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Fan Girl Friday: Enjoying the Small Things
Van Gogh used paints to portray what inspired him... Me?  I like photos and words.  I invest in this blog not only because I love the art of weaving words and images together to tell a story, but because, in doing so, I find myself looking more deeply for the beauty in life and consequently finding it in more places.
I've accidentally taken (most) of this week off of blogging. I didn't really mean to. Back to school and a new schedule meant I had some spaces of time for me. I was not cramped to blog this what's up with the vacancy of posts?


It seems that I flat out wasted time this week (what?!). I luxuriated in going to bed early, baking cookies, even cleaning some neglected areas of my home. I won't let it happen again. :)


Kelle Hampton was one of my first inspirations as a blogger. Somehow I found her sight, clicked over to her about page, and identified. She had also been a fifth grade teacher; she was a blossoming photographer. She loved her kids.


Her site, Enjoying the Small Things, was and is covered with large, gorgeous images, mostly of her children but also her world through the well-lit, sharp lens of her eye. I've never met Kelle or her children, but I found myself captivated by her images and touched by her words.


She helped me recognize the beauty of honesty on the internet. She as a mom shared her raw feelings and photos of her daughters' birth stories, one more complex than the other. Me as a new mom felt liberated to know that it was okay to feel the whole gamut of emotion as a mother and woman. We are not shut off to feel only joy and rapture; we feel it all. And sharing those challenges and sadnesses and triumphs only brings us closer to one another.


At this moment, I heard the sounds of our birth song begin to fill the room...When You Love Someone.

And I began to cry.

My husband, my friends, my dad, my nurses...all of them smiling...cameras flashing...

One more push.

Oh, this is so hard...

I pushed. I pushed and watched as the tiniest little body came out of me, arms flailing, lungs wailing...and then, they put her in my arms.

...and I knew.

I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down Syndrome and nobody else did. I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone that would tell me she didn't have it. I held her and looked at her like she wasn't my baby and tried to take it in. And all I can remember of these moments is her face. I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over...she locked eyes with mine and stared...bore holes into my soul. 

Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.

That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story. 

I've followed Kelle's beautiful journey. I've wept happily, wept sadly with someone I've never met, and I related. A piece of her life is captured in her book, Bloom.

I don't often bare my soul here, but I do feel it's a space where I can. And thanks to brave people like Kelle, I know the power that raw and honest has to reach people in a place they didn't know existed.

Thanks, Kelle.

I'm a fan girl.

xoxo, MJ 

Altitude Summit New York City

Ahhhhhhh and EEEEEEk. Sorry to greet you with such outbursts this morning, but I'm HERE friends. This thing that I've been contemplating and pondering and wishing about, it's here. And I'm here in New York City for the first time ever.

Super big thanks to my hubs who has loved this blog into being through his abundant support and encouragement. This whole experience is a treat for me planned out by him. Thank you, dear.

Hugs and kisses to my kiddos who are gonna make my time away no less than exciting for him, too. Listen to your father.

I'm reposting the reflection I did from my armchair during AltSLC. I've been an #altsummitwannabe for a while so enjoy the tongue-in-cheek rendition.

If you want a window into what's going on live, join me over on Instagram at @parscaeli. Hoping to snag some great photos. You can also follow the hashtag #ParsCaeliatAltNYC.

Wish me luck!

xoxo, MJ


Originally posted January 2013:

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Alt Summit. I've followed founder and co-owner, Gabrielle Blair, for years, and I've learned oodles from their online classes through the Alt Channel. I actually purchased a ticket to Alt NYC and had to cancel out. To me the brand that Alt has established is one of unique, fresh, over-the-top creativity, unsurpassed in its innovation and attention to detail.

I blog for fun, to connect with lovelies around the world, to stay inspired... so I can't say, like many of my blogger buds, that heading to Utah for a few days was a noteworthy and important business expense. I kinda just wanted to go to dance the night away with friends and be wowed by the great business cards and keynotes. Maybe bring back some signature swag. Is that so wrong?

In my head, no.

However, 2013 was not my year for Alt SLC.

If you follow Pars Caeli on Instagram (yeah, come on over, I have some really corny jokes for you), you saw my ode to the magnificence and rockstar partying through the hashtag "altsummitwannabe." Yes, yes, I do use humor as a coping mechanism. For example, I did enjoy this round table discussion but maybe not as much as I would have if Jen and Sandra were leading it.

My networking opportunities? Well, not so Alt fab.

But, at least I could add my homage to blogging through my fashion choices (while my ladies touted a much grander sense of style...)

Big, big thanks to my tweeps who played along and offered their own glimpses into what an Alt Summit Wannabe's world looks like.

Honesty here? Despite getting a nibble from sponsors, I knew I couldn't attend Alt SLC this year when I found out the date. Why? My daughter, C, age five, had her first ballet performance on Saturday. Until now she's been overcome by stagefright despite her amazing natural abilities and love for dance (no bias here). So, though I was swayed by the glamour and the glitter, I knew I had to be in the auditorium seat with my loud clapping hands and gleaming smile to cheer on my favorite new ballerina.

That doesn't keep me from getting all that I can from the photos, quotes, and detailed recaps floated out on my favorite blogs. And when you find something this good, well, you just have to share it.

You'll find below an unmatched list of amazing recaps for those of you who fell into the Alt Summit Wannabe category and for you beautiful attendees, too. Have a missed some awesomeness that must be shared? Post it in the comments, and I'll update the blog roll here.

  • You're gonna wanna read all 73 of these lessons from And Then We Saved learned
  • Catherine shows off her outfits over on Walking with Cake
  • Even amazing bloggers like Megan need a burst of inspiration. Read how she got her groove back over at the Fresh Exchange
  • The dynamo Melanie recaps the highlights we can all take away over on Inward Facing Girl
  • Over at Mama love Papa, Morgan admits (we already knew it) her great affinity and talent in photo booths and pinpoints great speakers
  • Adina from Gluten Free Travelette throws down some bulleted lists you don't want to miss
  • Gabriel, AKA the Artful Desperado, offers some advice we don't often hear on Alt
  • Erin from Art Social has everything you need to know
  • Mariah has the skinny on how to make amazing photos with props on Oh, What Love Studios
  • Designer Rachel of Pencil Shavings Studio put together an awesome takeaway menu from her time
  • A brilliant recap of mega talent, Stefan Sagmeister's naked keynote from Sandra at Raincoast Cottage
  • And don't miss Sandra's notes from her roundtable with Jen from Classic Play: Makers Gotta Make
  • Two great posts from Erika of Foxtrot Press to keep us thinking and engaged, check here and here
  • The Curbly viewpoint offered by Alicia
  • All sorts of inspiration and notes from PJ over at Bunny and Dolly
  • You better believe that bloggers hustle harder, and Amber over at Damask Love has all the info
  • Kristiina reveals 5 things she didn't expect to learn over on a Typical Housecat
  • Cal has great photos and insights from her experience. Check them out over at Call Me Cal
  • Speaking of awesome photos, you gotta check out Karen's over at Chookooloonks
  • Jill of Terra Savvy shares some lovely thoughts on Alt the second time around
  • You must see Brittany from the House of that Lars Built unbelievable hat (and all the other fun)
  • The New Diplomat's Wife says it all in five quotes
  • Little Lessy takes you through each day's lessons with great graphics, too.
  • Lisa of Elembee breaks it all down in two posts for us, find here and here
  • Need Alt survival tips? Get them from our girl Squirrelly Minds, Tan
  • Lauren gives us the deets on her outfits and her takeways on Stylized Existence
  • Allison of Engaged and Inspired shares her snapshots
  • Party like its Alt SLC from the one and only Kelly of StudioDIY
  • Leslie reminds us of the power of friendship through her experiences at Alt and making new connections over on her blog Leslie Fandrich
  • Side note: she also took photos of some of my favorite Alt people - go check out those gorgeous gals
  • A must-see: Sheri's showcase of the Alt business cards over on Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt
  • Joy tells it like no other and reminds us to be our truest selves and shares the secrets from successful bloggers on Frock Files

** Hugs to all of you beautiful people who have come back to check on things while I've been away. Did I tell you that I've missed you?






Chat It Up: Facebook

One of my best friends in the world (hi H) just joined Facebook! I never thought it would happen. Really. Her arrival has me wanting to engage more and post more over there so I can stay in touch with the latest.


I'd sort of given up on Facebook. It was my first baby step into social media, and it is the place where more of my family gathers than anywhere else. Eg: my parents are not going to begin corresponding in 140 characters (or less) with hashtags, they are going to like photos of my kids or wish my cousin a happy birthday.

And yet it can be a very stagnant place for me, and I find Twitter and Instagram my new go-tos for inspiration and interest. And I give virtual high fives to folks I know who proclaim they've given up Facebook. For good.

Many of the blogs I love have FB pages with more or less interaction from readers. I've kept Pars Caeli off of Facebook, hearing from other blogger pals that the social media giant doesn't affect readership much.

Jeff Goins published A Blogger's Guide to Facebook nearly 2 years ago but some recommendations still hold. Check it out if you haven't.

So, let's chat it up, lovelies. Where are you with Facebook? Totally smitten and commitin'? Or closing the chapter on Facebook? Perhaps somewhere in between.

xoxo, MJ

Where did my voice go? I must find it.

Happy Friday! We did it.

I'm shifting into high gears next week with lots of time in the office, and while I'm preoccupied there will be some superheroes over here, sitting behind the keyboard at Pars Caeli. They hail from Ireland, Italy, as well as the Northeast and deep South of the beautiful USA (what a lovely melting pot) and these ladies have come armed with dazzling photos, DIYs, calls to action, and even a fancy pants Vlog (first one here ever!!) to keep you coming back for more. Yes, I am cool by association.

I will be popping in to relieve my stress and to say hey so please, please be sure to continue your happy commenting trend. And when I do return, I'm coming back with fireworks ablazin' with a great giveaway and a pool party for the 4th on this here blog (I hope my Mac can handle all that chlorine).

Before we head into the weekend, let me leave you with some great ideas I glistened from my new friend, Jennifer Cooper. Jen is a super talented lady, founder/designer behind Ellie Bellie Kids, editor of Classic Play, and a generous teacher over at the Alt Channel. I was a fortunate student in her class, Writing and Finding Your Voice, and I want to share some great takeaways for you and your writing (whether it be blog, papers, emails, books, or tweets!).

One thing before I give you these 5 golden rings...true confession: before starting a blog, I never really thought about the fact that I'd have to WRITE it. My mom said to me, "The blog will be a great way for you to write and share your ideas." I say, "Well, I don't always have to write. Sometimes I'll just share pictures or things I love or, you know, other stuff." My eloquence started early. And so, here I am, baby blogger, totally in the tornado of writing an ample amount, every day.

Who knew?

Oh, wait, you all did, didn't you? Well, why didn't you tell me?

So, get our those handbags, here's what we've got.

1. Less is more.

I can be a total stream of consciousness kind of girl, and I need to fight that tendency people are precious and your time is the best. So this is a good reminder. Less is fresh.

2. You want to have a certain level of intimacy with your audience.

While shirking away from challenging topics and leaving out the gory details might make for happier posts, the writer needs to establish an intimacy with the reader. I think this is why the "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" blogging series really hits it out of the park. It feels like we're all up late together eating Suzy Qs in our PJs. 

3. Remind your readers who you are – recap your best posts or your philospophy.

Sometimes I forget that you're not in my head. And so reiterating why I started a series of posts or explaining why my family decided to do something in particular would be helpful to move the story along and connect the dots (I always enjoyed the alphabetical connect the dots as much as the numbered ones, how about you?).

4.  Carry a notebook.

I started doing this when I started blogging, and I find it really helpful to catch thought bubbles that burst way too quickly. And I have to prohibit any to do lists in such notebook otherwise it brings stress instead of inspiration. 
 **this one is my fave: 

5.  A great idea poorly written is better than a bad idea written brilliantly.

Jen has oodles of other ideas and great recommendations on folks who do this well.  Pop over tomorrow night when she's at it again. Check it here. Grab yourself a glass of red wine and get ready to learn. I think you might just find your voice.

Happy weekend, friends. I hope it's a bright one. Meetcha here on Monday where we'll be living La Bella Vita. Do not miss it. :)


P.S. For those of you interested, I'm starting a new weekly series focusing on faith and family. Once I graduate out of the baby blogger phase, and understand feeds and menus more, you'll be able to subscribe to this feature in particular. Until then I'll just try to remind you. "Ready to Pray" will link to the readings of the week and offer an activity and/or questions you can use with your kiddos (or yourself) to help them understand and engage in Mass. I haven't quite decided what's the best day to post these so I welcome your feedback there. This first installment will be coming at you on Saturday!! Happy inspires.

Summer of Happiness: Does what you do all day bring you joy?

It's Thursday, friends, and that means it's time for some Happiness. Catching you up to speed, we're tagging along to Denise's great summer bookclub of the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. If you want to hear my take on adding energy to your life or decreasing negativity in your relationships, follow those cheery pink word links.

First a recap of last week. I followed my own path on the resolution list and made a conscious effort to create less negative experiences. Can I break this down for you, friends? Going into this last week, I really thought, "this will have no effect." But, huh, it did. There were a few moments this past week where I could have pressed an issue (like I typically do) or turned a comment into sarcasm (yup, guilty), and I didn't. I took that one extra inhale and kept it to myself. My hubby and I have had some long work nights this week, and eliminating unnecessary negativity (is any negativity necessary? Talk amongst yourselves) helped both us move through the hills and valleys more easily. And even have a sense of humor about it.

This week: a topic near and dear (and always here), happiness in our work.

Gretchen's five resolutions start this chapter titled: Aim Higher
  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now
Let me just go sprinting from the gates here...ENJOY THE FUN of failure? Say what? I knew this was going to be a challenge for me to read. Yes on the perfectionist. Yes on the fear of failure. Yes on the need to please.

Moving on.

First nod of agreement: "Being happy can make a big difference in your work life." I have been both happy and unhappy with my worklife at various stages in my career, and as I look back with my brilliant hindsight, I see how some doors closed and windows opened because of my experience. Have you seen this, too?

Here's another that rang a bell: Challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. Yes. I get this. In the doldrums of day-to-day, if I can insert a surprising twist or turn the mundane into race for myself, I find energy and capacity just waiting to be tapped.

"One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition."

As she wrote about blogging, I found myself wanting to pull out a highlighter, which I never use (and of course this is a library book). I've only been blogging since April, and so that rush, the adrenaline of hitting the publish button is still fresh and this wondering of "where in the world do I think this is headed?", still palpable.

I appreciated her ideas on Working Smarter. I don't work in the same way. I find myself setting small goals (send those three emails, finish that project, make phone call) and then adding a bonus to meet that (connect with coworker, take a walk, put on a new song) to add happiness and my version of effectiveness in my work.

And, lastly, I can never get enough of Enjoy Now sorts of themes. I can never be reminded enough. It's really an outcry, a prayer, to be reminded of all the Good gifts we've been given. I really loved reading her positive letter to the negative book review.

This week I'm going to enjoy now and sit back to drink in her first resolution - launch a blog. I'll be busy doing my work in the coming week and away from Pars Caeli as I invite friends over the housesit and entertain (oh, and will you ever be entertained!). And my intuitions tell me I'm going to be a little homesick, too. So, if you're on the fence, not sure if you should or if it's the right time, let me be the one to encourage you:

Launch a blog.

And here's my golden nugget to motivate us both.
Happy work week, friends. That's what the majority are, right? So we might as well make them happy.

How do you add happiness to your job or your vocation?


A Spectacular Look for your Blog

  • Pleasing hierarchy of organization through color or font
  • Strong, clean banner or heading
  • Crisp, colorful photos

These are the top three design elements that draw me into a website or blog. How about you? Have you ever thought about what keeps you coming back, besides content, to certain sites for news, ideas, or inspiration?

the original banner for this webhome

Through the great people of Alt Summit, I had the opportunity to learn from the talented Laurie Smithwick, cofounder of Kirtsy and owner of a design studio in Charlotte called LEAP design. I learned a ton, and I adored how she moved us from fine art examples to blog designs - a great recap of art history connected to our modern-day experience of art through computer screen.

Laurie had example upon example to illustrate her points, and already I know I'm not going to do her fabulous skills justice, but here are five simple, doable, put-it-in-your-purse takeaways for your own designs. And, if you can, sign up (for just $15) to take a class with her. You will be delighted you did. Seriously, delight.

1. Use your hotspots

Our literate brains are patterned to follow a certain path, and we transfer that information when "reading" the web. Generally we are drawn to the upper left corner, and then to the right top and then left side bar. Using eye-tracking heat maps (fancy pants technology), researchers have learned our routines so use this natural flow to your advantage (eg: set up your space to have focal points in these three areas). Or, if you choose not to have this flow (and Laurie gave us a lot of great designs that don't), think about the focus areas that you want your readers to follow. 

I like to think of it as a hierarchy of dot to dots. Where should the reader begin, continue, and end?

2. Become friends with white space

Did that emptiness there bother you? Did I lose you in the vast wasteland of white?

And there's an example of white space not helping.

But most of the time, white or empty space can allow your readers to enter into the space. If there's too much happening within the design of the page, there's no place for the eye to go. 

Laurie quoted Channel’s stupendous advice, "Look in the mirror before you leave, and take something away." I was inspired and went right to Blogger to add some easy, breezy white space to Pars Caeli. It feels like a great welcome mat to me.

3. "Your fonts are talking behind your back."

Direct quote from Miss Laurie. 

And, I knew they were. Fonts communicate the mood and style on your blog. Choose them carefully and choose them minimally, like 1 or 2, and at most 3. 

A classic serif font makes happy friends with a strong sans serif. For Pars Caeli, I decided that Didot (serif) and Bebas (sans serif) should be best friends forever. Sometimes we invite other whimsical fonts over for a playdate (like Learning Curve over on the right), just to make sure we're staying social and meeting new font friends.

Need to get out and meet some new fonts? Try some of these Laurie recommends:

4. Color, the short list

Color is powerful. Use the force wisely. Colors are not there to merely decorate your web space, but they can also play a unique function in guiding your reader through a site.  Are all your post titles in the same color? Does that connect to your menu or to your Instagram feed?

Readers want a way to organize their time in your space. Help them through the use of 1-5 consistent, beautiful colors.

I was torn on this one, and actually asked Laurie, "what if your banner has more than five colors, could that still work?" Funny enough, she took the time after class to come on over to Pars Caeli.

Here's one of my favorite tweets: "And your site is so lovely. I especially like your favicon! Beautiful work." 

I love my little cloud.

5. Look no further than your lunch for color inspiration

Seriously, she had made the most beautiful lunch. Greens, purples, earthy browns. And she used to make color palettes from a photo

Other great places for color palettes?

I found this color scheme through Design Seeds after salivating and daydreaming through 100s of great choices. I really have to set a time limit on myself when I hop over there to Design Seeds.

So there you have it, my friends. Ready to recreate and subtract? Even if you're not a blogger or web guru, consider how your fashion, stationery, magazine, and interior design choices follow many of these same guidelines. 

Put it in your purse and take it away.

Thanks for stopping over. It's been really wonderful to have you here.

Start here.

Oh, my gosh, hello! How are you? Come on in, please. Make yourself at home. I'm M.J., and this is my web home, Pars Caeli (pars kiley). I'm kind of delighted that you've come over.

Have you ever started something just to inspire yourself? Get your creative juices going? Well, welcome to why this blog was born (are blogs birthed or hatched?)
So glad we caught up with each other! I'm a mom of three, wife, educator, and designer living in the Midwest. I have another full-time gig and for right now this blog is purely my hobby. I'm an avid blog reader, and I find the blogging community to be incredibly supportive and without (unhealthy) competition.

So I've jumped into the great big worldwide web to offer my voice and opinion. I find inspiration all over the place, and I really want to share it all with you!

These are my people, the inhabitants of Pars Caeli. When my hubby and I moved into our home ten years ago, right after our wedding, we titled our happy abode Pars Caeli, piece of Heaven.

And now we have three little people who vividly illustrate this story.

M: age 7
C: now five
L: "I'm two."

I started this blog to inspire. I started this blog to inspire myself.

It's working.

I believe that sometimes we're not fully aware of the little pieces of Heaven all around us.
And sometimes we overlook our own capacity to be one of those pieces. 

Maybe you might find some of the musings, ideas, and projects in my home inspiring.

I hope that you'll feel comfortable to leave a happy comment because I'm pretty sure you're inspiring, too.


PS. I'm fully embracing this lovely quote I found from a wonderful shop on Etsy. Won't you join me in this quest?

This is us.

These are my people. You may remember that I introduced you already. These are my inspires - my core, my life, and the best gigglers I know (yes, even my hubby).  

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. ~Mt 6

They are a super huge reason why I've started this blog, and they are the major reason why I've been only thinking about blogging and following awesome blogs for many, many years.

I have my dreams and in every one of them these beautiful people are the main characters. 

I'm not sure, however, if their dreams involve a leading role in the great worldwide web.

This little bitty blog is my place to share home, design, faith, and life - with you. 

Sooner than I'd like, these littles will be biggies with their circles of friends and awesome activities and, at least to begin this adventure (I reserve the right to change my mind*), I'm going to give them their own space to avoid the embarrassment of their momma. They'll be the protagonists in all of my stories but, for now, this is your key in the photo glossary of Pars Caeli.

So many blogging moms out there give us an open view into their homes, their professional life balance, their kids' interests and fashions. (e.g.: Gabby, Kelly, and Melissa are among my faves)

I have read along in awe and gawked at lovely photos - motivated to be more, and moved to be happy with now.

It's tough not showing you all the 1000s of cute photos I have of each child (yes, you've been spared), but I think for now, this is the right choice for us and Pars Caeli.

Pars Caeli (pars kiley) is the name my hubby and I gave our home when we moved into it, two days after our wedding. And now it's my great delight to welcome you to my web home, a lovely extension of our piece of Heaven.

What are your thoughts, dear readers? What guides you in what to share or not to share on the internet?

Thanks for coming over. Let's talk again soon.


MJ Kocovskiblogs, family, inspire, kids
"Twitter is the blogger's water cooler"

Today's quote is from the wonderful Nicole Balch from, a beautiful blog about stylish living. Nicole put on one great class last night through the Alt Summit Channel on Growing a Readership, and I was one of her 90 happy students.

I might be a little bit infatuated with everything Alt Summit, but in a totally unbiased way, I also think they are offering some fabulous classes for only $15 that are hip, informative, and filled with other really great bloggers (who you want to invite out for coffee after the one-hour class but they live all over the globe so you just meet up in the twittersphere).

I'm not going to give away all her nuggets, but here are 5 that you can put to use in your own blogging.

#1 Be Original              

What should you post to grow your blog? Original content that sets you apart from other blogs. Nicole recommended a ration of 90:10 - 90% original photos, layouts, tutorials, and creative writing and 10% share cute buys and faboo recommendations.

New to me: the idea of a blogger book tour. Some publishing companies like Chronicle give 10 or so blogs original content applicable to the new book and get the word out through great blogger reviews and posts. Love that.

#2 Share You

Your readers want to get to know who you are. Who is the great Oz behind the curtain? Share your story in fun and interesting ways. 

Nicole mentioned Mighty Girl's life list. Her blog follows the 100 or so things she wants to do with her life. Try spicing up your profile by letting people hear your story and connect with you, the author of your webhome. 

I also learned some awesome nicknames for loyal readers. I wish I could remember all the good ones, but it definitely made me think I need to have some kind of name for you good people who come here to see what's happening in my piece of Heaven. (my inspires? I'm still thinking...) 

#3 Predictable Fun                                        

Your readers come to rely on you, and consistency is key. Your timing doesn’t have to be every day. Nicole started blogging three times a week and now she's bringing us gorgeous photos and content daily..maybe even more soon. 

Stay consistent. But don’t put the pressure on yourself. Aim for once a day.

#4 Become BFF with Social Media           

Social media is fantastic. Stay attentive to the little things. Can your readers find you? This means easy buttons to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.

Keep the same username for all your platforms so that someone can easily search for you.

Twitter = blogger water cooler!! Keep it fun. "Twitter is a great way to interact with your readers and jump into conversation…traffic will come naturally."

Oh, and match your header to your domain name.

#5 Comment Etiquette

"Don’t have anything in your house that is not useful or beautiful." via Pancakes and French Fries. That has nothing to do with anything, but I found it inspiring!

Stay active with other bloggers and leave a thoughtful comment. And a clear don't – don’t put your URL in a comment. You've already added it in to the basic info on the post. Double dosing here is clearly tacky.

Every post initiates a conversation. It's a like a great party. Be sure to respond to people. "Talk to the people who have been nice enough to talk to you."

And everybody loves comments. So true, so true.

Honestly, what I love best about the Alt Summit classes are the completely creative, dazzling folks who join in the very chatty webinars. You get a complete blog roll and a ton of twitter handles to follow...and I've found some great *inspires* to keep me going for quite a while.

Happy blogging!

I'm over here!

Happy Monday, friends! Was it a good one for you? We enjoyed a laid back Spring weekend with some friends and our backyard.

I couldn't help but celebrate just a little in my first guest blogger spot over at Approaching Joy. The post went up on Saturday, and Paige sent along a sweet gift donation to Heifer International in thanks for filling in for her (seriously? I get a gift for this, too?), and she sent along these lovely words:

You are someone who I've never met in person yet you were willing to help me out this week at a moments notice. This has proven to me that there are still amazingly cool people all around this world and, hopefully, through this "gift" others can have a bit more hope as well.

Collaboration is wonderful. Stay tuned for more! And thanks again to Paige.

I've been thinking about gifts, particularly for friends moving or transitioning to new places. I'll repost my gifting ideas here today and take you through my DIY tote tomorrow. 

What do you think? Do any of these seem just right for a friend you know on the move? Or maybe you'll be gifting one right back to yourself.

1. BE GLAD FOR THIS MOMENT TINY TEXT BOWL -  I love being surrounded (and reminded) with powerful words, and I find this thought particularly poignant for our besties transitioning and handling so many tasks and emotions. It's a super cute 3" size, perfect for jewelry or love notes, and it's $22.
2. WRAP IT AND MAP IT - This one's from Martha herself. She's so good. When you've found just the right present, why not wrap it in a map from your home city? Or the new city with a little tag noting the distance from you to her/him? No distance too far for friendship.
3. CAN'T WAIT TO PLANT MY FEET AT YOUR DOOR - Great design is everywhere, even in rubber doormats. How about a super stylish new welcome mat for your friend to put right outside? Crate and Barrel offers this one for $16.95.

4. MOBILE LOVE - If you have a little more money to invest, this metallic IPad leather sleeve is really beautiful. Dewdrop Designs sells this one for $55, and I adore the translucent leaf image!
5. THIS IS WHEN I'LL SEE YOU NEXT - Circle the date of your next girl getaway on this awesome calendar set from Monkeymindesign. In true quirky Etsy Shop style, the artists say that it is "inspired by modern fabric prints and design, this calendar is full of patterns, geometric shapes and color. Displayed all together, it will really jazz up a space." It's also automatic, stunning wall art for your pal's new pad. A total steal at $12.
6. YOU'VE LEFT YOUR MARK ON ME - I know, I know snail mail is so rare these days, but don't you love fine stationery? I'm a sucker for embossed stamps like this one. Tiny Prints offers this one with a great modern edge. This one tops the list at $69.99.

Thanks for stopping by! See you for a some pattern play in a bit...



Friday: in focus

I was just about to lay on the floor (it's where I get all my best work done) and write a thankful Friday post at the end of week one of blogging. It's been so much fun to discover the inner workings of HTML and blog interfaces, make my fair share of mistakes, and connect with great ladies out in the blogosphere.

I started this blog to inspire. I started this blog to inspire myself.

It's working.

Sometimes we're not fully aware of the little pieces of Heaven all around us.

Sometimes we overlook our own capacity to be one of those pieces.

I was just about to get into the meat of this post when this little guy (L, not Mickey) got something in his eye and needed his momma more than the world wide web needed more words from me.

Before I go, let me pass on a dash of happy that came to me through Adina and was written over at Tiny Twig on how to find, grow, and keep your passion. So good and well timed.

Okay, I'm off to do some cuddling and mending. Have a bright weekend...thanks for coming over.

And don't forget to check over at Approaching Joy for some great Saturday fun! I'll recap here on Monday, too.

MJ KocovskiFriday, blogs, inspire, kids
A Full Moon or the Planets Aligning?

People are always a little strange(r) during a full moon, right? I know I am. Well, whether it's the lunar influence or the great shift of the planets or just random generosity, Paige over at Approaching Joy has invited me to shed some design goodness over at her blog. If you haven't dropped in on her yet, please do! Her view of the world will bring a smile to your face and encourage you to find more ways to live joyfully. I'll be a part of next Saturday's awesome don't want to miss it.

MJ Kocovskiblogs
Here we go.

A blog is born. Do blogs hatch or are they birthed? I'm not really sure, but I can tell you that this one has definitely been a lengthy labor. And, just like childbirth, I'm going to go ahead and forget all the painful, ungodly details and plow on through to the happy moments.

Welcome to Pars Caeli (pars kilee), a piece of Heaven. This web home will soon be filled with designs and ideas that inspire me and my family. I imagine that you're pretty inspirational, too, so I look forward to learning about all the amazing ideas and projects you have to share.

As I learn more about all things blog, you'll find me fiddling my way through Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram (@parscaeli). Stop over a say hello!

It was really lovely to have you over. Hope to see you here soon.