Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

Obviously life wasn't perfect this past year, but I wanted to take time to reflect on some of the highlights from 2012. I knew it was a good year, but looking back, I see how crazy and incredible it really was. 

  • I was so blessed to locate a couple amazing photographers (and stunning models(!) Stephanie & Michelle), who helped change the face of my business. Photos from Hollie (here, here & here) and photos from Jennifer (here). 
  • Leonora from Yellow Heart Art designed the perfect logo for my business (using my real "NS" signature that goes on the bottom of all my pieces)
  • I introduced 5 new glaze colors and the shop got a whole lot brighter. One of my best decisions of the year.


  • I got a lovely blog makeover from the extremely talented and amazing to work with Jordan Brantley.
  • I was featured on the local news (watch the clip here!) from being a finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards.
  • I spent some much needed time away in the Smoky Mountains with my family.
  • I attended the Influence Conference in Indianapolis and had the time of my life. I met so many incredible women who continue to bless me and my business like crazy.
Wow. It took this post to remind myself of how much I have to be thankful for. My business has changed drastically in the past twelve months and I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store! Thank you all SO MUCH for all your support and encouragement!!!

(After I had this all put together, I realized I had my first ever "meeting a blog friend in real life" experience just six days into 2012. Michelle, you should have been #1!) 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas! One Christmas Eve, my brother and sister-in-law came over for our little family Christmas celebration. My mom and I made brunch and then we opened gifts together.


Someone is a little obsessed with presents. He gets as much enjoyment out of the packaging as he does the actual gift.


I've spent the last few days taking it easy and spending lots of time with family (hopefully you have, too!). I'm looking forward to the new year and all the adventures that it holds!  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


"Don't be afraid!.. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!"
Luke 2:10-11

May we all remember the reason we celebrate today and praise God for our many blessings.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Outfit: Chunky Knits

(long cardigan- Banana Republic factory // tank- Eddie Bauer // skinny jeans- AE // 
cowl- melodyjoy1983 // rings + post earrings- NS Pottery)

This week officially marks the start of winter, so I'm pulling out my cozy knitted cowl from Melody Joy. It's like a big hug around my neck- perfect for warding off the bone-chilling weather to come. I love that I can wear it multiple ways. Which way is your favorite? 

I met Melody at the Influence Conference this past fall and she is a doll! I seriously adore her. Her shop is closed right now, BUT she just had the cutest baby girl ever, so you can go swoon over all her photos on her blog. You're welcome.

Do you have a favorite winter accessory?

linking up with the Pleated Poppy for some style inspiration

Friday, December 14, 2012

White Chicken Chili

Scroll to the bottom for today's Christmas deal. Trust me, you don't want to miss it!
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In my humble opinion, this is the best chicken chili out there (though I'm sure using homemade chicken stock helps with that). It's the perfect soup for a cold, blustery day and has just enough kick to warm you from the inside. It's a family favorite and I hope it becomes a favorite in your family, too! The original recipe is from The Pampered Chef: Main Dishes.



WHITE CHICKEN CHILI (serves 8)
-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
-6 roasted garlic cloves (instructions on how to roast garlic here)
-1 cup onion, chopped
-4 oz. can chopped green chiles
-3 cans (15 oz each) Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed, and divided (or cook your own)
-2 tsp. olive oil
-5 1/2 cups chicken stock (or 3- 14 1/2 oz cans)
-2 TB southwest seasoning (we use Penzey's)
-1/4 cup lime juice 
-1 TB cornstarch
-1 TB cold water

Squeeze garlic from papery skins and place in a bowl with one can of drained beans; mash. Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat in large pot until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add chicken, mashed bean-garlic mixture, whole beans, chicken broth, seasoning and lime juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water, stirring until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to chili and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.


Serve in soup bowls with choice of toppings- diced avocado (my favorite!), shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips or corn bread.



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Today's Christmas Deal (only 2 more after today!) is brought to you by Jessi of Naptime Diaries! You already know how much I love Jessi and I'm pretty sure you would love having her amazing Scripture prints in your home! This deal can get you 7 regular prints or 2 large ones. Only one way to win- make those purchases you've been holding out for!



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Business Card Round Up


I've held on to one of every business card I've ever had. It's really interesting to look back and see the progression of my business just through the cards. :) I started out with a super simple card printed on card stock, switched to a pre-designed layout from Vistaprint, and finally went to double-sided premium cards from Overnight Prints.

When I knew I wanted a higher quality card (no offense to Vistaprint), I searched around on a few sites. I knew Moo was a great company, but they were also quite pricey for me. Once I found Overnight Prints, I decided to give them a try. Let me tell you, they do not disappoint! Not only are their premium cards super thick and durable, but they often have sales! You can't go wrong. (Plus, the regular prices are quite a bit cheaper than Moo.) 

I actually just received my second shipment of my current card design in the mail yesterday. The first time I've ever ordered the same design twice! Of course having professional photos (thank you, Jennifer!) and a great logo (thanks, Leonora!) to work with help with having quality business cards, too.

While we're chatting business, I'd love to know: Where do you get your cards printed?  

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used, but these opinions are 100% my own

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stripes


The first ever striped piece to land in my shop. What do you think?? I don't think I've ever listed something that sold so fast (the power of social media!), so I'm thinking maybe I'll be seeing more stripes in my future?



In other news, my daily "12 Deals of Christmas" specials are going strong! If you haven't taken advantage of any of them yet, maybe today's the day?


Choose between snowflake, gingerbread man, & folk art star (two the same or two different) and leave your choice in the "notes to seller" box at checkout. 

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

12 Deals of Christmas


I'm so excited to bring you a special feature this Christmas season! For the next 12 days, I will be offering a different deal in my shop each day. I can't wait to show you everything I have up my sleeve!! It's my desire to bless you as you purchase gifts for your family and friends (or maybe yourself!) and to thank you for being such awesome customers!

Each morning, I'll be announcing the deal of the day on facebook and twitter, so be sure to follow me on one of those if you'd like to be in the loop! The daily deals will go through Sunday, December 16th, which is the final day for orders with guaranteed Christmas delivery. I have to credit Jessi Connolly for this idea- she's doing daily deals as well, so be sure to follow along with her!



With every jewelry purchase of $30 or more today, get a free pair of post earrings (an $18 value!). No need to add them to your cart, but be sure to let me know which color you'd like in the notes to seller box at checkout! Shop HERE.

Only one pair of free earrings per person. Total must equal $30 before shipping. Offer valid until 12/6 at 9:00 am EST.

Better Life Bags- Review & Interview


I received an early Christmas present (from myself!) recently- the Brynnda bag with leather from Better Life Bags. I'd been looking for a bag to carry my laptop in, and I fell head over heels for this luscious black and white stripe/distressed leather combination. I met the owner of Better Life Bags, Rebecca, at the Influence Conference this past fall, and I can honestly say that she is a true gem.
my two favorite "bag ladies"- Kim & Rebecca

I asked Rebecca some questions about herself, Better Life Bags, and running a handmade business and here's what she had to say.



Tell us a little about yourself: I've been married for 5 years and have two kids: Jonah and Clara. My husband and I both work and both stay home with our kids. Both of our jobs are flexible enough that the kids are with one of us most of the time. Best of both worlds! I'm addicted to Instagram (@betterlifebags) and wish that I had all the time in the world to complete Pinterest projects. I'm a little bit messy, but love to organize. Go figure. And I make bags. Lots and lots of bags. And try to change lives while doing it.


When did you start Better Life Bags and where did you get the idea for it?: Better Life Bags started 3 1/2 years ago with a simple diaper bag for me. After posting pictures of it on Facebook, I got quite a few requests for one. And then got requests for different bag styles. People loved the "pick out your own fabric" concept, so the Design Your Own Bag concept was born! I love the fact that my customers had a part in the creative process by choosing their own fabrics. They are proud to carry them knowing that they designed it!



As the business started to grow, I knew that I wanted to use it and the platform it gave me to do good. To give back. So I started giving 10% of every sale to low income entrepreneurs in developing countries (KIVA.org). BLB has been able to loan to over 100 people so far- thanks to all of our customers! When we moved to Detroit in 2010, I noticed the high unemployment rate and the numerous women who had to rely on their husbands to work since they couldn't work outside their home (due to their culture and religion). I'm so thrilled to be able to hire these women to work in the safety of their home and provide them with a sustainable income!


Where do you hope to see Better Life Bags 5 years from now?: In 5 years, I hope to have expanded Better Life Bags to another city. To hire more women who need to be able to work from their homes. We are starting in-home design parties this year, and I'd love to see that get bigger, too.



If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting their own business, what would it be?: It's a slow and steady process. There are very few "overnight success" stories- and you probably don't want to be one of those anyway. Growing slow over time is the best way to do small handmade business (you will put in TONS of hours and slave labor wage before seeing much fruit from it. But the fruit WILL COME). Ask God where He is leading you in business and listen. Then move with Him when He moves or stay put when He doesn't. Stay on trend. Don't copy other products you see on Pinterest or ETSY- come up with your own. And HAVE FUN- running a handmade business better be one of the best parts of your day- otherwise it might not be for you.

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Connect with Rebecca: BLOG // SHOP // FACEBOOK // TWITTER

A Better Life Bag would make an awesome Christmas gift for your friend, mom, sister, best friend and today is the last day (Wednesday, Dec. 5!) to place orders for guaranteed Christmas delivery! Be sure to check out these stunning glitter clutches (perfect for a holiday par-tay!) while you're at it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Moriah Makes "Pursuing Her Passion" Feature


I'm sharing part of my story on Moriah Makes today as part of her "Pursuing Her Passion" series. Be sure to stop by sweet Moriah's blog and check out the post here

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lies


Lately, I've been battling lies.

Lies that I'm not pretty enough.
Lies that I don't make enough money.
Lies that everything I do is useless.
Lies that I'll be alone for the rest of my life.

I'm guessing we all battle lies on some level. It's the very tactic the enemy uses to keep us immobilized.

Right now I'm reading Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith. (If you haven't read it, go purchase a copy right now. You can thank me later.) I'm either left nodding my head in agreement with her powerful writing or sobbing over words that my heart needed to hear. It's that good.

In Mended, Angie talks about the need to confront our sin.

"We kneel, we face it eye to eye, we clarify that it is not of our Lord, and then, in utter confidence, we grasp it by its strongest point and destroy it."

I think the same goes for lies. We must identify them and rip them out at the roots- like a weed. We must shut down the voice of the enemy as soon as we hear it and choose to believe what God says about us.

I am the beautiful, desirable bride of Christ.
The Lord promises to supply my every need.
He is madly, deeply in love with me and nothing I do or don't do can ever change that.
Christ is enough.
And because of that, so am I.