“Quiet People Have The Loudest Minds”

Ever since last April, I’ve been journaling like my life depends on it. I’ve kept a journal ever since I was eight, but began doing it as “my thing” back in high school. Every time I would go to the bookstore, a trip to the journal and notebook section was a must. My collection of empty journals that were waiting to be used grew. They stayed safely on my bookshelf, where I would occasionally thumb through my collection. Then they lived in a plastic bin in the attic. When I left home I didn’t take them with me since I didn’t have the space, and it may seem weird that I mourned not having them with me.

In my early twenties I journaled way more often than I did as a teenager, or so it felt. The entries were longer. But it still took me about two or three years to fill one up. I never realized that I was actually building a relationship with the journal as I wrote and filled the pages over the few years that I kept each journal.

They feel like old friends now.

But then there came a time in my life where every creative outlet I had shut down. I felt stifled and life became very stagnant. Anything I wrote in my journal felt pointless and I wrote about the same things over and over again. It was a time when life wasn’t happy, where you would think a journal would be the perfect outlet, but I lost motivation or any need for it. I felt that there was nothing worth writing about, which was sad to me since I had been writing for most of my life. I left my beloved hobby for four years.

It wasn’t until I saw a post over at Le Zoe Musings about this gorgeous Carpe Diem notebook. I spotted it at TJ Maxx, fell in love and for about $4, simply had to have it (a little tip if you’re into journals/notebooks like me – TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Marshalls, and Ross usually have a selection of really nice ones to choose from for really cheap). I hadn’t had the need or want to buy a new journal in such a long time and I actually felt a little guilty buying it that day. But it was the thing that fueled my passion again for writing for myself. I picked up my last journal, which I had started just after I had gotten married in 2011, and I couldn’t put it down! I wrote nearly every day and felt the need to catch up on those lost years that I wasn’t writing to at least document the highlights. It felt amazing!

I started adding pictures to help tell the story, almost like a scrapbook. I was fully addicted and back in the game of journaling and better than before. My journaling began to take on a purpose – to tell my story and to leave my legacy behind to whoever feels like reading my many journals, way into the future of course.

Visited Gunston Hall in Virginia yesterday. I love historical places. #journal #diary #journaling

A photo posted by Brandie Sellers (@the_diary_library) on

When I write, I always think of how cool it would be to read a family members old journal or diary and see their point of view and how they lived their life. I found that no entry is actually pointless, especially as I read my old journals. There are a lot of things I’d forgotten (sometimes that’s a good thing…) and most things I’m so grateful I documented.

Since April, I’ve caught up with life in my journaling and started an Instagram for my hobby where I’ve met a lot of people with the same hobby (and obsession) as me. They make me feel normal and like journaling isn’t a lost past time. I’m actually surprised by how many people are huge journalers and how journal collecting is a common practice by serious journalers. The community on Instagram is fun and so supportive.

The blog has been quiet because I’ve been totally immersed in this re-found hobby of mine. I’ve been a little selfish with my time and will definitely get back to blogging. I’ve missed it! But I really wanted to share what I’ve been doing lately in case any of you are also journalers or are curious about the subject.

I would love to hear if you share in this hobby with me! Comment below!

A Year In Review | 2015

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I feel like it wasn’t long ago I was doing a year in review for 2014 but here we are in good ‘ole 2016, fresh as a daisy, with a renewed sense of hope and motivation still looming in the air. So new, that I’ve decided to rename 2016 “Sweet Sixteen”, because I’m hoping it’s going to be pretty freakin’ sweet.

Looking back at 2015, it was full of adventures. In January, we took a trip to the mountains and had a four hour hike. In February, we flew to colorado, where we visited friends and spent Valentine’s Day, saw Sapphire Point, The Great Divide, and got the chance to ice skate every morning. In May, I got an early birthday present and bought a new guitar, totally intending on teaching myself how to play again (that’s still a work in progress…). Around the same time, I fell back in love with journaling after not writing for four years and now have a collection of blank notebooks waiting for me (much like in high school). We saw a niece graduate high school and celebrated my 29th birthday in June. Went to a Planner Meet Up and met some new friends. Visited Gunston Hall for the first time (and fell in love with the grounds). Saw Shania Twain in concert in July, checking this off my bucket list! Vacationed at the beach. Checked another concert off my wish list when I saw NEEDTOBREATHE in August, then visited the beautiful ruins of Rosewell. September, we were itching to celebrate fall, and went to The Apple House and picked up some yummy donuts. We had fun apple picking with my sister-in-law and her family and visiting a sunflower field. In October, we celebrated Back to the Future Day. We went to Monticello and explored the abandoned home at Swannanoa (post coming soon!). Gave in to getting Snapchat and started a space on the blog called Adventures In Snapchat Land. And finally, took a walk down memory lane during Christmas.

I feel like 2015 was jam packed with fun stuff at every corner. I’m wondering if 2016 can top it?

Cheers to the New Year!

Adventures In Snapchat Land | Fudge Fail?

For a while, I’ve thought about vlogging (still up in the air if we’ll start doing that), but Snapchat let me get some practice in last week when I documented making fudge for my Dad’s birthday. I think we need to make a drinking game for all the times I say “also” and “so“. I mean, really…If I do this often enough, I’ll learn to not say those words as often. Ha!

I kind of wish you could turn your phone sideways with Snapchat to take a proper video, but you just can’t unless you want to be looking at the screen sideways. Watching a video as widescreen would be preferable, which I would do if this were a proper vlog. Until then, here’s a little adventure into fudge making…

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I realize this video may not be at all interesting, but let me know if you’d like to see more blogs in this style. I’ve been considering it for a while, hoping to add something extra here on the blog!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend!

Christmas Tag

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1. Do you like to stay in your PJ’s, or dress up for Christmas?

This totally depends on what we’re going to be doing that day. Normally, I stay in my pajamas if we’re not going anywhere or having company over (much like any day off for me, let’s be honest)

Brandie and David

2. If you could only buy one person a present this year who would it be?

Well, I hate leaving anyone I love out, but I think the correct answer would be my husband, David. Ha!

3. Do you open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

When I was younger and spending Christmas at my Dad’s house, we would go over my grandparents house and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. But presents from “Santa” are always opened on Christmas morning.

4. Have you ever built a Gingerbread house?

Maybe? If I ever have, it was when I was very little and probably was a class project. I think my siblings may have with our grandparents, but I didn’t join in. The only gingerbread house I do remember making was for Halloween when I was around eighteen, which doesn’t count.

5. What do you like to do on your Christmas break?

My days off to celebrate the season are spent in my pajamas, more than likely, enjoying any new gifts, watching movies, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying family.

6. Favorite Christmas meal or treat?

I would have go with “treat” and say the old fashioned hard fudge my Dad’s side of the family makes. It’s been a tradition that goes back to when my Dad was a kid that my grandmother started.

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7. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

The Polar Express. Or the old Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming To Town movies. And the classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And Nightmare Before Christmas.

8. Candy Canes or Gingerbread Men?

I like candy canes, but I never get around to eating the whole thing! Gingerbread Men were never a thing in our family. Can we just go with chocolate chip cookies?

9. Have you ever made a Snowman?

Not by myself. I think when we ever made one in our yard, the adults mainly built it. (and now I have Frozen’s Do You Want to Build A Snow Man, stuck in my head…)

10. Which do you like better, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

As a kid, the easy answer is Christmas Day. As an adult, I’m just glad to have a day off and celebrate the Holiday with family and will take either of these days.

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11. White lights, or colored lights? 

White lights. And hubby agrees. Although, I do wonder if that will change when we have kids.

12. Whats Your Favorite Christmas Color?

It’s so hard to choose just one! I definitely go for warm tones rather than bright. The classic red or a deep burgundy red is great. And gold.

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13. Any Christmas Wishes?

Hmmm…Snow? Although that will not be happening with Christmas predicting to be in the 70’s this year, which is so not typical.

14. Favorite Christmas Smell?

Cinnamon and Balsam scents! I can’t get enough and they truly represent the season for me.

TAG! You’re it! Would love to see your answers below!

 

 

 

Dreaming of A White Christmas

Lately, we’ve had warmer weather than usual for the month of December. I’ll admit that it’s been nice to walk around without a coat, much less a heavy coat, or brace myself for the beginnings of a bitter winter, but the unusual sixty degree weather is cramping my Christmas style. If I didn’t see Christmas decorations everywhere and hear carols, you’d barely tell we’re trying to celebrate the season. And while I’m not ready to have a blizzard just yet, a few snowflakes would be nice. There’s something very exciting seeing the very first snow of the season. I always act like I’ve never seen snow in my life whenever those delicate flakes start to gently fall.

Here’s some pins from Pinterest if you’re like me and long for a White Christmas! I think I’ll ask Santa for snow this year…Just a little bit, please, Santa?

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How To Stress Less During the Holiday Season

 

Less Stress During The Holidays

I’ve worked in the same office for six years now. And every October we get a head start on our Secret Santa, filling out forms of what we like and wish to get within the budget we’ve set. I can’t tell you how I relish in the fear in people’s eyes when I begin to mention Christmas this early, and the comments like “No, not yet. I can’t even think about Christmas right now.” I feel like most people have this reaction. It’s like most people see Christmas as a huge burden (and for some, maybe it truly is, depending on their role during the season). But I, on the other hand, love the season and that’s why it’s funny to watch everyone squirm and act like they’re being put through some kind of torture.

Recently, I read this post comparing Christmas in the 70’s to our modern day Christmas. Now, I didn’t exist in the 70’s, but it was fun reading how it used to be back in the day and comparing it to now. And I have to say that reading about our modern day Christmas even stressed me out. Reading what some of us go through to pass off the perfect Christmas presentation, no wonder why people are so stressed, not to mention it’s slightly (eh, okay, a lot) obnoxious. When did we get so obnoxious over Christmas? And I say this, but I’m really wanting most of the things on that list, too…Martha Stewart has ruined us. Just kidding…I think. We all just want to look like we’re pulling off something awesome, if nothing more than for our own satisfaction.     

I’ve been thinking lately how most people stress during the Holiday season and why that is. Then someone suggested I do a post on the subject, so here we are! Here’s some simple tips on how to stress less during the Holidays.

Don’t wait to buy your gifts or ask people what they want at the last minute. 

Some of us are just born procrastinators. But if you really want to stress less, my suggestion is to have the majority, if not all of your shopping done two weeks before Christmas, if not before December starts altogether. This year, I had the majority of my gifts taken care of way before Thanksgiving. And I’m afraid it sounds like I’m bragging (which I’m not) when I tell people that I’m done shopping when they ask that age old question: So, are you ready for Christmas? I must admit that it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable to see their demeanor change with my answer. Then I reciprocate the question and they tell me they haven’t even started. Maybe they suddenly feel more stressed and feel behind. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to avoid feeling this way if you start early. And you get to avoid the crowds. Christmas is supposed to be filled with joy and celebration. Not burden because you have to buy gifts. Not worrying about how you’re going to pay your credit card bill off the next month since you put all your gift buying on it. Which brings me to my next point.

If you’re on a budget or even if you’re not…

For those of us who have to do some hard core budgeting (or if you just think this is a good idea…), it’s great to get started early and pace yourself. Try buying a few gifts per person every pay period (hopefully you’ve set a budget per person, although sometimes that is so hard to stick to!). And if I’m being honest, I’ve started shopping in September for a good handful of years. Occasionally I’ve started in August if I see something that someone on my list may enjoy. If you like getting gifts that people have asked for in order to know you’re getting what someone will like, try asking for a list or a few items around September and give them a deadline to get back to you. Let them know you’re starting your shopping early! My Dad tells me this every year – he’s trying not to set foot into a store after the first week of December, so you better tell him what you want or you’re not getting anything. Ha!

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Don’t wait to power wrap gifts in one sitting.

My mom used to do this for five children on Christmas Eve night (and when my cousin came to live with us for a while, it was six children). How she braved through this, I’ll never know. What I do know is that she stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and the next morning there were band-aides on her fingers. This is what I call “Power Wrapping” – waiting until the last minute to scurry around getting all those gifts wrapped for Christmas morning. If you can help it, don’t put yourself through this! Some people really enjoy the process of wrapping, but if you have a pile – or mountain- of gifts to wrap, it can get old pretty fast. Your back hurts, you might cut yourself with scissors, stress over the size of paper you’re cutting and if it will fit, and God forbid you run out of tape. That’s really not a good problem to have the night before Christmas. Take inventory of your wrapping materials and try to start wrapping a few weeks before Christmas. You don’t have to wrap all of presents (unless you’d like to!), but maybe start with one person per wrapping session. That way you get to visually see what all you’re giving this person and then know all the gifts have been safely wrapped and you haven’t forgotten anything on your list to buy them.

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Christmas Cards?

Every year for the past five years, I’ve done photo Christmas cards. I personally think they’re so fun and I love seeing the different ones sent to me over the years. I’ve started noticing more and more people are cutting back on this tradition, which I find to be kind of sad. However, if you love sending loved ones and friends photo Christmas cards like I do, I’ve realized they usually go on sale around mid-November. I order mine through Snapfish, and have been pretty happy with my cards every year. I was able to get 50% off my cards this year. The bonus to these sales in November is that you get to check ordering Christmas cards off your list early! The earlier you have them, the earlier in December you can send them…Another thing to check of your list! Aim to have them sent out by the end of the second week of December. Sometimes the idea of addressing and stamping envelopes may make you want to put this off, but the sooner you do it, the more time for other things. And less stress.

Listers Gonna List…

This is sort of a “planner community” saying. Most of us are always making some sort of to-do list. The Holidays are no exception. The last two years I’ve personally written down my list of gifts for everyone. Another idea is to write down those major to-do’s for the season. Maybe have a designated notebook or area in your planner, or post-it notes that you can have handy if you think of ideas a few months before December. Then you wont be straining your mind trying to remember what you needed ore wanted to get/do and the item wont be long forgotten.

As you can see, if you want to pull off stressing less during the Holiday season, organization is going to be friend. Especially if you’re trying to do some Martha Stewart-esq wrapping or decorating. But at the end of it all, you have to find a system that works best for you.

How do you stay less stressed for the season? I’d love to hear!

Sunflowers & Apples

Here we are in the midst of decking the halls, and I’m over here in disbelief that it’s almost the middle of December! Where time goes, I’ll never know…

Since I took a small break in the Fall from blogging, I wanted to share some photos of when we went to a sunflower field and apple picking with my sister-in-law’s family a few months back that I never got around to posting. This was my first time ever experiencing being in a field surrounded by beautiful sunflowers. It was an impromptu visit on the way to the farm to do some apple picking and I’m so glad we we made the stop!

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^ Sampling the best apple cider and donuts ever!

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^Of course, these tasty apple cider donuts came home with us! It would be pretty hard to leave them behind…Such a treat!

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^ Our loot of the day! Apples for days…

It felt like Fall went by so quickly, I barely enjoyed it like I usually do, but I’m pretty grateful for our apple picking experience with family early on the season! It’s such a fun and memorable thing to do!

 

 

Stuck In The Middle | Why We Haven’t Had Kids Yet

Last night I had a dream about my future children. I walked into a bare bones home that was under construction, taking a tour to see how everything was coming along. It was basically a shell of a house with nothing but walls up, not even sheet rock. I walked the staircase that was plywood and standing at the top of the stairs were two little ones -a boy and a girl- about a year old wearing nothing but diapers. They had dark blue eyes that seemed to be filled with other worldly wisdom. I picked up each one of them and hugged them, totally amazed that I could touch and see them after waiting so long to do so. “You’re mine? You’re really mine?” I said. I couldn’t believe it! Then I put them down and watched them run around the entire house.

When I woke up, my words and amazement were still with me. I’ve had a million dreams about having babies and being awe struck. But I looked at this one a little differently, in that it was telling me what my heart really wants. I’ve had too many in the past like it to keep pushing it deep down within myself. Sadly, for me and all those who are waiting on us to have kids, unless it happens by accident we wont be having kids for at least another year or two.

There are people who know they can’t physically have kids, trying IVF in hopes of conceiving or go the adoption route. There are people who struggle with multiple miscarriages. Only a part of me can relate to these people – the longing to have their own children. The other half, the physical part of it all, is to be determined since we haven’t had the luxury of actually “trying to conceive”.

Saying that you’re trying to conceive is a luxury. It’s a thermometer that reassures yourself and those who you choose to tell, that you seemingly have things in order to receive this bundle of joy. Including the financials. That’s where we’re stuck at – the money part. That’s why I’m 29 years old, married for almost five years in February, have had baby fever ever since I could remember, and still not a mother. At least on purpose.

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A wee baby me

I feel like I was born to be a mom and guide little lives that I’ve created with my husband. A few people don’t quite understand being stuck somewhere in the middle of not quite able to have a baby yet because you can’t afford to. I’ve heard that if you wait until you finally have the money, you’ll never have kids. I’ve heard that it all comes together once it finally happens and you make it work. As comforting as that is, I highly doubt they were living in their parents basement for years. There have even been family members who I’ve caught telling people early on in our marriage that we weren’t ready to have kids, they hope we don’t have them (at that moment in time), and telling me “don’t even think about it”, since they knew our financial situation. That’s heartbreaking and completely discouraging, regardless of what’s going on (there, I said it). All the while, my heart was screaming “but I want to be a mom! And you don’t need to tell me that it’s not time yet! I already know!  And how is it up to you to decide when the right time is? Are you God?” Those comments have left me feeling like a lowly creature of life who is undeserving of having children (the reason why I’ve kept these feelings close to me), even if they were trying to “protect” us in their own way by saying those things.

I feel like for most people, having kids happens by accident. I really like to plan things out, although nearly any of my life plans have worked out so far. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels like they’re swimming against the current sometimes (or most of the time). So, knowing that yes, our bills are always paid on time, plus a little wiggle room for the occasional fun thing and/or hobbies (just so we feel like we are living life in some form), but also living in my in-laws basement and not being able to truly feel like we’re living life the way we want and live on our own (though we are trying to save and pay down certain bills), kids are out of the question. We live in a very expensive area, and if you don’t have a specific type of job here, you just wont make it. Hopefully we’ll be moving out of the area next year to a place where we will hopefully thrive and have a better quality of life (again, a life plan that may or may not work, but I’m putting my mind to it!).

As much as I want to be a mom, I also can’t help but want to be responsible first, at least to the best of our ability. For all I know, I’ll publish this post and it accidentally happens in the early part of next year. That wouldn’t be my plan (especially since we haven’t moved out of the parents basement yet. I’m sure I’d feel like I was on an episode of Sixteen and Pregnant. Who wants to have a kid on purpose living in their in-laws basement and what in-laws would be absolutely okay with that? There, I said it), but deep within me, I do believe in divine timing, which is the only comfort and reassurance I get when I see my peers post their pregnancy announcements. It’s not our time yet. Financially or by divine timing. But I know when it does happen – or if, because I do get scared that I’ll wait too long or when we’re ready, biological problems will arise – it will be one hell of a sweet adventure. And I cannot wait for when the time is right. We’re good people with good hearts who have a lot of love to give.

I’m posting this because I often see stories of miscarriages and those who are having difficulty getting pregnant. Like I said earlier, I can understand the part of their story that has them longing for a child of their own. But there are those of us who are really trying hard to be responsible, feel like we’re stuck in the middle somewhere, who don’t really have a voice. I personally don’t know anyone or read about people in my situation. So, I’m putting my story out there, totally opening myself up to criticism and whatever else that may come along with posting this. And also, for once, I wanted to get totally real on my blog. Not to mention publicly honoring this yearning inside of me.

There you have it.

Also, there are people my age who are longing for a spouse. I’m grateful and aware that I already have one piece to the puzzle. I also have to remember that age is relative, somewhat, when it comes to having kids. Although, I can’t help but ever so faintly hear that silly biological clock in the distance begin to tick.