Guys, I am so excited to share this post with you today. It is something that is a little out of the ordinary for this blog, but it is something very close to me that touches my heart. Today, I am talking about children’s books. Specifically, a children’s book written by a friend; yet this is a friend I have never met in person. Okay, that’s a lot. Let me back up a little.

First, children’s books are like golden tickets of joy in my family. I grew up being read to constantly and then reading on my own incessantly. Almost every memory in my childhood includes a book. I feel so lucky being brought up this way, and I hope to one day bring my own children up this way. What is even more special is that my mom saved her thoughtfully curated children’s book collection for my future family. I’ve actually been toting around boxes and boxes of children’s books throughout the years….and my mom still has more in storage for me up where she lives!

So you know how important children’s books are to me, if I’ve moved these books three times. You’re welcome future children. 🙂

Okay, now here comes a fun twist years later. As you know, I’ve worked with Minted throughout the years, making curtains to hanging artwork (lots of it!). Through it all Cheryl Koning was my contact there. She initially reached out to me to partner with Minted and just through email and my blog we became friends. That’s how cool this blogging world is; you become friends with people you’ve never met, whether they are sponsors or other bloggers.

Cheryl left Minted a while back to be able to help her Gram more (don’t you already love her?!). We promised to keep in touch and we did. I received an email from her recently talking about my blog, greyhounds, and most excitedly a children’s book she and her husband had written and published!

The book is called The Story of Santa’s Birds, and she asked if it would be something I would be interested in sharing on my blog. I said a big ole “HECK YES” and three days later the book showed up at my doorstep.  I had such a fun time reading the book!! I can’t wait to read it to my children one day in the future. It will always have a special place in my heart.

I thought I would let Cheryl explain a little more about the book and the special place the story came from…

“Our book is based on a story that Kyle’s mother would reference at key moments to tip his behavior and that of his siblings (and later his nephews and niece) closer to nice than naughty. At any given time she could point out the window and say, “Oh, I think Santa’s Birds are watching you!” and cries would cease, fighting would stop, and good, sweet children would reappear.

In 2012 we moved from Chicago to San Luis Obispo, where we spent Christmas away from our families for the first time. While on a dog walk with our dear Leonberger, London, Kyle started a rhyming verse and recorded it on his phone. After finishing the walk we reviewed that first draft and went from there.
We actually let that first draft sit for nearly a year before returning to it and working through the rest of the words while sitting on our front steps, again with London. A little while later we moved to San Francisco and Kyle started sketching out a visual storyboard (it was absolutely dreadful). We found a veteran illustrator, Fanny Liem and she turned our rough sketches into magical works of art (including a cute likeness of London). After a LOT of formatting and some edits by our friends, we launched an e-book, then a hardcover and paperback about a year later. From start to finish the process took four years and hundreds of dog treats for London.
We dedicated the story to our parents, Bruno, Louise, Andrew, and Rosemary (whose tales of birds inspired our own) who provided us with great books and great places to read them.”
Gah, does that story just not tug at your heartstrings?! I love it! Plus, the book and its illustrations really are SO charming. I love, love, love it. I’m so proud of you Cheryl and am so excited to share your book with my readers!
If you want this book for yourself this Christmas, make sure you grab a copy on Amazon (affiliate link).
As a last minute gift to one of you this Christmas, Cheryl is doing a giveaway of an autographed copy of her book! Just leave a comment below telling me your favorite book from your childhood. The giveaway will close at midnight on December 18th.
  • Candy Walsh

    This sounds like a wonderful teaching experience book!! I didn’t have a favorite children’s book growing up, my parents weren’t big readers to us kids. But when I had my two, I think I started reading to them while they were still in the womb, lol. My daughter is now 26 and my son is 21 and they each had a special book that I read to them every single night. For my daughter it was, “I Love You the Purplest”, which i still tell her quite a bit and her and I are the only ones who know what it means. And for my son, it was “The Kissing Hand”, he was quite the momma’s boy and didn’t like to be away from me and this book helped make it a little easier for him. I still have both of those books packed away.
    My daughter is also an avid book reader and a big reason she became a teacher. She gave me the gift of my first grandchild on December 30 of last year (cutest little peanut ever!) and I gave her her baby shower and on her invitations I requested instead of bringing a card, to bring a book, even if it were an old used book, so my grandson could have a plentiful library waiting for him when he was born. It was a big hit!!
    Your book would be an awesome addition to his collection and thank you for the chance to win one!
    Happy Holidays to ya’ll!!ReplyCancel

    • Oh my goodness I love this story so much! How amazing to have a special book for each child. I also love the idea of asking for books at baby showers! This would be a great addition to the collection for you!ReplyCancel

  • Jill Underwood

    I have always loved to read, growing up I was always reading. I loved reading The Babysitters Club books, I had a ton of them and would read and reread them.ReplyCancel

    • Oh I haven’t thought about The Babysitters Club books in a long time. I LOVED those!!ReplyCancel

Gold. Bling. Sparkles. Shiny. Metallic.

These are all words that come up frequently in my vocabulary – and even more frequently in my wardrobe and apartment decorating. I can’t get enough of all things shiny and sparkly. Even when I was a small child, my parents say I was always drawn to all that sparkled.

So when I can infuse a little sparkle and shine into my life, I do it!

This time around, I partnered with Oriental Trading to do a little golden decorating, because they have so much more than one might initially think! They have party supplies, home decor, craft supplies, and lots of golden things. Plus, adding gold around the holiday season just makes things even more festive!

I had my eye on two walls in my apartment. Two walls that are concrete, not drywall, so I have not put any artwork on them. I did not want to deal with concrete anchors for hanging things since this is just a rental. But things that do not have to have holes put in the wall were definitely fair game!

I started with the column wall in the living area. It’s actually a transitional wall so you can see it from my bedroom and living room.

I took the metallic gold circle hanging banners and deconstructed them (meaning I just cut out the fishing line that tied them all together) and made a gold confetti wall. I just used washi tape on the back to hang them and they stick there easily!

Then I took the amazing white and gold patterned hanging paper lanterns (I LOVE these!!!) and piled them in the basket beside the wall. I might end up hanging them later but I am liking them here just fine!

I also got this beautiful neutral tassel garland that I ended up adorning my mirror with, and I just love it so much! It’s such a simple thing that really adds a fun, feminine, golden touch.

Finally, I had the wall between my bedroom windows that I had excitedly chosen for one of my favorite framed photography pieces, only to be disappointed it was concrete. These gold chevron hanging fans though are so pretty in a formation here! I kind of want to get more and make it an even bigger statement!

I also ended up getting some gold glitter paper peanut banners that I’m still playing around with. They might end up strung on my front door…or I might bring them to the office and hang them in my cubicle for a fun festive flair! I will post a picture on my Facebook and Snapchat (@megaubrey01) account when I decide! Follow me there to see where they end up!

See, it’s always fun to think outside the box when decorating. You never know where you will find the perfect decorations for your home! Make sure to check out all of Oriental Trading’s Christmas decorations and Christmas party decorations (the categories most of these items came from!).

Thank you so much to Oriental Trading for partnering with me for this post. I did receive these products in exchange for this post, but all words and opinions are my own!

Christmas season is upon us! It seems like once November 1st hits, it’s all Christmas all the time. Generally, I try to keep the season until after Thanksgiving, as Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year (the wholesome family time, the peace of it, the sense of gratitude and love), but there are definitely some things that you can do before Thanksgiving to help make your whole holiday season a lot calmer and stress free.

One of those things is designing and ordering your Christmas cards early so you can get them in the mail right after Thanksgiving. So where else do you turn for the best, most beautiful, and well priced custom cards around? Minted of course! I’ve talked about them before, and I will talk about them again because I love the beautiful variety of cards (for all occasions) as well as their home decor and artwork choices. Heck, I think my whole apartment is mainly decked out with Minted prints, and I constantly get compliments on them!

I thought I would share some of my favorite designs from Minted with you today. Plus, they have really awesome services like free address printing on envelopes and custom stamps to go with your cards.

So you know I have to start where my heart is….and that is with all that shimmers and shines. If you open a card from me without something glittery or sparkly, send help, something is very wrong with me. I mean, just look at this collection right here. The shimmer adds to the holiday feeling without it being too over the top Christmas or cheesy.

This one in rose gold is probably my favorite of all of them. I love it!

I am also really digging moodier colors these days. When paired with the right lightness, it makes a room warm and inviting without feeling cavelike. I think the same goes for those colors on a card. When the black is paired with green and white it feels like the perfect wintery, holiday card.

Then there is always the classic black and white, which I am drawn to more and more (in cards, decorating, my wardrobe). It is a timeless feel and gives you the option of adding a pop of color here and there that really adds that extra oomph.

Also, here are some examples of how Minted will address your envelopes for you. It takes the hassle out of it and looks so beautiful too. Plus those matching envelopes are so nice! It really brings it all together.

Finally, maybe some of my favorite items that you can personalize from Minted are their thank you cards. I was brought up in a family where after every birthday, holiday, and random present giving event, you immediately sat down and wrote thank you cards. I think that is one of the most valuable things I have carried over into adulthood. Both my sister and I religiously write thank you cards, even to our parents (which I think they found kind of weird in the beginning, since they told us we didn’t have to. But my response was, “You taught us to! How can be not?!”). So having my own personalized thank you stationery makes me a giddier than probably normal. In my world the day after Christmas I sit down and write these, so I get excited to send out beautiful thank you cards!

I think this beautiful gold and sapphire one is my pick for this year’s thank you cards….I think. So many choices!

I would love to hear from you about your favorites! Any that are catching your eye just in time to send out for Christmas!? You can view all the holiday cards here and the thank you cards here. Just trying to make it a little easier for you this holiday season!

Now let’s all take a moment of peace and sit back and just breathe in the beautiful world that surrounds us and be thankful for our life. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and here’s to kicking off this holiday season right!!

Thank you to Minted for sponsoring this post! All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

  • My Christmas cards from Minted came yesterday and they are gorgeous! Email or text your address to me so that I can send you one. 🙂

    I need to check out their thank you cards because I am completely out of them and like you, I was taught to always send a thank you note.ReplyCancel

    • Ooo I can’t wait to see them! I texted you my address. 🙂 You should definitely check out the thank you cards. I need to go place my order for them now!ReplyCancel

Oh hi there long lost friend. It’s been a while. Thought I would pop in to give a little life update from my pocket of the world.

Why a life update when you are used to seeing home or apartment updates? Because that is where my updates lie now. I live in a beautiful, modern, and awesome 541 square foot apartment that is my favorite place I’ve ever lived. I told my mom that the other day and she shockingly asked, “Really?!”

Why yes Mom! She was surprised because she thought I would have said my old house because I had a whole friggin’ house of 2,000+ square feet to play with plus a yard. But no, this 11 foot ceiling, glazed concrete floor, 541 square foot apartment in the city is my favorite place ever. Although, I hope to say that about every move I make because you should love every step more than the next.

This little apartment of mine is all I need. It fits everything I need and want – and nothing more. It is in the heart of a little gem of a city – not too big, not too small, just right. It is modern, beautiful, and my electric bill is ridiculously, laughably low. Just everything about it fits my phase of life just perfectly.

Yet, its teeny tiny self does make the home updates part of this blog a lot less because, well, there aren’t a whole lot to be made. I’ve shown you the tour in two parts (part 1 and part 2) and there are definitely a few more home posts to come (thanks to my mom and an early Christmas present!), but in actuality it’s mainly looking the same.

Plus, this new lifestyle of mine basically just sleeps here. There isn’t a whole lot of apartment time. There is out to dinner time, walking time, hiking time, gym time, working time, dancing time, pumpkin carving time, movie time….and the list goes on.

Yes, this may be the most social period of my life. Even more so than college (because hey – I’m getting a paycheck now versus going into debt)! My coworkers like to joke about my scheduling because it is rather intense. I mean, I am practically booked every weeknight and all weekend these days.

And that’s exactly how I like it. In fact, I’m an instigator of a lot of these meet-ups. Which if you know me in person, won’t surprise you. I’m a naturally social person who likes to be organized and plan ahead. Just ask my high school friends. I used to grid our time out in blocks so we could figure out when we were all available at the same time. Worked like a charm.

Anyways, about 6 weeks ago I realized I needed to make a change in my life. I had slipped into a pattern I didn’t quite like. I wasn’t in love with the type people I was spending a lot of time with (okay, I’ll stop being so vague – I was dating a guy who was NOT GOOD FOR ME and this wasn’t the first time since I’ve started dating post-divorce). I decided to swear off online dating (this is where the not-so-good guys were coming from, but I’m still pro-online dating, just not for me right now) and focus on surrounding myself with quality people.

I joined Meetup, which is basically a website that helps join people of common interests in the area. Oh my goodness, it has been the best decision of Roanoke so far. I joined a couple of groups but this one for women in their 20’s and 30’s is amazing! I’ve met amazing people, some who are basically neighbors, who are quality, beautiful people, inside and out. We’ve gone line dancing, dining, crafting, trivia nights, and so much more. All of a sudden I have all these amazing people in my life. And now I’m starting to meet the other amazing people they have in their life. Boom. Just like that my life is full of amazing, quality people. I run into them while I’m out. I text them during the day. I make plans with them for fun activities. It’s really quite  a wonderful thing in my life, meeting these women who are in similar stages in life like me, and just get it. They get it all. They get where I am, what I’m going through, and a lot are in similar places.

Since I’ve stopped online dating I’ve also expanded my friends in other ways. The ones that I already have, I have more time for. We’ve done all sorts of fun things and I’ve met their friends….and oh hey – got some dates the good ole fashioned way too. In a very natural, relaxed manner. Which is good, so good.

Also, I have wanted to become more involved in the community and give back, so I joined an organization that is very dear to me – Big Brothers Big Sisters. My sister worked there for years, and I have so much respect for the organization. It’s always been close to my heart but I wanted to be ready and able to fully give my best to my little. So I now am a proud Big Sister to Princess. So far we’ve made crowns, baked muffins, and gone to fro-yo. Next week we’re making brownies. Yup, we are perfectly sweet tooth matched. I can’t wait to see where the year takes me with Princess.

Also, if we are being thorough in my life updates…I want a dog SO BADLY. More specifically, I want a retired greyhound. I ran into a neighbor who has one and was absolutely smitten with her dog. So after spending almost a whole day just researching everything about greyhounds, I knew it was the right dog for me. So now I’m waiting for my time to get my own. But in the meantime I might try to volunteer at the kennel with them instead. One day, one glorious day I will have my own dog.

So basically that’s my life update. I’m not here as much because I am out there living so fully, so happily. Everything about this life of mine makes me oh so happy. Sure, I’m a normal person, and I get lonely sometimes. However, I’ve just come to accept those days, recognize them, and just watch them pass. It is part of this phase of life, and I’m okay with it. Because everything is exactly as it should be, right now, right here.

  • I love that you are living such a full life and having a great time doing it. And I’m glad that you got rid of the guy that wasn’t so good for you. Enjoy your time with Princess. She’s lucky to have you!ReplyCancel

    • Thank you so much Paula! I love everything about Roanoke – including Princess!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for sharing,Enjoy your time with Princess. She’s lucky to have you! nice post.ReplyCancel

  • Jill Underwood

    Great post!! Nice to see pics from some of the great times we’ve had recently!!ReplyCancel

Hello and welcome back to part two of my furnished studio apartment tour! I revealed part one last week showing the main area when you first walk in. Now we are heading to the second area in the back: the bedroom and bathroom area (with a closet that has a washer and dryer because down with laundry mats! #amiright?!).

So basically you walk past the kitchen, turn the corner, and the bathroom is to your left and the bedroom is straight ahead. Here we go!

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

My Furnished Studio Apartment | www.rhapsodyinrooms.com

And there you have it! The finale of my furnished studio apartment. But oh my goodness, seeing your place in pictures gives you so many new ideas! The bedding is definitely getting a makeover (already have that in the works), and I think I feel a major purge coming my way. However, that typically happens with me every season. For some reason when the seasons change I feel like going through everything I own and pairing it down.

Next up I’m going to break down the new furniture I bought and where I saved and splurged!