Saturday, September 26, 2015

Exhilarating, Exciting, Extraordinary NEWS!!

Well, with a title like THAT, you MUST read this post, right? :D
I am thrilled and delighted to announce that we sold our house.


(imagine me dancing in circles right now)

We really have been wanting to move for about.... six years now? We've lived in this home for 10 years, and loved it so much, but there are several reasons why we desperately need a change. More on that later.

So where are we moving?

A beautiful little spot between two larger spots about 20 minutes south of Atlanta. :D 'suburbs' of Atlanta are cities in their own right, with actual awesome stores (not just super-Walmart) :D But more on that later...

My plan, honestly, was to do a bunch of sweet and cinnamon-esque fall posts on Julia's Journal during September. That got blown out of the water with all the craziness of a HUGE pre-moving yard sale we did and then the mind-whirling week of sale offers, counter-offers, contract terminology, and finally, sheer and utter bliss. :)

But I have another announcement!

I'm starting a brand-new blog, because:

  1. Our new address is so charming, I'm still floating four feet above the ground. Ladies (and gentlemen?), we will be living on... London Lane. *be still my pounding heart*
  2. Our new house needs some updates. It's a lovely home in great shape but it's been lived in for years by an older couple and it needs a fresh look. That's where I come in. :) I'll be chronicling all my DIY redecorating projects, one-by-one. 
  3. I'm really ready for a new chapter in my blogging journey!
Julia's Journal isn't going anywhere, and I'll probably post more personal stories and non house-related things on this blog (including more Singleness Series posts) but my new blog is going to be such fun. In fact, I'm still building it (so pardon the blank corners) but... here it is. 


The address is!

I actually have a first post written up for you to read, plus a cute About page --- I can't decide whether it is silly or clever. Probably a combination of the two. But anyway, I just had to let YOU know about it!

Prayers for simple, smooth closings on both our old and new homes would be MOST appreciated!
Love & Blessings,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why You Must Read The Mitford series by Jan Karon

I know this isn't the newest edition but it's what MY copy looks like... :)

The Mitford series is, hands-down, one of the best series of stories I've ever read throughout my entire life. I can't fully describe how much I love them! The books have been part of my life for so long that I can hardly remember what it was like not to have read them.

In fact, I've thought about reviewing them before and then shied away, afraid of not doing them justice! (silly, right?) :) This will be a short review, for more information, try looking the books up on :)

The small town of Mitford and its (HUGE) cast of lovable, realistic characters completely immerses you and you fall in love with every single bit of it as you step from book to book like stones across a stream. The setting is pastoral and peaceful, but delightful humor pops out at you from around every corner and there's plenty of drama among the townsfolk. The books definitely fit in the 'cosy fiction' genre but they always kept me turning pages.

I hunted around on Pinterest until I found faces for some of my favorite characters... (because that's a thing I do) ;)

Father Tim - a beautiful old-soul, wise and gentle, with a wry sense of humor and a love for wordsworth poetry. I wish I could meet him in person!
This is actually an early picture of Jan Karon, the author, herself, but this is always how I have pictured Cynthia Coppersmith, a whimsical and vivacious next-door-neighbor to Father Tim.

Dooley Barlowe is a boy with a difficult past (also he's got red hair, just use your imagination) and from the first page he enters he instantly tugs at your heartstrings. :)
Lace Turner has also had a hard life, poor thing, but a more determined, intelligent girl you'll never meet - think Anne Shirley with much rougher edges.

Have you read the Mitford series? (I cannot WAIT for the next one coming out in September!!) If not, you should. Right away. Really. :)

Don't forget to check out Victoria's Companion Post with her perspective! :)


Thursday, August 13, 2015

DIY Vintage-Style Flower Pendant

Hi Lovely Readers!

I've got a tutorial for you today! I couldn't get pictures of ALL the steps because our camera tripod is out of action (cracked) but I'll make sure to describe it clearly for you, because I know you're gonna want to make one of these necklaces. :)

Also, be sure to hop over to Victoria's blog, Ruffles & Grace, to check out her DIY Notebook Recovering tutorial! I'll definitely be using that one on some of my old, boring notebooks to give them new faces!

All right. Here are the steps to make a vintage-style pendant necklace.

First, get your materials ready. You'll need:

  • A chain and a clasp (you can find these pre-assembled in craft stores, or you can attach the clasp to the chain on your own with pliers and a jumpring.)
  • E-6000 glue (better than supergule! Sold at Walmart and most craft stores)
  • A metal pendant disc (Or any thin flat piece of something that has a hole at the top that you can use to hang it on the chain with a jumpring)
  • Stuff to glue onto your pendant - I used plastic molded flower cabochons (Find those on Etsy or Ebay) and glass rhinestones (Hobby Lobby, Etsy) And leftover beads and buttons I had lying around. :)

Let's get started!
Make sure your pendant is hanging from the chain...

OR you can glue your goodies on it first, let it dry, and THEN attach it. Whatever floats your boat. :)

Decide what you'll be gluing on it, arrange the design however you like...

Make sure the placement looks nice on the actual piece...

 Get out your glue... (Note: when using E6000, be sure not to breathe in the fumes from the glue. Noxious stuff! I usually do gluing projects on the porch or out in a well-ventilated area)

 There are two ways you can glue things and they both have their uses. Either put a dot of glue on the metal and then drop your item on top of it and press it in, or put a dot of glue on the back of your flower...
...and then press it to the pendant's surface. Use whatever method you feel most comfortable with!

There you have it! Let it dry - E6000 glue dries quickly and will be permanently fastened in about 15 minutes, although I usually let it sit for half an hour or so.

Now isn't that beautiful? :)

While you're at it, feel free to go crazy like I did and make beautiful, vintagey, scrappy-style pendants with anything you choose. This is an AWESOME way to use up leftover little bits in your bead boxes if you happen to make jewelry. :)
Which one is your favorite? Mine is the upper right with the mauve rose... keeping that one! :)

I hope you enjoyed that tutorial! Thank you so much for all the comments on my post asking what kinds of things you'd like to read on Julia's Journal! :) I can't wait to get started on all those ideas. :D

Love & Blessings,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Stop. Pause. Rewind.

Do you ever feel like you wish you could just PAUSE life and rewind it a little bit? Not just when you do something silly or embarrassing and you wish you could fix it, but when things are beautiful and time is going too fast - and you want to let it just be a little longer?

Maybe I'm the only one. ;)

For instance, I'm thrilled that my childhood best friend is visiting me this week on her way home from a vacation in North Carolina. Then I tried to figure out the last time I actually saw her in person, and my mind went all wibbly-wobbly. It's been at least NINE YEARS. *jaw drops* Wow. It doesn't feel like that long - but at the same time it's been ages. Time is weird.

Anyway, aside from hosting one night this week, I also want to get some more written on Smoky Mountain Serenade. And then plan a tea party. I don't know, something wild and crazy like that. *giggle* While Summer's still here, anyway...

Although the idea of autumn is sounding rather nice. The heat does get a little old after awhile. And I have some beautiful sweaters, boots, and scarves waiting longingly in my closet. Can you believe they're already putting holiday stuff in the stores?! It's barely August, people, not October... :) Maybe it's strange because I'm located in the south. Perhaps seasons change more swiftly up north. Do you think that's the reason, or are shops just hungry for the commerce the holiday season brings?

Okay, blog-readers, I want your input here. What kind of posts are you interested in seeing the rest of this month? Aside from the companion series I'm doing with Victoria, (Book review, DIY, and Fashion coming up)
would you rather read...

  • A post filled with pictures of vintage teacups I recently found at an estate sale
  • A post about the characters in my upcoming novel
  • A post about my experience of being on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan since January, OR
  • A post topic that you shall suggest in the comments section

Please tell me, if you're reading this. I see all sorts of interesting visitors on my live traffic feed from places all over the world, so I know SOMEBODY's out there! ;) Don't be shy, say hi! :D I don't bite. much. ;)

Love & Blessings,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 Very Useful Writing Tips

{This is a companion post to Victoria's post on Outlining!}

So, before I begin today's post, I have to thank you. YOU, my readers, for sticking with me through all the years of Julia's Journal, since I began blogging in June of 2008. I missed celebrating my blog-iversary this year, but yesterday I had to go through and remove a bunch of images on past posts I'd used from Google due to possible copyright issues (learn from my mistake, dear ones, and just use your own pictures and photographs, or ones that are in the public domain!)...

In the process, I skimmed through years of my writing. Blogging blossomed my writing into something that felt as natural as breathing, and I loved seeing the overall bird's-eye-view of how friendships formed through this platform.

Facebook has stolen some of the shine (and definitely heaping amounts of my free time) and left behind the glory days of blogging, when we participated in ENDLESS "tags" and swapped blog awards and we actually commented back and forth with amazing frequency. But I'm not going anywhere, and maybe, if I am very consistent, I can grow my blog back to the way it once was.

This month, my darling friend Victoria and I are doing a series of matching blog posts, and this week the topic is WRITING.

So here are Five Very Useful Writing Tips, if you go in for that sort of thing. :D

"Don't tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass." 
-Anton Chekov
This is so crucial! Your story will be bland and lifeless if you lay everything out for the reader like a game of hopscotch. Steps 1 through 12, there you have it. Yawn! Give us the details of the surroundings, the sights, smells, tastes, feelings, aura, atmosphere. Plunge us INTO that story until it's more vivid than a movie could ever hope to be. 

For a great explanation of this, check out this really awesome post by K. M. Weiland.

This one is sort of two-part. Part one: if you happen to have a wondrous idea that strikes you breathless, do yourself a favor and write it down RIGHT AWAY. Do not be embarrassed if you need to dash out of the room and find some paper and a pen. If you're in the shower, keep repeating it to yourself until you can dry off and grab a pencil in your still-damp fingers. :D You may think you'll remember it until later, but 90% of the time... NOPE-A-RAMA. Brains are silly things. So take copious notes, dear. Fill up notebooks with your ideas.

Part two: You must write to get writing done. Profound, I know. Ha. (Preaching sternly to myself on this one) If you never sit your fanny IN that chair (sidenote: make your writing space organized and welcoming, it will energize your writing life) and actually WRITE, nothing happens. One page at a time adds up. Do it.


I don't know how many books I've started that had stale, insipid, ordinary, boring characters in them. They lacked life, they had no detail, they had no flaws or quirks and were about as personable as a mannequin in a shop window. Yuck.
Love your story and your characters enough to really dream up every detail about them. Write down their backstory - but don't use it in the book. Let it bleed through into your tale and give it untold richness. Ask yourself how you can make this character DIFFERENT from all the other people in the world. What do they love/hate/enjoy/long for? Steal quirks from people you know! (but not all at once. Pick and choose like you're shopping for produce in the grocery store.) :D

Also read this inspiring post. So much goodness there.

You've heard the expression "write what you know", right? If you haven't, you just did... :D I believe this saying was invented before Google and Wikipedia, but it holds true. If you have been somewhere and soaked up the essence of a place, you'll be able to write it in a way that your readers can fully grasp the feeling of it. But the next best thing is dedicated research. 

For a TON of information on that, read this. :) Oh and also this. Basically, you need to read Kristen's blog, She's Novel, because it's stellar. End of story. (Haha - but there are always more stories!) 

[insert fifty million exclamation points] I cannot stress how important this is. Victoria's post today is all about her experience with Outlining and how it's changed her writing for the better. I know it's certainly rocked my world and made my books so much better. DIAMOND was way easier to write (especially in the dreaded middle) than ASHBURN and my other previous novels - which shall remain hidden until I can blow off the dust and bring them back to life - and it is making Smoky Mountain Serenade a breeze. Every time I sit down to write on it, I know exactly where I am in the plot. It practically writes itself! :)

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Outlining Your Novel, by K. M. Weiland. SO worth the price.

But for a wonderful, comprehensive, slightly-less-about-why you should be outlining-take on the subject, a condensed version... read Kristen's blog post here, for free. :D

That's all for today! Chime in below in the comments section! :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

August Goals | Before Summer Ends

Hey lovelies!

Okay I was just reading a blog post somewhere that said "Summer's nearly over" and I was like - WHAT? Already? Does it feel like 2015 is galloping past to anybody else, or is it just me?! :)

All right, here in the middle of the Deep South, I think we're safe for at least another two months. August and September will probably still be quite warm. Autumn doesn't properly begin until October. So I can breathe a sigh of relief. :) I love Autumn, but Winter is another story. I need a sweater that says "My favorite part of Winter is when it's over". :D Side effect of growing up as a beach babe! :)

But anyway, I don't plan to let August slip away from me without getting some wonderful stuff done. Time is precious!

Here are my main goals for this month:

  • Pray first thing in the morning and last thing at night. 
  • Achieve a powerfully effective daily routine (streamline it!)
  • Write the first draft of Smoky Mountain Serenade (about 40,000 words to go at this point)
  • Blog post every Monday & Wednesday, and do a 4-part series with my friend Victoria on Writing, Books, DIY, and Fashion!
  • Try new trim healthy recipes and keep doing Ballet Beautiful Exercise routines
  • Plan both family activities and friend get-togethers (including a tea party)
  • Launch my secret project (Shhh! Coming soon!) 
  • Soak up as much sun as possible (While Summer's still here!)
  • TIME my facebook usage - only 15 minutes MAX at one sitting!
  • Finish various Graphic Design projects for church and our home businesses

Whew! I think if I can manage all of that, I'll be doing well. :) I'm glad I shared that now, so you all can help keep me accountable. :)

Stay tuned for a post coming soon all about writing - what's worked for me and why I do it. I'm excited to be talking about that!

What are you hoping to do before Summer ends?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beautiful People

Well, I had hoped to have some exciting news to share with you all, but that will have to wait for a bit longer. Looks like I need to order some prototypes first! And that's all the tantalizing hints for today.

In the meantime - I've been thinking a lot this week. About many things. A side effect, perhaps, of having your mind stimulated by lovely friends coming over for dinner and conversation, and dynamic messages at church.

I have a question for you today. (No, make that two.)

Am I beautiful?
Are you beautiful?

Did you know that no matter your bone structure or skin tone or weight or color of your eyes or age, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL?! Because GOD SAYS SO AND HE'S NEVER WRONG.

Pardon me while I interject a bubbly pop song sung by five British boys.

*raises hand* I have a confession. I have listened to this song and bobbed my head until my hair flips in the air - and danced with abandon. :) This is an amazing song to listen to when you're feeling blue about yourself and the enemy has been whispering in your ear.

Picture this - God is the one saying these words right now:

If only you saw what I could see
You'd understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know...
You don't know you're beautiful.

Did you know that when you say something along the lines of "I HATE the way I look!" - you are criticizing God's handiwork? You are fearfully (amazingly) and wonderfully made! Psalm 139:14!

What if you're angry at God because of your acne? "Why me, Lord? Why can't I have perfect skin like Mary Jane and Alicia and Penelope?!" The Lord looks at you and he doesn't see acne. He sees perfection that he paid the price for at Calvary. You are his priceless, one-of-a-kind designer creation that he was in love with before you were even in being. He sees the YOU that was meant to be, without spot or blemish or stain, pure and holy and beautiful. So beautiful.

Rabbit trail ahead:

My brothers and I were talking about prissiness and tomboyishness on a recent evening and Mark declared that I hadn't ever fallen into either extreme. "I mean, growing up, you weren't a tomboy, but you wouldn't scream at a lizard either" (hahaha #butactuallyi'mflattered)

My heart goes out to the young women who don't feel like they fit the stereotypical "WOMAN" mold. Perhaps they have broad shoulders or are six foot three or could never get their hair to behave. They don't know they're beautiful - a glorious creation of God.

My heart goes out to the young men who don't feel "MANLY" enough. The ones who never win the football games, who feel small or weak or unworthy. Don't they realize how much God loves them? If only they saw what HE could see.

I think this is one of the huge reasons for gender confusion in America these days.

So tell me - do you know you're beautiful? Seriously - how do you feel about yourself? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wonderful Things

July has been a fun month! Aside from the heat. And the stress of designing and building a bombdiggity website from scratch. I'm really loving my jamberry nail wraps (^those up there are the ones I'm currently sporting) and I've even done a few things with my hair - gave it a trim, lightened it a tad with Sun-In, and curled or braided it a couple times. And I'm really loving the Ballet Beautiful workout DVDs. Huzzah for lean, toned muscles!


 This website was a HUUUUGE endeavor, and Mama and I worked tirelessly on it for about a month. I did the graphics and page assembly and she did the nuts and bolts of how the shop worked and everything else that made it come alive.

We make a good team if I do say so myself. ;)

Hop on over there and tell me what your favorite page is... each one has a cool header. I think perhaps the Armor of God, the Beginner Book, My Novels, and the FAQ page are my favorites.

My dear friend Victoria and I have been discussing doing a series of "Complimentary" blog posts - each week in August we're planning to each do a post that mirrors the other, and our four categories are Book Reviews, Writing Tips, Fashion, and a DIY craft, so stay tuned for that! :)  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Flawless? | The Singleness Adventure

Hey Readers!

I didn't post as regularly through July as I would have liked - between the heat and the busy-ness of my life, blogging got shelved. But I have another post following on the heels of this one with more newsy updates.

First though, some thoughts on our many imperfections.

Sometimes I feel SO MESSED UP. I continually fail in my mission to be sweet and kind and meek and gentle-spirited to everyone in my circle of influence, especially those closest to me.

Sometimes I feel like a nasty, awful, horrible person.

Sometimes the bright sunlight catches on my shattered self and my flaws are glaringly apparent.

But. There is One who says to Him, I am Flawless. The filter which He views me through is grace. He has made me whole, completely without flaws - PERFECT.

He's my God.

And only He could do this. Because He truly is perfect. And He paid the ultimate price for me.

We saw this video in church on Sunday and it was heart-moving. I nearly teared up when the labels changed to read "FLAWLESS" over every single individual.
Now how does this relate to singleness?

Good question. Let's see... well, marriage is a partnership between two people who ARE going to mess up at some point. There will need to be generous heaping helpings of forgiveness served. And you know what? Before you can live with, love, and forgive a man...

You're gonna have to live with, love, and forgive yourself. And the ONLY way you can do that is to ask forgiveness from God first, and then you can be released to forgive yourself. And it feels so freeing!

I'm talking about the stuff that's just between you and God that nobody else knows about. NOBODY. But he knows. Everything. There's no hiding it from the one who knows your innermost thoughts. Why not give it a try and ask him to forgive you from that yuck? Then you don't have to carry around that self-hatred anymore.

Your singleness journey will be so much sweeter if you stop beating yourself up and start loving yourself, learning and growing into a deeper, richer relationship with God.

And can I say I needed to hear all that just as much as you needed to read it? Wow. :)

Have you experienced the healing power of God's forgiveness?

Love & Blessings,

Monday, July 6, 2015

Locked-up Hearts | Letting Go

I think God's trying to draw my attention to forgiveness this week.

We visited a charming little church on Sunday and the pastor preached an amazing down-to-earth sermon on forgiveness. He said some things that shot straight to my heart like arrows.

God's view of forgiveness is radically different from our own. 

Past pain is a tool the enemy uses against you - 
because he wants you to cling to that heartache. It'll keep you from the glorious future that God has for you. 

The enemy wants you to believe that there's no way - 
that you're unable to forgive. (But that's not so. You are.)

Even Christ-followers will hurt each other. 

Sometimes God will allow and even orchestrate offenses, to separate relationships he never intended to happen in the first place. If God's not in it, it ain't gonna happen. 

Forgiveness does not = Reconciliation. You can forgive someone without having to allow them back into your life to constantly abuse or mistreat you. 
You can simply forgive them, and move on

Don't get me wrong, reconciliation is a beautiful thing. But it's true - sometimes God moves us away from situations (or people) that he doesn't want happening (or being) in our lives. And sometimes that hurts. Really bad.

If you're going to have any kind of relationship, ever, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of hurt. To be vulnerable. But we will always have the love of God supporting us, there for us, when people fail us. And they will, inevitably. But that's okay.

We can't lock up our hearts, safe from any cracks or bruises.

We can't hold on to heartache and miss out on the glorious intimacy of a relationship with God... and beautiful relationships that reflect a picture of the love God holds for his church.

The important thing is to forgive, and to discern when to let someone go if that's what God shows you is right.

After I got home from church, made lunch, and was washing up the dishes in the warm sudsy water, listening to a christian radio station - the radio announcer randomly starts talking about forgiveness, and then plays a song all about forgiveness. Haha. Okay, Lord. Message received! :)

I'm curious. Have you had to forgive someone for something serious?

And am I the only one God talks to using the radio? ;)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Of Warfare, Web design, Wraps, and Wistful Words

Good Morning!

Hey look, it's Thursday already! Wow!

I've been crazy busy with the release of my new novel and getting my schedule all organized AND this week I'm spending every minute at our desktop computer, designing and building the all-new Warfare by Duct Tape website. (I've mentioned WBDT before, right? :D)

My brothers have an amazing business selling instructional books and ebooks showing you how to create historically-based duct tape weapons and armor such as swords, shields, helmets, spears, and all sorts of cool stuff! :)

Trust me, soon as the new site is done I'll be splashing links to it everywhere. :D

Once I accomplish that goal, I have a new project in the works....

A story that's wistful and dreamy. 
A tale of woods and mountains, 
fireflies and campfires, 
streams and cascading waterfalls, 
the wind blowing through the pines and the chestnut trees, 
of love songs and traveling and the open road, 
of family and hearth and home, 
of longing and hopes, 
of friendship and adventure. 

This, my friends, is Smoky Mountain Serenade. And I literally cannot wait to get started on writing it over the summer.

But for now, I'm having a party to celebrate DIAMOND! On Facebook! If you like clean, funny, thrilling spy stories with a hint of romance - this book is for you. And if you happen to have great fashion sense and are interested in nail gorgeousness without the harmful toxins, you'll love Jamberry nail wraps. Check out the group on Facebook here and I believe you should be able to request an invite. The party will run until July 8th, so come on and join us! :)

Time to run! So much to do today... determined to keep my peace throughout it though! :D