Archives for November 2013

Getting Through The Day

I was provided Lipton Natural Energy Tea to do an honest review of the product. All thoughts are 100% my own and I only share things I would recommend to loved ones.

These last few months have proven to be a little taxing on my energy levels. Even when I try to get enough sleep, eat the right things, and spend time moving around to get my blood flowing – it doesn’t always work with our long hours. There have been numerous times where I relied on energy drinks or sugary sweets to just power through a few more hours to get our work done.

Until I found Lipton Natural Energy Tea.


First off, I’m a tea drinker. So I was really excited to find a more natural way to get energy rather than the empty calories from the sugar and energy drinks. Even better? It’s black tea and tastes exactly like black tea. No weird flavors to add in the extra energy boost which is awesome. I like drinking black tea when it’s hot and cold, making it even perfect for those hot summer days that are long gone and even the cold winter nights that have replaced them.

I was skeptical at first about it because SO many things claim they give you more energy, yet they really don’t. (Or is that just me?) But I did notice a difference whenever I drank it. It wasn’t the bounce off the walls kind of energy that you can get from energy drinks though. I felt more alert, less likely to sit around and be lazy, and more motivated to get my work done. It’s the perfect addition to mornings that I’m just not feeling work.


are you a tea drinker? if so, have you tried Lipton Natural Energy Tea?

how do you get your energy boost on long days?

Black Friday Scores

Happy Small Business Saturday!

If you’re looking to shop handmade today, we’re still offering 35% off our shop (+ other goodies!) this weekend with code BLACKFRIDAY35. Feel free to use it in Etsy or our main shop.

Speaking of Black Friday (aka: one of my most favorite days of the year), we got a TON of awesome deals this past week while we did some early Black Friday shopping online. Even though we didn’t have much to get in store, we headed out for a few hours around 4:30AM to see if any of the stores still had the items we wanted. We were back home by 7:30 and I was probably back in my pajamas by 8:00, ready to enjoy a lazy day of shopping online and movies.

This has been a big tradition for us since we met, so I was really excited to get out there to keep the tradition going even though we didn’t have a ton to get!

Target Buys Target Buys

This year, Target was our main place to be. We got some of this pre-Black Friday – like our iPod – but they had the best deal on it a few weeks before even compared to the Black Friday sales. This was our first stop many, many hours after they were open and it perfect. No crowds, easy to find everything, and they still had everything we were looking for. Check out the #MKOH tag to see what else Target has going on this holiday season!

Amazon Buys

Amazon Buys

We’ve done the most shopping here two years in a row now because I’m a big fan of not fighting the crowds and shopping in my pjs. This year we scaled back on the things we bought in general, but Amazon was great to get some of the things we’ve been talking about getting this year. A new axe, a GPS unit, and the 4-1 Griddler to replace a few of our appliances.

We hit a few other stores and got a new Christmas tree, so we did pretty well this year. But I’m really excited to browse some of my favorite Etsy shops this weekend, too. It’s the one time of year that I really enjoy overindulging in shopping ;)

Did you go out to shop, stay in to shop online or skip the shopping all-together?

What were some of your favorite deals that you scored this year?

Black Friday Sales!

Happy Friday!

We’re about to head out to do some very minor Black Friday shopping as we’ve done a majority of it online already. But we wanted to share our weekend promotions with you! If you’re looking to shop on Etsy, we do have similar promotions on there – but the ones in our main shop are much better and are listed below :)

Black Friday

We’ll be having special promotions all weekend long, but the best deals are on Friday and Monday! If you’re looking to get an even better deal though, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for special Flash sales throughout the four day promotions!

Friday November 29th through Monday December 2nd – All weekend

35% off with coupon code BLACKFRIDAY35
PLUS free Winter Gift Pack packs on orders over $25, includes the following items (at minimum!):
  • Soap Sample
  • Lip Balm
  • 2oz Detangler

Each Winter Gift Pack is guaranteed to be a $10 value or higher – the more you spend, the higher the value! The final order total must be over $25.01 or higher after coupon and before shipping in order to receive a Winter Gift Pack. No coupon code necessary to receive the Winter Gift Pack. Winter Gift Packs include holiday scents like Cranberry Fig, Spiced Caramel, Fresh Snow, and more. You cannot choose your items or scents in the Winter Gift Pack – they will be chosen at random once an order is placed. Coupon code BLACKFRIDAY35 not valid on Narwhal Boxes or Gift Sets.

Friday November 29th AND December 2nd – only Monday & Friday

All of the above, plus the following gift certificate promos:

  • Place a $100 order, get $35 back to spend later.
  • Place a $80 order, get $20 back to spend later.
  • Place a $60 order, get $15 back to spend later.
  • Place a $40 order, get $10 back to spend later.
  • Place a $20 order, get $5 back to spend later. 

Here’s how it works: Spend the initial amount, and get the second amount back as a gift certificate with your order to spend at a later date. Keep it for yourself or give it to a loved one as a gift!

No coupon code is necessary to receive the gift certificate. Qualifying orders will receive the gift certificate with their order. Amounts are after coupon and before shipping in order to be eligible to receive the gift certificate. This offer is not valid for our Etsy shop – it is only valid on our website. Not valid with gift certificate only purchases.

TIGF: Things I’m Grateful For: Thanksgiving Edition

Sharing what we’re grateful for every Friday with Laura from Howdy Girl
Feel free to share what you’re grateful for in the comments or in a post of your own!

Nope, not Friday. But it is Thanksgiving and I’m incredibly grateful for a lot of things today so I’m changing it up a bit. Every week, I write a long list of little things that I’m grateful for. Most of them are simple little things that really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but together . . . they come together to make one bad thing seem so little in comparison. And as much as I love those long lists, I feel like there are truly a handful of things that really matter. Things I couldn’t live without or are core parts of my days. So that’s what I want to talk about today.

My Family. Whether it’s Nathan and our pets or my parents, I’m so incredibly grateful to have all of them. Tough days don’t seem so tough and good days are even better when I’m able to share everything with them. It’s a good support system that makes self-employment so much more enjoyable for me each and every day. My relationship has changed so much as I’ve gotten further into being an entrepreneur and has made me see just how important this team of people I surround myself with is.

Self-Employment. These past few months have been CRAZY. I have learned so much about myself and what it means to be self-employed in such a short time-frame. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because all of the mistakes, the frustration and the headache is always followed by something amazing. A new opportunity, wonderful feedback, dates during the day, extended lunches, new inspiration and so much more. I didn’t know it could be this good – or this hard – until now. But I’m so grateful to even have the opportunity to be experiencing this, especially with Nathan.

Our Business. It’s crazy that it’s been over a year since The Gnarly Whale launched. It’s changed and expanded in ways I never even thought possible when the idea was floating around my head. The support we’ve received, the opportunities we’ve found, the people we’ve worked with, and the things we have created are mind-blowing for me. I can’t believe how far we’ve come and what we have in store for it in the future. We couldn’t do it without everyone who has shared us with their friends, promoted our sales, bought our products, given us feedback or suggestions, or even just acknowledged we even existed in the mass of wonderful handmade businesses out there. So thank you.

My Life. While all of that pretty much sums me up, I truly am grateful to be living a life composed of all of these things and so much more. I’ve spent years trying to find myself and where I fit in, not knowing if I would ever really know the answer. And here I am, loving life and everything it has to offer. The good and the bad, it’s brought me here. To a place where I’ve never been more confident of the journey I’m on. I have no idea where this road will lead, but I know that for right now – it’s perfect.


What are you grateful for this week?

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

{and safe Black Friday shopping if you’re hitting the stores!}

The Perfect Moment

Soap - Oatmeal Milk and Honey 2

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.

Every time I write, it’s always “I’m back, things are just crazy.” And I think I’m at the point where I  can get back to blogging like I used to.

But the truth is that I don’t know that I can ever blog like I used to. Because blogging like I used to meant I had way more time that wasn’t eaten up by a continuously expanding business. Short of turning down a lot of incredible opportunities, it’s not in the cards at the moment and if all goes as planned, it won’t be for a really long time. I’m so incredibly grateful for where The Gnarly Whale is and where it’s headed . . . but I want to be honest about a few things that I’m pretty sure I’ve been lying to myself about.

Months ago, I thought I was doing it all. I really felt like I was. The business was growing, the blog was booming, my personal life outside of both was thriving. I was the queen of multi-tasking. I was convinced it didn’t get any better than that – at least at the moment. I had bigger, better things I hoped to move on to but I was good. Life was good.

Then Nathan quit because we had a massive opportunity to grow our business and every single little thing I thought I knew about myself, our business, this blog, my goals, our family, and every other damn thing in my life went out the window. I was lost. I was uncertain. I was unsure of every single move I made. So I waited.

I waited for the perfect moment for things because my natural instinct disappeared. And when that perfect moment didn’t come, I went for the second best moment. Yet that never came either. The third, fourth and fifth never showed up either. Yet life was still moving forward. So things happened at the last-minute because I had no choice. The perfect moment never showed and by the time I would realize that, it was too late to do it for any other reason than it had to be done.

This cycle of waiting for moments that would never exist happened for months. I’m ashamed to even think about how long it lasted and how many days (read: weeks/months) I lost because of it. And how paralyzed I became because of it. How little got done because I was so scared of doing things at the wrong time. Or when it wasn’t just right.

I knew it was happening and I was too lost in my worries to do anything about it. So I kept going. And going. And going. Until we launched the soap.

Soap - Hazelnut Cappuccino

Why we crammed this launch into a short time-frame, I don’t know. But it’s one of those “blessing in disguise” type moments. I knew going into the official launch that there wasn’t room to wait for perfection. If it was going to happen before Black Friday, it was going to have to happen quick. And it was going to have mistakes and the stars weren’t going to align. So we set our goal pretty low:

Five soaps, only in the main shop, by Friday November 29th.

If you haven’t seen, we did meet that goal. And then some. We launched seventeen in both shops on Monday the 25th. Days early, with more than 3x as many as we had hoped for. All because I adjusted my expectations. Did we make mistakes? Plenty. Is everything the way we wanted it to be? Not even close. Are we happy with the outcome? Happy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

It was our smoothest product launch yet and the feedback we have received has given us so much hope for the future of this product line. 

The whole point of that is to tell you A) we launched our soap (yay!) and B) that I’m done waiting for that perfect moment. I’m done waiting, period. So I am back. (Really, I pinky swear.) Oh, and while the new blog isn’t anywhere close to being ready, I’m launching it next week. Imperfections and all.

And speaking of not waiting, if you have been waiting to see Catching Fire – STOP! Go see it now. Or as soon as you can. It was absolutely amazing.

I Just Want To Celebrate #MyKindOfHoliday

We’ve partnered with Target for their My Kind of Holiday campaign. We were provided a gift card to purchase an item from Target, but all thoughts and photos are 100% our own unless stated otherwise.

Every year for the past couple of years, our Thanksgiving holiday weekend has been pretty much the same. Even when we worked in the corporate world, Nathan and I always tried to take Black Friday off to enjoy a four-day weekend. And while I’m all for new things and being spontaneous, I always look forward to our Thanksgiving Day celebration. It’s easy, fun, and always starts the weekend off right.

Every year, we head over to my parents and there are always snacks. Because obviously a ginormous Thanksgiving Day meal isn’t enough. We need to pre-eat to give our stomachs a nice stretching even before we eat enough food in one meal for the entire weekend.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.

But one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving? Being able to catch up with my parents. We do see them on a fairly regular basis, but Thanksgiving is always different. It’s not just the day-to-day, “how was your week?” catch-up. It’s the important stuff. The meaningful things going on in our life. The things we are grateful for and what we have coming up that we’re grateful for.

This year I’m sure we’ll be talking about our upcoming trip to Mexico in January. We’ve decided to skip the presents for Christmas and birthdays since they’re all in the beginning of the year. Instead, we’ll be enjoying the sun and beaches of Cozumel while we enjoy all the food and drinks we can eat for a week. It makes the cold, blustery weather we’ve started to get not seem as bad.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.

After all of the food is consumed and packed away for many leftover meals, we usually head home to get ready for our Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

This year though? Our biggest Black Friday purchase is already done. We’re making a switch with our cell phones by the end of this year and going down to one phone so we got an iPod Touch from Target a week ago to replace the other phone. So while we stood in line for a few hours before Target opened to get an iPad last year, we’ll be enjoying the warmth of our house while stores are opening waaaay too early this year. I’m looking forward staying in my pajamas and shopping online instead of battling the wind and cold.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving?

Will you be out shopping on Thursday and Friday?


TIGF: Things I’m Grateful For

Sharing what we’re grateful for every Friday with Laura from Howdy Girl
Feel free to share what you’re grateful for in the comments or in a post of your own!

Starbucks-B1G1-FREE-Holiday-DrinkThis week I’m grateful for . . .

Starbucks holiday drinks and their buy one, get one promo ♦ Getting to watch The Voice on Hulu now ♦ Homemade mac and cheese ♦ Deep dish pizza and pot pies from Costco ♦ Adding soap to the Gnarly Whale shop soon ♦ Warmer days after some really windy, nasty rainy days ♦ Working on the new blog and feeling way more creative and inspired than I have in a looooong time ♦ Taking my parents out to dinner for their anniversary ♦ Starting our Black Friday shopping early and getting an iPod Touch for an awesome price ♦ Having a clean house ♦ Spotify

What are you grateful for this week?

Happy Friday!

It’s Time For a Change

For a while now, I’ve been really unsure what was going to happen with this blog. Every time I sat down to write, the words didn’t flow like they used to. I stopped being really active here, on social media, and even blog reading – the entire idea of blogging seemed a bit foreign to me.

I considered deleting the blog, moving on to “bigger” and “better” things. I was probably 75% convinced that stepping away from blogging was the right move for me. It felt like a good time to walk away as our life had changed drastically from when this launched back when I quit the corporate world. I’m such a different person now and closing the door on the old chapters of my life felt right.

But when I sat down to tell Nathan I was ready to say goodbye to this blog, what came out wasn’t “this is the end of the blog.” Instead, I told him I had hundreds of ideas to talk about and just couldn’t find the words. That I wanted to blog, but I just wasn’t feeling like it was my space anymore.

So he suggested I go back to a personal hand-written journal again. I knew I’d much rather type it out so I figured why not just have a private blog and d I was inspired immediately. It was the first time in over a year that I felt like I had the want and ability to just write again. To really put my emotions out there. Out of my head, even if it wasn’t for the whole world to see.

But then I started wondering why I wasn’t using this space as a journal like I used to. Why it wasn’t collecting memories of our journey into self-employment, our growth as a couple, our house transitions, the baby fever that seems to grow each day, our travels, and everything else that I would want to look back and remember in five years.

And it wasn’t because I needed a new design to refresh my space here. Or because I had someone reading this that I wish never knew I had a blog. Or because I had the biggest case of writer’s block known to man.

It was because this blog reflects so much of what I used to be. What used to drive me, fill me with joy, and the priorities of what feels like a life that is long forgotten. It’s my starting point. It’s my new beginning. It’s everything that brought me to where I am, but so little of what fills my core today. And while I don’t ever want to forget how I got here, I’m also ready for another new beginning.

And I want that new beginning to show more about me than that I work 24/7. So I’ll be starting a new blog. One that’s geared towards anything but the business stuff. I want it to give me that outlet for everything that isn’t small business related. The food, the clothes, the relationships, the trips, the dreams, the hobbies, the beliefs, the growth. The deep, the light, the ugly – all of it.

And I’ll be keeping this one for all things small-business related. The Gnarly Whale, blogging, business tips, interviews, handmade shop promotions and so much more.

I have HUGE plans for both blogs and am looking forward to having two separate outlets to fuel my creativity. I’ve wanted to include all of these things in this blog for years now, but never found a good way to balance them. I know having two jam-packed blogs will be a lot more work, but I’ve never been one to shy away from the work as long as the creativity part comes naturally.

I’ll still be using this blog for all content until the new one is up and running (hopefully by the end of the year.) And if you made it all of the way to the bottom of this post, thank you. I appreciate each and every reader, but especially those that have been there while I’ve tried to balance both aspects of my life in this blog. I’m so excited about the changes and I hope you are too!

Happy Wednesday!

Visiting The 1893 World’s Fair Exhibit


Chicago is one of our favorite cities to visit, especially the museums there. So when we heard about the new exhibit at the Field Museum about the 1893 World’s Fair, we were so excited to have a a reason to visit the museum. 


120 years ago, Chicago hosted the 1893 World’s Fair which led to the creation of the Field Museum. This exhibit takes people back to everything that the visitors to the fair saw and gives an amazing look into how our culture has changed since then.  More than 200 artifacts are in the exhibit, including: fair memorabilia, financial ledgers, fair tickets, Peruvian mummies, instruments, and so much more. 




They talked about the introduction of new products like Juicy Fruit and Cracker Jack that used the 1893 World’s Fair to introduce the world to new brands and foods. Not only that, but it introduced people to things that they would have never seen outside of the fair like exotic animals and international cultures. The six months that the fair lasted gave people an insight to lives that they didn’t even know existed.



We absolutely loved checking this exhibit out and getting a better look into past cultures. We would HIGHLY recommend checking it out if you get a chance and if you do, you should download the app in conjunction with it. It was fun to see behind the scenes stories about parts of the museum and even inside of the exhibit. It was great to have an interactive way to look at the artifacts and gain a bit more knowledge than what they had within the exhibit.

It was truly amazing to see how the Field Museum has evolved from the 1893 World’s Fair and how our culture has changed so much since then. It left us wishing that we could have another world’s fair – just to see more about the world around us and to be able to compare even more of our current culture to how the world was 120 years ago.

Have you visited the Field Museum? Or even the 1893 World’s Fair exhibit?

Let us know your favorite part!

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Party Planning With #Target Wedding (+ A Giveaway!)

We’ve partnered with Target for their Be Yourself, Together campaign. We were provided a gift card to purchase an item from Target, but all thoughts and photos are 100% our own unless stated otherwise.

Most of you know our wedding was anything but traditional. We got married on the beach in Jamaica and it was absolutely AMAZING. If I had a chance to do it differently, I  wouldn’t. There was such little stress involved with the wedding planning because of it and it truly was an incredibly magical day. However, we missed out on some of the more traditional things that lead up to a wedding because we decided to spend our money on the trip rather than the pre-wedding parties or gifts and we encouraged our guests to do them the same.

I would have loved to have had an engagement party though. Nathan and I have family scattered across the whole US and we knew that not everyone would be able to go to Jamaica with us, so it would have been great to get everyone together beforehand. And you can bet I would have planned a pretty kick-ass party.

And I would have just had one staple for the party:

Blue Mason Jars

Blue Jars

Yep, they’re trendy. And they seem to be everywhere anymore. But it’s for all of the right reasons. Mason jars are a staple in our house for canning, but they are so versatile. And these blue ones would have been perfect for a party, especially one with a seaside theme. Add some sand and a candle and you can have a candlelit path. Or some sand and shells as a centerpiece. Fill them with gummy sharks for a sweet treat for your guests. Add some twine and a tag to write a name on it to use as a glass that won’t be mixed up with someone else’s. And then when the party is all done, you can reuse them for so many other things. Cups, food containers, decorations, gift accessories (pre-made cookie recipes in them are SO fun!), craft projects, storage, etc.

 image provided by Target

I definitely would have used them as glasses and I think it would have been a blast for people to create tropical drinks like we did at the resort. This Cocktail Shaker would have been the perfect addition to the party to have a small drink stand for people to mix their own drinks. (Besides, a little alcohol never harmed anyone when it came to meeting family members for the first time, right?) But for the younger ones or those that wanted non-alcholic drinks, I think that a SodaStream would help create the perfect mix of drink options. And a fun conversation starter to break the ice, too! Add in hors d’oeuvres and maybe a build your own pasta bar on this Wellbridge Dinnerware and it’s the perfect combination to reflect our wedding and reception.

 And now I’m kinda bummed that we didn’t have an engagement party because it sounds pretty awesome. If you’re planning a wedding, check out the Target Wedding Registry. Or if you’re looking for that perfect gift for that special couple you know that’s tying the knot, check out the Target Wedding Catalog. And even if a wedding isn’t in your future, Target was kind enough to offer $25 to one lucky After Nine To Five reader! Check out the details below :)