4.29.2015

The Ultimate Burger Round-Up

ultimate burger round-up When Kerri said Halifax had a Burger Week, my heart did somersaults and I knew I HAD to do a round-up of all my favorite burgers to share with you all. If you're a vegetarian, I'm sorry ahead of time. I do love me a good veggie burger, but this round-up won't be including them.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know I LOVE recipe round-ups. I go crazy on pinterest pinning ALL THE FOOD and believe it or not, I actually try most of the things I pin. Since Missouri has been a winter war-zone this year, I haven't had the chance to make many of these myself. But a girl can dream, RIGHT?


Lucky for you, I'm bringing you a round-up of the 9 best burgers on the web (according to yours truly). Enjoy!

ultimate burger round-up

ultimate burger round-up

ultimate burger round-up

Did your favorite burger get included?
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4.27.2015

Taking Stock / 04

 Making: a bunch of crockpot meals! Life gets crazy this time of year and this has been so helpful. 

Cooking: way too much of this quiche. I can't stop eating it.

Drinking: beer. I'm super in love with our local beers lately.

Reading: well, trying to read "Last Days" for my book club. I'm having a really hard time getting into it.

Wanting: to sleep for a week straight. SO TIRED. 

Looking: forward to the trips we have planned this summer.

Playing: soccer. I've been playing intramural soccer with some of the students in my program. I definitely don't play like I used to.

Wasting: too much time watching Netflix. oops.

Sewing: did you actually think I would be sewing something?

Wishing: I could snap my fingers and have my thesis done. Dream big, right?

Enjoying: the weather this time of year. 

Waiting: for my first Golden Tote bag to arrive! EEEEK.

Liking: going back and reading all of my "Taking Stock" posts. 

Wondering: when I will stop feeling like I am in a blogging slump. I have been so busy lately that this little space has started to feel forced. I know this will pass and I'm looking forward to when it does. 

Loving: having our new dog! It's so nice to have a running buddy. 

Hoping: I can get out of this dry season of my faith soon. 

Marveling: at how beautiful American Sign Language is. I have had so much fun jumping back in on classes this semester.

Needing: to put myself out there more. I love to isolate when life gets busy.

Wearing: SANDALS. I love being able to throw on my rainbows instead of a million layers.

Following: along with all of the amazing #morethanaframe photos on Instagram! So fun. Join us!

Noticing: this post has been getting a lot of attention. I love that I can openly share my struggles and be met with nothing but support.

Knowing: this little space has turned into something awesome. I love coming here everyday to connect with all of you.

Thinking: about how rough my run was on Saturday. I bonked BIG TIME. 

Feeling: thankful for my husband. He take pretty good care of me.

Bookmarking: Bruce Jenner articles. I can't stop.

Opening: WAY TOO MANY TABS ALL THE TIME. I should have a maximum number of tabs I am allowed to have open at one time. 

Giggling: at myself. The usual.

What's going on in your life currently?
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4.24.2015

The 9 Best Crockpot Meals

9 Best Crockpot Meals





Crockpots. The holy grail of the kitchen. I kid. All jokes aside, our crockpot is a lifesaver. It's perfect for when one of us has to work late, or we want to cook something overnight so that we have lunch the next day.

9 Best Crockpot Meals
I have been experimenting with crockpot meals for years and finally feel I have found nine winners that everyone should try. I fully endorse each of these and most of them we eat (sometimes with modifications which are noted) on a regular basis! Enjoy!

9 Best Crockpot MealsRotisserie Chicken | Chicken Fajitas (Works great as a freezer meal too) | Vegetable and Chickpea Curry (We usually substitute the regular potatoes for sweet potatoes; this is a great one for large groups)

9 Best Crockpot Meals

 Honey Sesame Chicken (I don't find the need to add salt to this as it suggests) | Turkey Chili | Thai Chicken Soup

9 Best Crockpot Meals
Quinoa, Chicken and Kale Soup (This can use some extra seasoning) | Overnight Oatmeal | Death by Chocolate Dump Cake (Don't tell me this isn't a meal...)

What are your go-to crockpot meals?
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4.22.2015

Introducing: #morethanaframe

#morethanaframe an instagram hashtag for building community
Life's always better in community. That's why we come online and seek connections with other bloggers who write through their messes. That's why family dinners are joyful and chaotic and fill more than our bellies. To live is to crave connection, or so it seems. And our creative lives are no different.

We need people to push us forward, cheer us on, encourage our deepest of dreams. We crave the ability to share in our processes with one another, granting ourselves the chance to see the ups and downs of the creatives around us. And, lately, this itch to connect has been stronger. 

ENTER COLLABORATION. 

Community is why collaborations are delightful and divine. Together, Amber and I have been able to dream up a collaboration that not only benefits us, but benefits YOU and works towards our greater goals of fostering community.

Our collaboration came quickly in conversations about connections and making the online more real, more honest, more vulnerable. And from here the idea for #morethanaframe, a new Instagram hashtag that we hope to see become a community, bloomed. 

THE HEART BEHIND #morethanaframe: 

We know community doesn't simply happen in highlight reels, in pretty composed pictures, in beautiful calligraphy, but just outside of those square frames. Community happens in the way we nod our heads about that quote you shared, smile while we send a pink confetti bomb emoticon for your victories, and feel heavy through the losses. 

HOW DOES #morethanaframe WORK? 

It's simple, really. Each Sunday Amber and I will post the prompt for the week. It'll be a single word to help center your thoughts. On Mondays, we will  use the #morethanaframe hashtag while sharing our frames and the hearts outside of that square space.

You can post at any time during the week. You can post one time or two times or multiple times. You can skip the sharing and simply comment all over the place. We just hope to see sharing our lives beyond the online brands we've created happen.

Take advantage of both the picture and the caption. Something weighing on your heart? A trend appear over and over again in your life? Itching to give context to your creative process? Do it right here in the caption and let us connect with you beyond the beautiful blog (or brand) you've created.

Each week we'll feature our favorite shots and frames on our blogs. Of course, you're allowed to participate in whatever capacity you desire. This means, you don't have a blog and you don't have to worry because this is about community. 

Without further delay, we've got the prompts for you: 


THE BEST NEWS IS THIS: YOU'RE INVITED. 

You're invited to participate in #morethanaframe on Monday and all week long by posting your picture and using the hashtag. PLEASE feel free to use our images and share this hashtag with your friends, family, and followers.We'll hit it off starting THIS Sunday, April 26th.

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4.20.2015

Meet Aspen + Giveaway

Australian Shepherd



If you follow me on instagram, you know M and I recently added a new four-legged creature to our family. Enter: Aspen.

Aspen is a rescue pup who was found as a stray on the side of a busy road with a few siblings. She's 11 months old and full of personality. We think she's some sort of Australian Shepherd mix, but we have also heard Blue Heeler and Collie. Your guess is as good as ours. What we do know is that she's incredibly smart and willing to please. Given the opportunity, she will climb right into your lap and give you lots of love.

Australian Shepherd
She's the perfect little dog and fits flawlessly into our family. She is potty trained, leash trained, and crate trained. As a matter of fact, she prefers to sleep in her crate even when not forced to. She's a trooper on the runs I force her on and loves animals and people alike. The cats are slowly warming up to her, but I know they will be great friends in no time.

She has already learned a few tricks including sit and shake. We are currently working on stay and down! 

Australian Shepherd

In honor of Aspen joining our family, I am working with Chewy to bring other dog lovers a fun giveaway that includes some Blue Buffalo Wilderness dog treats and a Kong. Chewy is the best. They recently sent us a "welcome home" package for our new addition, so thoughtful! Thanks Chewy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4.17.2015

10 Ways to Make Your Blog a Welcoming Space

10 Ways to make your blog a welcoming space www.lovethehereandnow.com Hi there! My name is Anne. You may (or may not) know me as the blogger behind Love the Here and Now. My blog represents my life; simply put, whatever is catching my eye here and now. Some days you will find me sharing blogging tutorials, recipes other days, and oftentimes the general musings that make up my life. Enough about me though... As readers of Sage, we all know that Cassie is huge on fostering a sense of community; whether it be through her sponsorships, Twitter, or Instagram. I love that about her. Her approach to encouraging community got me to thinking. How can I make my blog a space where readers want to return to and at the same time, how can I make readers feel welcomed and valued? Today I thought I would share with you 10 ways to make your blog a welcoming space.

1. Aesthetics

Your blog design says a lot about you and your taste and it's the first impression your readers receive. It is and should be a reflection of your personality. Having said that though, you do not want your design to distract your readers from the content. Too many colors, too many fonts, type that is too light to read can all lead to a negative impression. If you are one that loves bold and bright colors perhaps think about choosing 2-3 and using them in your graphics. Try to keep your fonts in graphics to 2-3 as well. As for the body of your posts, use a font that is easy to read and dark enough for readers to see without squinting.

2. Introduce Yourself!

Most blogs have a photo of the blogger but I have come across a few that do not even list the bloggers name. In cases like that, I find myself scrolling down to the end of the post hoping to find a post signature or hitting their About page. Perhaps it's just me, but I like to know who the blogger is behind the blog. Let your readers know who you are and you can even go a step further and give a short little intro of what you and your blog are about. I recently updated my intro picture so upon landing on my blog new readers have a feel for what Love the Here and Now is all about.

 Intro Picture

3. Update Your About Page

Your About page may one of the first places a new reader ventures to. Let your readers know more about you. I love finding bloggers that I can relate to and often find that I can see what I have in common with bloggers through their About pages.

4. Make Navigation Easy

Navigation bar

When I get to a new blog I like to see that everything is laid out nicely. I love being able to navigate easily throughout a blogger's pages. Many blog designs and themes come with the option to customize the site's navigation. Using a static navigation bar (one that stays at the top of the page as you scroll through the web page insures that your readers can quickly navigate from one page to another, no matter where they are on your blog.

Static Navigation Bar
Having categories on your blog is key. It lets your readers know what you often blog about. A search bar is also a must. It will save your readers from having to scroll through post after post trying to find a post that they want to reread.

5. Popular Posts

Having your top or popular posts readily available showcases you and your blog. Take advantage of this and share the posts that drove the most traffic to your site. Perhaps you would rather ignore the stats and just share the posts that mean the most to you. Either way is fine but dedicate a spot where readers can keep reading.

6. Link to Posts Within Your Posts

You want your readers to stay on your blog. Make it easier for them to do so by linking to other posts of yours. By doing this you will keep your readers engaged and present. Another great option is to add related posts to your blog's footer. If a reader enjoys a post of yours and sees that there are other similar posts readily available with a click of the mouse they may click through the suggested posts and stay on your blog a bit longer.

7. Reply to Comments!

When a reader takes the time to comment on your blog it only seems fair that you reply and it shows them that you appreciate the time they took to comment. When I first started blogging on the Blogger platform I used their commenting system. A reader would comment and I would email them a reply. I have since added Disqus to my site and have never regretted that decision. I love Disqus for the sheer fact that it allows not only myself to respond to a comment but anyone can join in on a conversation. It's a great way to encourage a sense of community and discussion. Responding to comments via email limits the conversation to two people only. Why not encourage others to chime in and share their thoughts?

8. Branding

Your brand allows your readers to recognize you and your blog. Incorporating your header or elements of your header (fonts or colors) across your social media platforms will help you stand out to your readers. Your branding will help readers easily recognize you and your blog. If done well and properly across the board your blog's brand will readily come to mind. This is something that I am just starting to work on myself. I use the same font and the same color throughout social media. My Twitter header:

Twitter Header
My Facebook Header:

facebook

9. Add Widgets to Your Blog

Adding a Pinterest and Instagram widget to your blog gives readers a deeper sense of what you are about. To me, Instagram is a glimpse into one's daily life. Why not showcase that on your blog and give your readers a better sense of the blogger behind the blog? Adding Pinterest to your blog's sidebar is also a great way to share interests of yours. Let your readers see your latest pins and perhaps they will follow you and it will be another way to engage your readers. Perhaps you share some common interests.

10. Content

Tips 1-9 won't mean much unless you keep providing your readers with content that engages them and interests them. Not every post will be everyone's cup of tea and that's ok. I blog because I want to share my thoughts, opinions, and views. Perhaps you may not agree with a blogger on everything but if done well, it will engage your readers and create a respectful discussion. Cassie did that beautifully with this post. Your content should be authentic and genuine and shared because it is something you believe in, not because of numbers and stats only. If it's not heartfelt and something that you enjoy sharing it will come across to your readers.

How do you engage readers on your blog? Any tips to share on how to make your blog a welcoming space?

 

10 ways to make your blog a welcoming space www.lovethehereandnow.com

4.16.2015

The In-Between


I never thought I would get married at 23. That wasn't a part of my "plan." I always thought I would be single until I was 30 or 40. Well, God is really good at turning your  plans upside down and giving you what you really need instead of what you think you need. Don't get me wrong, I love being married. I have been gifted the most amazing husband. One that I don't deserve most of the time. Anyways, I digress.

Lately, I have been feeling stuck in-between. See, the majority of my friends are either single or pregnant/have children. I have been feeling like I don't really fit in with either group of friends anymore. It feels like every time I log in to social media or read blogs, there is another pregnancy announcement. Obviously, I am overjoyed for them, but I simply cannot relate at this point in my life. Even at church and in my graduate program, people are on completely different tracks then I am. It has left me in the position of feeling like, now what? And if I were to be completely honest, it has also fostered some bitterness in my heart.

We aren't ready for kids. I want to get further along in school; there are things we want to do and see as just the two of us. We have plenty of time to have a family. Sometimes, I feel guilty for this. Guilty that my career right now is more important to me than a family. Especially being in a Christian community, I feel like being the career woman isn't valued. Of course I want to be a mom one day. A mom that is present and invested. However, I also want to have a job that is fulfilling and gives me purpose outside my role as a wife and mother. That doesn't mean it's more important, it's just something I need personally AND I feel like it was a gift I was given. To help people.

So, all of this to say, I am feeling stuck in the middle. In the in-between of singleness and having a family. I desperately want to enjoy the time we have just the two of us, but it also hurts to feel like I'm alone in my life stage. I've spent a lot of time feeling selfish about these feelings, like I should just suck it up. That's partly true. I also think, however, that I get to feel these things. We all feel like this at some point in our lives and I'm sure some of my single friends think it's hard to relate to me because I'm married. I get it.

I've really been trying to practice acceptance. Acceptance that this is how things might feel for a while. Acceptance that I might feel disconnected from certain people in my life at various stages throughout my life because people don't all do the same things at the same time. That's perfectly normal. Instead of feeling stuck in-between, I want to value and embrace it for what it is.

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4.15.2015

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me + Meet Emelia

Things you don't know about me

I realize I don't always share super personal things about myself on this space. Sometimes that is intentional and sometimes it's not. A while back I did share a few of my weird quirks, but today I thought I would share a few more things you might not know about me.

1. I blink more than the average person. This isn't intentional and usually I have no idea I am doing it. Sometimes I blame allergies and sometimes I have zero excuses.

2. I'm technically an only child. Although I grew up with two step-brothers I consider nothing short of blood.


3. I used to play varsity soccer. I started running cross country to stay in shape for soccer and ended up falling in love with running. I quit soccer my senior year to be captain of the cross country team with my best friend.

4. I'm originally from Northern California. I lived there until I was 13 and then moved to Arizona. My dad still lives there.

5. I have moved approximately 20 times in my lifetime. Insane.

6. I graduated college summa cum laude. I've always been an overachiever. I graduated high school with OVER a 4.00. Who does that?

7. I was a waitress for almost 6 years. I started working in a restaurant right when I turned 16 and worked there throughout high school and during the first summer of college. While in high school, I had 2 part time jobs. I probably made more then than I do now (yikes).

8. I can't sleep with my feet under the covers. I hate when the sheets are tucked in so tightly I can't get my feet out. Awful.

9. I studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012. It was such a blast.

10. My husband and I met and started dating while he was my boss. Oops.


What else would you like to know about me?

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________________________________________________________________________
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you all to Emelia. I appreciate her sass, love for community, and witty blog posts. There's never a dull moment with her and it's so refreshing! Stick around and get to know her a bit better; you'll be glad you did.
 
Hi Sage readers! My name is Emelia and I blog at Dream Big and Buy the Shoes, where I write about all things DIY, beauty, relationships and life in general. I manage a salon & spa by day, and at night I venture in to this world of blogging. I'm passionate about giving back to my community, traveling, Britney Spears, and spreading smiles. I live in Erie, Pa by the lake with my fiance and soon to be stepson. Currently I am enjoying each day planning my upcoming wedding in September and dreaming big about what's to come next. I believe that you're never too young or too old to dream. Life doesn't wait for any of us, so live when you have the chance and always buy the shoes.
 
I love sharing pieces of my day through pictures, chat about reality tv and other crazy things here, and you'll never miss a post of mine on Bloglovin so let's be friends.

1. What are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about life in general. Everything I do is with my whole heart and soul. If we need to get more specific I would say paying it forward. Doing something good for someone else doesn't need to happen with money. Hold the door for someone, compliment them...you never know how these little things can change someones day or inspire them to do better for another person.

2. If you could travel to one place in the entire world, where would it be and why?
I would travel to Italy so I could learn more about where I came from. My grandfather is from Italy and I have a long line of very distant cousins that share my name, although theirs is spelled Amilia Ann and mine is Emelia Anne; there's 11 of us out there, and I would love to see where they lived. I've had some friends and family that have visited Italy and all the pictures look absolutely breathtaking.

3. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why?
I would learn to blow dry my hair properly, ha ha! Just kidding, but seriously...my hair is crazy thick and curly and I am not so great at managing it. In all seriousness, I wish I could learn to swim without the fear of dying by drowning.
 


4. Would you like to know the day you're going to die ahead of time? Why or why not?
I wouldn't because the thought of knowing death is coming kind of freaks me out. I like to think that I  live life to the fullest and I'm working on accomplishing all my dreams. There's a lot of the world I haven't seen and I am trying to go on as many adventures as possible. I think that if I knew I was going to die a certain day, instead of going crazy and living out a list of things to do I would instead crawl in my bed and cry. The unknown brings a sense of adventure and spontaneity that I enjoy.

5. What's something you wish everyone know about you?
I wish people knew that although I come off bold, sassy and often sarcastic...I am those things, but deep down I'm a huge softy. I'm that girl that cries when I see a person do something nice for someone else, or get overly excited over what most people consider things. I think I just get happy about when good things happen to people and I have a passion for life. Don't let my exterior fool you, I'm quite the sap.

4.13.2015

The Best Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Earn Extra Cash

Being a graduate student means we are on a pretty tight budget. Things that aren't "needs" we pay for with our monthly allowances or by making extra income ourselves. The following is a list of my favorite ways to earn extra cash for that new blog design or fancy pair of sandals I want.

1. ThredUp.


Every 6 months or so, I go through my closet and fill up a ThredUp Clean Out Bag. All you do is order a prepaid bag from their website, fill it up, and drop it off with your mail carrier or FedEx. Then, ThredUp goes through your bag and you get a payout! You can choose to receive store credit or cash. It's hassle free and once you learn more about what they do and do not buy, you can really maximize your payout!

2. Sponsorships. 


Although sponsorships aren't a huge money-maker (and honestly, I don't really do them for the money), they are a good supplement. Typically, I reinvest about 70% of the income I make back into my blog via design updates, sponsoring other bloggers, or participating in giveaways, but sometimes I will use a fraction of this income for other things like an ebook.

3. Ebates.  


Do you love to shop online? Then Ebates is for you. EBates allows you to get cash for shopping online. All you have to do is visit their website, choose where you would like to shop (this will re-direct you to the website of your choice). Then SHOP! SHOP! SHOP! THAT IS IT. Nothing more is required of you! You can't beat earning cash back for the things you are already buying online.

4. Referral programs.  


I use referral programs through Stitch Fix, ThredUp, and Ebates! Each time someone signs up using your referral link, you get paid too! I especially love ThredUp's referral program because the referrer and the person that signs up each get $10 in store credit for free! How awesome is that? Stitch Fix's referral system is also great because you can use the credit towards future fixes and less comes out of your pocket!

 5. Craigslist.  


Looking to update the furniture in your home or do some other update? Sell your used home goods on Craigslist! It's an easy way to make quick (and fairly easy) cash.

How do you earn extra cash?

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4.11.2015

5 Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Healthy While Training

Keeping your marriage healthy while training

My health is important to me, but Jesus and my husband are more important. When I got married last year, I wanted to be cognizant of how I was spending my time. I wanted to shepherd my time wisely, which meant trying to find the balance between my passion for training and my love for my husband (and all the other responsibilities we have in life). Thankfully, my husband also has a passion for racing and we have been able to use it as a tool to keep our marriage healthy. These are the 5 things that have helped us to keep our marriage healthy while training.

1. God. By keeping our hearts focused on God, we have been careful not to let training become either of our idols. We know that without Jesus, we cannot have the marriage we desire. We also know that He is the one that gives us the ability to race in the first place, so He is always our number one priority. We are careful not to let training get in the way of church obligations or prayer...

Read more of this post over at True Agape.  

4.10.2015

Fit Snack Box #2

Fit Snack Subscription Box
If you saw my first Fit Snack review, you know that Fit Snack is a subscription box carefully curated each month to include 6 – 9 different items that are not only delicious but are also designed to provide clean energy to support an active, fitness-focused lifestyle. Each of the items are nutrient dense, consciously made, and diversified energy. Each box is "balanced" in that it attempts to accomplish the Perfect 10 (read more about that HERE). Each box also includes a Fit Snack workout, recipes, and a number of additional resources.

Here's what was in my box this month (this includes a number of free samples that were also included):

1. Simply 7 Quinoa Chips
2. Simply 7 Lentil Chips- great for snacking!
3. Fit Snack Veggie Chips - I love how natural these are, no heavy processing!
4. Fit Snack Almond & Pumpkin Seed Mix - the best for snacking on the go. I keep them in my purse during the day in case hunger strikes.
5. 2 types of nogii Whey & Quinoa Protein - SO glad these were included again, I love adding them to shakes!
6. Level Life protein bar - I love a good gluten free protein bar. This wasn't one of my favorites but it was definitely tasty!
7.Lenny & Larry's vegan chocolate chip cookie - this was pretty good considering it was vegan and high protein. Still not the same as a real cookie but it'll definitely cure that sweet tooth.
8. Oven Baked Organics Gluten Free Pancake Mix (7oz) - we think this is just OK. We definitely have other favorite gluten free mixes, but we still enjoyed using this!
9. Sunflower seed Sunbutter- YUM!
10. Complete Energy bites- these are chocolate flavored energy bites meant to keep you alert!

Fit Snack Subscription Box

Fit Snack Subscription Box
Fit Snack Subscription Box
Fit Snack Subscription Box
Fit Snack Subscription Box
Boxes start at only $15 per month + S&H (which is super affordable if you ask me)! I'm also excited to share that when you use my special link to purchase a box, you will also get a free Fit Snack Gym Jute. Don't miss out!

Have any questions about Fit Snack? I would love to answer them!
 
*I was given this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.

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4.09.2015

Journal Swap Creative Link-Up


I AM SO EXCITED FOR TODAY. Anne and I wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to all of those who participated in Journal Swap Creative; we couldn't have done it without you. We really hope you enjoyed the opportunity to get to know someone new, and that you LOVED the journal you received. Be sure to link up your post below and share your photos on social media with the tag #journalswapcreative!

My partner for the swap was Sarah from Laze L Farms. She is one awesome lady and I really enjoyed learning about her life on a farm, her passion for photography, and what she likes to do in her free time. It's always nice to meet someone new that you can relate to. We had such a great time chatting over the last few weeks!

She sent me the post perfect leather-bound journal. It's simple and elegant- just the way I like it (mostly because I could use more simplicity and elegance in my life- HA!). There's nothing better than a fresh new journal to fill up with thoughts, experiences, and prayers. She did such a great job.

Floral print leather-bound journal



Floral print leather-bound journal
I can't wait to see everyone's journals!
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