2018 has been an absolutely WILD year! God did so many incredible things in our lives, and I'm excited to unpack a few of the (many) blessings God showered us with in this last year.
First off, 2018 was the first year that Daniel and I made a word of the year as a couple. I asked Daniel off-hand what he think our word should be (normally he rolls his eyes whenever I ask him questions like this), but to my surprise, he immediately responded, "Monumental."
Monumental: [to be of] great in importance, extent, or size.
I would say this year definitely lived up to that!
January 2018 - a brand new year!
To be honest, the beginning of the year held a lot of fear and doubt (grateful it ended the exact opposite). Daniel and I had been house shopping for nearly a year now, and still hadn't found our home. We were on our second realtor, getting ready to let him go. I remember this month was a real trial in my faith - because I was starting to doubt that God would find the right house for us... Which I was ashamed of, because I knew in my gut he would find our home (and He did), but my flesh was just having doubt and insecurity since we hadn't even come close thus far.
But perhaps a month later, I was having a heart conversation with my sweet friend Joanna, and she suggested that we try a realtor that her community group (at the time 6/8 couples had find a house through her... and by the end of the year, all of the couples had found a house through her). Daniel and I talked about it on and off, and eventually decided to give Melinda a call.
Y'all, I'm so glad we did. She was such a God size answer to prayers!
Long story short, by April, Daniel and I found our house. If you're interested in hearing more of the story, I wrote out the full blog post, in far more details, here.
Also, quick funny story - the first night in our brand new house, the water heater exploded (literally) and flooded our garage. We were SO filled with the spirit and joyful about having a home, that I literally laughed when I saw our flooded garage, and immediately started singing, "I will praise you in this storm." If you want to read more of this story, read about it here.
Okay, I want to back it up a little bit! I unintentionally went on a bit of a tangent with the house (but it was one of the biggest highlights of 2018, so it's totally worth it). But let's skip back to the month January!
So aside from my worries about if we'd ever find a house, we did still manage to have some fun during this cold winter month!
For starters, it snowed! It rarely ever snows in Georgia, and Daniel and I had fun getting to stay home from work and have a "snow day" (something we never really experienced growing up). I also convinced him to take photos with me, and I'm so glad I did. I share more of these photos and a few marriage tips we've learned over the years in this post here.
Last summer I started monthly "freebies" - beautiful and encouraging backgrounds for your screen devices (desktop, phone, iPad, etc). Well, the one I release in January was definitely my most popular one so far!
I'm even toying with the idea of turning it into a mug this upcoming year, because it still has been one of my most popular designs of the year. Even today, a year later, I still love the message, and I do believe my favorite moments from this past year were ones where I didn't remember to check my phone.
We had the absolute BEST time!
This was my first time exploring Savannah as an adult (I had previously been as a kid - but only remember the Spanish moss faintly). We dreamed about the new year and brainstormed different idea's in our businesses and what we wanted to accomplish. I toyed with the idea of starting a person blog to catalogue my love for plants and homemaking (even though we didn't have a home yet) but decided to wait.
Also on this trip, I learned my LOVE for cortados! Seriously... obsessed. Also found the perfect retail store called Paris Market - seriously if you're ever in the area, I highly recommend that you stop to check it out! You can read more about our trip, what we did, and my Savannah recommendations here.
In February - it was a pretty quiet month. I did a little February lettering challenge which was fun, and full of silly/cutesy puns from a sign we were gifted on our wedding day ~6 years ago.
I also came out with a new, special edition mug, that attributed to mine and Daniel's favorite TV Show, FRIENDS.
If you're familiar with the show, you know this line comes from dialogue between Phoebe and friends, talking about Ross and Rachel.
It's always made me giggle, and it was fun getting to collaborate with my friend David (who did the lobster illustration) for this mug!
And before anyone asks... I longer have these mugs available! They were a part of a limited collection.
Daniel and I spent a week this month house-sitting and babysitting a 7 month old!
This was the first time I had ever seen Daniel truly interact with a baby... Y'all, my heart completely melted! It was an amazing glimpse to see what kind of father and dad he is going to be, and I'm definitely looking forward to that time when it comes. Plus, we absolutely adore Brooklyn and her parents, so it was a true pleasure to get to hang with her.
I was amazed at the glimpse of what it would look like to work and have a child. I know a week isn't the same thing as being a mother full time, but I was impressed with how Daniel and I managed to coordinate our schedules and make it work. We were definitely both ready for sleep by the time we put her to bed, so evening productivity was out the window, but nevertheless... I was proud and again, it just made me excited for the day God starts our family.
One of the biggest things I started at the beginning of this year, was taking my quiet time seriously. I started waking up an hour earlier, so I could go have my coffee in the morning and spend time with Jesus. This came at the perfect time and has made SUCH A difference over the last year in my attitude, my anxiety, and my overall willingness to see the day full of joy and grace. I highly recommend that if you aren't already starting your day with Jesus (even if you're not a morning person - I definitely wasn't).
At the end of February, I took my bi-annual drive up to Illinois to visit my siblings! I don't know why, but I always love visiting in February (even though it's freezing). Probably because I love breaking up the winter months (my least favorite) and have something different to do for a change of pace.
I always love getting to catch up with old friends, and whenever I see my sister, that usually means I'll get a round of new photos! Which is always fun.
February Daniel and I also visited friends up in Rome, GA. We had been wanting to visit them and their super cute, brick covered downtown apartment, and it was a bonus that I got to take some lovely new product photos AND we visited Barry campus (where Winshape camps are). It definitely felt like we were in another country - goodness it was just so beautiful!
Photo on the left by Lindsey of Lindsey LaRue Photography
In March, I turned 27 and wrote 27 things I've learned in life so far.
Also in the month of March, Daniel and I completed Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey (which was incredible and I would highly recommend). We also become 100% debt free (until we bought our house) and through DR's financial planning (and by God's grace and wisdom the 18 months before, along with living with my parents rent free for the las 18 months) Daniel and I were able to not only pay off our car (our only debt at the time), but save up for 10% down on our house AND had 6 months of money saved up AND enough to cover all the extra expenses that come with moving into a new home.
Seriously, all those months of praying and waiting led to such a bountiful amount of blessings! We were just so grateful to see God's abundance happen in these spring months.
Photo on the right by Lindsey of Lindsey LaRue Photography
Around this time I released my "Wifey and Hubby" mugs! These were featured in a brand new campfire-latte mug style (my new favorite) and were a huge success! They're personally one of my favorite mug sets I've come out with, and Daniel and I love drinking out of them every week.
April brought my second accidental pumpkin patch! I wrote this blog post on how I accidentally grew pumpkins (hoping to extend my knowledge for other aspiring pumpkin growers).
The pumpkins absolutely flourished, and before we knew it, we had just about a 100 pumpkins growing all over the place! The vines got up to 4 feet tall because we had replanted the seeds so close together, and I was literally basically floating on air with the fact that I had become a pumpkin farmer.
This only made my already strong pumpkin obsession even stronger!
It was so fun sharing my pumpkins on Instagram, and seeing so many others invested in my pumpkin growing journey! It still makes me laugh, but the #1 question I got once we bought our house was literally this:
"Congrats on the new house! But what's going to happen with your pumpkins?"
It made me smile and giggle outloud - again, it was so endearing to me that I had a whole tribe of people truly invested in my pumpkin growing journey.
Just in case you're new to the scene: we did move some of the newer pumpkin seeds to our house, and though it looked promising, a season of rain (for about 2 months in the summer it legit rained everyday) cause the pumpkins to get too much water and not enough sunshine to flourish). So the ones at my house died out, but I learned a lot about gardening and am thankful for the experience.
I launched my first ever canvas tote bags, inspired by my love for visiting the Farmer's market each and every week!
May was probably the craziest month out of our entire year! Daniel and I spent the first week of may in Florida with our community group, and it was incredible! We love getting to do life with people, and vacationing with them is the best. They all learned my deep obsession with the beach and ocean.
Then we came home, closed on our house (and I convinced my husband to do a vlog to capture the moment) then we drove 12 hours to do my favorite show, The Little Craft Show in Fayetteville, AR! Even though this was the tail-end of an already busy few weeks of travel, we always love visiting this beautiful city and doing this show.
After the show, we packed up the rest of our belongings and moved in our house! I went into detail on what this looked like, but again, you can read more about this time here, here and here.
Oh! And we were gifted (as a house warming present from Daniel's boss at the time) our first espresso machine! This is something we've used everyday since we were gifted it, and it often makes an appearance in my IG Stories. I get asked about the machine ALL the time, so much so that I wrote an entire blog post on it! If you're curious to read more about it, you can do so here.
Additionally around this time, I also released two new products in the shop! The plant lady hat is the hat that officially made me wear baseball caps (still only occasionally, but being a gardener taught me the importance of hats beyond fashion) and then this water drinking tumbler was a new favorite way to adorable remind myself to drink my daily water (which isn't an issue for a water log like me, but I still like cute things!).
June of 2018 brought a lot of beautiful memories. After the crazy first few weeks of May, Daniel and I slowly but surely unpacked our new home and reveled in the fact that we were officially homeowners!
We really enjoyed home projects and figuring out how to DIY things ourselves. Our first projects included painting one of our living room walls black (legit pure black) and the rest of our split-level home/living rooms walls. We painted Daniel's office, put backsplash in our kitchen, installed a window in my studio, painted my studio white, and ripped out the carpet and installed wood floors (all of the Studio work was done by my amazing husband and father).
I enjoyed getting to pull together our home and create rooms. I started cooking regularly, Daniel and I started a compost bucket (and soon compost pile - which we created a DIY video together here), and loved spending any and all time outside in the garden that we possibly could! God taught me so much during my time outside, and I loved learning how to "Be Still" with him in nature.
Our back porch quickly became my new favorite place to drink my morning cortado and do my quiet time. It was truly one of my most cherished memories from the summer.
Another exciting thing happened this month - my husband became staff at Chick-fil-A! This might not sound like a big deal, but it is a HUGE deal! Chick-fil-A is unlike any other corporation I've ever known, and becoming staff is basically like hitting the jackpot, as far as jobs. Basically, we're about as guaranteed as you can be in an unknown world, with job security for as long as Daniel wants to stay there (which unless God dramatically calls us otherwise, we're here for the long haul). The benefits of being staff ($10 on site child care, extensive outpouring of resources from CFA, they pay all our insurances premiums, just to name a few things) is unheard of. Truly.
But mostly, I'm just so excited and proud of Daniel. He's an incredible human filled with SO much potential, and I know he is only at the beginning of a beautiful journey at Chick-fil-A. God has grown both of us so much through this company, and I'm excited to see what He has planned in the following years of Daniel at this amazing company.
Also, Daniel's family came to visit us! It was fun (and a little crazy) getting to host people in our brand new home for the first time. Plus, we loved taking them around the CFA campus, and to our favorite spots locally and around Atlanta.
(sorry for the poor quality iphone photos - it's the memory that counts).
A huge highlight of July was getting to go back to my hometown (ish) of L.A. and visit my sister Alisa Nicholle, who was living there for the summer. While I love our home and all that God has done for us in Georgia, it felt so good going back to the state that will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I soaked up lots of beach time, California sunshine, and explored new places I hadn't been before (or at least, not since I was a kid). I never wrote a blog post on this trip, though I did do an extensive amount of posting about my adventures on IG stories! Maybe next year I'll make some time to do a recap post and give suggestions of my favorite places ;)
Overall, it was a dream of a trip and I'm so thankful I got to go!
August brought my longing for Fall into full force! So much so I launched my new fall releases early, and started decorating my home and celebrating my favorite season early! Many people said it was too early to give up summer and start celebrating fall, but as my favorite season, I was grateful to soak it all up before life got too busy for me to enjoy this time!
August also brought our first family vacation (with my family) in over a decade! It was extra special not only because all 5 of us were together again (a thing that rarely happens), but my brother and I are married, so we each got to bring our spouses! Plus, we did a family photoshoot - which made for some amazing photos and perfectly captured our family.
September was extra special for these two reasons:
1. I visited my first ever pumpkin botanical garden and saw my first pumpkin house (and over 90,000 pumpkins in one place).
2. We adopted our first ever pup, Jace!
To say this month was epic is totally an understatement!
So first things first: the pumpkin house! Daniel and I visited his family at the end of September, and I figured while we were sorta close to Dallas, we might as well drive up and visit some dear friends AND see visit the Dallas Botanical Garden's "Autumn at the Arboretum" which held over 90,000 pumpkins!
Again, this was definitely one of those moments where I was completely floating on air! It was so magical, and I absolutely loved being surrounded by pumpkins. I literally could have been there all day... but I had others with me who were entertained by my pumpkin obsession, but didn't exactly share the sentiments. ha! But it was an incredible, bucket-list kinda moment for sure.
Then, the second epic thing of this month (and probably my #2 highlight of our entire year) was adopted our sweet rescue pup, Jace! Friends of ours found him on Craigs List (of all places, I know) and knew he was too perfect to pass up. They couldn't adopt him at the time, but they immediately thought of us - and I'm so glad they did! Long story short, we adopted our sweet Jace Fluty, a mutt that we were told is most likely a strong mix of Siberian Husky and Golden Retriever.
He has brought so much joy to our family, and we literally can't imagine life without him. I can't even count how many times Daniel has said the words, "I didn't know we needed a dog until Jace came into our lives" and these words still ring true!
(again, sorry for the low quality image on the left)
October I went on my annual trip to Nashville, TN to visit the Farmer's Market and stock up on pumpkins! Last year Daniel went with me, but as he isn't into pumpkins as much as I am, I went on a solo-trip. I had a wonderful time! I enjoyed getting to visit with a dear friend, hit up a few of my favorite places and a few new stops, and then of course, picked up a gazillion pumpkins!
This month I launched my second annual Holiday Gift Guide! I always love getting to pull this together, and shout out other incredible makers and artists.
It's still an active link - I recommend you check it out if you need ideas anytime in the upcoming year, as all of the artists carry items that aren't specific to Christmas. In fact, most of the listings aren't Christmas specific! You can check out the link here.
Daniel and I went on our first (and sadly only) camping trip of the year - but the best part? Was getting to take Jace with us! We met Daniel's cousins in Chattanooga, TN and enjoyed a weekend of camping together with our favorite pups.
Oh, and something totally random and fun? My team at Chick-fil-A and I decided that dressing up as cows (sign boards and all) would be an excellent way to show up to our marketing team Halloween party.
My cheeks literally hurt from smiling and laughing so much!
Also needless to say, we totally wont the costume contest ;)
November, I designed and came out with a new set of holiday mugs... And this is by far my favorite collection to date! I was inspired by Daniel and I's obsession with watching Hallmark movies by the fireside and drinking hot cocoa in the evenings. We loved this little tradition, so it seemed fitting to come out with a little mug that celebrated this moment, too.
I managed to snap the below photo (my new favorite) and was amazed to see that so many of y'all resonated with this mug (and the other ones in the holiday collection) so much, too! I think this mug was my fastest mug to sell out... Definitely plan on doubling my order next year ;)
Total side note: but this photo was a happy accident, and it's probably my new favorite photo!
November was overall another crazy, busy month and it went by in a flash! I spent a week in North Carolina at the Creative at Heart conference - and it was such a blessing! God renewed and affirmed so many desires of my heart at this conference, and it was incredible being surrounded by so many other like-minded, full-hearted entrepreneurs. Hoping to write a full recap on this conference sometime next year!
Also, I forgot when exactly it happened - but I got a (much needed) haircut, chopping off over 12 inches!
Photo on the right by Bethanne Arthur Photography
Daniel and I also hosted our first Friendsgiving and cooked our first turkey! I took a TON of video footage of us preparing our first Turkey... which still makes me shake my head and giggle thinking about. I never got around to editing and posting it, but likely will this time next year as a fun memory recap.
It was amazing getting to cook a large meal (and I was amazed that it all turned out so well) and be surrounded by some of our favorite people. We shared highlights of the year and dwelt on the many blessings and gratitudes we had for that year. God has been so good in gifting us with an incredible friend group, and we're so blessed by the people that were there, and those that couldn't join us, and truly are just so grateful for our community!
The end of November brought Thanksgiving, my personal favorite holiday, and then Black Friday, my busiest day/weekend of the year. On top of all that craziness, I had to fly out to California for a week to help with a family situation, and then flew from California to Arkansas to do my last and biggest show of the year. It was a crazy busy time, but I was reminded to be grateful for all that god has done and continues to do in our lives.
Above is a glimpse of another original mug released for the Holiday Collection, Tis the Season for Peppermint Mocha. Then, to celebrate being new dog parents, I came out with the Furr Mama mug to commemorate this new season of being a dog mom (but I didn't want to be exclusive, because I know cat mom's are a big thing, too).
Daniel, Jace and I made Holiday cards in front of our house, and I was determined this year to get the majority of the cards out before Christmas - and I did! I also created this letterboard as a kind of all too real joke - and it ended up being one of my most reposted photos to date!
December also brought on a really exciting (and my largest to date) wholesale order! Chick-fil-A ordered 2,500 holiday mugs from my shop (wholesale) to give as gifts for all the employees at the corporate offices. It was SUCH a surreal experience (still pinching myself that it happened). It was incredible experience getting to give people something I had made, for a company I work for, and getting to hear the joy and excitement they had in receiving these gifts!
Daniel and I spent Christmas in Louisiana, where the majority of Daniel's family lives (most within a 30 mile radius). We enjoyed quality time with family and friends, and experienced a first of bringing Jace on our 9+ hour drive! He did amazing staying in a new house, constantly meeting new people and having different experiences nearly daily! So proud of our pup and the joy he brings to others (as well as ourselves, of course).
I think that about wraps up the year!
There were a ton of additional little moments and details here and there that were special, but this post has already reached quite a length with just the highlights!
I'm so grateful for all that God has done for us in this year... It's definitely been a monumental year for us, with a lot of faith, prayer and growth. I'm grateful to have taken the time to dwell and reflect on all the blessings and joyous moments this year has brought.
I have some big plans, hopes and dreams for 2019 - perhaps an aspiring post about that coming sometimes soon. But for now, I'm about to go take a few moments away from my computer and take my sweet dog for a walk. He's looking up at me, pawing legs in a way that says, "Mom you've been at the computer long enough - time to take a break!"
Whether your 2018 was an incredible year, a difficult year, or anywhere in-between, I encourage you that if you haven't already, take the time to acknowledge the blessings, the lessons, the hardships, and the growth.
I shared mostly the "highlight reel" of 2018 because I like to reflect on the good that God has done, but in my person journal, I've reflected on the lessons God has taught me, the growth I've gone through, and the word He is continuing to do. Life is a journey, I'd say a beautiful one, but that doesn't come without the valleys alongside the mountaintops.
Praying that 2019 is a year of dreams realized, growth and strength in faith, and God continuing to work in the miraculous and mysterious ways that he does.
With a heart full of gratitude and many blessings,
P.S. One last (but not least) thing I wanted to call out - a special shout out to a God-gift of a friend: Joanna Lanier of Sunkissed Scripts.
Not only has God blessed me immensely with her friendship, kindness, grace and wisdom, but her and her sweet hubby has done remarkable things for Daniel and I!
1. She recommended us Melinda, the realtor that found us our home.
2. Her + her hubby found Jace, and asked if we wanted to be his parents.
3. Joanna was the one who set up the connection for me to have Rosalynne Love mugs as the Christmas Gift this year! Seriously, dream come true.
Thankful for her friendship and for her wisdom in listening to the spirit prompt her to bless us/me personally in three big ways this year! She was instrumental in some of the biggest highlights of this year, so I wanted to give her an extra bit of thanks and praise!