Since I’ve Been Gone

So, I haven’t posted in a while. I have come to accept that it’s okay that I don’t know what the true vision I have for this site is. I’ve worked really hard to figure out lots of things in my life, but have learned that the things we inherently know don’t take any work to figure out. And I am not sure if I inherently know anything about blogging, except that sometimes it feels more like work than fun, and I am trying to focus on things that feel natural. It’s been an interesting process, to say the least.

If you want to learn more about yourself, strip away the things that distract you. For me, that means not working on anything. I use my creativity to distract myself from a lot of things, and in a way it had begun to feel like I was using my powers for evil instead of good. So, I am cleansing my palette and seeing what I come up with. I’m hoping that what I discover feels so natural that I wonder how I never thought about it before.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to:

- Journaling

- Doodling

- Bowling (we joined a league for the summer!)

- Watching Girls on HBOGO (just started Season 2; I am now on the Lena Dunham bandwagon.)

- Collecting paper/trinkets for a scrapbooking project I might embark on

- Counting down the days to our Destin trip

- Participating in a six week NerdFitness challenge

- Killing it at work

- Planning mine and Shelton’s wedding on Pinterest (except we’re not engaged – oops)

- Still trying to accept the outcome of The Red Wedding

- Embracing summer – it’s finally here!

- Unpacking (still)

- Couponing

- Loving Shelton every single day (truth nugget)

- Gearing up for the Zac Brown Band concert next weekend! (I like my chicken fried)

- Daydreaming a little bit less, living in the moment a lot more

 

What have you been up to? Sometimes just making a little list like this one every now and then is a good reminder of just all the things you’ve accomplished!

Rave on,

Sarah

Breaking Down + Breaking Free

Do you ever feel like you’re just starting from scratch?

purple field | sweetandsavorylife.com

That’s totally where I am these days.

I’m big on awakenings – many I have shared here with you – and though I am so fortunate for my moments of clarity, lately I am reminded of just how fleeting those awakenings can be. We learn things, we forget, we revert, we learn again. Life is a cycle. And as I am circling back through some emotions I haven’t felt in a while, I am reminding myself that it’s okay to struggle.

It’s okay to still be wrestling with thoughts, feelings and compulsions that (most of the time) are out of my control. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to loosen my white-knuckle grip I am so good at and *attempt* to relax. It’s okay to second guess things I’ve thought about myself for my whole life. It’s okay to admit that sometimes, I’m just not as emotionally stable as I think I should be.

I had a breakdown last week. It was eye-opening and a bit core-shaking in a way. I haven’t felt the same since, and in a weird way, things feel different. Different in a good way, because I feel like I am truly starting a new chapter in my life. The breakdown was largely stress induced.

New Job + Moving + Creative Restlessness + Realization of New Goals = Exhaustion

you're famous to someone | sweetandsavorylife.com

Put quite simply, I feel as if I have truly reached a new level in this life. I am 25. I have a good job. I have a great relationship. We are building a life together. There is money in our savings account. I care about new things. My priorities have shifted. And my life is completely here in North Carolina – not in Texas. All of these amazing things Shelton and I share on a daily basis, but I don’t get to share them with my Texas Tribe. It’s safe to say I’ve been living on Texas Time up until I started working at Suddenlink. When I worked at home,  it was so easy to focus on Texas and everyone I love there because 1) I had more time and 2) I didn’t show up to North Carolina and instantly attain new BFFs.

But that’s changing now. Through work I’ve met so many amazing people – people that invite me over to craft and drink tea (Nikki, I love you), people that invite us to parties, people that invites us out on sushi dates… We’re making connections here and settling here, and I don’t think I had accepted that until just recently. On one hand, it is so great to know that if I told Shelton tonight that I wanted to move back to Texas, he’d be on board 100%. But, I feel it in my bones – it’s not time. There’s too much left to do, I whisper to myself. Secrets left to figure out.

I want to look back on The North Carolina Years and feel so much joy that I get choked up. It’s like Andy said last week on The Office Series Finale: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

 

Whoa. If a quote could stab me in the heart (in a good way) that’s the one that would do it.

And here’s the thing: I am in the good old days. For the rest of my life, I’ll cherish these years, this place, the choice I made last August to come here. Why not make the absolute most of it? So, I have decided to collectively take a step back from a few things.

1. This blog, and blogging in general. I already have a full-time job, and it’s not running this site. I need to break out of the mindset of thinking in blog posts, positioning my life around DIY projects, and endless hours in front of this screen.

2. Crafting and creating. This is a touchy subject for me, because since I was a little girl I have always fallen back on my creativity. But I need to learn the difference between hobbies that bring me pure joy from the ones that suck the life out of me. And that means not distracting myself with project after project. I need to focus on me. Also, I need to be okay with not working on anything “extracurricular” before I dive into any new activity. I need to wipe my mental slate clean.

3. Thinking too much about my Texas connections. I can miss them, I can shoot them a text to let them know they’re on my mind, but then I need to go back to my North Carolina life. Just as I am on my own path, they are on theirs. And I am so happy for all my loved ones that my heart could burst, but feeling melancholic about playing phone tag does me no good at all.

Letting go can be so hard, but once I am able to, I always feel rejuvenated in a way.

pb&j

So, prepare for some sporadic + awesome posts in the future. I’m on no one’s timeline but my own, and goodness gracious, that’s an incredible feeling.

Rave on,

Sarah

Happy SITS Day to me!

SITS is an online community where female bloggers have the opportunity to connect with one another and share their stories. If you are a new blogger, I highly recommend visiting their site and signing up. It’s a great way to meet other awesome women out there and build your fan base.

If you are a brand new visitor to S&S Life today–welcome! I am so happy that you’re here, and hope that you’ll hang out a while.

Sweet & Savory Life | sweetandsavorylife.com

My name is Sarah and I tend to post a lot about…

* DIYs I’ve completed. I live to create.

* Heart-to-Hearts I had to get off my chest.

* Delicious food I can’t get enough of.

* My Health & Wellness journey.

8 things I love about myself | sweetandsavorylife.com

You can certainly read my full story and intro, but here are the highlights:

* I grew up in rural East Texas and now live in Eastern North Carolina.

* Head over heels for this guy. (He even posts from time to time.)

* I do my damndest to live with an open soul and love with my whole heart. I stumble often (and then write about it).

* I strive for balance in my life, and am learning every day how to fully accept myself.

* Marketing Specialist by day, creative hippie by night.

Instagram Photoboard | sweetandsavorylife.com

I blog because I have (what I believe to be) a gift for sharing my experiences and the emotions that inevitably follow, and nothing makes me feel more aligned with the Universe than hitting “Publish” on raw content and starting a conversation.

I am working towards something big, though I am not sure what yet. S&S Life is my vessel where I savor the sweetest parts of my life and (hopefully) encourage others to do the same. I am as honest as possible and never paint paint a picture that is prettier than my own real life. As you know, life isn’t always pretty, and I have explored that understanding through rougher topics such as divorce, change, and grief.

Sweet & Savory Life | sweetandsavorylife.com

Here are some posts that I re-read to this day when I’m needing a pick-me-up, or just to be reminded of what is real in life (compared to what may be going on in my head).

On dealing with divorce and outside perceptions:

* Sinners VS Saints

* An Expected Turn

On change:

* I am a bucket of emotion.

* The past three days.

* Jump Like You Mean It (a favorite!)

* There is no such thing as “the right time.” (another favorite!)

* Live & Love This Moment

On grief and loss:

* About Ken

On maintaining creativity:

* Create More. Hustle less.

* 12 Things I’ve Learned About Photography

On physical acceptance (a toughy, for sure):

* I AM ENOUGH.

* I almost didn’t go to boot camp this morning.

* 8 things I love about my body.

Sopapilla Cheesecake | sweetandsavorylife.com

Thank you so much for stopping by S&S Life. I love to connect with other bloggers and hope that you’ll follow me at least through one of these channels:

S&S Life Facebook Fan Page ~ Attention Bloggers! I do follow back from both my personal and fan page. I am trying to reach 200 followers by April 1st – your help is greatly appreciated.

Monthly Newsletter ~ A different theme each month and I love to feature fun ideas. See an example here.

RSS Feed ~ P.S. Feedly is my new favorite feed reader now that Google Reader is leaving us.

Instagram & Twitter

Let’s stay connected and keep this party going, shall we?

Rave on,

Sarah

Create more. Hustle less.

water-reflection-1

A couple weeks ago, Shelton and I were coming home with a hot dinner in tow when I saw this. This is the entrance to our apartment complex, and for a while now I’ve been waiting for the water to be still and glass-like like this so that I could take a picture of the trees perfectly reflected. Sometimes you wait and wait and then when you least expect it, things just happen. When they finally do, you let your dinner get cold so that you can experience them wholeheartedly. I’m sure that’s a rule somewhere.

I’m doing a lot of re-thinking and reflecting in my life lately. Reassessing my priorities – asking myself questions like, “What is the most important thing to me right now?” and “Am I spending my time as I should be?” and “What makes me feel fulfilled?” and then most importantly… “Am I doing the things that make me feel fulfilled often enough?”

In case you were wondering, the answer to that question is “No.”

When I started blogging in 2009 (I can’t believe it’s been almost four years), I did so because I needed a creative outlet and I craved attention. Only one of those is a good reason to start an endeavor like blogging, but hey. At the time both my professional and personal lives were extremely stressful and taxing, and I saw blogging as an escape. It was also around this season of my life that I drank just about every day and on the weekends I would listen to music and write aimlessly until 4 am. I would do things like this instead of working through my problems. I numbed my feelings like you wouldn’t believe.

A lot has changed since then. Like, I don’t even live on the same planet anymore. Which is very ironic, because my old blog was named Sarah Planet.

Why do I blog now? If you’re a blogger reading this, or a hobbyist of any kind – I encourage you to ask yourself the same question. Why are you doing what you do? Has your motivation evolved or changed since you began?

Mine has. Every time I receive a comment, my heart flutters. I get the same feeling when I get a new “like” on Facebook. But blogging is not an escape from my life anymore – it’s a way that I celebrate my life. All that being said, I continue to put way too much pressure on myself lately when it comes to blogging. I am incredibly driven by my firstborn mentality, most of the time to a fault. My inner critic is just so mean. I spoke about my tendency to self-shame in this post about fitness, and guess what? My inner-critic uses the exact same tactics to make me feel like shit about blogging and my creativity.

“Sure, that’s a good post, but no one will read it.”

Emma and Elsie are so much smarter than you. Why can’t you post as much as them?”

“You are doing this all for nothing.”

So mean, right? These thoughts make me not want to post, cause me to think more about other blogger’s styles than my own, and leave me feeling uninspired and numb. The truth is that I love my voice/writing style now more than ever because it is more open and honest. I think the projects I have posted recently are very inspired, and I’m proud of them. When I publish a heartfelt post, I feel like I am aligned with the Universe. And those are all good feelings.

But then comes the hustle of promoting my posts on Facebook, pinning my own images, tweeting, etc. and the good feelings dissipate because newsflash: the blogging community is huge and I’m not the only one pushing my content. There is so much focus on self-promotion within the community that it’s become more important to me to receive feedback/praise on my posts than the actual act of posting.

That’s sad. But, makes sense once the pieces are put together.

So, I have decided a few things based upon these realizations. I am going to create more and hustle less. If I am hustling more than I am creating, something is wrong and I should stop immediately and give myself a break. I am going to show up and be present in my own life, and always be proud of my successes both on and off the blog. I will do all of these things even if no one is watching, it seems like no one cares, or no one gives me praise.

Create more. Hustle less. | sweetandsavorylife.com

I will create from a raw, honest place. Not a place that is driven by recognition. When I create good, honest, heartfelt content that I am sure will resonate with someone else, I will lightly promote it. And then I will post again when I am inspired, and so on and so forth. My hope is that this will be a healthy cycle of creation, not one where I constantly feel like I’m not good enough. Because that is simply not true.

I am good enough. My content is, too. And if this ever feels like work, I’m gonna back off. I’m gonna re-read this post. I am going to remind myself of all the things I’m doing well in my life outside the blog (work, relationships, personal development, etc.). I’m gonna keep being raw and keep being me.

I love the person I’m growing to be. It’s shit-hard sometimes, but crazy worth it. Wouldn’t change a thing.

-Sarah

One Lovely Blog + Liebster Award Nomination

sharing the love

Sharing the love. Heart pin from bando.

I recently have been lucky enough to be nominated for a couple blog awards, One Lovely Blog Award by the always lovely Janey Lambert and the Liebster Blog Award by a new bloggy friend (and fellow SITS-ah), Cluttered Genius. Since I am lazy, and the nomination “requirements” are similar, I’m going to pull a Janey and combine the two. I don’t know who ever actually wins these different blog awards, but I think they’re a great way to connect with people and increase your network. So, here it goes!

Side note: If you’re a blogger and looking for new people to connect with, I recommend all these ladies!

One Lovely Blog Award + Liebster Award

One Lovely Blog Award, Step 1:  Thank the person who gave you this award.

Janey, you hold a special place in my blogging heart. I feel so lucky that we were paired together in a CD swap a couple years ago, because I’ve enjoyed your posts and tweets ever since. Thank you so much for nominating me – I know it comes from your blogging heart as well, and that is why it feels so lovely. (See what I did there?)

One Lovely Blog Award, Step 2: Share seven things about yourself.

  • Listening to voice mails make me nervous.
  • When Harry Potter ended in 2007, it was hard for me to read new things because nothing was as good.
  • Nothing makes me happier than a brand new sketchbook.
  • When I was little I had a pet calf named Clarice that I would feed with a massive bottle.
  • I’ve never been happier in life than I am right now.
  • I somehow wear the color pink everyday.
  • Being wrapped up in a project makes my heart sing.

Liebster Award, Step 1: Tell eleven things about yourself.

  • If I could live in the world of Mad Men, I would.
  • I will never-ever-ever turn down Panera. Ever.
  • It’s a little sad just.how.excited I get about snail mail. (And no more delivery on Saturday? What is the world coming to?)
  • I’ve probably had one too many if I start asking where the nearest What-A-Burger is.
  • Nothing feels more perfect to me than a quiet evening at home.
  • I’m totally addicted to those gypsies on TLC.
  • I love trying new restaurants!
  • When it comes to crafting, I consider myself a Jane-of-all-trades. Maybe one day I’ll master something.
  • I need to go to Europe. Soon.
  • If we go to brunch, I prefer my eggs over easy. Unless Eggs Benedict is on the menu. Then all bets are off.
  • Overcast days are my favorite.

Liebster Award, Step 2: Answer the eleven questions specified by your nominator.

  • Who do you look up to most? Why? That is a tough question! I look up to my mom and Shelton the most.
  • Do you watch reality shows? If you do, which is your favorite? If you don’t, why? Anything on TLC. Anything.
  • What is your favorite book of all time? Impossible to answer.
  • Favorite band of all time? Aerosmith!
  • If you had to pick a song that best described you, what would it be? The Pretender by Jackson Browne (one of many).
  • What is your biggest fear? That I will lose someone close to me.
  • Night owl or early bird? I can swing both ways.
  • If you’re willing to share, what’s your most embarrassing moment? I was walking to my very first college class and slipped and fell. It was raining and my white bermuda shorts were completely covered with mud. I still had to go to class though, and I felt so embarrassed because I smelled like a wet dog.
  • Cats or dogs? Dogs.
  • When you have nothing else to do, what do you find yourself doing? Writing. Aimlessly.
  • What’s a talent you wish you had? I wish I could sing.

Liebster Award, Step 3: Ask eleven questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer.

  • What’s a smell that takes you back to childhood?
  • The mountains, or the sea?
  • Do you ever meditate?
  • What’s one electronic you can’t live without?
  • Do you have a personal motto?
  • How many states have you been to?
  • What’s your favorite dessert?
  • What is a movie that always makes you laugh?
  • Do you believe that you’re creative?
  • Do you have a favorite season?
  • What’s your dream?

One Lovely Blog Award, Step 3. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers:

Liebster Award, Step 4. Nominate eleven bloggers:

How to Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in SIX Major Steps

You know that feeling where your head is just above water, and you’re gasping for air but at the same time you’re also trying to tread water so you don’t drown? Yeah. Redesigning a blog can feel a lot like that, especially if you don’t have a kinda-sorta-almost-understanding of HTML code or are clueless when asked about your CSS Stylesheet.

This is me, a soul who has been in your shoes, telling you to relax and stop fighting the water. I recently (for the second time) have migrated a free WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. While it was not a totally stress-free process, I learned a lot and managed to go with the flow. I think I can help you go with the flow too, so consider this checklist an inflatable raft of sorts.

 

Let’s get started.

Problem(s):

  • You’re sick of having “wordpress.com” as part of your URL.
  • You want transition into the ranks of a grown up blogger and subtly communicate to the digital world that you’ve taken extra measures to be independent.
  • You love WordPress’ system, but when you think about all the details of “moving over” to a self-hosted site your eyes glaze over.
  • Also, you don’t want to spend a lot of money, because you’re not the Pioneer Woman, okay?

Solution(s):

  • This checklist. Booyah!

STEP ONE: Brainstorm & research.

This might be a step you could skip if you’re already stoked about your current site’s overall look, feel and offerings. I encourage you to dig a little bit deeper though. When making a change as big as this one, it never hurts to re-think your current “mission” as a blogger and tweak it to better fit your impending new status. Take a sheet of paper and write out all the things you love about your site–that you don’t want to change. Is there anything new you’d like to offer? Even something as simple as a different color scheme or font to use? When it comes to blog design, the world really is your oyster. Take this opportunity to set new goals for yourself and your blog. Write a post and tell your readers you’re starting this process. Ask them if there’s anything they’d like to be changed and also enlist their support. You’ll need it!

For example, when transitioning from my WordPress.com blog, I had been wanting to change the name for a while (to better explain what I was all about). To help guide my creative process, I analyzed blogs that I was already a fan of and made a list of what I liked about their layout (predominately white with pops of color, menu placement, fun additions, etc.). This comes into play later when you start searching for a theme, so take the time to brainstorm and figure out what you like!

And not to bum you out or anything, but it’s very probable that the domain/URL you’d prefer is already taken, so you might be forced later (i.e., the next step) to get creative. Try not to look at this as a sacrifice, but as an opportunity to make your blog even more unique! (Easier said than done, I know.)

STEP TWO: Buy your domain & hosting from the same place.

I can’t tell you how many technical problems this immediately solves. Think of it like shopping at a department store. Why not buy your underwear and weekly fruit from the same place? Biggest benefit of doing this: you only have one entity to complain to when something goes wrong. One site to log into. One set of email newsletters and updates. One person you’re paying.

For the past 2 years, I’ve been a happy customer of A Small Orange and can’t tell you one bad thing about them. They offer domain and hosting all in one package, it’s extremely reasonable, a clean Account page I log into when something is wrong, and most importantly: they respond to my trouble tickets crazy fast. I’ve been up at 3 AM working on something, emailed them, and had a response within 30 minutes. When you get into the nitty-gritty of fine-tuning your site, a speedy response is akin to a direct link to God.

When I first started blogging, my domain and hosting were split. I bought my domain from Network Solutions and my hosting from A Small Orange, and I really wish I’d just packaged it all together.

STEP THREE: Install WordPress.org & export your old blog.

After you have purchased your domain and hosting, your new host should send you a sweet email outlining your purchase and directing you to log into your account. The email should include initial login information and other important things. Save this email! I have a “Blogging” folder dedicated to everything I receive pertaining to sweetandsavorylife.com for this very reason. Also–take note of all new usernames and passwords you acquire in this process!

No matter where you purchase hosting from, there will be a back end that you’ll log into to access account information and also your hosting control panel (mine is cPanel through A Small Orange). If your host provides a walk through on where the most frequently used things are located–by all means educate yourself. A Small Orange is very intuitive, so I haven’t had any trouble finding what I’m looking for, but then again I am no expert.

You should be able to install WordPress one of two ways:

  • Either in your hosting control panel there is an application installer (you would see the standard WordPress emblem)
  • Download WordPress from http://wordpress.org/ (simply save to your Desktop) and then upload it to the same hosting control panel.

Since A Small Orange (and most hosts, I’d imagine) have the option to install WordPress, I’m not sure where exactly to direct you to go to upload your WordPress file, but that’d be an excellent question for your host. Hey, they might even do it for you! Once WordPress is installed, take a deep breath. It’s just nice to see a familiar layout with all this crazy stuff going on, huh? I know.

Then follow this tutorial from ProBlogger on exporting your WordPress.com blog to your new WordPress.org site. All your posts, comments and pictures should transfer to your new site, no problem.

STEP FOUR: Search for a theme & install.

This, quite possibly, is the most time-consuming step. Unless you’re wanting to keep your exact theme from your old blog and do not want to change things up at all, then you’ll need to start the search for a new theme. Through WordPress, there are many themes you can install for free and play around with, and then there are countless entities online that offer free themes and paid themes. I will try to whittle down this search time for you, but just know that it’s something you’re going to have to dedicate some time to.

If you want a free theme, look for ones that offer customization (color changes, able to be edited, etc.). WooThemes is a great place to start, as they feature many free themes with a clean look.

If you don’t mind paying for a theme, then here are some sites I browsed before deciding on my current theme (which, by the way is Adorable Child Theme designed by Pretty Darn Cute Design with support provided by StudioPress):

  • StudioPress – which I highly recommend because with all their themes they offer a specific web support forum that comes in oh-so handy when troubleshooting issues (from small to large).
  • BluChic – I almost purchased a theme from here. So many pretty ones!
  • Commercial Theme Providers with the WordPress seal of approval – Consider these sites before making your purchase. They all include support, and some of the sites provide FREE themes also!

Overall, my advice to you is this: Start with something simple and then build upon it. Rome was not built in a day.

STEP FIVE: Pimp your blog!

After you have chosen a theme and installed it, refer back to your sheet from your brainstorm session. Play around with your theme, possibly brainstorm more (researching themes and other blogs will show you how many different ways a site can look–your initial ideas could evolve into something better!), but most importantly: fine tune the skeleton of your site. Organize your layout, menu structure, and sidebars (widgets included). Once the bones are in place, you can start filling in with the meat.

“The meat” could be anything, like special buttons in the sidebar linking to interesting stories/categories of your site, social networking links, your Twitter feed, a Facebook “like” box, pictures… you name it. Luckily there are a lot of resources online for additions such as these, so a simple Google search for “free blog buttons” will yield many free images you can download, then upload to your server (through your hosting control panel) and link in your sidebar. If you have any problems with this process, ask your host.

If none of that made sense, don’t fret. Here are some resources for you!

STEP SIX: Say goodbye to your old blog.

One of the perks of WordPress.com is the simple “Follow” and “Like” features that are provided. If you have a community of followers on WordPress.com, they will not be transferred to your new self-hosted site. That’s why it’s so important to engage them in the process. Getting them excited about something new means there is a better chance they’ll add your new blog to an RSS feed (or something similar) and stay involved in your life. All that being said, it’s hard to not be let down when you post a new blog and it doesn’t get the same response it used to. Just take some deep breaths, increase your comments on other blogs and conversation on social networks and you’ll get more traffic. These things just take time.

After my new blog was up and running, for about three weeks following I posted a weekly reminded about my new site on my old blog, directing people to visit sweetandsavorylife.com. Then, I eventually paid the $13 yearly fee to have my old blog redirect to my new one. This is something you might decide to do as well, but is not totally required. A simple “I’ve moved!” post including a link to your new blog will suffice.

And… That’s all I got for now. I think.

I know this was a loaded post, but this is one of those messy, lots-of-different-variables, broad topics. Please leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to guide you! And if this post helped you in anyway, please let me know!

Happy blogging,

Sarah

Across the Pond: CD Swap (FREE downloads included!)

I have a lovely blogger friend named Janey who hails from the United Kingdom. Last summer we met through a blog we both follow and participated in a CD Swap! It was a fun little project where everyone who wanted to participate commented on one post and was then matched up with another person. Somehow, Janey and I were put together, and it’s been one of my favorite things to ever happen via the internet.

For our first swap, we decided to make fun, summer-y playlists for one another. After sending and receiving our packages, we started following each other on Twitter and kept in touch. We decided to do another swap (this time on our own) and I jumped at the opportunity. I love creative challenges like this–especially ones that combine design, care packaging and music. For our second swap, we upped the ante a bit and pledged to make two playlists: Love/Hate songs and then Christmas music!

Simple designs for the CD cover art – DOWNLOAD YOURS BELOW!

Listen to my Love/Hate playlist here.

Listen to my Merry Everything playlist here.

Earlier this fall I taught myself how to quill. It’s not for everyone, but I find it incredibly relaxing! Janey had a birthday recently, so I decided to send her a little gift.

This is a ring I made using supplies from The Plaid Barn and scrapbooking paper! Fun, easy project. I hope Janey got to make a wish on her birthday, and that it comes true…

In return, here is what Janey sent me:

How fancy are these stamps! Of course in the UK the mail is royal :)

Janey really outdid herself! I totally felt like a little kid opening her package. My favorite thing are the comments she provides on her song choices. They really make me smile.

And just in case you were wondering… the real way to my heart has always been through stickers. I am a reformed Lisa Frank addict.

Click here to read Janey’s post about our swap!

-Sarah

~

 Want to make your own playlists for a friend? Download my CD cover art and make it your own!

LOVE/HATE CD Cover Art PDF

MERRY EVERYTHING CD Cover Art PDF

Today I said Farewell

This is my most favorite picture of my little sister, Janie. Coincidentally, Janie turned nineteen today. In this picture she was five, I think. Yes, five. This was before she started kindergarten, before she turned six, before she was diagnosed with a medullablastoma brain tumor the size of a lemon growing at the base of her cerebellum. Before everything in not only my life changed, but my whole family changed.

A family friend snapped this picture of Janie, and like all great pictures, it captures not only a moment in time I’ll never get back, but it captures my sister at the most precarious stage in her life. As she stands there on the soccer field, she is already sick, and none of us know it yet. There is literally a ticking time bomb in her head, and yet she is so peaceful. The colors are so saturated, so ethereal… the way that only film can capture and expose.

It’s so easy for me to get fixated on clarity, seeing every detail, scrutinizing all the elements in my viewfinder and showing everything in the best light… but in all honesty, a plight that intense is really a cover-up for the fact that I want to take pictures like this. I just don’t know how yet. I hope that I’m getting there, though.

I didn’t expect to talk about Janie this much, but I am feeling nostalgic tonight. This evening I officially told my inaugural blog goodbye forever. No, not my little WordPress blog. I plan on keeping it until I can get as many followers to switch over here (thank you for everyone that has added me to their RSS feed, by the way!). I’m talking about Sarah Planet, otherwise known about my first blogging child. The site that I built and had my first successes (and failures) as a blogger. The first place I wrote from the heart, and where I learned the most about myself. It’s been a dead site for months now, and with my domain renewal looming that I never planned on purchasing… it’s just all hitting me that Sarah Planet is no longer my vessel.

It used to be my only vessel–my only outlet. Now, my life is so different and I don’t put so much weight on something that should be a hobby (though I still test that theory from time to time… just ask Shelton). I have many other outlets now, and through spreading out my joys I feel that I’ve made Sweet & Savory Life a well-rounded place for everyone to enjoy (and hopefully it’s getting better all the time!).

On October 16, 2012, Sarah Planet will shut down forever. I have saved posts that I am most proud of, taken appropriate screenshots and am prepared to let the rest go. If you would like a window into my old life, I encourage you to poke around.

Spoiler alerts: I was married, I lived in a rent house, I had two really cute dogs. I was also internally miserable most of the time, though I don’t think you’d know that from my posts. I made sure to project “happy, happy, happy.” I thought that eventually, some of that happy would bounce back and stick to my real life, but guess how that turned out!

Spoiler alert: Never happened. Turns out if you want to make your life happy, you gotta fight for it.

There are so many things I don’t miss about my old life. I don’t miss my ex-husband (I say that with no bitterness or animosity, it’s just a fact), I don’t miss the way I felt in that rent house, I don’t miss what my routine used to be. The things that I do miss? Well, that’s a much shorter list. I miss the dogs. As much as I wish I could just not think about them, I do. I guess because through all the turmoil, they were sure sources of true happiness for me, on just the most basic of levels. I helped raise them, and I loved them, and they really loved me in return. I really do cherish the memories I have of them, and allow myself to think about them or look at old pictures when I know it won’t make me too sad.

But, it’s okay. Trust me, as much as I miss them, it was good for me to let them go. They are just dogs, and at the end of the day… my personal well-being was more important than fighting with my ex-husband over our animals. I am positive that they are happy and I don’t worry for them. To me, animal spirits are just as important as human spirits, and I have been blessed with both. Shelton’s dog, Spuds, is also a true source of happiness for me and even though he is his own doggy person, I adore him greatly and I feel like he is mine.

So, you know, with the bad comes the good and everything turns out fine in the end, and if you’re lucky, it turns out way better than you ever expected. That’s basically my life in a nutshell.

Today my sister said goodbye to eighteen, but hello to nineteen.

I am saying goodbye to Sarah Planet, but have said hello to Sweet & Savory Life–a vessel I am more proud of and sure of.

This time last year, I said goodbye to two sweet doggy spirits, but have had the opportunity to say hello to a new one.

One day, when the time is right, we will get another puppy to love and raise and take care of. It’s okay that I don’t know exactly when that’ll be.

For every single farewell, there is always a hello. And that is what makes goodbyes, even the really hard ones, easier to face.

 

Love to you all,

Sarah

Pictures I think my dad would appreciate.

My dad is a self-proclaimed dinosaur.

He self-proclaims a lot of things about himself, in fact.

Like how he was born 200 years too late.

He likes old fashioned things, is at times repelled by the technology of today, and very stubborn.

But, he’s my dad, and I love him unconditionally.

When I say unconditionally, what I mean is that I don’t mind explaining to him over and over how to attach a document to an email.

He’s just wired different than most Dads. And that’s okay with me.

Interesting tidbit: He’s a Mason of the 32nd degree.

I was probably about thirteen years old before I realized that not everyone’s Dad was a Mason and not everyone’s Mom was in Eastern Star. My childhood is filled with fuzzy memories of lodges with royal blue carpet and men in aprons.

(We came across this Masonic Temple while driving around Raleigh. I made Shelton park in a podiatrist’s parking lot so that I could take this picture in the rain.)

I think he would appreciate all the farmland in Eastern Carolina.

Side note: This is the first time I have ever seen cotton in its natural state.

As opposed to its… unnatural (?) state underneath my sink.

It feels the same to me.

~

Blog update… I am starting the painstaking process of trying to transfer my readership from my WordPress.com blog to my new blog here. If you are visiting me from my announcement on sweetsavoryblog.wordpress.com

Thank you!

It means so much to me. I hope you click around, add Sweet & Savory Life to your RSS feed, and join in on the fun. I hope to build this site into something different and extraordinary. Thank you for your support!

XOXO, Sarah

Preach to me, Buddha.

I read a quote once by Buddha that said, “Your problem is, you think you have time.”

Lately I feel like I’ve been hitting a brick wall when it comes to building my new website for Sweet & Savory. Going from an auto-pilot kind of blog like WordPress.com to a WordPress.org self-hosted site is a big jump, and there are infinite more choices to make and things to do. I want it to look finished and put-together before presenting to you, but I just don’t seem to have enough time to figure everything out.

And that’s always the problem, right? Buddha knew it then, we know it now. All of our lives are completely full – and we’ll always need more time to seemingly get everything “done.” I just don’t know how to work it all in. I keep telling myself, “Baby steps, Sarah. Baby steps.” And maybe I just need to take my own advice more.

It’s just that… sometimes I just really hate baby steps. I just wanna get it all done, you know?

Sigh.

I know the new website will be up and running soon enough – let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later. Till then, I will keep posting updates on here (and hopefully more pretty DSLR pictures as I take them).

I hope you are all having a productive Sunday :)

Sarah

Out with the old…

…in with the new!

Things are about to start changing here on our lil’ blog – get excited!

I am so happy finally have the time (and vision) to up the ante on sweetsavoryblog.wordpress.com

What does that mean exactly? Well, for starters, a registered domain name, big-girl hosting and a whole new look!

I will be working very hard over the next week or so to roll out our new blog. My hope is that it’s cleaner, easier to navigate, more beneficial for you – the reader! – and of course, more inspiring and fun.

I will certainly keep you posted as we move forward – that way you can follow along as we continue our journey :)

Have a lovely Sunday,

I made it & a HUGE thank you!

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Super quick blog post… As soon as I can I will write more. Pinky swear! And you know that pinky swears are pretty much legally binding so… Yeah. Expect that soon!

Right now I have two things to say:

1. I totally made it to Greenville, NC with no problems! I am so happy to be back with Shelton, but I think Spuds is even happier, if that is possible.

2. I was featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed (check my Geek Out post under “Geekery & Entertainment”)! Omg, I have been blogging for years and have never felt something so satisfying and rewarding. If you are here because you are a brand new follower of S&S then I have one thing to say to you:

You are awesome and you rock and thank you!

Whew. Okay. Moving is hard work, and I am exhaustion city. I will stick to my pinky swear and post again very very soon :-)

Love from NC,

Sweet Sarah

S&S MAKEOVER

Hey there!

So, Sweet & Sultry is now Sweet & Savory! On Sunday night, while Shelton was preparing an amazing dinner consisting of Panera’s Mac & Cheese and porkchops and I was simultaneoulsy whipping up some red velvet cupcakes (from scratch)… He made the comment that the menu we were creating represented us very well – that in life he is the savory and I am the sweet. I love any life-based analogy that involves food, and this got my wheels turning… I realized I wanted to make Sweet & Sultry less about me and more about US! Shelton has expressed the desire to blog alongside me and I wanted to create a channel where we could both do that… So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to OUR new site…

Sweet & Savory!

I am so very excited about this. I fully believe that whatever I achieve in life, Shelton will be right there with me, so a joint blog makes so much sense for us. He wrote his first post last night and I can’t wait to share it with you later! For now though I have to talk about the delicious dinner we created Sunday night…

Decadent doesn’t even begin to cover it. We are huge (HUGE) fans of Panera’s Mac & Cheese, because it is quite possibly the best out there. A few months ago I realized that they have the recipe available on their site (read more about the recipe development here!) and I knew that at some point we were destined to recreate it. Shelton paired it with porkchops marinated in a teriyaki sauce and it was a sweet, creamy, scrumptious combination of flavors. If you attempt Panera’s Mac & Cheese, we recommend that you purchase the ingredients exactly as they are listed (splurge on the Vermont cheese – it IS worth it!). And don’t be discouraged – you CAN make this dish at home! :)

For dessert I made red velvet cupcakes from scratch with chocolate filling and homemade cream cheese frosting. Shelton stumbled upon this recipe late last week and presented it to me. I have to admit – I was so apprehensive to try it! But as usual, anytime I put my faith in him I am rewarded handsomely. These cupcakes were incredible, and I will definitely make them again. Just promise me one thing – if you go to the trouble to create these cupcakes please please PLEASE don’t slap pre-made Betty Crocker frosting on them. I feel like Joe from MasterChef in saying this… but please show these cupcakes some respect! Otherwise everyone who eats you cupcakes will make this face…

And the shame you will experience might cause you to never bake again. :)

That’s all we got, folks! Our inaugural sweet and savory dish that you can prepare at home, from our kitchen to yours!

Enjoy,

Sweet Sarah