to a conference in D.C. this past week and was gone for 5 days...so we snapped this picture when he got back and we were dying laughing at trying to get Piper to look at the camera. Clearly the cars were more interesting. 

3. This lovely red infinity scarf has been restocked in the shop, and is so perfect for Valentine's Day coming up! 

4. Ben and I have a little Sunday ritual, breakfast together. Sometimes we have breakfast at a favorite spot in town, or even in bed, but we always have breakfast together on Sundays. Follow along with my hashtag #rachellovessundays

I would love to follow along with you on Instagram, comment your username below or follow me @mrsrachelcox and @ohsimplejoys for more! The Instagram community is such a neat thing and I would love to connect with you there! 

What is your favorite social media outlet to use? 

Oh Simple Joys Reopens + Discount Code

Happy Monday y'all! Just popping in on a rainy Monday morning to let you all know that

Oh Simple Joys

has opened its virtual doors yet again! YAY! I have been working my fingers very hard to get the shop stocked and ready for shopping!

Everything in the shop is ready to ship, and perfect to keep you warm during this ever chilly winter season! I learned a lot in the first few months that I was open...the biggest thing being that I only need to sell what I already have made! So everything will ship within 3-5 business days and I will be doing my very best to keep things stocked over here! Enjoy shopping today with a little discount in celebration of the reopening WEAREBACK10 will give you a 10% discount on anything you purchase! :) Enjoy!

There is more where all this crochet prettiness came from! Head on over right now and grab you some of the limited pieces that are available now! :)

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Handmade Holiday Gift Guide (Discount Codes + Giveaway)

Hey Y'all! Man does it feel wonderful to be back after a week away from blogland for the Holidays. We spent Thanksgiving with Ben's family this year and it was wonderful. We ate ourselves silly and then came back home for a restful and productive weekend at home! 

My Etsy shop,

Oh Simple Joys

, has been keeping me so busy (the best kind of busy), so I have been crocheting, packaging or shipping orders around the clock lately. I cannot express how incredible it feels to have a vision, walk in that vision, and then have friends and strangers come around you and support you in that vision. It is something that I will not ever get over. Every one of your that has bought something from my shop has been prayed over, and your money is going to sending me to Hope Spoken, Influence Conference as well as helping out our family of 3 (our little pup is always included in my count). 

Now that it is officially December I cannot wait to share some amazing handmade shops with you! These ladies are not only amazing creatives, but they love Jesus and I call so many of them dear friends! So it is with a really full heart that I share their shops and products with you today! Each lady has included a discount code OR is donating an item from her shop for several lucky winners! 


Heavens To Betsy Handmade

- Scarves, Handlettered Prints. Betsy d

onates a percentage of all of my profits to kingdom-building work through organizations like Mocha Club, foreign and local missions, and Project Rescue! Use code


for 10% off!

Elle & Company Library


The Elle & Company printable library is filled with files for all kinds of paper goods to brighten day-to-day life. This resource is great for inexpensive and creative gift ideas, organizational tools, and pretty paper.

Elah Tree


Elah Tree is dedicated to creating products and content to encourage, inspire, and equip you in your dreams. Use code


for 35% off!

Life Lived Beautifully

Life Lived Beautifully is about living life with one purpose: for the glory of God and the love of Jesus Christ. Use code


for 20% off!

Pretty Lovely Littles


Pretty little affordable things to add whimsy to your everyday life! Use code


for 30% off!

Arroway Creative Design


The vision behind this shop is to create uniquely handmade watercolor prints through uplifting words and encouragement. Use code


for 25% off!

East West Design Co.


Our vision is to create products that our customers will love, that will be reminders of the glory of God in their everyday lives, & to build a business that always points to Jesus.

Joyful Papery


I desire to plant beauty, honesty, truth, and hope all around us; Bringing beauty in the everyday.. in the hard, the tired, the happy, and the hopeful. That we might all see Joy hiding in our everyday lives.

Heathers Letters


Heather's Letters is a shop that delights in creating beauty, joy and fun. My faith inspires me to create and watching other women follow their passions and grow closer to God makes my heart wake up! Use code


for FREE shipping!

Riley Writes Scout


Hand Lettered prints, invitations, gift tags, stationary and more. 

Magnolia Street Shop


34 Magnolia Street Shop is all about celebrating life's little moments through custom paper goods. Life is too short to live blandly - let's celebrate! Use code


for 25% off!

Gingerly Styled


Gingerly Styled specializes in handmade burlap items. Inspired by creating handmade items for my own wedding, burlap has become a material I love working with. It's my goal to create personal items that bring joy into the homes of my customers. Use code


for 15% off!

Southern Glow Bangles


Southern Glow offers fashionable bangles at affordable prices. Bangles make great Christmas gifts for any special female in your life. Let me know how I can customize your order. Use code


for 20% off!

Oh Simple Joys


Oh Simple Joys is a shop dedicated to creating products that remind us to savor life's little moments. From crocheted goods to coffee mugs and tote bags this a shop striving to surround you with reminders to slow down and breathe deep. 

I cannot encourage you enough to go and check out these AMAZING women and their shops, and to BUY from them. These ladies are just normal ladies using their creative gifts for the glory of the Lord. They are using their gifts to help their families financially and by supporting them you are literally supporting their dreams...how cool is that?! Let's love these ladies and fill up our carts with some handmade goodness! I know I am. 

In addition to these amazing discount codes, several shops donated items to giveaway! So here is what is being given away to 7 lucky winners! 

-a print of choice from Heavens to Betsy Handmade

-a print of choice from Arroway Creative Designs

-6 month subscription to Elle & Co Library 

-Christmas Bundle from East & West Design Co (1 pack of 5 cards + 1 8x10 print of choice)

-8x10 "peace be still" raised gold letter print from Joyful Papery

-8x10 print and set of gift tags of choice from RileyWritesScout

-Tote bag from Oh Simple Joys + 

$30 Etsy Giftcard!

A special thanks to Rachel of

Rachel Rewritten

and Jenni of

Frankly My Dear

for the Etsy giftcard! 

All entries will be verified so play fair! The winners will be announced at the end of the day Friday the 5th of December! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Deck the Halls Fever + Advent Giveaway!!

Christmas is my all time favorite holiday! I love the season of celebrating the son of God entering the world, and I love all that comes with it. I truly believe the festivities of Christmas can be something pleasing to our Lord! Our Heavenly Father is a festive being. He calls the Israelites in the Old Testament to observe festivals on a regular basis and he institutes feasts and banquets to be pictures of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb at the end of time. I love that we can rejoice and be a picture of such a glorious day that is coming to those around us!

So all that to say...Christmas is my thang. For real. Just ask my poor husband who has already had to put up with me begging to begin decorating our little home for my beloved holiday now. The rule is not until after Thanksgiving...but I just cannot help it. I want to decorate everything soooo badly! But alas, I am waiting per request of my husband until at least the week of Thanksgiving! 

As a newlywed last Christmas everything was fresh and exciting. Ben and I were experiencing everything together as husband and wife for the very first time and it was so fun. We did everything ourselves. 90% of our decorations were made by yours truly...including all our Christmas ornaments. We were broke, and simply did not have money for tons of decorations...our Christmas tree was even part of our gifts to each other last year! HA! 

So I LOVE making things myself. This usually applies mainly to what I make in the kitchen, but every now and then I branch out and get crafty when necessity calls. So today I wanted to share some fun DIY projects I found that I love for this Holiday season! 

I tend to really find myself drawn to rustic and woodsy materials for Christmas decor. So these all seemed so fun and unique! I am hoping to make at least one if not all of these this year, and I am starting early so that even if I cannot decorate I can at least MAKE decorations before Thanksgiving! :)

More importantly than all the decor is remembering what Christmas is all about...and to many this is called Advent. This is a time leading up to Christmas to remember who Christ is and how he came. It really helps to prepare our hearts for the season, as well as keep our minds focused on who Jesus the Son of God is and why his coming is so important for us who call ourselves his children! 

So, to kick off this week & the upcoming holiday season I am participating in a giveaway with Jenni from Frankly My Dear & friends to make this season mean something.

Advent is a special time of year & it begins in three short weeks. To celebrate we are giving away one Naptime Diaries Advent Devotional + Calendar. The devotion is a 25 day interactive workbook that walks through hope, love, joy, peace, & purity leading up to the Christmas holiday. In addition, the calendar prints that accompany the devotion will bring cheer ANY time of year.

Good luck & have a great week!

Also, don't forget! Tomorrow is the Bread & Wine Project Link Up! Link up any recipe and share your thoughts on "How do you approach the Holidays and Hospitality?" Hope to see you there!

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 lessons...like 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! 

This Right Here Is My...Swag.

Try to read that title without singing the Souja Boy song...I mean I am singing it right now, just replacing it to say "pretty girl swag"...now I am not promoting the message of this song, nor am I saying it is super wholesome...but literally every time I hear the word swag...I bust out into this song. Sometime aloud, sometimes silently while also dancing silently to myself! 

We had an absolute blast at the Renew Retreat this past weekend. After spending what felt like forever talking about it, it finally happened and I got to meet 14 lovely blog friends in real life. It was incredible. I cannot wait to share more about the weekend later this week, as well as some super stellar pics that were snapped! 

One of the best parts of the weekend was getting some of my favorite small business owners products into the hands of some influential bloggers. I have such a passion for handmade and small business, and love promoting brands that I adore and believe in. So our "swag bags" were something I was most looking forward to this weekend. 

My sweet mom helped me print the bags. I designed the little logo for the front, and she made the rest happen. Fun fact, for my new shop, my mom is printing all my products for me! :) 

So here are all of our sponsors from the weekend (please show them some love. These ladies are so talented and you will be so blessed to follow them all). 

Riley Writes Scout - Hymn Print (I am so in love with this. Kat is so talented, and even did my logo for my new Etsy shop. She loves custom orders, and does everything from prints to wedding invitations!)
LavenderandLinen - Headbands (I have had one of Kendra's headbands for awhile now and LOVE it. I have had my eye on this fawn pattern for awhile so I was thrilled when it was included in the package of bands she sent us!!)

KnotaDream - Coffee Cozy (As someone who crochets I was so amazed at Kara's talent with these cozies...they were each unique and special which I loved. The details where beautiful. This lady is seriously a crochet pro!)

Steph Loves Ben - Felt Garland (This is the cutest shop on the block for real. From felt garlands, and flowers to pom pom bouquets Stephanie makes the most adorable little goodies to make your home look perfect in any season! I have my garland hanging on our mantel, and really want to buy a few more!!)

Mollie and Lou - Plastic Cups (We had our own cups for the entire weekend. They were made of heavy duty plastic and just darling! So precious for parties and the holidays!!)
 Vintage Home Studio - Towel (How precious are these? The pattern is adorable and the crochet border is impeccable, trust me I know! You will need to get your hands on one of these towels...or two...or three)

Gingerly Styled - Burlap Prints (Jenni is seriously one of my dear real life friends after this weekend. I love her and I love her heart for her business. She loves Jesus something big and loves being creative, which she rocks at! And she has some awesome new products coming out soon!!!)
 Sweet Aroma Coffee - Coffee for Retreat (Christin gave us 3 bags of coffee to drink all weekend long, and you all have heard how I feel about Sweet Aroma Coffee. Christin was so wonderful, and Madison and I even got to chat with her over coffee which was all kinds of fabulous. Coolest part? Sweet Aroma is offering CHRISTMAS GIFT BOXES!! you can find out more on their site!)

Shop Jessa Olson - Hair Ties (Who doesn't need more hair ties? I lose mine on a weekly basis. These are all so precious and girly...which is right up my ally!)

Caravan Sonnet - Scripture Buntings (I love to hang scripture in our home, and this is just such a precious way to get the Word in the home. Full of color and kinda shabby chic look that I love!)

 And now because this is the week of giveaways apparently on my blog, how about giving away one of these lovely bags full of SWAG?! 

All entries will be verified so play fair! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 morning...gifts 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!

The Most Fun $15 Ever Spent

Okay friends! It is seriously no surprise to anyone you that I consider myself to be somewhat of a "foodie". I LOVE good food, but even more than that I love local, fresh, organic, whole food, and I love using local ingredients in my cooking as much as possible. So when I heard about My Foodie Pen Pal from Beka over at Sunshine to the Square Inch, I signed up immediately.
Basically My Foodie Pen Pal is a monthly food swap. You sign up, are assigned a partner and you each send each other food items from your area. You have a $15 spending limit so you have to get creative with what you send. But it was so much fun. 

For my partner I put together 4 items all local to Starkville, MS. She loves tea, so I sent her a tin of homemade local loose leaf tea that is sold by some women that have an apothecary here (super old school). I also included some local honey, and strawberry jalapeno jam. Oh, and some chocolate covered espresso beans from a local coffee shop. It was so fun searching for these items. I am planning to participate again next month, and the biggest thing I will try to avoid this time will be heavy glass jars...it makes packaging tougher, and costs wayyyy more to ship. 

And now for what my lovely partner sent me! Lauren lives in PA and she sent some of the coolest items from her area. I told her I LOVED local foods, and really was not picky. 

I was so excited to open this box. And what I found inside was just wonderful!! 

ONE. Maple Candy "Sugar Cakes". Oh. My. Goodness. These are shaped like little Maple leaves, and they literally are just maple syrup and sugar...they melt in your mouth and are delicious. Ben and I enjoyed them after dinner several nights. Just one piece does the trick for our sweet tooth. 

TWO. Veggie Chips. These are made by a nearby Amish Community and are awesome. They have all the joy of chips with the crunch and a little salt, but are not terrible for you. I may have eaten half the bag almost immediately. 

THREE. Whole Wheat Blueberry Fig Bars. Also made by the Amish community, and perfect for another guilt free snack with a little sweetness. 

FOUR. Sanders of Berlin Cheddar Sour Cream Chips. These are also made locally and have pictures of local landmarks on the bags! How cool?! This particular flavor of chip is not my favorite, but Ben loves them, so he was happy to take them to work with him! 

FIVE. This was the crown jewel of the entire box. Cinnamon Orange Spice Tea. This is a black tea, also made by the Amish, and it is literally the most unique and best tasting tea I have ever put in my mouth. The best way I can describe it is that it tastes like Autumn and Christmas became best friends and turned themselves into a drink. It is so good, and the best thing is that it is good hot or over ice. I have tried it both ways, and man....so good. Also, I immediately googled where I could find this tea online and have found several options on Etsy...and you better believe I will be purchasing again! 

Thank you so much to my penpal Lauren! I am signing up again this month and literally cannot wait to get my next box of goodies! This month has me hooked! Want to know how to sign up? It is so easy...just click here! Be sure and sign up by the 4th though or else you will have to wait a whole long month before you can participate in the fun! 

I really love this concept, and have thought about some spin off of the idea? Like where you have a food pen pal for several months, same one. Or do it where it is food/handmade goods? Thoughts? Suggestions?  

All Natural, Handmade, Local Soap + Giveaway

Sometime in college I began to fall in love with locally crafted goods. I love the idea of supporting the farmer at your farmer's market, or the stay at home business owner who is a mom, or the single guy/gal just trying to make some modest money in order to be able to do big things for the Kingdom of the Lord. So I am always so eager to share great companies when I find them, and this is no exception. 

Meet Ashwater Soap Co. This soap company is run by two single guys that love Jesus, and love natural, wholesome ingredients that are good for your body. I knew Willie (one of the owners) through mutual friends in college, and can testify to his deep love the Jesus and others knowing Jesus. So when I saw that Willie had begun making soap with a friend, I knew I had to try it out. And I fell in love. 

First, the soap looks so awesome. The branding and packaging makes it so appealing, and the smell...ah that glorious smell when you open your package...it is divine. They are so pretty, almost to the point that I didn't want to use them because I just wanted to stack them on my dresser and look at them...okay not really, but they are pretty soaps. 

I tried the lemon poppy seed and black bar first (which happen to be their best sellers) and loved them. The poppy seeds really act as an exfoliating agent in the soap which is great for my dry summer skin. The best part is that everything that goes into the soap I have heard of, can pronounce, and for the most part, know what it is. The soaps are made with olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, shea butter, essential oils, and so many other great ingredients that are not just okay for your body...they are GREAT for your body! 

They have 6 different varieties you can choose from, and they are all perfect for girls or guys. None of the scents are overly girly or manly smelling in my opinion. They are perfect for all your people. These soaps would make FANTASTIC gifts by the way! 

I don't know if I will ever go back to normal soap...seriously, I love this stuff that much. 

I asked Willie a few questions about how they got started. Read below to learn more about Ashwater Soap Co. 

What inspired you to begin making soap? Why soap? 

Depending on how it’s told, it can be a long story, but I’ll try to keep it brief. In the fall of 2013, Nick and I spent a lot of time diligently seeking God regarding how to share His gospel with unbelievers. In the process we purposed to not just be hearers but doers. So twice a week, we would get off work and go straight to the Drill Field to engage strangers in conversation about the state of their souls and the salvation offered by God through His Son and His gospel of grace. In the process we started kicking around the idea of starting a business to avail more freedom to do the work of the Lord, and that conversation became more and more serious, but we had no idea what we could sell.

Also, both of us are relatively health-conscious people, from food to exercise to natural care products. Nick apparently had been doing some research on the adverse effects of commercial “soap” (which are many), and we ordered the supplies to make some of our own. In the process of doing lots and lots of research, we both separately had this idea that this might be a viable business to start. After realizing that we were on the same page, one weekend in October, we made our first batch, and it was a success. From there we have developed and refined our own recipe, and the business has prospered as the Lord has seen fit. So to answer the question, “Why soap”, it was really a matter of timing. As our eyes looked to the Lord, He was gracious to us (Psalm 123:2).
What inspires the varieties of soap that you create? 

That’s a tougher question. First of all, we love the process of making new soaps, so there has been no lack of creativity in that area. One initial goal was a wide variety of looks and scents, and we’re still in the process of providing that variety. The genesis of each individual bar varies. A couple of the bars were solely Nick’s idea, and a couple were solely my idea, and when we get together to make them, often we’ll go back and forth about look, scent, exfoliate...until we have a bar that both of us feel comfortable with. Even after that, we’ve made at least 6 other bars that eventually didn't make the cut, so there’s lots of trial and error. The black bar is probably the exception, and it’s become a sort of signature bar for us. Its scent is probably the most unique of all our soaps and that was one we developed together from start to finish. Perhaps that’s a long answer to a simple question, but there it is.

How long does one bar take from beginning to end to make? 

We make our soap in batches of about 40 each. The process of mixing and pouring a batch takes maybe 30 minutes. However, with the natural cold process method that we use, the soap has to cure for at least 4 weeks, so from start to finish, a single bar goes from disparate ingredients to a finished product in about one month.

Where all can Ashwater Soap be found? 

In addition to the online store, ashwatersoap.com, our soaps can be found in numerous stores across the state and one in Memphis.

The Mississippi Gift Company - Greenwood, MS
Babcock Gifts - Memphis, TN
Tin Roof Market - Senatobia, MS
Polks Drugs #4 - Brandon, MS
The Everyday Gourmet - Jackson, MS
Lemanedi - Brookhaven, MS
Sweet Peas - Florence, MS
Tropical Glamour - Petal, MS
Peterson's Art and Antiques - Vicksburg, MS
Wild Magnolias - Leland, MS
McAlister House - Ripley, MS
Down South - Corinth, MS
Heartfelt Traditions - Mendenhall, MS
Kaleidoscopes - Newton, MS

For all you Mississippi readers, Ashwater Soap Co. will be at the Prairie Arts Festival in Westpoint, MS Saturday, August 30th. So be sure and stop by their booth and pick up some soap for you and all your friends!!!

And because I want one of you to try this soap so badly, I am giving away two bars of soap! The winner can choose between the 6 varieties offered! Enter below!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Polka Dots, Leather, and A Fall Must Have

Good Morning dear ones! So I love Etsy, and that is no secret. I am such a big supporter of ladies that use their hands to make things and sell them. I think this is a beautiful picture of a Proverbs 31 woman and so I seek to support these small business whenever I have the opportunity. Awhile back Jenna contacting me about this giveaway of a tote bag she found on none other than Etsy. I was happy to buy into the giveaway because I love Jenna and I love handmade. AND...this tote bag is just darling and I would love to have it. So here you go friends, we are giving one tote bag away!

Have I got a treat for you! I'm partnering with 3 of my very favorite bloggers to give this adorable Rouge and Whimsy polka dot and leather tote to one of you lucky readers! This handmade bag is extremely cute, durable, and unique. The seller makes them to order and each one is a little different. I'm in love with the buttery soft caramel-colored leather and the sweet-as-can-be dots. It makes me happy just looking at it. 

           Dearest Love                The Lady Okie            The Wetherills Say I Do        Oh Simple Thoughts 
This giveaway is run via rafflecopter. All entries will be verified, so please play by the rules! The winner must claim their prize within 48 hours of being emailed, or a new winner will be chosen. I'm so sorry international friends, but this giveaway is only open to those living in the US. Good luck!

Don't forget to send me any questions you may have for my Q&A video I will be putting together for next week! I want to hear from all of you! :) Submit your questions here.

Also, meet one of my sponsors this month, Lorriane of This Pilgrim's Progress. Lorraine writes the most insightful and spiritually encouraging posts. It is easy to see her love for the Lord and the Gospel after just a few minutes on her space. 

What is your favorite breakfast item?
I love a good English Banger, or more commonly known as an sausage.

Describe yourself in 3 words. 
Introverted, Unstable, Quirky

What is one thing you have learning this month?
Truly loving and learning that it's worth dealing with sin, and intentionally putting it to death systematically. Was recently challenged to deal with my fear of rejection I've been struggling with that I did not feel it was a big deal as I could not see that it manifested itself in anyway. However, the more I've asked the Holy Spirit to convict me and show me the root of the issue and how the gospel speaks in to it, I've found so much freedom from being freed from its bondage. 

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!!

These are a Few of my Favorite Things // Coffee + Printables

One of my favorite things about blogging is being able to declare from the rooftops your love for awesome businesses, and companies and connect your readers with such great entrepreneurs. It fills my heart with joy! So I am just doing a little happy dance as I write this post because these two companies are gonna make you want to dance too! Two of my favorite things are coffee & pretty paper. I cannot go a morning with out drinking a cup of joe, and there is not a room in my house that does not have some type of design print on the wall. So today I wanted to connect you all with some dear new friends, and awesome ladies - Christin of Sweet Aroma Coffee, and Lauren of Elle & Co. Design. These ladies both offer some crazy awesome monthly subscriptions through their businesses that I am thoroughly enjoying!

Christin and her husband started Sweet Aroma Coffee to make money that will go towards stopping sex trafficking. They have a huge heart for Jesus, and seeing the Lord proclaimed and lifted up in some of the darkest places around the world. Sweet Aroma offers a monthly coffee subscription that highlights coffee from different regions around the world. For example, this month I received a 12 oz. bag of coffee from Rwanda, and a 12 oz. bag of coffee from El Salvador! 

The coffee every month will come from two different countries, and is fair trade coffee. A percentage of what you pay monthly goes to 61 Project in Kenya, and Wipe Every Tear in the Philippines. The monthly cost is low for the high quality coffee you will receive. If you are a coffee drinker like me, it just seems to make sense to give money to buy coffee that is doing something for the Kingdom! I hope you will check them out. 

Elle & Co. Design has just launched an amazing printable library that you can subscribe to for just $6.99 a month! Lauren is an amazingly talented designer, and her products are beautiful. I have loved my subscription so far, and cannot wait to use all of her adorable printables. She offers invitations, gift tags, prints, note cards, and more! 

Every month there are new items in the library, and you have access to them all! I love this unique concept, and the best part is you will always have a quick gift if you ever need one. Just print off some note cards on card stock, or frame one of her adorable teacup prints...and there you go, easy and price conscious gift! 
I have already used the gift tags for wedding presents, and her note cards for keeping up with all my to do lists! I hope you check out this awesome library! You will be so glad that you did! 

What are some of your favorite things?

Some posts you may have missed:
Single and Content - my story of my season being single
Bread & Wine Project - Blackberry Crisp - FIRST Bread & Wine Project link up!
Big Announcement - Did you know we are having a BLOG RETREAT?
Lessons from Piper the Pup - Who knew you could learn so much from a little animal?

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!

The Cutest Bracelets in all the Land

Happy new week friends! How was your weekend? We had a super fun first weekend with our little Piper girl. As if you guys have not picked up on this already, I love having a puppy! Piper has been a handful, but already in less than a weeks time has gotten so much better. This weekend we took her on a picnic by Eckie's Pond on Mississippi State's campus, she LOVED it. We let her off her leash for a little while, which ended in her jumping in to the pond. So, later that night she had her first bath, and did not love it but she was good and let us get her all clean! 

Saturday, we went to the Farmer's Market, and walked the whole way! It was the best Piper has done on the leash yet, and then she was the talk of the town at the market. Everyone loved her, and I don't think she really minded...she eats up attention from other people. We are working on control in the friendliness area! 

It was a great weekend, full of fun memories made with our little one. Yesterday we went to Jackson for Ben's grandmothers 90th birthday party! It was great to see family and have everyone meet Piper for the first time! Check out more posts about this ball of fur here, and here!

Alright enough about Piper and our weekend, onto the real reason for this post! JEWELRY! A good family friend from my hometown in Georgia has started her own small business selling the CUTEST bangle bracelets you have ever seen! She contacted me about reviewing her bracelets, and I was more than happy to get my hands on some  of these beauties and to share them with you! Meet Southern Glow Bangles!
All of these bangles are handmade by Jessica, and can be made for adults or little ones! They are great quality and so pretty! 

I do not wear a ton of jewelry, especially bracelets. But, when I got my bangles in the mail, I fell in love. The one that I chose was a simple gold band with clear stones, and it is precious. It is subtle enough that I can feel confident wearing it even though I hardly wear bracelets. It is very elegant and would be great to dress up an outfit or to pair with something casual!

These bracelets would make awesome gifts! They are affordable, and so trendy right now! The best thing is that they are not age specific. These can be given to little girls, moms, your best friend, sister or in laws! Such a versatile and affordable gift is so worth the money spent, and you are supporting a stay at home mom who is using her creative gifts to bless others! Whoop, win, win, win in my book!

So because I am so obsessed with these bangles, and because Jessica I super generous I am giving one away to one lucky lady! This gorgeous turquoise cross bangle will go so wonderfully with so many things, and is the perfect piece to bring a little pop of color to your summer outfits! Enter below and remember to play fair, all entries will be verified! 

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

Handmade Highlight - Half Pint Prints

We finally made it back to good ole Mississippi last night. It was sad to leave the beach after such an awesome and relaxing trip, but I was really thankful to be back home. Ben and I spent a good bit of time talking through goals, and my blog/design schedule over the weekend so I was really motivated last night to hit the ground running with these new goals. (I have some exciting posts in the works with more info on this, so stay tuned). 

As most of you who have been around my little blog for awhile know very well, I LOVE handmade. My love for handcrafted goods goes much deeper than just pretty colors, and trendy items. I love supporting women who love Jesus and desire to use their gifts to serve him and others with them. My heart behind this Handmade Highlight series is to introduce you to women who are doing just that. I hope to connect you with creative women and small business owners that are doing big things for the Kingdom of Jesus, and that are super talented as well. 

Today, I am so excited to introduce Amber of Half Pint Prints to you all. You may recognize Amber from last month's sponsorship post. She has been hanging around Oh, Simple Thoughts for a little while, and is such a joy to know. She is very talented in designing prints, invitations, and more!

Here are some questions that I asked Amber to help you get to know her a little better, and some pretty photos of her lovely products!!

What inspired you to pursue opening an Etsy Shop?
Back in 2007 I was just leaving my career as a graphic artist for a newspaper, to stay home with my brand new baby boy (who's not so new and not so little anymore). Here and there I would design things for family, friends and some previous customers I had from the newspaper. I loved being able to create again. After tons of encouragement from my man and a baby that finally began to sleep, I began this little shop. It's my little corner of the web where I can create, share my love for the Lord with others, and still share my day with my boys at home.

What has been the greatest joy for you in this business?
I love that I get to have some small part to helping people celebrate big moments in their lives. And that I get to do it all in the comfort of my own home with my boys running around at my feet. Motherhood had always been a dream of mine, but I needed some sort of creative outlet and my shop was the perfect fit for that. 

What are your favorite items to make?
Oooh...so I started out just designing invites, but as the years have gone on my favorite thing to design are art prints that you can post around your home that remind you just how great our God is....and just how much He loves you. I keep a running list on my desk of things that I've heard and have inspired me. It's my go to when I'm ready to sit down and create something new.

How do you stay inspired?
I think you can be inspired daily by people around you, reading books, listening to speakers, looking in your backyard. I'm all about taking it all in and creating reminders of those moments. Whether it's a great quote you've heard, a favorite verse or just recognizing the beauty in the simple things...I want to remember. 

What is one thing the Lord is teaching you right now?
Haha....this one's easy! It's been on going for a while now. I AM NOT IN CONTROL. I'm a bit of a control freak at times and He's really showing me that I don't need to make lists of what I am going to do or schedule my entire day. All I do is create disappointment for myself when my plans don't go how I want ( and let's be honest they don't most of the time when children are involved). I went through 4 years of infertility trying to control every aspect of everything. It was emotional and it was hard. Then when I was at my lowest I finally let it go...and let God do his work on me and my heart. He ultimately was going to control whether we had a small family or large one a successful business or a unsuccessful one. All to say...I now know just how much He loves me and that His ultimate plan for me, at least now, is to show me that He's got this. And that I just need to glorify Him in all He's done and is still doing for me. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners?
Just be you. There are people out there trying to do everything (I was one of them for a while), but if you're you, you will find that perfect group of customers for your shop and they will keep returning. If I could add a second piece of advice, I would say talk to other shop owners. There are so many out there who are willing to share advice and help you get your shop on your feet.

Thanks so much Amber for sharing your heart today, and your awesome talent. I have several of Amber's prints in our home, and the are gorgeous. You much head over and check out her Etsy shop, like now! :) And stick around this month to see more from Amber, and maybe even a giveaway of one of her products later this month! (wink, wink)

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!