Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Be a Blessing

I was told recently by a friend that she believes God puts people in our lives for a reason.  That she believes we cross paths with certain people over the span of our lifetime because God deems that it be so.  I agreed, saying that I too believe He does just that.  And then she told me that for her, I was one of those people.  Me.  I was overwhelmed. 

We’ve known each other for less than a year.  She’s more the friend of a friend of mine, but I’ve gotten to know her better over the last few months.  When we have spent time together, we talk of family, raising children, aging parents.  We talk about our faith.  When I’m inspired by something I read, a book, a blog post, an encouraging quote or perhaps a song I heard, I might share that with her, print out the article or send her the link. 

Because I believe we should be a blessing to others, whenever and however we can, however small.  It’s just that simple.

I recently wrote and published a book, a collection of inspirational writings.  She was one of the very first to purchase one.  She uses words like joyful, entertaining, encouraging and uplifting to describe my book.  She’s already purchased at least a dozen more to gift to family members and friends. I’m so grateful.

Our exchange that day was very brief. She told me she believed that God has put me in her path, put my book in her hands, that she appreciated knowing me and she gave me a warm hug.

Funny, I’m the one who feels beyond blessed. 



Linking to:

Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 A Simple, Nature-Inspired Christmas

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Welcome to our home.

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Many thanks to Jennifer at jenniferrizzo.com, Kelly at KellysKorner and The Nester for so graciously hosting these house parties.  I’m just back from touring many of the beautiful and festive holiday homes on this year’s Home Tours. The creativity, the imagination and the amount of work that all of you have put into decorating for the Christmas season is nothing short of remarkable. So many beautiful homes and cozy, welcoming spaces.


My holiday decor is fairly simple and is inspired by elements and the neutrals of Nature.  My home isn’t white and bright like many I’m seeing, but the colors I’ve chosen for our home are warm and cozy, especially this time of year, when it’s so cold outdoors. 

In our living room, the stockings are hung with care underneath the bronze NOEL sign I purchased from Pottery Barn a couple of years ago.  I just love it hanging over the fireplace. The green and cream velvet stockings, and my living room drapes, are from pottery Barn as well. 

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I purchased the bronze reindeer stocking holders from PB, placed them on the mantle and hung our stockings from a bronze curtain rod.  I love this idea for hanging my decor without poking holes or attaching hooks to the mantle itself. 

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Mini evergreen trees, simply wrapped packages and mercury glass ornaments decorate each side table.

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I put together a simple arrangement of some greens, birch logs, pinecones and mercury glass to add a festive touch to the buffet in my dining room.  The white lights on the twig snowflake from Pottery Barn cast a warm glow at the end of the room.

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A mercury glass globe and birch candle sparkle on this entry table.

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Our tree is adorned in shades of copper, shiny and matte copper ornaments, acorns and crystal icicles.


And the true reason for the season.

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I hope your enjoyed your visit to my holiday home. 

From our home to yours, Happy Holidays to you! 

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holly use

Linking to:

The Nester Tour of Homes



Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Wrote a Book

Greetings, visitors!  Long time, no post.  In the last year, my focus has gotten away from the lifestyle / decorating side of myself and I've gone in another direction.  While I still love visiting home decorating blogs, I do have my favorites, and I do pop on Pinterest every so often to see the latest trends, I've spent more of my time in introspection.  I've been writing. 

I recently published an inspirational book entitled "288 Chances", a collection of writings, each with a foundation that began in five short minutes.  Open, honest, thoughtful words written from the heart, words that will hopefully engage the mind and the spirit as they relate to the simple, everyday feelings and emotions that we all experience over a lifetime.  Love, Loss, Trust, Expectation.  Just a few of the hopes and fears, joys and disappointments that might otherwise to unspoken, unshared, until we take the time to write them down.

A printed softcover copy and the e-book are available for download from the publisher, WestBow Press, and also from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  You can also find it available on iTunes for download to your iPad or iPhone.

Here's one book review left by a reader:

"288 Chances is an insightful look into the heart and mind of a wife, mother, daughter and friend.  The book is full of thoughts and situations that everyone can relate to.  In a world full of busy and complex, 288 Chances is an insightful reminder of what really matters in life.  We all experience joys, frustrations and highs and lows in life.  It's what we choose to do with them that defines who we are and how we approach every day.  This book is well written, from the heart and offers something for everyone."

I so appreciate those kind words.  I credit a writing exercise as the inspiration for this collection.  I would encourage anyone who might enjoy sharing their thoughts and challenging themselves to write, to visit lisa-jo baker and participate in Five Minute Fridays.  Lisa-Jo generously extends an invitation every Friday for anyone who visits her website to see the "Word of the Day" and write for five minutes, and only five.  Without thought to grammar and punctuation, just write.  I did and eventually had enough five minute writings that I decided to put them together as a collection and publish an inspirational book.

I've also started a blog in conjunction with my book, 288 Chances, where I share updates about my book and also some writing tips and ideas that might help you jump-start your writing.  Please hop over and maybe leave a constructive comment before you leave. 

If you've ever thought that one day you'll make time, you'll sit down to your computer or pick up a pad and pen and write, write anything, don't wait any longer.  I decided to make time for just five minutes and look where it's taken me.

Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

Just B  :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Spring Color on a Gray Day

With the chilly weather we’ve had lately it’s been difficult finding the motivation to break out some Spring color in my home.  Just last week, we had a winter storm, freezing rain followed by several inches of snow.  The one good thing about a Spring snowstorm in April is the nastiness is usually short-lived and within a couple of days, temperatures rise and the snow melts away.  I’m anxious for the “spring green” to return though.  Everything is still so brown and the trees still bare.  It will come, but it sure seems to be slow in getting here. 

I thought yesterday maybe a bit of inspir-shopping might get me motivated to start thinking Spring.  While browsing around one of my favorite home-decor stores, I saw this wicker basket hanging on a doorknob and picked it up.  My original idea was to fill it with spring flowers and hang it on my front door.  But, there isn’t enough space between the steel front door and the glass storm door for it to hang, so that was a no-go.  I had already brought some bright orange into my dining room, so I decided to fill it and try it in there.

I stuffed it with these bright orange tulips.  I love this color with green.



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Not a bad find at $19.95 and I already had the tulips, so for very little, I added a little Spring indoors even though it’s not very spring-like outdoors.  I hope we see no more snow but only April showers so things will green up very soon.  Hope it’s warm and sunny where you are! 

Just b smile

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Power of the Written Word

I enjoy blogging but I enjoy writing more.  While I love looking at beautiful photos, I’m much more interested in what the blogger has to say than the pictures that they share.  We communicate through pictures, yes, the explosion of Pinterest is a perfect example of that, but with pictures, the viewer gets to interpret the subject any way they choose.  When the writer writes, they’re sharing their true feelings, exposing their talents or their frailties, and we don’t usually have to guess what they’re trying to convey.

Welcome to my reading and writing corner.


Over the last year or so, I’ve participated in a weekly writing exercise called Five Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, where Lisa-Jo extends a standing invitation every Friday to write with “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”

You’re given a one word-prompt and then you write for five minutes, your first impressions on the word, what the word means to you or what the word makes you think of or feel in the moment.  You write quickly, without thinking too long or too hard.  You can then share your blog post with other participants if you wish.  It’s amazing how different the interpretation of the same word can be between writers and how touching and inspiring it is to read other members submissions. 

After so many weeks, I had compiled quite a collection of writings, so rather than store them all on my computer, I made them into a book that I called simply “Five Minutes”, Volume 1.  As I look back on it now, some of the writings were most definitely a reflection of what I was going through at the time.  They make me remember and think.  They make me smile and they make me cry. 


I dedicated the book to both my children as the inspiration for all that I do and all that I write.  I had a book made for each of them as well.

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While I don’t participate as much at Five Minute Friday as I used to, I do credit the exercise for getting me writing again.  I’m writing and submitting short stories for publication and working on my second book of Five Minute Writings as we speak.  If you have some time, I highly recommend joining Lisa-Jo one of these weeks and taking a whack at Five Minute Friday.  You just might surprise yourself at what comes out.  I know sometimes I was.

Write it down, I tell you.  Even if it’s only for you, take time to collect your thoughts once in a while and put them down on paper.  Feel it, share it, preserve it.  It’s worth every (five) minutes.

Have a great week, everyone!

Just b smile

Linking to:

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Praying for Peace this Holiday Season

At this time of year, I enjoy turning down the lamps, plugging in all the Christmas lights and just relaxing to a few of my favorite holiday CD’s.  Music can be so powerful.  It can make our hearts sing and our spirits soar.  It can help to soothe a lost or hurting soul.  Music brings people together in a common bond.  Right now, at this moment in our country, we need our spirits lifted, our hurting souls soothed, especially in the wake of the horrific events in Newtown, CT this week.


This song, one of my favorites off an Amy Grant Christmas CD, played tonight as I was listening to music while browsing online.  Though I’ve heard it many, many times before, it took on a whole new meaning for me in light of the multiple tragedies that have taken place in communities across America in recent months, where so many innocent lives have been senselessly lost. 

In these troubled times, it seems so many of us are searching for something, longing for something, whatever it is that might give our hearts some peace or at least a feeling as close to it as the pain of life’s sometimes crushing blows will allow.  If you’ve never heard it, here are the lyrics with a link below to a performance of this song by Michael W. Smith.

“Welcome to our World”

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking

How we need to hear from God

You've been promised, we've been waiting

Welcome holy child

Welcome holy child.


Hope that you don't mind our manger

How I wish we would have known

Long awaited holy stranger

Make yourself at home

Please make yourself at home.


Bring your peace into our violence

Bid our hungry souls be filled

Word now breaking heaven's silence

Welcome to our world

Welcome to our world.


Fragile fingers sent to heal us

Tender brow prepared for thorn

Tiny heart whose blood will save us

Unto us is born

Unto us is born.


So wrap our injured flesh around you

Breathe our air and walk our sod

Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect son of god

Welcome to our world.

Welcome to Our World - as performed by Michael W. Smith


This song spoke to my heart tonight. Maybe it will speak to yours too.

holly use

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Cheer – Holiday Pillows

I’ve been looking forward to these arriving so I could finish my holiday decorating and they came today!  I stumbled on a wonderful Etsy shop a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t resist ordering these Christmas pillows to add a touch of cheery red to my dining room.  They’re hand-made out of burlap and hand-stamped by Ramona at RamonaOwenDesigns.com.  She had several holiday-themed pillows available, but I chose these to add some “merry” to our “Christmas”. 


Ramona describes this 2-pillow set like this:

Sometimes it takes two pillows to share the joy of a MERRY CHRISTMAS.
For your consideration I offer a "MERRY" burlap pillow and a "CHRISTMAS" burlap pillow.
In red burlap and white burlap hand stamped and stuffed with fill and best wishes.
"MERRY" 7" x 7"
"CHRISTMAS" 10" x 10"
Sold as a happy little holiday set ~ "MERRY CHRISTMAS"



Since I almost always put out my Pottery Barn bronze reindeer when I decorate at holiday-time, I couldn’t resist this cute pillow, described by Ramona as:

Reindeer gotta eat too!
And not just any reindeer feed will do...oh my, only Magical Supper for Flying Caribou...yes MAGICAL!
Make your holidays jolly ~ er and your reindeer merry ~ er with this goof~ball accent pillow.
A folly~li~ous pillow that measures 9" x 14" of hand stamped and painted grain sack silliness. Red burlap and drop cloth topped with a jute tab.
Stuffed with fill and merriment.


The Reindeer Feed pillow reads Magical Supper for Flying Caribou with 25 lbs. stamped up the side.  It’s so cute and the lettering is meticulously applied. 



If you have a few minutes, make a quick visit to RamonaOwensDesigns.com to see what Ramona has to offer.  I’m very pleased with my purchases and the personal touches she included with the packaging.  Many of you know by now that I’m not the crafty type, so I really appreciate others who do have the talent to create wonderful things.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

holly use

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Little Bit of Christmas 2012

‘Tis the season once again, time to decorate our homes in the spirit of the holidays.  I’m attempting to keep things simple this year.  I’m using natural elements, more in keeping with the warm colors in my home, and adding a few bright spots of color here and there.

Today, I’m joining in the Holiday House Walk over at JenniferRizzo.com and The Christmas House Link Party at The Inspired Room.  Much appreciation to all the gals hosting holiday home parties this season, thank you for the opportunity to share in the holiday fun. The talent, time spent and attention to detail of each participant is evident at every stop.  Each and every one is very unique, special and inspiring, and my hat’s off to so many of you who create magic in your homes, not just for the holidays and not just for sharing here, but who create warmth, comfort and security all year around for those you care so much about. Every home is beautiful - - as long as that kind of love is evident.

Welcome to my home for the holidays.  Please take a moment to let me know if you enjoy your visit.


Mercury glass vases hold my mini evergreen trees.  A package wrapped in craft paper and tied with a brown satin ribbon adds to this sofa-table vignette.  The framed First Noel and Silent Night I downloaded last year from Jennifer at Dear Lillie.  As always, Jennifer’s home is impeccably decorated for the holidays again this season.  You can visit Jennifer’s lovely holiday home here.


The opposite living room side table.



I’m displaying my Pottery Barn bronze NOEL sign on the mantle again this season.  It’s very rustic and it just makes such a statement.  I’m so pleased that many of you have “pinned” photos of my mantle and this sign onto Pinterest.  It’s a unique and timeless piece.


I ordered new stockings from Pottery Barn this year, green velvet with brown monograms.  We welcomed our first grandbaby in October and I wanted her to have a brand new stocking of her very own.  She’s such a precious little thing and we can’t wait to celebrate Christmas this year with her in our arms.



My dining room gets a splash of holiday red.  I have so many beautiful holiday books, I decided to include some in my decorating.  It’s so relaxing, taking them off the shelf at this time of year, and enjoying the gorgeous photos of holiday decor and all the yummy treats of the season.





I love my one little white snowman and I find a place for him every year.  I’ve paired him with my white candle trees from Pottery Barn and this seasonal print that I ordered from Sasha at Lemonade Makin' Mama.  If you haven’t visited her blog, I highly recommend it.  Not only is she very talented and offers some wonderful items in her Etsy store, she always writes from the heart and her posts are so honest and often easy to relate to.


For my dining room table, I filled this black wooden box with greenery, mercury glass ornaments from PB and two small burlap pillows I ordered recently from a wonderful little shop on Etsy, Ramona Owen Designs.  If you like these, you’ll find more holiday pillows and other seasonal and everyday pillows at RamonaOwenDesigns.com.  They’re very well made and came packaged so cute.  A very simple arrangement and I love the red.



I laid some garland and a Pottery Barn mercury ball on my entry table just inside the kitchen door.



In this corner of our den, I simply filled a basket with lighted greens and pinecones.  A birch candle adds a touch of the season.



Traditionally, we put our Christmas tree in the living room near the fireplace, but this year, since we spend so much time in our den, I set it up in there near a front window.  Now, we can see the white lights twinkling from the outside of the house.  I chose warm copper ornaments, shiny and matte copper glass balls, copper acorns and pinecones and some crystal icicles for sparkle.  I tucked a few miniature gift boxes tied with sheer copper ribbon here and there.  I think I like the tree in this new spot.


And the true reason of the season.  My Willow Tree Nativity always has a special place on the entry table in the living room, so that each time we pass by we’re reminded what Christmas is all about.


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The outside lights are up on the house, we just need more white stuff on the ground to make it seem like Christmas really is just around the corner!  

Oh, before I go, you must visit the holiday home of Laura at Finding Home. She has a special knack for decorating, not just during the holidays but in any season and her home reflects her wonderful taste and unique talent. She is always so gracious and I know you’ll enjoy your visit.  Tell her “Just B” sent you!  :)

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Stop by and visit me here anytime.

holly use

P.S.  Here’s our little peanut - - she’s so special and we adore her already.  She and my family are the only Christmas gifts I need. 


Linking to:

Savvy Southern Style

The Lettered Cottage


Jennifer Rizzo Holiday House Walk


Southern Hospitality


Christmas House Tours at The Inspired Room


Holiday Home Tour at Cottage Magpie

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