August 31, 2011

Guest Post Series ~ Post by insightful blogger "Slappy in the Face"

When any other man in the world would have left me; my husband, Derek, stayed right by my side, always believing in me and never doubting me.  I will be forever grateful and will never forget what he has done for me.  You can read “My Story” at 

This is my message to him:

When my world came crashing down around me
               you stayed.
When everyone else abandoned me
                you stayed.
When my body gave out and my mind left me
                you stayed.
When I took you for granted and pushed you away
                you stayed.
When I forgot how to love and only knew how to hate
                you stayed.
When I didn’t deserve you
                you stayed.
When I needed you the most
                you stayed.
I am so glad that
                you stayed
You are my everything and I will never forget that
                you stayed. 

Comment from Bellflower Books:  Wow!  Your husband sounds incredible.  I am also really impressed with you.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to write a post like this.  I think that this is also something that many men and women who have fought for their marriage can relate to. Thank you so much for sharing this our our blog!

To learn more about this "Slappy in the Face" please make sure to visit her blog!

August 29, 2011

Proud Sponsors of Be Enough Me 4 Cancer

We are so excited to be sponsoring a link-up with the blog Just. Be. Enough.

Just. Be. Enough was recently created by Elena Sonnino.  Elena was inspired to write this blog after reading a post about accepting ourselves even with our imperfections.

Elena Sonnino explains that her blog Just.Be.Enough. hopes to share the stories, the voices, the truths of many. Its mission is to empower, inspire, and remind women, parents, and children that that the time has come to celebrate ourselves. We must carry the weight of confidence and empowerment on our shoulders instead of allowing the burden of our flaws and imperfections to push us down.

What is not to love about all of that?

When Elena approached Bellflower Books about working together, I did a little research and found out that Elena is a cancer survivor.  My business partner (who is also my best friend) lost her mother to cancer a little over two years ago.  I honor of Heather's mother, one of the missions of our company is to use our product as a support tool for people who are battling illness or as a way to pay tribute to a special life lost.

Crickett's Answer for Cancer

So, a little over a week ago Bellflower Books and Just.Be.Enough launched our campaign to work together and provide up to 10 $75 Bellflower Books gift certificates, to families identified by Crickett’s Answer, for the creation of a 20-page memory book. Crickett’s Answer is a non-profit that helps support the self esteem and morale of women by providing pampering resources to women facing breast cancer.  It is our hope that loved ones receiving these gift cards will then be inspired to create a book full of love and support to give to the special woman in their life battling cancer.  A Bellflower Book is the perfect way to remind someone how loved and appreciated they are while going through a difficult time in their life.

For ONE month, starting on August 22nd. For every 20 people that link up with a story of how they lived the Be Enough Me “feeling” that week, Bellflower will donate ONE $75 gift certificate to a family identified by Crickett’s Answer for the creation of a 20-page memory book. We will keep a running total of links over the four Mondays and hope to reach our goal of 120 links, which would provide TEN Bellflower memory books.

This campaign has been dedicated by Elena Sonnino to her good friend Susan Niebur (aka @Whymommy).

Susan was recognized at the Type A Parent conference for her bloganthropy work.  She is a mom, an astrophysicist, a writer and a friend and has been  fighting metastatic breast cancer in her spine, hip, and ribs for four years.

All of this should give you the encouragement you need to reach out, link up and help us provide much needed love and support to as many women possible!

August 24, 2011

Guest Post Series ~ Post by, Shannon Szemenyei of Sweet Stellas

My Dad
Meaningful Person Guest Post by, Shannon Szemenyei of

I’m not really sure where to begin with this guest post. When I saw the tweet from Bellflower Books that they were looking for guest bloggers to write about influential people in their lives, I immediately thought of the most influential one in mine; my Dad.
Writing about my Dad is difficult. You see, he passed away very suddenly in 2005 from a massive heart attack. My boyfriend at the time (who later in life became my husband and the father of our gorgeous son) and I were at a Halloween costume dance with my best friend and her boyfriend at the time when I got the news from two police officers. (a story for another day…)
So…when I think of his influence, it hits my heart and soul in a very very meaningful way. I think of the times when I was a child and I would absolutely give up on sports. He would encourage me to try again, but knew that at the heart of it…I just wasn’t into it. I was content to sit and draw, or write poetry and stories. When he saw how happy it made me to engage in the more artsy things, he tried his best to foster that love in me.
I recall many Thursday nights when my mom was off at choir practice for church, and Dad would go to the basement, strap on his ear phones and drum. He was the type of musician who could play by ear, not by sheet music, and it was such an incredible experience for him to give me the nod to join him. He had this special attachment that would split the earphone jack into two so we could both listen. What a sight to see we were; both hooked up to headphones, him drumming and me singing! He taught me to love music…to feel it, and to let it guide me wherever I go.
Then came my high school years and the challenges with math and science. I wanted so badly to be a biological oceanographer (ie: marine biologist) and our dream was to get a boat and study orcas and bottlenose dolphins off the coast of British Columbia. Dad was going to be my undersea photographer. I think he really just wanted to swim with the whales. When I hit a road block in grade 11 with math and really really struggled, he encouraged me to try again. I did…and it didn’t go well. My brain just doesn’t work that way; it’s wired too creatively for trigonometry!  Recognizing that, my Dad sought to again, foster that love of the arts in me.
He certainly was a proud Poppa when I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a double degree in Fine Art and History in June 2005. He even yelled “Way to go, Beans!” when they announced my name. In an arena of some 10,000 parents and loved ones, there was my Dad, yelling at the top of his lungs. It is a moment of pride that I will never ever forget.
He passed away a few short months after my graduation, but that moment will forever be etched in my mind. He was my biggest fan, and the works of art that were his absolute favourite under the sun, were created by me. How amazing is that?! Those are works that I absolutely will never part with because he is a part of them.
Five years later, when I look back on the last moments that I had with my Dad, I recall sharing ice cream sundaes, going for movie dates to see Shrek, and him being there on every step of my journey to become who he always imagined that I would be. He believed in me, heart and soul, and I truly believe that he guides my hand with every brushstroke that I make and every piece of paper that I cut.
To learn more about Shannon and her beautiful work, please visit her blog:
and her website:
Comment from Bellflower Books:   This post is very close to my heart.  I too have an absolutely amazing and supportive father who I am incredibly close to.  I am very fortunate that a couple of years ago my husband and I moved our family back to our hometown so that we could be closer to our parents. I see my dad everyday and everyday I am appreciative of the time we spend together.  I admire Shannon so much for writing this post.  It made me cry just to read it, so I can only imagine how difficult it was to write.  It is a nice way to remind those of us with excellent fathers how very lucky we are! 

August 17, 2011

Guest Post Series ~ Featuring Brandon Duncan

Unfading Memories
Contributed By,
Brandon Duncan of the Blog Brandon the Duncan ~ Fatherhood in 4L- Living, Learning, Laughing and Loving it!

This is not Bellflower’s typical guest post, nor I the typical Bellflower guest.  Even though you know this, I encourage you to look beyond the fact that it is written by a man. Ignore the fact that I am not someone that scrapbooks and keeps memory boxes. Disregard the fact that frill and frou-frou exists nowhere in my life aside my daughter’s bedroom and wife’s craft room. I need you to squint just a little and take a glimpse in between the lines. For there you will find a message that is too often overlooked until it is much too late. We all have a few special moments in our lives that are permanently captured in our hearts and minds. Moments that you can recall as if they happened only minutes ago. They could be our wedding day. They could be witnessing that wobbly first step. They could be as simple as a birthday---no matter the year. In my case, a shocking and unexpected belly laugh from my newborn induced the happiest tears that have ever run down my face.

There are others, of course, but not many. Because no matter how exquisite the sunset, no matter how calm and refreshing the breeze that fall day, your mind will eventually just store it away. The finer lines become less detailed. The colors, not as crisp. The warmth of the fingers intertwined, now more a memory than an emotion. Your memories begin to fade. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe it. Yet a picture by itself is nothing more than a captured moment in time. It is able to pull fond, wonderful memories to the surface, that much is true, but think of all the pictures you have come across in your life. There are details in many that you cannot recall. Books display photos of old that leave you curious about the story happening at that moment. What were they doing? Why were they there? They look happy…were they?

As a writer, I understand the power of words. When crafted properly, they can answer those questions and more. They can transport you to that time and into that story. They are capable of creating the world around that frozen moment. The pictures are the bookmark, the words the narration. No, I am not the typical Bellflower guest, but I am an unofficial evangelist for the magic they are helping create---the gift of memories unfading.

To learn more about Brandon Duncan, please visit his blog at  It is a wonderful way to get a male's perspective on raising a family:)

Comment from Bellflower Books: Wow Brandon!  Thanks for doing such an amazing job summing up the importance of our product (we just asked him to guest post for us, we didn't expect anything like this!) One of the things that makes our product different from a typical photo book is the emphasis based on text and the mission of our company to have more people take the time to tell loved ones how special and appreciated they are.  You are right, a picture may be worth a thousand descriptive words, but only a written out memory can accurately preserve feeling.  Thanks Brandon for all of your support!

August 15, 2011

Collaborative Vacation Memory Books

My mom recently turned 60. We celebrated her birthday where we always do, Rehoboth Beach, DE. The Corrigans have been visiting Rehoboth for over 30 years, so it was the perfect place to celebrate such an important birthday!

Since I am in the business of supplying people with meaningful gifts, I could not let my mom's birthday pass without the creation of a Bellflower Book! I decided to put together a collaborative book of vacation memories from Rehoboth over the years. I contacted all of the friends and family who visited us there and received a great response. In addition to the pages the contributors created, my sister and I created many wonderful pages full of our own favorite memories, photographs and traditions.

The Bellflower Book I created ended up being a gift not just for my mom, but for the whole family. I can't wait for my children to read it so they can relate to the traditions we are now doing with them. One of my friends liked the idea behind this book so much she immediately started one for her own mom honoring their family traditions in Harbor Springs, MI.

Now that I am a parent myself I see how much work goes into family vacations. Until around five years ago I think I thought the cottage magically cleaned itself and that my mom actually enjoyed grocery shopping and making dinner. I now know how much work goes into making a family vacation special. I am so happy I could create a book for my mom honoring everything she has done over the last thirty years to make our family vacations happen!

August 10, 2011

Guest Post Series ~ Featuring Kelly Pugliano of Mom Got Blog

Who Brings Meaning To My Life? My Family. by: Kelly Pugliano, author of Mom Got Blog

When I was asked to write a post for Bellflower, I thought the topic of ‘Write about someone that is meaningful to you in your life and why” would be a breeze. I have so many people I could name off the top of my head that have a special place in my life I could pick just one and write.

Easy Peasy.

Well, I found it is not that easy.

Many walks/runs (I like to think while I run) later, three people kept coming into my thoughts. How could I separate them to write about just one? I couldn’t. Then I realized the three, plus me, do make one; one whole family unit.

And my family? They mean everything to me.

My HusbandI never took great stock in the phrase “Love at First Sight”, until I met my husband. It was instant. I felt as though I had found my best friend and had been with this person forever. My guard, that protected me from anyone wanting to get close, was completely obliterated and his past, present and our future filled my heart beyond measure. He makes me laugh. He makes me happy. And after 20 years together, 18 as husband and wife, he still makes my heart skip a beat when he enters a room. He brought love into my life.

My DaughterFrom the moment she arrived, I felt complete. She has brought the meaning of being a “parent first, friend later” to my life. Determined, stubborn and so incredibly beautiful, she tests my patience at every moment. I can’t imagine my day without talking to her at least once. She made me a mom and for that I will be forever grateful.

My SonWhen this joyous being came into my life, I was given the gift of a type of peace I did not know I could experience. He has always been happy, kind and giving of a sense of humor that makes me laugh, always. My son gave meaning to the word “advocate” for I felt I was always sticking up for his curious, rambunctious ways. It was exhausting, but I never wanted him to feel his uniqueness was stifled in any way. 

My family brings meaning to my life every day. I have been blessed with love, patience and joy. I am lucky, and that fact does not sneak by me unnoticed. I say thank you for every single moment we share together.

Who brings meaning to your life?

Comment from Bellflower Books: I loved how this post made me step back and appreciate my husband and children.  I also have a unique, rambunctious son who I need to be an advocate for.  I love how you embrace that.   I also love how you said he brought peace into your life.  By far, raising my family has brought more meaning into my life than anything else ever has or ever will.  Thanks Kelly for this beautiful post!

August 8, 2011

My Bellflower Book ~ A Special Gift for my Wedding

My cousin and my oldest friend worked together to create a Bellflower Book as a special gift for my wedding.  It was given to me at my bridesmaid luncheon the day before my wedding. I was so excited! I had been involved with writing a Bellflower Book for a friend, but was so happy to be the one receiving it! I skimmed through it at my bridesmaid luncheon, but found it to be truly amazing to read while I was getting hair and make up done. It was so great, on such an important day in my life, to hear all the wonderful memories from my friends and family and how much they loved my husband and I together.

Everyone who contributed to my book wrote such heartfelt and amazing letters.... but I have to say that the page from my husband was my favorite. He wrote the last page in the book.  After reading letter upon
letter, laughing at times, crying at times, hearing how wonderful everyone thought my soon to be husband and I are together,  I was very emotional. His letter was so heartfelt and the perfect ending to such an incredible book. And if I had any butterflies about getting married, which of course I didn't haha, reading his letter made me want to run down the aisle because I am so lucky to have him!

Bellflower books are truly priceless and make an incredibly meaningful wedding gift. To have a book where all of the people you care about the most, can express how they feel about you is so amazing. I read through it again before writing this post and I laughed and cried just like it was the first time I was reading it.  THAT is why everyone should be luckily enough to receive a Bellfllower book!

Nicole H.
Chicago, IL

August 3, 2011

Guest Post Series: Jackie Cross of the blog "With Just a Bit of Magic"

Someone Special

Not that long ago I was asked by Belllower Books to write a guest post about
someone special in my life and I’ve been thinking about who I should write
about. There are so many people in my life who have been special for some
reason at some point in my life and I don’t think that I could write about
them all in one post.

Something finally came to me. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before…
I guess the time wasn’t right and that was why I hadn’t written this post

When I was younger my parents divorced and my siblings and I lived with our
mom. Because of this arrangement we didn’t see our dad that often or our
grandparents. For a long time I didn’t think or even realize that I was
missing out on something great by spending time with my grandparents.

It wasn’t until I was older and in middle school that things changed and I
moved to my dad’s house. At this point I saw less of my moms family and a
lot more of my dads. This was a great opportunity for me to get to know my
grandma better and spend some time with her.

I would spend weekends at her house doing nothing at all but being with her
and other weekends where we’d be out and about all weekend. These are times
that I look back on fondly and wish that she were still here with us.

It was with my grandma that I was introduced to Days of Our Lives, Another
World, and Murder She Wrote. We’d sit together and watch her favorite shows.
Shows that I admit that I became addicted too! I started watching the
daytime soaps pretty regularly.

We’d spend evenings out to dinner at a local restaurant and then go to a
movie in the adjacent theatre. I remember going to see Disney’s Jungle Book
with her when I was in high school and simply enjoying the evening.

By spending time with her I learned that I like Grape Nuts, red grapefruit
eaten with a grapefruit spoon, and that quiet time is good for everyone once
in a while.

Now I have children and I hope that they see how special their grandparents
are, what a treasure they are and take the opportunities that they have to
spend time with them. Learn from them and listen to what they have to say.

My grandmother was taken from me in 1992 due to heart issues. I think of her
often and the times that we spent together and the things I learned.

I would love to share a photo with you but I don’t have a digital copy of
one. But know that she was a strong, independent woman with red hair that
had a love of life!

This guest post is by Jackie Cross of the lovely blog "With Just a Bit of Magic".

*Note from Bellflower Books: We went from living in Chicago where our kids would only see their grandparents every six weeks or so, to moving back to our home town, with both sets of grandparents less than two miles away.  My children now see at least one grandparent every single day!!!  We can definitely see our kids benefitting from this extra daily love.  There is something truly special about the grandparent/grandchild relationship:)

August 1, 2011

Etsy Favorites: The Canvas Door ~ Art By Michelle Brunner

Not only is Michelle Brunner a very talented artist, she is also my cousin:) 

I love Michelle's work because it is bright and cheerful.  To create her designs she makes collages out of unique papers that she personally hand paints.

I have a beautiful piece of her work hanging in my kitchen, but I also think her work is perfect for children's rooms and nurseries.  I have also seen her do some very unique custom work!

I love that Michelle keeps her prices affordable, making it possible for everyone to own a piece of original artwork.

In addition to being a successful artist, Michelle is also a high school art teacher and mother to a darling baby girl.  She is doing an amazing job with all of this.  I am so proud of everything she has accomplished!

Make sure to check out her Facebook page:



I absolutely loved her post a few weeks ago about creative ideas to do at the lake!
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