A Little of This + A Little Bit of Bliss Vol. 4 [Where have I been?!]

Hey-yo! So, its Monday and I said I’d only be posting on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays this summer, but I sort of…well…left you hanging almost 2 weeks ago. Right?

So, where have I been? Well, to back up a bit…July sped right on past us while we celebrated the 4th of July at my in-laws with both of our families, the biggest’s 4th birthday on 24th and then our fifth anniversary on the 30th. From there? Well, let me try to sum it up for you! In a nutshell, I’ve been… Continue reading

Stairway gallery wall This is our Bliss

The Time Has Come…

Things have been a little crazy lately. I mean, life is crazy busy and the days come and go with the blink of an eye, but things have been particularly hectic around here lately.

I’m not really sure what I’ve been waiting for, but I just wasn’t feeling like the time was right to bring it up on the blog. I do share a lot here with you guys, but not every teeny tiny detail about my life. Although you probably get a healthy dose of random tidbits every now and then!

So, the time has come….for us to move. Yep, we are moving.

It still doesn’t seem real and typing it out doesn’t make it feel any more real either. Somehow, I thought it might!

We are moving because T was essentially asked to take on a larger market within his company. He’s going to have one larger operation and give up 2 smaller ones. The new office is located about 65 miles north of where we live now in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. It’ll actually be our 3rd move for new opportunities that arose for him within his company. We went from Chicago to Indianapolis and then back to Illinois. We truly did not know where our next move would be since he’s always made it known that he is flexible and mobile and more than willing to go anywhere they need him to. So, we were quite surprised when we found out this current move was going to happen because its somewhat rare that he would be able to take on a larger, more challenging market and still be able to stay in Illinois. So, here we are! No more overnight travel – yay! No more stress of managing 2 offices that are 2 hours apart. It’s all GOOD! The only thing that hasn’t been quite so good, is his commute. He’s been doing the drive to his new office from our current house for a couple months now and it’s been pretty brutal. He’s been tacking on an extra 1.5-2 hours each way to an already lengthy work day. The kicker is that he has to pass by O’Hare Int’l airport which can cause plain nasty traffic and is so unpredictable!

So, the good is that we’ll be moving closer to his new office and we get to have him home a couple more hours in the day…the bad is that we have to leave this house – the place we’ve called home for 4 years…
20140528_8300 copyphoto credit: Photography by Robin Joy 

…and the place we brought both of our babies home to.
20140528_8133 copyphoto credit: Photography by Robin Joy 

I won’t get into the sappiness now because I’m sure that will come later as we get closer to our move date. I’m also not going to chat much about the details of the buying and selling because well, sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. But yes, our home is under contract and we put an offer on a home last week! I’ll share updates as we move through the process on both ends.
Stairway gallery wall This is our BlissWith all that being said, I am so SO excited about the new adventures ahead of us as a family and, as you probably already guessed, the “new house decorating adventures” as well! It will be a blank slate and I’m already itching to get my hands on it! I still have several posts to share with you on projects from our current house and I’m pretty positive that there’ll be some overlap of projects and ideas spilling over from this house to the next. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we finished our basement [see some of our basement selections here and our bar progress here], revealed the basement bathroom and refreshed our master bedroom… I mean—it feels like yesterday, but in reality, we wrapped it all up within the last 6 months!! I can’t be certain what the next couple of months will look like here on the blog, but I sincerely hope that you’ll stick with me through this crazy, busy transition time! Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to share many room reveals and completed spaces with you for a little while, but there will be plenty of inspiration posts and mood boards to create as I start to gather ideas and plan new projects!

Yes, new projects – eek! I get butterflies just thinking about it!

So, that’s my big announcement that I mentioned in my last post. I’ve got a little something in the works to capture some of our treasured memories in this house and I’ll definitely be sharing that as soon as its finished! I’m really excited about it! Other than that, I’ll be back next Tuesday with another edition of “Inspired by DIY” and we’ll see what else I can wrap up and get out after that.

Your thoughts, prayers, positive vibes, etc. are much appreciated as we navigate our way through our home situation. Everything happens for a reason and I’m hopeful things will all work out!

I hope you have an amazing weekend and thanks for being here!

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what you missed in April This is our Bliss

A Look Back at TIOB [April 2016]

Hello and happy Friday to you! I had a different post planned for today, but realized after posting this photo on instagram the other day…

Reloving the month April - This is our Bliss

…how much I looove taking a look back at the projects, photos and moments of the month past, so I’m hoping you will, too.

I’m going to try something a little different today… Continue reading

Escaping to the Sunshine

We’ve escaped the cooler (actually, quite cold) “spring” temps of Chicagoland to visit my parents in Arizona for a little getaway. The boys are running rampant doing boy stuff outside and I am just enjoying the sunshine and a much needed break from the everyday mom routine! And enjoying a glass of wine while I’m at it 😉

I wanted to pop in quickly to remind you that you have until midnight CST tonight to enter my 2 year blogiversary giveaway for a FREE minted print of your choice! and framed at that! Follow the details at the bottom of this post to be entered to win. I will follow-up with the lucky winner shortly after the giveaway closes.

It could be you! Continue reading

Grandma & Henry on stairway gallery wall - This is our Bliss

Taking a moment…

It’s been a long and trying week and after being back in Iowa for a few short days, it feels so nice to be home. My heart is heavy and there’s no other way to say it other than, I’m just really sad. My grandma passed away last week and although she had been struggling with a few health issues over the last 4 months, I sort of just thought she would…bounce back.

She was a fighter, a peacemaker, a lover, a sweet and sassy woman I was lucky enough to call my Grandma Pat for the last 31 years of my life. Right now, my joy comes from knowing she is in a better place – pain-free, watching the Presidential campaigns [she was a die-hard Democrat, who loved reminiscing about the days of JFK], sipping her white wine in her tiny little glass and baking up a mad storm of apple pies, chocolate log cake (for everyone’s birthdays), scotcheroos and Santa cookies… or better yet, whipping up her famous Mexican chicken or pepperoni bread before serving up a scrumptious dessert (and pie was always served a la mode 😉 )

I remember trips to her cabin…walks by the water…slumber parties at her house with my sister and cousins with fashion shows in grandma’s high heels, playing with dolls, endless games of tic-tac-toe, page-after-page of “Love You Forever” and “Where’s Waldo”, Root beer floats and watching TV, while “washing each other’s hair” on the couch. Then finally, after piling into bed, she’d come into the room, no less than 10 times to tell us to be quiet and go to sleep or the sand man wouldn’t be able to come and visit. After the whispering and giggles faded out, we’d wake up to the smell of pancakes, stacked a mile high, with a side of sausage and bacon. We’d eat our breakfast around the small table in the kitchen, watching her stand over the stove-top continuing to cook the most perfectly round pancakes and every few minutes throw in a few “silver dollars” because as kids, we loved the mini ones.

There is definitely no shortage of special memories or even just the everyday moments that now, and will forever, hold a special place in my heart. The pictures I have of her holding the boys that I made sure to take – after calling or texting her to let her know we were in town and find out if we could stop over or if she was out running errands, she wanted to come by my parents’ house instead – now bring a tear to my eye and a smile to my face. She would bounce them on her lap, rock and sing them to sleep, and as they got older, she’d rummage through her closet to find toys they could play with while we visited in the living room.

This might be one of my very favorite pictures…of her and my oldest, Henry when he was less than a year old…
Grandma & Henry on stairway gallery wall - This is our BlissShe had him sound asleep in her arms in merely seconds of sitting down to hold him in her rocker.

These images, whether framed on my stairwell or engrained in my mind, have a whole new meaning to me now and will always bring me back to those moments.

The happy times. The care-free, ordinary moments. The pain-free, worry-free days.

My grandma passed less than 2 weeks shy of her 80th birthday… and boy, would it have been a party! And still will be, she’ll just be joined with far more guests than would’ve been here on Earth. And they’ll be eating and drinking and having a ball.

She was my very first grandparent to pass away, so I am learning that pain and grief are only a natural part of life and death and all that goes along with it. Seeing my dad and his siblings hurting might be the toughest part of it all, but celebrating her life is going to be my goal while going through the healing process alongside the rest of my family. It certainly helps to have others around, even from a distance, who are dealing with the same thoughts and feelings.
my grandma Pat This is our BlissThanks to everyone for your sweet notes when I shared her picture on IG and Facebook last night. I don’t always share my heart, but when I do, you all are so incredibly sweet and supportive. It makes it easy to open up and be vulnerable with readers and friends like you!

Speaking of reading, since I was unexpectedly taken away from projects and posts, I was unfortunately unable to participate in the very first kick-off month of the It’s so Ugly, It’s cool Thrift Store Challenge. I’ll be back in March, but if you want to see what these amazingly talented ladies were up to this month, check it out below:

And tomorrow, I’ll be back with the rest of The Pretty Project Party gals to share our February favorites! If you haven’t yet linked up, you still have a few hours left to do it here! Loving all of the pretty inspiration floating around blogland right now!

Thank you for letting me take a moment to step away to be with family and now share my special memories with you. Hugs and kisses to you all!

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Some very fabulous February fun

Hello out there! It seems like I’ve had so many scheduled blog hops & challenges going on lately that I haven’t taken the time to fill you in on life outside of all of these fun things I’ve had the awesome opportunity to participate in.

It seems like every time I’ve sat down to blog, its been with an impending crucial deadline. Its nice to be able to write about any old thing going on around here without having all the pressure and anticipation of a really BIG reveal or the hype of said project. So today’s post might not be suspenseful or thrilling [and its definitely not a tutorial, because my hands are still shaking from the nerves of writing with that sharpie on my new “vase” – I was positive I was going to mess it up!  Check out my Kate Spade Inspired vase for our monthly Knock it Off DIY series here.], but its a quick run-down of my month so far!

The very first week of February we spent basking in the sunshine in Cancun. My husband’s company trip takes place every year around now and it seriously couldn’t fall at a better time. It’s usually right when the snow falls, temps drop and ice & bitter cold surround Chicagoland.
Cancun February 2016  This is our Bliss
It’s short and sweet, too…5 days and 4 nights away is pretty much the perfect amount of time when you need an adult vacation, but know that if the trip is any longer, you’ll be missing your littles too much.
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Simply heaven. on. earth.
Cancun 2016  This is our BlissAnd I hate to even say it, but it was our 8th trip there. #donthatemeplease It’s my husband’s fault!
Cancun 2016 night 3  This is our BlissIn all seriousness, I am so incredibly proud of his hard work and dedication to doing what he loves! With the long hours, travel schedule and stress, he still comes home with a smile on his face and energy to burn with the boys.

And then, we’re back. to the cold. but we got to snuggle the little dudes and enjoy an early birthday celebration with my family and in-laws for the weekend.

Fast forward one week later to Valentine’s Day weekend. My husband surprised me with a date day and date night on Saturday, the 12th.
date day and night vday 2016  This is our BlissWe shopped, ate and drank and the best part? We were still home by 8:30. Those are the BEST nights. He says we are doing another mini date day next Saturday, too. Not sure what he’s got up his sleeve, but I think I’m probably gonna be ready for some time away from home come Saturday. This winter cabin fever stuff is for REAL! And when you have little ones at home all day with you for 12 hours AND no preschool on Tuesday. It can make for a long little week. Maybe we can get this date day notion into a regular rotation. I’ll throw it on the calendar and see if he notices 😉

Valentine’s Day we hung out at home as a family with no agenda other than making pink, heart-shaped pancakes, drinking coffee, building blanket forts with a playdoh session on the side.

Oh and we did a mini photo session because they looked too cute not to 😉
valentines day shoot  This is our Bliss Valentines day  This is our Bliss Valentines day kisses  This is our Bliss Got’em!

Monday, the 15th was my birthday and it was truly the most perfect of days. Spent the morning and afternoon with boys, dinner date at night and still home in time to open a bottle of wine and zip through the Bachelor on the DVR. There was definitely some chocolate consumption taking place, too. Notice the pattern. Out early…home early 😉

Pretty fabulous & fun so far, right?! I’m thinking February is off to a pretty great start!

As far as project updates around the house go —

…Our master bedroom has finally been photographed with the missing piece of the puzzle added in. After I finish editing them, I’ll put together the source list and get the Master Bedroom Refresh Reveal Part II posted!
master bedroom refresh instagram with curtains  this is our blissIf you follow along on instagram, then you already saw this sneak peek!

…I have at least 2 DIY tutorials to share with you from the master bedroom both relating to art…

…my mantel styling post was live last week and very soon I’ll be sharing the before pictures and more after shots…

…and finally the basement has been photographed on and off again, but I am super close to being finished with the styling and photos of the basement bathroom. Yet another room reveal is in process, so be on the lookout.

…and last, but not least, I am so super pumped to announce that I am joining a super fun party – The Pretty Project Party, that is!
9a9ef760-47a4-4320-9e41-ead49122c074The PPP is a month link-up party hosted by 6 bloggers that will take place every 3rd Thursday of the month. And we are hosting this party for YOU!

Our fellow blogger friends can link-up their pretty projects from the month and our non-blogger friends can share their projects on instagram using the #prettyprojectparty hashtag! We’ll even feature our favorites from the party sometime within the following week on our blogs and social media. So fun!

This is my first time doing something even remotely close to this, so needless to say I’m a bit anxious – both nervous and excited! I’m certainly more than honored to have been asked to join in the fun!

My very first “party” is tomorrow, so come on back right here to see what its all about! I’m promising some very pretty inspiration FOR SURE!!!

See you then!

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This is our Bliss in-home shoot - bedroom 2 - thisisourbliss.com

In-home photoshoot

Can we get real for a second?

I’ve never been so terrified in my LIFE! All kidding aside, I didn’t realize the nerves that were going to creep up over me when it was go-time.

I mean… I have a lot of fun (am I about to say this?) during our family photoshoots, for the most part. There are, of course, several lengthy intervals of tantrums and full-out posing DENIED when it comes to trying to photograph the boys, but our photographer is so kind. so patient. And no matter what, always finds a way to capture us having fun, smiling, one of the boys gazing at the other, etc. But, when it was my turn to be in front of the camera…alone…I was just plain nervous.

I had asked Robin, our family’s photographer to come over to take some headshots so I could use them to update my blog’s sidebar image and have photos to use as my profile picture across my social media accounts. We thought doing them in the house and some outside would make the most sense, and where I would be comfortable and feel at-home.  But, it was like high school senior pictures – volume 2. It felt strange to pose, and by pose, I of course mean look absolutely natural and normal in an everyday around the house kind of way!! Not only did I have to worry about myself, but I was always worried about the house! We shot a ton of photos outside becuase it was a warm fall day, but we took quite a few in the house and I tried to zjush things just so and then run back to my “spot” and say cheese.

Well, it turned out to be a lot of fun! And the pictures? I love them! Robin did a wonderfully awesome job!

I didn’t know what to do with the hundreds of pics of myself. So, lucky you, I’m going to share them (don’t worry, not all of them) today! Here are a few of my favorites from our time together that day.

This is our Bliss in-home shoot - bedroom - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home shoot - bedroom 2 - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home shoot - bedroom 1 - thisisourbliss.com

These were shot in the master. Of course, just working away 😉
[Check out my plans for this space here for the “New Year, New Room Refresh Challenge”!]
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - chair - thisisourbliss.comIn our guestroom, sitting in the chair I reupholstered last year for the ORC.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - brick wall 1 - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home shoot - brick wall - thisisourbliss.comThen we headed outside to catch some shots in the yard and by the house. These you probably recognize from my profile pictures.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - outside - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home shoot - brick - thisisourbliss.comThis is our Bliss in-home photoshoot - Fall 2015 - outside - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home photoshoot - Fall 2015 - outside brickwall - thisisourbliss.comYou can’t see much of this outdoor space, but you can read more in my outdoor oasis series here. I made a few updates this past year, but they didn’t make it to the blog!
This is our Bliss in-home photoshoot - Fall 2015 - downstairs patio - thisisourbliss.comOur back deck staircase…
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - back deck staircase - thisisourbliss.comThen a few on our front stoop by one of my favorite spots in our house – our front door. It IS the sole reason we bought the house 😉 I just love it.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - front entryway - thisisourbliss.com This is our Bliss in-home shoot - front door - thisisourbliss.comThis is our Bliss in-home shoot - formal living room - thisisourbliss.comAnd finally back inside to the formal living room.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - formal living room chairs - thisisourbliss.comMy first gallery wall in the house is in this room and has remain untouched until I spruced up the wall & the rest of the living room for Christmas this past year.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - formal living room gallery wall - thisisourbliss.comI talk a little bit about this gallery wall here – how to create the look and why its so special to me.
This is our Bliss in-home shoot - living room - thisisourbliss.comAnd that’s a wrap, folks!

A huge, mega big thank you to Photography by Robin Joy LLC for these wonderful photos! She is truly the very best to work with and our family is so grateful that she’s been able to capture our special moments & milestones over the last 3 years. If you are local to the Chicago area and are in need of a family photographer, she is your girl!

Thanks for reading today friends! See you back soon!

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Sometimes, the answer is yes and sometimes, the answer is no.

It’s funny, actually. A phrase I just started using with my three year old, has become a mantra for me.

While chatting with my aunt in Arizona during our trip last week, she told me about how she’s recently started using a phrase with her 5 year old, in order to help him understand – you don’t always get your way and there isn’t always going to be an explanation for things, especially when no is the answer.

sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no

I’ve started saying this to Henry this week and although he’s gotten good at repeating it, its going to take a little while for him to get the gist of it. He’s just now getting into the “why?” stage, so hopefully this is something we can work on with him as thaaaat whole thing progresses. #lifewithatoddler ugghh!

So, I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately…about this blog, how I spend my free time, my stressors, on-going house projects, etc. If you read either of my last 2 posts (Fall Mantle & Simple Fall touches) then you know that I was having an agonizing debate with myself about whether or not to participate in the Fall 2015 One Room Challenge with Calling it Home. I ultimately decided, no. Yes, I’ve known about the start date of the challenge for months now. Yes, I even had a room selected to makeover (it was actually a toss up between our family room OR our master bedroom). Yes, I had started the design process and took the “before” shots. But when it came down to it, I just didn’t have it in me to crank out such a big project and HUGE undertaking in 6 weeks. I looked at it from a couple of angles….

Do I have the time?

Well, no. not really. We were in Arizona last week until Sunday, October 11th and would have had to post week #1 while on vacation. Then arriving home and getting unpacked and organizing, when would I have squeezed in the time or found the energy to start working. In addition, we have out-of-town house guests the next 4 weekends and I am a stay-at-home mom to 2 little boys during the week. If I can’t work on projects on the weekends, then a few minutes during naptime, just isn’t going to cut it.

Do I have the focus?

No, not right now. I mentioned here that I am going to be circling back with all of my unfinished house projects (decorating, DIY’s, etc) in a number of areas in our home before I start anything new. Taking on an entire room doesn’t quite fit in the plan! As much as I absolutely love to decorate and create, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with everything that has been going on at once. The basement was a big undertaking and now that the contractors are gone & the sawdust has been cleaned up, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get it “ready”. Well, an entire floor of your home with blank walls and the need for furniture, décor, etc. is kind of a BIG project. All the while I had other things I was working on prior to the basement even starting. I feel like I’ve shared snippets of the basement, but don’t feel like I even did a very good job as a blogger showing you where we started and where we’ve come. So my focus is to work towards completing projects that are half-way done or barely started. More to come, I promise! Mission: project lock it up! Finish it up and move on!

Do I have the energy?

Nope, not even close. Henry and Simon are little guys. They run me around every. single. day. Do I love being home with them? Absolutely! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But am I tired by 4 or 5 o’clock? You got it! Without any family nearby (with the exception of my younger sister who is about 45 minutes away in Chicago), a husband who works 11-12 hour days and travels periodically, I find myself spinning in circles trying to take care of them, keep the house in order and find a little spare time for me! By the time they go to bed at night (little one at 7 and older one at 8), I’m beat! Projects (and lots & lots of chores) get pushed off to the next day or week. Sometimes a girl just wants to sit on the couch with a glass of red wine and catch up on the DVR!!

I answered these 3 questions rather quickly and ultimately said no. No, I am not going to participate in the One Room Challenge and yes, that’s ok! If I am going to devote my time and energy to a project, I want to be proud of the outcome. I don’t want to just go through the motions in order to check boxes along the way or make a big check at the end.  I had such a blast taking part in the Spring 2015 ORC and virtually met some of the most incredible blogger friends. Part of me felt like I would be missing out on reigniting or strengthening those connections again, but the other part of me knows I can continue to communicate and interact with them on our blogs and on social media (right now, I’m really into the TIOB Facebook page and instagram account). We chat daily! I will still support my ORC peeps, but will be doing it from the sidelines. I’m ok with that! I guess you have to get good with knowing when to tell yourself no. It just might be the best decision for everyone around you.

In addition to all of these house projects, keeping my busy, my family is and always will be number one. If I ever feel like they are taking a back-seat, I will slow down or take a break completely. Henry is actually going to be having a surgical procedure this Friday in order to remove a dermoid cyst from the left of his eyelid. It actually sits right on his brow bone. He has had it since birth and it hasn’t ever caused him any pain or trouble, but we decided it has been growing with him and we might as well have it taken off while he is still young. He will be going under, but it is an outpatient procedure and his recovery time should be super speedy. Thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated! I know there isn’t much to worry about, but he’s still my baby!

Phwew! How about that for a Wednesday?! Even though this entire post goes against the idea behind “Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it’s no.” by giving an explanation, I felt like I wanted to. I don’t get too deep and personal on the blog, but I do feel its important to let you know where my head’s at every so often. I’ve had several people ask about my participation in the ORC and while I don’t feel like I have to defend my decision for saying no this time around, I did feel like it was an opportunity to share the why. I hope you’ll support my new mission to finish up some lingering things going on over here and not be disappointed with the lack of brand new projects being posted!

I know this is a different kind of post for me, but you may remember, one of the goals I shared back in September was to be more personal over here.  I would love for you to know more about me as a person, my roles as a mom & wife, versus just my blogger/decorator/crafter sides. I actually have a “get to know me” post drafted. I plan to have it out sometime in the next week, so stay tuned!

Thank you for letting me vent a bit, guys! It really helped me to sort things out by getting it down in writing. I seriously appreciate each and every one of you, so thanks for reading (even long, drawn-out posts like this 😉 )!

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There’s something about September…

Happy Friday and happy almost Labor Day weekend! Maybe it’s even started already for some of you! Wahoo!

We’ll be sticking around here until tomorrow afternoon and then are headed to my in-laws for some family time and a joint birthday party for Ted’s aunt and uncle – plenty of indulging to partake in over the course of the long weekend, for sure. #eattoomuch #drinktoomuch #repeat – I love holiday weekends HA!

Today, I am stopping in to share a few, okay maybe 20, of my goals around the blog and a bit about where I hope to see things go. Warning: this post is long and somewhat personal 🙂

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned my excitement for the fall season to arrive. There’s something about September, that takes me right down memory lane. Back-to-school time as a kid always made me feel energized, optimistic, motivated and even a bit anxious about the unknowns of what was to come – hard classes? new friends? busy, unmanageable  extracurricular schedule?

Well, I sorta feel a lot like a school girl with these same feelings now! Coming back from the Haven conference in Atlanta in July sparked some major I-can-do-absolutely-anything-I-put-my-mind-to-sorts of thoughts and feelings, in regards to blogging. The incredibly talented speakers & leaders were so positive & uplifting with their messaging. They really made you feel like you were on top of the world and could take it ALL on and be successful while doing it. I took thorough notes and had a mini game plan jotted down for what I was going to do as soon as I got home. Well, life happened……our trip to Savannah……then Henry’s 3rd birthday party……basement project work…then a quick mom & daughter getaway to AZ to help decorate my parents’ new house…….more basement projects……amongst many other things and……I just haven’t gotten very far.

So, I’m going to do what I guess a blogger would do…put it all out there!

I’ve been posting projects and little snippets of  my life for almost 18 months now – I have NO idea where that amount of time went! so wild. What I’ve realized, is that I really enjoy blogging.

#obviously – Or I wouldn’t still be doing it!

Sure, its time-consuming and can be stressful, too. I put a lot of pressure on myself to produce quality projects, and I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life! With quality projects comes a whoooole laundry list of other things – quality photography, quality editing, quality post content, consistency, frequency AND with all of the social media outlets around us everywhere – its impossible to not compare yourself to what everyone else is doing and posting GORGEOUS photos of 10x per day! Its a lot to keep up with! I try hard not to compare myself to what they do or have accomplished, but rather look to them as the incredibly inspiration that they are!!

This quote really hits home…
Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle - Jon Acuff - This is our Bliss
Ironically enough, Jon was the opening speaker at Haven! This is so very true and really a great reminder to step back and realize everyone is at different points in their careers, hobbies and life. Comparisons don’t help get you anywhere!

Although I want this blog to be something special, I don’t want it to ever interfere with what’s most important to me – my family. I’m going to continue to chug along this little blogging journey of mine with the hopes that when my boys are in school full-time, I can be doing THIS full-time or at least a good chunk of time! So, yes, I’m working towards monetizing the blog and I will touch more on this in another post. My days with them are  precious and since I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be able to stay home with them, they are my number one priority and always will be. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll know I do the bulk of my projects & blogging during naptime. Since Henry has started to phase out of his afternoon siesta, things have gotten a little chaotic around here – but I’m trying to keep my cool!!

My readers are everything and I truly appreciate each and every one of you. After I get through this long, rambling old post, I’ll have several follow-up posts and fill you in on how you can help me with this journey (like #13 below)!

Ok, lets get to it. Here is my blogging punch-list, in no particular order, and it includes items I am going to take action on this month – yep, right now in September!

1 | Self-host my site
2 | Hire a web designer to assist with the redesign
3 | Start an email campaign / reader newsletter
4 | Determine my weekly posting frequency (2, 3, 4x per week)
5 | Determine my post schedule (M/W/F?)
6 | Organize my blog categories into a more detailed drop-down menu
7 | Buy new camera lens
8 | Attend quarterly Windy City Blogger Collective events
9 | Join additional affiliate networks
10 | Engage with brands in order to partner for sponsored posts &/or product reviews
11 | Get involved in a blog hop / series with other bloggers
12 | Regularly participate in various link parties
13 | Create a reader survey to capture the needs & wants of you!
14 | Get more active with my Facebook page
15 | Grow my FB page following to 1,000 likes
16 | Increase my Instagram followers to 1,000
17 | Get more personal / share more real stuff!
18 | Share more day-to-day activities / project ideas / project progress
19 | Add new items to my etsy shop
20 | Start e-design work in addition to my current business (I know, I still haven’t fully spilled the beans yet – coming soon!)

Whew!!! Ok, so some / many of these might not make much sense to you right now, but I promise to share the details of my progress along the way. If you follow other blogs or are a blogger yourself, then you probably have somewhat of a clue as to what I’m talking about, but for those of you who don’t, please don’t worry! I am doing all of this to get better for YOU! I truly want This is our Bliss to be a place where people can come to get ideas and find inspiration – you don’t have to be a blogger to do that! I want to continue to do and create things that people feel they can take on at any budget and with any skill level!

So, now that this is officially my longest.post.ever. – I am going to say good-bye! Thank you for reading all of this and for your support as I work towards some of these goals.

I will be right back here on Monday with the first installment of a brand new September series! I am literally still pinching myself that I have this opportunity! You won’t want to miss it 🙂

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Books & BBQ | Henry’s 3rd Birthday Bash

Our oldest turned 3 last month and that month, was a crazy month for us! 2 trips (you can read about one of them – our trip to Savannah here), a couple rounds of houseguests & the big birthday! We wanted to have a birthday party with a casual, summer feel, but of course, still kid-like & special for him. He is quite the little bookworm and has been since an itty bitty baby, it seems. Now he’s already reading, writing, spelling and pretty much schooling us whenever we mispronounce something or make a grammatical error. #thatswhatkidsarefor, right? To correct their parents and point out their mistakes?!

I can only imagine how this will go in about 5-10 years 😉

So, I came up with “BOOKS & BBQ” as the party theme and hoped after returning back from Haven just 4 days before the party, I would still be able to host in style without having to run around like a madwoman! I usually end up taking on quite a bit when it comes to little men bday party prepping (see past parties – golf themeABC’s & 123’s & Safari-style Soiree), but this time, I TRIED to scale back. I still ordered the best cookies in town, but decided to have a custom favorite things / stats faux chalkboard made this time. As much as I love to DIY, sometimes you just have to outsource that stuff to make life a little bit easier:) So after asking my mom to pack up some of her décor pieces to bring to town, it was pretty easy to put together from there – Balloons, fresh flowers, red & white gingham…eats, sweets & strawberry margaritas… plus family & friends – how could it go wrong?!

Here is how it all turned out…

Books & Bbq birthday bash - 3 year old summer birthday party - This is our Bliss 2 yards of red “bandana” fabric was strung across the window and rested on a command hook in each corner.Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - table set-up 1 - red gingham - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - table set-up - red gingham - This is our Bliss A red & white checkered tablecloth + red & white food “boats” were used in lieu of appetizer plates.

Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - table set-up - red gingham - sunflowers & mason jars - This is our BlissRed & white flowers + loads of sunflowers were added to mason jars and distributed on the tables & sprinkled throughout the house.
Books & BBQ birthday bash - summer birthday party - 3rd birthday party - sunflowers twine mason jars - This is our BlissI simply tied my favorite twine around each mason jar to give it a slightly natural, outdoorsy feel.

The treat table was loaded up with book-shaped cookies, as well as “3”s and circles, that read “Henry’s 3rd Chapter”, “Chapter 3”, “Books & BBQ”, “Henry”, etc…

Books & Bbq birthday bash - 3rd bday party - cookies - this is our bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - DIY summer party - birthday cookie - This is our BlissA Sweet Touch by Sara T does a fabulous job every time! And they don’t just look cute, they are incredibly tasty, too!

I also served cupcakes because I found the cutest little hamburger & hot dog cupcake picks and then added in my own chalkboard flag picks from Michaels.
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - cupcakes 1 - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - cupcakes 2 - This is our BlissI couldn’t resist – I thought they were too perfect for a summer BBQ bash.
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - cupcakes - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - cupcakes 4 - This is our BlissI served them on a cake stand resting on a stack of books – one of which I covered in a red bandana – like how we used to cover our textbooks in grade school. I barely remembered how to do it… if that didn’t make me feel old! I quickly recalled how to make the cut around the spine just in time to fold the top & bottom pieces in 🙂
books & bbq birthday bash- summer party - 3rd birthday party - chalkboard food labels - This is our BlissEasy, clothespin chalkboard labels (similar here) were clipped on to the serving bowls.
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - table set-up - red gingham - beverages & mason jars - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - summer birthday party - 3rd birthday party - summer strawberry margaritas & mason jars - This is our BlissA strawberry margarita bar was quickly assembled with nothing more than more twine-wrapped mason jars, red & white patterned paper straws, slices of lime and several jugs of Jose Cuervo Strawberry Margarita mix – we just added tequila! I served it in a large drink dispenser which sat on top of my recently thrifted outdoor bar, which still has yet to receive a makeover. You may have seen it on my instagram feed!

and for the birthday boy…
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - DIY summer party - This is our BlissTakin’ down some juice like a champ.

AHHH! I can’t believe he’s 3!
Books & BBQ birthday bash - summer birthday party - 3rd birthday party - chalkboard stats favorite things - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - summer birthday party - 3rd birthday party - chalkboard stats favorite things 1 - This is our Bliss Custom chalkboard sign by Talk in Chalk – she was quick & great to work with!
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - This is our BlissUs.
Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - best buds - This is our BlissAnd a party without your pals, isn’t a party at all.

Plus, no birthday is complete without a big red “3” and hot dog gummies!
books & bbq birthday bash - summer party - 3rd birthday party theme - DIY birthday party - 3 balloon - This is our Bliss Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - summer party - table set-up - red gingham - hot dog candy gummies - This is our BlissI ordered them because I thought they were cute. Little did I know, everyone thought they tasted good, too!

Books & Bbq birthday bash - 3 year old summer birthday party - make a wish - This is our BlissAnd then he ate cake. Or a cupcake, rather. And maaaaybe 6 cookies HA!

 For gifts, everyone brought their favorite childhood or their child’s current favorite book and he was absolutely beside himself every time he unwrapped another great story! We’ve made some headway, but still have quite a few to get through. His big boy book collection is shaping up nicely.

And although I failed to snap any pictures, I put together a take home bucket for each child filled with an assortment of summer fun goodies – A set of 12 of each item was included – total steal!
71n+34WdcuL__SX522_We had a relaxed, summer party & ended the night here…

Books & BBQ birthday bash - 3rd birthday party - DIY summer party - end of the night - This is our Bliss For gifts, everyone brought their favorite childhood or their child’s current favorite book and he was absolutely beside himself every time he unwrapped another great story! We’ve made some headway, but still have quite a few to get through. His big boy book collection is shaping up nicely.

I’d say it all was a success 🙂
Books & BBQ summer birthday bash - DIY summer birthday party - this is our blissI’m slowly, but surely making my way through all of my drafted posts to get published – wish me luck I can get a couple more cranked out yet this week! Stay tuned…

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you’ll come back for a visit again soon!

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