Simplicity Series: Caroline Vasquez

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Hi, friends! I am the founder and designer behind the brand Paloma’s Nest. Together with my husband and business partner Jose, we create handcrafted heirlooms that celebrate all of life’s special moments- from wedding day keepsakes, to children’s furniture, and personalized Christmas ornaments to commemorate your family year after year, our timeless pieces are meant to be passed on for generations. Our business started in 2007, and as we grew quickly, I was frequently contacted by other artists and designers seeking mentoring and guidance in how to make a living from their creative work. This led to Handcrafted Consulting, where I coach and mentor small business owners on all things e-commerce. But it’s not all stats and styling and SEO: I help creatives to empower themselves as entrepreneurs and to create a fulfilling business that functions on their own terms. I discovered my true purpose and passion through this work, and I am currently back in school earning my graduate degree in Professional Counseling. But above all, first and foremost, I am mom to two children, Paloma (age 9), and Valentin (age 4)- they are the light of my life!

      

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I have a lot of “irons in the fire” these days, so it is really essential that I  take time to myself when I get the chance. Right now that means that my hour-long commute to the University has become “me” time. Without emails or other distractions, I am able to listen to podcasts (we are a bilingual family, so Slow News in Spanish is a recent favorite so I can improve my skills!) or just spend the time in silence. The long drive allows me time to recharge and to think through decisions for myself and  the family, but also for the business and for consulting clients.

What’s your favorite beauty secret?
My nightly bath is a non-negotiable: so after the kiddos are squeaky-clean, it’s my turn! I live with chronic back pain, so a soak with Epsom salts is a pampering necessity. I love essential oils for their physical and psychological healing properties, and these eucalyptus salts are my favorite. 
    
    
What’s your favorite go-to outfit for a quick polished look?
Blazers and scarf! I find that throwing a tailored blazer or jacket on top of nearly anything instantly makes me look and feel more polished. As a creative business person (and in my role as a counselor), it is essential to look professional, but with personality. I credit my year spent living in Europe as a high school exchange student as being influential in my understanding of the “importance of a great scarf!” 

What’s your favorite quick-prep dinner for your family?
Roasted Chicken! It seems to be something the whole clan agree on- it works for my high-protein diet, and I can stretch it into two, even three, meals for the family. I either buy one already pre-made, or roast one at home over the weekend. I love to shred the leftovers to use in enchiladas or salads throughout the week.

Tell us your favorite Instagram account to follow and why?
The accounts I follow are so varied and so diverse, it would be impossible to pick just one! I think the most important thing to remember about social media is to create boundaries. If someone’s account doesn’t inspire you, don’t follow them out of some imaginary obligation! Just like you wouldn’t continue to have a coffee date with a friend who always leaves you feeling self-conscious or anxious, don’t invite those people into your life through social media, either.
          
What tradition or routine is important to you?
Family dinner and bedtime routines are so important for keeping us all feeling connected. I cherish the time I get with both of our children right before bed- reading stories, singing songs, and catching up on the details of their day.

What’s in your purse?
My purse could actually use some simplifying, as it is currently a large tote full of school books, files, and my planner! I do control “the clutter” by using zippered pouches: “work stuff” like pens and thumb drives in one, “kid stuff” like tiny coloring books, matchbox cars and a spare snack in another, and “Mami stuff” like lip balm, mints, phone charger, and hair ties, in a third. My sweet friend sent me these beautifully crafted hand-printed pouches as a reminder of the Lone Star State (I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin), and I just love them!

Where do you find your inspiration?
A few years ago we moved from Texas back to the Connecticut shoreline (where I grew up) in order to be closer to family. I am constantly inspired by the history here that is visible around every corner- like the Colonial and Victorian architecture in our quaint little seaside town, and the antique furniture and collectibles tucked away in tiny road-side shops. So many things here tell a story of years gone by, and much of it has survived for many generations. We hope that what we design for Paloma’s Nest will commemorate the lives of the people we craft them for, and will be cherished long into the future.

We know you’re a busy lady! How do you balance all of your work responsibilities with your home life? Any tips for our readers?
Our schedule is often planned down to every moment of the day…so staying on track and sticking to the plan is essential for the whole family to be in sync. However, we do our best to leave weekends totally free from plans so that we can all be together- even if that means just lounging around and doing puzzles in our pajamas, or doing housework. If we need to work on the weekends (which we often do, just to get everything done), we do it together. That’s the benefit of having our business as part of our home. The kids will join us and work on a project of their own- in the wood shop, or in the ceramics studio.

What’s your favorite app (or other tool) for helping you do life? 
So many! Since our entire business is online, I need to be able to easily access everything on the go. I am hardly ever in front of the computer anymore- so I recently treated myself to an iPhone 6s Plus. The large screen size is more gentle on my eyes and makes switching between tasks a breeze. Yes it is large- but it’s like my command center! From responding to customer emails, to sending PDFs with Genius Scan, to keeping Valentin (our four year old) busy while waiting for his sister to finish her ballet class (the Letter Tracer app is his favorite, and I love that it helps him with his penmanship skills!)

                

Follow along with Caroline: 

Website: www.palomasnest.com

Instagram: @palomasnest

Twitter: @palomasnest

Pinterest: @palomasnest

     

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Introducing: Grace, Not Perfection

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Six months ago, I sat in the preschool parking lot checking my email waiting for Brady to come out. In my inbox was an email from Harper Collins Christian Publishing. “We’re hooked on more than just your products, Emily. Your message speaks to a huge need among women. The idea of simplifying our daily lives, of giving our best to the things that truly matter, and of offering ourselves that elusive standard of grace rather than perfection resonated deeply with some of the women on our team. I think it beautifully reflects the rest and peace that God offers His children, and the ways in which you are a conduit of that through something as simple as a daily planner are remarkable.”

  

Cue ridiculous tears and confused looks from my then four-year-old climbing in the car.

  

I was an English major in college. Writing has always been my first love. The opportunity to write a book was a dream I dared not dream. It was too big, too impossible, to rare an opportunity. But, God. He knew better. He met me in the busiest, messiest, most circus-filled season of my life with blank pages and an incredible opportunity to fill them with heartfelt words from a girl who gets it: who’s fiercely fighting for what matters for herself, her people and her calling.

 

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Over the course of eight weeks, I sat at my neighborhood Starbucks (bless you, my Starbucks friends, for keeping me caffeinated and encouraged) every single night after bedtime until closing. And at a table in the corner, life stories, organizational strategies, tactical tips, behind-the-scenes business experiences, proud moments, face-plants, hard times, good times, and truths came together and Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy was born. 

  

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Grace, Not Perfection is published by Thomas Nelson: a 224 page hardcover, full-color book with our signature aesthetic (gold foil, simple design, and classic colors) as well as checklists, photos, and beautifully designed pages throughout. Pre-orders are NOW available (click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of retailers) and the book releases in October. 

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Thank you so much to my family who encouraged me through this whole process, to my team who gave me the grace and freedom to make this book happen and to my sweet husband for talking through every story and every thought with me. Thank you to my friends at Thomas Nelson, my literary agent Claudia, and my friends at Choice Media. Thank you to my incredible friend, Lindsay Sherbondy (Lindsay Letters) for your beautiful calligraphy on the cover. Thanks to my dear photographer friends Shay Cochrane, Laura Foote (these gorgeous images are from her) and Gina Zeidler. Thank you for all you’ve done to bring this message to life. You are all such a blessing to me. To our friends, followers, and customers – thank you for cheering our brand and me, personally, on. Thank you for championing grace and joining together as a community of women who want more, better, sweeter, richer. 

Hop on over to our book page here to read an excerpt from the book (and see the beautiful pages!) and to pre-order. With your pre-order, you can download my new e-book, Overcoming Overwhelm, with Q&As from women trying their best to do it all and do it all well. 

xo,

Emily

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Simple Style Vol. 2: Shorts for Summer

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Having three kids under the age of five has made me re-think some of the choices I allow into my closet. If a piece of clothing isn’t COMFORTABLE, not too frumpy, and not too tight, it doesn’t make the cut anymore. I tend to stick with loose fitted tees (comfy but with a bit of structure) and a staple pair of skinny jeans most days. But as it gets warmer here in South Florida, I’ve been on the hunt for a good pair shorts. In the past, I’ve had great luck finding some at J Crew (pictured above), Gap, and, of course, Banana Republic. It’s hard to find shorts that aren’t TOO short but aren’t too long either. (Click the shorts above to be taken directly to them).

       

When I found these shorts at Banana on sale recently (you know I love Banana), I immediately ordered them in all the colors. These shorts are some of my new faves. They’re the perfect length, a heavy (but not too thick) material, and are comfortable enough to wear chasing kiddos around. They make me feel pulled together and don’t remind me that I just had twins last year. Thankyouverymuch.

Also, as of this post, Banana is having a 25% off all new arrivals sale. Just use the code BRSAVE at checkout! A few favorites below!


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4 Ways to Organize Your Pantry

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One problem we’re sure all of us have struggled with at some point or another? The pantry disaster. For whatever reason, pantries seem harder to organize than nearly any other space. Luckily, we’ve found a few things that seem to work for us and our lives. Nothing mind blowing or life altering. Just simple, practical things to help you simplify the mess in your pantry. 

1) Organize by category. Trying to keep a pantry organized when you’re in the middle of packing lunches, cooking dinner, and being your family’s personal chauffeur is no simple task. But, having a spot for everything and keeping it categorized is extremely helpful for keeping things in order! Instead of throwing things on a random shelf, have a specific area for canned goods, another space for spices, and a basket full of grab and go snacks for when you’re on the run!  

2) Wipe everything down regularly. A little bit of flour that spilled out on a shelf, or syrup stuck to the bottom of a cabinet can make the whole pantry seem like more of a disaster than it actually is. Take time each week to wipe down the shelves and clean off containers that have been sitting for a few weeks. 

3) Use bins. Clear bins with labels (washi tape works great!) are amazing for organizing flour, sugar, oatmeal, and other baking supplies. Sealed containers will keep everything fresh and make it easier to see when items are running low. 

4) Clear the Clutter. All the fancy storage bins and organizing tips in the world won’t keep your pantry from being a complete disaster if you have too much stuff. Go through your pantry regularly and eliminate items you don’t need or use! Donate the canned goods that’ve been sitting on your shelf for months to a local food bank. Throw away the stale crackers that your kiddos never finished off. Eliminating clutter does wonders for an organized pantry! 

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EL + The Boatman Group!

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HOORAY! Many of you who have followed our journey from a guest room born hobby to the brand we are today may remember that between 2008-2011 when we offered personalized notepads, iPhone cases, stationery and Great Day Plates®. Well, we are thrilled to have partnered with The Boatman Group to bring all those products you loved BACK! Soon, you’ll be able to purchase our personalized line online and in retail stores across the country!! Monograms! Monograms! MONOGRAMS!!

We can’t wait to roll out the entire line, but let me just tell you – it’s AMAZING and includes calling cards, chore charts, desk blotters, stationery, notepads, meal planners, note cubes, our signature Great Day Plates (as well as bowls and platters), mousepads, tumblers, doozies, wine tags, cutting boards, ice buckets, iPhone nd iPad cases, stickers and placemats! OH MY! We just adore Jane and Greg Geller and the incredible products and brands they are offering at TBG and couldn’t have been more excited when they asked us to come on board. We’ve been working so hard on each and every piece and just love the finished products. Stay tuned for more info on where and how to purchase from this exciting new collaboration. 

Our Great Day Plates (and coordinating bowls and platters) are now available at IvyandAnchor.com

If you’re a retailer interested in carrying the Emily Ley personalized line, please contact The Boatman Group.

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Simplicity Series: Meg Sutton

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Howdy y’all! I’m Meg, the boss lady and doodler behind Belle & Union Co, a paper and home goods company brimming with new-fashioned Americana, a modern take on vintage American wit and wisdom throughout our collection of writings, wrappings and wares. I clearly love alliteration. I live in College Station, Texas (whoop!), with my husband of almost 7 years, Josh, and our fur baby, Ellie. After he graduates from Texas A&M next year, we hope to settle in small town Texas where I can open a shop along with my studio. I’m keeping my fingers crossed he will open a bakery next door!

            
How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I’ve been trying to consistently go to yoga at the end of the work day, at least a couple times a week. It’s great for my body, but also for my mind. It is time to allow me to just shut off what has been going on during the day, and just have a little me time. Remembering to eat lunch is helpful too! Oftentimes we will be working so hard in the studio we look up at it’s after 2pm. And definitely don’t underestimate the power of prayer. If I ever feel things getting out of control (or even in times of peace) just having that open conversation with the Maker helps to keep me centered and focused on what is important.

       

What’s your favorite beauty secret?
I truly don’t know that I have any secrets when it comes to beauty! I’m all about simplicity when it comes to my look. I don’t spend more than 5 minutes on makeup, and more often than not I don’t do anything to my hair. I do still try and pick out my outfits the night before (a habit from high school) that way I don’t have to fret over it in the morning. One less thing to do! And sleep, 8-9 hours a night to be well-rested and ready to go for the day.

What’s your favorite go-to outfit for a quick polished look?
Truth be told, most days I am in yoga pants and a tshirt, as my studio is the first floor of the house. But when heading out, I love a great cotton dress. It’s comfortable and easy to make it look like you put a lot of time and energy but with minimal actual effort.

What’s your favorite quick-prep dinner for your family?
I am definitely not the cook in this house; my husband has that job and he loves it (he is currently studying food science). If I’m in charge, I’m all about quick and easy – often a Stouffers lasagna. My cooking game is definitely pretty shameful. During cold weather though, I do enjoy making a good, hearty soup. Soups are one of my very few talents in the kitchen! I’m much happier just letting Josh cook and enjoying the fruits of his labor. 

Tell us your favorite Instagram account to follow and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one. I am definitely a visual person, so it is such an escape to see other people’s lives via photos each day. Currently I’m crushing on @lucy_mail. She hand paints envelopes with fun patterns or images; it’s such a departure from something I would do but I love it all the same. 

What tradition or routine is important to you?
It’s hard to have a routine as a small business owner; it’s constantly a go with the flow, take care of whatever fire needs put out first. But I do love when my husband and I actually take the time to go on a walk around the local campus or through our historic neighborhood. It’s a chance to decompress from the day, and just spend time together hand in hand. In the same vein, I love it when there is time for a good home-cooked meal. I may not be the one cooking, but I certainly love to enjoy my husband’s talents in the kitchen. No phones, no TV, just us. 

What’s in your purse?
My wallet, a tube of lipstick, our mailbox parcel full of pens and pencils, and a jotter – you never know when an idea will hit and you’ve got to put pen to paper. A lot of times I do have the habit of just sticking my phone in my pocket and calling it a day!

Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is truly everywhere – as cliché as that may be. I’m currently inspired by the small towns across America, the little details that make each place unique. I love frequenting vintage and antique shops, because you never know what you might find. Our line is a collection of small batch, artisan quality goods ranging from greeting cards to kitchen items such as tea towels – so anything I can create that has an heirloom element speaks to me. The thought that someone could find one of my goods in an antique shop in 50 years, or have it passed down to them from their parents or grandparents, it touches my heart and keeps me going. 

We know you’re a busy lady! How do you balance all of your work responsibilities with your home life? Any tips for our readers?
With the studio in the house, it’s hard to turn my brain off sometimes (ok, most times). But I make a point that when my husband is home, so after 5 and on the weekends, the computer is off – even if I can’t turn the brain off. Our time together needs to be exactly that, our time together – even if it’s just being lazy on the sofa catching up on our favorite shows. I like to keep a notebook on my nightstand or in my purse to jot things down whenever they come to me. 

What’s your favorite app (or other tool) for helping you do life? 
I am an Instagram junkie for sure. I love Dropbox for being able to link files from my computer to my phone, so I can just snag images from there for uploading. I also use Grum for scheduling Instagram posts, which is a great help on Tuesdays when I post every 2 hours as part of my #hometowntuesday series (which just featured the lovely Emily Ley!)

      

Follow along with Meg:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/belleandunionco/
Instagram: @belleandunionco
Twitter: @belleandunionco
Pinterest: @belleandunionco

 

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Weekly Top Ten: March 28 – April 1

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Happy Friday! We’re loving these ten things this week and think that you will too! 

1) Kendra Scott Jewelry: We can’t get enough of Kendra Scott! We adore the Rayne necklace and this bracelet. What’s your favorite Kendra Scott piece?

2) April Phone Wallpaper: Have you downloaded our April wallpaper yet? Start the month off fresh with our free wallpaper and lock screen for your phone.  

3) Ashley Brooke’s Power Kale Salad Recipe: We’re dying to try this salad recipe by Ashley Brooke. It’s packed with yummy veggies and lots of protein. Perfect to make ahead of time for weekday lunches on the go! 

4) Pineapple Paper Clips: Have you seen our new gold pineapple paper clips? Now available in the Emily Ley shop! (Stay tuned for more new products arriving soon!!!) 

5) HGTV’s 55 White Kitchens: If you’re anything like us, you’re always on the hunt for gorgeous kitchen inspiration. We loved flipping through this compilation of 55 white kitchens! 

6) Camilyn Beth Dresses: These dresses are GORGEOUS. Such high quality and clean, classic styles. We can’t say enough good things about Camilyn Beth!

7) Our ‘Color’ Board on Pinterest: Make sure you’re following along with us on Pinterest! Our color board is full of bright, cheery inspiration for parties, home decor, and more! 

8) Chapter’s Indigo: We are so grateful for our international retailers! Chapter’s Indigo is just one of our hundreds of retailers. Take a peek at our list of retailers to see if there is one near you! 

9) Palm Print Notepad: Simple, stylish, and functional. You can’t go wrong with this adorable monogrammed notepad. 

10) Our April Playlist: Our new playlist is up on Spotify! We’ll be listening to these songs in the office all month long. 

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6 Products for Flawless Skin

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Summer is almost here, and we’re all trying to cure that dull winter skin that comes with the cooler weather. We’re constantly searching for the perfect products that are light, don’t irritate our skin, and leave us with a fresh, dewy glow. So today, we’re sharing 6 of our very favorite skin care products for a flawless complexion. Don’t forget to follow along with us on Instagram and share your favorites with us there, too! 

1) Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer: Kiehl’s moisturizer works for all different skin types and includes SPF 30 to protect against sun damage. Great for everyday wear! 

2) Soy Face Cleanser by Fresh: This soy cleanser comes with a bit of a hefty price tag, but if you’re looking to splurge on yourself, it is SO worth it. It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin but still removes stubborn eye makeup. Plus, it’s paraben and sulfate free!

3) Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser: Cetaphil is such a great cleanser at an excellent price point. We love this for sensitive skin! 

4) Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Oil: Lightweight, hydrating, and absorbs quickly to nourish your skin. This makes a perfect overnight moisturizer, even for acne prone skin! (Bonus – you can use it on dry cuticles and split ends, too!) 

5) One Love Organics’ Vitamin E Eye Balm: Say goodbye to dry, tired eyes! This balm is made with organic shea butter, pomegranate, sea kelp, and Vitamin E to keep your eyes moisturized throughout the day. 

6) Water: It’s cliché, but we’re big believers in drinking plenty of water. There really isn’t a better “product” for your skin than lots and lots of water! 

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Simplicity Series: Lauren Hopkins

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Hi! My name is Lauren Hopkins and I am a 33-year-old publicist, wife, and mother of two precious little ones—Grace (3 years) and Ford (5 months). We live on beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia—a coastal community with a small-town, laid-back feel. I am grateful for the opportunity to work and raise my children in such a special place with so much to offer. As the owner of a boutique lifestyle public relations company, my days are filled with promoting my clients’ businesses and products while balancing my roles as wife and mother.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

It is very easy to fall to the bottom of your own to-do list, but I firmly believe in nourishing myself so that I can be the best in my business and personal life. For me, that means carving out time for exercise. With two young children, I’ve had to adjust my expectations about the frequency I make that happen, but it remains a priority. I also rely on my quiet time and cherish reading Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest. Both devotionals offer iPhone versions, so it makes it easy for me to weave a lesson into my day during moments of downtime. When I make a conscious effort to avoid defaulting to social media during those times, I am a better version of myself.

 What’s your favorite beauty secret?

I’m a big fan of Bobbi Brown Lip Balm, Sapelo Skin Care Renewing Serum, and YSL Touche Eclat to brighten dark circles. Finally, and most importantly– a smile. Everything looks better with a bright smile!

What’s your favorite go-to outfit for a quick polished look?

Life on an island means casual wear fills my closet.  I often default to wearing leggings or jeans with a tunic. I love the island-casual options Mari Max, a local St. Simons boutique, has to offer. On warmer days, I live in dresses from J.Crew, Two Friends or St. Simons-based Tibi. I’m a sucker for a statement necklace or a fun pair of earrings, but these John Hardy studs are a must-have for daytime. If I want to feel polished around the house or in front of weekend guests, you can find me lounging in LAKE Pajamas.

What’s your favorite quick-prep dinner for your family?

If you were to stop by our home on a Sunday evening, I can guarantee we will be eating rotisserie chicken with a roasted or sautéed vegetable. I also include macaroni and cheese for my daughter. As a bonus time-saver, I use the leftovers in my daughter’s lunchbox for Monday. This easy meal allows me to focus more time on prepping for the week ahead and enjoying my children before the busy week begins. I’m also a new fan of Terra’s Kitchen (@TerrasKitchen), a meal delivery service that makes it quick and easy to prepare a delicious dinner that’s unique. We just tried the Crispy Citrus Chicken & Broccoli Skillet—it was out of this world. Even my three-year-old declared it, “dee-wicious!”

     

Tell us your favorite Instagram account to follow and why?

Because of my profession, I follow countless Instagrammers. I’m always looking for ideas, cross-promotion opportunities, and client mentions. So, Instagram can often feel like work for me. Even though she’s a client, I LOVE following @libbiesummers. It doesn’t get more inventive or amusing than her account. My favorite “just for fun” account to follow is @nicatnitemusic. She is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter and mother of two children who are close in age to my two kiddos. Her son is coincidentally also named Ford. She rarely pushes products, so her feed is a refreshing change of pace. Go follow her. I guarantee you’ll love her song-lyric ready captions and breathtaking snapshots.

What tradition or routine is important to you?

Oh, I love a good routine. They are a comforting way to make sure everything gets done on time and in the right manner, so we have routines of all sorts in our home. Most importantly, going to Church as a family on Sunday is one routine we aim to keep. It offers consistency and the opportunity to connect with other believers, God and my husband. My daughter looks forward to it and my husband and I enjoy the one hour to peacefully sit beside each other and refill our tanks for the week.

What’s in your purse?

So much! Hand sanitizer easily tops the list. Plus, I always carry my Kate Spade Lacey wallet (it holds everything including a pen and a checkbook), Tom Ford Sunglasses and my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I use Hayden Reis water-resistant pouches to corral the rest of my smaller items including business cards by Emily McCarthy and mom must-haves like Band-Aids, stickers, snacks, wipes and bibs. A few other items I love to have on-hand are paint swatches from my house and a small tape measure, similar to this one. You never know when you might stumble on the perfect piece to add to your home and carrying those two things with me help me know if the item is worth considering.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I certainly don’t lack inspiration in the lifestyle arena because my profession surrounds me with beauty found in the pages of magazines, on blogs, and through social media. Professionally, I am inspired by my clients who are all contagiously passionate, dedicated and talented. I’m lucky to work for people who I admire and who are energizing. Personally, I find inspiration in the Bible and through small daily reminders from @SheReadsTruth and @Proverbs31Ministries.

We know you’re a busy lady! How do you balance all of your work responsibilities with your home life? Any tips for our readers?

Y’all, #TheStruggleIsReal. The nature of my business means that it’s practically around-the-clock and there is always something more to be done. That, paired with the fact that I love my work, means it’s hard for me to avoid being a workaholic. Thankfully, I was raised by amazingly wonderful and selfless parents who taught me the value of family. I want to offer my children that same blessing. The best tip I can offer is to avoid using unnecessary apologies. As women, we are wired to please and we frequently soften a “no” with an apology. Whether it is turning away a client because my plate is full, or declining a meeting because it conflicts with a family event, I am working on not feeling “sorry” when I can’t make something happen. While we want to, the simple truth is that we can’t do everything– and that is OK! I would challenge other women to not only feel like you can say “no,” but to also say it without including an “I’m sorry.” You’ll be surprised how this simple shift in behavior can free you to enjoy other priorities.

What’s your favorite app (or other tool) for helping you do life? 

Because I live in a small town, we don’t have access to a mall or other “big box” stores, which is why I rely on convenience apps and online shopping. Amazon is an obvious first choice, while Diapers.com, Shopbop, Sephora and Zappos are other go-to apps. Grocery IQ is an easy way to keep up with items I need from the grocery store, pharmacy and even Target. I can sort lists by store so that the next time I’m in each place, I have the list handy. I also love House Account because it allows me to shop my favorite boutiques from all over the country right from my phone.

Links to your website and social media accounts.

Website: http://www.lbhandcompany.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LBHCo

Instagram: @laurenbhopkins

Pinterest: @lbhopkins

Twitter: @LaurenBHopkins

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The meaning of “Simplified”

The other day, someone wrote something to me that really stung. On an Instagram post of mine about traveling for a less than 24 hour trip to Chicago for a work meeting, they said “As the woman who created The Simplified Planner, your life sure isn’t simplified.”

 

At the time, it hurt me, until I really thought through what she was saying. The Simplified Planner is very simple in design, yes. But that wasn’t what she was saying. She was saying my life was complicated – not simplified.

 

I was alone in the airport, wishing the minutes by so that I could board the plane back to my kiddos. But as I sat and chewed on it, God laid an enormous truth on my heart that I want to share with each of you – in case one of you busy ladies needs a little encouragement today.

  

Life is never simple. Ever. Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a college student, a mom to ten, a career woman, a new wife, a woman without children, or a single mother – whoever you are – life. is. never. simple. Let me say it again, life is not simple. Laundry for your family isn’t simple. Figuring out how to put food on the table isn’t simple. Paying bills and making ends meet isn’t simple. Raising children isn’t simple. Nurturing marriages and relationships isn’t simple. Pursing your calling isn’t simple. Figuring out your calling isn’t simple. Loving others well isn’t simple. In fact, all those things are crazy complicated. Put all those together and, sisters, life is a circus. 

  

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

 

God makes the choice to hand your burdens and complications and situations and worries over simple. The choice to change your perspective and choose joy is simple. The decision to implement routine and organization in small ways is simple. The choice to choose what matters is simple. Life is so complicated – always – and most of the time, there is little we can do about that. But of the few things we have control over, some of them are simple

   

Simplified means making these small choices day after day to give and be your best for yourself, your people and your calling. It means clearing clutter, dismissing distractions, and living with intention. It means choosing joy and showing up and leaning in. Sit with that last one – sometimes the simple thing to do when life is crazy (ahem, this happens to me daily) is to lean in. Putting the dishes down is simple. Just going to bed early to give your body rest when you can is simple. Giving up and letting your house be a wreck for a while is simple. Leaning in is sometimes the simplest thing to do when your life isn’t simple. That may not always be easy, but its always worth it. Happy, happy Easter, friends.

 

xo,

Emily

 

PS: Updated to say… since writing this post, I’ve had the most incredible conversations via email with the sweet woman who wrote that comment. She wrote those words from a place of compassion and experience even though they stung a tender spot in my heart. Our exchange is just proof that God works in beautiful ways. xo

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