friday favorites – november 7.

Happy Friday! Red cups are being used at Starbucks, I witnessed my first snow shower while in Chicago last week and I’ve officially moved my summer shoes into the closet – November is here! Hope you are all ready for the sparkle that these next few months will bring … apart from the cold, this is one of my favorite times of the year!

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Favorite Dinner Party: A few weeks ago, my mom hosted a CLUE-themed dinner party and she didn’t stop the detail train at any expense! When we arrived we didn’t know what to expect, then we saw this amazing table-scape and knew a fun night was ahead. The menu was amazing, as always, because my mom houses the spirit of every chef inside of her and even surprised us with costumes. The men were Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green and Professor Plum, while the ladies were Ms. Scarlett, Mrs. Peacock and Ms. White. Even Cali had an outfit waiting for her – the police chief of course! So much fun!

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Favorite Thing to Look Forward to: Oh I don’t want to wish days away, but I am SO excited for 2015 to roll around so I can use my new Day Designer! If you haven’t checked out Whitney English’s Etsy store while the planners are for sale, do so! I believe they are doing a limited release again on November 24th and they go fast. LOVE.

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Favorite Night Out: Girls Night Out of course! Spill the Wine in Uptown hosted a Sip N Shop event this week and it was such a blast. Who doesn’t love to have a glass of wine while nibbling on really good cheese, shopping local boutiques, meeting new people, and laughing hysterically with girlfriends!? Oh yea, and then we even let Kisa Boutique give us temporary tattoos, which made me feel a lot more edgy than I am. HA!

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Favorite Photo:

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Favorite Recipe: Chicken Teriyaki – serves 2

Ingredients: 3 cleaned and trimmed chicken breasts, diced into quarter-sized cubes, 1 bag of mixed Stir Fry veggies (I love Trader Joe’s kind)), ½ bag frozen broccoli, 1 quarter sized piece of ginger, 1 garlic clove, 1 can (about 1 cup) of 100% pineapple juice and 1/3 c. liquid aminos (coconut or regular), rice or quinoa cooked as desired

Steps: Take a sauce pan and add your pineapple juice, aminos, whole, peeled garlic clove and chunk of peeled ginger. Turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes as it thickens. While that’s cooking, add some coconut or olive oil to another larger pan and cook up your chicken. This will cook fast since they are cut into smaller pieces. Once they are cooked, set aside and make sure there is still about 1-2 tbsp of oil in the pan. Then add your frozen veggies, cover, and sauté on medium for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Once done, remove your garlic and ginger clove and add the sauce and chicken to the veggies. Saute for another 1-2 minutes to combine the flavors. Serve hot by itself or over rice/quiona. Enjoy! (Josh doesn’t love stir fry in general but LOVES this recipe!)

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Favorite Package: I came home from Chicago to this amazing package from my friend Natasha. She surprised us with so many great goodies and it was such a kind and generous ‘thank you’ gesture for coordinating the Mug Exchange. She didn’t need to do it at all and I love how delicious my house has been smelling thanks to this candle! Thanks again Natasha!!!

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And my dear friend Bridget was cleaning out her Thirty One inventory and sent me over these two beautiful goodies! A new cooler bag and ADORABLE navy and white striped crossbody purse. I LOVE THEM BOTH! B, you’re too good to me!

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Favorite Cheerleader: This little Halloween Rah Rah Ruff girl of course! (She had already taken out her pig tails by the time by camera came out. Boo!)

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Favorite Funnies:

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See you on Sunday for a TTC update! Until next time! XOX!

friday favorites – october 24.

Happy Friday! I know, it’s almost Saturday, but better late than never right? For all my new followers, hello!!!! Thanks for stopping in and reading. You guys are the best! A brief recap about Friday’s – Friday’s are the day I step away from “traditional” blog posts and post my favorites from the last week. Anything goes! So without further ado, here we go!

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(Oh yea, and I like Harry Potter)

Favorite Moment: Jason Mraz. State Theater. Him singing, me grinning. Thanks to all the excitement in getting tickets to see his first show in San Diego, Josh and I completely missed the boat to purchase tickets for his Minneapolis show. No worries, we would just buy some off Craigslist. But what happens when NO ONE is selling tickets on Craigslist, Ebay or StubHub? Panic sets in. We had a set budget for the tickets thanks to birthday money that I set aside and knew nothing about scalping tickets, but that’s what we would have to do.

Let’s just say the nerves set in when we were standing outside the theater for 45 minutes and not one scalper had even one ticket, much less two. We were eyeing up the other couples who were pacing like us. Josh went into beast mode, talking with everyone he could and getting to know the scalpers like they were long lost relatives. Me? Well, the stress of it all made me fall into the role of photographer. Yes, that’s right. I just walked around looking for people who were trying to take selfies of themselves in front of the theater and offered to take it for them. (Oh yes, and I fully committed. I was in the street, trying to get their best angles, being careful with the lighting. One group shot even had me pulling out 7 phones from my pocket to get one for each of them. Jason Mraz concerts are no joking matter.)

Well, the great news is 13 minutes before the show started, Josh swooped in on the one scalper who was purchasing a pair of tickets and bam, we were in. My adrenaline at that point was HIGH. Josh came through! The guy always does. :)

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Best moment of the concert? Jason Mraz singing Eurythmics song Sweet Dreams. This happens to be one of my favorite songs ever (for no particular reason) and as soon as he hit that first acoustic note, well, let’s just say my jaw was on the floor and I was teary and giggling and having the best night ever. SO FUN.

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Favorite Quote: We need to stop the ‘when and then’ mentality.” –Christine Caine

Have you ever (like me) said something like this? When I have a child, then I will be content. When I make more money, then I will be able to be more generous. When I get a new job, then I will finally feel appreciated. You can fill it in with whatever you want. However, the point is simple – we are in the now, not the when. We control our attitudes and contentment, not our circumstances.

Favorite Picture: Our sweet nieces came over for a movie night and goodness, did we have fun! Homemade pizza’s were made (FYI Aldi’s has a great gluten free pizza crust baking mix!), pajama’s were slipped in to, giggles were shared and, well, silly faces were made. Seriously, so cute right?

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Favorite Flashback: Trolls. Who remembers them!? The antique store we strolled through last weekend was full of them and they brought back so many childhood memories!

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Favorite Pinterest Pin: I spotted this sweater on Pinterest earlier this week and have to find something like it! How cute is it!? Of course it was posted a few years ago and so I will never find this exact one, but if you ever find anything similar, let me know.

Favorite Package: Guess whose TTC Mug Exchange package arrived!?!? MINE! Jessah sent me this special package, complete with the most adorable mug ever. I adore its size and have already broken it in with some tea. This was such a fun exchange and I absolutely love this part when everyone starts getting their package. (I just sent mine out today!) Did you miss out on it? Don’t worry, we will do another exchange after the holidays. :)

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Favorite Funnies: Ah, now my favorite part. Here’s a few things that made me laugh this week. Hope they make you giggle too!

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Friday Favorites may or may not happen next week due to my trip but we will see if I can break from all the fun and get them out. Have a great weekend friends!

friday favorites – october 3.

Another Friday on the books! Is it mind boggling to anyone else that somehow it’s OCTOBER already? I feel like this entire year has slipped through my fingertips. Excluding today, we have 12 Fridays left in 2014. Gulp. Let’s make the most of them! Okay, without further ado ….

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Favorite Honor: Guess who is the Featured Blogger for the month over on FertileThoughts.com!? This girl! For those who aren’t familiar with Fertile Thoughts, get familiar. This site is the world’s largest social networking site focusing on fertility and infertility and provides education, support and resources for people building their families. If you could support me and check out this link to see my feature (plus a mini post) and their page, that would be awesome. A big welcome to anyone checking out my blog as a result of this feature as well, thanks for stopping by!  (Feel free to share it too using the link: http://www.fertilethoughts.com/fertile-thoughts-blogger-month-chelsea) Jump into the forum boards and connect with me too!

Favorite Celebration: Josh’s grandma turned 80 this Saturday and I loved that we were able to gather as a family and celebrate her! She is one of the strongest, toughest grandma’s around and when she says a book made her cry, you know you better plan a trip to Costco for Kleenex before you open the first page. We love you Grandma Jones! Here’s to many, many more birthdays!

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birthday tierras are a must at a party, right?

birthday tierras are a must at a party, right?

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward to: My trip to Savannah with Josh’s mom and sister-in-law is finally almost here! I can’t wait to peruse the south with my fake southern accent and take in all of the history and beauty Georgia has to offer. (I also get to sneak in a lunch date with a dear friend and I can’t wait for that!). Any last Savannah must-see’s? Make sure to send them my way!

Favorite Quote: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles R. Swindoll

I heard this quote during a podcast by Craig Groeschel (Part 1 – Contentment) this week and loved how true it is. I often find myself wanting to blame my circumstances on my attitude – I’m tired/stressed/hungry/pms-ing/acting this way because … you get the excuses. However it’s our reactions that alter how our day goes. When I respond short and snippy with Josh long enough, his attitude begins to match mine and then we waste an evening where we are just off kilter and quiet. I hate those kinds of nights! (And this totally happened last week so I am preaching to myself here!)

I usually have really good excuses too. I mean, trials and hardships make it sooooo easy as a back-up reason, but I have to remind myself that life is made up of the up’s and down’s. There’s a quote that says all of us are either in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or headed for a storm. Comforting, right? But because we live a world that’s messy and imperfect and can’t always be a highlight reel, it’s our choices, our attitudes and our decisions to embrace what comes our way and make the best of it that alters our daily realities. Yea, we may shed tears along the way and fail at trying, (me!), but we are still trying and I believe that the more we flex that muscle, the better we will get at managing our reactions.

Favorite Launch: Our next infertility exchange launched last Sunday (see all the details here!) and the response has been overwhelmingly exciting! In the last few days we have had almost 200 women sign-up and I anticipate many more to come until it closes on the 13th. I love this community! (And yes, anyone who is in any stage of infertility, including those waiting for a baby, pregnant with a baby, holding a baby, adopting a baby, (you get the point), is invited and welcome to participate. Check out the post for everything you need to know.)

Favorite Hallmark Moment: No, really, this is a moment that actually happened AT Hallmark. I was browsing cards on Tuesday when the word ‘infertility’ caught my eye. Hallmark actually has a card – okay, just one card, but still, a card – that offers words of encouragement for those suffering with infertility. I felt like fist pumping in the aisle but Kenny G was playing overhead and it just didn’t seem appropriate. But in all seriousness, it’s encouragement that keeps us going and the thought that Hallmark recognizes this as ‘card worthy’ makes me happy.

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Favorite “First”: The Starbucks a mile from my house just opened this week! *insert flashing caution signals here* It is dangerously en route to nearly all of my commitments and even has a drive thru. Cheers to endless caffeinated possibilities! Hehe!

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Favorite Flashback: Okay, so you all know I love Harry Potter, right? Well the movie theater nearby is rerunning ALL of the Harry Potter movies in their reserved theaters for $5 a ticket. SCORE! Courtney and I had a sister-date this week and saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the big screen. We relived the 2001 acting skills and movie quality and loved every minute of it.

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Favorite Funnies: Gah, I love all of these and nearly cried from laughing while saving them. Enjoy and hope that this dose of laughter brightens your Friday.

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Have a great weekend! Until next time …

mug exchange.

mug exchange

Since April 2013 I have been coordinating different quarterlyish package exchanges for the TTC (trying to conceive) Instagram community. We typically have a theme – lucky socks, stationary, ornaments, local love, nail polish, scarves, favorite things – and it’s SUCH a fun time to put together package for someone who knows about the season you are in. We don’t just cut if off to the people who are struggling to conceive, we welcome women for all phases of infertility (pregnant, adopting, new mom, etc… more details on this below!) I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

And guess what – it’s time for the next one! Typically I don’t use my blog to spread the word about this, but this time I want to invite bloggers, instagrammers and all of social media to participate (plus have a place to answer lots of questions in an easier forum than a tiny IG comment section). Our theme has been suggested to me from several past participants and I am SO excited for it. Drumroll please ….

The next exchange theme is A MUG EXCHANGE! Woooohooooooo!

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges:

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that you may be given anyone to purchase for, not necessarily someone who is on the exact same journey as you. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send a box to someone and receive one from someone else!

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend. Many will include a way for their person to get in touch with them – a twitter handle, blog or email address or IG account – it’s really helpful for me if you include your name so that my inbox isn’t inundated with “who should I thank!?” emails.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s  okay too.

So am I exchanging with the same person I am sending one to?

Nope! The fun part is that who you are sending to will be a completely different person than who you receive one from.

Does that mean I should keep my person a secret?

It certainly does make it fun when that happens but it’s not necessary. If you are too excited to hold it in, feel free to share. You will be getting their social media information so feel free to friend them, follow them or look them up!

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or purchased from a garage sale (just make sure it’s clean). There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

The first exchange I coordinated started as 30 women putting together a package and has now grown to a couple hundred. And I have a feeling now that we are opening this up to more of the social media world, it’s just going to grow bigger and bigger! Yeah support team!!!!

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. They don’t need to be a follower of my blog or instagram account (chels819) to participate. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCmugexchange2014 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2014/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than Monday, October 13th. That’s a FULL 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either October 16 or 17. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Friday, October 31st to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #ttcmugexchange2014 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, tweet about it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Email me the following info to ttcexchange@gmail.com NO LATER THAN Monday, October 13th:

  • Your full name
  • Your full mailing address (please remember to include your zip code so I don’t have to google! Also if you are in the USA, please type your address on one line (ie: 123 Notebook Lane, Janesville, LA 45698. This makes it a lot easier for me with the system I use). If you are from outside the USA, you can use multiple lines.
  • Your blog/twitter handle/IG name (be specific which is which)
  • Your willingness to ship internationally (just write YES if you are willing and NO if you are not)

I will close the exchange at midnight on the 13th (central time) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Wait to hear back from me! I WILL CONFIRM THAT I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR SIGN-UP EMAIL. If you do not hear from me within 24 hours, please check the email address you send it to and resend. (Also, check your spam filter to make sure my reply didn’t go there). If you have emailed and still haven’t heard back from me, leave a comment below with your email and I will connect with you.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #ttcmugexchange2014 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year and I am pumped to open this up outside of Instagram. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!