Thrifty Thursdays: Repurposed cabinet doors

IMG_2440I haven’t worked on any restoration projects in a while, and I was starting to get in a slump. So I was excited to learn that my generous stepsister (who gifted me the barn windows I worked with earlier) had some cabinet doors and old frames that she wasn’t going to use. After I find out what I can and can’t paint with during my pregnancy, I’m excited to get to work on them!

I searched for some projects on Pinterest to get some inspiration, and I found a couple of really cool tutorials!

Photo belongs to Autie from iCandy

Photo from Autie at iCandy

First, there is this repurposed cabinet door art table for the kiddos, which I love. I don’t think it will work for the cabinets I have, but it’s definitely something I want to try in the future! The tutorial is written by Autie from iCandy on U Create, and it’s complete with instructions and photos!

Photo from The Elli Blog

Photo from The Elli Blog

Sometimes I think I’m over all the chalkboard stuff, but then I find beautiful designs like this, and I decide that I love it all over again. I’ve seen cabinet doors turned into chalkboards before, but I really just like how nice it looks when it’s done. I wanted to put up a little chalkboard in the corner by our dinner table and this would be perfect! The entire tutorial with photos is written by Lia on The Elli Blog, a beautiful blog that focuses on weddings but also has tutorials for everyday living!

Photo from DIY Inspired

Photo from DIY Inspired

And finally, a beautiful jewelry organizer from Dinah on DIY Inspired. Now, I don’t wear jewelry a lot. I don’t go out very often, and the my daughter broke the necklace that my boyfriend got me literally days after I got it. But I do have a lot of jewelry (and not all of it is costume) and when I do go out, I like to get all gussied up since it probably won’t happen again for another year. So this repurposed cabinet door would be nice to put up in our room or bathroom!

Have you restored a cabinet door and want to share your project? Did you follow one of these tutorials and want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! I’m always up for new ideas and inspiration so share em if you got em!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Thrifty Thursdays: A Recipe

A couple days ago, one of my really good friends Allie came up for a visit from San Francisco. She’s gearing up for a semester in Thailand in August and this just might be one of the last times I see her before she leaves. We planned on hitting downtown Roseville for a few hours but when it came down to it, we really just went to Target and Sprouts to get stuff for dinner. I’m pretty sure I ruined Sprouts forever for Allie, but it was worth the trip.

We had Mahi Mahi tacos for dinner and they were delicious! Typically I’m not a huge fish fan, I usually just like salmon or if I do have tuna, I like it fried in tempura batter and rolled up all pretty for me in a delicious sushi roll. But they were really good! We had toppings like chopped up tomatoes, pineapple, jalapeno and bell pepper, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage and lemon. It was set up like a taco bar and we served ourselves.

After dinner was over, there were still a lot of toppings leftover so I decided to make a pineapple salsa out of it. And it turned out so surprisingly delicious and refreshing, I decided to share the recipe with you guys! I don’t have all the ingredients measured out as they were just what was left over, but the cool thing about salsa is that it’s pretty forgiving, so you don’t need exact measurements and you can add or extract what you want.

IMG_2313PINEAPPLE CILANTRO SALSA

  • Chopped pineapple
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped jalapeno
  • Sliced avocado
  • Squirt of lime for preservation

I just threw all the ingredients into the blender and hoped for the best! Mine turned out a little thick and chunky, which is perfect because that’s how I like my salsa. You can blend it more or less, depending on how you like your salsa. It’s a crisp and refreshing, and there’s some spice from the jalapeno and some sweet from the pineapple. Perfect for the summer!

I enjoyed it so much, I put it on my black bean tacos and used it as a dip for my chips the next day. Yeah, tacos are big around here.

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Still trying to grasp food photography, obviously. This was just a quickie I snapped while trying to fend the dog and baby off my food.

Do you have a favorite salsa recipe to share? Did you give this one a try? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Thrifty Thursdays

Today I woke up and realized that I did not write all week. I knew something felt a little funny. It’s a continuous process to get in a routine, and I’m trying again to write at least once a day. So, I’m starting fresh and sharing some cool things I found just surfing my Facebook news feed. All the times I’ve threatened canceling my account, I continue to keep it open because with every negative post I see, there is an explosion of inspiration. I’ve learned to just stay on my page and visit the pages I like than to get caught up in the drama of Facebook. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, today’s Thrifty Thursday post is a little mix of craft, food and skincare. There’s something for everyone!

Photo from The Paper Mama

Photo from The Paper Mama

First, can we all agree that this Macrame Plant Hanger from The Paper Mama is equally as cute as the planter? It only cost Chelsey $5 to make the plant hanger, and she shared her whole tutorial on Better Homes & Gardens. You can also find a tutorial for her planter in her e-book, which I purchased last year, and am totally in love with.

Image from Greatist

Image from Greatist

I love when Greatist posts stuff like 400+ Cheap and Healthy Recipes, because it challenges the preconception that eating healthy has to be expensive. As long as you have some fruit, veggies, protein and grain…you can make some pretty healthy stuff. They have it broken down it the basic categories – breakfast, lunch, dinner, soup and more. I’ve been getting pretty bored of my normal everyday eats, so I love finding new recipes to test.

Photo from Offbeat and Inspired

Photo from Offbeat and Inspired

I always save tutorials and recipes for sugar/salt scrubs, but I have yet to actually make one. What’s up with that? So I’m saving this DIY Citrus Salt Scrub recipe from Offbeat + Inspired in hopes that I’ll actually use it. I got some essential oils for the candle kit that I was obsessed with getting but still haven’t made anything. With it already feeling like the middle of summer outside and spending my days watching my daughter float around in our inflatable pool, my skin has been angry with me. So this might just give it the love it needs.

Photo from Love & Olive Oil

Photo from Love & Olive Oil

And what is more perfect in the summer heat than ice cream?! Especially this Dark Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream recipe from Love & Olive Oil. You will need an ice cream maker to make this, so if you have one already…then check out this recipe. I pretty much love anything with dark chocolate and strawberries in it, so I need to buy an ice cream maker to make this. Not very thrifty, but hey…

IMG_2252And finally, check out this children’s china cabinet I got from the Sacramento Antique Faire on Sunday! It was marked down from $50 to $30 and it just needs a little love before it’s perfect! Cecilia already has a bunch of kitchen trinkets to fill it up with so she can work on her masterpiece while I’m in the kitchen.

Do you have a thrifty tutorial, recipe or purchase you want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

 

My Healthy Life: A Journey

my healthy life

I have been wanting to get back into working out daily for a long time. And I have come up with every excuse I can squeeze out of my lips and finger tips for why I’m not doing it. I’m tired. I have no energy. I chase a toddler around every hour I’m awake – isn’t that enough? Yesterday, I decided it was time to stop excusing why I had abandoned something that I secretly loved and that pushed me to take care of myself.

I wanted to involve Cecilia in my workouts and I knew that the baby workouts I did so long ago will probably not cut it for a baby on the move – so I searched for some new exercises I could do with my girl.

Photo from Bulu Box

Photo from Bulu Box

I found this little diddy from Rena Roark on Bulu Box that has fun exercises to do with your little one all the way up to your adolescent. Crazy to think that Cecilia will eventually be an adolescent. Blasphemy! I also found a neat 28 day workout plan to do with your kid from Inspired by Familia that I’m going to give a whirl.

Now, moving on to the taste buds…I have….THIS!

Photo from Kim's Healthy Eats

Photo from Kim’s Healthy Eats

Oven Fried Pickles from Kim’s Healthy Eats paired with Clean Eating Ranch Dressing from The Gracious Pantry makes me a happy girl. I’m a sucker for fried pickles, and I was over the moon to learn there is a healthier recipe and I cannot wait to make them as an appetizer, or as dinner on a solo night.

Want to share a workout or recipe? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google +. I love meeting new friends who are on the same journey, and I love making new discoveries – especially when they involve yoga and food!

Weekly Wishes

weekly wishesSomething happened last week that hasn’t happened in a long time. I sat down and methodically planned out my goals and I achieved each and every one of them. Come to think of it, I don’t think that has ever happened! And I know what was different. I kept it simple. I made simple and meaningful goals that I really hoped to conquer, and then I just did it. I gave myself time for my blogging, my crafting, my baking, and most of all…the house, my daughter and myself.

Last week’s wishes:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog (Ok, this one I’m still working on)
  • Finish my cork board
  • Write on my blog daily
  • Start my coffee can planter project
  • Make one recipe from scratch
  • Practice yoga once 
  • Update products on Sweet Mariposa

I was able to finish the cork board that I have seriously been kind of working on since Summer. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I still love it. And now that I have the hang of it, I see a lot more cork/chalkboards in my future! Even though it took a super long time, I loved working on it here and there and having a big project looming over me. Made it all the more wonderful when it was done.

IMG_1281

All done!

I gave myself a couple hours to write out my blog daily when my daughter was napping. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing the next day’s post the night before, but since she has been staying up later, that has been difficult. I figure that if I give myself one or two hours of doing things I love, I’m much a more pleasant person to be around. So it’s for the good of my family that I do this.

b6b58406817a11e38aca0e51ab9d14d3_8

And I started AND finished my coffee can planter today! I didn’t even know it was possible to start and finish something in one day anymore. Luckily, my daughter happens to have a loving and amazing grandpa who will spend any moment he can with her, so he entertained her while I got stuff done today. I’m really going to miss him when we move!

While I didn’t make all of the ingredients from scratch (ain’t nobody got time for that), I did make three – count that, THREE – recipes from scratch this week. I know! Crazy, right? I made some delicious cookies and coffee cake for the house and then some cookies for my friend’s birthday. I was kind of amazed by the Betty Crocker I was channeling this week.

IMG_1285

And I finally practiced some yoga! It had been so long and I needed a good yoga session. I did some restorative yoga with Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com right before bed, and my back popped the moment I got down to stretch. That’s when I was reminded of how much I needed it.

IMG_1267

And finally, I got to listing Kandyce’s items on our Sweet Mariposa Etsy shop! I haven’t had much of a chance to promote our shop, but I’m hoping to do more of that in the future. We have 14 items right now, and we’re hoping to reach 20 soon! Now that I force myself to save a couple hours for myself, I should get a lot more done!

What I wish for this week:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog – Still need to work on this.
  • Work on map tote - I joined a creative penpal collective but I suck at it. Really bad. So I still need to work on my gift that is long past due. I know, no more signing up for stuff for awhile.
  • Write article for Childhood Magazine - Now that the coffee can planter is done, I need to write the article and attach the photos. I’m so excited!
  • Make one dinner and one treat from scratch - As much from scratch as I can. We all have our limits.
  • Practice yoga twice - I need to keep it going and do one practice at night and one in the morning. I miss getting up and doing yoga every morning and I would love to get back in that routine.
  • Figure out a venue and date for the Vox fundraiser – I am planning a fundraiser for my favorite nonprofit, Vox. We are going to start restoring furniture with kiddos! We are in the works of planning a fundraiser/kickoff party so I need to work on the venue and date this week so I can start getting everything together. Hooray!
  • Start promoting Sweet Mariposa – Start posting on my social media sites and getting people excited.

Do you set goals for the week? If so, what are they? Join the Weekly Wishes link-up at Nectar Collective and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest to share and motivate each other!

Meet the Maker: Print Therapy

meet the maker

Meet Melissa, 30, and Nicholas Wert, 32 from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. They are the adorable and creative couple behind Print Therapy, a handcrafted paper expression company, and I am honored to have them as my guests today. And how perfect (and not planned at all) is it that Valentines Day is officially less than a month away.

Melissa and Nick decided to start Print Therapy while Melissa was in a hotel room during a business trip. She still works full time as a project manager and has one foot in the creative world, one foot in corporate America, as she would put it.

“After several weeks of travel (for work, not for pleasure!) and too many moments of not feeling like my best was good enough and not being able to truly stand behind my work, I called Nick and said “Dang it! We’re starting Print Therapy. For real!” A few hours later, we registered the name and had filled out all of the legal paperwork.”

Melissa has both a Bachelors in Business Management and a Masters in Communication and Information Management. She and Nick started Print Therapy a year after she got her Masters. She admits that at first it felt like a waste – paying off a whole bunch of student loans after realizing that she wasn’t all about corporate America.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“But when I stepped back, I realized how much they would help me run my own business and handle the non-creative portion of my work, which I love almost as much as the creating!”

Melissa says that she wouldn’t rather work with anyone else, and that the secret to their success is working in separate offices. She adds that having her husband as her business partner gives them both an understanding of all the work they put into it.

” If one of us needs to take a break or step away from it for a while, then it’s totally okay. We both know that we each love this business and want it to grow, and that we’re 100% committed to that. Nick doesn’t get on my case if I devote an entire Saturday to Print Therapy or if I fall asleep on the couch at 8pm after a long day of work. We appreciate each other for the work we’re putting in – and make sacrifices together to keep it all going!”

Since Melissa is an early riser, she is able to get a huge chunk of her work done before anyone else gets up and the neighborhood is still quiet. She makes a cup of coffee, checks her email and visits the blogs and social media sites of her favorite creative people. Then, it’s time to handle business. Some days, she works on all the of business aspects and other days, she’s creating a new design.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I am a methodical planner (hence my project management background), and have had to learn that you cannot plan creativity. It’s not something you can schedule on the calendar (yes, I’ve tried), or slot in a certain time of the day. When it happens, it happens.”

The upstairs spare bedroom of their 52 Cape doubles as her office, where she says all of the white space inspires her; yet the beautiful charm and character are her favorite. She has a desk, some storage racks, a Print Therapy design board and a Yoga Dogs calendar. Her only office mate is her dog, Sawyer, who is always hard at work on his comfy bed under the window.

“The bones of the room give me  a warm and fuzzy feeling…being surrounded by color would limit my design sense.”

While Melissa does get a lot of her home inspiration from Pinterest and creative inspiration from Instagram, she is most inspired by things that are not related to stationary at all, a nod to a subject she studied in College.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I studied architecture in college before switching to business, and I tend to find a lot of inspiration in different architectural pieces and in interior design.”

Before Adobe introduced the Creative Cloud, Melissa and Nick were creating all of their cards on Microsoft Word (yowza!). After watching all the Adobe TV tutorials they could handle, they now use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign for all of their designs.

“It’s opened up a new level of creativity and confidence for me. We print most of our items at home, but are slowly beginning to work with a great printing company that prints out of California. They will greatly expand what we can offer, and can help keep our prices reasonable for bigger orders.  It’s hard to let a big piece of the business go like that, but we’ve found someone we trust and really enjoy working with, so … baby steps!”

Since both Melissa and Nick work full-time aside from running Print Therapy, they don’t get a whole lot of downtime. So when they do get a chance to unwind, they will get burgers or Chinese take-out and snuggle with Sawyer on the couch and watch a movie or catch-up on their favorite shows.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“As much as we love working together, getting to unwind together is even better! Both of our families are about 10 minutes away, so we love getting to spend time with them, too. We also treasure dinner dates with our closest friends – whether they be out to a restaurant or home cooked at someone’s home. Quality time together is where it’s at!”

For Melissa, being responsible for it all is both the best and scariest thing about running her own business. She loves having control over every aspect of her company, but also admits that it can get a little hairy when there’s not an IT Department or a paycheck, for that matter.

“You get to know yourself pretty well when you’re the one behind it all, and you have to learn to work within your strengths and weaknesses, and to push yourself farther than you thought you could go.”

When they need to buckle down and get to work, Melissa and Nick have different ways to get in the creative mood. Melissa will turn her workspace into what she calls a “safe space” and shuts the door, turns up the heat, lights a candle and turns up the emotional music. Nick, on the other hand, revisits the 90s with his musical choices. “Method Man, Wu Tang, all of it”

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Nick often jokes how much I love sad music – it’s true! I feel most creative when I deeply, deeply feel something. To me, that’s the point of stationery – to put feelings into text and images that can be shared with someone else.”

And when there are simply no creative juices flowing? Melissa doesn’t force it, and just stops trying. She will start cleaning and organizing and comes back to it later. If there is still nothing, she will just start designing something and eventually the creativity will reemerge.

“Sometimes walking away is the best option though – becoming frustrated with the process certainly isn’t going to help that creativity to start flowing.”

And when there are design flops, Melissa has learned to not rush the process and to work on a design until it feels right. And if she doesn’t love it, she will not have that innate urge to sell it. And when she’s not jumping up and down to promote it…then maybe it shouldn’t be up for sale.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the trends and to try to make something because you think it will sell. But, if it doesn’t fit you and your brand, good luck”

Melissa loves the familiarity of the handmade movement and community, and loves how it feels like “we’re all in this together.” She has a lot of friends who run their own small businesses, and she feels inspired being able able to purchase items that help people support families, fund an adoption and give back to their communities.

“You just don’t get that feeling from a Wal-Mart. There’s nothing better than purchasing a product you love and knowing that that maker is excited by and appreciative of every purchase coming his or her way, and is using that money to live their life. Double whammy goodness.”

She discovered Oh My Handmade! while on Twitter when she was starting Print Therapy. She checked out the website, and ultimately decided that the small monthly fee was worth all of the support she would get from the online community.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“Through my OMHG membership, I’ve learned that I’m not alone and that everyone struggles. Everyone has off days. No one feels like a creative successful genius 365 days a year. It’s been eye opening for me, in the best way, and has helped me better accept myself as a maker.”

While Melissa agrees that starting your own business is incredibly tiring, she also knows how exhausting it can be to work at a job that you don’t love. So, she knows this is the right path for her, and if she does have children, she hopes it will be an inspiration to them.

“Every day that I look at Nick, and the family we’re building, I am inspired to go down this path, because it makes me the happiest person I can be. That’s good for me.”

Now that they finally have their website launched (yay!), Melissa hopes to work on a Wedding collection and add more “just because” cards to their shop. “Those are my favorite to send, and to receive, so I want to offer more of those as well.” Next year, they hope to move into wholesale.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

“I hope to inspire people to do what they love, and to not feel constrained by what they think they should be doing or by what someone else thinks they should be doing. I hope to inspire people to find a partner to share their life with that fully supports their dreams and visions.

I hope to inspire people to rescue their next pet versus buying from a breeder, because man, rescue pets are the best. But mostly, I hope to just inspire people to tell someone else how they feel about them in a way that will always be treasured. Leave a love note, send a card. However they choose, I want to inspire people to tell those they love, that they love them. I want to inspire people to send happiness; from their mailbox forward.”

You can find Melissa and Nick on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you can order Valentines cards (like I did) and any other cards you like from their Etsy shop. If you would like to participate in this series – or know somebody who should – leave a note in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to be all private, you can e-mail me too!

My Healthy Life: A Journey

my healthy life

I don’t know about you, but my interwebs are a buzzin’ with inspirational quotes, healthy recipes mixed with Valentines Day recipes, fitness challenges and organizational tips. So it’s no surprise that this post is going to be a little of all of that, minus the Valentines Day recipes and tips on organizing.

Photo from Erin Motz Yoga

Photo from Erin Motz Yoga

The 10-day ab challenge from Erin Motz Yoga is already in full swing, but the awesome thing about her challenges is that you can join in at any time. The videos remain on YouTube and while you won’t get the daily e-mails sent to your inbox, you will still get to check in daily, or as much as you wish. I always love doing her practices because they are lighthearted and fun, and chances are she will virtually toast you with champagne when the challenge is over.

Photo from Greatist

Photo from Greatist

You know all those detox cleanses that everyone posts the day after New Years? Well, this ain’t it. Over at Greatist, Sophia Breene has compiled a list of 49 satisfying yet detoxifying meals, and even better – categorizes them by meal type. Of course, you can eat these at any meal (for instance, I’m a huge fan of breakfast for dinner when nobody else is home), but the categories make it easy. There’s 8 breakfast options, 10 lunch options, 9 dinner options, 8 snack options and plenty of sides and drink options. You could easily use one recipe per day for 2 weeks (minus the weekends) and eat something new every day. My tip? Pick the recipes you want and make a grocery list of everything. Then do all your shopping in one trip and make a meal plan.

Photo from Greatist

Photo from Greatist

And I know I have talked about this before, but if you haven’t checked out Greatist’s Renew Year challenge, you definitely should. Each day, they post a new task and then you snap a photo and post it with the hashtag #healthyishappy. And don’t worry, not all of them are centered around exercise. One task was to write five things you’re grateful for, and another was to meditate for 10 minutes. It’s all about focusing on your health – mental and physical.

Are there any interesting challenges you’re participating in this year? Share them in the comments and on all the social media channels with the hashtag #newyearchallenge. You can connect with me by clicking on any of the social media buttons at the top of my blog.

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Around this time last year, I was about 38 weeks pregnant and while I did brave the mall to go Black Friday shopping with my mom and aunt (it was fun—but in hindsight, a very, very bad idea), I was hardly in the holiday spirit. I had all these plans to make everyone’s gifts since I was in full-on nesting mode anyway, but never got to it…simply because I was exhausted, and taking a math class – which is the worst.

This year, however, I’m no longer pregnant (thank goodness!) and I’m very much in the holiday spirit. It doesn’t hurt that I’m much more into the crafting community these days, and everyone around me is posting awesome holiday ideas. Here are a few of my favorites.

Photo from The Paper Mama

Photo from The Paper Mama

50 Days of DIY from The Paper Mama – Now on Day 20 (pepperoncini cheese dip- yum!), Chelsey shares fun DIY Holiday projects and recipes each day. She is also the co-writer and co-creator of Make Your Day DIY, which I wrote about last week…so obviously, I’m a huge fan. Aren’t these photo place makers super fun? I have yet to actually host a Christmas dinner at my house (for reasons you can read about in my story) but when I finally do….it is so on!

Photo from Alison Butler

Photo from Alison Butler

One to Wear, One to Read, One to Play from The Petit Cadeau – Well, Alison has done it again. I feel like I’m always writing about awesome stuff she does on her site – and that’s probably because she’s always doing awesome stuff. This time, she has created a gift guide for the lil ones, where she picks one article of clothing, one book, and one toy to feature each round. She is going to gift one of the each to her kiddo this year, and none of them involve batteries. Sweet!

Photo from The Lone Home Ranger

Photo from The Lone Home Ranger

The 12 Days of Minimalist Christmas from The Lone Home Ranger – Better late than never, right? That’s what I always say. Justine from The Lone Home Ranger is on Day 10 of The 12 Days of Minimalist Christmas, and today she is offering a Giveaway of the book The Family Flavor by Whitney L. Ingram and sharing her review of the book. She also includes a child-proof “chicken chowdah” recipe!

Are you feeling the holiday spirit this year? What are your favorite crafty sites doing to get your creative juices flowing this season? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Also, remember that I will be posting small/handmade business Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales next week so if you are having a sale, let me know!

Thrifty Thursdays: Thoughtful Celebrations

thrifty thursdays

I know, I know. You don’t want to even think about Christmas right now. But, let’s face the facts. It’s upon us, and if you are planning on a DIY Holiday season, well – you better get a’crackin! I’m going to elaborate on the slow gifting and thoughtful celebrations movement I was talking about earlier and help you come up with some fun and affordable DIY ways to spend the holidays!

The Holidays are all about spending time with your friends and family, but in the hustle and bustle, it can be hard to get together. These awesome ideas incorporate slow gifting and thoughtful celebrations. Start a new tradition. It will take some planning now, but will keep it simple in the years to come – allowing you to spend more time on that awesome homemade gift you’re making:

Idea and photo from Alison Butler

Idea and photo from Alison Butler

Host a Mitten Exchange from The Petit Cadeau – Do you normally get together with your friends for the Holidays? How about creating a mitten exchange! Alison – who got me excited about the idea of slow gifting – collaborated with Kim from Joyful Roots to share this thoughtful and wonderful tradition! If you subscribe to Alison’s newsletter, you can download a free printable invitation. It’s free to subscribe and you check it out here.

Photo from Food Swap Network

Photo from Food Swap Network

Host a food swap! from Food Swap Network – Love food? Do you and your friends usually go out for a Holiday lunch or dinner and then all gasp and uneasily take out your wallets and try to dissect the bill? Or is that just me and my friends? A food swap is an awesome way to keep the expenses down and exchange homemade food. I just got into canning and baking, so this is perfect for me! If you’re not so hot at making stuff but your friend is the best cook/baker you know – pick a house and take an at-home cooking lesson! Do you belong to a crafting circle? Share this idea for a fun holiday party!

Photo from Darby Smart

Photo from Darby Smart

Throw a Darby Smart party! from Darby Smart – Decide on a project box you all agree on, and throw a little crafting shindig! The boxes come with all the supplies and instructions, and there are many for under $40 – probably what you would spend on the supplies anyways. The December TO DIY FOR mystery box is only $19 and would be perfect for your Holiday party next month!

I hope these ideas have given you inspiration for your new thoughtful celebration tradition. What are your favorite traditions? Do they involve homemade gifts? Share them with us and get more inspiration on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

My Healthy Life: A Journey

Well, I’m exactly one week away from two things I have been looking forward to – my birthday, and my goal date for my weight loss. They happen to fall on the same day, and that is no coincidence. I was hoping to reach 130 by my 31st birthday and kept assuring myself the whole time that I could most definitely do it. And I probably could have…if I locked myself in my room with a mini fridge filled with only the healthiest and best food, and my only activity to do during the day was to exercise.

But, let’s face it. Real life happens…and sometimes your best intentions fall short. I will say that I am proud that I have not only lost all the weight gained during my pregnancy, I am between five – ten pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant. Sure, I still have 15 lbs to go before I reach my goal weight, but I have had the willpower to turn down fast food and soda, when both are so easy…and sometimes so good.

I have put myself on a workout regimen, and sometimes I actually stick to it. But sometimes I don’t, because I’m freaking tired after chasing around my daughter, and sometimes I count mopping my floor (so what if my mop is actually a Swiffer) and doing laundry as my workout for the day.

18ac2a84412a11e3b44322000a1f92df_8My morning walk with my daughter. My favorite workout routine

So, I’m going to make a proclamation for myself, and if you would like to join in, I would love your company:

  • No more following websites that have the word “Skinny” in them. I don’t want to be skinny. I just want to wear my old jeans. Not the jeans I was wearing before I got pregnant. The jeans I wore when I was at my most comfortable weight. Sure, my hips have expanded. Babies will do that to ya. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But damn did it feel good to put on a pair of jeans I have not been able to wear in over a year.
  • While on that note, no more pinning “Skinny” recipes on Pinterest. If you haven’t heard this before, most of the skinny ingredients are worse than the real thing. Look at the ingredients and decide if you really want all of that in your body. If you do, go for it. If not, put it down. It ain’t worth it in the long run.
  • Follow bloggers and recipe developers who use real ingredients for all of their food. They don’t do a diet version, because they don’t need to. You don’t need a diet version of granola – it’s granola! A good site I just found today is A Sweet Spoonful. Her recipes have real ingredients in them, and most of them aren’t crazy. Check out these pumpkin spice muffins (you know how I feel about pumpkins). She also has a book called Whole Grain Mornings – I think the title says it all – that will be available on Dec 31. You can pre-order it now through Amazon, and it will be perfect for your New Years Resolution, if you’re about that.
  • Remain active. Even if I can’t get a workout or yoga session in, I remain active. I sit at my computer to write blog posts, and do some work. But I take a break after every project I work on to go walking with my daughter, to play with her, or to clean my house. It keeps her entertained and happy, and I stay active. We hardly ever sit down to watch TV until after dinner. Because that’s my family time, and that’s how we like to relax.

I’m still going to work on my goal, but I’m not going to hate myself if I don’t get in that 15 minute yoga session, and then 15 minutes of bodyweight workout, and then 15 minutes of yoga at night. Because sometimes I’m just tired. And I have other stuff going on. But I will (attempt to) drink all of my water, and I will cook real food for my family. Because not only do I want to look good in my jeans, I want to feel good, too.

2b58fe7e3ff311e38f8522000a1fb838_8Homemade apple butter on wheat toast with banana. Breakfast is served.

Here is my promise to you, and this is one I can stick to. I will continue to share sites with you that I feel good about sharing. I will continue to show you new recipes that incorporate real, healthy food. I won’t ever share anything that has the word Skinny in it. Unless I have checked the ingredients and they are all real. That’s my only exception.

So, to start things off. Here are some of my favorite sites that embrace whole foods and healthy living:

The Gracious PantryIf you have read my blog just once in your life, you probably know how deep my love for this site runs. Tiffany not only shares a whole bunch of clean eating (the elimination of processed foods in your diet) recipes, she also advises on healthy food substitution, like the sugar substitution chart, and she loves pumpkin, too. My kind of girl.

Healthy Aperture – Healthy food photo sharing site. A good way to find recipes that you will love and continue to use, and you can also find new healthy bloggers to follow. If you find yourself liking a bunch of recipes from one poster, maybe you should check out their site and see what else they have. There’s also a blog with healthy tips and recipes.

Attune Foods Blog – This is a new one that I found today, through Sweet Spoonful. It’s a healthy recipe sharing site, and you can also join the FitClean community, which focuses on incorporating both fitness and clean eating in your daily life.

Are you ready to take this pledge with me? To include healthy and real ingredients in our food and to remain active – no matter what the activity is? I would love to get this healthy party going. I will be sharing more and more healthy recipes, workouts and yoga routines that I feel are worth sharing, and introducing more real food bloggers. If you would like to join me on this journey, I would love to have you. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and share your journey with me by using the hashtag #myhealthylife or tag me in the post.