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Hello, all. My name is Kayla Dean, and I am honored to be ARWB’s Miss December 2015. I’d like to begin by telling you all a little bit about myself.

In short: I’m an incredibly busy person.

The longer story:

I’m a mother of an adorable four-year-old boy named Lukas Conrad.

Mommy and Lukas

 In addition to being his full-time mommy, I also work full-time at Arkansas State University in Beebe as a Student Development Specialist (which is just a fancy title for tutor—a.k.a mother to all panic-stricken college freshman). As a tutor, I wear many hats, helping with everything from Spanish to English, Algebra to Microsoft Applications, and even a bit of PR and business classes. This year, I have been selected to be a part of the university’s L.E.A.D. program that has kept me very busy learning about the administrative side of higher education—which is really interesting! I occasionally teach a few classes at the university as well in Composition and World Literature (right now I’m enjoying a semester off), and I voluntarily lead our youth program at church. Also, in my spare time (which is dwindling nowadays), I write books. Last year, I self-published two books: my novel, Muted, and Autumn Leaflets: a Collection of Poetry. Currently, I am working on a YA trilogy called The Ferocity Series—book one is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released January 15, 2016, and I’m writing book two.  And last but certainly not least, I blog. 

I started blogging in November 2011 (three months after my son was born) after a mentor at a writer’s retreat held at Hemmingway-Pfeiffer suggested it to me. I didn’t know much about blogging at the time, other than the blogs I’d read on my Facebook feed—though, at the time, I don’t think I even realize that they were blogs. But I’m so glad that I was introduced to blogging because I LOVE it!

One thing I’ve noticed about bloggers is that we all seem to have a passion and joy for the written—and the spoken—word (Yes, that was my stab at a we-talk-too-much joke), but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I’ve heard it said that most talented writers do talk too much. While I’m not entirely sure if this is true, my oversized mouth and I like to think that it is. Writers always have a lot say, and when they can sit down and put their stories to paper, magic happens. And that’s what I’d like to talk to you all about in this month’s posts: the magic of writing.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to inspire you all to do some creative writing. Perhaps, you’re already an amazingly creative writer—that’s great! I’d love to read some of the stories you come up with. Or maybe, you never thought creative writing was your thing—that’s fine too! But I do hope that you will give it a try. Think of it this way: at least you will have a few short stories to add to your portfolios—or you could use one as a future blog post for those busy months when you don’t have time to say what you want to say.

Either way, “the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful,” so go ahead; snuggle up on the couch with a blanket and a notebook and put to paper some of your own magical stories.

Pretty Tree

I’m looking forward to working with you all this month on your magical stories. If you post any of your work on social media, make sure you use #magicalstory so we can all find each other. Or feel free to post any of your stories in the comment section below.

If you’d like to check me out on social media, click the links below:

Facebook Author Page 
Amazon Authors 

If you’d like to purchase one of my books, check them out on Amazon:
Autumn Leaflets
Or for an autographed copy, visit my website: 


Owning the Holiday To-Do List

November 30, 2015

By Amanda Farris, Miss November 2015

It’s crunch time for the holiday season! We all just wrapped up a busy Thanksgiving week and are now making sure we have our to-do lists checked off for Christmas and trying to juggle our regular to do lists as well. Time management is essential. Really time management is essential any time of the year because busy is simply a part of our culture and who we are.  Busy is not unique to any one person or season of life, it’s a constant. But, it is how we handle our schedules that matter. It’s our attitudes that matter. 

As I was thinking about the “Abundance” theme for this month the thought of an “abundance of time” came to my mind. I’m sure we all wish we had an abundance of time to get things done and to still have time to do all the things we want to do. But one thing is certain, there are only 24 hours in every day. It’s the same every single day. We can’t pack in more hours to make handling our to-do lists easier.  But, we can manage our time wisely and let things go that aren’t as important, especially during this holiday season. 

Time Management 

For me, this means making sure my Christmas notebook is ready to go.

It means, putting some of my blogging goals on hold until after the holidays so that I don’t short change my family and rob them of time and attention.

It means shortening my holiday to do list and only keeping the things that my family truly enjoys doing. A tradition isn’t fun if it’s forced every year. Keep your holiday traditions narrowed down to ones that everyone enjoys and aren’t stressful.

It means making a daily list of what needs to be done, but being more realistic about what I can really do in our 24 hour days. 

Time management during the holidays means making and prioritizing time for the things that matter and letting other things slide until next month. You have to be realistic about what you can really do in a day and cut the things that you can’t make happen. 

Making Time

kids ornament exchange

Here are a few things I plan to make time for this season:


  • Host a ladies ornament exchange in my home and try a new recipe. Lots of silly games will be played! This is important to me because it serves others and builds community. 
  • Host a Christmas tea for my little girl and her friends. Annual traditions that make sweet memories build a strong family culture. She’s 6 now and I hope to still be doing this when she is 26! 
  • Go out on a Christmas date with my man and reminisce over the past year 
  • Make Ornaments with my kids for the annual cousin homemade ornament exchange 
  • Continue teaching my kids about the true Hero story of Christmas
  • Watch at least 4 cheesy Christmas movies
  • Pull out our Money Jars
  • Deliver goodies to people in my small rural town and share the love of Jesus with them
  • Teach my kids all the verses of at least one Christmas hymn
  • Snail mail our annual Christmas letter to keep up with friends and family (Snail mail is fun during the holidays!)  
  • Play Christmas music every day
  • Decorate my front porch 


I plan on managing my time this holiday season in such a way that prioritizes family, building community, and showing love to others.

Family Pic ARWB

Ladies Christmas Party 

What things do you always try to make time for each year during the holidays?

What things do you let slide on your to-do list during the holidays so that you can prioritize other things? 


Sunday Link-Up {Nov. 29. 2015}

November 29, 2015

Arkansas Blog Linkup


Chef Kim Duhamel: Healthy Holidays – Cooking With Pumpkin {Foodie Friday}

November 27, 2015

 If you’re anything like me, you relish the thought of cooler air, changing leaves…and all of the wonderful (albeit fattening) foods of the fall and winter months.  A cook’s thoughts turn towards braises, roasted meat and poultry, and let’s face it – those yummy side dishes that we allow ourselves to savor only during the [...]

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Abundance of Talent {Wordless Wednesday}

November 25, 2015

By Ashley of Maniac Mom

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ARWB – Abundance of Encouragement

November 23, 2015

The theme this month here at ARWB is abundance. As I sat down and thought about what I wanted to share with all of you this month, the phrase “abundance of encouragement” kept coming to mind when I thought about the group at ARWB.    Blogging and this media world is hard. For me, it’s [...]

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Sunday Link-Up {Nov. 22,2015}

November 22, 2015

We are thankful for #ARWB #Sunday #LinkUp. Join us! Click To Tweet  

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Lyndi Fultz: Healthy Green Bean Casserole {Foodie Friday}

November 20, 2015

     The leaves have almost pushed off all their leaves while a few tough ones are holding on tightly. These tough guys want to make sure that fall has its day in the * ahem * sun. Thanksgiving is knocking on the door and I love to relish in it. This national day of [...]

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Beautiful Abundance – The Gift of Friendship

November 19, 2015

My friendship post was all set.  Listing how others have changed my life for the better was easy — and lovely.   Then it happened.  Bennie Campbell died.  She died.     As a friend and neighbor she was really just a beautiful soul.  No one loved to do for others like Bennie. She would [...]

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Abundance of Food {Wordless Wednesday}

November 18, 2015

By Renee Birchfield of Married and Hungry Renee shares her favorite things in life at Married and Hungry. Hoping that her newlywed situations and thoughts will help another new wife out there, and to let them know they are not alone. Being a self-proclaimed food nerd, with a degree in Food and Culinary Science, she [...]

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