Summer Party Planning Pt. 2

Ever since I moved into my own apartment over four years ago (I lived in a dorm before that), I LOVED the hunt. You know, the treasure hunt for little things or big things that come together to create an intentional, cohesive space. It doesn't matter if they're from the flea market or garage sales or the mall; I love creating an eclectic space that is just...me.

The same goes for when I'm planning a wedding or a party. The key to creating an event that is uniquely you is to do that treasure hunting; to not just settle on whatever you think will work. It's a combination of patience and the ability to see a space before it actually comes to life. Believe me; I struggle with both of these, but that doesn't make it any less fun!

When Pier 1 asked me to do a little hunting for the perfect summer party, I knew I was in for a treat. Pier 1 has always been one of my favorite places to shop for my home, and they have the best items for a fun summer! Everything from games to furniture and candles and dinnerware, they truly have everything you could want for summer entertaining. 
I knew from the start that I wanted to do something with color, and they definitely have plenty of that! I spent hours in the store, playing with patterns and mixing colors and prints; I have a feeling the employees thought I was crazy, but I wanted to make sure everything was just right. And I have to say - I have feeling it was!
Those blue plates above inspired my entire party, and I can't wait to show you all how it turned out! It's definitely different than the photo above, but that's the fun in it - exploring different ways to use the same items. We had a great time last week with friends, eating amazing food and just celebrating summer. And it was beautiful. 

Compensation was provided by Pier 1 via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Pier 1.

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Find what speaks to you.


A Love Letter to a Home

Dear Apartment 212,

You weren't much to look at when we moved in. Your carpet was already a little dirty, and the windows rattled when the train passed by, but we were thankful for you anyway. You were willing to take a chance on us, two soon-to-be newlyweds who had no idea what the next four years had in store for us. But as we grew, you grew with us. 

We filled your walls with pictures from our wedding and flea market finds and a few handmade projects. Eventually you went from a shell of a little apartment to a place we could call home, watching as we started school and new jobs and eventually a business. Your kitchen was my laboratory, and you never minded when I experimented, and sometimes failed. You welcomed our friends with open arms, and taught me that entertaining wasn't about providing the most elaborate meal or prettiest table, but about the stories we shared with one another. 

You were our shelter during the most difficult moments in our marriage, reminding us that we're in this together, that we couldn't just run home to our families instead of sticking it out. Because as much as we've loved you, Apartment 212, home isn't these walls that have seen the best and the worst of us. Home is wherever we're together. Thanks for teaching us that. 

We have to leave now, and we won't be back. Now your rooms are filled with boxes and the stuff we've collected over the years, as we decide what to throw away or keep or donate to someone else who needs it. This Sunday will be our last family dinner in your dining room, and maybe we'll take a break from packing and sorting to light a candle and eat a meal and be a family, with you, for the last time. 

Much love, forever,
Joelle & Robert

Maybe I'm being gushy-sentimental, but moving is so much harder than I thought it would be. Not because of the actual moving part, but because of what we're leaving behind. As soon as I realized that we would be leaving our home sooner rather than later, I thought we need to take pictures! We need to document our home! But then I realized, isn't that what this blog is for? I've been blogging for over four years now, and for the FIRST time, I'm seeing how amazing it is to have a scrapbook of my life. As I leave one home for another, I know that I won't forget this place. And I'm very thankful for that. 


Untitled for Now

What happens when you are in the midst of some serious blogger's block, but your writer's block seems to have disappeared? You post something you've already written but have yet to share, of course.
“I’m not in danger!” she yelled. The ocean was silent and the highway was silent and the words ricocheted off of the hills behind us. She wrapped her arms around her torso, as if she were holding herself together. “I’m not in danger,” she said again, much more quietly this time. 

I swallowed. My heart hurt for this girl. She was so conflicted about all of it, that was obvious, but I didn’t even know what it was. “Please, just tell me what’s going on. Why are they after me? Who are you? Maybe I can help.” 

I could almost hear the thoughts churning in her head. It took a moment, but eventually she let go of herself and sat up straighter. She gazed straight ahead, to where the half-moon sat on the horizon. I could see the light reflecting in her eyes. 

“Please trust me,” she said, still looking out over the water. “I’m not in danger. I’ve never been in danger, ever. In my life. And though everyone sees me as this weak little girl, I can promise you that I’m much stronger than I look.”
- An untitled novel by Joelle Duff

I suppose it's safe to say that I'm just feeling inspired again.


Thoughts on Writing + Some News

I wrote a book. This isn't news to most of you - I wrote this book and self-published it way back in February. Since then, quite a few people (read: thousands) have downloaded it and read it, which is still completely surreal and fucking absolutely terrifying. 

Writing for me has always been a deeply personal thing. I didn't really think of anybody else when I wrote my story, I just wrote the story that was floating around in my brain. And I honestly don't know if I ever really thought I would actually let anybody read it, let alone THE ENTIRE WORLD. Holy shit. 

That's why writing is a terrifying thing for me. The unknown, the reactions of complete strangers (meaning, not those who actually know me or like me). Writing reveals a lot about a person, whether it's through a blog or a book. I firmly believe that you tell a person's biggest fears and dreams and insecurities and loves, just by reading in between the lines. And I've put it all out there, laid my soul and my heart bare for the world to decipher and pick apart and criticize

I didn't don't write with other people in mind. I really don't. I sit in front of my computer, sometimes for hours at a time without typing a single letter, attempting to put what I feel in my heart into words. Hitting publish on that book, and honestly, hitting publish every. single. day. on my blog posts takes a leap of faith, a suspension of that small voice in my head saying you don't know what the hell you're doing. It's part who cares what they think and part I do have something important to say that gives me the courage NOT to take down my posts after they've been published. But before then, when I actually have to hit publish? I don't think. I just do. 

I don't have tough skin. I'm an introvert. To the enth degree. I hate confrontation. Criticism, in any form, has the potential to make me break down. Being embarrassed shuts me down. And negative feedback is one of my biggest fears. I know, odd profession I decided to get myself into, right? Believe me, I'm thinking the same thing right now.

But you know what putting myself out there has the potential to do? It has the potential to reach people I never knew existed, and create relationships based on common values and loves and experiences and insecurities. Taking a chance might break me, but it probably won't. Someone may say something nasty, once in a blue moon. But for every critic, I have a hundred supporters, more than willing to help build me back up. For every negative comment or review, I have a dozen more, telling me how much they love me and my stories. 

I'm a firm believer that you won't get anywhere worth going in life unless you take a leap of faith.
If I hadn't taken that leap of faith; if I hadn't been willing to put myself out there, even at the risk of criticism and all those other things that absolutely terrify me, I wouldn't be where I am. 

I'm excited to announce that I've signed a contract to have my book, Breathe Again, published by Amazon Publishing's imprint, Montlake. I'll be working with their team to re-release my novel, hopefully this summer. So excited to start this new journey, and to share it with all of you!