Simplicity_Graphic_Anna-01-01Hi everyone! So excited to be here today on Emily’s blog along side so many fabulous women!  I am a portrait/glamour photographer from Toronto, Canada! I am also a lifestyle blogger and with a newly opened fine art photography shop! As a recent newlywed and recent business owner I am constantly looking for ways to save time, streamline and simplify my life.  It’s definitely a work in progress but here are a few essentials I can’t go without.  Hope you all can take away some tips and ideas!


SIMPLIFIED PLANNER: If you follow me on Instagram or follow my blog you’ll know how obsessed I am with my simplified planner!  I take it everywhere and I love how organized it keeps me.  When I first saw this planner I screamed YES! FINALLY! Emily get’s it.  Lots of space for to-do’s, a layout and timetable of the day, space to plan dinner, an extra “notes” section – which I’ve started using to remind me what social media posts to go live, inspiring quotes daily (which I love) and not to mention the bright coloured stripes that make me so happy on the outside. Sigh, I love this planner.  Everything stays in one place and I can quickly reference it to see what’s coming up/what I have to do next.  It has saved me so much time, simplified down to one planner.

Emily’s note:  Anna has taken some amazingly, beautiful photos of her using the Simplified Planner.  Check them out!  We are completely, 100 % sold out of the 2014 Simplified Planner, but will be releasing more information on the 2015 edition soon. Stay tuned! :)

CLEAN KITCHEN: The way you start your morning can either make or break your day.   My morning routine is pretty simple.  I wake up, go into the kitchen, turn on my espresso machine and quietly start my day with a hot cup of coffee.  I love the feeling of walking into a clean (and I mean clean clean) tidy kitchen.   Nothing kills the feeling of a productive fresh start like a dirty kitchen (especially when you work out of your home).   Let’s keep it real sometimes I’m pooped after a long day of shooting and after dinner and rinsing the plates I want to sneak off to bed without tidying up 100%.   Every time I did this I’d wake up and feel so behind for the rest of the day.  I work best first thing in the morning, so instead of getting right to work it I’d start cleaning and then feel like I was playing “catch up” for the rest of the day!  I’ve now gotten into the habbit that no matter how tired I am I’ll thank myself in the morning if I get it done. I need to be as productive as I can every day, so being aware of what can throw you off and taking the time to fix bad habits definitely simplifies my mental state!  Something so small but makes a huge difference.

RASKOG: I want you all to meet Raskog & Raskog Jr. They’ve become part of the family! These two Ikea trollies keep everything organized and looking good.  I bought the first to hold all my desk supplies and was not expecting love it as much as I did.  Everything has a place and I can quickly grab what I need fast and easy (no digging through stacked boxes).  I had been looking for something moveable to hold all my camera equipment that kept it all safe but had easy access.  I went and bought a second Raskog and now they are friends.  I love having designated spaces for my supplies and equipment, keeps me from scowering the studio to find what I need and making a mess.  Love these!

MAGAZINE ORGANIZATION: I’ve had this habit since I was in high school that whatever magazines I would subscribe to (and there are many) I would rip out the pages of everything I liked.  I have magazine clippings from over 10 years ago of photoshoots that inspired me.  From here there are two things that happen, first I rip out all the pages I like, then I have a filing cabinet organized with categories ex: photoshoots, house and home, style, celebrity portraits, covers (I keep all the covers it’s so fascinating to go back and see them all over the years) and I file away every magazine clipping in it’s proper folder.  Talk about old school pinterest!  The last step is reserved only for my absolute favourite clippings, I buy blank sketch books and double sided tape and start taping in all my favourites, creating my own mini inspiration book.  I know have so many black books filled with the best of the best from over the last decade, it’s such a good resource to reference, clients love coming and flipping through them. This is something that’s difficult to keep up every week but every couple of months I set aside an afternoon to do this.  For me, it’s not work or a burden, I’m so happy when I’m in this zone not only getting organized but re-inspired all the time.

This may seem a little silly but hear me out.  Day to day I have a super easy low maintenance beauty routine.  Wash and go type.  I’m always looking for ways to streamline and simplify the “getting ready” process. One thing I’ve always loved to have fun with, is my nail colour.  I try every colour sometimes all at once.  I was always hesitant to try it but about 5 months ago I stated getting gel manicures and haven’t looked back.  Ever been in a meeting or about to meet a client and look down and realize half your nails have chipped off?  Embarrassing! Doesn’t look very good does it? That’s why I love gel nails, they last 3 weeks (okay sometimes I push it to almost 4) and I don’t have to worry about fitting in time to re-paint my nails every 3 days to make sure they look presentable.  Ain’t nobody got time for that ;)  It is a bit of an investment but saves me loads of time in the long run which is why I’m hooked!

MY MR: My husband :) Without him none of what I do would be possible (and I mean it).  Kosta and I just got married 5 months ago (yayy!)  He has always been my biggest supporter.  Way back when in high school when I decided to go to film school, then again when I decided to change careers into photography and finally when I decided to go at it alone and start my own business.  He has always been by my side with unwavering support.  He is without a doubt the number one thing that brings me so much joy and makes life easy.  I would be lost without him.  It’s scary when you are starting your own business.  A lot of irrational doubts creep into your head, a million and ten things always on your to-do list.  It’s a juggling act.  Without him being the voice of constant encouragement and reason (and also telling me and reminding me when it’s time to shut down and relax a little) there is absolutely no way I’d be able to do what I do.  He is my secret weapon, the best part of my life and someone I can always count on.  I’m so grateful for him. (Love you babes!)

Follow along with Anna:



Instagram: @annawithlove


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34


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Cleaning up our house

1-1 Over the past few years, I’ve made a real effort to decrease the amount of  junk in our house – in terms of STUFF we’ve collected and toxic junk in our food and the products we use. We started with the obvious by bathing Brady in “clean” products and swapping our cleaning products for safe products. But as we travel further down this infertility road and I really start to read and research more about WHY so many (!!!) couples deal with this… I’m really starting to realize the effects our “normal” products have on us. I read this post from Sarah Tucker the other day and it blew my mind. 1 in every 3 women and 1 in every 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer. WHY is there so much of this. Here are a few changes we’ve made over the last few years:

GLUTEN FREE-ISH DIET + CLEANER FOOD: Last year, I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. I was feeling exhausted every afternoon, had some strange symptoms and just felt sluggish. I still allow myself gluten every once in a while, but its made a TREMENDOUS difference in how I feel. One of the things I’m most proud of as a Mom is that Brady will eat ANYthing (I realize that could change at any second, but let me have my moment, haha). He loves vegetables. He’ll eat onions, turnip greens, mushrooms. He’ll try anything, really. And for that reason, he loves healthy snacks and doesn’t eat a ton of  processed stuff. That kid could eat twelve apples a day. We make smart choices about the food we eat and buy and are just starting to make even MORE healthy choices as we start this journey to make our home and family more healthy. I purchased the good stuff above from VitaCost to make Sarah’s smoothie here (it’s a great website Sarah introduced me to – cheaper than Amazon and just as fast!). You can get $10 off your order (I’ll get $10 off mine too!) by using my link here. I’m excited to start using coconut oil as a moisturizer and in smoothies (especially since I’m allergic to banana – so strange). Here are two movies I watched that really made me look at food differently: Forks Over Knives and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.

ESSENTIAL OILS:Another way we started cleaning up our house is by using essential oils. I was very skeptical at first, but after watching Brady’s bedtime COMPLETELY change after rubbing lavender on the soles of his feet or watching a sniffle go away over night after diffusing thieves in his room, I’m convinced. I’m still learning all the ways to use our Young Living set, but I’m a believer. I got ours from my friend Amber Ulmer.

SAFER PRODUCTS: Sarah also introduced me to BeautyCounter. Check out Sarah’s post on their products here. I love good skin care products, but they’re FULL of parabens (aka bad stuff). And if you think about the amount of products you use on the largest organ you have (your skin)… it’s pretty scary. From shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, makeup, skin cream, face wash… just goodness. It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it. I ordered some face wash from BeautyCounter. I’m interested to try it. My skin is combination, so I’ll keep you posted. Their website is fantastic though and they have a great blog, Truth Serum. Their “Never List” will blow your mind.

HONEST COMPANY: Since Brady was born, we’ve purchased his products from Honest Company. I love this brand. We get pull-ups (used to get diapers, now we just get these for night time – no I haven’t tackled that whole night time potty training excitement yet), all his bath stuff (even detangler!), sunscreen (B has a sunscreen allergy… probably because sunscreen contains some nasty stuff), hand sanitizing spray, wipes, gummy vitamins, etc from them. (They also offer a free trial pack!)

We’re slowly transitioning what we have to these healthier products. So when we run out of laundry detergent or dishwashing pods next, I’ll buy mine from Honest Co, etc. I’d love to know what you do to keep your family healthy. I feel this enormous responsibility about it, obviously, and I also KNOW that so much of the disease and exhaustion and infertility and awfulness that’s out there right now is, in part, due to the food and product choices we make. Its SO overwhelming though. So what healthy choices do you make for your family? I’d love some tips!



Here’s another post on how I used to juice for little B! 

And here’s another post about how we changed our eating habits a few years ago for the better



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Simplicity_Graphic Template-01Hey there! I’m Dusty Pyatt, owner of Cupcakes by Dusty. I have 4 chilldren, 2 cats and a very large dog. I’m a self classified foodie. I love being in the kitchen. I sometimes find myself standing in there to watch tv, or help with homework or talk on the phone….nothings cooking, it just feels right. I love cooking and food so much that I realized while coming up with my favorite things to share, they were all kinda food related!


COCOA POWDER: It’s not just for baking people! Hear me out….I am very busy on any given day, and sometimes washing my hair is just not happening! Dry shampoos are a great time saver but often leave my brunette hair looking a bit grayish and brittle. My solution is a combination cocoa powder and arrowroot. I mix 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup arrowroot in a container and use an old (clean) make up brush to apply. A little goes a long way so play around with it a bit to find the right amount for your hair. You’re welcome!

EASY LUNCH BOX SYSTEMI’ve been using this system since my 5th grader was in Kindergarten and now that I’m packing for my 2 sweet girls, it makes it that much easier! The containers are very inexpensive, but last! (I still use the original set!) The only thing we have updated is the lunch box itself because a little girls “favorite color” changes each year apparently. And this system eliminates all those plastic throw away baggies.

MISE EN PLACE:  Fancy French word (pronounced me-zahn-plahs) that basically translates to ‘set in place’ or ‘everything in it’s place’ depending on who you ask. It may seem simple, but my house wouldn’t function without this rule. It’s everything from the coffee made the night before and ready to just turn on in the morning (life saver, by the way), to the girls knowing that if they don’t unpack their lunch boxes, put their ice packs in the freezer and dump uneaten food, you don’t get a homemade lunch the next day…true story. I take time on Sundays to make a huge pot of brown rice (in the oven, best thing ever), a big pot of soup which happens to be chicken tortilla right now because I’m addicted, and I chop all my veggies for the week and store them in Snapware containers for easy lunch packing and cooking. The brown rice is a fast healthy side dish, a great soup extender, and with whats left, you can  make a mean veggie stir-fry at the end of the week with all them left over vegetables! Yum!

SILICONE BAKING CUPS: These little things are amazingly versatile! Funny thing is, I don’t bake in them! I use them in the girls lunch boxes to separate pickles from hummus, or a chocolate treat from apple slices. At home we put ranch or ketchup in them for dippin’! I hear they’re also great for cupcakes, muffins and things because they’re non stick. Again, another item that is long lasting! One of these little suckers got in the garbage disposal…and survived!

THE KITCHEN IS CLOSED DRAWER: I’m sure that title says it all, but let me explain. My 7 year old can eat a full dinner, and then an hour later (once the kitchen is clean) be starving!  Although I love being in the kitchen, I do have other things to attend to, therefore I found myself getting snippy with her…poor thing right? Insert eye roll here. This is how ‘the kitchen is closed drawer’ came to be. I bought an inexpensive white basket that fits in the bottom drawer of the fridge and I keep it stocked with all things she can do herself. Things like squeezy fruit pouches, single serve pickles, go-gurt, olives, apple slices and the little 8oz Horizon Chocolate Milks.  Nothing that requires a spoon or adult assistance.  Done! One stress from my day averted!

TERVIS TUMBLERThey have a lifetime warranty, they don’t sweat, they hold hot or cold beverages add in a lid and a straw and you’re getting in your 8 glasses of water a day for sure! I have a tumbler with me at all times, seriously.  After coffee in the morning, my smoothy goes in one, then I switch to water and then later in the afternoon, I sometimes have an iced coffee. Want to increase your kids water intake? Buy them a cool cup with funky designs or order a personalized one from Tervis and its a guarantee. Lid and straw are a must!


Follow along with Dusty:



Instagram: @cupcakesbydusty


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34


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A fun little spot on our local news!

A few weeks ago, a sweet gal from Tampa Bay Online (the online home of our local newspaper, The Tampa Tribune) contacted me about spending some time with me to get to know more about my business. Katie came over mid-week and we chatted in my living room. She also spent some time with Brady and I a few days later. I just love how this piece turned out! Thanks for the feature, TBO! Read the full article here.


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Simplicity with Katherine Speirs

Simplicity_Graphic_Speirs-01 Hi! My name is Katherine (Kate to some!) and I am a Canadian girl who loves the simple things like a good cup of coffee, the first snowfall, a glass of wine, a new magazine, beautiful stationary and pens, and of course, hockey (I am Canadian, eh)! I have always wanted to do something that mattered and three years ago I found my passion working in fundraising and event planning for a non-profit cancer support community. Going into work each day with a purpose and knowing you are making a difference, no matter how big or small, is something I am truly grateful for.  When I am not in the throes of an event, I am typically on the golf course or travelling with my handsome other half, Ryan.


AVEENO LIP BALM: Anyone who knows me knows that I am never more than 5 feet away from my lip balm at any given time. If I went on ‘Survivor’ it would be my one luxury item! I tend to buy them in bulk and have them stashed everywhere – my purse, my office, on the coffee table, etc. My favourite and go to lip balm these days is Aveeno Essential Moisture Lip Conditioner and Aveeno Intense Relief Therapy Lip Balm. I prefer to use the Moisture Lip Conditioner as it contains SPF 15 so I keep my lips protected when I am out and about in the sun. Both of these are a great go-to option for everyday and keep your lips well hydrated and give them a great shine for the days that you want to go au natural.

STARBUCKS COLD CUP, 16 OZ: I definitely fall into the category of not drinking enough water each day, but I am getting better! I love this Starbucks Cold Cup and it tends to come with me wherever I go. Maybe it is the convenience of the straw, but I have found that by keeping it full and on my desk at work I can grab a quick sip, take it with me to meetings, it is environmentally friendly, and because it is made with a double wall, the inside pulls apart so you can customize it. My cup is personalized with a couple of Hello Kitty stickers!

LOVE DOES BY BOB GOFF: I have to thank Emily for recommending this book. Simply put, it makes my heart smile. Bob Goff is truly remarkable and his stories and experiences are inspiring, laugh out loud funny, full of whimsy, and make you realise the power that love has by just doing. As soon as I read the introduction to this book I was hooked and couldn’t start reading fast enough. The short stories make this the perfect book when you just need a quick refresh and something to lift your spirits but don’t have the time to get invested in a storyline. This book has had such a profound effect on me and simply thinking about it brings a smile to my face. Go. Read it. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

BOBBI BROWN COSMETICS: I would describe my beauty style as classic and simple, and while I don’t wear a lot of makeup, simply putting a bit on each morning makes me feel put together and ready to start my day. Bobbi Brown is known for celebrating individuality and providing makeup that makes a women look and feel like herself, only prettier and more confident. Almost everything in my makeup bag is Bobbi Brown, from skin care to brushes, but I have a few favorites that would be a great addition to any woman’s beauty routine. I absolutely love the Face Touch Up Stick and have one in my makeup bag and in my purse. It is a mini stick that is great for touch ups or covering any imperfections, and the cool beige color is a perfect match for my skin tone. The other product I love is the Long Wear Eye Base. It acts as a primer as well as neutralizes any discoloration you may have on your eyelids, and I find that you can either wear it alone or use it underneath your regular eye shadow. It comes in a variety of colors so you can choose the best shade for you.

MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS: I have always loved getting things in the mail, and I literally let out a squeal of excitement when my magazines arrive each month! I currently subscribe to three different magazines – Martha Stewart Living (love you Martha!), Real Simple and Style at Home – and I find that I get a little something different from each one. Whether I am in the mood for beauty, fashion, home decorating ideas, you name it, I can find it in one of these great magazines. I am also known to frequent the book store each month to pick up a couple of my other favorites like Martha Stewart Weddings (who doesn’t love weddings) and Southern Living. My happy place is simply sitting down with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning and browsing through a stack of unread magazines.

MY GUY: This series is about the sharing the things that bring joy and simplicity into your life and for me, hands down that is Ryan. At the end of the day I feel truly lucky and blessed to go home to my best friend. He encourages me, laughs with me, challenges me, loves me unconditionally, and simply brings me joy. He is the funniest person I know, always have a mischievous look in his blue eyes, and loves all the quirky things that make me who I am. He is a great sounding board, a voice of reason (because lord knows I’m not!), and brings out the very best of me. I thank my lucky stars every day that I get to share my life with him.

Follow along with Katherine:

Instagram: @katherinespeirs


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34



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Hi Friends! I’m Anna K. a Wedding Photographer based in Georgia with an amazing husband and one of the cutest golden/lab mixes you’ve ever seen! I was born and raised on the Coast of Georgia and recently relocated to the big city of Atlanta. While studying for my Fine Arts Degree I realized that I not only had a passion for the arts, but more so a passion for serving others. Through photography I’ve found a way to combine them both and work with some truly amazing people along the way!


CANVAS GROCERY BASKET: This seems so simple, but the amount of plastic bags that used to pileup in our pantry caused so much clutter! I had a few canvas totes, but I would always forget to bring them to the store with me and more often than not all of our groceries wouldn’t fit in them. I found a canvas basket at Marshalls for $9 that is the exact width of the grocery cart and it is perfect! I can fit a weeks worth of groceries in it and it makes unloading a breeze! Plus I quit using bags for all of my fresh fruits and veggies and that makes it even faster! Since the basket is a decent size I set it near our backdoor and I never forget to take it when I’m going to run errands! Plus it doesn’t hurt that I’m no longer wasting all of those plastic bags!

MILE IQ : Anyone that is a small business owner knows that keeping up with mileage can get tedious at times, then I found MileIQ. I love this app and I’m so thankful that I found it last year. It automatically tracks the time, address, and distance that I drive, catching everything single trip. I can then login online and put exact descriptions. I’m no longer loosing out of mileage because I forgot to write it down!

DRY SHAMPOO: Why didn’t I know about this sooner?! Dry Shampoo is the best for when you are traveling or in a pinch and don’t have time to wash your hair! I spray a ton on my roots right before I start to put on makeup and then it’s pretty much ready to go when I’m finished! My personal favorite is Psssst! And I know there are a ton of other great brands out there!

AUDIBLE: I love to read, but I don’t always have the time! When I’m driving or cleaning I love to listen to books. I discovered Audible last year and I’ve been in love with it ever since! You can become a member and receive one book credit a month and trust me those credits add up! I love that I can pick up helpful business tidbits when I would normally just listen to the radio! (

BLOOM THEORY CAMERA STRAP: These straps are gorgeous and I love that they feel and look like scarfs! I used to only use my iphone when I was out and about because my big camera felt so obtrusive, but now I feel like it’s not as noticeable!

CREATING A “DAILY WIN” & GIVING THANKS: There are times when I feel like I’m drowning in my to-do list and creating a small manageable list of realistic tasks to accomplish everyday helps me stay on top of things. Also, every night right before I fall asleep I give thanks for the things that truly matter.  Sometimes it can be as simple as a warm bed to sleep in and it’s amazing the way that this helps me keep my priorities straight. Realizing how blessed you are makes you realize how silly some of your materialistic desires can be.

Follow along with Anna:



Instagram & Twitter: @annashackleford


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34


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Simplicity_Graphic Woerner-01-01Hi!! I am Valerie Woerner, owner of Val Marie Paper. I’ve got a husband who makes me laugh like no one else and a 6 month old who has brought me so much joy! Besides creating wedding invitations for some oh-so-wonderful brides and sharing our VMP prayer journal with more amazing women, my mission in life is to inspire women to live a life of peace and joy and to share my journey as I try to find that myself.  (Photo by Catherine Guidry.)


MARGIN & SAYING NO TO WORKSHEET : Can I cheat here and name two things? They go together, I promise!! Simplicity started for me when I read Margin! Emily recommended it a while back and I’m so glad she did! Knowing WHY I want a simple life and how to get it is key to actually making it happen. I created a worksheet to physically write down what I’m not doing, thinking or buying. It’s so freeing.

LIVING PROOF STYLE EXTENDER AND Baking Soda!: A year ago, my twin sister told me she could go a week without her hair getting dirty. The secret is to add a little baking soda to your scalp when the shampoo is in your hair. After my shower, I add some Style Extender and the combo has me washing my hair every five days!! As a new mom, this was a god-sent and major time saver! I could take a 5 minute shower and not worry about the 30 minutes to dry or straighten my hair everyday.

TIMI & LESLIE DIAPER BAG: I really wanted something that did not look like a diaper bag. This was perfect. It comes with a little wristlet for me to keep my cash, cards and Burt’s Bees so I’m not shuffling between bags. It makes life super simple when we are dashing out of the house.

YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS: I’ve only been using essential oils for a few months, but there are so many ways to use them! I wake up and add a little Joy to the diffuser, dab some Frankincense on my skin (keeps skin healthy), put a drop of Thieves under my tongue (for fighting germs), smell a little Peppermint when I have a headache, add a little Lemon to my tea and diffuse Lavender before Vivi goes to sleep. The benefits are crazy, all from my little essential oils kit.

PRAYER JOURNALS: I created these journals out of my own desire to simplify the clutter of my mind when I pray. I’m able to pray for more people when it’s clear in front of me. Prayer is one way to change someone’s life even if I’m unable to physically be their for them!

ILLUME CANDLES: It’s been my mission to think of ways to make someone’s day and Illume candles have helped! I bought several of these candles to keep on hand when I needed a little gift. These candles smell great, are beautiful and double as a vase when they are all burned down!!


Follow along with Val:



Instagram: @valwoerner


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34


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Simplicity_Graphic-01-01Sarah and I met at Making Things Happen in Atlanta, Georgia. I was there leading the workshop with Lara and Gina. I sat near a fiery red-head from Tampa and we hit it off right away. Sarah’s one of the funniest gals I know and I’m so glad she’s part of our team here at EL. xo, Emily

I was born and raised in Orlando, but somehow ended up with a Southern accent. It could be all the sweet tea, or the fact that I was raised on soul food and Southern charm. I’m a fan of the Amen — you know the kind, it’s usually accompanied by a hand in the air and follows some sort of profound statement. Yes ma’am, I love a good Amen. When I’m not designing for Emily, I can be found with my church’s Student Ministry or deep in conversation with a good friend. (Photo by Shay Cochrane.)


MOPHIE JUICE PACK HELIUM BATTERY CASEIt’s no secret that my generation might as well have their cell phones super-glued to the palm of their hand.  I am constantly on my phone – it does everything I need it to and more (Hello, compass.) I use it as my watch, my calculator, even as my flash light, alarm clock, portable radio, note pad and time killer.  It also houses my personal and work email accounts (all four of them!) as well as all of my calendars and social media accounts.  Needless to say I can kill a battery fast, and being tethered to an iPhone charger doesn’t really work for me.  Enter the Mophie Helium Juice Pack for the iPhone 5.  This nifty little battery case doubles my battery life and makes my sweet little cellular capable of lasting through almost two full days of normal usage. It protects my phone, too, fully enveloping the rather-delicate shell that is characteristic of most Apple products.  The charger is the best part, each night when I plug my phone in, the case and the phone charge at the same time.

CLARISONIC MIA SKIN CLEANSERThree years ago when I moved to Tampa, I immediately noticed that my hair and skin were reacting to the water differently than they had in Orlando and Gainesville.  My hair was softer, but my skin didn’t fare so well.  I was breaking out like the average 12-year-old and it wasn’t pretty.  I was also training for a half marathon in the middle of July, so my forehead was dealing with an uncharacteristic amount of perspiration and no amount of concealer was going to, well, conceal it.  I marched myself into Sephora prepared to drop an ungodly amount of money on the Lauren-Conrad-approved Kate Somerfield product line when a friendly cosmetologist pointed me toward the Clarisonic Mia.  She said that combined with my typical, I’ve-used-it-since-puberty Clean and Clear facewash, the Mia would provide the proper balance of cleansing and exfoliating that my skin needed.  I’ve TRULY never looked back.  My favorite part is that the bristles pulse, vibrate and rotate for a set amount of time, which keeps you from over-exfoliating sensitive facial skin, but ensures that you spent enough time to wash off the icky stuff.

FULL LENGTH SONG ALARM CLOCK:  I love to sleep … I love my bed, my pillows and my covers, and I rarely ever want to extract myself from them, so 7 am wakeup calls (yeah, yeah, yeah, judge me, I know.) don’t always go so well.  In fact, for about six months straight I was setting five alarms and snoozing ALL of them – finally getting out of bed around 8:15.  NO BUENO.  About a month ago I picked three different songs for the three most common times my alarm goes off (using the standard iPhone alarm clock app.)  If I’m waking up early (around 6:30 am) it’s Lead me to the Cross by Hillsong United.  If I’m waking up at the usual time (7:07 am to be exact) it’s Ain’t it Fun by Parramore.  And if I’m “sleeping in” til around 8:15, it’s Anything Can Happen by Ellie Goulding.  I sleep with my phone on silent and across the room, so I wake up slowly to a good five minutes of excellent music.  I’ve found that I wake up much easier these days – and I have plenty of time to get ready for my day.  (That said, I still set my alarm 10 minutes ahead of when I actually have to get out of bed.)

LUXY HAIR EXTENSIONS & WEN HAIR CLEANSERAlright y’all it’s about to get real.  I wear clip-in hair extensions and my conditioner is mail-order.  I love long, beautiful (read: Disney Princess) hair.  But my naturally red mane can be unruly and obnoxious at times and it is impossible to grow it long AND keep it healthy.  I stumbled across Luxy extensions when I watched one of the founders’ (Two really cute sisters who are successful entrepreneurs in their 20’s, yay!) hair tutorials on YouTube and I was sold.  At their price point (about $120 per set) Luxy extensions are a STEAL for their quality.  I have two sets – one more auburn and darker, and one that is more copper and lighter. I mostly wear them for special occasions, and I happily admit when I have them in. (I even fully removed them while standing in Emily Ley’s kitchen for the first time…)  They make my hair fuller and easier to style, AND they allow me the luxury of a trim when I need it without sacrificing length.  (Disclaimer, my extensions are only about an inch longer than my actual hair, but it’s the fullness that really counts.)

I mentioned WEN hair cleanser here as well because I think it goes hand in hand with my extensions.  It is a one-step process (cleanser is code for neither shampoo nor really conditioner) that cleans and nourishes the hair.  You can’t get WEN in drugstores, so mine comes in the mail every other month. I have a subscription… to hair products… yeah fine, okay, judge me, but then try WEN and you’ll understand. (You can also get it at Sephora.)

YOUVERSION BIBLE APPThis might be my favorite thing on my list (and I’ve got to redeem myself for telling you about my hair extensions.)  I LOVE having a bible with me everywhere I go. In high school, I carried a pocket bible in my backpack – this is the new-age version.  My YouVersion account syncs on my iPhone, iPad and online, so wherever I go, I have access to scripture, to notes, to reading plans and to the exact passage where I left off.  Now of course the “phible” (phone bible) doesn’t replace the good ol’ paper book, but it certainly makes working a life lived in the word more convenient when you’re on the go.  I use my ESV study bible (the paper kind) for my quiet times, and I do my best to highlight and annotate scripture in it the same way I do in my app.  But I use the bible app on my iPhone each morning before I even get out of bed (I lay back down after my alarm goes off) to read the Verse of the Day and I use the app on my iPad every Sunday in church to follow along with the sermon and take notes.  If you’re a bible-reading techie like me, I highly encourage you to create an account with YouVersion and sync it across your devices. My favorite thing is when I can say to someone “Oh I was reading in Romans the other day… blah blah blah…” and then screen shot the passage on my phone and text it to them.  It’s such a fantastic way to share scripture!

MARC JACOBS FOR TARGET GOLD MAKEUP POUCH:  This one isn’t so much about the pouch (though it’s really stinkin’ cute…) as it is about the purpose it serves.  I consider this pouch my prep for being a mom.   So here it goes, my gold pouch carries: a bottle of Advil, a bottle of Zyrtec, a pack of Dramamine, a few shades of lip balm and gloss, 2 tubes of real lipstick in red and a pinkish nude color, a few tampons and panty-liners, a smattering of bobby pins, an assortment of hair ties, a travel size bottle of hairspray, a pack of gum, a handful of spare change, a tube of mascara and an elastic headband.  You never know when you’ll need any of these items, but it’s always good to have them on hand.

Follow along with Sarah:

Instagram: @sarahannewatson


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34


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Announcing our first Shop Coaching Webinar!

webinar-3-02Over the years, I’ve received so many questions about operating an online shop, building a captivating and viral brand and creating community around products that will truly be impactful in the lives of others. I’ve LOVED every second of my Shop Coaching sessions this year and am thrilled to announce that I’ll be hosting my first Shop Coaching Webinar on Tuesday, March 11. The webinar will take place from 12 – 2pm EST.

As a team, we’ll dive into the three main areas of creating, selling and marketing your own collection of products online. We’ll walk through the three big strike-outs to avoid, the key components to creating captivating and viral products and ways to strengthen, automate and streamline your shop into a profitable, life-changing home run.

Spots are limited but try-outs are unnecessary. Whether you’re at the little league stage or ready to break into the all-stars, the Shop Coaching Webinar will address foundational principles and techniques to help you create more profitability, a more impactful product and, in turn, create more white space outside of your shop for what matters most.

Shop Coaching team members will also receive access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and resources, encourage each other and ask questions of other “players.”

Early bird rate for the Shop Coaching Webinar is $100 (before midnight EST, Tuesday, March 4). Late registration is $150. The webinar will begin at noon EST and last approximately 2 hours including a Q & A session at the end. Special treat! Gina Hafley, my Shop Director, will be sitting in with us. Gina’s been managing the operations of our shop since day one. I’m so excited to have her join us to share her tips and tricks as well.

Your coach for this webinar is Emily Ley – designer and founder of her self-titled brand of organizational products including the sought-after Simplified Planner® and Simplified Life Binder. She is co-founder of Making Brands Happen and co-presenter of the Making Things Happen Intensive for creative entrepreneurs. Emily has a heart for women building boutique brands to both impact the lives of others and support their own unique lifestyles as working women who care deeply about what matters most.



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Brady’s Third Birthday Party – The Year I Gave Up On Pinterest

Brady’s third birthday party was so much fun. As his birthday started to creep up on us, I started to get that itch that I always get to throw a birthday celebration extravaganza, invite all of our friends and show off my best Pinterest-inspired party planning skills. But the thought of it made me tired. And uncomfortable. So this year… we went for easy fun and all about Mr. B.


bsparty-01 BradysThree-5 Canvas-8



Now, some of you veteran mamas are probably laughing at me because every Mama has to figure this out on her own… but I’m sure glad I did. This year’s party was all about Brady and celebrating the joy he brought to our family when he arrived three years ago on February 16, 2011. I worried I’d hurt the feelings of our friends with older kids and sent a few awkward text messages explaining that this year we were opting to keep B’s party small and for his little playgroup (those mama-friends of mine were so sweet and understanding and probably all “got it” a lot more than I realize because they too have travelled these roads) but it was a good choice. Instead of having older kids and friends we wanted there, we just invited B’s two and three year old friends and our families.



We asked him what kind of party he wanted to have and he, naturally, said he wanted a fire truck party. We’re lucky to live in Tampa where we were able to have a vintage fire truck and actively serving fireman swing by. The kids crawled all over the fire truck and even got to go for a ride. Afterward we had lunch and cupcakes and sang to our sweet boy. Most all of the favors and fire truck things were ordered with my Amazon Prime account because, well, that’s easy.


Clean up was minimal. Party prep was minimal. But birthday fun was overflowing for everyone. I wasn’t stressed about decorating or DIYing myself to death. And Brady had. a. blast. It was perfect. This whole get-back-to-what-matters thing is pretty awesome. Happy birthday, sweet boy. And thanks to all our friends for celebrating with us.

Oh and if anyone wants to just sit and sob with me. . . how about these comparisons. I can’t even handle them.



See B’s first and second birthday parties here and here.



  • Cupcakes: Cupcakes by Dusty
  • Banner: I made it when B turned two in gold and white so that we can use it over and over and over…
  • Fire hydrant cups: Amazon
  • Fire extinguisher favors: Amazon
  • Fireman Hats: Amazon
  • Favor tags & fire man hat tags: I made all these in Illustrator. The favor tags had Brady’s little face on a firetruck and the fire hats had little white “badges” with each kiddo’s face on a firetruck (got them from their Mama’s Facebook pages) :)
  • Invitations: I made these. :)
  • Food: Publix Deli :)
  • “3″ Balloon: Amazon
  • Fireman Tee: PersonaliTEE Shop on Etsy


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