Shop Small Businesses

In between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one of my favorite shopping days - Small Business Saturday. I love supporting small or local businesses when I can. Small Business Saturday is the perfect day to remember to shop from them this holiday season. I feel strongly about supporting regular people like you and me in their creative ventures. Following are some of the businesses I have bought from and had a good experience.

shop small businesses handmade jewelry clothing planners cards

This Saturday there are many Christmas boutiques and expos going on. If you check local or regional events, I'm sure you can find quite a few. I go to these during the year because I love the chance to talk with the person that actually creates the product, finding out what inspires them to create the product and share it with others.

If you don't plan on going out shopping today, you can always find shops online to buy from. I've made a list of some of the small businesses that I love. I hope you find some that you like too!

23 Christmas Books for Every Home

There are so many wonderful Christmas books out there to choose from. I made a list of 23 Christmas books that would be nice to have in your home.

Christmas Books Kids Classics Heartwarming

When the weather starts to get cold, it's nice to curl up with a book. If you have young children, it's nice to read with them too. Reading Christmas books at this time of year is a fun activity. The list that I put together has some fun Christmas stories, some heartfelt Christmas stories, and some religious stories as well. I think there is a little bit for everyone included in these 23 books.

Gifts for Crafty & Creative People

When going to buy a gift for a crafty person, it might be hard to narrow down just the right thing. This list will give you good ideas for big or small gifts for that creative person in your life.

Gifts for Crafty & Creative People - Gift ideas big and small for your favorite creative person

Today I am sharing different ideas for art supplies, craft storage, creative books, tools and machines, subscription boxes and art classes. In each category there are smaller items you can buy for a crafty friend or neighbor, or bigger items for a close family member.

Monthly Blog Check-in & Goals Month 10

Another month has gone by, which means it's time to post my monthly update about my blog. Exciting things from the month, growth of my blog, strategies that have worked (or not), and my goals for the upcoming month.

*** This post contains affiliate links. ***

My blogging journey in October saw a change in direction for me. Throughout the summer I blogged because I felt pressure; pressure to be successful, pressure to make money, pressure to have more visitors so my stats would be higher and I could get sponsored post opportunities. I spent most of my summer blogging, networking, marketing my posts, and didn't spend as much time with my family as I wanted. Starting in September and continuing into October I evaluated how I was feeling about blogging. I decided that I wanted to blog about things that interested me, that I was passionate about. I would worry less about how many visits each day or week. I would go back to creating those things that I was interested in and hope that my interest in those things would show through into my posts. I wanted to be genuine in what I posted and knew that I would feel better about sharing the content I created because I was passionate about it. I don't want to be so stressed anymore, I want to enjoy blogging and creating. I do still keep track of visits to my page and which posts do well, but I don't get discouraged if I have a day that is down in the numbers.

In October I shared a few recipes that I love, worked on some interesting crafts, and focused a few times on books. I created some crafts at home just because I wanted to, not for my blog.

The exciting thing for October here on my blog was opening a shop. I have loved making these doll quilts and other items. I have some fun new fabrics I will be trying out soon.

My friend Kim at The Resourceful Mama hosted a giveaway on her blog for a Frozen Doll Quilt to help me promote my new shop. I sent her a quilt for her daughter and Kim says that she loves it. I appreciated her helping me out that way. It was fun to have a giveaway be for my own product, and knowing that there are people out there that like it was nice.

Here are what my stats were like for the month.

Those stats reflect the increase in followers. For interaction on social media, I actually had an increase that was quite significant. My re-pins increased by over 20% for the month, interaction on Facebook increased, 12%, and interaction on Instagram increased 32%! What contributed to those factors?

Pinterest - I used 2 strategies for the month.
1 - I made sure that the items I pinned were high quality pictures. If the recipe or craft did not have a good picture I didn't pin it. I also try to visit every pin to make sure that it goes to the right place, has a good tutorial with it, and isn't on an offensive page.
2 - I started using the search function on Pinterest more. I checked to see what was trending on searches or popular pins were at the moment. I noticed that when I did that, most of the pins were re-pinned within about 10 minutes.

Facebook - For this all I did was lessen the times I shared on Facebook. Instead of having a craft, a recipe, a video, and a personal share every single day, I found things that I slowed down and only shared when I found something I thought my readers would like. Facebook is a hard one to work are never sure if anyone will actually see your post. I looked over what people had liked in the past and tried to find things in my niche that they would be interested in.

Instagram - I continued my normal sharing of behind the scenes photos from different projects or shopping. I have had a few people message me telling me that they visited my blog after seeing things on my Instagram, so some of them are clicking over too.

Social Media in general - I realized that I have to tailor my social media sharing on these different sites in different ways. Most of my Facebook people like inspirational or funny videos, crafting memes, dessert recipes, and some of my crafty posts; so I share differently there than I do on Instagram. It's been a learning experience for me.

Income Report:
Shipping - $5.26
Supplies - $8.50
Giveaway sign up - $10

IZEA - $1.00
Sovrn ads - $1.65
Products - $65.11 (book, fabric, markers)
Google AdSense - $.05

Total + $44.05

I succeeded with all of my goals except building backdrops for my photos. I enjoyed the photography class and have been working on using their tips to stage my photos and use natural lighting techniques when photographing my items. I was able to find 2 holiday blog hops and one holiday giveaway.

Goals for November
  • Write posts earlier
  • Provide a newsletter weekly (sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar!)
  • Create Thankful Tree
  • Post on Instagram daily what I am grateful for (#30daysofgratitude_2015)
  • Make sure I enjoy holiday time with my family!
  • Make a sale in my shop!

Top Posts for the Month

There is my monthly check in for my blog. Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear in the comments what exciting things have been happening for you! Feel free to share your goals for the month too.

Thanksgiving Turkey Soda Bottle Craft

When a group gathers for Thanksgiving, keeping the kids out from underfoot while you finish cooking and setting the table can be a challenge. Keep them occupied by having them make their own colorful turkeys for the dinner table! This fun and creative project will keep them entertained while you finish the last minute holiday prep!

Easy Kids Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

*** This post contains affiliate links. ***

I am always trying to think of ideas to make holidays a little more entertaining for my children. I decided to have them make these easy Thanksgiving Turkey Soda Bottles. Soda at our house is a treat for my girls and I thought they would love to have their root beer decorated like fun turkeys.

Book Review - Michael Symon's 5 in 5 For Every Season

Using fresh ingredients in recipes always tastes much better than dried or canned vegetables. I was glad to get this book for recipes for the whole year using fresh ingredients in quickly made meals. Read below for my review of this book.

Book review of 5 in 5 For Every Season by Michael Symon. 5 fresh ingredients in each meal made in about 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Holiday Casserole

Around the holidays there are a few special dishes that we don't have during other times of the year. One of those recipes is this homemade sweet potato casserole. We love the subtle mixture of the sweetness and spice. I know it's Thanksgiving or Christmas when this side dish is on the table.
Thanksgiving Side Dish Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Sweet potato casserole is a wonderful side dish, especially for people who don't enjoy dessert pies but do like a bit of sweetness. The trick is getting a nice balance between the flavors. Some sweet potato casseroles are way too sweet, but this one is just right for our tastebuds.


DIY Double Sided Holiday Blocks

I love decor pieces that I can keep up for multiple holidays. These double sided blocks are perfect because you can display them for Thanksgiving, then flip them to the other side and you have Christmas decor all ready!

Make your own double sided holiday blocks

Generally for my tutorials I share step by step photos, but I made these blocks 3 years ago and I was so busy chatting with friends that I don't have photos from that night. I will describe it so you can easily make the blocks for your own home. If you decide to make this project, plan on a large chunk of time. You will need to let the paint dry for a while before going on to each next steps.


Cash for Christmas Giveaway 2015

Wouldn't it be nice to have a little extra cash for buying Christmas gifts this year? I've joined 20 other bloggers in this giveaway to provide Cash for Christmas. Enter and you could be one of 4 winners! The giveaway ends Wednesday November 25th so you can have some extra money while doing your Black Friday shopping.

Read about the giveaway, then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!

Are you getting geared up for the shopping season? Do you need extra cash for Christmas?? Don't we all!

We are so excited to be giving away $225 in cash prizes for you to use starting Thanksgiving weekend. Here are the prizes:

1 - $100 Amazon Gift Card
1 - $75 Target Gift Card
1 - $25 Walmart Gift Card
1 - $25 Kohls Gift Card

There will be four winners in this giveaway. Each winner will receive a gift card code to use on the online store or in the actual store.

Now its time to meet our wonderful co-hosts who have made this giveaway possible.

                 Grateful {Printable} + $225 Cash for Christmas Giveaway
Starting at the top row we have:
Please stop by and say hi to these wonderful ladies and their blogs.
The giveaway will end midnight on Wednesday, November 25th, the night before Thanksgiving. You will have 48 hours to respond to the email claiming the prize. If you respond right away, we will get you the gift card code promptly so that you can shop with it on Black Friday! If we don't hear in 48 hours, we will choose another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paint Swirl Glass Ornament

Have you been searching for some fun and unique ideas to make your own ornaments this Christmas season? I have a wonderfully easy and artistic one for you. Read below to see how you and your children can make your own paint swirl ornaments.

When we unpack the ornaments for our tree and start to decorate, we always take the time to talk about where each ornament came from. Our favorites are the ones we have made ourselves. I have quite a few from when I was little, as well as the ones that my girls make at school or different holiday activities. We decided to make some of our own ornaments at home, using quite a few items we had from home as well as a few from the local craft store.

Prairie Patchwork Piano Runner

Today I am sharing a project that I have wanted to create for the past few months. This past summer we inherited  a piano from my husbands family and I have wanted to make a piano runner for it. This weekend I made the piano runner and I love how it turned out. Don't forget to check the end of my post for a giveaway.

A month ago I was sent this fat quarter bundle of fabric from the Little House on The Prairie® Andover Fabrics Collection. I fell in love with them and spent a few days dreaming about what I would make with them.

The Time Chamber Book Review

Lately it seems as if adult coloring books has become one of the most popular trends. For someone that loves to color but likes something a little more detailed than a princess coloring book, this was wonderful news. Coloring is so relaxing, you get to use your imagination while picking out the colors for the picture, and your project will not get ruined if you are interrupted and have to leave it for a time. Read below for my review of The Time Chamber coloring book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for writing an honest review of the book. All thoughts are my own and are not swayed by receiving a free copy of this book. This post contains affiliate links. For more information about my Amazon affiliate links, see the bottom side of my blog.

The Time Chamber by Daria Song is a slightly different coloring book. It  has a simple and magical story that goes along with the pictures throughout the book. A fairy climbs through a cuckoo clock into the room of a little girl and explores while the girl sleeps.
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