How is it that we blink and nearly a decade has flown by!!!
It’s amazing that we are already making summer plans, isn’t it?
In July, I’m privileged to be a mentor at a Design and DIY blogging conference called Haven and they asked us to do a few short question and answers to introduce ourselves. (I wish I had more time to go into all the nitty, gritty facts and fun stories that I have to share, but I have a HUGE writing deadline hanging over me so I’ll save that for another time.)
Some of my very best blogging friends are those ladies in the home decor field and they bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. While I leaned more DIY in my earlier blogging days, I’m definitely a lifestyle blogger now meaning I cover a vast range of topics, including recipes, finances, faith, parenting topics as well as some easy and fun DIY projects.
There’s nothing I love more than encouraging women on this journey, especially face to face, and I can’t wait to meet so many new friends
1. How long have you been blogging?
I’ll never forget the day I sat at our one, old, desktop computer and tried to brainstorm a name to use for my blog.
I didn’t really even know what a blog was at the time and had no intention of ever really writing one, but I knew that I wanted to be able to have my tiny picture pop up next to blog post comments and in order to do that, I needed a blogspot name (yes, times have changed).
Always one for alliteration, I thought about what my days consisted of with five children at home. It was a constant challenge of trying to find beauty amidst the chaotic of mothering while actively seeking magical moments in the mundane and thus Balancing Beauty and Bedlam was born.
That was nearly nine years ago, which makes me an ancient grandma in the blogging world. Pinterest and Instagram (find me here) weren’t even a thought and I hadn’t even started a Facebook account yet. Those of us who began blogging back then are like the ones who trudged through miles of snow to get to school and can speak to all the changes we’ve seen.
It’s such a privilege to have been on the cusp of this whole new way of life – social media has changed everything – and we are able to learn, create, connect and discover so much because of it.
I’ve been quieter on my blog this past year. Life with five children – three teenagers, two college aged and then our eldest who just got engaged has reminded me of how quickly these years are flying by and it’s been a joy to be fully present with them, while also working on projects behind the scenes.
2. What is something you love about blogging and what is something you wish you could change?
That flexibility is such a gift that only the unique world of blogging has allowed me. The chance to work from home, but also to be my own boss is the best of both worlds. I’ve had a vast array of amazing opportunities through blogging. From speaking and writing to brand spokesperson positions, I’ve traveled throughout the US with my blog, but I’d say a truly life changing highlight was traveling to Peru as a Compassion International blogger with Angie Smith and Layla and Kevin of The Lettered Cottage (who will also be mentors.)
Another reason I’ve been quieter is that I’m punching away at these keys, but instead of blog posts, I’m under contract for a book manuscript that’s due in a few weeks on everyday, imperfect hospitality. I’m so excited about it’s message and feel so passionately about encouraging women to open their homes just as they are. As soon as that is completed, I’ll be jumping into writing a bible study and filming DVDs to coordinate with that through Lifeway.
After six years of hosting my own women’s conference The Becoming Conference: frugal, purposeful and creative , I’m taking a year off to finish these writing projects. We’ve averaged around 400-500 women a year (even hit 600 which was a bit crazy) and it’s always one of my favorite weekends. I’ll be sad to not connect with our attendees this year, but I can’t wait to dive into spending time with the ladies at Haven. Becoming will happen again in April 2018 in Asheville, NC.
The biggest thing I wish I could change was to go back to the “old” days of blogging before everything needed to be magazine quality and there were so many different social media platforms added. My blog grew because of the real life, authentic nature of sharing life with readers and that’s still my heart. Community actually occurred in the comments, meaningful discussions took place and believe it or not, lots of real life friends were made just from that. Now it’s become very competitive and it’s hard to keep up because so much emphasis is placed on the “image” of varying platforms with perfectly photographed, pinterest perfect living.
For me, my desire is that when you meet me in real life, you will feel like you’ve known me forever and I’m exactly the same online as I am in person. I will never stop encouraging women to embrace life right where they’re embracing authentic lives with laundry piled on the sofa and all. Unfortunately, it means that creating beautifully pin-able photos isn’t my forte like the other mentors, but sharing life in abundance? I’m your girl. And hopefully, my someday dream of building a large barn/event venue will allow for us to all hang out more regularly on our homestead. 😉
3. What is your favorite DIY project that you have completed?
It is odd that one of my favorite DIY projects is the very first large piece of furniture I ever painted with chalk paint over five years ago? Two friends came and helped me paint my ugly brown hutch and like many of you, it revolutionized my life. Since then I’ve painted probably 100 items with chalk paint, but this one is still my most favorite and dramatic.
We did it!
I still can’t believe it’s ours.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been taking a Sunday evening family walk through the woods, strolling along leisurely trails, jumping rocks across beautiful creeks and listening to the rustling of the water as it bubbles. When there, I’m completely transported to a piece of paradise that feels as if one drove for hours to get there and as of last month, it’s ours.
I sent this to our college kids telling them, “Its ours.”
Many of you have followed our financial journey over the last ten years. Within a few years of starting this blog, our financial world flipped upside down, yet while difficult and stretching, we were prepared because it had happened once before when we weren’t.
We learned. We grew and we set up a long term strategy that would hopefully keep us from that position ever again.
I’ve spent years gathering pictures, creating a vision board, pinning pictures and just privately dreaming about what the addition of a “Barn, Event Center, Gathering place, Retreat center, crafting/cooking class location” would look like on our land.
(Inspiration for mine from The Farm House Events)
Last month, we signed on the dotted line and bought 37 additional acres of land. After we recovered from our financial disaster, I’ve spent years planning, saving and skimping, and now I’m one step closer to building my dream hospitality barn. (Read about it here. I really need to name it. Any suggestions?) I can’t even tell you how excited I am.
To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
For those that follow my Facebook page, you’ll now this dream had to take a pivot because we only budget buying ten more acres. The remainder of the savings was designated to start building, but the owner wouldn’t split up the land. So now, we walk it and I dream and continue to be over the moon grateful that we have a piece of paradise to share with others.
Now that we have it, we’re keeping it all in hopes that someday our kids might want some. (P.S. Come camp on it. All are welcome. This week we cleared a trail to connect to the streams and large field.)
Since our finances, the economy, the stock market and honestly, our life always fluctuates, financial confidence has a lot to do with believing in yourself, paired with the hard choices necessary to determine your financial future. Our kids tease me that I live like we’re still unemployed, but I have long term goals.
Unfortunately for most America, living with constant financially stress is normal.
- Over 70% of Americans are financially stressed;
- 80% of people admit that their personal finances keep them awake at night;
- 21% of couples who rate their financial stress as at least “somewhat high” are arguing more.
But with a few simple steps, we can move past that stress. I’ve partnered with my bank of twenty years, Suntrust’s onUp Movement, which teaches financial confidence to move forward—one smart step at a time. Our insights show that financial confidence relates to our self-confidence. When we feel good about our money, then we feel good in many other aspects our lives.
If your finances are worrying you and stress is mounting, you can and should do something about it. In taking steps towards financial confidence, it will give you back control. While it may take patience and persistence, setting the goal and going for it, makes all the difference.
How Much Do You Want it?
It’s seems like a simple question, but when we get to the heart of it, it will be one of your most difficult decisions. We can talk about changing our financial habits until we’re blue in the face, but unless we are committed that change must occur and we’re willing to sacrifice to make the change, nothing is going to happen. It comes to the point where a choice to live below your means for a time being until budgets are back on track and you refuse to go into any more consumer debt from this point forward. Phew, it’s rough, but when you really want it, great things will happen. Dave Ramsey reminds us that “Winning with money is 80% behavior, 20% knowledge” and I know this to be true.
Get Organized with your Financial Necessities
I’ve always struggled with disorganization, so if I recommend getting organized, even in small ways, take note. I admit, I’m fortunate that my husband is an accountant, but even when I was single, the one thing I was on top of was my finances. I knew and had listed my income, expenses, assets and liabilitiets. We have an old fashioned file cabinet with folders for all our important information – insurance policies, bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage payments, insurance policies, etc. While many have gone all digital, there’s still something to be said for having hard copies in front of you spread out, so you can completely understand where all you money is going. This is an important step that will help you stay organized and set future financial goals.
Set goals with a baby step plan to achieve them.
Make a list of your goals, such as setting up an emergency fund, paying down debt, saving for your children’s college education, or saving for retirement. Then, set a plan to start reaching those goals. For example, set a budget, a payment plan to pay down debt, or a savings plan to save for your child’s education. With our son having just graduated from college last year, he is enrolled in the company’s 401(k) plan and matching as much as possible. Are you taking advantage of that? Any little goal to help with forward momentum makes a difference.
Plan for the unexpected.
Statistically speaking, most people are living paycheck to paycheck, meaning if you lost your job today, you’d be financially secure for only two weeks. Since I understand how stressful it is to go through a season of unemployment (for us it was one entire year), plan not for the unexpected. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you have no other options. Setting up an emergency fund should be the first goal. The financial confidence that creates gives you the desire to keep it at. (But remember, do NOT touch it unless it’s a true emergency.) After our first unemployment, I knew how devastating it could be and before I would buy anything else, I poured our extra dollars into a long term emergency fund.
Keep On, Keeping On
You may get discouraged and feel like the end will never be around the corner, but you can do it!! Just keep taking those baby steps. I’m cheering you on.
These are simply a few steps we took to regain our Financial Confidence and I hope that it encourages you to keep on keeping on. You can do it too!!
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp Movement is 1 million strong…and growing. onUp is about having the confidence to move forward one smart step at a time.
Join now and start building your financial confidence today.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.
I can’t believe it’s been eight years since I first shared this post. My baby was only five and now she’s a new teenager. Oh my! How does that happen? I thought this was worth sharing again because it’s a favorite food tradition. (Browse many more fun traditions and Easter recipes here.)
Finding simple, yet meaningful, traditions which make an impact on a child’s long term memory can be a challenge, but these Resurrection Rolls fit both prerequisites.
Our family celebrates Easter as the Resurrection Sunday of our Lord.
If you do the same, then take just a few minutes to enjoy this yummy treat. It’s a delicious recipe that works for any occasion, but it also gives the opportunity to engage your children in spiritually meaningful conversation while you enjoy some fun in the kitchen together making memories.
Your kids will enjoy participating, and the discussion points will be long lasting, plus, they are simply delicious! Nothing can go wrong with crescent rolls. 🙂
For smaller children, they are especially amazed when you open the “tomb,” and it is empty. You can remind them that “He has risen” through this memorable hands on cooking tradition!
- Share the truth of how Jesus was placed into the tomb (crescent rolls) after the crucifixion.
- Explain how they prepared his body by putting oil and herbs on him (cinnamon and sugar represents the oils and spices).
- As you wrap the marshmallow,explain how this represents the wrapping of Jesus’s body after His death.
- Finally, after waiting three long day (or twelve minutes baking time, which feels like days to the children), explain that death could not hold Him in the grave and He is alive. (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll puffs up, BUT is empty!!
The tomb is empty! He is risen. He is Risen Indeed. Matthew 28:1-8
(I used store bought crescent rolls for ease, but of course, homemade crescent dough would always be amazing).
- 1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
- 8 large marshmallows
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Separate crescent rolls into individual triangles.If you can fin the big and flaky ones, the marshmallows will fit better)
- In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
- Dip a marshmallow into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow into the center of a dough triangle. Carefully wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Pinch the seams together very tightly to seal in the marshmallow as it melts (or cut a bit of the marshmallow off to fit). Place on a baking sheet. Repeat.
- Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Makes Eight Resurrection Rolls
- ** I have made these without dipping them in any butter, cinnamon/sugar mixture and they are still delicious. The butter just makes them an extra special treat.
Make sure you seal the seams really well. If you don’t, the marshmallow will ooze out the sides, which is just fine in our home. You have the option of making the rolls bigger by using two crescent roll, but still use one marshmallow. This way, the marshmallow won’t come out at all. Have the kids play around with making these. On some of them we wanted the empty tomb effect, so we left a little part of the roll open but made sure the side had a little lip to contain the melted mallow.
***Make sure you don’t miss all the other Easter tradition ideas and recipes to make meaningful memories.