Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh, the places you'll go

Life has been a little nuts around here lately. I start work next week so I've had quite a break (which I've kind of loved) while Tay works his bum off at school, work, and now getting ready for our next adventure...optometry school! I've mentioned it in several posts, but now things are gettin' REAL up here. So far Taylor has been invited to interviews (remember how you can't get accepted without going to an interview first?) at 3 out of the 5 schools he applied to. I'm pretty dang proud of him! What that means is that he meets their academic requirements and now they just want to get to know him and see if he's a good fit for their school. Unfortunately we have to take the bill on all of his interviews, so let's just say we've been cutting down on our extracurricular activities and going out. But it will all be worth it! I'm excited but nervous to find out where we'll be moving! We've been looking up the housing that they suggest at each school and looking into the areas we might be living in. We thought we had a top choice of school but after looking into the ones he's been invited to, we just don't know! If any of you know anything about or have lived in these places, fill me in! So the only places he hasn't heard back from yet are Pacific University in Oregon and Ohio State (in Ohio :)), but I put them on the map just for fun to look at where we might go!

In other news I've just been working on my shops and sewing my little heart out! Here's some fun things I've been up to:

I made this skirt for my little sister and I kind of love it because it has a bow AND pockets. So I may or may not have made myself one....ok fine two.

I have been having so much fun designing for my INKH Designs shop. Here are some fun new things I've created that I'm planning to print for myself as well!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Contests, Giveaways, Promo codes, etc.

This post is inspired by two groups of people: 1. the people who think I'm crazy for entering contests all the time 2. the people who ask about how I have won things/which contests/giveaways are worth entering.

First of all, I haven't won the lottery or anything (minus marrying my husband...haha ok that was too much) so you're on your own with that kind of luck. However, I have a pretty good streak for winning contests and giveaways, and I don't think it's just luck. I just enter the right ones. So, I thought I'd share some tips and things I've learned about contests and giveaways!

There was a news segment about online contests and giveaways, and they basically just told people not to enter after all sorts of "statistics" they found. However, after firsthand experience (and being successful multiple times I might add) I beg to differ! You just have to know which ones to enter.

Ok, so why enter contests or giveaways at all, you might ask?? Well one easy answer is, there is always going to be a winner (except I don't believe in those "free car" giveaways at the mall..), so why not have it be you?

There are some contests totally worth your time... and then there are those definitely not worth your time...in my opinion. You just have to keep a business-like mind in store: if your expenditure is more than your profit, it's not worth your time...Meaning, if the hassle you're going through to even get an entry is worth more than what you get if you even happen to win, just go buy the item up for grabs if you really want it.

I'm going to explain the things I consider before entering a contest on social media (or the radio....I've won 3 times!).  Again, I'm not a rocket scientist, but my guidelines have led to be successful so it's worth a shot!


IF IT'S A BIG BLOG GIVEAWAY: First of all, giveaways are HUGE right now in the blogging community. Heck, I'm going to be doing some for my Etsy shops soon. One reason that they're popular with blogs is that it can help the blogger and the sponsor gain followers and essentially gain more customers. That being said, keep in mind what they are asking of you in order to enter. Is it a big hassle? Your chances with blogs that have thousands of followers are already kind of slim because of the number of people entering. But that shouldn't keep you from entering under certain conditions. For me, if there is not a list of 10 or more people I have to follow in order to have a valid entry then I'll enter (I seriously saw a contest once where you had to follow like 30 people to enter---on each of their social media accounts...yikes). If my chances are already slim, I don't really want to be a slave to 10 different people's Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. after the contest is over if I didn't even win (ok, all you have to do is unfollow them, but who has time for that, right??). The point is, if I just have to leave a comment on the blog and follow the blogger on Insta, I'll enter. I won a contest once and I was like entry 2000 or so. This is the only BIG giveaway I've won because I normally don't enter the big ones, so this was mostly just luck. But if I hadn't won, all I had done was commented and followed the blog--no big loss. Moral of the story, if it's just two easy clicks, I enter. But if it turns into a hassle, I don't. Also, the more entries you're allowed, the more entries everyone else can get as well, so keep that in mind as well. If you can see the number of entries (for example if the giveaway is run through Raffle Copter) and it's not an outrageous amount, enter multiple times because not everyone will take the time to do so.

IF IT'S A NEW/SMALL BLOG GIVEAWAY:  enter!!!! First of all, support new blogs! My blog is by no means big at all, but when I started blogging I felt so nervous (and still do) putting myself out there with my thoughts and sharing about my life--so help a sista (or a mista) out! Second, if it's a small blog, the number of followers is small, and if it's not a blog that is an everyday read for many people, chances are not as many people will even see the giveaway or enter. So enter!


FACEBOOK: 'One click' contests are usually found on FB. If all you have to do is 'like' a post, share it, or comment, you should enter because you never know, and it's not a hassle to enter. Even if it's a Facebook of a company with lots of followers, if all you have to do is click once to enter, you might as well! Yesterday I found out I won a free dress and necklace. I was scrolling through Facebook and the company said something like "we've announced our winner on our blog" ... I didn't even think I had entered, but figured I'd just check out the blog post anyway cause they had some really cute jewelry. I remembered possibly entering, so I scrolled down to see the winner. I seriously couldn't believe I won because I hardly remembered entering, but that's because it was one of those "one click" contests so it was easy and I totally forgot about it because it wasn't a hassle. It was a smaller-ish company and it was easy to enter, so my chances were good!

IF IT'S A NEW BUSINESS FB: Same with new blogs, new businesses on Facebook generally don't have too many followers compared to large companies, let alone a large number of people their posts actually reach. Usually new businesses are trying to gain exposure so their contests are 'user friendly' (AKA what we like: no excessive requirements!), and not too many people enter. Because they're new, you basically have the advantage because their contests are easy in order to entice people to enter and follow them. I just became a 'fan' on FB of the jewelry store we bought my engagement ring at. They just recently started vamping up their page, and they started out by doing giveaways. In December they had several giveaways, and you could 'like' their post for one entry, and 'share' for another. I personally don't feel bad 'sharing' giveaways on FB because it helps others find out about the contests (that's how I usually see them, from others entering), and there's so much garbage nowadays on FB (hello, JBiebs' mugshot...hideous) that my pic of a cute outfit being given away isn't hurting anyone! Anyway, I entered several of the December contests, and I actually won one! I entered  this one because not many people entered (you could tell by number of likes an shares), so my chances were good. So, if you like free stuff and you have nothing to lose, and a good chance to enter, you should enter!

3. ENTER ON INSTAGRAM: After doing a social media internship with a large clothing company, I was able to see the average customer activity on social media. For this company, customers were least active on Instagram, and I've noticed the same for other companies' Insta accounts that I follow. That being said, when there is a contest on Instagram, ENTER! Fewer people enter these for whatever reason, so your chances are good! Usually all you have to do to enter Instagram contests is repost a photo and use a certain hashtag. Again, if I have to tag or hashtag 10+ people, I don't enter. Other than that, Instagram contests are great to enter if you want to try to win some freebies, so follow your favorite companies on Instagram---guaranteed they do contests/giveaways!

4. CHECK BACK!!! As mentioned, sometimes when contests are so easy to enter it's easy to forget you entered (as mentioned!). Many contests will have a 24-hr claim policy where you have to contact the sponsor to claim your prize within 24 hrs or else they'll choose another winner. Many people don't check back because they assume there's no way they could win. I mentioned before that I won a contest and was entry #2000. I had used a junk email address (see next point) to enter and only found out that I had won that contest a few weeks later when I was cleaning out my inbox. Luckily they didn't have a claim time frame, but the point is I didn't check back on the contest and I  could've missed out! So make sure that you remember which contests you enter and check back!

5. CREATE A JUNK EMAIL: If you're like me, you probably already have an embarrassing email address name from when you were 13, but the account still works and you don't use it for much anymore. I use this email for giveaways and contests (and when websites make me sign in for stuff!) so that if they make me leave an email address to be added to their mailing list as part of entering, I can just give that email address (is that rude??), unless I really do want to receive their emails.

**RADIO CONTESTS: Ok so nowadays I know everyone just plugs in their iPod or plays CDs (ok, I still listen to CDs but not sure others do). HOWEVER, there are still radio contests all the time! I haven't entered or won one in a while, but here's the types of contests I entered and how I believe I won.

TIME OF DAY: This one is important. Just like businesses always have deals on Tuesdays (Tuesdays are one of the slowest days in retail) (also, did you know if you have a Gap card you get extra 10% off on Tuesdays??) ANYWAY, just like businesses have deals on Tuesdays to up their sales when they're slow, radios often have contests during the 'slow' hours of the day when people might not be as interactive with the show hosts. All of the contests I've won have been at a random time of day like 11am, 2pm, etc. when most people are most-likely at school or at work. So if you happen to be on the road during non-traffic hours (which is when most people would be prone to listen to the radio), turn up the radio and see if they have anything going!

IF YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF:  One contest that I won said that the first person to call and name 6 songs by a certain band (my fave at the time) would win tickets to their show. That being said, I entered because I didn't have to be caller # whatever to win (those are a little trickier). I called and waited until they answered and could name six songs by that band right off the bat, so I won! So if the contest has nothing to do with calling at the right time, just knowing the right answer (and you happen to know it), you should give it a try! Another I had won was the same thing. They asked how far you have to run to burn off an M&M. I had randomly learned this fact in 7th grad health class (you have to run a football field. Sad, huh?) so I called in! They had multiple answers to choose from so even a lucky guess was worth answering.

BE CALLER #...  As I said, if you have to be caller # X to win, it's a little harder because you have no idea which phone lines they pick up first and when everyone else is calling. I normally don't bother to enter these unless they're giving away something REALLY cool. So normally I steer clear of these.

OK this might seem random, but as I mentioned I interned for a large clothing company working with their social media. From this I learned that many companies send products to bloggers and websites to review the item on their blog or site. As a part of this review, many times companies will give the blogger a promo code to feature for their readers to use on the featured website. So whenever you are shopping online, try Googling the company and add 'giveaway' or 'blog giveaway' and see if any features on blogs pop up because chances are there is a promo code offered for that blogger's readers. I've been shopping online more often recently and I cringe when I go to pay full price for anything. I ALWAYS Google to find promo codes whether it be on a random site or a blog, and generally I'm able to find promo codes to save a little mulah.

Companies to follow for contests/giveaways (and just cute stuff :)): Groop Dealz  (I might add that aside from giveaways I LOVE Groop Dealz's stuff. gooood deals) , Urban Peach , Sassy Steals , Nest on MainSimple Addiction , Splash Designs

Let me know if you have any questions! And, if you've entered contests before and think you have a method to the madness, share below!!
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday my dad turned 50. I say 'turned' instead of 'would have turned' because even though my dad isn't here on the Earth I still think of him as being alive in spirit. It's almost been seven years since his very early passing (he was 43), and most of his birthdays have come and gone like normal. However, realizing that my dad was turning 50 made me really miss him!  I realized that there is a pretty big difference between 43 and 50, which made me realize how long it had been since I had seen him and talked to him. So much has happened since then!

-went on my first date
-had my first kiss
-went to prom and other dances
-got my first boyfriend
-got accepted to BYU
-graduated high school
-had my first long/serious relationship
-moved out
-had lots (and lots) of dating drama (it's probably good my dad wasn't around for that one....he is very protective of his girl!)
-picked my major
-met my future husband
-went through the temple
-got married
-graduated from BYU

I wanted to try to think about him all day, as if I was celebrating with him if he was really here. Tay and I took some balloons (I wanted all gold (of course) for the special occasion, but they only had two...) and a flower to his grave. I love where his headstone is because the sun always shines right through the trees and onto his grave. 

Later I had to stop by BYU so I decided to get a donut (ok fine, it was two) to celebrate during the day! Any excuse for a yummy BYU donut! 

That night my family went out to eat at Brick Oven, one of my dad's favorite restaurants. We go out to eat every year to celebrate my dad's wonderful life. I know everyone always says "my dad is the best", which I don't doubt is true! But my dad really just had a little bit of extra life in him. He was the life of the party. He would remember everything you said when you talked, and later ask you how those things were going the next time he saw you. He always tried to help me have fun things to do with my friends. He may or may not have taken me and my friends TPing in high school. 

I miss him a lot but I'm so grateful for all of years I got to have with him! 

So happy birthday, old man :)

PS: I was at my mom's the other day looking for something and I found this. I had totally forgotten about it. My dad helped me redo my room when I was 13 (complete with lime green walls....don't worry they're still lime green). He had taken an old calendar hanger and painted to match the room, and he painted this on the back :) It was my dad's "signature" to draw a little character of himself when he left us notes (he always thought it was funny to give himself a black eye or scars in his picture). I love finding stuff like this as the years go by.

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

On being a grown-up

Didn't life seem so much simpler when we all looked like this ^^^^ (side note: I seriously hope our kids look like Tay when he was a baby!)

Being a grown up is scary sometimes. Granted, I didn't just become one so this isn't news to me, but some days I just sit there and the inner kid inside of me thinks yeah, I'd really like to not be a grown up right now or this adult junk is scary or honestly sometimes I think this situation is so uncomfortable I'd rather run and hide like a kid...but I can't. Cause I'm an adult. But that's life. Don't get me wrong, this isn't me subliminally telling you that my life is really hard right now. It's actually really great. But some days being a grown up is scary and stressful.

I've been on the job hunt lately and I hadn't heard back from anyone so this week I've just been enjoying going to the gym, cleaning, trying (key word trying) to cook, etc. Then all of the sudden within three days I heard back from all the jobs I applied for and I obviously don't know which option is best, and which place will even offer me a job, so being prepared to know what to tell them if/when they offer me a job is hard. Long story short I made a big decision and took a leap of faith and turned down a job I had initially accepted. It was kind of my last pick but I accepted because I hadn't received any other offers or interviews. However, Tay and I realized I needed something with more hours and we didn't feel this job was right, even though I was initially somewhat excited about working for the company. I called to tell them yesterday that I had retracted my decision to accept the position, and I felt that I did so at the best time possible (before training starts and before I had signed any paperwork), but the lady was still pretty ticked. I mean I get where she's coming from, but then she tried to tell me "just so you know you're already officially hired so you'll never be considered again", etc. which isn't true because I never gave her my social security number, never signed anything, etc. so I know I couldn't already be technically hired. Either way I felt so bad after, and mostly just felt really uncomfortable and had that yeah, I'd like to run and hide right about now feeling. This obviously isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but this was the first time I had to do something like this and I did not like it. But hey, that's life. I have an interview this coming week for a job I'm really hoping for because I think it will be a much better fit. Any and all good vibes/prayers are welcomed :)

Taylor has just applied for optometry school so now we just wait to hear back. Having our future in the air is something I am not a fan of, because I guess I'm kind of a control freak and I like to always have a plan of action (something I need to work on). So basically in about 6-8 months we could be living in California, Oregon, Ohio, Texas, or Tennessee, who knows?! It's actually pretty exciting when I can keep my nerves out of the way!

But yeah, sometimes I just miss being a kid when you didn't even realize that your parents were going through all the stressful adult stuff.

Other awkward, uncomfortable, and stressful grown-up situations:

-when friends and/or family try to either sell or get you to join an MLM (multilevel marketing scheme...I mean business) ... and they never stop. It's hard to mix business with friends :/

-when people talk to you about highly sensitive political issues and you don't know what their stance is and so you don't want to offend but you want to be honest (some people are really good at talking about these things, but like I mentioned here I'm not good at it)

-when your freezer isn't freezing and your refrigerator isn't cold and your management company is less than helpful and you have to be really upfront and bold with the "emergency" maintenance guys who aren't much help. I don't think I've ever had to be so "demanding" before. I just want cold milk for cereal ok?! (and for my food to not all go bad).

-when people on Facebook comment saying less than smart things (and they're like 17) and you really want to comment and set them straight but you realize you have to be mature cause you're an adult... #sotempting

Oh, the joys of being a grown-up.
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Goals for 2014

I've been thinking about "New Year's Resolutions" lately, and I've decided it's a love/hate relationship. I love them because it's always good to make new goals for yourself, and while many people think it's dumb that people "have to wait" until the new year to start being better, I think hey, at least people are trying to change, right?? However, I hate the connotation of the phrase. It's almost cliché to talk about New Year's Resolutions because it's almost a joke that no one ever keeps them. So I've decided to just use the word goal instead, because then it's just like any other goal I make, but it's made at the new year! Here are some of my goals for this year:

#1. I've always struggled a little with confidence with my body because, well, who doesn't? When I was working on my dance minor in college (feels weird that I can say that in the past tense now!) one of my favorite teachers gave us this really neat object lesson during one of our regular dance days. Being a dance teacher, I'm sure she's come across all sorts of people who have complaints about their bodies. Anyway, she brought in at least 30 different containers, bottles, etc. that were originally ketchup, syrup, peanut butter, etc. bottles & containers. She had us look at them all and talk about them all. We came to the conclusion that though all the containers were different, they all served a purposed and had value in some way. She talked about how we all need to understand that though our physical 'containers' are different, they all have something inside them, and that it's not all about what the outside looks like. I always try to remember this lesson when I'm struggling to love my 'container'. I've mentioned before that I've had some severe back problems the past couple years that have limited my physical activity, which has consequently altered my physical appearance a little (not so toned here or there, for example). It's been hard for me to still be grateful for my body since all growing up I've always been active. It's so hard in today's day and age to not compare ourselves to others (thank you, Hollywood). I never realized the harm I was doing to myself when I thought negatively about my body until I started vocalizing my complaints when I got married. It's different when there's someone there to really hear what you're saying about yourself. Taylor has really helped me to understand that I can't say negative things about myself if I want to be happy with myself. All I can do is change my attitude and do the best I can to be healthy. I've also continued to remind myself that healthy doesn't always mean skinny. While there is nothing wrong with being small, everyone is built different. I'm 5'9" and I know that I was not made to be a size 2, so for me healthy doesn't mean a specifically small size. So this goal #1 for 2014 is obviously something I've already been working on, but I think this will probably be on my list for the rest of my life because I think it's something you always have to work at. I want to love my body when I'm the size I am now, when I gain or lose weight (obviously in a healthy manner), and even (& especially) when I'm pregnant and have kids, which explains the "in all its stages" part of the goal. 

#2 Sadly this is something I've always had to work at! I'm not a big reader in the first place, but I have a strong testimony of reading the scriptures (more specifically the Book of Mormon), so this is a very important goal to me. So far I've kept up with it! So what if it's only been 6 days...

#3 If you know me you know that I can be a very opinionated person. However, I very rarely feel confident enough to share my opinions and beliefs with people outside my husband, and close family and friends (obviously there is a right time and place for this) because in today's world there will always be someone who is offended. I've come to understand that my beliefs and opinions about a lot of things in life are generally not very popular among most people in the world. However, I don't feel like that should mean that I need to keep my mouth closed because what I believe isn't popular. This does not mean I have any intentions of putting controversial Facebook statuses up all the time (that seems to be a thing these days), but I want to be able to at least come here to my blog (where people are choosing to read what I write) and share what I believe at times. 

#4 If you are at all a frequent "follower" you'll know that it isn't unlike me to be posting about Christmas in June...I can get really behind. I like writing and keeping a history of our story (I really want to print our blog in a book each year), so I really want to get on top of blogging. I've come across some fun people in the blogging community, so that has gotten me interesting in continuing as well. So, hopefully I'll be writing at least weekly. Hope you don't get sick of me! 

#5 I've seen a lot of bloggers making a "25 before 25" list lately. Basically it's a list of 25 things you want to do before you're 25. I'm only 22 so hopefully I can get some fun stuff in before then! I'll be working on this list and sharing it soon! 

#6 I created Just Buttons & Bows a little over a year ago, and I've had so much fun with it. My cute grandma always tells me that "it's all about the accessories". I truly believe this (and I love making bows). It's been a little crazy running this shop (and now INKH.Designs as well) while going to school and working, so now that I'm done with school (and currently looking for a job) I'm excited to do more with it. I really want to expand my product (headbands, baby bows, maybe bow ties). I also want to get my brand out there by sending bows to bloggers for reviews! We'll see how this goes! 

So there are some of my goals! I continue to think of more things I want to work on, but those were some that I thought would be fun to share here. I am really interested in others' goals, so if you want to share, I want to hear! 

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