Friday, November 18, 2016

While the Kids are Napping

It's a blustery, cool, drizzly day in our neck of the woods, and I love that it feels cozy and fallish.

Not only that, but I plan on dusting off the boots for date night tonight (can I get an amen for date night and cool weather?!)

It seems amazing to me that Thanksgiving is next week and that 2016 is coming to a close soon. And even though 2016 gave us one of our best gifts (Sam!), it also gave us a lot of hospital visits, procedures, medical bills, and a continued season of waiting. I am thankful for the heart-work God has been doing, but I am also so thankful for a bit of relief after a hard start to the year. God meets us in the hard spots, and He gives us rest too.

These past few months, creative work has breathed in refreshment and given my mind a place to explore, dream, and idea-scheme. Maybe it's just been one giant distraction, but it's also been one giant relief.

I find it a tiny bit funny that last year I was plum tired of running a printable shop and now I've gone out and started a fresh new one. But, I think the difference is that Color + Kindness has a broader scope and a more colorful purpose. Honestly, I'm loving it! It's so fun to design dump truck potty charts (yep, it's a little tongue and cheek) and advent calendars that are kid-friendly and purposeful too. Luke is excited to put it back up (he got to play with it when we had our photo shoot), so I'm excited to use it this season.

Speaking of Christmas, I've already got a bit of a wishlist started. It includes these earrings from Dear Mushka (so simple and pretty!), this t-shirt from Jean and June (because #momlife), and these boots from Root Collective (ethically-made and pretty to boot...pun intended!) I'm hoping to curate a list that is mostly made up of products from handmade businesses--so if you have any businesses to share, please do!

I feel like this year more than ever, I am looking forward to the holiday season. Especially after months of election commercials, I wasn't even annoyed to see a Christmas commercial pop up before Thanksgiving. I'm ready to tie up 2016 and actually enjoy the Christmas treats (since last year I was hugely pregnant and had gestational diabetes). I'm looking forward to introducing Christmas to Sam (and the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes too!) as well as teaching Luke more about the story of Jesus' coming. How about you? Are you as ready as me?

One last thing, if you are snowed in or need a little extra something to do with the kids before Thanksgiving, grab these FREE printable turkeys and Thanksgiving verse cards. Super simple (and adorable)!

Happy Friend, friends :)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dear Samuel: 9 Months

 (goodness, I adore that little smirk)


You really are a show off, aren't you? You've always had that determined spark in your eye, but we see that light grow bigger and bigger each day.

Nope. You wouldn't be content with crawling. Once you realized that you had two legs that would carry you places, you said, "Yep. I'm going to learn to walk."

And so you did. About two weeks ago, you took a few steps. And now you are walking like it's nobody's business. And I want to tell you to please stop, slow down, and for goodness sakes, do not become a toddler. This momma isn't ready for that ;)

(Luke insisted on being in the pictures with you)

This month you also broke in your first two teeth, discovered a love for exploring cabinets, and continue to like 99% of what we feed you. You also still like to put about 85% of what you find in your mouth, but now that you are walking, you seem to be a less interested in operation put-everything-in-the-mouth. Thank goodness!

We continue to see your feisty side flare up and know that we might have some challenging parenting moments in our future. But we also see your love of smiles, laughter, and being goofy--so we know there will be a lot of silly antics too. You definitely have a sweet spot for music and your favorite is the Star Wars theme (especially this version). If you are grumpy, I put that music on, and you are instantly a happy camper.

Samuel, you are such a sweet addition to our family, and I love watching you grow. I love the fiery ball of energy, determination, and fun you are.

I've told you this before (and I really do mean it)--but could you please sleep past 5/5:30? Pretty please?

But no matter what (even if you wake up at 5 for the rest of your life)

I Love you, cookie.


(ps. you actually turned 10 months yesterday--but you know--at least I'm trying to keep up!)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

5 Simple Ways to Support Small Businesses and Handmade Shops (Without Spending a Dime)

I think it's safe to say that I'm a bit of a serial entrepreneur--and it's certainly not because everything I touch becomes pure gold. It's more because I have so many ideas, love creating, and keep learning/growing. Thank goodness I'm not stuck in 2010 making napkin rings and strange soap dish pedestal things ;)

If you don't believe me, let me introduce you to all the small shops I have started:
-- Dulcitas, 2010 (honestly not even sure what I sold...)
-- Home for Hire (Shop), 2011-2013 (One thing I sold was love was fun while it lasted--which was until Luke was born)
-- Nicole Joelle Print Shop, 2014-2015 (Started as a way to earn money to go to the Influence Conference, but ended for a number of reasons--such as feeling directionless and burnt out)
-- Cultivate Co, 2016
-- Color + Kindness, 2016

So far, my last two have been the most life-giving and positive flow generating, but I'm still on the fence about whether I can realistically run two businesses--so I'm currently doing a lot of evaluating and thinking about it. But, that's a topic for another day!

Today, I want to chat with you about how to cheer on small businesses without spending a dime. Of course, every shop owner loves to make a sale, but positive feedback and encouragement can be just as motivating. Maybe you don't have a hundred bucks to spend on that sweet jewelry your friend creates, those adorable shoes that momma is making, or buying the handmade coffee mug that you've been eying for 5 years--but you can still support small business and handmade shops. Even without purchasing from their shop, your support can actually be profitable for them.

As a momma who spends 75% of her time during nap time (and often the evenings too) chugging old coffee and designing new items like a mad woman, I can't even begin to tell you how much it means to have people support you and cheer you on. So, I'd encourage you to think of a few of your sweet friends (or some small business owners you think you'd be besties with), and do a few of these things to help support them without spending a dime.

So, here we go:

1. Pin. Pin. Pin. If you are on a small business's site and you see something you like, pin it. Pinterest helps gets the image/product in front of more eyes. And more eyes often translates into potential new customers for a small business. Taking one quick moment to pin an image could ripple into hundreds or thousands of more views for that shop.

2. Share a shop or product link with your friends on Facebook. Maybe you love the mission of a company you just discovered--so share it with your friends who might love it too! Maybe you think a product would be useful for some of your friends, share it with them. Maybe you share it with every one of your Facebook friends or maybe you just share it with a few. For a small business (especially an online one), your sharing (or even likes!) gives credibility to a shop and people feel more comfortable purchasing from them.

3. Give positive feedback/comments. Even if you never buy that adorable shirt a small business is selling, let them know you love it. I can't tell you how often it has encouraged me to keep creating when someone shares that they like something from the shop. Not only is it encouraging on a personal level, but it helps me better understand what appeals to my market.

4. Ask about collaboration. Many small business are looking for people to help spread the word. It never hurts to ask if they would be interested in trading some product for your help in marketing/sharing the product. Depending on your influence or their size, they may say no, but it never hurts to ask!

5. If you have an item from their shop (purchased or won), post a picture of how you are using it in everyday life. It is so fun to see products that you shipped or created in someone's home or being used. Plus, it helps other people see how to use the products and often generates interest.

As always, I'd love to hear your feedback and ideas! I bet we could add some more ways to this list.
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