Paper memories + an Artifact Uprising giveaway.

I’m almost ashamed to admit the lack of printed photographs I have in my possession. The last thick pile of them I have in my possession are from my senior year of college in 2010. After that, the paper memories get thinner. I stopped printing things. I got lazy. I relied on a platform like Facebook to rehash memories.

When Lane and I got married, I realized how important it is to print memories. I am such an advocate for the tangible when it comes to handwritten letters that I cannot believe it took me this long to get it together and start printing photos.

Enter Artifact Uprising– a company I love, respect, and will choose again & again when it comes to printing our best moments. I love products made in the USA and I am also an advocate for small companies who build great things & great people. I will do everything I can, for as long as I have, to support these brands and their ventures.

“We believe that doing good is more important than doing well – and that kindness makes the world right. We believe in travel and the things you can learn from getting lost. And we believe the best lessons come from the listening. We try to laugh when light is needed and persist when the path requires it. We love wide open spaces and campfires and the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the snow crunching below your feet. We believe in those who wake up every day to choose joy. And we believe in the underdog. We believe in always remembering where you came from. We believe each of us will – in time – do something really, really nice for the world.”  -AU manifesto

We tried the company out when we ordered New Year cards, then ordered some of their everyday prints, and we topped off the experience by creating 3 wedding books and a calendar. Creating the wedding books was my favorite experience. I made myself a cup of hot cocoa and spent an evening going through photos, custom-making each book to fit the recipient. One for Lane & I. One for his Mama. One for mine.

To say the books are beautiful is an understatement. These books are a work of art. They’re something I will keep forever. I love the timeless look & feel. We keep our wedding book by the record cart in our home and I love watching people wander over there, grab the book, and flip through it.

I realize I will probably never be like my mother, filling albums with photos from all sorts of random occasions. But these wedding books are a start for us. Printed photos on the fridge and placed into frames is a beginning to documenting our love story in a tangible way. Baby steps, I tell myself. This is a beautiful start to a paper legacy for when we are old & gray.


In the spirit of holiday giving, I wanted to bless my people with a chance to have an Artifact Uprising experience. I am gifting one individual with a $75 gift card to Artifact Uprising. Entry is simple- hop on over to my Instagram (@hannahbrencher) and make sure you’re following me + Artifact Uprising. Leave a comment on my most recent Instagram post for your chance to win! I’ll be picking a winner at the end of this weekend!

Happy Holidays!  

Taming baby elephants: the annual comment about marriage.

This weekend, Lane and I will hit the one year mark of marriage. That’s a whole 365 days of trying to love one another well.

Right after I got married, people started asking me to write posts about marriage. I’ve had to politely decline each request with the same answer, “I know little to nothing about marriage. I’ll write a post about marriage in 30 years.”

It’s true. I’m the most amateur when it comes to marriage. I’m still in marriage preschool and likely will be for a long time. Lane and I are not even on the cusp of figuring out how to be good stewards of this marriage thing.

I joked last December and said I would write a marriage post– just one– every anniversary. So here it is… my annual marriage post.

We’re not in the “honeymoon” season but I find myself telling people we are and I’m not sure why. It’s just an easy response. It sifts out the people who really want to know how the marriage is doing and the ones who want to nod their heads and agree, fine to know what they know about us.

There are “honeymoonish” things but I like reality better. I think about last year how, coming home from our honeymoon, we got stuck in the Denver airport for 36 hours. We slept on the floor beside all these other people wanting to go home for the holidays. I roamed the airport at 5am to find Lane a biscuit. We turned the seats of one of the crowded gates into a mini-movie theatre and binged on Stranger Things. When we arrived in Tampa, just one more flight away from our destination of Atlanta, my heart couldn’t handle one more canceled flight.  But there it was: our flight home canceled. We fought for a minute about getting a hotel in Tampa, threw our hands in the air, and got a rental car. We drove through the night, six hours home. It was there in that rental car, shoving Zaxby’s french fries into my mouth and listening to Christmas music, that I knew real life was better than the honeymoon. I like who we are, who we can be to one another when things don’t go perfectly.

My friend says those who say they’re in the honeymoon stages haven’t started really communicating yet. I laugh. She might be right. We’ve started communicating and we are figuring out, every dang day, how hard that one part of relationship really is.

 

It all boils down to communication. It comes down to what you believe you are articulating and what you are truly saying underneath all the language.

We think we are saying things like “can you do the dishes?” or “Do you like this outfit?” but it really is something so much deeper going on. We are asking essential questions of one another beneath the surface: Can you help me? Am I attractive to you? Can you be with me? Can you rally for me right now? 

Too easily, we get caught up in what is on the surface. The dishes. The suede pants. The hair in the drain. The budget. When we peel the layers of these things, I realize we are always asking the same question of one another over and over again: Are we in this together? Are you choosing me?

Marriage is not a honeymoon, where all the problems can be shelved for another week. Marriage is a building site where hard hats are required and not all of the construction crew is guaranteed to show up. Marriage is hard and holy work, each new day a chance to communicate better and find common ground. Marriage is honoring the vow we made to choose one another, and forsake all the others, to build something together that didn’t exist before.

 

Our friends Nate and T gave us some of the best marriage advice a few months ago and I find myself wanting to scream it from mountaintops. They told us it is okay, and probably smart, to spend an obnoxious amount of time with one another during these first years of marriage. This isn’t so you become obsessed with one another or hermits in your own love story. When you spend a ton of time together, you learn how to communicate well. You learn how to face the baby elephants in the room before they grow up, become too big, and stomp all over you. You learn how to fight and fight well. You learn fighting isn’t a bad thing nor does it need to become your default, the thing that sucks your joy away, but it’s a way of sorting things out and getting to the root of who you truly are as one.

You don’t shove things under the rug. Instead, you learn to look one another in the eye and face the disappointments. You forgive. And forgiveness is this tiny yet sprawling miracle that makes you think the stuff of the Bible is still happening all the time.

 

Beware of baby elephants. I guess that’s all the marriage advice I have gathered so far. Baby elephants will grow up to be bigger elephants if you don’t pay attention. Right now, Lane and I are training baby elephants. We are noticing the things about us that, if we don’t pay attention to them, could grow up to be a big disaster. In an effort to not trample one another, we are figuring out how to face the baby elephants. We are communicating about the baby elephants.

There’s a temptation every single day to not talk about the baby elephants and just let them roam. There’s a temptation to coast on by and not sweat the small stuff. But the small stuff grows into big stuff when you aren’t watching. Like weeds in a garden, the smallest “plants” learn how to suffocate the whole lot of beautiful things when you give them a chance to sprawl.

So you talk about the baby elephants. And you tame the baby elephants. And you love the other in spite of the baby elephants they walked into the marriage with. This is us one year into the marriage. It is him, and I, and elephants, and what God is doing in the midst of our messes. I love it.

Lane was named after the narrow road in the Bible, the one that so few people take because it’s harder and grittier than just going your own way. I love being married to a man who was named after a narrow road.

I was given a thousand roads to choose and they all looked pretty good. But this one, this narrow one where we wear the same jersey and cheer for the same team, is by far the best road.

Single for the season.

I spent the last hour googling “single during the holiday season” and clicking in and out of articles. The stories were pretty much all the same. How to survive the holiday season. Things to do when you’re single. The articles start the same way, with cheesy puns about adding extra fa-la-la-la into your season. The slew of articles is really pretty pathetic for how weighty this feeling of “singleness” can be when December rolls around.

So you’re here. And you’re reading this. And maybe you’re the single one.

Valentine’s Day is one day on the calendar but, for some reason, the holiday season feels like two long months of social awareness for the single people in the room.

And maybe Hallmark Movies don’t make it any better because all these fiercely handsome men and seemingly perfect women keep colliding into one another in the old haunts of their hometowns while you’re just shoving more cookies into your mouth and ordering pizza from UberEats.

Scoot over on the couch, pass me a cookie, and let’s do this thing. 

 

First things first, you’re fine. If I had a quarter for every person who tried to tell me to be jolly about my singleness then I wouldn’t be writing anymore. I would likely be retiring and celebrating my newfound wealth on a beach in Mexico.

Reminder #1: Don’t cut the person who tells you this. 

Reminder #2: you don’t have to be jolly. It doesn’t have to be a thing.

People mean well when they say this sort of stuff. But if the awkwardness were to be stripped from every
“single at the holidays” conversation then I would just come out and tell you this: Hey, it’s absolutely okay if you’re hurting. You can be disappointed. You are allowed to want to shove couples frolicking together at the mall. Your rage is welcome here.

It’s okay to think it should be your turn by now. No one is going to hate you if you turn off the notifications this Christmas Eve. If seeing pictures of rings at Christmas is going to make you go ballistic then let’s take a step back and go from there.

You are allowed to grieve for what you don’t yet have. Singleness sometimes looks like mini skirts and cocktails. Sometimes singleness feels like grief and longing we haven’t learned to manage yet. We need to have better conversations about singleness. It’s okay to be single and yet waiting to not be. Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean life hits the pause button. There’s a difference.

 

Your singleness is not a scorecard. It doesn’t have the permission to rate you or degrade you. You are not defined by a ring-less left hand. I’m married now so maybe you think I don’t get to say these things anymore but I’ve been taking notes. I took notes throughout my singleness and now I am taking notes throughout the marriage and I can tell you one thing that never changes, no matter how your marital status may shift: a person never fills the holes only God, himself, was made to occupy.

In some ways, I believe God made the holes on purpose. Chiseled them deep. Dug them wide. Gave us a spirit to want, so badly, to fill those holes with something of value and worth. When we see the holes, we realize we are in need of something. We are in need of something better than this mediocre world. I think we were created with a need to taste heaven, even in the smallest doses.

 

There was a time when I thought a guy would change that. I thought the right combination of blue eyes and 5’8 stature would fix me. I found myself craving all the attention I could get. I found myself wanting to be wanted. I thrived off of desire. It didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t planning longterm with the man, I just wanted someone to see me, call me beautiful, and hold the door open.

Wanting isn’t wrong. Where I went wrong was picking any man, any guy off Tinder, to make me feel valuable. I could never stand in front of an imperfect man and ask him to give me worth. Your value, dear, will never come from someone sitting across the table from you. A person can accentuate your value. A person can call you to a higher confidence in yourself. A person can call out your greatness and make you feel beautiful. But a person cannot hand you all the validation you so desperately want.

I would learn eventually– after a series of bad dates– that another person could never complete me. We were made to complement but not complete someone else. That’s too big of a role and our backs would break trying.

 

I’m not going to jettison a list of 5 activities you can do while being single this season because, honestly, reading a list like that when I was single would have depressed me. I was single out enough already. I didn’t want to be singled out by stigmas too.

So here’s all I’ll say: wallow if you want. Cry if you need to. No one is going to stop you. The greatest freedom I ever claimed from the most wonderful time of the year was the ability to say, “It’s okay if I don’t feel wonderful. I’m still here and that’s what matters.”

Your purpose isn’t on pause just because you’re single this year. You could be single your whole life, and still, this world would need something from you. It would tap its worldly foot and look at its worldly watch and wonder, “Is that person still waiting for the relationship to come? There was so much we could have done in the meantime.”

The world still needs you to pick up the phone and do your thing. Not an inch of your passion need be drained away based on a relationship status. There are still cards to write out and people to encourage. There are still shelters in need of extra volunteers and people who feel so heartbroken they aren’t sure if they will be able to handle the season this year.

Whether you see it or not, you’re like this tiny gold thread that’s bobbing and weaving through the stories of other people. You might not be in every story but, if you keep your eyes wide open this year, then you won’t miss the ones that need your touch. Your golden thread.

 

Eyes wide open. No matter what. Whether you are single or married, dating or engaged, we all need a reminder to have eyes wide open this time of year. The season will go by fast. I’m probably the 12th person to say that to you this year. But I think back to the reason why I celebrate Christmas. I tell myself, don’t miss the point. Don’t miss the point of this.

I’ve lived too long at this point– seen too many things– to believe in coincidences and accidents. I know there is purpose here. I know God is at work. But I also know that every conversation I avoided could have taught me something and every event I go to has the power to change me. That’s what happens when you step out into the world and you look around– you start to change. You morph. You become someone new. And maybe, just maybe, that “someone new” is the person you were meant to be when you meet the “someone new” who ends of wanting to partner with you. You never know. I know it took a lot of fights, battles, friendships, and moves to get me to the place where I met Lane and felt ready to love him with all the selfish and unselfish parts of me. I had to let the world change me before I could change the way I loved someone else.

We get this one chance. It’s this one, rare chance to be living, breathing creatures for a little while on this planet. And as we go, we get this chance to love people until it breaks our hearts and we go mad for one another. We get to scour the planet for treasure. We get to make bucket lists. We get the chance to commune. We get to define the purpose and make plans. There is a massive list of “get to”s that we get to do and we waste so much of that time on feeling like we are incomplete. Feeling inadequate. Feeling underqualified.

This is it for me. This is it for you. We might not get this season again so we should try to shake the fear off our shoulders and get busy with love. Fear wants to keep us isolated. Love wants to keep us busy.

Tis’ the season of joy. And maybe you won’t feel it the whole way through. Maybe it will only come in quick spurts. But calm your little, worried heart and keep on the lookout for peace and light. Repeat this truth beneath your breath as you go:

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: gifts that give forward!

The following guide is those gifts that “give back.” Except I like to call it “giving forward” since we are helping one another build a better & more empowered future. 

one // My white flag is hanging in our dining room and I love getting to see it everyday and know what it stands for. These white flags stand for a bigger message & the company is also partnered with Preemptive Love Coalition. PLC helps create jobs for refugees.

two // Fashionable beanies with a great cause behind them. Love Your Melon is providing hats to children with pediatric cancer around the world.

three // Beautiful jewelry with striking purpose. This necklace was made by a survivor of human trafficking.

four // I’ve been a supporter of RED for over ten years now. If you’re already investing in an Echo this holiday season, think about getting one in red!

five // Solar power chargers will soon be all the rage. Waka Waka supplies lighting and energy to people across the world who don’t have any when you purchase their products.

six // Out of Print gets communities reading through the donation of books but these are the matchbooks I’ve been raving about!

seven // Kids need a new stylish lunch box? Cheeky supplies meals to children in the U.S. with each purchase.

eight // Umm… Hi, I live in this duster these days. It’s the comfiest thing ever and Sseko partners with women globally to help them overcome poverty in their communities.

nine // Not only does Miscoots Outfitters employ people transitioning out of homelessness, but each blanket bought is another blanket given to the shelter in need.

ten // I’ve been loving in State Bags for 5 years now and they just keep getting better! This travel bag is quality and fashionable- all giving backpacks to children in inner cities.

eleven // Get showe(red) this holiday season with this partnership between Baxter & RED products.

twelve // Public Supply gives 25% of proceeds to public school art programs. These velour notebooks are where it’s at this season.

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: for the gentleman!

 

The following guide is for the gentleman in your life! Special thanks to Lane for suggesting these things!

one // I bought one of these blankets for Lane last Christmas and we’ve loved using it! Perfect for camping trips or cozy nights by the fire. This blanket is top quality.

two // For the men who love things a little spicy. I always find getting someone a gift that involves the experience of making something is powerful and a good relationship builder.

three // We are always on the lookout for great beach towels. This one is portable and easy to pack.

four // Never lose your keys again with this cool gadget. 

five // Lane is a big Topo guy and we dig all their edgy designs. This is a great carryall bag for the dude in your life.

six // Got Lane this planner two months ago and I love seeing him get organized through writing dates down. Finally- a manly planner!

seven // The best workout shorts in the world!

eight // Plenty of men out there need a good pair of gloves for the winter air!

nine // Lane swears by Baxter. This face kit is the perfect starter for a guy who wants to get a little more deliberate with his pampered side.

ten // This book doesn’t come out until January 2018 but you can preorder. Apparently Jordan Peterson is the man crushes of all man crushes *or so Lane says* and I think this book will be good addition to everyones’ shelves.

eleven // you can never go wrong with Harry’s Razor Kit. Confession: I now buy Harry’s Razors for myself because I think they are way better than anything else out there.

twelve // Innovative and essential for the athlete in your life. A way to plug in without the hassle of cords.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: for her!

 

The following guide is for all my ladies who might be tough to shop for or might just want something a little different this year.

one // make your last memories of 2017 golden with this addition to the Polaroid family.

two // I’ve been testing this bag out for you all summer long and it’s the perfect day bag for trips & everyday excursions. PLUS: all the fun colors.

three // my best friend got me this cookbook when I was halfway through my Whole30. I couldn’t eat any of the things at the time but I was d-r-o-o-l-i-n-g over the pictures.

four // slower mornings in 2018 with this classic pour over.

five // a beautiful way to remember an important date & a very cool addition to your wall decor.

six // if 12 amazing women like Malala don’t inspire you to kick butt every single month in 2018 then I don’t know what will!

seven // pamper yourself with this clay mask. I’ve been using it since July and I can’t get enough of it!

eight // Lane and I put this little guy on our wedding registry and let-me-tell-you: one of our favorite gifts to date. There’s nothing like playing a record when you get in from work and start cooking dinner together.

nine // I mean, you try to say no…

ten // you don’t even need rain to make use of these boots. They’re perfect for chunky wool socks & a fun day date.

eleven // in an increasingly digital age, there’s something really beautiful about magazine subscriptions. Darling publishes classy articles for all kinds of women. Good reading for gals who love a strong aesthetic.

twelve // got a book lover in your midst? You will never be sorry for getting them a subscription to the Book of the Month club! It’s (by far) my favorite thing to get in the mail each month!

thirteen // brain dust. sex dust. moon dust. need I say more? all natural and ready for your smoothies!

fourteen // came across this sweet cookbook the other day and I thought to myself, “this is a really cool way to start building a legacy for the generations to come!”

fifteen // forever a fan of Artifact Uprising. Lane and I had our wedding photos made into a desk calendar for him and the quality is just stunning.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: under $15!

I’ve wanted to create some gift guides for the holiday season for quite some time now. Every year goes by too fast and I just never seem to get it together. But this year, friends, is THE year.

Over the next two days, I will be publishing several gift guides to help you spend smart & deliberately this holiday season. Please note my heart as I create these guides: I believe the holiday season is a time for togetherness. It’s a time to choose experiences over extravagance. I love giving good & thoughtful gifts. All of the gifts compiled here and in the guides to follow are meant to be extensions of the holiday season but never the point of it. Dig deep this season and love fiercely.

hb.

The following guide is for all my Secret Santa fanatics & college students on that real budget! (scroll down for links!)

one // it’s a go-to and I am never disappointed when I get a monogrammed mug (or monogrammed ANYTHING) from Anthropologie. Anything to make that morning coffee cozier.

two // i love the gifts that require some assembly. This is the cutest way to encourage someone to “grow” in 2018.

three // this is a thoughtful & original gift for all the classic novel lovers in the house. I’ve been getting crazy compliments from everyone who hangs out in my loft!

four // nothing like girl power & a candle mixed into one!

five // this little gift is a classic & perfect for anyone who loves good ol’ Charlie Brown. We watched this classic every year throughout my childhood so it channels some pretty special memories for me.

six // only available for the holiday season! I’ve been using this exfoliator daily and I give it 5 gold stars! My skin is glowing & I feel festive!

seven // if you know someone who had a rough 2017, this book is golden. So much wisdom & truth packed into one place.

eight // this incense holder from Madewell is just about my favorite piece of decor. Who doesn’t like a nice-smelling home?

nine // everyone can appreciate good words. these poems will hit you hard. The perfect coffee table book.

ten // channel your inner Eleven with this little waffle maker. FYI: i have this waffle maker and it works like a mighty beast!

eleven // anthro wins all the awards for these adorable “people person” bowls. Adorable & quirky for the extroverts in the room.

twelve // who doesn’t love a pocket grid planner?