Lenovo Bluetooth Speaker, New Studio & *GIVEAWAY*!

speaker5words
Today I am so thrilled to partner with Lenovo to show you my new studio AND my new Bluetooth speakers that make working in the studio so fun and easy. Gotta have me some tunes spinning to get in my writing groove. And for Friday Deadlines-are-Done Dance Parties, DUH. Enter this slick little baby, which is only 1.6 pounds and can sit horizontal like I have it or vertical, and offers a 270-degree sound experience.


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I absolutely LOVE the portability of this all-in-one speaker (major plus for this biz owner: it turns into a microphone + speakerphone for taking calls!). It offers up to 4 hours of wireless listening, then just plug it into your computer to keep listening and charge it up.

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This is where you’ll see most of my instagram outfit selfies…my giant awesome Art Deco antique mirror. This is the real-deal, a true antique with so much pizazz it makes the whole room dazzle.
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Where the writing magic happens. One of mom’s paintings hangs above my desk (she is a fine artist and shares the other half of the studio with me). Since the Lenovo bluetooth speaker has such power and is so easily portable, it can head over to visit mom’s side of the studio for a field trip. But that’s another post entirely! 
studio2
Pretty dresses hanging to keep me inspired, with Audrey keeping a watchful eye on things, of course.
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Office essentials: Iced coffee, pink pens and my Lenovo bluetooth speaker. I love how sleek the speaker is, it just melts into the surroundings with a modern look. 
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More office essentials, including the “Open” sign I made with a paint pen and a leftover-Ikea-cabinet door-piece-random-thing.
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How much are we loving this vintage needlepoint I picked up? I think it’s so great how the 70’s needlepoint, the classic clock and the modern speaker still look good together. 
In the other corner is this odd curio cabinet, built-in, but at an angle. I’ve filled it with very necessary things: 
curiocabinet

What girl doesn’t need a grown-up pair of pink sparkle mary-jane’s in case of party emergency? (rhetorical question, I know)

speakergiveaway

SPEAKING OF PARTIES, and speaking of speakers (I crack myself up), I get to GIVE AWAY one of these fabulous speakers to one of my fabulous readers! This couldn’t be more exciting!
Somebody turn up the Lenovo speaker with the dance music!

Here are the details, with up to FIVE entries per person:

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

You Make it Beautiful: Happy Spring

beautiful early-morning spring light through my curtains.

It’s Spring. And my heart struggles with this, in a strange way. I know normally Sunshiney Natalie would be screaming from the rooftops (especially after a maple latte this morning) that it’s SPRING YA’LL!

But really my heart is just in a little bit of a no-not-Spring place. Just a bit of a “let me stay here, buried in snow, I’m fine…really…” sort of half-smile place. More like the several inches of snow we got last night and the gray day here with my candle and vintage lamp and a warm mug of goodness in my fleece pajama pants (yes, still, at 11am #writerlife) snuggled under a blanket that has Love written in several languages on it. Just a little bit more of this.

I’ve been thinking lately of when I was little, how I spent so much time in my room quietly creating, happy as a clam to be in a cozy space creating beauty out of nothing more than glitter and gluesticks and paper and words. I would write all sorts of little storybooks and set up a shop to sell them to my mom for a nickel each. Just a happy little quiet Natalie-heart.

And then life. 
You know what I’m sayin’? 

Today is one of those days where I feel that unequivocally, life pressed down on top of my heart. Anxiety, selfishness, fear, bitterness…not so pretty.

See the truth of the matter is, I have a tender heart. I have a poet’s heart underneath it all, when we get down to it. One that sees pain and the quietness and the joy of life and takes it in deeply. A heart that has been wrecked with pain and brokenness.

These soft hearts like mine don’t just bounce back quickly. It is a bit more fragile. A bit more malleable. A bit more attentive and empathetic and a whole lot softer. It still hurts now and again and I face the thought of blooming into spring one more time with trepidation.

But I’m thinking how I don’t want an “And then life” life. Not worldly-life. I want heart-life. I want quiet-beauty-inner-happy-deep-well-soft-heart-poet-eyes-take-it-all-in-and-bring-it-back-to-life-and-breathe-it-out life. A happy little quiet Natalie-heart.

So I guess that means I do want Spring. The beautiful, life-giving, revival of Spring.  To breathe that in again and let it fill me. To sit with that for awhile, to heal and slowly be brought back to life.

“You take brokenness aside and You make it beautiful.” Amen.
 
Happy Spring, my dears! 
xo
Natalie

Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 3

You all know of my affinity for HitRecord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (JGL) online collaborative recording/creating studio. Oh, you don’t know? Check out Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Reviews Volume 2 and one collaboration I was a part of here.
I adore the concept of tiny stories. They fascinate me. They’re like little snippets, little poems, even dearer for the fact that they leave so much to your imagination and interpretation.

 Love this one!

And this one! I love that the illustrations and stories are all collaborative, so they’ve been mixed and remixed by artists to create the final product. It’s such a fun thing to do, and you can be a part of it, too, at Hit Record. I’ve got an account (goodgirlstyle)! Even better? You get a portion of the proceeds of any products that are created using your artwork or words.
Love these little books. 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has also created the first collaborative variety show, Hit Record on TV, that just debuted. I just watched it…how fun is this, guys? It’s so quirky and has such a cool edgy vibe. Here it is:
JGL is one of the most multi-talented people I’ve ever seen, I’m pretty sure. He plays the piano, sings, acts, writes, produces, and is always doing something new and unique. In a pretty one-dimensional Hollywood, I admire that he steps out from the crowd to do his own thing. And I just LOVE being a part of cool new projects.

“Getting started, it’s always the hardest part, just walking up and saying Hello! Or sitting down in front of that blank page. Once you start writing, there’s plenty to say.” 
JGL

Let’s get started. Let’s live and write and share and record our own tiny stories. 
Who knows, to someone else, they might be the biggest stories ever told. 
xo
Natalie
PS> Thanks to it!Books by Harper Collins for the review copy of Tiny Stories, Volume 3. I loved it.

Five Minute Friday “Together”

The word for today is “Together”. Set the timer for 5 minutes!

Go: 

Together is a tough word for me right now. I feel the opposite of it in so many ways. I feel left behind, left out, lonely. I am so tempted to think that God doesn’t have a plan for me, and that somehow I have been forgotten altogether.
Together  implies two.
And I am only one.
Only one in the morning when I make coffee. Only one at lunch time when I check my phone and see no new messages. I am only one at night when I crawl under my fuzzy hot pink blanket for the evening. And sometimes only one hurts. Because we always say “only” one. How many? “Only one.”
The lonely one.
But in the morning, I like to sing to the radio at the top of my lungs and dance around and at lunch time I go shopping at at bedtime, I snuggle that hot pink blanket and I enjoy eating chips in bed and watching Netflix like its my job. Maybe I can enjoy being, “one,” without the only. Nothing is missing when Jesus is involved. The fullness of time brings the blessings it is meant to, and in the meantime, this season? It’s pretty darn blessed, too.

STOP

Words were harder this week. So it goes.

xo
Natalie

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

{linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday…She gives us all a writing prompt and we write, uninterrupted, with very little editing for 5 minutes. Imperfect but real…This is my first post. Here it is. Yikes!}

I fight with the daily-ness of life. I wrestle tubs of laundry to the dirty laundromat where I curse a fallen towel and the fact that a quarter only buys me 5 minutes of dryer time. And I wonder where, amidst this mess, I could find the bravery to say a quivering “yes” to the bigger things of life. 
I look across the folding table at the laundromat and I see an abandoned single tiny white baby sock, impossibly small to my eyes unaccustomed to baby things, and I think of the family who left it behind. The story is untold. And the untold story behind someone else’s laundry makes me realize that my own dirty laundry isn’t such an imposition. Maybe it speaks of bigger things.
This blessing of a curse of having to get OUT of my own house and INTO life with other people to do something as simple as wash my laundry sometimes it feels like too much of a metaphor, you know? I like to sit quietly in my quiet house and feel “lonely.” Sometimes being out in a crowd, with a bunch of people screaming and screeching and practically blasting life from a bullhorn makes me feel at once lonelier and startled and scared, like a fawn seeing things out in the world for what they are: that not all humans are friendly, and cars, with their interesting lights and fascinating sounds are actually quite dangerous to a little fawn, and are best avoided. 
God calls me to things outside of myself, outside of my home where I find company in haphazard laundry flung over the sofa, because when this place is fully clean it seems sterile and empty and lifeless. Much like how I feel when I’ve reached the edge of being able to decipher the difference in my life between what is clean and what is dirty and what needs to be washed and what just needs to be hung up again and brushed off. It is difficult, this deciphering, sometimes. It makes words difficult. It makes it nearly impossible for me to find a way to utter “yes.” 
I have to step outside for a moment, and run off the front porch into the clear, lukewarm October evening and spin around and look at the stars and it takes being reminded by stars and abandoned baby socks in laundromats to make me contemplate that maybe I have no air left in my lungs to say yes too loudly, and certainly not enough to shout it over my life. 
Maybe, I think, under the stars, just maybe I have enough to say it with my heart to the God of the heavens who can hear our heart-language, unspoken but felt, as the moon rises early. 
//
xo
Natalie

Cocoa Chat

Let’s share a cup of hot cocoa tonight, yeah? See, I made you a special one with homemade whipped cream, peppermint bits, and a cherry Andes mint. It’s rather delicious, if I do say so myself. 
But it’s definitely for you.
Ahem.
My writings here always come from a really authentic place, and I hope you can see that, whether they are silly or deeper-hearted. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I am so excited about the plans I have for this little blog-space of mine. Thank you so much for sharing life with me here.
It is my pleasure to hostess you all here for a moment out of your day.

Today is a time for words instead of pictures. 
Except, one more picture:

For me, this photo embodies my word of the year for 2012: Change.
Every year I choose a Word of the Year that I feel God has laid on my heart as the banner word over my year. I pray about it and often wrestle with the word choice, unsure of what it means or how exactly He seeks to accomplish the meaning of that word in my life. You see, often the words are not pleasant things. They are usually words like 2011’s Discipline or  2012’s word: Change.
On the heels of a rough ending to the otherwise blissfully wonderful 2011, it seemed that there was nothing BUT change left for me. God was preparing my heart. Come mid-year, I was at the end of my rope physically, spiritually, and mentally. I took six flights to visit family in two different states, fighting anxiety attacks the whole way, bursting into tears at random times and in front of strangers, feeling unequivocally beaten down. I made the tough decision to move closer to my family and start chasing some dreams. 
I wish this post were about the healing I’ve experienced, the turning point for wholeness I embraced this year. But as I’ve often said, a testimony is no good without honesty and authenticity. My heart isn’t healed, much as I hate to admit that, because it’s been a year.
 A tough one.

 I know we serve a God whose provisions are complete. He is utterly dependable and overwhelmingly in love with us.
And no matter how much love we may lose on this here broken ground, our God in the Heavens never fails. 

That photo above? That’s me, standing in front of Niagara Falls, during my move. I used to think it was strange that I decided to turn my back on the falls and look out the other way. Why didn’t I face the falls? Now, I think it’s mighty symbolic. My back is to the falls. My back is to the difficulty, to the mighty rushing river cliff of heartbreak.
A year into it.
***
I’ll see you next January to check in on my word for 2013 and how God used it in my life. 
Oh, and one of my blog-friends asked me about my goals for the upcoming year. I have a list, but I’ll share my big one:
Get my poetry published!
I wish you all a marvelous year. 

Tiny Stories: Volume 2

 You all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt, right? Pretty face who plays beside Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer? Played Robert Todd Lincoln in the currently-box-office-hot Lincoln? Rumored to be playing Batman in a new comic-inspired movie? Yeah that guy.
Well, turns out he’s also the pretty face behind the online collaboration production company, HitRecord, that allows artists to post, compile, collaborate, and remix to create even better art, film, writing, and other projects. They travel, they publish, they produce CDs, sharing the collaborative art (and then sharing the profits with the collaborators). Pretty cool, right? 
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 1 debuted last year, filled with small stories and art created by HitRecord collaborators. They’re quirky. They’re different. Some of them are a little bit strange, a little bit funny, a little bit sentimental. Some of them make you cringe, make you wonder, make your heart swell, or make you shake your head and giggle a little.

Volume 2 is hot off the presses from It Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. It makes a wonderful stocking stuffer for a friend. Tuck a little bookmark or Starbucks gift card inside, wrap it in craft paper, tie it up with some twine, maybe add some washi tape. They’ll think you’re super cool. (which is true)


Here are a few of my favorites:
See artists worked together on the story and illustration. They hit record, they remixed it, they turned it into something unique. I adore this one.
Truth be told: These two volumes are lovely. They are a pleasant reminder of the tactile beauty of the printed book, with their textured, imprinted book jackets and their quirky, artsy vibe. 
And I love that, being a quirky, artsy story-teller myself.
YOU can join, too! I scoped out the collaborative scene, and I think I just might jump in myself and contribute some writing to be remixed. Let’s fill some pages for Volume 3, yeah?
I have always identified with the quotation, “The universe is not made of atoms; it is made of stories.” ~Muriel Rukeyser
HitRecord adds one important word to that: tiny
“The universe is not made of atoms; it is made of tiny stories.” ~Muriel Rukeyser and wirrow 

Many thanks to it! books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. These words and opinions are my own.

Freelance Work

{8-page article, “Natalie’s Style” in Life:Beautiful magazine written & styled by Natalie with Britni Ventling, photography by Tobin Bennett, Winter 2012}

My name is Natalie. I’m a freelance writer, published poet, award-winning baker, stylist, speaker, and photographer. 


(published online and in print)


Guest Writer for MaryJanes Farm magazine,
“An Illustrated Life: Tasha Tudor, a Beloved American Icon” April/May 2011

Original recipes for King Arthur Flour, Girl Versus Dough, etc.

Indiana University Most Fashionable Alumnus, 2011

Thrifting Lecture for SEVCA; 2012

Press for StyleWeek: Providence to cover local designer, YellowClover, 2012

Life:Beautiful Winter 2012 “Natalie’s Style”; photography credit Tobin Bennett
With my public speaking experience and a Master’s degree in Poetry from Dartmouth College, along with loads and loads of adventuring and ice cream eating experience, I am happy to write and speak on a number of subjects. But I’m guessing you would probably want me to share my poetry, faith-based fashion, thrifting, etiquette, or gluten-free baking work instead of my ice-cream eating and movie-watching “skills.” Here are some ideas of topics I have written and spoken about in the past and would love to write or speak about for you:


~Fashion styling tips, wardrobe building, closet organization, and any styling subjects
~ Baking Tips, Ideas, and Recipes
~Etiquette, Civility, and Manners for all arenas of life
~Devotions/faith inspiration for women
~Thrifting tips, tricks, resources, and looking great on a budget
~Natural beauty and makeup tips, tricks, and resources
~Poetry and creative writing
~Minnesota, Indiana, and Midwest living, travel, and things to do
~Do-it-yourself projects and crafts
~Seasonal recipes and decor
~Interior decorating
~Press coverage of fashion shows, designers, conferences, exhibits, etc.
~Social justice issues 

If you think my background and interests might match your needs, please email me at: goodgirlstyleblog (at) gmail (dot) com . I look forward to hearing from you and will be in touch as soon as possible.