09.30.2016

One Year of The Autumn Girl

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ONE YEAR ONE YEAR. It’s been ONE YEAR of the Autumn Girl?!

Today is a very special day for me. Just one year ago I launched my very first blog post on The Autumn Girl. It wasn’t very organized or thought out. I didn’t make an introduction to my blog or my goals. I just started writing. And a few weeks later  I let the world know through Instagram. In one year, so much has happened and changed and evolved with The Autumn Girl and it’s been quite an adventurous journey. I’ve found a new world of writing and creativity. I’ve met a tons of really neat people in Austin and made new friends. I discovered I could make a little money with my blog and I’ve received some really cool free products. I’ve learned how to do a bit of HTML and how to brand myself. I’ve learned what it was like to expose my thoughts and feelings in a public forum. And I found a new creative passion.

It’s funny, I’ve always wanted to tell stories and write, but every little tale I’ve told has been a short one. There was that illustrated story circa 1998 about Shorty Caldwell the mouse that lived in a tree with his family. There was that tale (my first one!) of Max and Santa’s brother who lived in the mountains of Colorado which I typed on the first laptop we had in school back in 4th grade. I remember sitting in my brother’s top bunk eagerly typing my Christmas inspired story :)  I wrote plays from middle school through high school and I’ve always enjoyed the magic of a good story. I’ve thought about how cool it would be to write a book but the idea of all the research and the many hours typing away terrifies me. I have developed a very short attention span so even writing posts for this blog takes me a bit of time. I have to circle back to finish my thoughts. Maybe some day I’ll get around to writing a book or a really neat story. But for now, I’m enjoying this particular creative outlet as it suits my short & sweet style.

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Photo by Kelsey Butler Photography

The best part about blogging is that I’ve been able to merge my love for writing with my love for photography. And all those fun hobbies of travel, fashion, and beauty tips are all woven into it. It’s so much fun.

In this next year I hope to develop relationships with travel based companies and possibly do a sponsored travel post or two. It’s a bit of a stretch goal but one I’m going to make regardless. Dream big, right? I love the opportunities I have had and I’m looking forward to working with more brands. I hope to inspire more people with the happiness series, a practice I have done since I was a little girl. And I hope to continue to learn, keep writing, and most importantly, love the whole process.

I’m going to leave you with my favorite Autumn soundtrack by George Winston because I’m currently in Youngstown, Ohio where its cool and cozy and I’m off to enjoy fall where its already happening. Excuse me while I go grab my coat ;)  Have a great weekend!

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09.27.2016

A Prayer Answered and A Tribute to Joe

I had a God sighting last weekend. Or should I say profound moment with God? I’m not really sure how to explain it other than I felt my prayers and those of many around me were answered. I have prayed nearly every night since I was seven years old and learned the Lord’s Prayer. At that point I would recite about five prayers before bed and then if I happened to wake up in the middle of the night, I’d recite them all over again. I didn’t want to disappoint God. And I had to practice.

Prayer has always been part of my routine. But asking other people for prayers has not. I find it hard to ask other people to partake because I feel like I’m asking for attention or making something about me. But I’m in a Bible Study and Sunday School class and I’ve learned that collective prayer only helps because we support each other.

Last Thursday, my twenty one year old brother Joe was found unresponsive in his college apartment and sent to the ER. All we knew Thursday night was that he was undergoing a procedure to install a drain in his skull and we were afraid. My parents made the 6 hour drive from Chicago to Carbondale and until their arrival after midnight, all we could do was wait. Wait for updates. Wait for answers. Wait and pray.

None of us felt so helpless in our lives. I immediately found myself in a blanket of guilt. I haven’t always been patient with Joe. I wish I had been better at returning phone calls. I wish I had said more positive things. I wish I had been less critical… All I could do was promise God that I would be a better, nicer, more patient sister and please protect him so I could have that chance.

I reached out to my Bible Study Circle and my close friends and asked for prayers. I called my brother Sam and talked with him for an hour. And I spoke out loud to God in my home while I waited for Eric to return from a business trip.  I guess I’m someone who needs to talk while waiting.

By Friday morning we had a few answers. Joe had suffered from a cerebral venous thrombosis, or in lay terms a more uncommon stroke that blocks blood moving away from the brain instead of to it. When it comes to strokes, this is a better version as it leads to brain damage much more slowly. The news was grim- each progression would be a baby step in his marathon of a recovery and any setback could be detrimental. However, Joe’s youth seemed to step forward and play an important role in the events over the weekend.

My sisters arrived Friday evening and by Saturday, Joe was awake and responding to questions with nods. His humor & goofy personality were present as my sister Lili told Joe her hot friends were thinking of him and his eyes shot open excitedly. Brit grabbed his hand and squeezed it and exclaimed, “Wow Joe, you have a strong grip!”  “Stronger than Eric” he replied. My Dad whispered to my mom and asked her if she was hungry and Joe’s head started nodding eagerly. Oh Jeje… He was very much there :)

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View More: http://benelsassphotography.pass.us/wedding--meg-and-ericPhoto by Ben Elsass Photography
Joe on left/ Sam on right

For those of you who don’t know Joe, let me tell you just a bit about him:

-He is super goofy with a heart of gold. He is one of the sweetest & kindest guys I know. If something reminds him of you, expect a call…
-Joe loves following all sorts of professional sports and has a knack for statistics. He knows random facts about coaches and players on tons of sports teams.
-He loves rooting for the TOP DOG: the team expected to win… Joe doesn’t like to be on a losing team…
-He collects jerseys and has WAY too many teams he supports
-He has a devilish scheming grin that resembles the Grinch in the animated film… It is actually kind of creepy looking but always makes his audience laugh
-Joe loves a good news story… he is fascinated by drama and won’t hesitate to call you if something happened in a town three hours away from you and ask how you are feeling about it…
-He is like a sponge. If he’s in the room, he’s absorbing everything.
-He doesn’t break many rules. It’s one of his own personal fears. Well unless its a rule involving a chore around the house… he’ll take his sweet time getting that done ;)
-He is very skilled with directions and always seems to know where he is going
-He doesn’t take no for an answer. One year my mom had him step up and help my sisters sell raffle tickets for their hockey team and an hour later, my mom came home and found Joe with his feet up on the couch. She was not happy. “Joe, you are supposed to be selling raffle tickets”…. “I know”…. “WELL?!” “Sold ’em all!” Apparently Joe wouldn’t leave any of our neighbors’ doorsteps until they bought some tickets ;)
-He loves crime shows, the news, and stretching out on the couch with his feet up, diet coke in hand…
-He is like a teddy bear and will randomly deliver a hug, and often in your time of need :)
-We would not be the people we are today without our adorable, goofy, hysterical brother

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I was able to talk to Joe on Sunday and the first thing he said was “What up sis” in pure Joe form. I felt in high spirits, especially with the email reports from my parents about his progress. As of Friday, Joe was given a one month prediction for his stay in the hospital. Eric and I started looking at flights to visit Carbondale. We were told on Sunday that Joe would be released from ICU on Tuesday and potentially leaving the hospital this week. Joe is being released from ICU today and hopefully the hospital by the weekend! Eric and I are so excited to see him and hug him next week!

This weekend was a huge trial for our family and a test of faith. I am overwhelmed with the love and support we received from not only our family and friends, but other people I haven’t talked to in years reaching out to say hey, I’m thinking of you. Joe was informed of each note of love and I honestly believe it helped in his recovery. And it will continue to do so as he gets better in these next few weeks. He has a long road ahead of him, but an amazing support system and a zillion people in his corner who love him dearly.

I’ve learned so much through this scare. Life is fragile and not always predictable. And things can happen to young people that you never expect. So make sure to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Spread kindness like confetti. Make that call to your Grandmother you haven’t made in a while. Sing out loud in the car. And enjoy every minute of your life. Because it is precious.

Joe, I love you so much. I’m so happy you are getting better. I can’t wait to give you a squeeze next week.

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09.21.2016

Autumn Home Decor

Come September 1st, I am ready to rock and roll with fall decorations. I often find myself turning the AC down a notch, wrapping myself in a blanket, lighting my pumpkin spiced candle, and pretending it’s fall. You can pretend you’re anywhere with the right tools and mindset :) Just searching through Pinterest for autumn home decor has me extremely inspired. All I can dream of is listening  to the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet, sweater weather, and the sound of the wind whistling through the trees on a crisp autumn Saturday morning while strolling the farmer’s market for fresh flowers. So much midwest autumn nostalgia, y’all.

I find the best way to channel fall vibes is by decorating my home and living like it is autumn, even if I have to be inside right now. The right scent, colors, and homey feels of faux blankets and pumpkin pillows really set the mood.

I love the faux flowers & little white pumpkin in the below living room. The white fluffy blanket adds a cozy warm feeling to the interior and I love the natural light. Adding faux flowers and little pumpkins to a room are such an easy way to make a place more festive. Pottery Barn sells some cute recycled Pumpkin globes! If you’re looking for some great interior decor, I recommend checking out Pottery Barn (clearly my favorite), or for less expensive items: Hobby Lobby or Homegoods.

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Image via Design by Laila 

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Image via Crazy Chic Design

Another easy way to make your room look a little more autumn is by adding faux fur. Faux fur is so cozy and will be perfect use for fall through winter. If you like a more rustic look or have a leather couch like we do, you might enjoy these various colored pillows. If you’re more of a modern chic person, a white faux fur pillow might fit your style better. And if you love a cozy blanket perfect for snuggling, reading, lounging, and napping like I do, this throw might be your new best friend. And it fits with all different decor ;)

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Image via Pottery Barn

Now the easiest way to make your home feel a little more like autumn is by lighting a pumpkin candle. Duh. I bought a little candle from Homegoods last year and it hasn’t burned out! Such a great $7 buy :) This year I’m working a three wick candle from Bath and Body works.  I love how intense the scent is. My favorite favorite favorite candle company is Nest and they also have a Pumpkin Chai candle. YUM! If you like the look of a candle more than the smell, I recommend checking out Birch candles. We have two on our dining room and they are perfect year round! They make our table look a little more sophisticated.

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Image via The Rentivist

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Image via Musings of a Muse

 The best part about Autumn Decor is that its in season all the way through Thanksgiving. Pumpkins, bright colored leaves, and fall harvest florals all make for great centerpieces :) Aaaaand to wrap this up, I’m including a cozy little niche below purely because the idea of it right now makes me so utterly happy. Enjoy your last day of summer guys! Tomorrow is FALL :)

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Image via Lindsay Marcella

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