Thursday, January 16, 2020

Bringing Music Into Your Big Day

Are you mad about music? Perhaps you’re a professional musician, or maybe you just have a passion for listening to or playing music. If so, when it comes to your wedding it makes sense to incorporate this passion into your big day. Here are a few ways to go about it.



Utilize Songs For Your Wedding Vows

Writing your own wedding vows allows you to add something extra special to your day as you’re conveying an incredibly meaningful message, and something that’s personal to you and your partner. If you have song lyrics that really speak to you or a song that you both relate to on a deep level, why not utilise the lyrics? There’s lots of advice online about how to do this in a way that sounds genuine without being corny or cheesy.

Hire A Live Band Or Musician

Most people tend to go down the route of having a DJ play their wedding music, however if you’re a lover of music you’ll know that nothing sounds as good as hearing it played live. There are live bands that actually specialise in weddings who ill know the etiquette involved and have plenty of experience in playing on people’s most special days. Alternatively, you could hire a local band that you love, or if you have loved ones that are excellent singers or musicians you could ask them to play. It sets an incredible atmosphere, makes for great wedding entertainment and is a little bit different too. 

Play Some Music Yourself

Whether you want to sing a song or play a tune on an instrument, this could be a fantastic and really personal way to bring music into your big day. You could even set yourself a challenge and learn a new instrument to play- from the piano to the ukelele- learn more about this here. It’s something that your guests will remember and brings a unique touch to the day. 

Give Guests Music Inspired Wedding Favors

Another idea for incorporating music into your wedding favors would be to give guests USB sticks filled up with the songs from your wedding day- this would be a really personal way for people to remember the day especially if you've carefully curated the playlist. It’s something unique and different to what people are likely to have received as wedding favours before. 

Get Inspired With Decorations

How about incorporating music into your wedding through decorations, invitations and place settings? There are some really cool ideas online for crafty people, such as making roses or confetti out of pages of song lyrics or sheet music. CDs or old vinyl records can be turned into decorations  or you could Whether you go full on or have it as a subtle theme, there are plenty of ideas you could run with and really make each item personal to you. 


How will you bring music into your wedding day?

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Best Ways Your Local Library Can Help You

Your local library often acts as a community hub. As well as being somewhere you can go to read and borrow books, it usually offers a range of other services that can be very useful. Whether you use it for studying, work, or personal reasons, you could find your library more useful than you think.

Borrow Multiple Types of Media

Everyone knows that you can borrow books from a library. However, the modern library often has several other types of media you can borrow. In addition to other print materials, such as magazines, you can also explore ebooks, audiobooks, CDs and vinyl, DVDs and Blu-Ray, and more.

Borrow Tools, Instruments and More

There is often even more that you can borrow from a library. Depending on the library, you might be able to borrow tools for your latest DIY project, musical instruments, cooking and baking equipment, and other useful items that you might not want to buy.

Join Community Events

Libraries are fantastic gathering places. They often have separate rooms and spaces that are ideal for meeting up with others and having discussions. They're often used for book clubs, readings, craft groups, and various other community groups and events that need somewhere to meet or take place.

Research

Your library can also be an excellent place to go if you're trying to find out the truth about something. You have access to a wide range of resources for research, and you can benefit from the skills and knowledge of the librarians who can help you battle fake news.


Infographic Design By University of Southern California

Libraries are an incredible resource and your local library would love for you to visit today!

How do you use your local library?

Friday, January 10, 2020

College Admissions Coaching And Planning With Hallie Walden Bagley

Writing has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember. My mother and father had a gigantic library that I had free access to since I could read. I spent hours going through all of the titles and picking out which adventure I was going to start that day. My father built a reading nook in the house we lived in when I was little and it was by far my favorite spot in the house.

I began to wonder if I could make up my own stories while I was still very young. My dad was a journalist so we always had a computer and that is where I began to write my own adventures.


I have been a voracious reader ever since. When I attended college, my favorite assignment was essays, as you can probably guess. I was studying to acquire a Paralegal degree so I was used to having to research and couldn't wait to be able to do it full time! I decided to write one of my papers on mass hysteria  and loved learning about all of the different cases over written history. It has always been an interesting occurence to me since I first read about the Salem Witch Trials years ago. Other assignment essays weren't as easy to write, however, and I was always so glad to be able to find help and inspiration in reading and researching whatever I could about the subject as I could. When I couldn't make sense of it, it was time to call in more help and I am so glad that there were infinite resources on the internet to choose from!


One of my favorite publications, The Paris Review, always had something interesting to read and were always the most memorable to me. I have found some of my favorite authors there and it is still a great place to learn as well as finding new fiction! That's why I was really excited to learn that the managing editor, Hallie Walden Bagley, is offering college admissions essay coaching and planning! Hallie Walden Bagley holds a BA in English Literature from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University School of Law and found her writer's voice on The Paris Review. She is ready to help you in any way to get into your school of choice! Your college admissions essay is probably the most important essay that you will ever write during college, in my opinion. My daughter is currently in her Junior year of college and I remember how she agonized over hers. It turned out that she did such a great job, she not only was accepted to her college of choice, but a second one as well!


If you find yourself struggling to write your perfect college admissions essay, whether it's because you need a little proofreading and coaching to make sure it's just right or because you can't even begin your outline, there is always help out there. Hallie Walden Bagley's college admissions coaching and planning courses are definitely a great start!

Where will your adventure begin? 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Refresh Your Living Room With The Slipcover Company

It's that time of the year again when I can't say no to Peppermint Bark! I have a great gift idea for part three of my Holiday Gift Guide!
For part one of my Holiday Gift Guide, click here.

I became a first time homeowner more than a year ago. We were a military family for twenty years so we never really could purchase a home anywhere because we were never sure where we were going to go next. We bought a lot of second hand furniture or "if it breaks in the move, we won't be out thousands of dollars" furniture and did our best to make them our own. My husband retired from the Navy the same year that my daughter graduated high school and that is when our search began. We found our perfect home and I have about one million and forty seven projects that I've been doing to make it into the home I always wanted while we traveled around!



Until I can get my new couch, however, I wanted to refresh my living room with a new look. I'm also a cat owner and his favorite thing in the world to do is shred my couch. I've tried everything.

Murder Mittens Couch Shredding Champion

I found the perfect slipcover for in the interim at a great slipcover company online! The Slipcover Company has gorgeous slipcovers for all types of furniture and pillows! I spent way too long looking at other things I wanted to buy but finally settled on the Cabana Stripe Collection Sofa Slipcover in Blue. It fits in perfectly with our nautical/beach theme. 


Putting a new slipcover on my insanely comfortable old couch has refreshed my living room and definitely inspired me to continue all of these projects!

So, so many projects.



How would you refresh your home?

For part one and two of my holiday gift guide, click here and here

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Perfect Gift For Business Owners

I found another great deal on DealSpotr for part two of this year's Holiday Gift Guide!



Social media has definitely become part of everyone's life. Businesses have more reach than ever and have used it to their advantage, from the top all the way to local small businesses. It's important to have eye catching graphics when promoting your business online. Not everyone is a graphic designer, however, and have to use graphics available to them. 


I am one of those who can't draw, so I wanted to take advantage of this deal! iClipart has so many images for whatever you need! Right now, you can get 20% off of an entire year subscription. All you have to do is click here and enter the code STEPHSTEB at checkout! 

Source

I hope you and yours have a lovely holiday, no matter how you celebrate! For part one of my holiday gift guide, click right here!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Top 4 Reasons You Should Have Musical Instruments In Your Living Space

Not only does music add ambience to a home it also entertains and adds inspiration to any room. Music has the power to enhance the mood to create a pleasant atmosphere. When you walk into a room and hear music it automatically sets the tone. Adding music into your home’s decor doesn’t just stop with one fo your five senses it also acts as a visual stimulant. You’re able to add music as a visual aid to enhance and add value to your interior design. 


Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

You may still be wondering why music should be included in the living space in your home so have a look at the top reasons you should include music in your home below.


You Can Add In A Variety Of Sounds 


When thinking about music choices there certainly is a large range to choose from. From hard rock right through to softer classical styles there is always something that suits someone. People tend to have more of a preference for a certain style. Despite the fact these types of music can be played on similar instruments, they have the ability to create different moods. When it comes to having musical instruments in your home, you have the ability to mix styles and create an even bigger range of sounds. 


It Enables You To Embrace The Instruments


Sometimes, when people think of the power of music, they think of the creativeness of the musician. A huge part of what makes music such a beautiful thing is the instruments it’s coming from. Good sound comes from a good quality instrument so you should embrace that equipment. Don’t limit yourself to just the instrument, think about other tools you can use too such as the speakers and cords. Try placing a guitar with all it’s equipment on show to draw the attention of guests, you could even think about using vintage speakers as an extra added touch of interior design. 


You Can Make Your Home Feel Like A Musical Haven 


What’s cooler than a music studio? Having a music studio in your home that’s what! Studios are notorious for being ‘cool’ as they are the key to the backend of musical production. A studio is a haven for people who create music so why not include one in your home? Simply having musical instruments in your home will make your living room feel more like a mini studio where you can work on creating wonderful pieces of music. 


It’s The Best Way To Make A Statement 


If you think about all the top-class homes that you see in the movies, there is usually a grand piano as a focal point. From classy women singing next to the piano to a talented musician playing in a ballroom, they are used to stand out from the crowd. Adding a tasteful musical instrument such as used Steinway Pianos into your living room makes for a glamorous, luxurious and elegant statement piece. Put together with a statement mirror and a bold colour scheme this is sure to wow and visitors. 


These are just five of the reasons you should have musical instruments in the living space of your home. It’s important to a lot of people and impacts a lot of people’s lives. If it’s important to you, think about adding music in a non-traditional way to your home interior. It will look bang on trend and also make your house feel like a home 

Do you have any other reasons why you should include music as part of the interior of your home? Please share them in the comments section below!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

My Holiday Gift Guide Kicks Off With A Wonderful Memorial For Lost Loved Ones

It's that time of year again! Holiday season is upon us and I am starting this year's edition of my Holiday Gift Guide with a service that is perfect for memorializing your loved ones who have passed on.


ForeverMissed.com offers a service unlike any I have seen before: a webpage builder that memorializes your loved one on the internet forever. Launched in 2008, founder Oleg Andelman was inspired by his desire to learn everything he could about his grandparents. He reached out to family members and was able to find out more, along with photographs he didn't know existed!  After compiling all of this knowledge, he decided to build a webpage that could tell his grandparents' story. He then realized that a website where his family and others could share and post memories of his grandparents was actually something he believed could be a great service for anyone on the internet! He began building Forever Missed to offer online memorial pages for anyone on the web! 



ForeverMissed.com has made it easy for anyone to make and share their memorial even if you have little experience in building a webpage. Customer service reps are available day and night should you need any help and to guide you through the building process. It's a wonderful way for families who may be separated by distance or time to learn and share about the lives of their loved one. It is especially helpful to those who may have been young when their family member passed on as they now have an entire webpage dedicated to any information they may need to learn more about their family members!


For this holiday season, I have a special discount. You can receive $20 off of their premium plan by clicking this link. With the premium package you get the ability to upload unlimited photos, a video gallery, background music, illustrated stories, full integration with Facebook and YouTube, access for more administrators to help build the webpage, and customized default notifications you can use to let your other family members know that new content has been uploaded and remind them of important dates. I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below!



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Are You Sales Tax Compliant?

As I have written about before, e-commerce is evolving every day. When I first began shopping online, sales tax had not caught up with the frenzy of online shopping. It was the Wild West days of the internet and over the years as it picked up, sales tax on items became an issue that has resulted in states realizing just how much impact e-commerce has and now, sales tax compliance is of utmost importance.

In the landmark case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Supreme Court ruled on June 21, 2018 that an out of state seller can have economic presence in a state where they have no physical presence and can be held legally accountable for sales tax.The companies involved were Wayfair, Overstock, and New Egg. Essentially, these companies can establish a nexus, (an economic requirement that generates the qualification of collecting and remitting sales tax), just by economic activity. This decision allowed individual states to require that sales tax be collected through sales of products online.


The reason for this is because states began to recognize just how much income they were losing by not collecting sales tax, estimating that billions of dollars in tax revenue are lost each year. The US Census Bureau of the Department Of Commerce determined that in the second quarter of 2019 retail e-commerce sales reached 146.2 billion dollars which is a 4.2% increase from earlier in the year! This, of course, could generate billions in tax revenue for states as determined by the United States General Accountability Office. Budget deficits and revenue deficiency made states quickly require the collection and remittance of sales tax on e-commerce purchases.



Sales tax compliance is fairly simple. First, you will have to collect the data from all sources within your business, such as your marketing team, legal department, and operations depending on how large your company is. After you have amassed all of the data, you can then asses that data and reconcile it. You can then use this information to fill out your tax forms, and file your tax return. Your jurisdiction will now determine your filing frequency and the due date. Sales tax is normally due in the month of the taxable event. Typically, the due dates are the 15th, 20th, 25th, or at the very end of the month, although it varies by each jurisdiction. Creating a dedicated tax calendar is a recommendation that will help remind you of due dates, how much you owe for that month, what method you used for filing as well as the date filed, and  confirmation numbers for payments and filings. You can update it every month so you can go back and refer to it as needed. If you do receive any notices, make sure you respond promptly!  Most notices are sent because of errors so don't be alarmed if you do receive one. You should, however, follow it through until resolution. Once all of these actions are followed, you then repeat the process each month.



For more help and information, please visit TaxConnex.com. The website has a plethora of information and great tax software to get you started on sales tax compliance.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Matter Of Pride

She's in the mirror again
using those words
familiar
as the spark blows
across your mind
igniting the fire
that began
it all

She's your reflection again
using all of the bits
you buried
or pretended you did
under layers of dullness
years of the nothing void you hid in
that accumulated into 
reruns of your mind that
the picture sitting 
on your mantle of pride 
now holds

the ghost
of fascination
constructed from the mold of you
that now suffers
because 
in the mirror 
all she sees is
you
running
away.



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Are You Ready For Black Friday?

I am so ready!



My favorite place to go for Black Friday deals is Best Buy. I have found the best deals I've ever gotten on electronics at Best Buy on a regular day, but on Black Friday I definitely found the best! I bought my first blender, television, computer, laptop, and our favorite games all on Black Friday! I tried Black Friday at a few other stores but the deals on electronics were much better at Best Buy. Even as our ecommerce shopping evolved into now having Cyber Monday as well, Best Buy still reigns supreme.

We're all winners on Black Friday.

Many years ago when my kids were still little and ecommerce hadn't evolved to where it is now, we decided to try the doorbuster deals at Best Buy. We really wanted to get a computer for the family room (so the kids would stay off of mine!) that the kids could play their games on or do homework. We all got up at 4 in the morning and drove out to Best Buy. The doors opened at 6 AM and we went in. It wasn't that crazy but it was definitely crowded. We ended up getting an amazing deal on our computer AND a brand new flat screen television! The next year, my husband and son went back to Best Buy on Black Friday and got great deals on laptops for all of us. I was forever sold on Black Friday at Best Buy at that moment!



Best Buy has announced their Black Friday deals, and I am so excited about the Chromecast Streaming Media Player! Now that a lot of commerce takes place online these days, you can order online as early as midnight on Thanksgiving day. Cyber Monday is my favorite for shopping as well. I love grabbing the deals online, it's like a sport almost at this point.  I definitely choose online Black Friday over sitting out in the cold, waiting for the doors to open Black Friday! I absolutely love that it's easier than ever to get all of the deals thanks to ecommerce.

I have my eye on a few other store's Black Friday sales announcements as well. I am definitely looking to splurge on my granddaughter. I have been learning about all of the new fun stuff there is for babies(which is crazy)! For electronics though, Best Buy is always my go to! What's yours?

Do you have a Black Friday story? Tell me in the comments below! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

3 Things To Splurge On For Your Bathroom

While everyone loves a good kitchen, bathrooms can also be beautiful. We tend to spend a lot more time than we think in them. It’s the room where you give your children baths, relax after a long day, or an escape when you just need time to be alone (am I right, moms?!). Remember, you want to love every room of your home  even if the bathroom may seem less glamorous to some.


Since renovating bathrooms can be extremely expensive there are three things that are needed to splurge on. What are these 3 important things? I’ll share below!

Tubs and Showers

While you are building your home or removing what may already be there, you must first think about fitting a tub or shower in the space you are remodeling. Adding some of these items can be difficult because of all the additional plumbing lines you’ll have to put in. Usually by adding this, it means more money for you. However, if it’s what you really want, you can add that modern steam shower or gorgeous claw foot tub if you know it’s going to get the most use in this room. Try to build your design and ideas around an already existing plumbing line. If you do need to remove it, be sure that you to get what you want now to avoid additional remodeling expenses in the future. To help save money on your tub or shower, look for items that might be on sale at your local furniture stores.


Countertops

The countertops in your bathroom don’t face the same amount of abuse as the ones you install in your kitchen such as hot pans, oven trays, or knives. So, picking the perfect bathroom countertop typically is based on budget, style, material, and the ease of maintenance. Of course, there will be spills from makeup and abuse from water so you’ll want to pick one that is functional and aesthetically pleasing. It’s really the number one factor that will contribute to the overall feel and look of your bathroom. One thing to consider is who will be using the bathrooms, how many people, and the amount of time you’ll be spending in the bathroom. One way to help you determine that are the friendly staff at Premier Surfaces. They have over 10 showrooms across the United States so you’ll be sure to find one close by for any questions or concerns you have. Some of the countertops that I found were the Calacatta Kitchen Countertops, which can also can be used for your bathroom. Calacatta is a rare marble and more luxurious (read = expensive) due to it’s pure white background. However, many do consider it to be a great compromise and more on budget because it adds so much to your room. 


Details

This can be anything from the prints that you hang in your bathroom, to the faucet or lamp fixtures you decide to add. You can make statement pieces with accents, over the top lights on either side of the mirror, or you can find vintage knobs for your vanity and/or drawers. You can even add some bold wallpaper to add some movement. Maybe bold roses, an accent wall, or a pattern texture. Your details can also be simple with framing fun sayings, a nice shelf to hold extra towels and necessities, or cute accent pieces. Whatever you choose, you will have a great time showing off you and your family's personality.


There are many other items you could splurge on for your bathroom depending on how large or small the room is and how much it is used. These three things in particular will work wonderfully in your guest bathroom, master bathroom, or your main floor bathroom. The staff at Premier Surfaces are there to assist, encourage, and help you with any issues that may arise, as well as the installation of your products in your home.

Are there any things you and your family have done to spruce and splurge on your bathroom in your home? I’d love to hear some examples in the comments below!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Why I Love Being An Indie Author

Since the first time I wrote a story and let someone read it, I have wanted to be an author.

My father loved my story so much that it was published in the Virginian Pilot - Ledger Star newspaper in my hometown (where he just so happened to be an editor of said paper) when I was seven years old. 

All through my school career, my English teachers loved me, I was in the newspaper club, the yearbook staff, and I focused on writing in any way that I could. I never thought I could make a career at it.

Then, I got swept up into life and got married, had two children, and wrote when and where I could. As I learned and practiced more, I started to enter my stories into competitions on the internet. I won and was paid for writing my story for The Legendary

After that, I began to consider writing and being published. I wrote and saved over the days as I took care of my family and researched at night while they slept.



I wrote about Drive In Movie Theaters for FilmSnobbery for about a year and enjoyed every minute of it. Drive In Movie Theaters are the best way to experience all movies, by the way.



I kept writing on Tumblr, and Facebook, and Twitter, and all of those other places you find yourself immersed in online and stumbled across CreateSpace. That was it. CreateSpace helps you format and edit not only your words but your book cover! It gave me total creative control over my book and I excitedly started putting my first book together. 


It was done! I had done it! And people were buying it! It was almost a surreal experience.


My second book followed shortly after and I was so excited for the whole process again. I put it together using my own creative control, published, and it was well received as well!


 Now, there are some pros and cons I've found being a self-published author and I'm going to share them with you.

PROS
  • You have 100% creative control. You decide what goes in and what stays out. You have all of the creative freedom in the world.
  • It's an excellent way to learn the process of your craft, all the way down to how books are bound.
  • You get as many copies as you need for promotions, giveaways, and signings for free. 
  • YOU DID IT. Yeah, just that feeling. That feeling of accomplishing a lifetime goal is the biggest pro of being a self published indie author.

CONS

  • MARKETING. Get ready to HAVE to learn everything you never cared about! You should be able to get a marketing degree from Google for all of the tips, tricks, stats, graphs, blahhblahblah you have to research to get even an inkling of a tip or trick to get your book out there. You are definitely going to have to eat it on marketing and just pay someone to do it if you can swing it. I've tried myself and I've paid others to do it and when I've paid others to do it, it always turns out much, MUCH better.
  • You are now grouped in with "What's Up With Needles?!" by Anti-vax Mom and "Hey, Aliens Are Real, Join My Cult!" By Crazy O'Ridiculous or the zillion "Marketing Master Entrepreneur Real Pro Tips" By Basic Business Guy/Gal In A Business Suit on the cover as the type of authors people associate self published authors with. 
  • You are going to learn a lot about royalties. You'll have to learn to negotiate and fight for your work to get the money you deserve. Although, once you can negotiate the right terms, you'll be so happy, especially when you get your first check!
  • It's A LOT of work. Expect to put a lot of work into it. It's more than just writing once you are publishing.




But, it's so worth it. I love being an indie author! I love having complete control over my words and how I present them to the world. But most of all, I proved to that little seven year old girl that yes. Yes, you can write a book. And you will.

And, you did.

I'm working on my third book at the moment which will be another collection of poems. I hope to have it out by next autumn but maybe I will get it out sooner. Either way, I'm excited to be closer to my next publication! 

What do you love about being an Indie Author?


Monday, September 23, 2019

Is It Too Early To Talk About The Holidays?

Because I feel like it's never too early to talk about the holidays.



I know a lot of you parents out there are still dealing with going back to school and it's rough. I've been there and done it.

The payoff, though, is when the holidays come around! The very super best holiday is coming first and I am SO ready for it!


Kids in halloween costumers are hysterical! I used to love bringing my kids trick or treating or to fall festivals and see all of the great costumes. Fun Fact: My husband and I almost got married on Halloween because it's our favorite holiday, heh.

Actual footage of the first time I saw my husband.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday in our immediate family. Since my husband was in the Navy, we moved around a lot far away from everyone so on Thanksgiving, or Stuff Your Face Day as we called it, it was just my husband, myself, and my two kids. We'd feast out and just spend time together. We would try to outdo each other searching out Black Friday Deals! We found some crazy deals over the years and even camped out one night for Black Friday. Only once, though. It's still memories that are wonderful to hold.


At the end of the year, we have a huge celebration on the beach in The Outer Banks. My husband has a huge family and it's so nice to be able to spend the winter holidays all together. The view isn't half bad, either.

Are you ready for the holidays? What Black Friday deals would make you the most excited this year? What's your favorite holiday? 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Deepest Dark

In my deepest
dark
You can't see me

look away

This is where I 
hide
just me
and my dreams

toss and turn
through 
the replay

down here
I'm not okay
I promise

In my deepest
dark

You can't hear me
silence
embracing me like an old
friend

grasping at anything to climb out

eventually

As for now,
I'm down in my deepest
dark
hiding
just me and my dreams.