Friday’s Five Random Things From Haven

Have selfies before and after black and white familybringsjoy.comI’m back from Haven (blog) Conference.  {It’s actually been a couple of weeks.}  It’s time to share my experience.

1. I love Atlanta!

Even though I’ve been blessed to travel around the world, this was my first time to Georgia.  Their peaches are the juiciest and sweetest!  The conference was held in what is called the Buckhead area.  I walked around this area and was pleased with the cleanliness and close proximity to many great shops and restaurants.  The people there exude southern hospitality with smiles on their faces.

2. Made some awesome friends.

Remember this photo I shared on my pre-Haven post?

haven link up photo black and white

Well, 2 of these girls became some of my best friends.  And yes, they are just as beautiful in person as they are in their photos.  What matters more is how beautiful they are on the inside.  Katie and Mimi are both from Washington.  It was so much fun to visit their sites after getting to know them in person.  It’s quite different meeting a blogger before seeing their site rather than meeting a blogger after you’ve been to their site.  It’s much more personal and I am very impressed with both of them and their expertise in the field of DIY and home decor.  I might have been a little intimidated if I had been to their site before hand.  They are super sweet and down to earth.  I plan on staying in touch with them and hope to learn from these blogging pros in the future.  Make sure you visit my new friends at their sites: Katie’s is Creatively Living and Mimi’s is Blue Roof Cabin.

Right away I met Candace and we hit it off!  We stuck together like glue and enjoyed meeting Katie and Mimi at the welcome reception on Thursday.  Even though Candace is a new blogger, she has a background in communications as a reporter.  This means she is a writing pro {she won an Emmy!} and she is quickly catching onto the blogging world.  Her blog is beautifully filled with many creative ideas.  See photos below of my new friends and I.  Visit Candace’s site at Vintage News Junkie

Haven Friends2 familybringsjoy.com

3. Love meeting bloggers in person.

I was able to meet some of my favorite bloggers!

Here I am below with first Carrie from Making Lemonade and Jen from I Heart Organizing

Black and White Famous Bloggers and I familybringsjoy.com

4. Learn from the best.

The workshops were filled with valuable information.

  1. Jen (the one I’m pictured with above) did a wonderful workshop on organizing.
  2. One of the painting experts from chalk paint company Annie Sloan let us do some hands on painting.  It was a blast!
  3. Ana White , furniture DIY guru and blogger, was the opening speaker for the conference.  She’s pretty amazing.
  4. Whitney and Ashley, sisters from Shanty 2 Chic, helped me feel at home being they’re from Texas.  They taught us how to build a spice rack with power tools.
  5. Candace is using an air hammer (I think that’s what it’s called) for the first time at Shanty 2 Chic’s workshop.

Haven Workshops collage familybringsjoy.com

Here I am being silly at the cocktail party.

Haven Cocktail Selfies familybringsjoy.com

5. Bloggers who Instagram are awesome!

The bloggers who came up to me and said, “I wanted to meet you.  I follow you on Instagram.”  Bless YOU.  That totally made my day!

This post needed a little bit of colored photos too! 😉

Haven random photos collage familybringsjoy.com

Time to catch up on laundry before taking my youngest to her dentist appointment.

Color your world today my friends.  Be creative and live life with Joy!

Conferences bring joy,

Anything Could Happen

Hey there!

haven buttonI’m getting excited about the blog conference I’m attending in Atlanta next week called Haven.  Last night there was a twitter party for attendees.  I was tweeting away with the best of them, only to realize nobody could read my tweets because my twitter account is “private.”  I used to have my twitter open to the public and received all kinds of SPAM so I decided to privatize it.  It was kind of a let down since the whole idea of having the party was to get to know some of the bloggers before attending the conference.

So I was visiting the Haven Link Up…

haven link up photo

hmmmm…

I’m wondering if I’m going to a modeling conference instead of a home bloggers conference.  Holy cow…if you want to see more of the beautiful bloggers click here.  If you are not sure what a link up is…it’s where you link up your blog so conference attendees can get to know each other by visiting their blogs.  Most bloggers inserted a photo of themselves instead of using their blog’s logo like I did.  Honestly, it’s probably a good idea to add a photo so people can put a name with a face.  However, I don’t really have a professional updated {with my new pixie cut} photo to share.  I need to do that.

Anyway, all of these bloggers look beautiful.  There’s nothing to say that they shouldn’t be beautiful.  Everyone is beautiful to God since we are all His children.  I guess it’s just a little intimidating.  I’m not sure what that says about me.  I’ve had friends tell me they used to think I was intimidating before they got to know me.  {I’m pretty sure it’s not because they thought I was model worthy.}  I’m completely and utterly shocked when this information was explained to me.  The LAST thing I would want would be for someone to be intimidated by me.  I love people and strive to be as friendly as possible to everyone I meet.

Shan at Blissdom familybringsjoy.com

Blissdom 2012

Here’s what I have learned about myself after attending 2 Blissdom blog conferences.  Even though I am secure in who I am as a person…even though I am content in knowing I’m not the top blogger on the block…even though I’m a people person…I still struggle socializing at conferences.  I am the girl who always wants everyone to feel accepted.  In high school I struggled with being friends with just one group of people.  For me, it was better to be friends with people from all the different “groups” than to ostracize people who weren’t in my group of friends.  This can be a little difficult because then I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.

before Blissdom cocktail party familybringsjoy.com

Me before Blissdom cocktail party

Let’s face it, when a bunch of women get together {sorry I know there are men bloggers too} invariably cliques form.  It’s like a law of nature or something.  This part makes me uncomfortable.  It’s not necessarily the workshops I have a problem with, it’s the “cocktail” parties and formal occasions.  You walk in and everyone is dressed up.  I like to dress up.  It’s fun when most days I wear t shirts and jeans.  After I walk into the party, and since I don’t know many people…well, it’s awkward.  Where do I go?  Who do I stand by?  Who do I talk to?  Then I feel as though people around me are noticing I’m alone.  I begin to think, “they must think I’m a real loser since I don’t have friends to come to the party with.”  The last conference I went to had a scenario like this:  I walked up to a table with 2 younger woman.  I asked if the spot at the table was taken… if I could join them.  They politely said I could join them.  We began to talk small talk and exchanged our business cards with our blogs on them.  I don’t remember exact words these girls said (thankfully), however I do remember how they made me feel.  I felt small…less than.  This is the exact feeling I never want people to have around me.  Nobody, I don’t care how many visitors come to your blog a day, is better than another person.  We all have problems.  We all have talents.  There is a quote that says “comparison is the thief of joy.”  I completely agree.  Once we begin to compare ourselves to another person we become insecure with who we are.  That feels dark and lonely.  Joy is filled with light and unity.

Roomspiration Blog Hop & Link Party

2012

After sharing the preceding story you might wonder why I even want to go to these conferences.  Well, fortunately, those “cocktail” parties are few and far between in the grand scheme of the conference.  The majority of the time you are in workshops learning more about the world of blogging and in this particular conference, home blogging.  The last 2 conferences I attended were for all types of bloggers, open to all.  But do you know who were the most genuine and friendly bloggers I met there were?  Yep, it was the home bloggers.  These are the women who focus primarily on inspiring others with things they do in their home by way of design and DIY.  After Blissdom, and later in the year, I had the amazing opportunity to be invited to participate in a blog hop with many influential home bloggers.  Do you remember what it was called…Roomspiration.  The other participants welcomed me warmly and helped whenever I had questions about anything.  I have never been able to meet any of these sweet ladies in person.  At least not yet, because I will next week at Haven!  A teensy part of me is nervous they won’t remember me.  It’s been a while since Roomspiration and I haven’t posted as often as I did then.

Whether those girls remember me or not, whether I make any new friends or not, I still want to go.  Going to the conference gives me something to look forward to.  I get away for a little bit from my normal routine and I am Shan the blogger.  I’m not so and so’s mom or so and so’s wife, I’m just me.  I enjoy being around other women who share in my passion for blogging.  I’m not going to let my uncomfortableness of certain social settings keep me from attending.  We have to take risks in life to grow and learn.  It’s not always pleasant, but wisdom and experience are the fruits yielded.

A friend once said this about me, “what you see is what you get.”  He is exactly right.  I don’t hide behind my feelings.  Many times I say the things I’m thinking when I probably shouldn’t because it sometimes is taken the wrong way.  I like to be unique and creative in the way I dress.  I absolutely despise gossip, which I know for a fact has kept me from having more friends.  I just try to treat others the way I would like to be treated.  Therefore, if I don’t want to be gossiped about, then I don’t gossip.  I have a big heart and only want the very best for people.  I have sincerely enjoyed writing and posting photos about our family’s home.  I’m grateful for the countless people I have gleaned inspiration from to make our home a haven.

Front of our home familybringsjoy.com

If you are attending Haven next week, I hope to meet you.  Please use my comments section as a sort of guestbook to let me know you stopped by.  I would love to visit your blog as well.  BTW, thank you for visiting my small abode. 😉  Only 5 more days…

Home Brings Joy,

Spring Cleaning

I hope everyone had a beautiful Easter weekend.

Today is the day!

Today I am guest posting at Gluesticks.

Laundry Room announcement familybringsjoy.com

It’s spring cleaning time!

And I have something uber special in my post at Gluesticks.

Head on over to see what it is.

See you there,

Help Me Choose

Which Easter mantel do you like best?

Mantel One

mantel 1 familybringsjoy.com

Mantel Two

Mantel 2 familybringsjoy.com

I was super ecstatic about finding this chalkboard art at Dear Lillie.  Oh my goodness if you haven’t been to Dear Lillie’s site, you must go. {As soon as you finish reading this post and voting on which mantel you like best ;)}  Jennifer has a beautiful elegant style.  I found out she’ll be attending Haven blog conference and hope to meet her!

Anyway, I purchased and downloaded the chalkboard art onto my jump drive and took it to Staples.  They printed the poster for me.  You should have seen the look on the girl’s face after I thanked her profusely for helping me.  I was acting as if she made my day {jumping up and down squealing,} which she did make my day because I LOVE THIS!  I think she thought I was a little weird, but I don’t care.  I rushed home and cut it to fit over a mirror I had in storage {used double sided tape.}  I don’t use much gold in my home anymore, but this print fit the frame and I think these precious words deserve to be framed in gold.  I paid a total of $14 for that wonderful piece.  I splurged and bought real orchids which set me back about $24, but is nice to smell and see real flowers up there.

I love Easter.  It doesn’t seem to get as much hype as Christmas and I’m okay with that.  It’s an important spiritual holiday.

The good people at Hershey’s were kind enough to send me an Easter basket again filled with goodies.

Hershey's Easter familybringsjoy.com

I’m afraid we already ate most of the candy before I got around to writing this post.  You can see the crumbs of the Hershey’s eggs in the bottom of the milk bottle on the left.  The kids said the Jolly Rancher Sour Bunnies were better than Sour Patch Kids.  I agree they are very yummy.  Of course the first to go were the Reester Bunnies.  Reeses is a HUGE favorite in our home.  All of these are perfect to add to Easter eggs and sure to brighten your Easter celebration.

I hope you and your family have a very blessed Easter,

Laugh Away!

Oh my goodness…this is too cute!

I’ve never seen this kind of ventriloquism {yes, thank goodness for dictionaries…had to look that word up.}  It is downright funny!  This is perfect to start your weekend.  Belly laughs are so wonderful for your soul and body!  If you’ve already seen it I give you permission to watch it again. 😉

Ahhhhh…I love their accents too. Holly {my sweet Australian Instagram friend} we need to skype sometime so I can hear you talk. lol

Let me know what you think and feel free to share away! 2 of my Facebook Friends shared it today. So glad they did!

Our kid’s spring break officially begins today at 3pm. So, I better get going…lots to do before they are home for a full week.

Oh! I have some cool news to share.  Soon I will be guest posting on Gluesticks for Brandy’s Spring Cleaning Week.  Very excited about this!  Mark your calendars.

spring cleaning
Spring is AWESOME,

Spreading Holiday Cheer to Our Nation’s Troops

For many of us, Winter Break is either upon us or only a few days away, and for moms, that means frantically finding ways of entertaining our kids so that they aren’t overcome by boredom. While sleeping in a little and a few lazy days will get you through the first few days of Winter Break, getting your kids to express their creativity while giving to others can easily keep them entertained in a meaningful way.

One group, in particular, that can use our additional support during the holidays are those that protect and serve us all year round – our Armed Forces. So if you are looking for ways to get your kids in the spirit of giving during the holiday season, consider having them complete a few of the following inexpensive, military-themed crafts for the perfect holiday care package or gifts for loved ones:

Holiday Greeting Cards for Troops
Troops will say time and time again that one of their favorite things to receive while stationed abroad are handwritten cards from kids. All you need are some markers, crayons, and construction paper and you can turn your kids loose. Let them create as many holiday cards as they desire as long as they are wishing our Heroes a Happy Holidays and thanking them for their service. To have them delivered, you can simply drop them off at the post office or stop by a local military support organization or VA and they will make sure they get delivered.
writing santa 11.30.09 [334]
Blankets for Wounded Warriors
If you’ve got older kids, another fun and inexpensive project for them is making blankets for Wounded Warriors. Many VA treatment centers love receiving these blankets, and the Wounded Warriors that get them are always grateful. To start, contact your local VA to see if they have any specifications for the blankets needed, and then take the kids to the local fabric store to pick out fun fabrics. The blankets can be as intricate as you would like, and your kids will love trying out a new skill.

Wreaths for Local Troops
A more unique way to say “Thank you for your service” is by making wreaths for your local soldiers. If you’ve got younger kids, consider making the wreaths out of construction paper, and then allowing them to decorate them with glitter pens and construction paper ornaments, or check out this tutorial on how to make an Army wreath. Your local soldiers will love the time taken to create them, and they can easily be hung around the local VA without worry for patient health.

However, if you’ve got a few more extra funds or older kids, consider decorating real wreaths for local soldiers outside of the VA. Local Christmas tree farms are more than willing to donate extra boughs for a good cause, and with a few inexpensive bows, strands of garland, and ornaments, you can have a lovely wreath to give as a “thank you” for the local soldiers within your own community.
Christmas in Kuwait 3
Stocking Care Packages
Soldiers serving overseas unfortunately miss out on many of the holiday goodies that we take for granted, and in great abundance, over the holidays. If you are looking for a more extravagant way to give this holiday season, consider creating stocking care packages for troops abroad. Stockings can be purchased for as little as $1 at the local discount store, your kids can decorate them, and then you can stuff them with candy canes (decorated as reindeer, of course!) and other holiday goodies troops may miss out on.

Most care packages cost under $22 to create, and if you drop them off with a local military support organization, they will deliver them for free or at a nominal cost. Just be sure to check out care package guidelines prior to creation to make sure you are sending acceptable items.

Deck the Halls
Now if you are looking to keep a few of your holiday crafts at home, consider decorating your home with a bit more patriotic flare. There is no reason why the American flag has to come down in order to hang up Christmas lights. To get the kids involved, see if there aren’t crafty ways that you can incorporate a little red, white, and blue into your traditional red and greens.

One easy way to do so is simply making a giant-sized holiday card to place in your lawn. At the local hardware store, pre-cut plywood can be cheaply purchased and after a quick coat of white paint, your kids can paint “thank you for your service” and decorate it as they see fit.

The holidays are full of fun craft ideas that can leave your home full of holiday cheer. However, if you can take that holiday cheer outside the home, there really isn’t a better feeling that is more in tune with the holiday spirit. So if you are looking for a few great ways to entertain your kids while also doing something great for those who serve in our community, consider sending holiday cheer to our troops stateside and overseas.

Adrienne May is a military spouse, mother of three and featured author for Military Spouse Central, a network dedicated to providing tips and advice to a community of over 100,000 military families. Follow her on Google+ or tweet her @AdrienneMay.

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This has been a special guest post by Adrienne May from Military Spouse Central.  I am extremely thrilled to share this wonderful article with you today.  Thank you so much Adrienne for sharing this with us.  I love all the ideas on ways we can spread the Christmas cheer and spirit to the courageous people who have volunteered to guard our country.  I look forward to choosing some of these projects with my family.  I have a special soft heart for the military.  Many of my family members have served in the military and I am extremely grateful for all those who are serving currently to protect America.

Which idea did you like the best? or Which one do you think your family might do?  I love hearing your feedback in comments.

You will NOT want to miss tomorrow’s Christmas post.  I have a feeling you will be sharing it with everyone, especially your spouse!  Until then have a beautiful day. :)

Let them know it’s Christmas time,