West PA Pride Photo Contest

Hey everyone! Today I'm inviting you local readers to enter in a photo contest, brought to you by UnitedHealthcare, West PA Pride. All you have to do is upload a picture of you being active somewhere in Western Pennsylvania and you're entered to win!

There are daily prizes of $25 cash and a grand prize of $400 at the end of the contest. It's super easy and with so many chances to win, why not!? I really like this campaign because I'm a snoop and went through all the submitted pictures to see what people are doing. But it's also great to see where people are having fun and being active in the area, and there are so many great places in the Western PA area to choose from. So great out there, take a picture and upload it at http://westpapride.com before December 24th!

But, best wishes on trying to beat this classic of me and my friends, Hannah and Marci, biking at Ohiopyle!


Fashion Forward Fridays: Wearing Winter Hats

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I love wearing hats and I think winter is the perfect time to do so. For today's Fashion Forward Fridays, I'm sharing with you three of my favorite ways to style different hats during the cold months. 

Hope you have a fabulous weekend! Which is your favorite look?


DIY: Clothespin Christmas Card Wreath

As I'm sure many of you on Pinterest have seen, there is a pin floating around that shows a wreath made out of clothespins to hang up Christmas cards. I decided that was the cutest thing I've ever seen and had to try it for myself because I promised myself that I would actually do more of the things I'm pinning. And of course, I think mine is great! Here's how to make your own!

Gather your supplies.
Clothespins - I got a pack of 100 from Walmart for about a dollar. (Tip: when doing crafts, don't just go straight to the aisle where crafts and DIY supplies are. Go to where you would normally find these things. There were clothespins in the craft aisle at this same Walmart 24 for $2, but in the laundry aisle, they were 100 for $1. Be smart about making things, companies take advantage of all of us out there pinning away.)
Paint and brushes - I already had these. I wanted my pins to be different shades of green so it looked more realistic so I mixed black and white with them, but you can always just get one green if you wish. Just depends on the look you're going for.
Wire - I was going to use a wire hanger, but I couldn't find one in the house anywhere. No wire hangers! (Whoever gets that reference gets a prize.) So I bought this wire pack. They ended up being more bendy than I wanted but twisting them real tight helped build support enough to hold up some cards.
Bow - To top it off and make it festive!

Paint your pins.
Self explanatory. I only painted three sides so nothing would rub off on the wall but so that everywhere you look the pins are green.

Again, self explanatory. Make that sucker look pretty and hang it up. I made my clothespins go opposite ways for every other one so that cards could hang on the inside and outside.


Chels Wears: Puff Trooper by Callanan

Hat: Callanan | Jacket: TJ Maxx | Sweater & Jeans: WalMart | Shirt: Neighborhood Teaze | Boots: Payless
I know, I know, I take an unannounced absence and then when I come back it's with a super casual outfit. How lame of me. But, how great is this hat!? If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with hats. So when I was sent this one to review, I was crazy excited. And to be honest, I really do love this one. It's black so it can go with everything and the lining is so warm and soft. Perfect for winter, especially with the ear flaps, love, love, love it.


Etsy Shop Collaboration Giveaway!

I'm so thankful that Lindsay from Wedding Rings to Teething Rings has asked me to be apart of this Etsy shop giveaway. It's been underway all weekend, but I wanted to save it for you all today. I've been very blessed recently with making online connections to grow the Marion Claire Stationery brand and I really want to show how thankful I am by giving away a five pack of holiday cards. So for those of you who entered the giveaway on Sarah Hartley's blog and did not win, here's another chance AND you can win a lot of other great prizes as well! So check out Lindsay's post below and learn more about these fellow creators.


Let's celebrate Black Friday by supporting Etsy Shop owners with a huge giveaway valued at $175!  We truly have such a great group of ladies here that have made this giveaway possible!  Please, grab a cup of coffee, meet these hardworking and creative shop owners, and check out what each adorable shop has to offer!

1. Amanda from Bangles & Bauble is giving away two pairs of handmade earrings! Bangles and Bauble is a jewelry line which creates fashionable handmade pieces.  Using the latest trends as inspiration, Amanda likes to create her pieces to give a unique vibe that will accentuate outfits in a new way.  Amanda uses durable material and purchases the majority of her supplies from Etsy retailers, which adds another element of "handmade" to her pieces! 

2. Lena from Root and Blossom is giving away a handmade fabric bunting! Lena is a teacher turned SAHM who blogs over at Root and Blossom.  Lena makes everything from buntings to headbands to baby mobiles and bibs!  Lena's blog and shop are all about owning where you're at in life's journey and flourishing in it!

3. Jessica from A Little Loka is giving away two sets of coffee stained stationery!  Jessica creates art prints, jewelry, holiday items, and more!  She started her shop when she received overwhelmingly positive responses to her artwork.  Jessica also blogs over at Living La Vida Holoka! She is also offering 20% off now through December 28th with code WRTR20!

4. Chelsea from Marion Claire Stationery is giving away five holiday cards of your choice! This shop is named after Chelsea's grandmothers.  She creates greeting cards with a perfect blend of heart and sass.  Chelsea is inspired by her desire to keep snail mail alive, and she never misses an opportunity to send her friends and family a card.

5. Andrea from On Your Wall Prints is giving away $25 store credit towards her original prints! Andrea makes words come alive on paper and can turn words into decorations.  Andrea sells downloaded artwork that is easy to print.  They are excellent gift ideas or perfect for the days when you want to add some life to your walls!

6&7. Tabitha from Tiny Wishes Creations is giving away a custom birthstone necklace and a hand painted wine glass! Tabitha's shop features hand painted, heat cured glassware and jewelry.  She is happy to work on a custom order with you, too.  Tabitha is also a mom, wife, lover of pink moscato, and amateur photographer.  Tabitha also blogs over at A Hundred Tiny Wishes!

8.  Liz from After Dinner Designs is giving away a beautiful pair of earrings!  She and her husband handcraft one of a kind pieces of jewelry, accessories, and home decor from bits of recycled plates, cups, and saucers.  They love to create custom pieces from your own heirloom china, so contact them to discuss custom orders!  Liz always blogs over at Liz Fresh Plate focusing on faith, food, family, and home!

9.  Ashley from Ashley Lorren Designs is giving away a handmade "live laugh love" metal stamped key chain! Ashley specializes in metal stamped key chains, accessories and jewelry.  All items are made to order, and custom orders are always welcome!

Now for the chance to win all 9 prizes, a $175 value! All entries will be verified. Prizes may vary from images shown. Winner must be US resident for shipping purposes. Winner will be notified within two days of selection by e-mail. Winner must respond to e-mail within two days of receipt or a new winner will be randomly selected. Sponsors of raffle are eligible to participate.



Favorite Winter Trends

Happy Monday, everyone! Hoping you all had a great weekend and are excited for the short work week. For today's November Blogathon prompt, we're asked to share our favorite winter trends. Right up my alley! I am currently obsessed with wearing all neutrals together or beautiful deep jewel tones. I love color so the jewel tones come as no surprise, but wearing neutrals isn't usually my thing, so it's been fun to try out recently. So here are two looks I created in Polyvore based on these two trends.

Which trend do you like best?


Fashion Forward Fridays: Blanket Scarf Goodness

Happy Friday! I am already over the wintery cold and snow, but I cannot get enough of blanket scarves. I mean, who wouldn't want to wrap up in one before heading out in the cold? So for today's Fashion Forward Fridays, here are three looks I created in Polyvore for this trend! Enjoy and bundle up!

Which look do you like best? How do you wear a blanket scarf?


A Prayer Journal

We're going to get a little personal today. For the November Blogathon, today's prompt is to talk about your prayer life, if you have one. As I have mentioned on this blog before, I am a Christian and while I'm a little more liberal with my beliefs about what the church should be doing in the world today, prayer is at the center of it.

When I was younger, growing up in the church, prayer to me was very much just a "Dear God, please keep my friends and family safe and don't let anything bad happen in the world. Amen." Pretty great, right? Since then, I have grown a lot and my relationship with God is completely different.

Until I was a teenager, God was just an idea, not a real person. To be honest, around the time I was fourteen, I remember being at a summer camp and having the most amazing day and then praying that night, like I always did but feeling like God didn't hear me. Like he didn't care about what I had to say and honestly, wasn't even there. That feeling scared me and followed me for the next four years. I didn't believe in God at all. I still went to church every Sunday, I still went to summer camps, but I just didn't feel it anymore.

However, when I went to college, I knew something was missing. Then, when I went to the summer camp I grew up at as a camp counselor, I realized what it was. But it was hard to get back into a relationship with someone I had tried to avoid for the past five years. That's when a fellow staff member introduced the idea of a prayer journal. I thought she was brilliant (I still do, actually). It made perfect sense to me though! As a writer, it was easy to just write everything I was feeling and thinking and hoping for and leaving it all on the page for God. Since then, that's mostly how my prayer life has been. Prayer journals have been filled and replaced over the years but the relationship with God has only grown because of them.

I also am a big fan of the "thought prayer" idea and practice that more often than not. I know that a lot of people don't consider this "active praying" and that it's not the proper way to come to God but this isn't their relationship to judge. God knows what's between me and Him and for now, the thoughts and the journal is how we do it. I recently bought a copy of A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor (one of my favorite writers) and it's made me realize how beautiful these little letters to God are. How our relationship is growing, how it has changed and how it is fine the way it is. I might miss a day or two, but God is like one of those friends you can just pick up with where you last left off without missing a beat. And when I miss a day, that's where the thought prayers pick up for the in-between times.

What's your prayer life like?
What do you think of a prayer journal?


Chels Wears: Winter Layers

Belt & Cardigan: Target | Hat: Charlotte Russe | Chambray, Jeans & Scarf: WalMart
Ring: Old Navy | Flannel Shirt: thrifted | Leg Warmers: WalMart
Well, if you were here yesterday, then you know last night we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at one of Eric's churches for some people in need. And it went great! I'm so proud haha I was really nervous that there wouldn't be enough food and that the turkey would be awful, but everyone was fed and loved it! This was the first time I ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner and figuring out how to cook a turkey was a learning experience, to say the least. Now I feel like a real grown up.

These pictures were taken at a nearby park while I was waiting for the turkey to finish up. This was also the quickest photo session that Eric and I have ever done because it was freeeeezing outside. I'm not excited about winter officially being in Erie, but snow makes for some pretty pictures and I do love layering! But so commences the quick photo session season. Hopefully we'll get good photos on the first try like we did with these ones. Not to shabby for (literally) the only photos we took.


Chelsea Lately: November Blogathon Update

Hello, everyone! I missed yesterday's November Blogathon prompt because I just, honestly, didn't have much to say about it. It was to talk about your hometown and there's really not a lot I have to say about Ellwood City. There are a couple new little restaurants that I like but besides that, not a whole lot is going on that I felt the need to comment on here. Now that I haven't lived there for a while, I appreciate the town way more than I did while growing up there, but I was not created for small town life. So moving on today's prompt...a currently post.

I really love doing these because sometimes bloggers focus a lot on what they want to write about and forget to mention what's going on in their lives. These kind of posts are my favorite to catch up with bloggers and so you all can see what I've really been up to outside of this little space.
Brunch for Eric's birthday | Flowers from MJ for our anniversary | Lots of snow in Erie | My cat, as a record

Remembering: College. MJ and I recently celebrated our five year dating anniversary and it has really made me stop and remember who I was five years ago. I was in my junior year of college, had just been crowned Homecoming Queen and was at the top of my game academically and falling head over heels in love. Seton Hill has such a huge part of my heart and I miss it more than I ever could have imagined.

Giggling About: My crazy cat. My brother, Eric, and I have recently started our own meme-like text messages to each other about her. Pretty much whenever we find her in weird places around the house, we send a picture to each other with the phrase, "don't mind me, I'm just a (fill in the blank)." Recent things she's been: shoes, guitar amp, record, burrito.

Planning: A Thanksgiving dinner! Eek! Family Video and one of my brother's churches have decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for some local people who don't have a place to go for the holiday and it's tonight! Family Video (like every single one in the nation) always donates turkeys to local families in need but since our store is so small, we decided to just host a dinner instead and Eric was more than willing to allow us to use the church basement for the space. But since I'm the "middle-person" between Family Video and the church, a lot of the planning has been on me. Which is fine, but I hope everything turns out alright!

Anxiously Awaiting: Upcoming craft shows for Marion Claire Stationery. I'm heading to Edinboro for one on Saturday and then doing two more in Shady Side on November 29th and December 13th. I'm hoping that these ones will do really well with Christmas coming up and my holiday cards being ready to go. Also, because the Shady Side shows will be the first two that are really in my "market" I'm hoping they will become a more regular kind of event and open me up to more "hipster-friendly" shows. Because to be honest, I'm a little hit-or-miss at smaller craft shows since they tend to draw an older crowd that doesn't always approve of my cheeky sayings.

Baking: Everything! (See: Planning) haha

Keeping a Secret: Eric's Christmas present! It came in the mail last week and I had to hide it with some other people's presents that I already bought (I'm ahead of schedule this year). But I'm reallllllly excited for what I got him. I saw it online thinking he'd like it but didn't buy it because I wasn't totally sure, then he sent me his Birthday/Christmas list and it was on there...so I swiftly purchased it.

DIYing: Some Christmas crafts for the house! Eric is allowing me to take over for decorating the house for Christmas and I've been Pinteresting a little too much lately. I've found some cute and easy crafts that I cannot wait to show off soon! I have a strict rule about not decorating until after Thanksgiving, but I'm allowed to prepare! This house was seriously designed just to decorate for Christmas, so I've got to do it justice.

What have you been up to recently?


Fashion Forward Fridays: Wearing Colored Tights

I cannot even talk about how much I love wearing tights in the winter. I don't understand why, but tights with socks and boots is just my favorite trend. And I say winter, because it has arrived in Erie. I just realized yesterday that I guess I didn't really let the general public know that I moved. After posting about the snow yesterday on Instagram and Twitter, a lot of people asked where I was that there was so much snow. So, hey everyone, I live in Erie, in case you missed that memo, I move here in January. And we have plenty of snow already.

Moving on, I love wearing tights in the winter and I currently am obsessing over colored tights. So for Fashion Forward Fridays today, I put together three looks together on Polyvore inspired by colored tights that can be worn for winter.

The casual look is my favorite and is basically what I wore to work at Family Video on Wednesday night. I love the dressy look as well because it seems so sweet and romantic with pink tights, but the work outfit would be the hardest to pull off. I think that if you hair was up and you looked polished enough, it could happen and it'd be work appropriate.

Which look is your favorite? How do you style colored tights?


New Blogger Tips & Intro to Blogging Greatness

As some of you know, I recently finished up teaching a course for beginning bloggers. It was a great experience for me, I met some awesome people and got them to revamp their blogs and some just start out. But I feel like in blogging, you are always learning. It's an every-growing community and as we established these blogs, I feel like I learned just as much from my students. Especially one student, Nan, who started writing a comedy blog for the 65+ crowd. She's hilarious and so insightful and I'm excited to see where her blog goes.

With that in mind, I think the November Blogathon prompts for Thursday and Friday (both of which I'm doing today) were right on point to what I've been thinking a lot about recently when it comes to blogging. So here we go!

If you could tell your novice blogger self 3 tips...

1 - Build a community.
I really just started writing this blog so my family and friends would read it and know that I was having fun and was safe while living in downtown Pittsburgh. I have had other blogs before and this one was not started to get lots of page views, it is not created to be SEO friendly, even though at the time that's all I was doing in work. But when the greater Pittsburgh community started to catch on to what I was writing and more people became followers, it started to find a bigger purpose for this space. Which was nice and I'm glad to see that a lot of those early followers continued to read even when I moved out of the city, because my content has certainly changed since then. But those followers, bloggers and non-bloggers, have really opened a lot of doors for me and while that wasn't my intention, I really appreciate it.

2 - Fellow bloggers are not your competition.
I do not like that a lot of bloggers are just in it now to monetize and a lot of "How to Start a Blog" posts are dedicated to making money off your blog right away. I feel like doing that leads to you being unauthentic and leads you to not make friends with other bloggers because you view them as your competition. That is dumb. Blogging is supposed to be about the community not the advertising dollars, and while those are nice, hating a fellow blogger in your niche is pretty lame.

3 - Allow yourself a break whenever you need it.
I hear about blogger burnout too much. If you've followed along here for a while, then you know that I believe in giving myself mini-breaks from blogging whenever I feel like it. I wish more bloggers were like that, because readers can tell when your heart isn't into it and I never want that feeling to come across to my readers. Give yourself time off if you want/need it.

Now skipping over to Friday's prompt - Introduce 3 bloggers you follow and why.

Sarah Hartley | Midwest Muse | Sincerely, Sara
Photos are the property of Sarah, Jessica, and Sara, respectively.
Sarah Hartley - Sarah has made an appearance here a couple times, and she will always be my first blogger pick. She's one of the first bloggers I really started to follow consistently and I like that she's built a community that has followed her from fashion blogger girlfriend to mommy of the cutest little boy, with the perfect husband. I like that she's become more open over time to sharing about herself and now I cannot even believe how transparent she is with her readers. She's really grown and it's been an amazing journey to watch unfold over the screen. She's got great style, a fresh sense of humor and plenty of baby pictures to show off her cute little man.

Midwest Muse - Jessica is amazing. She has the best style that I have ever seen, has the best taste in music and generally just doesn't give a shit what people think, and I LOVE it. Jessica takes a week off from blogging and doesn't really need to give an excuse as to why because her readers pick up right where she left off. She changes her hair drastically on a whim and still knows how to style it better than anyone who has had that hair for years. She's basically a unicorn living in Ohio and I cannot get enough of her and her blog. Also, her photographer boyfriend takes the most gorgeous pictures of her that her whole blog just looks like an indie magazine you need to be reading.

Sincerely, Sara - I found this Sara through reading Sarah Hartley's blog and have to say that I'm glad I did. Sara is someone I admire because she is so consistent and her blog reads like she wrote it just to you. She has clear goals about her future and her blog, she tells you upfront what she blogs about and when, and she is always producing quality content in her niche. She's making the rest of us mid-twenties bloggers look unorganized and I actually love it because she is just so good. She's also a bookworm, so always one to recommend good reads.

So, who are your favorite bloggers?
And what wisdom would you share with new bloggers?


Chels Wears: Super Casual

Shirt: Victoria's Secret | Pants & Sweatshirt: WalMart | Glasses: Rue21 | Shoes: Kandals | Bag: Target

Alright, this outfit is nothing special. I know that. But while I do "dress up" a lot, I wanted to show that I really do have "off" days too. I know that blogging, especially fashion blogging, can often times give a false sense of who someone is. And because I've been crazy busy lately, I don't always have time or, honestly, care enough to dress up during the day when I know I'm just going to bartend at night. (Which inevitably leads to a keg kicking and me getting splashed with beer.) So, here's a very average, as of recently, look for me. I'm sure I'll be back to my fancy pants soon, but for today, this super soft sweatshirt is really all I want. In other news...check out that serious bun head.

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