Bring Back Mail + Alexis Mattox GIVEAWAY

Each day when I get the mail, my kids immediately ask, "Is there anything for me?" I used to give them the junk mail, but that doesn't work as well since my daughter can read. "My name isn't current resident!" Aw, nuts.

I'm not going to lie, though. Each day I secretly hope there is something there for me too. Not a bill, not an ad, but something handwritten. An envelope with an actual stamp and not metered postage. Why am I so enamored with getting an actual letter?

It may come down to my Love Language. The way I receive love is through acts of service and, strangely enough, I view writing and sending mail as one. Probably because it takes time, thought, and effort. It's so easy to get on the computer and shoot an email out or get on your phone and text. But actually putting pen to paper and sending out a part of you means so much more.

When my grandmother died, I helped my family go through her belongings. I'll never forget opening a drawer full of cards she'd been given throughout the years. I was 11 and can still remember finding a card in there that I had given her years earlier. My messy, childish signature written inside.

I vote we bring back the handwritten word. The next time you go to the post office and they ask if you need stamps, say yes! Choose the most lovely, the most fun, the most personal stamps you can and USE them. I'll even help you get started.

These gorgeous cards are by Alexis Mattox Design. Each is made from laser-cut 1/8" cherry wood. If I received one in the mail, I'd wonder why the heck someone loved me that much to send a card like this!

Alexis also creates stationary, letterpress, even cake toppers. Anything and everything to make someone feel special.

One of you will win the 4 wood cards shown above! Use the widget below to enter. Contest open to residents of the US and Canada. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be contacted Thursday, August 28 via email. If the winner doesn't respond within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

I Can Do Hard Things + Charmed Collections GIVEAWAY

I distinctly remember the first time I drove a stick shift. My parents were thinking about buying me a VW Rabbit, but wanted to make sure I could drive it, so they taught me the basics, took me out on a country road, and guided me along.

I killed it. And not in the "I was so freaking amazing" way. I literally killed the engine so many times, I was afraid I would break the car and we'd be forced to buy it. I cried, my parents caved, and I ended up with a Mercury Grand Marquis named Bessie.

Seven years later, I marry a man who owns a manual pickup. Needless to say, I never drove. After pestering me for months about why I wouldn't even try, I finally admitted to my husband something that is true in all aspects of my life.

If it doesn't come naturally, I won't do it.

I'm a prideful perfectionist. I don't like to lose. I don't play sports because I know I won't win. I'm simply not athletic. Could I be if I tried? Probably. But man, that would take years of trying! I'm not afraid of many things in life, but I am definitely afraid of failure.

But recently (and I'm talking in the last two weeks), I've been thinking about who I need to be. Not just for my husband and my children, but for me. How many things should I be working on that I'm not, all because I'm afraid I'll fail?

I attended a blog conference earlier this year where all the attendees received this necklace.

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If I'm going to move forward, I've got to start pushing myself to do hard things. I can't stand idly by anymore. Even a paper airplane needs someone to throw it before it can fly. And you know what? People are the same way. Sometimes it's a nudge, sometimes a shove, but we all need a push now and then to discover what we're capable of doing and WHO we're capable of being.

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The ladies at Charmed Collections know this better than anyone. I'm so grateful to call them my friends, because all three of them are such an example to me of thriving while doing incredibly difficult things. They've been kind enough to donate this "I Can Do Hard Things" necklace to a lucky reader.

To enter, just use the widget below. Contest open to residents of the US and Canada. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be contacted Wednesday, August 27 via email. If the winner doesn't respond within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

Say Hi First + Salty Bison GIVEAWAY

Back in the day, I was shy. Wallflower shy. Guaranteed I would never say hello to you first shy. The reason? I was afraid if I said hello first, they'd think I was a big loser and trying too hard and would want nothing to do with me. I waited for everyone to speak first so I knew they actually took interest in me.

Doesn't it sound absurd? Turns out the entire time I was trying to make friends by not speaking to them, people avoided me because they thought I was a snob. My strategy failed! Too bad I was in my 20s before I figured it out.

I wonder how many opportunities I missed and friends I could have made when all I had to do was say hello. Not that every person I spoke to would have turned into a best friend, but it's such a simple thing, why not try?

So here I am, 15 years after the fact, using this blog to say hello. I'm reaching out to you and I want you to do the same. Say hello to someone. It could be a stranger, it could be an acquaintance you've had for years, it doesn't matter who it is. Just say hi.

Bravery doesn't go unrewarded. I said hi to a couple ladies at Craft Lake City who own an insanely creative company called Salty Bison. I mean, come on. The name alone is phenomenal.

I'd been eyeing Devenie & Shawna's work for a couple years, so I was excited to actually meet them. They're as lovely and fun as the art they produce and I'm so glad I was brave and spoke up because they graciously offered to give something to you!

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Isn't this the sweetest little sign you ever did see? I kind of love it. This 7.5" x 9.75" wooden piece is the perfect size to hang next to your door. Every time you step outside, it will serve as a visual reminder to speak up and say hello.

Enter using the widget below. Contest open to US residents only. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be contacted Tuesday, August 26 via email. If the winner doesn't respond within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

Value Your Time + Freshly Picked GIVEAWAY

I'll never forget the first time I met Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked. I had just finished setting up my crocheted items for The Beehive Bazaar and was incredibly nervous about doing my first handmade show. Another vendor approached my table, took a look at my tags and said, "Are you kidding me?!"

Oh, crap.

I had been on Etsy the week before, trying to learn what market value was for my goods. I took an average of what other people were selling theirs for and went with it. After hearing her comment I just knew I had priced them too high and wouldn't sell anything. I was defeated.

"How long does it take you to make one of these? Are you even charging enough for your time?"

Say what? I just knew I needed to make back my product cost. I hadn't given a thought to how much time it took me to make a hat.

"I did what you did when I started. I thought I had to charge less to sell more, but guess what? I realized that my time was important. I upped my prices, made the same amount of money, and only had to do half the work. You need to determine what your time is worth. How long does it take you to make a hat? That's time you could be spending with your kids and people should be paying for it."

My mind was blown. I was likely charging double my product costs, but hadn't even taken into consideration how much time was spent on each item. It was too late to change my prices for that venue, but I had certainly changed my attitude. I viewed my talent differently. I viewed my time differently. Little did Susan know she had affected me for life with her words.

How do each of us view our time? Is it precious? Or are we content to squander it in an effort please others? If we value ourselves, we'll value our time.

As a huge THANK YOU for spending some of your precious time with me on this blog, I want to share Susan's talent with one of you.

To put it simply, Susan makes moccasins. But not just any moccasins. These gems are the best little shoes for your baby's feet. They're made from amazingly soft leather and are ideal for kiddos to crawl and walk in since they stay on.

Case in point. 

This kid crawls at a million miles an hour. Hence the blurry pics once he started moving! But his moccs stay on.

I chose Weathered Brown for my little guy since I knew they'd match about anything. But you know if I had a girl I'd be going for these!

Since I've gotten you all twitterpated over Freshly Picked moccasins, how's about I give a pair away!

All you have to do is enter through the widget below. Contest open to US residents only. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be contacted Monday, August 25 via email. If the winner doesn't respond within 24 hours, another winner will be selected.

5 Reasons You Should Never Drive a 2014 Honda Pilot

Continuing my series of Honda failures, today I'm highlighting the serious errors of the 2014 Honda Pilot—their seemingly perfect crossover SUV. In an effort to try and win me over, Ken Garff Honda of Orem invited me to drive one for a month. Well, the big wigs at J.D. Power think it deserved a 5/5 for overall quality, but after driving it for 30 days, I respectfully disagree. This is why.

1. Bluetooth Capability

Driving without distractions is, well, distracting. The bluetooth connection allows me to control my phone with just a few buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard. You'd think I'd love the ease of use, but no. It's taken me years to condition myself to drive without my hands on the wheel or eyes on the road. Now all I see are other vehicles. They're everywhere!

2. Seating for 8

Just when I thought Honda couldn't get worse than the 7-seater Odyssey, they went and put 8 seats in the Pilot. Really? Just what I need are more people to tell me what a "good driver" I am and how much they "love" the cup holder accessibility. Just hold your drink and mind your business.

3. Cargo Space

This puppy has 87 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold down the second- and third-row seats. In case you're not big on math, I'll put it in simpler terms: it's a lot. For starters, when am I ever going to haul around 87 cubes? I don't even think I could fit that many cubes in my living room. Plus, how does one go about finding that many cubes? Ikea? Absurd.

4. Multi-Informational Display

The fancy-pants term for this is I-MID. The I stands for intelligent. It lets me scroll through my phone book, view my music, add a photo of James Franco as wallpaper. Basically, you name it, the Pilot will do it. The problem is, I'm too insecure to drive something smarter than me. Soon Honda will make all their vehicles take a MENSA test and give each driver a dunce cap with purchase.

5. Fuel Economy

The 4WD Pilot boasts 17 miles per gallon city, 24 highway, and 20 combined. Guess what? They lied. I did my darndest to stay in the safe zone for fuel efficiency, but all I got for my trouble was 24 mpg COMBINED. Not 20, like they claimed. How can I trust a car manufacturer that under-exaggerates?

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In conclusion, the 2014 Pilot was a big, fat disappointment. (Emphasis on fat with the 87 cubic feet of cargo space.)

 

Polka on Dot — Dare to Match Patterns

I used to be known as the "Gap Girl" in college. (Basically I wore a lot of khakis and button-ups.) But a few years ago, when I started Being Spiffy, I wanted to branch out and find my own style. Now I'm a huge advocate of publicly displaying your personality through your clothing. One way I show my personality isn't just by mixing patterns (stripes and florals, anyone?), but matching patterns as well. 

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Case in point? Polka dots. I adore polka dots. Small ones, preferably. But when matching patterns, there needs to be a size difference. The polka dots on my skirt are about 1/4 inch, while those on my shirt are 3/4 inch. Over double the size. Because the skirt pattern is so small, it almost becomes a neutral that can be paired with anything.

After size comes color. If you match patterns, don't go cuckoo crazy on the colors. You'll end up looking like Bozo the Clown. Instead, choose a neutral and a bright like one piece in camel and the other in neon pink. Or two extremely complimentary colors like coral and blush.

The key in any outfit is balance, balance, balance. Size and scale combined with coordinating colors will lead to a simply smashing outfit.

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