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Business, Friends, Travel

#StatAcad aka The Best Business Trip Ever

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - Tales of a Peanut Feature Image

I’m pretty sure I could spend the next year detailing all that I learned at Stationery Academy last month in Phoenix and still not have relayed everything to you. It was everything that you would want a business conference to be. Open speakers who were generous with their time, knowledge, and encouragement. Lots of new friends close to the same stage as business as you so you don’t feel so alone. A beautiful location with a superb hotel staff to take care of everything. Every detail carefully curated to create the maximum impact. And four days of non-stop deep diving into every facet of your business.

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - Tales of a Peanut

I left with a renewed passion for Tales of a Peanut. Over the past six months I’ve been struggling to figure out what this business of mine should be. I love communicating with all of you and have loved sharing our family’s stories over the past seven years. I have discovered more about myself through this blog and the wonderful communities that I’m a part of online than I ever would have dreamed when I started. But it seemed like I was always frantic when I was working on my business and never entirely sure what direction I wanted to go in and where I wanted it to take me.

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - daily swag - Tales of a Peanut

As I began to dream up the Handwritten Heritage concept and line this spring my path began to get a little straighter but I was still very unsure of my direction and, more importantly, my execution. I didn’t know how I could convey the sacredness of what I feel is in the act of writing letters to your children while also balancing the parts of the business that are already chugging along. And I struggled with how to develop more for Handwritten Heritage while also fulfilling orders, taking care of my family, and finding time to spend with God.

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - Tales of a Peanut photo styling

So after all of that, the trip to Phoenix was a breath of fresh air for me. I went in knowing no one else and left with 24 friends who encourage me, help me, and hold me capable in a way that I did not dream could happen. You know how most people in business are so competitive and tight fisted with their knowledge because they want to keep a leg up on everyone else? These women are nothing like that. They generously went into great detail on their mistakes and accomplishments while we were together. They answered questions, gave feedback, and brainstormed ideas with us. These women helped me determine the path for Tales of a Peanut that will, with God’s help, make a positive impact for years to come.

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - Graduation Dinner

I’ll go into more details about where Tales of a Peanut is going in future posts because I want to share this journey with you and I want your help in determining what ways I can best serve you. But today I want to share my new friends with you. Because, like Kristen from Thimblepress said, there’s plenty of work out there for all of us. And these women, these women, are the cream of the crop and they are going to do amazing things! Without further ado, here are my Stationery Academy Phoenix 2015 speakers and classmates!

Stationery Academy - photo by LifeCreated - Class of 2015 Phoenix

Jennifer Faught – Something Detailed
Amber Housley – Amber Housley
Cara McGrady – One Swell Studio
Cathy Olson – Love Inspired
Heather Crabtree – Heather Crabtree LLC
Kristen Ley – Thimblepress
Stephanie Creekmur – Winnie Jean
Andi Harvey – EB Design Studio
Ashley Staum – She Plans
Cheryl Crawford and Nicole Crawford-Mackey – True Bliss
Erin Williams – Strawberry Mommycakes
Jennifer Elwell – Tales of a Peanut
Jessica Alonso – Sugar & Grace
Kelsey Baldwin – Paper + Oats
Kristin Wilson – Grace and Serendipity
Maghon Taylor – All She Wrote Notes
Malena Southworth – Little Bird Paperie
Mellisa Trojak – The Art Of Etiquette
Nadine Eiserer – endash LLC
Paula McCoy – Polkadot Paper Company
Stephanie Studer – LifeCreated
Susannah Carpenter – Sweetpress Studio
Tisa Jackson – tisa’s creations

Family, Travel

Watersound the Beautiful

At the end of September we were blessed with the opportunity to meet my parents at the beach in Watersound, Florida. We stayed at the magnificent home of some friends and enjoyed a wonderful few days relaxing on the beach and, the kids favorite, in the hot tub.

2014 09 26_0038_edited-1

2014 09 26_0045_edited-1


If you’ve never been to Watersound, they have an 18 hole putt putt course called Puttering Park that is the neatest thing. It is PERFECT for little boys and a great way to pass time on cloudy days or when your son isn’t a big fan of the sand or water.





James took his golfing very seriously. The first time he went with Mom and Dad and made a sandy birdie (birdie from the bunker) and was so proud of himself. Also, after he would sink a putt he would take off his hat and hold it up like he was acknowledging the crowd. Absolutely precious!

James also found an aviation bear in the house and fell in love with him. I’m still looking for a similar one to surprise him with!


We did get down to the beach every day. By the end of our trip even James was getting at least his toes wet in the water. Hadley came down and napped in the beach tent and Charlotte really enjoyed bouncing around in the waves. Jason and I got to spend some two on one time with just Charlotte down at the beach one day that was wonderful. The downside to having three kids is that you rarely get to spend time with just one of them and our kids are so delightful that when we get a chance to focus on just them we really enjoy it.







The kids started asking when we were going back before we left and they haven’t stopped since we’ve been home. We loved Watersound and the laid back feel of the community! It had been two and a half years since we’d been to the beach as a family. We sure hope that it won’t be that long before our next trip back!

Charlotte, Family, Hadley, Travel

Starting the Season Right

We decided last spring that we would try to take Charlotte and James to the first football game in Atlanta. As it got closer and closer to our trip the feasibility got shakier and shakier as Hadley was not mastering taking a bottle and we were planning on leaving her with my in-laws. In addition, I was very unsure about leaving her for two nights just because I didn’t want to leave her. But we finally decided that we needed to go for it and so we did. Putting Hadley in the car seat in my in-laws car and watching them drive away was heart wrenching but I knew that she was in good hands and when they sent me this picture I knew she was happy so I was able to relax somewhat.


With Hadley happily settled, we set off with our big kids for a weekend of adventure. On the drive to Atlanta we surprised the kids with a stop at Little River Canyon to see the waterfall. It wasn’t flowing as much as we would have liked so it was a little underwhelming but Charlotte and James still enjoyed it.



We continued on and made it to Atlanta in a very calm fashion. After getting settled in our hotel we headed over to Lennox for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. It was an odd experience to only have the four of us after a few months with an infant and we enjoyed the time that we got to focus on Charlotte and James.

After a very, very hairy time getting the kids to sleep on Friday night, we woke up exhausted on Saturday but determined to enjoy game day. We headed to the stadium early for a reception and the kids were in rare form. They were ready for the game and so excited that it was finally football season! You might be able to gather somewhat from this picture how excited James was…


Take note of his hat on backwards, shaking his shaker, and his tired face because he had literally been running in circles around the reception for the past 15ish minutes!

Charlotte was excited but a little calmer than her brother.


The kids were even more excited when we got to our seats and they could actually see the players and cheerleaders and band. Unfortunately, everyone in our section and the sections around us decided to stand for the entire game which put a damper on it because we basically had to hold the kids the entire game so that they could see. But they enjoyed the game regardless!



At the end of the game we headed up to where my parents sat during the game and Jason and I grabbed one of my favorite recent pictures of us.


On Sunday morning we got up and headed home to our baby. I loved getting to spend some quality time with Charlotte and James over the weekend and we had a great time watching the Tide start the season off right. But I won’t lie, I was overjoyed to get my baby girl back in my arms on Sunday afternoon!



#ALWB – Back in My Day – Family Vacations

Family at Yosemite Canyon 7-03Family vacations. People sometimes have mixed feelings about them based on their experiences as a child, but the thought of family vacations makes me giddy with excitement at this stage in my life. The thought of introducing my kids to new places and people and getting to spend some solitary time as a family reconnecting without activities or others demanding our time is a lovely one and something that I will treasure.

Read more at Alabama Women Bloggers….

Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Tips and Advice

Disney With Toddlers

I think this is going to be my last Disney post, mostly because I’m sick of talking about it and unless you just came from Pinterest and this is your first post you’ve read, you’re probably sick of me talking about it too!  But I wanted to make sure and share the other “tips and tricks” that I wrote down before we left.  Some of them we didn’t try and some of them we did but knowing about them gave me a greater confidence to explore the parks without fear of missing something.

Magic Kingdom 1

Magic Kingdom
-Ariel’s Grotto is the only place to see Ariel as a mermaid (all other meet and greets are with Princess Ariel)
-Tom Sawyer Island – if you’re one of the first over to it look for big paint brushes and take them to a cast member for a special surprise
-Watch parades in Frontierland – they either start or end there (usually – check the parade route) and it’s less crowded than other places
-Rapunzel, Tiana, Fairy Godmother, Wendy, and Peter Pan are exclusively in this park for character meet and greets so you can’t see them anywhere else.
-There is an Opening ceremony 15 minutes before the park opens that is great to see.  If you’re there you might get to walk up main street with the characters as they go to their stations.  Make sure that you can see the clock on the train station in order to get the best view.
-If you have snack credits at the end of your trip, go to the Main Street Confectionery and get goodies to go
-Be Our Guest is a good last minute lunch spot if you don’t have reservations.  Be there between 10:30 and 10:45 and you should be able to get in.
-The restrooms in the new Fantasyland near Belle’s Castle are very nice and new with large stalls.

Hollywood Studios 1

Hollywood Studios
-Beauty and the Beast stage show is great but you should get there early for seats.  It’s a great place to get lunch and eat it in your seats while watching the show.
-Several times during the day characters will emerge from Sorcerer Mickey’s hat and spread around and meet guests

Epcot 4

-Epcot character spot has all original Mickey characters
-Innoventions has science and discovery centers inside which is good for kids and when it’s raining
-Holidays around the World: Candlelight Processional – held in the American Gardens Theater and includes the Christmas story being read by a celebrity reader and a huge choir.  Reserve a Candlelight Dinner package as this is the only way to get guaranteed seating and VIP fireworks viewing (must book 180 days in advance with specific Epcot restaurants).  If you don’t have reservations plan on being in line hours before the shows start to possibly get a seat.  This is the one thing that we didn’t get to do that I wish we had been able to.
-The only place to see Mulan is in China
-Epcot is the best place to meet princesses during the day with little to no lines.  We saw Mary Poppins, Belle, and Aurora there with little problems.
-Typical character spots: Aurora (France), Belle (France), Mary Poppins (UK), Winnie the Pooh (UK), Aladdin (Morocco), Elsa and Anna (Norway), Snow White (Germany), Mulan (China)

AK 7 Baby Giraffe

Animal Kingdom
-If you need/want to see characters, go to Camp Minnie Mickey first since everyone else will be going elsewhere
-If the line to the Safari is 15 minutes or less don’t use a Fast Pass on it — it takes about that long to walk to the front at which point you’ll typically get to walk right on with little waiting
-Wilderness Explorers is a notebook to collect badges throughout the park.  Get it on Discovery Island.
-Camp Minnie Mickey is the only place to see Pocahontas throughout the parks.
-The Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Jingle Jungle Parade during the holidays) starts and ends in Africa.  It’s best to watch the end of it in Africa to avoid the crows.  It takes about 20 minutes to go through the park so get to the parade route about 10-15 minutes after the parade starts.

Magic Kingdom 10

-Times Guides are available at most (all?) resorts and at the front of all parks to show which characters will be where when.
-Cast members wearing blue shirts are character handlers.  Ask them if you’re looking for someone.
-Check the times guide or ask handlers when the characters will take breaks so that you’re not stuck in line while the character breaks.  We found that most handlers cut off the line around snack break time and then let you restart the line after the character left.
-Photopass photographer’s or handlers standing in random places might be waiting on characters, ask them!
-Only face characters like princesses speak.  Make sure you let your kids know that so that they won’t be disappointed that they didn’t get to hear what Mickey sounded like, etc.
-Bring “thicker” pens to accommodate those characters will gloves on and make sure the pen is open and ready to go before handing to the character.

Magic Kingdom 9

-Check in 15-20 minutes early for reservations.  They might seat you early if they have room.
-If you like a recipe, ask for it! Sometimes the chef will come out and speak to you personally.  Sometimes they will email you the recipe if you have a card on you.
-You can ask for just part of a meal — i.e. for Pizza meals that come with a side salad ask for it without the salad for less cost.
-Refillable mugs can only be refilled at your resort.
-You can ask for a cup of ice water or hot water at each counter service place throughout the parks for free.  If you bring your own hot chocolate packets or flavoring packets this is an easy way to keep hydrated without spending money.
-Tipping is NOT included in your dining plan.  The recommended amount is 18%.
-You can bring in food and drinks to the park but you can’t bring in glass containers or alcohol.

MK Night 2

-Give your kids a disposable camera or an old digital camera to allow them to capture their own memories.
-PhotoPass – it’s more affordable to pre-order this and it’s fully refundable if you don’t like the pictures or don’t think it’s worth it after the trip.  But PhotoPass photographers are happy to take pictures with your camera as well.
Disney’s Enchanted Call – you can set up a character to call your child before you go
-Make sure to recharge all batteries every night
-If possible, empty all memory cards to your computer every night so that you have enough room.  Or bring extra memory cards so that you won’t run out of space.
-Bring the camera that is best for where you’re going and what you’re doing.  Most days I took my Nikon J1 during the day because it’s great in full sun without a flash and is small, and I took my Canon Rebel at  night because it’s better with a flash.

-If a souvenir breaks while you’re still on vacation, Disney will replace it for you.  Just go to a store that has that souvenir and explain the situation.
-You can have purchases sent to the front of the park to be held for you that day or sent to your resort for next day pickup.  This is free and allows you to purchase without having to walk around with your packages.
-Glow bracelets/necklaces on your kids and stroller make them easier to identify at night.
-You can get buttons at guest services for “first visit”, “birthday”, etc.  Write your name and number on the back with a sharpie in case your child gets lost.
-If your child gets lost tell them to go to the first cast member that they see and ask them to call their parents.  Your child should know your number, have it written on the back of a button, or have a bracelet/necklace with it on it.Phone Number Bracelet
-It’s recommended to tip housekeeping $5/day.  Put it in an envelope so that they’ll know that it’s for them.

Kid Activities, Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Traveling Tips

Disney With Toddlers

I’m trying to finish up all of my Disney posts and want to make sure the things that we did to make our car ride a little easier.  Remember for reference that our kids were 4.5 and 2 on this trip and the trip was roughly 11-12 hours.  We have a dvd player in our car and used it (more liberally on the way back than the way down) but I tried to prepare other things for the kids to do other than just sit and watch the tv.

James Bucket

I used some galvanized buckets that we had at our house to create buckets for each of the kids with treats to dole out throughout the trip.  Some things were basic and some I specifically went out shopping for.  Having new items for the kids to play with and explore I think made a big difference rather than packing things that they already had played with and seen.  It made the everyday items in their buckets special and that much more fun to open.

Charlotte Bucket

Here’s a rough overview of what I included in their buckets:

-New books to read

-New coloring books and crayons

-Dry erase board and markers

-Stickers and pieces of paper to decorate

Felt Book Felt Book Inside

-Felt busy books

Hang Puppets

-Popsicle Stick Puppets

Popsicle Stick Puzzle Popsicle Stick Nativity Puzzle

-Popsicle Stick Puzzles

-Flash cards

-A soft ball for James

Matching Letters

-A letter pole for Charlotte with stickers to attach

Car 4

-Read Aloud Story Books (I love the message of the ones from places like Lifeway but the Hallmark ones are classics too and these were by far the favorites on the trip because the kids could “read” the story themselves.)

I pulled a lot of things from what we already had stashed away at the house.  Book orders at school are a great place to get inexpensive books and I save happy meal books (ask for the three and under toy always, its almost always a book).  I also save party favors and other random toys that we come across for times like these.  For this trip though I also headed out to do some shopping at the Dollar Tree, Party City, and Target’s Dollar Spot.  I found a lot of items (crayons, coloring books, flash cards, stickers, dry erase boards) all in Disney theme for a small amount of money.

A few things that I read about online (on some of those websites I mentioned) was to take a rimmed cookie sheet or a travel tray for your kids to use in the car.  I ended up just taking large pieces of corrugated cardboard that I had from shipping so many things and it worked fine for them to color on.  I also had picked up some small trinkets (hair clips, small bouncy balls, etc) thinking that I might do the “Mickey leaves a treat each night” thing but I ended up not following through with that.  Don’t stress yourself out about doing what everyone else is doing, just do what makes your life easier!