Friday, August 16, 2013

Marni Mann, Unleashed!



I'm so excited that Marni Mann has, once again, agreed to share with us about her journey as an author. Multiple books and another few layers of success later, she's the same open, driven, inspired and genuine person! This girl's talent ripens with age and yet she's as down to earth and humble as it gets. Mrs. Mann's latest book, Seductive Shadows, has been a little bit of a departure from her traditional approach. That's not to say that it is any less captivating. In fact, I think you'll find yourself as captivated as ever in what is perhaps a little more racey than your traditional nightly read. I always love reading her account of what makes up the life of a writer in such simple, yet inspiring manner. She doesn't beat around the bush and I can vouch for the fact that she's genuine and happy to be Marni Mann, a lover of friends and family and most importantly, a proud wife. That's not always easy to find. We all struggle with being content with who we are from time to time. Marni has always had an exceptional ability to put a person at ease with those beautiful, sincere eyes and smile or a laugh that keeps you remembering why she truly is as passionate, real, talented and engaged in following her dream as a writer as it appears. Simply put, she's comfortable in her own skin and as such, quite comfortable taking you on a ride to explore that of others! Let's let her words do the talking. Enjoy!

 
 
How did you make the switch to erotic writing?

It started with Charlie, my protagonist. For me, books always start with the characters. Certain images had triggered the story - a lace mask, a broken mirrored floor, several pieces of art, a psychic, etc. - and sex, organically, weaved them all together. I can’t say the switch was intentional, but I was aware that it was happening.

 

How long does it take you to write a book in general?

My first book took almost three years to complete. This last one I finished in about a month. It’s also my sixth book so the process has become much easier and much more streamlined.

 

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere. Literally. Waiting in line at Starbucks, eavesdropping, movies, television, family, friends. I once read a quote that said, “I’m a writer. Anything you say or do may be used in a story.” It’s very true. (With permission, usually, of course.)

 

What helped you loosen up about writing on the racey side?

Practice, really. Besides the sex, this book was actually really challenging because it’s a very complex story with multiple layers. With each pass and draft it began to get easier. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine. ;)

 

What can you tell us about this book?

Charlie is a passionate, sensually-inspired art student, desperately seeking an escape from the abusive past that haunts her and a tragic accident that emptied her heart. Scarred and unable to love, her yearning for physical pleasure leads her into a tantalizing, dangerous world of power and seduction. The anonymity of the deal offers security; the money brings financial freedom and the madam is the mother figure she longs for.

 

But the thrill of the mansion and its arousing dominance quickly fades when she meets renowned-yet-mysterious Cameron Hardy, whose intense baby blue eyes send a nervous flutter through her core. Cameron is sexy, and not in a subtle way. He stimulates Charlie's art, her intellect and her desires. Just as he begins to break through her emotional boundaries, she discovers a devastating connection between her past and her scandalous work at the mansion, shattering everything she thought to be true.

 

Provocative, intoxicating and erotic, Seductive Shadows is the unforgettable tale of a young woman's self-discovery as she learns to forgive, to love and be loved, and to find redemption amidst a remarkable journey that will captivate your mind and stimulate your soul.

 

Is there anything about your writing (particularly in this book), that makes you nervous?

I used to get really nervous when discussing my novels in person, especially when meeting someone for the first time, because my writing is so dark. My books are honest and blunt, they’re very descriptive, and the topics I address are usually quite taboo. Now I embrace those conversations and I look forward to all the different reactions I get.

 

What has provided you the most confidence?

My readers. They’re truly AMAZING and loyal, so kind and complimentary. I save every note I receive and I read them all the time, especially on the days when I can’t get the words to click.

 

Where do you do most of your writing/thinking?

It depends on the weather. On really hot or cold days, I write in my office, but for the most part I write outside on my lanai. That’s one of the many reasons I love living in Florida. As for brainstorming/thinking, that’s constant: in the shower, walking the dogs, eating, basically every moment that I’m not writing or sleeping.

 

Who do you credit with inspiring you/supporting you with writing?

My husband, Brian, is tremendously supportive and I couldn’t do any of this without him. My creative team, my manager, editor and publisher, are just as inspiring and supportive. I’m so fortunate and grateful to have such a talented and caring force behind me.

 

What do you consider to be the best tools for learning to write?

Practice. Practice. Practice. Everyone says it, but it’s true. Every writer has their own unique voice and it’s impossible to find that voice unless you experiment. With practice, you’ll hone your craft. My other piece of advice is read everything you can get your hands on because behind every great writer is a great reader.

 

Looking forward, what gets your motor running/is exciting in terms of writing?

Preparing for new releases is always an exciting time. I’ve spent so much time writing this little nugget and watching it turn into a book - getting a face and a name, being put into layout, the marketing - is a pretty incredible experience. Starting a new project is just as exhilarating, especially when I have new characters to meet and speak for.

 

Can you give us a little something to look forward to or guess about for Marni's next project?

My next project is going to be a three-book series that’s set in Bar Harbor, Maine. The first book is tentatively titled Burned Betrayal, it’s in the New Adult genre, and it will be released in October. It’s about a young girl named Drew who loses her parents in a fire and the secrets and lies she uncovers after their death. It’s an emotional exploration, really, about family, friendship, and love.

 
As always, Niki, it has been such a pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to interview me and hosting me on your blog. xo



So, there you have it. That's what makes her tick, feeds her love of writing and reading and keeps her mind running. You can also learn more about Marni by clicking here.

To make it easier for you to purchase, I've included links below.

Amazon: Click here.
Kobo: Click here.
Barnes and Noble: Click here.
iTunes: Click here.





 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beauty in Spirit, Talent in Photography!

Infectuous in personality, talent in trade, beauty in persona, pride in motherhood and being, honor in being a wife, candid in nature, I truly feel like Audrey (Calvani) Breheney is the every woman! She doesn't pull any punches or try to "put on a perfect face" (clearly, that comes naturally). What you see is what you get (I can vouch for that, dating back to middle school). If you seek inspiration, appreciate talent and most importantly, like to learn what makes lovely and driven people tick, this post is worth reading. It's Audrey, in the raw, walking us through how her professional journey began and what motivates this busy wife and mother of two and helps her maintain such passion as she continues to  build and run a business (which clearly is more than a "business" in her world). All of the content below is nothin' but Audrey and to me, it's nothin' short of fabulous! I truly think it's a post for everyone! Enough from me, let's to hop into the life of Mrs. Breheney!

** Don't forget to check out the generous discount from Audrey with the code shown at the bottom**

1. How did you get started in photography?

I have always been fascinated with photography in some way or another. Growing up my favorite thing to do was to look at photos taken of me and my family when I was a baby. I gained a beautiful niece who I just longed to take photos of every time I saw her; I started taking photos at her birthday parties and my sister in law loved them! She continued to tell me how good they were and insisted on paying me! I had minored in black and white photography at Fordham University but never thought I might actually someday do something with it. Her friends who had children started asking about the photos in her home and pretty soon she had helped me accidentally start a side business. I began doing events like birthday parties, baby and bridal showers. I moved into weddings for a while and slowly began to find my own style and niche. I couldn't be more excited about getting paid to do what I love. By saying yes to everything I was able to figure out what I was most passionate about photographing, families and children! This has snow balled for me into truly realizing my passion. I couldn't be more excited that I get paid for doing what I absolutely love to do!!!

 
 





2. What inspired you to start?

My husband inspired me to continue to pursue my passion. He is my rock; his encouragement and support has always helped to inspire me. He bought me my first DSLR camera and an iMac and that was the true beginning. Having children has further inspired me because I want to set an example in this life. I want them to know with all their heart that they should find what they love to do and go for it. I hope for them to find their own passions and hopefully to be able to make careers out of doing what they love too.


                 

3. So, you said, "I want to start a business". Then what?

The first thing I did was get organized (this is difficult for me as I am a virtual hoarder). My best friend is also a photographer and she encouraged and helped me to pick my best work, organize the photographs, hire a logo designer, buy a domain, a blog and a website. I consider all of these tools to be a constant work in progress. I started with my blog only but I knew eventually I would need a proper website.  I am proud of announce that www.AudreyBlakeBreheney.com is live!! I have a few sections that I am always adding to and tweaking but I love having a canvas devoted to my art. My blog (www.AudreyBlakePhotography.com) is where I post my personal favorite photos from client shoots. I have been blessed enough to get all of my work from referrals. I am only now entertaining the idea of marketing myself and I can't begin to tell you how blessed that makes me feel. Once I had my blog/site up, I met with an accountant. He explained to me that I needed to open a bank account and devote this account solely to money earned from my business and use that money for any overhead (equipment, gas for traveling to shoots, parking at shoots, any classes I might take to sharpen my skills etc...) This made everything seem less complicated and more within reach and here I am officially in business!
4. Do you have another job or is your other job being a mom (which is a job!)?

I  LOVE being a mom and it is the greatest, most challenging job I have ever had. I am also the VP of Sprouse Marketing Group (www.SprouseMarketing.com) and have the great fortune of working from home! Juggling all three things can be challenging at times but when you do what you love it doesn't feel like work. 

5. What's your career history/background?

In my early twenties I worked in the restaurant/bar industry. I began as a waitress/bartender and ended up managing and opening up several bars in Manhattan. I realized this lifestyle was burning me out and I decided to get my real estate license. I pictured myself dressed to kill showing penthouse apartments to rich business men and families all over NYC. Not so much... starting out in rentals I knew this wasn't for me when I was waiting for a potential client in a crappy apartment complex in Harlem and a very scary looking homeless man came running through a hallway.

After feeling pretty down in the dumps, my husband (then boyfriend) pushed me to apply for some sales jobs. Soon after I was given an opportunity that would change my life forever at Yahoo! Hotjobs. After 2 years I moved a few times until I landed at an infamous internet advertising company where I stayed for more then 5 years.
It was here that I met Mike Sprouse. He was my mentor and friend and taught me everything I know about marketing. I helped his team throw big budget parties at the Playboy Mansion 3 years in a row (and yes I got to go and bring my husband!!!) and when he left my company I knew it wasn't the last time I would be working with him. He started his own company and took me on and I have never been happier in my life. I truly feel so blessed for the road I have gotten to travel. Mike Sprouse has been so supportive and encouraging. He has helped me to realize that if you believe in yourself and your own God given ability, there is nothing you can't accomplish. We are lucky to live in a country where making money doing what you love is actually feasible!!

6. How do you manage your schedule?

If I didn't have an iphone I don't know HOW I would ever manage. It is a mobile office for me, keeping me on task with apps like calendar, Evernote and wunderlist. I find that I am far more productive when I am juggling many balls at once. For my peace of mind, 4 days a week I attend the Bar Method, this hour is so important to my well being. I find that I have the energy to accomplish what I need to do and I am overall a better, wife, mother and friend when I get this workout in. I also file through my to-do list for the day while I am in class and come out ready for action!  

As I mentioned I am also the Vice President of a boutique marketing agency called Sprouse Marketing Group (www.SprouseMarketing.com). When I am not working for SMG, I am editing, organizing and working on photos. I book sessions on the weekends and in the evening hours during the week because I really love to shoot during the magic hour (Right when the sun sets just enough to cast gorgeous rays and make the subject glow). My children always come first and though I work two jobs, I still consider myself a SAHM. I work from home and this luxury gives me the flexibility to be the one taking and picking my children up, bringing them to doctor appts, playdates, parties and the like. My husband is also amazing and very hands on, we work together on a schedule every week to ensure we have a balance of the work load and that everyone is as happy as we can be :). I couldn't juggle all these balls without the support of my family and I feel so blessed to have their constant support!

7. What is your favorite time of the day/week?

My favorite time of day is around 7am when I hear the pitter patter of my 4 year old's feet heading to my bedroom. She climbs in my bed, hugs me and always wants to immediately go get her baby sister from her crib. We usually do this together and then have breakfast and head to school. On the way there we preview the day and sing a lot of Taylor Swift ( her request of course). My favorite day of the week is Sunday when this ritual includes my husband. We lazily lay in bed a while longer when we are together and usually he cooks a delicious breakfast for all of us! Then we try and pick a fun activity to do with the girls, recently going to a farm not too far from our house is a favorite… it is fun for our children and a beautiful place to take pictures.  I find myself gravitating towards places where I might like to photograph a subject.



 

 








8. What have you learned about yourself having made the decision to move forward and dive into photography?

I have learned so much about myself through photography. Everyone sees the world differently of course, but when I look through my lens I feel like everything has a magical quality.  In the beginning I had so much self doubt and I beat myself up if someone didn't respond to my work the way I wanted them too. I have now learned that what YOU love and what you put out there you will get back. Not everyone will like my work and that is totally ok! Not every client is a good fit for me! I want a client to look at my website and say, WOW I want pictures like that of me or of my family. Everyone has a different style as they should and the world is a better more vibrant and peaceful place when we can all accept and embrace the fact that we are different. Now I feel as though I'm growing into my own art with every shoot I do. I always come out a little stronger, a little more creative and a little more excited about what's next! How could I not dive head first into something that I love and that is helping me to continue to grow as a person. It feels more and more like I was born to do this and I feel like it is such an incredible gift, I have nothing but gratitude for this passion and talent I have been given.
 
 
 
 

 




9. Someone decides they want to hire you, then what?

Any potential client can email me directly from my website and I will get back to them with my availability and pricing along with a series of questions to better understand what they are looking for so that I can grasp if we are a good fit for one another.  Once we establish some basic ideas and thoughts and nail down a date we will have a little more back and forth to create a vision for what their shoot is about.  Every shoot is unique and it is important to me that I take the time with each person to understand what it is they are envisioning before the day of the shoot.  I will send a special inspiration collage upon request to get everyone on the same page and excited.  The day of the shoot we will spend about 2 hours together (longer for a newborn) at a location or multiple locations that we have agreed upon ahead of time.  I love to work with natural light and often shoot in and around people's homes, in parks or for a more urban setting in towns and cities.  Once the shoot is over it takes me approximately three weeks to sort through and edit the images before posting a handful of favorites to my blog and giving options to purchase prints or digital files.

10. What is your favorite type of shoot?
I love photographing people, whether it is a family, children, a newborn baby, or a pregnant woman, there is something about capturing moments and emotion that thrills me.  I think my favorite kind of shoot is one where the unexpected happens, where the subjects trusts me to do what I am going to do and lets go.























 


 


11. Is there anything you would like to add to your business?

I would love to begin offering senior portraits as a part of my business. I think this is such an exciting age to photograph and the classic boring portraits are outdated now, I feel like this is an opportunity to be fun and creative and whimsical. Starting something new is difficult because people want to see a portfolio but you need subjects for a portfolio. I would be more than willing to shoot a few of these on me if someone is interested. Email me if you live in NY, NJ or CT and mention this interview!

12. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully with a happy and healthy family and a flourishing photography business!!

13. Are there memories that you try to capture with your own family, regularly (or annually)?

To me every moment is worth capturing so trying to curb this is a constant challenge for me. I filled my computer with 50,000 photos of my first born child. Of which I printed maybe 10.... Now with 2 kids and all I have going on it is becoming more and more difficult to whip out my DSLR camera unless it is planned out (for the most part). Since the iPhone is always with me, I began trying to use it to capture every day moments! My friend Carolyn persuaded me to get involved on Instagram and it proved to be an awesome outlet for sharing these candid at home moments and it pushed me to try and take better photos with my iPhone. One of the photographers we both followed was someone named Kristin Rogers. Carolyn found out she taught an iphoneography class called "The Inspired Home" at an online school called "The Define School" (www.TheDefineSchool.com). She gifted me the class and together we devoured the 4 week course and have since gotten more more involved in both Instagram and The Define School. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an iPhone and a longing to take better photos with it! On Instagram I have a strict rule to only post iPhone photos and now that I am more confident in the iPhone's abilities, I use that little camera for EVERYTHING!!!! It also forces me to try and take 1-3 photos a day of my kids/life which has helped me to capture my family more regularly and also to reconnect with fabulous people like Niki and to meet new people like my IG friends in Australia!!!!!

I still whip out the DSLR camera and I have started a blog dedicated to my children called Love Letters To My Littleswww.LoveLettersToMyLittles.wordpress.com ) where I am aiming to photograph them twice monthly and post about that shoot and all the wonderful, crazy and silly things they are currently into.

Here are some incredibly inspiring photographers on Instagram that I follow and suggest YOU do to! @kristinrogers, @carolyn_mara, @singlittlemama, @krystamanthemetcalf @alittlemama, and @thestorkandthebeanstalk (she also has an incredible blog! www.TheStorkandTheBeansTalk.com that you should check out!)

(Below are iphone pics)





 

 
 

 


 

 


(The below pics are DSLR pics)

 


 
 


 






 


14. What would you recommend to others getting started (in any business/with any initial hobbie)?

Never stop honing your craft. Find books and online classes to help you sharpen the tools you already have! Find other people with similar interests and find out what they do so get inspired. Most important.. believe in yourself. You are the only thing holding yourself back. You might want to punch me in the face for saying that but it's true. Money, housework, and obligations will always be road blocks if you let them. I once saw a sign that stuck with me that said "Someone busier then you are is running right now". For the record I HATE running and never ever run but I love this because what it really means is if you want to do something and you make it a priority mentally, you can find the time…
If you are serious about pursuing photography as a career consider taking Krysta Manthe's class " Through the Looking Glass" currently offered at The Define School. She is incredibly knowledgeable, inspiring, nurturing and honest. I absolutely loved this class and highly recommend it. Her website is www.KrystaManthe.com

15. How do you stay centered while being a mom and exploring this?

There are quite a few things in my life that I do to try and stay centered. I think different things work better at different times. The number one thing I do is talk to my husband. He grounds me and he really helps me to see when I am getting overly anxious about something or I need to take it down a notch. Other things that help me stay centered are my best friend, the Bar Method, sleep (I go to bed by 10:30 every night) and Instagram! Instagram has really become a wonderful outlet and source of therapy for me and it has officially made the list!

I thought it also might be fun to note that this fabulous woman and photographer was featured recently in an extremely fun post on Baby Be Hip . You can check out a "home-made" video featuring the evolution of her daughter from conception to birth. It will leave you smiling to say the least!

Lastly, if you live in the northeast, are planning a visit or make your way at any given time, you absolutely MUST make the call and visit her. Unless you are have impaired vision, I think you can tell that her work captures life's wonderful moments and the beauty in everyone. I've found  favorite photos of my own children are the ones that document what life was like (or what each of us enjoyed) during specific stages in life. I believe that's the beauty of a talented photographer; to capture personalities and simply, a person's life. If, for any reason, you are having trouble connecting with Audrey, please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll make sure you get hooked up! Memories are priceless and no doubt, with Audrey, you'll look back and feel each of them, with a warm heart, throughout life! Family and friends come and go, live close by and far away, stay in our lives through phone or family dinners and, at some point, depart. I say hold on to the memories regardless of wherever or whenever you see these people. Without question, your time with her will yield memories of love and laughter (maybe even a little intrigue). Thank you, Audrey for being one of the first to kick off this series with true inspiration!

**As mentioned, be sure to take advantage of the discount that Audrey is offering to those who checked out this post. Simply send her an email at ABreheney@mac.com and reference that you read about her on this blog (A Dance With Grace) to recieve $50.00 off of your sitting fee!**

Happy Tuesday!

xoxo
N



Thursday, June 13, 2013

One Man's Blueprint

This is the first of a series of posts over the next few months featuring individuals whom I admire for various reasons. I'm kicking this off with words of a man that I've always believed to have an extremely sweet soul and open heart. He's "that guy" and surely, the object of jealousy for men across the globe. Yet, you can't dislike him because he's so da** nice! He's was/is a phenomenal athlete (swimmer), musician, was an actor and model, is extremely intelligent, very gifted at photography, gorgeous and has a huge heart! He's also a world traveler. I asked him to compile a few thoughts on  his journey. From here, I'll substitute my words for his.



Beautiful Justin

 
 
What have I learned from my travels?

It's the question that first pops into my head when asked to write about traveling: what have I actually learned?  It's funny, it feels like I've been GO-GO-GOING so hard for so long that I haven't really stopped to think about it.  In the last two years, I volunteered for 3 weeks in Sierra Leone, went to Ecuador on a business/recruitment type trip, moved to Australia, and visited Indonesia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  Oh, and two trips back to the good ol' U.S.A.  WHOA.  It seems really crazy when I type it all out like that.  My life has pretty much been one careless whim after another.  So what have I gotten from all this reckless abandon?


Honestly, I don't really know.  Has it shaped me as a person?  It's hard to say.  It's difficult to surmise who I would be if I had taken another route, and it's tough to know if I just innately seek adventure or if my traveling has made me adventurous.

 
I have definitely gained from my adventures a wealth of stories and the feeling that I can relate to almost anyone and anything.  I feel like I've experienced so many different types of people and different cultures that it takes a lot to surprise me.  While I remain interested and fascinated by different ways of living, the sudden wonder I felt the first time I went out to the night markets of Bangkok is tougher to summon; it's become more of an anticipated understanding, a closed-mouth smile and quiet nod in the direction of a passerby.  You realize that people everywhere are really all the same anyway.  They have the same basic dreams and needs, the same fears and doubts.  And we all want to be loved.

 
The thing is that all the traveling and discovery really isn't about finding anything external, it's about discovering more about yourself.  The first time I traveled alone was in Peru, and I remember the insanely new feeling of being completely isolated, completely on my own.  I could do anything I wanted, nobody knew exactly where I was, and I had nobody to please but myself.  It was very liberating.

 

I.  Could.  Do.  Anything.

 
So what did I do?  A lot of wandering.  Watching people, looking at things, trying to work up the guts to talk to total strangers (and usually failing).  But what was really going on the whole time was the self-discovery that can only come when you are totally independent, when your decisions are totally your own.  At the same time, the introduction to different cultures and ways of living allows you to be more free in deciding how you actually want to live your own life, and you start to realize that you don't have to follow someone else's blueprint in creating your future.

 
And what about the stories?  Well, those are awesome.  They are what I'll have forever.  I'll always remember the glow worms that lit up the pitch-black caves in New Zealand like the starriest night sky imaginable.  I'll always remember the absolutely perfect wave I caught at the perfect moment of sunset off the most perfectly gorgeous beach in Bali.  I'll never forget the unmatchable smells of Thailand, digging my own lava-heated hot tub in the sand of a foreign beach, and feeling like a kid again while snorkeling with my sister off the coast of a small island in the Philippines.  And I will most definitely never forget all the amazing people I've met along the way and the love and kindness I've felt from so many people in all different parts of this world.  The world is very freaking cool.  And so are people.

 
I love traveling.  I don't think I will ever stop.  The world is so accessible these days that there's no reason to not get out there and see it.  Pick a place.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit


The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

These pics are my little representation of this notion. I thought it might be appropriate to leave you with a quote to represent each or my little interpretations as of now.

Love: The below photo is ol' faithful, the Corinthians passage and it never gets old to me. I tear up every time I heard it read at a wedding. There is just so much in that passage.
www.districtdiva.com
I find the most meaningful moments in my house are when I catch the kids quietly giggling and enjoying each other, when one comes running up worried that the other is sad, or when one is concerned that the other has hurt feelings and goes in for the hug or wiping of tears. Those are of life's most special moments for me.

Joy:
"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls."
--Mother Teresa of Calcutta


Peace:
http://hellemanworld.blogspot.com/2011/12/our-violent-world-and-prince-of-peace.html

Patience:

This one's a virtue in my book. Sometimes, as a single mom, it becomes a mantra. I know that's true whether single or not!

Kindness: Have you ever witnessed a hospice worker help a loved one? I have and their efforts encompassed this word, kindness!

Goodness: "To Do Good"..... good means many different things to many people. I think, at the end of the day, if we all were to sit down and take an inventory of where our actions originate (in terms of our hearts and reasons for "doing"), we'd spend a lot of time in embarrassment mode and some time feeling incredibly bright. Doing good (especially when given the option to do bad) just matters. Oh, and by the way, sometimes is stinks! I think that's part of what makes such a simple concept, so strong!  That phrase my grandmother instilled in me at age negative zero "the things you do speak so loud, I can't hear the words you say." Those that do the most good, in my mind, are the strongest. My grandmother (Dottie Warren), for example! They are the ones that make sacrifices for the greater "good", both of themselves and their feelings! Again, that's one girl's opinion.

Faithfulness: This means many different things to many different people. I'll let you take it from here on this one. For me, the rest of the "fruits" originate right back to this baby. Further, my life, as it is, imperfect but purposeful, is one of strength (wavering at times, surely) because of my faith. Not my inner ability to be strong, but my faith. Always. And when I'm not connected, weakness prevails in my case. Again, I can't speak for everyone!

Gentleness: The picture of my son kissing my daughter's sleepy head above encompasses this, for me. That kind of gentleness comes direct from the heart (or sweet soul).

Self-Control:
Here you will find the link to where I found this.
 

 
Here you will find the link to where I found this (not exactly an 'on topic' source).

Wishing you a fruit-filled weekend!

xoxo
N

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top of the Week Tuesday!

Today's post, although short, pretty much captures our Memorial Day weekend. Over the years, Memorial Day has come to represent a thankfulness in those that put it all on the line for others. They have and continue to do so in order for Americans (of all shapes, sizes and ranges of socio-economic status) to experience freedom, found in so many ways. This past weekend, I experienced the freedom to be with family and friends, the freedom to play, laugh and enjoy, and am thankful. Below are a few clips of our weekend.



I'm bummed that this came out so blurry and tiny, but I'm a work in progress and apparently so is this!

Here's a quick capture...

One of my loves did my nails, we swam, swam some more, shopped (the other little love particularly took a liking to a kids plunger), had a girls' date, enjoyed a birthday party, barbq'd with friends and family a few times, visited with a woman who played an influential role in raising my brothers and myself and just enjoyed being together. It was perfectly simple, really. Thank you to those veterans and those still serving who made it possible for us to keep it simply special.

Wishing you a wonderful start to the week!

xo
N

Friday, May 24, 2013

I'm in the Market For the Following

Today's post is short and sweet. I'm in the market for the following and you might be as well when you see them.

I'll start with a find by none other than my friend, Ivy at Clean Cuisine. Here are a few healthy or "clean" brownies to check out as you put your Memorial Day menu together! They look delish. We'll be putting this recipe to the test!



You can check out the recipe here.

I thought these were too cute not to share. Some of us have our favorite "adult beverage" holder, but why not include the kids in the fun. Here is the link for more info!

Click here to visit their Facebook page!

Last, but far from least, I found this to be so simple, yet so brilliant. I hope you do too!

You can learn more about this at www.ladyandtheblog.blogspot.com. You can also click here to be directed to this, individual post!

Here's a little something to hopefully make you smile as it did me!



Here's to messy hair!

Happy Friday!

xx
N




Friday, May 17, 2013

Sublime and Cute on a Dime

Why not end the week with a few of my favorite, inexpensive finds from a girl who loves to "do it" (I'm talking decorating your life) as inexpensively as possible. My motto is save wherever you can so you can splurge on what matters to you. For now, I'm in the saving mode of life.

Therefore, I seek out finds like these... next week, I'll add a few more. This is nothing you don't already know most likely, but here are a few finds of late. You never know. Maybe someone will see something like like or didn't know about.

Crazy 8 is a great stop for boys. Here are two cute examples. I'm fully aware that the picture below is sideways and that it was posted last week. This time, think of it in terms of shorts with cute belt peaking through. The beauty of this store is that belts come with the shorts. You've gotta love another perk in the savings department!

White linen look on a dime! I paid a lot less for this than I did his colored versions from Janie and Jack (although, I rarely purchase anything full price there either).
Love these shorts.

Old Navy top and shorts! My favorite part is the dear friend to my left, Beth. She is such a beautiful person (just as gorgeous on the inside as the outside).

I really believe Old Navy is a great spot for clothes when it comes to bargain shopping if you shop at the right time. Some of the clothes are cheaper than Walmart or KMart (shh...) (alright, I'm guessing on that one). The above green, checkered shirt and jean shorts are in now. You can't beat the prices!


I'm having issues with pictures (it's Friday), but check out the Old Navy site. I love the semi-sheer through, printed button downs! They come in a variety of prints. Throw a tank top under, skinny jeans below and voila, you're instafab!

H & M for little kids is awesome (depending on the store). Currently, the few pics below show a really cute, navy dress and shirt, shorts and belt combo (the belt comes with the shorts) available now. These are just a few that I found. Ironically, the belt is my favorite! You can see it in the bottom pic. I think my son's choice of socks and shoes really make the picture. However, I'll add, those Nike's have been great for my son's wide feet if that information helps anyone. They were not, however, "divine on a dime" material.


 







The necklace below is my favorite...and it was free!



The maker of this gem is my 3 year old son! In case you're dying to know, this exquisite piece has been designed using blue materials.


I can't forget the men, of course. I'm a little out of practice here, but I will say that JCrew outlets carry great men's, flat front chino's at fantastic prices!






I'll leave you with an #instaselfieproject (clearly, on Instagram) photo of the day! A high school friend of mine inspired me to follow her lead. Check it out if you are an Instagramer!

Here's to popping that collar, throwing your shoulders back and rounding out the week with a smile. As my grandmother always says "make them wonder what you're thinking about". I'll take it up a notch and say, share the wealth and let 'em know!

On a forward looking note, I'm excited to be posting interviews with some really inspiring friends and their ventures in the near future. Who knows, maybe I'll mix it up a little with a link to a giveaway by my favorite blogger!

Happy Friday! I wish you a weekend filled with belly laughs and fun!

xx
N





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