I love using jars for most anything. What I love about these ideas is that I am always getting asked, "what can I do with my old Gold
It's My Party
One of the things that I am asked about most frequently is "How do I get my photos to look nice without using a flash indoors?"
arts crafts ideas
This year, I decided to make a stack of the books I read. I wanted a tangible and visual encouragement to choose knowledge, words and wisdom over mindless entertainment. I cancelled my Netflix membership and spent many Saturdays getting lost in bookstores and buying books before I even finished the one I was in the middle of, and the stack grew and grew. Halfway through, I had finished 16 books. Now, 2014 is coming to a close, and the grand total of books read this year is 39 (but the Bible is really 66 books if if you really want to get specific...). I loved some, struggled to finish some, highlighted the heck out of some, and shared many with friends and family. Now, I'm sharing the final list with you with a few of my thoughts in hopes that you too will read more books this year than you did last year. If you have recommendations of must-read books for 2015, please share them in the comments! I've shared a quote from each book, the photo (because don't we all judge books by the covers just a little bit?), and my thoughts in review of each-- happy reading! One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. // "I have to seek God beauty. Because isn't my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship? Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down before something else." This book is a beautiful challenge-- "a dare to live fully right where you are." Grab a notebook and prepare your heart for a whole lot of thankfulness and start writing your own list of one thousand gifts. It will change your outlook on life. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. // "How wild it was to let it be." This is one woman's compelling, honest, beautiful story of her adventure "from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail." I know it's about to be a movie, so read this first before you see it. You won't want to put it down, you'll feel like you were there every step of the way, and you'll fall in love with Cheryl page by page. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. // "The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer." This book is short but profound, a "classic exploration of Christian community" that was written in the early 1900s but is still completely relevant today. As a small group leader, this book was a wealth of wisdom and truth on how to foster an authentic community-- I think I underlined something on almost every page. Gospel by JD Greear. // "Radical generosity and radical commitment to the mission is the response of every person who has experienced the grace of Jesus Christ. Following Jesus, being His disciple, means living as He lived. He leveraged His life for the lost." This book is about "recovering the power that made Christianity revolutionary" and I loved it. Bold, easy to read, helpful, and so solid. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. // "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This "eater's manifesto" is a fantastic read about how food has shaped our culture and changed so wildly over time, what Pollan calls the American Paradox-- "the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we become." As a gluten-free vegan with a majorly plant-based diet, I loved this book and his proposals of how we can make great food choices, but I would strongly recommend this to anyone who eats food (aka everyone). A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor. // "Don't ever let me think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story--just like the typewriter was mine." This collection of writings from O'Connor's journals is honest, raw, unedited and wonderful, "the record of a brilliant young woman's coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art." A short and stunning read. Forgotten God by Francis Chan. // "We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of." This book is all about "reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit," but not in a weird, hyper-spiritual way. It's like a conversation with a friend who is super passionate and prays with you often and points you back to truth and who God in the Trinity really is. Start Here by David Dwight and Nicole Unice. // "Remember that this life with Jesus is not something you accomplish or master; it's a growing relationship from this day forward." This book was written by two people on staff at my church that I respect, love and admire. It's a book about "beginning a relationship with Jesus," but it didn't matter that my relationship with Jesus started a long time ago-- this book was still an authentic and encouraging reminder of what faith looks like. This book comes straight from the Bible through the words of two people who love the Lord so evidently and are such incredible tools He is using to build the kingdom here on earth. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. // "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once." If you want to weep and have your heart feel basically every emotion on the whole spectrum, this is the book for you. I recommend reading it before you see the movie, but definitely do both. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. // "I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift." This book (currently on loan to a friend, hence the different picture! sorry!) is electric, alive, fresh, and free. It's all about "celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life" and it's such a refreshing read, much like a cold tangerine would be. I fell in love with Shauna after the first few paragraphs, and knew I would be reading anything she ever wrote in that moment. This book was a delight and a joy. Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt. // "One of the hardest parts of packing light, I've learned, is that it's as much about what you take with you as it is what you leave behind. ... Packing light isn't as simple as throwing up our hands and leaving everything up to God. It's as much about holding on as it is about letting go-- and knowing the difference between the two. It matters what you put in your suitcase." This book on "thoughts on living life with less baggage" follows Vesterfelt's journey on a cross-country road trip, but it's so much more than that. It's a refreshing and honest read about life and the journey and how to do it all authentically and simply. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. // "When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow." Shauna's "thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way" was poignant, beautiful, and soulful. This book is like a warm hug from a dear friend while you're curled up swapping life stories on a comfy couch over mugs of coffee. It's warm and real and reflective in the best ways. I hang on to her every word and feel like we've been best friends forever every time I read her stories. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. // "What's becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God's presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I've made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts." This book is a "collection of essays about family, friendships, and the meals that bring us together" next to exquisite recipes, and I can't say enough good things about it. Obviously I love Shauna Niequist, but it's more than that. This book welcomes you into a kitchen buzzing with activity and full of the most incredible tastes and smells, welcomes you around the table where love overflows and real life happens. Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke. // "I saw that the church wasn't a museum for good people; it was a hospital for the broken." You may have seen the viral video a while back by Bethke, and this book is an expansion of that. It's about "why He is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough." It's full of contrasts between Jesus-life and religious life, and it's an awesome read. Room by Emma Donoghue. // "An astounding, terrifying novel...It's a testament to Donoghue's imagination and empathy that she is able to fashion radiance from such horror." - The New Yorker This book will absolutely take you captive from the first page to the last. I couldn't put it down. It's riveting and a thriller through and through in the very best way. A must-read. The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning. // "In season and out of season, in success and failure, in grace and disgrace, the courage to risk everything on the signature of Jesus is the mark of authentic discipleship." This book, a "call to a life marked by holy passion and relentless faith," is bold and beautiful and compelling. This was the first book by Manning that I read, and I loved his style, his wisdom and his heart. Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller. // "God saw Abraham's sacrifice and said, 'Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.' But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, 'Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.' When the magnitude of what he did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else." I've been a major Tim Keller fan since falling in love with King's Cross, and this book didn't disappoint. It's about "the empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters." If you've ever put your faith in any of these things (aka everyone), this book shows us how the Bible reveals powerful truths about our society and our hearts. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. // "To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace. Honesty keeps us in touch with our neediness and the truth that we are saved sinners. There is a beautiful transparency to honest disc plies who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are." This book is a classic. I've been wanting to read it for ages and was so excited to find this old copy on my parent's bookshelf at home. I love the word ragamuffin--"each of us comes beat-up, butnr-out, ragged and dirty to sit at our Father's feet. And there he smiles upon us-- the chosen objects of his 'furious love.' YES. So good. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. // "'Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity.'" This novel is enchanting, and I now understand the hype around it. It's simple and full of wise and quotable lines. Do yourself a favor and pick up this beautiful read. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. // "I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. But it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful." Total honesty here: I did not like this book at all. Everyone and their mother seems to be obsessed with it, but I struggled to get through it. I made myself finish it, just to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I just straight-up don't like Miller's writing style, and he really rubbed me the wrong way. But hey, everyone else seems to love it, so maybe it's just me. A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich. This book was written as an attempt to write a history of the world for younger readers, from the Stone age to the atomic bomb. It isn't full of dates or facts, but it reads more like a story. I found it heard to get through the whole thing, but it definitely was interesting to read about the scope of history and humanity in a new style that was definitely much more engaging than a textbook. If you like history, this is definitely a book you'll love. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. // "Ice-pick sharp...spectacularly sneaky...impressively cagey." -New York Times If you didn't hear about this book, read this book, or see this movie this year, you must live under a rock. It spread like wildfire this year, and rightly so, because this book is haunting, it sucks you in, and it leaves you on the edge of your seat in the best way. There are so many twists and turns--I couldn't put it down. The movie is incredible as well--not for the faint of heart though. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. // "But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that's a little sloppy because at the same time it's also holy, and absurd. It's about surrender, giving in to all those things we can't control. It's a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched." Anne Lamott is my new favorite. She's frank, honest, refreshing, sentimental, wise and witty. An author with dreadlocks that shares thoughts on faith but isn't afraid of cussing is my kind of author. This book is a great collection of Anne's "thoughts on faith" -- a definite must-read. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. // "The searing, post apocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece." This was one of those books that I've always heard about and it's won the Pulitzer Prize and is a national bestseller, so when I found it at my favorite local bookstore for just a few bucks, I knew it was time to give it a read. There aren't chapters or clear dialogue or anything, so I found that I flew through it quickly even though it was slow in parts. It's intriguing and moving and makes you wonder what the world might look like someday. Gold by Chris Cleave. // "Her life was one endless loop that she raced around, with steep banked curves so she could never change or slow down. It just delivered her back to herself, over and over and over." This book is heart-warming and heart-breaking, about Olympic speed cyclists, love, ambition, loyalty, family...you fall in love with the characters, want to cheer them on as you read about their races, and want to cry with them when the pain comes. This book (I have to say it...) is gold. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. // "We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'." The back cover of this book says it all: "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again--the story starts there... Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds." So there you have it. If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. // "If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down the little ideas however insignificant they are." I found this little book at my favorite local used bookstore, and seeing that it was "a book about art, independence, and spirit" intrigued me. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, wasn't the worst, I underlined some stuff and disagreed with some stuff. The back says "it is about having values, about belief (in the imagination and its relation to personal integrity), and about the bravery of coming to understand yourself and of putting marks down on paper." Writers, it's worth a read. Everyone else, probably not. From the Library of C.S. Lewis compiled by James Stuart Bell. // "This is the perfect entrance to the world C.S. Lewis inhabited, and it arrives just when that world of books is under the threat of extinction. Thanks to those who have given us such a gold mine." This book is just that-- a gold mine. I've been obsessed with Lewis and his books for years, but this was all "selections from writers who influenced his spiritual journey" and it was fascinating. I think one of the best ways to get to know somebody is to read the books they love, and this was like doing that with Lewis. Not a page went without underlines or sticky notes or big fat stars from me, and I have a whole new wealth of information from writers I never read before or knew about. These selections span many centuries and are deep and brilliant and categorized by theme to break it up-- it's an excellent book and resource that I loved every word of. Quiet by Susan Cain. // "It's as if extroverts are seeing 'what is' while their introvert peers are asking 'what if.'" EVERYONE. READ THIS BOOK. NOW. I've never wanted to give a book to everyone I know so badly (okay, except maybe the Bible). It's gold. As a hardcore introvert, this book resonated with me on every page and made so much of how I feel and see things and respond to things make so much sense. It was hugely helpful, absolutely brilliant, deeply insightful, fascinating, wise, and just so very good. "The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" -- YES. Introverts and extroverts alike-- read this and I promise you will understand people and yourself more clearly and it will change your life. Also-- Susan's TED talk is incredible too, if you're more into that sort of thing than you are into reading a whole book. Whatever you do, just soak up her goodness ASAP. Small Victories by Anne Lamott. // "Who knows, maybe those two robe leaders, Gandhi and Jesus, were right--a loving response changes the people who would beat the shit out of you, including yourself, of course. Their way, of the heart, makes everything bigger. Decency and goodness are subversively folded into the craziness, like caramel ribbons into ice cream." Anne's writing is a breath of fresh air-- I laughed out loud at her self-deprecating humor and appreciated her honesty about the reality of life and faith as she shared her thoughts and experiences on some of the best and worst of it all. She feels like that best friend you can count on to crack you up while also giving you a swift kick in the pants as she points you back in the right direction toward Christ, all in her honest, frank, wise and witty way. A must-read collection of essays and stories, no matter if you have read stuff from her before or if you've never heard from her. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. // "Sometime before I die I think I'll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I'll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I'll say to outer space, this is my card." This book is "an affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world's attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation." Marina died in a car crash five days after she graduated, and this is what she wrote before that. It's beautiful. I loved every word-- both her fiction and her essays equally. She was 22 when she died, and being 22 now myself, I was struck by (and slightly envied) her poignancy, raw talent and elegance-- I so highly recommend this book. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. // "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path." This. Book. It's one I want to shove into the hands of every single human I meet. Everyone needs to read this. I discovered Brown through her TED talk a while back and fell in love with her research, completely. This book was wonderful. Based on so much sound and thorough research, it dives into "how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead," so it's relevant to every single living person. Read this book. Now. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. // "But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way." This book, described in the inner flap as "the most lighthearted of all [Austen's] novels" was elegantly written (as to be expected) but humorous at points, poignant at points, and strangely modern and relevant at points. I loved it, I don't think it gets enough credit-- it really is a great work of Austen's. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. // "The human soul seeks to integrate our will and our mind and our body into an integral person. Beyond that, the soul seeks to connect us with other people, with creation, and with God himself--who made us to be rooted in him the way a tree is rooted by a life-giving stream." My church did a sermon series on the soul last month and recommended reading this book as an accompaniment to it, and I'm so glad I did. The soul is the most important part of us and caring for it is so crucial, and this book was chock full of great words of wisdom on how to do so well. Loved this one. Ties That Bind by Dave Isay. // "Listening to the experiences of regular people living life to the fullest and exemplifying humanity at its finest has, time and again, stirred my soul and strengthened my faith in this nation and its people." I became a fan of NPR this summer and always loved the times I would catch StoryCrops-- snippets of conversations of people who shared their stories and conversations and hearts with the world. This book captures those conversations between relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors and more in heart-wrenching, beautiful, moving ways. This book was one I read in one sitting and loved so much. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. // "We are seeking Jesus--we want to smell him on the skin of others, and we want to hear tell of his activity. We are seeking fellow travelers for this journey. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen, to love well, to learn how to have eyes to see and ears to hear. We want to be part of something amazing and real and lasting, something bigger than ourselves. We want to be with other women who know and love and follow our Jesus. Somehow we know that we will love him better if we hear from others how much they love him, too." This book's title might turn you off, or might make your heart swell with excitement. Either way, this book is a fantastic, honest, engaging read. "Feminist" has always been a word with strong reactions and associations, but this book is really "an invitation to revisit the Bible's view of women" through "exploring God's radical notion that women are people, too." It's so great. Bessey makes beautiful things out of her words. Hearing God by Dallas Willard. // "We were important enough for God to give his Son's life for us and to choose to inhabit us as a living temple. Obviously, then, we are important enough for him to guide us and speak to us whenever that is appropriate." This book is about "developing a conversational relationship with God" and to be honest, I've started and lost interest in it several times throughout the last year, but finally sat down and before forcing myself to commit to finishing it. Flipping through it, I underlined a ton and wrote lots of notes, so it's obvious that it resonated with me, but maybe the density and depth of the material just made it harder to digest in large quantities.It was my first book by Willard and I loved his intellect and wisdom, but wouldn't recommend this book for a light or quick read, although I do think it's a good book for those who have ever wondered about statements like "God spoke to me" or "God revelaed this to me" or things like that. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. // "He comes as a Baby because He's done with the barriers. He comes vulnerable because He knows the only way to intimacy with you is through vulnerability with you. You can't get to intimacy except through the door of vulnerability. So God throws open the door of this world--and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you." This book. Stunning. Holy. Soul-filling. I cannot say enough good, worthy words. Every day of this Advent season, this book and Ann's glorious way with words quieted my soul, drew me to bended knee in awe of my Savior and this season, and was such a breath of quiet, fresh air I desperately needed. I will absolutely be returning to this work of art every Advent to come. (ps-- there is a version for children and families that I'm sure is out of this world!) The Bible. // For the first time in my life (as sad as that is to actually admit out loud), I have officially read the entire Bible. And it changed my year and my faith and my heart. Reading through it this way, with a portion from the Old Testament, a portion from the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb every day,was interesting and showed me Scripture in a whole new way, with parallels I never realized before and connections I made for the first time. Now, at 22, I have finally read every word of Scripture and can't wait to continue diving deeper and deeper into this love story I'll never get enough of. While I would definitely say there are better and deeper ways to study the Word, this is a great way to get into it and stay accountable to getting through even slower or less exciting books and chapters, so I definitely recommend doing it at least once in your life. Whew. What a year of reading it has been. Share your favorite reads or best recommendations in the comments and I'll add them to my list for 2015! My goal is 50+ books next year, so stay tuned for future RADreads posts!
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While there's no right or wrong way to blog, great content is the key to blogging success. But share-worthy content isn't always easy to come up with or create, is it? Today I'm coming to the rescue with 50 blog post ideas that you can use to provide your readers with quality content and keep them coming back for more. 1. Share a behind-the-scenes look of your blog or business. Everyone loves getting sneak peeks of what your office looks like, photos of things "in the works," and looks at rough drafts. Michaela Noelle did this on her blog last week and it was a great success! It also adds a little personality to your blog and allows your readers to connect with you. 2. Write a blog series on your process. I did this with my creative process last month and it was a huge hit. Readers love to find out how you do what you do, so highlight each step of a project in a blog series and walk them through your process. This is helpful for readers who are in a similar field and for potential clients and customers. 3. Roundup helpful posts and link to other bloggers. Readers also like finding out which blogs you follow along with and what posts you find interesting, so link to other bloggers and share articles and posts that might be helpful for your audience. (This is also a great way to connect and network with other bloggers. I can see which bloggers refer to me in my analytics and I almost always reach out to them!) Jenny Purr does a great job with link-ups. 4. Write a post on how you got started. We all love a good success story. Share your experience and tell your readers how you got here. Plus, it's fun to document your journey and remember where you started. And on that note... 5. Share tips on how to become successful in your industry. Which resources and advice have helped you get to where you are? Don't keep all of those tips to yourself - share the love with your readers! 6. Feature a professional in your field. This could take the form of reaching out to someone for a Q&A on your blog (like this Coffee Date with Molly Jaques) or just highlighting someone in your industry that you admire. This is also a great networking opportunity. 7. Host a giveaway. Readers love getting free things, whether it's content, entertainment, or goodies. Create excitement around your blog and reward your readers for following along with you by hosting a giveaway! Giveaways are also great marketing tools for your blog. 8. Write a polarizing post about something you may not agree with in your field. While it's easy for all of us to go along with the crowd and do what's popular, there may be some things in your industry that you want to do differently. Write about it! (Please note that I'm not promoting negativity, complaining, ranting, or bashing - there's a way to go about this tastefully and respectfully.) Here are some great polarizing posts: Time for Change, 3 things I'm no longer doing for my website, One Word That May Be Hindering Your Business 9. Make a list of things you wish you had known when ... Hindsight is 20/20 and we all have the opportunity to learn from others' mistakes. Share a handful of things you wish you had known when you first started blogging, writing, designing, doing calligraphy, photographing weddings, etc. Need an example? Read this post. 10. Share a day-in-the-life post. We all like to see how successful people go about their day. Write down your day (without going into too much detail) and give your readers an insider look! Breanna Rose does this in her Creative Diaries series, and they are some of my favorite posts. 11. Ask someone to guest post about something specific in your industry. We never have all the answers and it's fun to get advice from other people that are doing great things in your field. It's also fun to highlight talented people and bring attention to their business. You could even look at it as a networking and marketing opportunity and do a trade - ask someone to guest post on your blog in return for guest posting on theirs. 12. Write an informational post about your blogging platform. Readers love learning about how you do what you do. Write a review of your blogging platform, the things you like and don't like, and whether or not you would recommend it. This post about Squarespace has been one of my most popular posts and I continue to get emails and feedback about it! 13. Roundup and highlight the tools you use in your trade. I said it in #12 but it's worth repeating: readers love learning how you do what you do. Make a list of things you use everyday and share it on the blog! Here's my example. 14. Teach your readers about something you're an expert in. We all love to learn from the pros and get insider information. Content like this will be shared over and over again and gain a lot of feedback. 15. Share some takeaways from a recent experience, workshop, or event. Have you attended an event related to your field in the last few months? Share it on the blog and highlight your favorite moments! Your readers will love reading about your experience and the workshop/conference may even share your post, too. 16. Make a list of things people should avoid in your industry. Sometimes it's even more helpful to learn about what not to do. Share some common mistakes that people make and how to avoid them. I was a little leery of sharing my Top 10 Design Mistakes to Avoid, but I was pleasantly surprised by the feedback! 17. Highlight milestones, launches, and important events. It's always good to have a reason for people to get excited about your blog/business. Make a big deal out of changes and events by featuring them on the blog! 18. Explain the meaning behind your blog/business name. Some names are straightforward, but some have a fun story behind them. Turn it into a blog post and share the story behind your blog/business name. (The meaning of the Elle & Company is mentioned in this post.) 19. Feature the people you work with. It's rare that we run a blog or business completely on our own; there are usually people who work for us or with us to help us keep things running, even if it's just by their encouragement. Use your blog to highlight them, promote them, and feature their work. I featured my biggest fan and business partner a few months ago, and it's one of my favorite posts to-date. 20. Make a list of things people may not know about your trade. There's always information out there that people are surprised to hear. For example, non-designers may not know that using Comic Sans is one of the biggest no-no's in this industry. Create a list of "did you know" items and share it with your readers. I guarantee it will be a hit. 21. Write a review of a product you use often. If you're a photographer, write about your favorite lenses. If you're a designer, share about your favorite software. If you're an entrepreneur, share the programs you use for project management and accounting. People are always on the lookout for helpful products and tools - share your feedback with them. 22. Repurpose old blog posts with a roundup. Chances are that you've spent hours on blog posts that are now buried in your archives. Share them again by doing a roundup! A Beautiful Mess does this at the end of every month to highlight their posts and I did this recently with my Weekly Truth backgrounds. Don't let those great posts go to waste. 23. Repurpose an old blog post with a follow-up. Can you add onto something you've already done? Write a sequel or a "part 2" to an old blog post and make use out of that content again. 24. Repurpose an old blog post with a revision. Do you have a post that you wrote a couple years ago that could be revamped or reused? Make some revisions and post it again! 25. Share about how you use a certain social media outlet for your blog/business. There are so many social media outlets out there and everyone uses them a little differently. Share about one of your favorites and give your readers tips on how you use it for your blog/business. Here are some examples of posts I've done on Instagram and Pinterest. 26. Turn an FAQ or inquiry into a blog post. Is there a common question that readers ask you by email or in your post comments? Turn it into a blog post! An email from an Elle & Company reader regarding content actually inspired this blog post. If it's something that multiple readers have asked you about, chances are their are more people who would love to know more about it, too. 27. Tell an interesting story. We all love a good tale and we all enjoy being entertained. Do you have a "you're not going to believe this" story? Share it on your blog! 28. Write an informative post on how people can work best with you. Are you a calligrapher, photographer, or wedding planner? Share some tips for brides on how to make the process as simple as possible. Are you an interior designer? Share some insights on how clients and designers can maintain a great working relationship. This is helpful for current and future clients and it's also helpful for those in your field who are just getting started. 29. Create and share a free resource. We all love free things. That's why we follow along with blogs in the first place! Find creative ways to share free resources with your audience. I do this with my Weekly Truth series and it's been a hit (especially on Pinterest!) 30. Find a creative way to link up with other bloggers/business owners. There are several ways you can go about this one. You could create a writing challenge like Bailey did with her Blogtember series, start a fun linkup like What I Wore Wednesday, or partner with another blog friend like Michaela and I did for the Home Suite Home project. The possibilities are endless, so get creative and come up with something distinctly you! 31. Create a blog series on a project. People love following along with step-by-step transformations (that's why Young House Love was my favorite blog for so many years!). Are you working on a project for a client, remodeling your home, or training for a marathon? Share about it on the blog and show sneak peeks of the transformation as you go. 32. Highlight one of your products or services. This is your blog; use it to your advantage! Come up with creative ways to highlight your business and your products. This could take the shape of a "how-to" post or you could pose them as a solution to a particular problem. 33. Create an infographic. Not only are graphics and photos more interesting and entertaining, they're sharable. Even if you aren't able to draw one yourself, compile information on a topic in your field and come up with a creative way to display it. I did this with the feedback I received from a reader survey this past summer and the infographic was a hit! Which perfectly transitions into my next idea... 34. Take a reader survey and come up with a unique way to share the results. Not only is this feedback helpful for you, but readers like to see who else is following along with you. A Beautiful Mess and Young House Love always do this well. 35. Share your mission statement and blog/business strategy. Write a post on what's at the heart of your blog or business. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? 36. Define or share your take on your industry. For example, many people use the term "branding" but designers approach that subject differently depending on who you talk to. I wrote a post on branding after I officially launched my design services this past summer to approach the subject in my own terms. Do you have your own take on your field? Share it on your blog! 37. Find a creative way to share tidbits of your life lately. There are a million and ten ways you could approach this, so come up with something original! Some of my favorite examples include Awkward and Awesome and Clara Conversations. 38. Create a "through the years" or flashback post. Is there a tradition or event that you participate in year after year? Your readers would probably love to see it on your blog. An example? This post by Justin and Mary on their past Halloween costumes. 39. Give away some secrets of your trade. Many people shy away from sharing the information that has made them successful for fear that it could create competition, but it's had the opposite effect in my experience. Share what you know! If you do what you do well, you'll have nothing to worry about. Readers will love gaining your great insight and information. 40. Teach people how to make something unique. We all have a DIY board on Pinterest, don't we? There's something in each one of us that loves learning how to make something that we wouldn't have thought to make before. 41. Write about some common misconceptions in your industry. Are there things that people assume about your business or trade that aren't accurate? Address them in a blog post! 42. Ask your readers for feedback. Do you have a question or dilemma? Let your readers participate by sharing it on the blog. Michaela did this with her readers in our Home Suite Home project when she asked them to vote on which design concepts they liked best. 43. Share your sources of inspiration. We see this all over the place on blogs, but think of your own creative way to make an inspiration post distinctly your own. I do this on my blog a couple time each month in Today's Top 3. 44. Solve a problem. Is there a particular issue that keeps coming up in your industry time and again? Provide a solution to it! Some examples? Braid Creative wrote a post on organizational tools for creative entrepreneurs and Ashley wrote a post for photographers on organizing their email inbox. 45. Write a post on the best (or worst!) advice you've ever received. This could be both helpful and hilarious for your audience. 46. Highlight the best (or worst!) moments since starting your blog/business. Again, this could be both helpful and hilarious for your audience. 47. Share your recent projects. Blogging is a great marketing tool. Use it to your advantage and highlight your latest work! Not only is it fun for your readers to follow along with, but you never know if potential customers are following along with you. Think of it as free advertising for your portfolio. 48. Share a testimonial or success story. It could be about your experience with another professional or a clients' experience with you. Word of mouth is the best advertisement. 49. Surprise your readers with something unexpected. Do you have a hidden talent or trait that your readers might not know about? Find a way to highlight it on your blog! I did this in my "That's a Rap" post and although it was totally random, it gave my readers a glimpse of my personality outside of blogging and designing. 50. Create a long list of something specific to your trade/blog/industry/field. Case in point. That's a wrap! Which ideas are you most excited to try? Do you have any suggestions for no-fluff, content-rich blog posts that I may not have mentioned?
Doll Shoe. I am sorry for bad quality of this photo, I have just dropped it in because I was asked about what they are made of. It's jewelry wire and metal beads and lots of hours of twisting :) The most incredible thing about the shoes - that the doll can actually stand on them... if you do not breath while looking at her :D
Rings of Interest
**THIS WAS MY CLASSES FAVORITE VIDEO THIS YEAR!! They asked to watch it multiple times...) This group is amazing. I love using these videos as video prompts in music class. The students watch the video and then respond with how they felt, what they liked about it, etc. Then several students share with the class. It is compelling to see what students think about "classical" music (in many cases) that has been "modernized". O Fortuna - ThePianoGuys
There are no words i can say to tell you the love i have for you your always on my minde.. there is not a second i am not thinking of you the smile the brighten up my day that smile i did anything to see ..your many laughs that i ended up finding out of your truly the one i want to spend my life with .. i love you with all my heart
"Do you always wear a suit at home?," the writer asked. "Depends what I do at home. I love navy blue on me because I feel relaxed, comfortable. I feel navy blue is always helping a man, and with the color of my hair it looks good," Mr. Giammetti responded. (Photo: Guia Besana for The New York Times)
THIS IS WORTH KEEPING AND READING FREQUENTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Written by a 90 Year Old..... This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!! Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio . "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more: 1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.. 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step. 3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch. 5. Pay off your credit cards every month. 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree. 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone. 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present. 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry. 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it. 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks. 16. Take a deep breath It calms the mind. 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful. 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer. 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow. 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple. 24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words :'In five years, will this matter?' 27. Always choose life.. 28. Forgive everyone everything. 29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time. 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does. 33. Believe in miracles. 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do. 35. Don't audit life.. Show up and make the most of it now. 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young. 37. Your children get only one childhood. 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back. 41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. 42. The best is yet to come... 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 44. Yield. 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
Sometimes even when we work very hard, a "Weed" keeps bugging us, but to push forward is what we are asked to do. To take the high road and turn the other cheek. That is what Christ taught. No other person on this earth can say what I believe or who I am. Only my judge can, who is Christ, he died for my sins. That is who matters, not imperfect people in a very very imperfect world
These gift ideas for yogis are so gorgeous. I am in love with the colors. I'm definitely getting my sister in law some of these for her birthday!
In the Home
What I Love Most About My Home Is Who I Share With It" Shower Curtain
What I love most about my home is who I share it with.
DIY: Fur rug covered bench for our master bedroom using some 1960's FUR I shit you not curtains that my dad gave me that he had to take a loan from his mother to buy for his bachelor pad, has kept all these years and asked Roy and I las year if there is anything we can make for him using them....i'm sure there will be some left overs!
What I LOVE most about my home is WHO I Share it with Hand Painted Sign
What I Love Most About My Home Is Who I Share It With" Shower Curtain
DIY pot noodles: When ever I take these with me for lunch, I always get asked about them, so here is the recipe. I substitute noodles with rice noodles or brown rice cooked that morning.
This is what I am thinking for my hair. I want an Elsa-on-coronation-day updo. We will see what we can do with my fine strands.
The Great Outdoors
Tons of great ideas to ease your students back in after a holiday break! One of the most important things I always do following any break is review our classroom procedures and expectations. This is usually about the time of year when my kids start feeling VERY comfortable with me and we all start getting a little lax on procedures and rules.$
▶ Motherland - Natalie Merchant Oh, my five and dime queen Tell me what have you seen? The lust and the avarice, the bottomless, the cavernous greed Is that what you see? Oh, motherland cradle me Close my eyes, lullaby me to sleep. Keep me safe, lie with me, stay beside me don't go It's your happiness, I want most of all And for that I'd do anything at all, oh mercy me If you want the best of it or the most of all If there's anything I can do at all
So very true!! I love my mamma ♡ now I am a mommy and can understand a lot that I use to not be able to!!! I love my Mikey and will do anything for him!!!
These teacher toolbox labels are perfect for labeling the small and larger drawers of any toolbox organizer that you can pick up from the hardware store. I am using my editable teacher toolbox labels to label my drawers that I will fill with brag tags as well as teacher supplies - check out the attached blog post written by Lucky Little Learners about BRAG TAGS which are what are hiding in these brightly labeled drawers!
My top three favorites: 1. What I love most about our class is how caring everyone is. 2. I love that our class likes to have fun and we also work hard. 3. What I love about our class is that we always laugh and make school fun. I could cry. #bestpeopleintheworld
It's My Party