Women Bloggers Ornament Exchange

Women Bloggers Ornament Exchange

One of my favorite parts of Christmastime is the ornament exchange with The Women Bloggers.  It used to be just with the Arkansas Women Bloggers, but I think this year they opened it up to all members in all states.

I made ornaments with battery-operated tea lights and sent them to Jodi Coffee.


And I got these SUPER cute cookie cutter ornaments from Courtney.  She took cookie cutters and tied fun stuff on them for hangers.  One had an adorable twine bow…. (you can see an ornament from the past exchange below- the crocheted tree!)


And this one felt like southern flair with a bandana tied on. I love how the lights from the tree twinkle on the metal of the cookie cutters! (and another past exchange ornament in the corner- the spool snowman!).img_1393

She also sent me some chocolate – a great gift for anyone! But this new mama REALLY loved getting some sweet treats. And some hand sanitizer (a must during sick season with a new baby!) and some CUTE nail polish that makes my toes look very festive.

I love being a part of this community and this fun tradition!


ARWB Ornament Swap!

ARWB Ornament Swap!

One of my favorite new Christmas traditions is the Arkansas Women Bloggers Ornament Swap.

You can see my swaps from 2012, 2013, and 2014 here.

I sent my ornament to .  She will have a recap up this weekend…and I’ll come back and share the linky once it’s up.

I got my ornament from Laurie and I was SO excited.  Laurie is known for being creative and crafty- so I knew I was in for something fun!

I got an adorable little bundle in the package- including some yummy mint treats!

I couldn’t wait to dig into the treats and open the little bundle (I mean, how cute with that twine!)

Inside was the most adorable bobbin snowman!  It was a great gift for me since I’m sewing and quilting- and he is JUST precious!

The snowman was right at home on my tree. He just reflects the beautiful lights so well.  I love him!

I can’t wait to see all the other ornaments when they link up at Arkansas Women Bloggers.

AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

AWBU 2015- When I Changed My Mind About Blogging

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Hot Springs for Arkansas Women Bloggers University, or AWBU.  It’s the 5th year for the conference, and my second time to attend.

Last year was extraordinarily great-  I met great people, learned a ton, and had a great time.

And I didn’t think it was possible, but this year was 10 times better for me than last year.  I was able to catch up with friends, ate some great food in my former hometown, stayed at a beautiful historic hotel. But more than anything, this year’s AWBU made me change my mind about blogging.

The beautiful Arlington hotel was our home for the weekend


Let’s start with the friends.  Before joining the Arkansas Women Bloggers, I had made a few friends blogging, mostly people who were just like me – newlyweds, young, no kids, similar interests.  But joining ARWB gave me a world of fantastic friends.  Friends who are cattle farmers, who are teachers, who are professional writers, who are so knowledgeable and so giving of their knowledge. It’s such a blessing to have them in my life. Being able to laugh, talk, and learn together this weekend was truly a gift. We also had a ton of fun together playing games and being silly.

My friend Janeal is a friend I wouldn’t normally have. She’s a meat scientist at U of A and a cattle farmer. She blogs about everything meat you need to know (it’s super interesting!). She’s funny and I love learning from her. And when we were tasked to wear derby hats in honor of Hot Springs hosting the Arkansas Derby, she did this. 🙂


I was able to hit up some of my favorite eateries around town during my stay.  Since I grew up in Hot Springs, I have plenty of food memories I wanted to revisit.  I had a healthy, delicious lunch at Cafe1217 before the conference started, indulged in pancakes and homemade sausage at the Pancake Shop, and had a lovely dinner on the patio with friends at Rolandos.

On the way to the Pancake Shop, a man told us to look at the rainbow. I’m glad he pointed it out! We were talking so much, we probably would have missed it!


I also made some new friends this year. Along with meeting some bloggers I had only known online (I’m looking at you Julie and Kelcie!), I brought a new friend along. My friend Holly had talked with me about blogging a while back, and I told her the best way to learn and get connected was to go to AWBU.  And we had a great time together.

Holly and I in the First Security bank photo booth


One of the best things about this community is their willingness to give back. All 85 or so of us got together Saturday evening to pack over 10,000 meals for local families through The Pack Shack.  Somehow, they made this incredibly fun (I mean, we stopped packing food at one point to do the YMCA!), and it was so very fulfilling to help our neighbors.

We make hairnets look gooooood


So much of this weekend was just about being in the presence of great women.  It’s such a privilege to get to know these ladies.  They are business owners, fantastic mommas, creatives, dreamers, and doers.  One of the highlights was spending a great dinner together really having fantastic conversation. It’s such a respectful, open place.  We had great conversations and endless laughs as well.

In the presence of greatness.


One of the fantastic perks of the conference is that our leader, Stephanie, makes such great relationships with companies around the state and they donate AMAZING goodies for us to try.  Riceland rice, Mountain Valley Water, Aromatique potpurri, and the three of us even won trips to Branson thanks to a budding relationship with the Branson CVB.

Headed to Branson, baby!


And lastly, what would a conference be without some learning? ha! The focus this year was mostly on writing (which I need!) and had some great presenters.  Mari Farthing‘s session was totally inspiring to me, and so was Stephanie Clinton‘s.

Stephanie Clinton presenting on blog envy


Through the great sessions at the conference, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to take this little space a bit more seriously.  I have great pride in the writing work I do for my job and for freelance clients…but often, I’m slapping up posts without even editing them here! I love this hobby, and don’t want to suck the fun out of blogging. But I want to do my best for me. Those of you who read deserve to read my true thoughts, my best work- not whatever I can crank out. That’s how AWBU changed my mind about blogging. It made me realize that even though this is a hobby, I can be purposeful and strategic and care.
The weekend was fantastic, and I’m having a serious case of “back to life, back to reality” (I hope you sang that!) today…but once I get all the goodies put away, the bag unpacked, and I make a plan, I’ll feel ready to take on the world. Or at least my corner of it.

ARWB Ornament Exchange

ARWB Ornament Exchange


I’m a part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers community (check it out if you’re from AR…. and there are The Women Bloggers communities for Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas and Missouri linked there too!).

(PS.  Check out my latest post on ARWB about my Christmas tree!)

I love this community so much, and one of my favorite things each year is the homemade ornament exchange.  You sign up, you get matched with someone else, and then you send them a homemade ornament.  It’s a surprise who your “gifter” will be…and that’s so fun!

This year, my gifter was the founder of ARWB, the wonderful Stephanie at The Park Wife. I love this lady, and I was pretty stinking excited when I got a package in the mail with her return address.

Stephanie is so detailed and thoughtful, and y’all…she totally nailed my ornament.

Just look at this leopard beauty (you know, leopard is my favorite color!).

And IT’S A PURSE!!!! Complete with a buckle and a chain handle. I can barely stand the cuteness.  It looks like she made it by creating a base of something hard (cardboard or foam or something) and glued the fabric and details on that.  I just love it. (and my homemade ornament was NOT this intricate.  I tried…and I think I made something cute…but I am not on Stephanie’s level).



And she also included a cute little surprise in my box- this wonderful leopard cross. I love the verse on it- For the Lord is good and his love endures forever (Psalm 100:5).  Such a great reminder.  I’m now proudly displaying this cu-u-u-ute cross in my living room.


ARWB will have a linkup on Monday for all the homemade ornaments, so check out all the ones the ladies in our community made.  And also check out the ornament I made for Renee at Married and Hungry!