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I have endured many struggles in my life. Although I like to paint pretty pictures I can assure that there have been plenty of train wrecks. Mishaps and down right catastrophes.

But it’s not these events that define us. What defines us is how we react and how we proceed.

There have also been many, many blessings in my life. And for those I am beyond grateful. Walking through life with grace, full of gratefulness, is the difference between success and failure. Success is not how big your house is or how fancy your car. It has nothing to do with money or even fame.

Success is being happy in who you are. Loving yourself for the person on the inside. Enjoying your life because of what you have created.

Success is being grateful. Being HAPPY. Accepting the world around you and knowing there are beautiful gifts on  your doorstep each and every day.

It’s because of this gratefulness, these beautiful gifts, that today I am choosing to give something back.

I’m striving to build this community. I’m striving to grow this blog and multiple adventures at the same time. It has often been a slow and somewhat frustrating road. There are days I wonder where all the followers are. Why there aren’t any comments. Is there anyone even listening? And some that I wonder if it will ever happen. If it’s even worth it.

But I know in my heart that if one pretty package makes someone happy, one lotion offers comfort, one post helps someone grow or through their day, then I have succeeded. No matter my struggle.

I don’t always have a tremendous amount to give, but what I do have, I like to give freely when I can. So today I am offering to one random person their choice of gift! It can be a free ad space for their blog, service or product. One item of their choosing from Enchanted Gardens. One service from Enchanted Wellness. Or perhaps a post written for them.

So YOU decide! All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what appeals to you most. I will choose the winner by using the Random Number Generator at Random.org. The winner will be chosen in one week.

Giving things away with no thought of receiving anything in return feels wonderful. Making someone happy, brightening their day for no reason other than their joy is a beautiful feeling. Try it. It’s mustn’t be big or extravagant. Hold the door for someone. Compliment them. Ask someone what you can do for them.

Now, tell me what I can do for you! Don’t be shy!! 

Live Well!
~S 

***YOU MUST COMMENT AT A LIFE ENCHANTED TO ENTER!!***

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Whole Living With Stephanie has been gaining moment with gusto lately. New readers, new followers, site stats doubling and tripling almost daily. I’m overwhelmed, thrilled and even humbled from the experience.

So why wreck a good thing?

Well, because this was the plan for years. From the very beginning. No, not to destroy something. To GROW! I started the blog to get my feet wet. To be a stepping stone in the transition. But it was always my plan to take the blog further. To create a full site where I could share everything that I do and everything that I hope to do.

I have been dreaming of this adventure for as long as I can remember. As a small girl, before entering school, I would mix “herbs” in a bucket with a stick. At 8 I was buying magazines filled with muscled up men and a few women. As a teenager I made my own skin care products, sneaking things from the kitchen and hiding in the bathroom. As a very young new mom, I made my own baby food, fed my family only healthy things, worked out daily, taught my little guy to cook before he could walk. Sort of. Coty would sit on the counter next to me watching as I chopped and stirred, experimented and created. I would let him mix and add and I would talk to him about what I was doing as I went. And at 17 he can cook an amazing meal.  I still believe that it was eating clean, working out everyday and using the vitamin E oil creation I made that kept me from getting a single stretch mark from either pregnancy.

So, as you can see, this has been a journey. I have books filled with ideas and recipes, drawings and dreams from throughout my life. All leading up to this.
A Life Enchanted.

This is a mere fraction of the books and journals

There have been pauses and adventures that seemed to have led me in different directions. But those were part of the journey. They strengthened my resolve, taught me great lessons and showed me this is really where I was meant to be.

I didn’t do this overnight. I didn’t read someone’s blog and decide that making a few skin care products sounded like fun or a way to make a little money. In fact, I have made more products for family and friends at my own expense than ever making any for even my own cost. I do this out of a life long passion.

I had a fear of pursuing this dream for years. The biggest dreams can seem the most out of reach. I had a fear of telling anyone about this dream. A fear that my inspiration, my love would encourage someone else to pursue MY dream… and possibly succeed before I did. A selfish and silly fear. I know. Only a few choice friends can tell you how I have longed for this day for as long as they have known me and longer.

I must tell you that making this change is terrifying. The fear of losing momentum was nearly crippling. Many nights I lie awake wondering if changing everything so drastically would be a fatal decision. I put it off for quite some time. Long after I had chosen the name and even created the site.

But I need to thank so many of you for following me here. I’m surprised and honored at the results so far! 128 views in the first 4 hours yesterday. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For those that haven’t had a blog or website, you might not realize that every click has meaning. That every page viewed, every like, every comment helps.

See that follow button down there on the right?? (over at A Life Enchanted, of course)

Click it! And let me know you like the change. Your support means more than I could ever explain.

I know that adding another site, receiving another email, it can all be a giant pain. But we won’t be moving again. I swear.

And I will end the sappy stories for a time too!

Live Well!
~S 

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I’ve acquired many new readers here lately.

Thank you, New Readers!
And long standing loyal readers too!!! You are all so very much appreciated. Without you, I would be talking to myself. And I already do that enough!

So, in the spirit of welcoming those new, I am compiling a list of some of my (and apparently your) favorite posts of the past.

And a couple of my favorite random old photos too…

Dreaming of last years bounty
And new shed doors

Here goes….. 

Green Your Home – Bathroom Cleaner – Hands down. The. Best. Bathroom Cleaner. Ever. ….Still.

Lemon Honey Gargle – This is one of my most viewed, most searched for posts.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes – This is my most viewed recipe and I have found it on Pinterest more than I ever expected.

Bento…. What? – I love this stuff. I  have seen it work magical wonders.

Winter Sown Gardens – Because these things are great! And I love gardening.

Wild Fermentation – Because everyone should make their own sauerkraut. Or you could buy some from me.

Getting Your Mojo Back – Because we all need some serious inspiration now and then. Or a good swift kick in the ass.

Today I’m – Making Laundry Powder – This one is fairly recent, but a definite fave. It’s so easy, saves tons of money and rids our homes of more unneeded chemicals.

That’s Not Really Olive Oil – Because everyone should know.

A Day In The Life… – It’s sappy and wordy, but there is tremendous meaning behind my words. And a considerable amount of emotion. Lot’s of others seemed to like it too.

And hoping for good news today
Even if he does leave the window sills a mess

I write mostly about stuff I love, so there is no shortage to choose from. Now it’s your turn…

What has been your favorite post?

Live Well!
~S 

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You heard right.

Whole Living With Stephanie is currently searching for Guest Bloggers! AND small companies interested in sharing their wears, plus a little about themselves and their business.

The BRAND NEW site will be up and running soon and so many new things are coming our way.
(…including a new name! sshhh.)

Do you have a blog you want to promote? Are you a budding writer? Do you have a product you love or create that you would like to get in front of hundreds of people a day?

Well, here’s your chance. Just send me an email with some details of your work. I will have a limited amount of space and do ask that all be of the same mindset we share here – green, handmade, natural lifestyles, great writing, wellness, holistic ideas… the options are truly endless. Jewelry makers, crafters, artisans or even just those who welcome the chance to share a favorite recipe, home make-over or thrifting find. You can promote your blog or not be a blogger at all. Have a local book club you would like to promote? How about a design company looking to expand?

You don’t have to be a writer so don’t fear. There will be interview options and articles written for those who prefer.

Let’s share what we do!

Live Well!
~S

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Are you ready for another installment of Blog Love?

Here are a few more blogs I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them.

Primitive and Proper

Cassie is a wife, mother, decorator and blogger who sells her fabulously refinished furniture. She has an incredible knack for seeing beyond the dings and dents and chipped paint and creates some gorgeous pieces. All on budget. She also shares her finds that other bloggers have created. Go see for yourself.

I just stumbled upon The Shine Project and am fully amazed at the beauty there. Ashley’s intent is to inspire and help change lives. Beautiful! She also has created The Shine Scholarship Project, a nonprofit, to improve the lives of at-risk teens. I am inspired to get involved!

Kara’s Party Ideas. One word. Amazing. I love to throw a party and have been to some fabulous one’s, but nothing as sweet as these. (Sorry friends) The ideas here are endless. Go see!

There you have it. Even more blog goodness! I hope you enjoy.

Do you have a favorite blog?

Live Well!
~S

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Can we just talk about blog design for moment.

How fun, yet frustrating. First, as I mentioned, I have been working on redesigning the blog and layout. It’s taken a little longer than planned for a number of reasons. Blah blah blah. Life gets in the way. Blah blah blah. Excuses excuses excuses.

Now, let me tell you a story.
The other morning I’m browsing some of favorite blogs. If you aren’t a blogger you might not be aware that there is this thing called a blog link up. It goes by various names depending on the blogger hosting it. Anyway, it’s a means of helping other bloggers get theirs in front of new people. Often it must be a post of like topic, what have you. Regardless, that’s not what’s important here. As I was browsing one of these link ups, I stumbled upon a blog…. with a layout so close to the one I have been working on it gave me deja vu. Seriously? The background is the same. So much for freebies. The tiles and buttons are so close to the ones I have been making, I’m afraid to use them. So much for paying for photos.

I mean, she must be super cool. She has great style. But now what? I have to go back to the drawing board. I can’t just continue on in this fashion. I can’t have a design that looks like I ripped off someone elses. I must tell you, it does make me want to stay away from other blogs. At least until this design project is over. O.V.E.R.

But it brings up another topic. Photos for free or for sale. Stock photos. It just doesn’t work. I knew it going into this, but let’s face it, sometimes I go against my better judgement. Sometimes. This has been one of them.

I decided to design it myself for a few reasons. One, because I love to save a buck. I mean, who doesn’t, but for me it’s like a job. Or a challenge. But now I’m reconsidering. I love the creativity, but I do tend to get to emotionally attached. It CAN be changed, Stephanie. Really. And it doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate. …these are the arguments I have with myself.

So I ask you, if you have a blog, who designed it?

Did you have any troubles in the process? Did you find others that looked similar? Did you love every bit of it?

As a reader, what do you love about blog layouts?

Is the lighter or white background easier to read, as the studies show? Do you care that much about what it looks like or is it just the content that’s important to you? Do you prefer the personal side with photos of the blogger?

For those of you with blogs, I want to share something with you!!!

Momcomm

Momcomm

Melissa Culbertson is a mother, marketer and owner of Momcomm. Here she gives advice on writing, blogging and social media. AND every Wednesday she critiques someones blog! Whether you are hoping for her critique or just looking for some great ideas, you must check her out. There is a wealth of knowledge given on this site. Enjoy!

Sshhh….once I get this finished I am going to try to get her advice. Eeek.

For those of you wondering where this new design I have talking about is, have patience. I’m working on it!

Live Well!
~S

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As much as I love having my own blog, I love reading others!

There is much to be learned from blogs, much to be shared. Entertainment, a sense of community.

I thought I would share with you some that I frequent. These are not necesarily my favorites and certainly not even close to all of them. These are some that I enjoy, and think you will too.

Casey Wiegand 

Casey is a young wife and mother of two blonde babies and one on the way. She is an artist living in Texas. She is spiritual and creative and super cute. And she wears headbands and braids in her hair like me =] Check her out here.

Meridian Road

Meridian Road

Meridian Road is written by Suzanne from Idaho. It is filled with gloriously old and repurposed items. She is amazing at transforming the old or ordinary into something beautiful and well displayed. Check her out here.

Money Saving Mom

Money Saving Mom

Crystal Paine and her cohorts have put together a wealth of information on saving and managing money. And they do so on a daily basis. This blog is filled with coupons every single day. Crystal has also written many wonderful pieces on finance. Check her out here. And be sure to follow her on facebook so you get those regular gems!

I hope you enjoy these. I will offer some others soon. There are so many to share!

Do you have any favorite blogs?

Live Well!
~S

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