Giving Thanks

spaghetti and paper fall leavesHope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving and getting their grub on!

I’ve said it before and I’ll take this opportunity to say it again, thank you for your readership.  Your comments always put a smile on my face.

See you back in December!  I’ve got so many simple holiday crafts (eight and counting!) to share with you guys the three weeks leading up to Christmas. Things can get hairy around the holidays especially with it being cold and flu season so behind the scenes I started crafting…all the way back in October!  I’m really excited to be celebrating Christmas in our house for the first time and even more excited for this new Christmas theme I’m implementing.  Can’t wait!

P.S. 30 around the home things I’m thankful for.

Jennifer singature - Pea Jenny Script

Home Happenings – November ’14

November // November was more engagingly involved and I think my photos suffered a bit; photographing often feels more like spectating than participating.  We celebrated a birthday and a baptism and had our first really big party at our home.  If you’re in decorating limbo (like I seem to be perpetually) having get togethers always provides insight into how spaces are best used and spaces almost organically get rearranged in the process.  It’s inspiring.

I also did a ton of gardening.  Temperatures are finally cooling down (I just put on a pair of pants for the first time last week) and for our region now is a great time to get things growing before things start to bake in the dry summer heat.  I hope to share my progress early next year.

This month’s collection of photos are all black and white as the focus seemed to be more on repetition, lighting and texture; color just seemed to detract from the images as a collection.   peg doll in house on window sillweed illuminated by sunlightwhite baptismal girls outfit bunting in window cutoutreceiving crate and barrel packagestack of patio paverssnake plants against housepainting sandbox navajo whiteteenage mutant ninja turtle birthday cakefinger paintingfeathers with uncooked spaghettiOn Thursday I’ll be sharing what I have coming up in December.  I’m switching it up and have so many posts coming your way!

Jennifer singature - Pea Jenny Script

Brave New Home Turns 2

number two made of stringSo actually it should read, Brave New Home Turned 2, cause that happened mid-October.

Young House Love, the popular pioneers of this DIY/home improvement niche, had just announced an indefinite blogging hiatus.  The blogosphere reacted and us bloggers experienced something of a paradigm shift that had been a long time coming.  Some bloggers closed up shop altogether, others gave themselves a much needed break after years of blogging themselves.  It was like John and Sherry had somehow granted us some sort of permission to be honest about balancing the demands of blogging.

It’s taken me a few extra weeks of ruminating but I finally figured out what I want this post to really be about: change.  My relationship to blogging has changed and evolved over this past year.  It’s been invigorating and has me excited for this next year of blogging to come.

Putting Up the Blinders.  I greatly pared down the number of blogs I followed.  It was kind of ridiculous the amount of blogs I was trying to keep up with for the sake of just keeping up with the Jonses Petersiks.   I just glossed over the majority of blogs in my feed.  What was the point?

And then Branching Out.  You know what replaced the mason jar crafting, chalk painting, antler hanging (I’m being cheeky, I’ve decorated with antlers, albeit faux ones, too) blogs I removed from my reader?  Blogs about photography, design, blogging, Scandi and MCM design—all things I am truly interested in that feed my soul.

Scheduling Posts and Social Media.  I finally created an editorial calendar in excel (excel is my jam) and use it to plan my posts ahead of time.  I don’t feel rushed before a publishing deadline the way you might scrambling to finish a homework assignment the night before its due.  Ironically, scheduling my posts has allowed me to be more creative and spontaneous!  I write up posts whenever I feel inspired, sit on them for a bit, edit and schedule.  I schedule my social media posts (not my jam), too.

Working With Social Media Networks.  I joined a few social media networks and participated in a couple of paid campaigns.  It was an eye opening experience and it really made me re-evaluate what my time is worth.  It has provided me greater insight into how your influence is measured and I’m thankful for those experiences.

Link Party.  I tried co-hosting a link party.  Typically, if I can’t throw myself into something 110% I let it go.  I wanted to visit every single link, leave a comment, promote the links through social media, the whole shebang.  It’s like a real life party, you truly want to thank your guests for coming.  I didn’t create the time for it (I prefer not to say I didn’t have time because if something is truly a priority you find the time) and worse yet I inadvertently turned off some readers.

Reaffirming.  After admitting my stats had plateaued, I reaffirmed to myself why I started this blog in the first place and just what I wanted it to be all about.  Ironically, stats never factored into that equation.  Instead of trying to do it all, I’m going to continue to focus on doing those few things that I set out to,  like home improvement and decor, and improve on the things that nourish my creative side, like photography.

Blog vs. Website.  When I reflect on the blogs that have the that have the most staying power with me, they are all home improvement diaries.  Those blogs are personal and the people behind them are accessible.  They don’t attempt to be a brand.  While I’ve been careful not to get too personal on the blog in the past, I want to lower the curtain a bit and share a little more about myself and our home life.

The Big Leagues.  Being featured at Apartment Therapy twice (here and here) was cool but also a good wake-up call.  I kid you not, the very first thought I had when I opened the link to my vinyl shade project was, “Oh my gosh!  That’s my bedroom on the Internet.”  I felt exposed.  That sounds idiotic for someone who posts photos of her home on well, the Internet on a weekly basis but my readership is a whole lot smaller than Apartment Therapy’s.

All Original Photos.  One day after reading lots of legalese, I decided to give up using any images other than my own cold turkey.  Copyright law is real and one thing I repeat to myself often when blogging is, “When in doubt, leave it out.”  Already it’s changed the way I look at taking pictures and it’s sparked a new sense of creativity.

So while this post may be a month late, it’s apt timing that this post falls in a month where gratitude is a focus.  While a good handful of things have changed, one constant is my sincere gratitude for your readership and comments.  Thank you for your suggestions, thank you for your encouragement and thank you for being part of this community.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  And yeah, I totally said that a la DJ Tanner.

Jennifer singature - Pea Jenny Script

FREE Kids Birthday Parties at Ikea

Ikea logoWant yet another reason to love Ikea?   Well, here’s one: they offer FREE monthly birthday parties for the kiddos!balloon at ikeas kids birthday partyBack in July on one of our latest trips to Ikea, my then little three-and-a-half year declared while munching on some french toast sticks in the cafeteria that he was going to have his fourth birthday party at Ikea.  We’d have lunch and cake in the cafeteria and then migrate over to the kids section to play.

I had two thoughts, 1) Aw, that’s sweet, and 2) Wow, we spend way too much time at Ikea.  As his birthday approached and I started Googling venues for his birthday party, I was stunned that YES, you can actually have birthday parties at Ikea and even better, they’re absolutely free!

Not all Ikea’s offer this reoccurring event but luckily ours does.  The gist is that on the first Tuesday of every month they hold a communal birthday party for multiple celebrants for two hours.  The birthday child is allowed to bring along two guests. Tuesdays kids eat freeSince Tuesdays are kids-eat-free days, our little birthday boy picked out his free meal.free kids birthday mealHe chose the chicken fingers and fries and was allowed to have soda as a special treat.free ikea coffeeWe enjoyed some free coffee (more free-ness!) with out Ikea family card (it’s free to sign up and amongst other deals you get free coffee anytime you visit the store) since the party started at 4pm and we weren’t feeling too hungry yet.  And yup, that’s daddy in the background there.  We were so happy to have him home to celebrate our son’s birthday with us this year as that’s not always the case.free magic show at ikeas free kids birthday partyThey had free face painting which our little one was too shy for.  He’s shy about the most peculiar things and then others not at all.  Like he busted out some impromptu free styling during the lulls of Sunday’s church choir performance, go figure.  They had a magic show, too.free cake at ikea kids birthday partyThen they sang happy birthday to everyone and passed out pieces of cake.free presents with clown magicianThen each child received an age appropriate present and had an opportunity to pose for a photo opp with the clown.  Again, my little one was too shy for this.free gifts from ikeaMy son received marker stamps and a book (again, free!).

So if you’re looking for a free birthday party for your little one, or if you have an mini-Ikea lover on your hands, too, check out your local Ikea for more information.

Jennifer singature - Pea Jenny Script