Yo Momma Monday: Ashley Weeks Cart

yo momma monday

Meet Ashley Weeks Cart, 30, from Southwestern Vermont. She runs Cartwheel Farm with her husband James, and she is mama to two beautiful girls (Addison (Sunny) who will be turning five next month, and Courtland (Kaki) who is two and a half), a super mutt they call Hanna Banana, a puppy named Gladden, a potbelly pig named Penelope (“Penny” for short), a flock of five hens – Bunty, Edwina, Dora, Nemo and Ginger and an angel dog – their beloved three legged dog, Ursa Bear, who lost her life to cancer.

Before Ashley and James were introduced to the world of parenting and farming, they lived in Los Angeles and Ashley attended USC, where she received her MA in Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere. She also ran a reusable bag business with her sister at the time.

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

After Sunny was born, Ashley and James returned to the East Coast to be closer to their families. Both attended College in the Berkshires, so they moved back to Williamstown, MA for the first two years, and that is when they decided that they wanted the rural life. So they bought a farm across the border in the Green Mountain State.

“James’ family had a farm growing up, and we really loved the idea of our daughters learning about where their food comes from and the responsibility and care that comes from owning farm animals and tending a vegetable garden. That was all possible with this little property.”

Photo by Theron Humphrey. Click on the picture for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

Both Ashley and James are photographers and Ashley does freelance work on the side. Her introduction to photography began when she was just a kid, and would spend hours tooling away with her dad’s Nikon SLR. All of that playing and shooting paid off, because now she connects with her readers through her photography on her blog.

” I have albums of black and white photos of our pets and house growing up that I shot with that camera from back in 70s. It was totally a hobby, but it brought a lot of joy. It wasn’t until after college that I got back in to photography. I was working at another small liberal arts college that allowed me to take one course a semester.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I took a film photography class, and loved hiding out in the dark room and relearning how to really use a camera. When we moved to California we invested in our first digital SLR, and after our oldest daughter was born, James and I really began to want to better master our camera as we were amassing a slew of baby photos.

When we moved back east, I developed a great relationship with a local professional photographer and she really helped me take my work to the next level. I try to pick up my camera and shoot every single day. I learn something every time I do. Practice practice practice is the best advice I can give. That, and shoot in manual mode. Just do it. Your photos will be world’s better once you get a hang of it.”

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Ashley started her blog Blog a la Cart when she was still living in LA and was the first of her group to have any children. With James working all day, she felt alone and overwhelmed, and she needed a creative outlet that would get her thinking about more than changing diapers and feedings.

“Honestly, I write about whatever inspires me at the moment – there is no real rhyme or reason to my blog content – that space is ultimately an outlet for me, so I write about and share what is most impacting me at the time. Sometimes is as simple as a room makeover, other times it’s more serious feminist issues that I’m struggling with as a parent/mom.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I try not to be influenced or alter my point of view to please anyone but myself since that space was born very much out of a need to better support myself. I love that people share in that space, but it’s ultimately about being true to my voice and story.”

Since Ashley has a full-time job, her photography and blog are both done on the side. They are  creative outlets for her, and while she admits it can be tough balancing family, work, the farm and her creative business, she loves what she creates and is grateful to have both there to supplement their lives.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have a truly amazing partner. I would not be able to do all I do without him in the mix, providing the balance and support that I need. He is the girls’ primary caregiver, and does the lion’s share of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. This enables me to work a day job full time, and then come home and spend time with my girls and have meaningful family time, before spending my evenings editing photos for clients or writing content for the blog.

There is no way I would be able to keep everything in balance without James helping carry the weight. I think people don’t consider enough how their choice of life partner will be one of the biggest, most impactful decisions of their entire lives. People want the pretty wedding and storybook romance, but don’t often consider the long term weight of that decision. I feel very lucky to have been able to grow into adulthood with James by my side (we met at his 20th birthday party in college) – we’ve been able to make some huge decisions and changes together and we really compliment and balance each others strengths and weaknesses.”

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Of all the things her girls have already learned on the farm, she hopes that they will always have a respect for their food and the cycle of life. Both have already experienced the loss of a family pet they cherished and loved and they know where the food on their table comes from.

“We don’t shelter them from this, and they have a very thoughtful and honest perspective on death and life (for their age). I love that they understand that our Thanksgiving turkey comes from a turkey farm and must be killed before we can eat it for dinner. It’s not just some plastic wrapped lump from the grocery aisle.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the image for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

They know the sweetness and joy of picking blueberries right off the bush. They understand that maple syrup comes from the veins of a maple tree as they themselves have collected the sap and watched it boil down into that sugary delicacy. They’ve hand turned apples to cider. They’ve weeded and sweat and and pulled fresh carrots from the ground. There is something so simple and yet so very important from these lessons that we get to make a part of their everyday.”

Ashley’s best advice for working parents (whether it’s in or outside of the home) is to carve out time for yourself. She likes going to the gym or for a run or a walk once a day. It’s not only good for her physical health, but it’s good for her mental and emotional health as well. She also loves crafting, and shares many tutorials on her blog.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have trouble sitting still, so I build in crafts and projects to any free time I may have on a weekend or evening. I love working with my hands, and it’s fun to be able to involve my children in the projects when possible.

Mostly, I would be happy to spend my days knitting and listening to audiobooks – but it’s good to mix it up. I learned to quilt last year, and that is a dangerously wonderful, time-consuming hobby. I hope to be able to do more of it when my children are older – as it also demands a lot of stuff and space (iron, cutting table, sewing machine, etc.) whereas knitting I can keep in my handbag for a down moment waiting at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, etc.”

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

In the future, Ashley hopes to expand her photography portfolio and hopes to capture more maternity and childbirth moments. She wants to master tomato growing, to include alpacas or other fiber animals in their farm family so she can spin her own wool and she wants to bake a truly authentic loaf of French bread. Her favorite thing about everything she does is the impact it makes on other people.

“My favorite moments happen when a reader emails me to say that something I’ve written or shared has touched them in some way, either by making them feel not so alone, or validating their feelings, or even getting them to think about something in an entirely new way. Those emails send me over the moon.They bring me so much happiness.

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

And with the photography, I love getting feedback that I’ve captured a client or their family in a way that really represents them. Getting positive feedback on my work keeps me motivated and makes me feel like I am making a difference (however small) in my community.”

And as for the impact she has felt from her children, and life on the farm:

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“There are SO many ways that motherhood has changed me, mostly it has given me deep respect for my own mother and the  mothers around me as I am so acutely, personally aware of the challenges, joys, heartbreak, and perspective that motherhood brings. It’s humbling and inspiring and I am so very grateful everyday that I get to call myself a mother to my little girls. It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do, yet I am eternally grateful that I get to have this kind of experience and perspective and love in my life.

And the farm has connected me to life beyond my family in really meaningful ways. From the flowers to our vegetable gardens to our chickens, I am tuned in to the life cycles and seasons of life on the farm. I recently read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (everyone should read it!) and it has really inspired me and further enforced in me why James and I made the choice to buy this home and raise our girls this way, connected to their food and this place.”

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

You can read Ashley’s blog Blog A La Cart to find out more about raising a family on a farm, and you can also view her portfolio there. And check out her video about life on the farm! If you want to hire Ashley to take your photos, you can e-mail her and you can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you are an awesome mama or you know one and would like to be featured in this series, don’t be shy! Leave me a comment, e-mail me and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest.

Meet the Maker: Kinsey Mhire

2116ca068dfd11e3aa500e149370af7a_8I first came across Kinsey Mhire’s work on Facebook, when someone else I was “following” shared one of her photos. I still remember letting out a loud gasp and immediately liking her page. But it wasn’t until she shared a recipe for her lemon blueberry scones that I knew I needed to learn more about her.

So, luckily for me, this wonderful photographer from Springfield, Missouri accepted my invitation to share a little bit more about her on my blog.

Self-taught, Kinsey started taking photos at 17, and shot her first wedding at 18. Now, she works with a Canon 5D Mark II and has a few photo editing programs in her arsenal: Photo Mechanic 5,  Lightroom 4, VSCO presents Film Pack 01, Film Pack 02 and Film Pack 04.

“I think we can get really technical about what makes a “good” photo. But at the end of the day, all that matters is if it makes you feel something. Happy, excited, nostalgic, hopeful, etc. Those are the images worth keeping, despite how “imperfect” they are.”

A recent wedding she shot. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

Photo from Kinsey Mhire

Kinsey never planned on turning her love for photography into a living, but decided she could do it after getting e-mails requesting engagement, family and wedding photos.

“One day it just hit me, this could really happen. I could actually be a wedding photographer.”

She started her blog to not only document her photo sessions, but to also share her love of crafting and food with the world. It also holds her accountable to keep creating something new that is better than the day before. She shares sewing projects, recipes and crafts often on her blog, and her favorite things to make are unique clothing and home decor.

“I need to create. It’s in my bones, and I feel like a part of me is missing when I’m not.”

A recent craft she shared. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

A recent craft she shared. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

Kinsey does something that I have never seen from a photographer – she posts tour dates on her blog. Since she and her husband love to travel, they mix a little business with pleasure and get to meet a lot of different people from different places.

“One of my dearest passions is the love between my clients, so to be able to witness love stories all across the globe, well, it just made sense to offer sessions during our travels!”

While her daily activities may vary due to her work schedule, Kinsey begins every morning with cuddling her dog and husband, goes for a run or practices yoga and reads for at least 30 minutes. Then, she starts the work day where she will blog for the first half and then run her errands. She will end up at a coffee shop to do all of her editing and catch up on e-mails. When the work day is over, she meets up with friends for rock climbing or to grab a beer and shoot pool.

Kinsey says that for every hour she spends shooting, she spends another five hours post processing – dealing with emails, contract, culling, editing, uploading images, ordering prints, designing albums and more.

Just look at that pup! Photo from Kinsey Mhire

Just look at that pup! Photo from Kinsey Mhire

“I’m terrified of losing photos/hard drive failing, so I have countless copies of every wedding and session backed up on my computer, hard drive, and online.”

Kinsey’s favorite photo shoots are engagement sessions and she describes her shooting style as real and candid. She often mixes in a little spontaneity with her go-to poses. Depending on the clients, she gives them time to get comfortable and works from there.

The best “poses” seem to happen when you give your clients a bit of direction, and then make them feel comfortable to be themselves!

If she wasn’t a photographer, Kinsey would be a seamstress and would most likely own a small, handmade shop or become a counselor for troubled teens/advocate for the prevention and protection against human trafficking.

In a headband she made. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

In a headband she made. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

“Sewing my own clothes is something I started back in high school, and it’s always been a hobby I really enjoy.”

When asked what advice she had for someone who is just starting their creative business, she had this to say:

“Be yourself. Work hard. Keep your passions and priorities in check. If it becomes all about “being known” or making the big bucks, you will become exhausted very quickly.”

Although she is not one to share her future goals online, Kinsey is looking forward to seeing how much she grows and changes in the next couple of years.

With her husband. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

With her husband. Photo from Kinsey Mhire

“I’ve a few projects I’m working towards that I can’t wait to share in the future, but for now they are just dreams. :)”

Kinsey firmly believes that every person has the power to change someone’s life for the better or worse, and she prays that she continues to bring hope, encouragement and inspiration to every person she meets – whether it’s a wedding client or a barista at a coffee shop.

“I’m so inspired by other peoples stories. The pain and heartache, the love and triumphs. The fact that my job allows me to document stories is one of the sweetest, most rewarding parts of my life.”

You can find more about this amazing person by visiting her blog and connecting with her on Facebook and Instagram. All of these photos are from her Instagram account. If you would like to be featured in this series, I would love to have you. If you know an amazing maker, I would love to have them, too. Just post a link in the comments, share it on social media or e-mail it to me.

Creative Business Journey: Project 2014 (Week two)

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

It’s the second week into Project 2014 at Oh My! Handmade Goodness, and I am loving it. I have an Accountability buddy named Lenore, who runs A Small Bird Designs. You can read more about her Project 2014 journey here and here. She is a freelance graphic designer and we are both working on some ginormous projects, so I think we will both be a huge help to each other.

I know I talked about my plans for this month, but I wanted to focus on a specific goal for the week. Finally complete a design board for my blog! I have some ideas of what I want it to look like, and now it’s time to really pinpoint what I want. And I wanted to share my inspiration with you!

Theme:

Image from Henry Happened

Image from Henry Happened

I don’t remember why I landed upon Henry Happened. I don’t remember if it was a tutorial, a recipe, or some sort of handmade fashion tip. What I do remember, is how beautiful and simple the theme is. I love how each category has a hand-drawn symbol, and I love how all the posts are visually categorized. It really excites me and makes me want to look for more. And I want people to feel that way when they happen upon my blog – I want them to feel like they found a magical land that they must explore.

Colors:

Image from Design Seeds

Image from Design Seeds

If you are into design at all, and you haven’t been to Design Seeds yet, you should probably visit. I am always so inspired by how Jessica can create an entire color palette from one object or photo. You can get the code for each color, so you can use that color in your design work and you can also adjust the colors by adjusting the RGB values. It is quite honestly one of the most resourceful sites I have found since I started caring about design. I love the color palette above because it’s rustic and includes my favorite color – teal! It’s bold yet not obtrusive.

Font:

Image from Betty Red Designs

Image from Betty Red Design

I absolutely love the cursive font in this design, probably because that is exactly how I write in cursive. I would love to use a font like this as my header, and I could probably even write it myself, scan it into my computer and incorporate it in my design. That seems a lot easier than searching all over for the font. Betty Red Design is an amazing site too, by the way.

Now, it’s time to work all of these into a design board. I can’t wait to see what Amy from Amy is the Party comes up with! So far, she is the only person I have trusted to touch my blog besides me (no pressure or anything), so it’s all very exciting! I also found a new site while hanging around Lenore’s website – XO Sarah is run by a designer who also focuses on helping bloggers and small business grow their businesses. Check out her Ebook and WordPress plugins for small businesses.

What are your major goals for your business this week? Anything specific you are working on, or is there an ongoing goal that you are chipping away at? Let’s talk about it. I would love to work on our projects together, and be sure to check out Lenore’s site, too!

Creative Business Journey: Project 2014

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

I have a lot riding on February. I have thought about where I want my creative business to go, and everything I have lined up is for next month. So, February is all about being fearless. I have been waiting for a lot of these changes, and they are finally coming to fruition. I need to put my fears aside and go headfirst into everything I want to do.

I loved this post from Krochet Kids

I loved this post from Krochet Kids

Here is what I’m most excited for next month:

  • I’m finally getting a blog update! I’m making the switch to self-hosted, and since I learned my lesson from trying to DIY it last year, I’ve taken another route. I’m going through Amy Cluck-McAlister, who I met when she donated some beautiful and fun jewelry to the first fundraiser I helped organize for Vox. Her site, Amy is the Party, is not only about web design – she shares a whole bunch of crafts, party ideas and spreads some of her local love for Sacramento. So yeah, I love her.
  • After a lot of thinking, re-thinking and some more thinking…I have ultimately decided to start selling Pampered Chef. It’s not a complete DIY approach to running my own business, but it will sure help me get to where I need to be in order to grow my business. It also gives me an opportunity to practice cooking and baking as much as I can, and who doesn’t love them some Pampered Chef? I’ll share the link to my site when it’s up in case you are longing for some cookware.
  • Getting Sweet Mariposa on Facebook and promoting the heck out of our stuff! We have a lot of good stuff up there and I’m excited to share it. I’ve learned a lot about product photography and photo editing through this, and I love that all my projects urge me to learn new skills that have been on my mind for a while.
  • Organizing the fundraiser for Vox. We need to get down the specifics so we can start creating flyers, Press Releases and getting more people involved. This is going to be a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

be fearless

I have joined the Project Accountability Club through Oh My Handmade! Goodness, which has totally motivated me to get serious about my goal planning. I have simplified some and have limited my commitments to a few important things that really get me going. Since we’re doing this week by week, I’m sharing what my goals are for next week:

  • Hone in on my design inspiration for my blog and make a dream board specific to my blog. I already have a lot of ideas on my Pinterest, now I just need to pin down exactly what I want (see what I did there?). I need to pick the exact font, colors and theme that I want. This is so exciting! I am beyond thrilled to see what Amy comes up with. I’ve looked at her past work, and I love it. I know this will be good.
  • Get all set up on Pampered Chef. Sign up, get my website set up and then start thinking of some recipes I want to use with all of my fancy cookware!
  • Create a Facebook page for Sweet Mariposa and load all of our photos on there. Connect the page with our Etsy shop for a seamless theme. All of the other social media will be done through my blog account.
  • Meet with Estella of Sol Collective and Eric from Vox. Set a date and time and choose a name. Get started on the sign-up sheet for everyone who wants to get involved.

Ok, that should be it! This is all so exciting…I can feel the productivity flying out of my fingertips right now! I know if I can get all of this done next week, I’ll be on a really good start. What are your creative business goals? What do you hope to achieve this week? Share in the comments and connect with me on social media. Let’s ride this sweet rockin’ rollercoaster we call creative businesses together!

Project 2014

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

One of the biggest reasons for me starting my blog is that I had a lot of ideas and projects running through my head and was tired of searching for the random notebook I wrote them down in. I also wanted to connect with other creative people who could inspire and move me to work on all of those projects I’ve been holding off on, and I wanted to find new ideas to build on and grow from.

When I went to write my post today, I needed some inspiration. While I had a lot I wanted to say, I didn’t really know how I wanted to say it. So I ventured over to Oh My! Handmade to see what the monthly discussion theme was. Each month, there is a new theme for bloggers and creatives alike to use as inspiration for their businesses. This month’s theme was Project 2014: Choose Your Own Adventures. This felt like the perfect time to share a project I have been working on!

A couple years ago, I found a nonprofit art studio named Vox through Twitter, and I started volunteering for them. With a few friends, I helped organize one fundraiser for them called Art Speaks. It was a huge success and because of all the community support, it was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined. Unfortunately, Vox has run into some funding problems and will probably have to close their brick and mortar studio.

A little piece of Art Speaks

A little piece of Art Speaks

Luckily, creative people are always open to new ideas, and when we’re lucky, those ideas can turn into solutions. Before I found out about their funding issues, I brought up an idea of restoring furniture with children at their studio. It was something I would hope to get my daughter involved in when she was old enough. Since they will be closing the studio soon, we have decided to turn it into more of a mobile community studio, where can work with other organizations and involve more of a community.

To kick things off, we have come up with a fundraiser to help raise money for our new project, and to raise money for another nonprofit who is doing the same thing – Out of the Dark in the UK. While the fundraiser will be in-person, we are hoping to add an online component as well.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

The most important goals at the moment are:

  • We need a name for the fundraiser – something that implies renewal and restoration. That is our theme for the project and the fundraiser as a whole.
  • A location for the fundraiser – Since Vox is closing down soon, we don’t want to count on the studio as a venue. There are a few choices in Sacramento, and we want to work with an organization/company that we can continue to work with in the future.
  • A date – We need enough time to send info to local publications and get everyone involved.

There is a lot of work to get done, and I’m actually pretty excited about getting to everything. This is going to be such an amazing experience, for many reasons. I have wanted to get into community organization and promotion, so this will help me decide if that’s truly what I want.

It will also allow me to practice my graphic design more, and to use my writing skills to help get my ideas across. It will also be the first time that Kandyce and I will have a booth for Sweet Mariposa, so we will need to get everything together for that.

This will be a huge moment, not only for Vox, but also for my creative business. It will help guide me to what I really want to do, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

What projects are you working on? Do you want to get involved in my project? Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest, and you can e-mail me!

Why I loved this week

Untitled-1Well, the time has come. My daughter has decided that her toys are way cooler than mom, and she would much rather hang out in her room and play with all of her cool stuff than hang out with boring ol mom. And while it’s a little insane seeing her grow up so fast, I’m relieved that she’s finally getting into all of her toys that take up every inch of space in that room, and I do have to admit that it is nice to get some things done around here. And I love hearing her in there, blabbing away and turning everything into a drum set.

This week, the Creative Collective started on The Nectar Collective, and our first prompt was to choose a word for 2014 and make something creative with it.

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I chose simplify because I really want to work on simplifying my life and slowing down a little. I have a closet full of clothes I never wear and it stresses me out every time I look at it, I have a craft closet that has gone complete bonkers with projects that I barely touched. I need to simplify my closet, simplify my crafts and simplify my routine. I try to do too much of everything, and end up falling short. I am slowly learning to focus on one goal until it’s done and move on from there.

I’m choosing to let go of anything that causes unnecessary stress, and zoning in on what matters. I’m choosing to allow myself some creative time every day, because I need it. I tend to get so worked up about things, and when it comes down to it…my life is pretty simple.

And so far, it has worked! I finished more by doing that than by trying to do everything at once. I finished my cork/chalkboard that I have been putting off forever and I was actually able to make cookies AND coffee cake this week. What the what?!

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The cake was so crumbly that I had to eat it with a spoon, which I was totally fine with.

I got to share Print Therapy‘s story this week, and I was so excited about how excited they were about it. When you write about someone else and their business, it can be a little nerve-wrecking. You are putting that person’s name out there, and it can be a truly amazing experience…or it can be horrible. Luckily, this was a particularly amazing experience. I also purchased this Valentines card from them, and I will continue supporting their business in the future. Because they’re awesome.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

meet the maker

And, finally. I got this package that I ordered from Wilderess, and I love everything about it. I got an apple scented 20 hr candle, two cinnamon chapsticks and they included a little tealight! It came with a cute little bag and was shipped with eco-friendly packaging.

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A Burts Bees devotee, I was a little weary of trying another chapstick, but I love these! And they’re less waxy. I’m definitely sticking with them. Sorry, Burt.

So, what did you love about this week? What did you get accomplished? Share in the comments and post a link to your blog if you have one! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest!

A Thrifty Project

Let me tell you a story about an old barn window. An old barn window that I got some time ago from my stepsister. An old barn window that all the glass fell out of, and I later learned that that glass was actually some kind of fancy antique glass. An old barn window that sat around and sat around, collecting dust and being passed up for more pressing projects. An old barn window that, after many paint jobs, sandings, and more paint jobs – has FINALLY been repurposed into a chalk/corkboard! YES!

Step 1: Procure old barn window

Step 1: Procure old barn window

First, I sanded this bad boy down before I could repaint it. I used an electric sander because it’s way easier than doing it by hand, and I like easier. If you are getting into restoration, invest in a sander! Or buddy up with someone who has one, like I do!

Step 2: Sand down procured window

Step 2: Sand down procured window

Obviously, I could have sanded it down completely, but that’s unnecessary. You just need it sanded down enough to paint another coat over it.

Then…I got the plywood from a home improvement store and had it cut there. I also got the backing there too, it was a thicker cardboard that could withstand being hung on the wall or any other beating it would take. I measured the plywood and painted half of it with chalkboard paint. The other half, I used spray mount to attach the corkpaper and the foamy backing.

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Note…I had to apply quite a few layers of chalk paint to get it thick enough to write on.

Then it sat around. Sat around while I completed all of my Christmas projects. Sat around while I laid on the couch, declaring that I was too tired after Christmas to work on anything for the next year or so. Sat around until I finally decided that I really wanted a cork/chalkboard and decided to finish it.

Raise your hand if you can see the gap

Raise your hand if you can see the gap

Here was one problem, though….the wood was too small and didn’t fit in the frame! There was a gap on one side! But my stubborn self decided that I would just put something over the gap to cover it. Now that it was time to put it all together… I found some old fabric that I loved and cut enough of it so it would cover the cork portion and I could pull it over to staple it to the back with a staple gun.

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Note: I used a craftsmart chalk pen, and to be honest….I’m not too excited about it. I’m going to look around for a better quality one. Please let me know if you know of any!

It was my first time ever using a staple gun (I think) and I loved it. I wanted to staple EVERYthing in the house! Then, I got over that feeling and continued. I stapled the wood to the frame so it would stay put, since it didn’t fit perfectly. Had it been measured correctly, I probably wouldn’t have needed to staple it down. Then I stapled the back on, and it’s done!

I’m waiting to attach a hanger to it so it can go up on the wall, or I might keep it on top of the dresser. Not sure yet. But I do know that I love it.

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What thrifty projects are you working on? Post a link in the comments and share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google + with the hashtag #staythrifty. You can also find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

My Homemade Manifesto

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When that big ol sparkly ball dropped, we rung in 2014 with our small family cuddled up on the couch. My boyfriend and I laughed at how different our New Years celebrations are than years past. Before, we spent it at a huge party or out at the bar. We waited an hour or more for a cab, and we were desperately searching for that New Years kiss. This year, we hugged our daughter tight and I had a glass of champagne and some champagne cupcakes, then pooped out at 12:01 am.

This got me thinking about how much my life has changed. When I used to eat take-out every single night, when I burned a pot of noodles attempting to make pasta and all those times I would hit up the all-hours Mexican food stand or when I went on that liquid diet. My friends are still amazed when I talk about cooking and baking, and I think everyone was in complete shock when I handed them homemade canned apple butter.

But to be honest, I’ve never been happier. Sure, there are days when I think about how easy it was to just focus and care about myself, but that’s just simply not my life anymore. It feels right that I put our little family before anyone and anything, and it feels nice to have a dinner at the dinner table every night. It’s boring, and that feels so good.

Last year, I focused a lot on living a homemade kind of life. Either making the stuff myself, or shopping locally or through indie businesses online. And this year is no different. I’m still working on living a self-sustainable life, and supporting small businesses when I can. I just want to take it a couple steps further. I want to really embrace it, and become more proactive. I want to make more connections with people who are doing the same thing, and find more creative outlets.

For me, I love making all of my food from scratch. First, I know how blessed I am to be a stay-at-home mom and I want to show my appreciation by making really good, whole food. It’s something I want to keep going when my daughter is old enough to eat with us. And I love it. I love the creative process, I love knowing that I know every single ingredient that went into our food and I love the joy I feel when my family truly enjoys their food. Not every dish is a hit, but they give me pointers and tell me what to add next time to make it perfect. Because this is all a learning process.

But, I want to take it one step further. I want to find food exchanges in my town, or heck – even create one. I want to continue finding new recipes to try, until I get to the point where I’m developing mine. I want to find friends who make their own beer and wine to have with our food (because mama still likes to unwind a little) and I want to find canning buddies.

I want to get my garden going again, and I want to go to the Farmers Markets and fruit stands when I need some produce. I’m not saying I won’t ever step into a grocery store again, but I want to minimize what I get. I want to share all of my DIY projects on here, and I want to decorate my house with other peoples labors of love, too. I want to buy all of my clothes from small businesses and secondhand stores. I want to take thrift store clothes and give them a little makeover. I want to learn how to sew.

In the end, I want to expand my homemade community. I want to share all of the things I make, and I want to know where to get everything else. I want to have a list of shops to visit for gifts, and I want people to visit my shop when they need a gift, whether it’s for them or someone else.

I want this blog to be centered around my explorations of local food and shops. Centered around the stuff I make at home and the people I meet who also make awesome stuff. Centered around my at-home yoga practice and health journey. Centered around how I am slowly learning to become domesticated and a good mama without losing myself in the process.

So, will you join me? Will you post photos and recipes of all your homemade food? Will you share your DIY projects and the sites (if any) that you got your inspiration from? Will you find a food swap and share your photos and experience? If you haven’t already started doing this, and you’re interested, then start slow. Start by making one homemade meal on a day that you are less busy, and start working on one craft per week. Follow blogs who are doing the same thing to get inspiration. I know I have a lot of posts on my blog about this very topic and I will be sharing more, so feel free to poke around.

Help build the homemade community more by using the hashtag #makestuff on all of your social media channels. Hate hashtags? Simply tag me, or link to this blog so I can see it. You can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.

My Creative Business Journey: A Manifesto

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For the last month or so, I have had big plans of what I would write in my New Years post. It was going to be a series, and I would be organized and have a lot of projects I would unveil and so on. But as it goes, life got in the way. And here I am, typing my final New Years post at 9:40 pm on New Years day. I’ve always done things a little whacky though, so this isn’t too far off.

I started my blog in 2012 and they say it takes two years for to run a successful business. When I started the blog, I never thought of it in the business mind. It was a fun way to share my adventures in becoming a new mom and a stay-at-home one, at that. Now that I have come to the realization that this could very well be a successful creative business, and it was this blog that sparked my idea of an online art collective, and it was through this blog that I found so many DIY projects that ultimately led to my other creative business, Sweet Mariposa, that I now run with one of my closest friends.

So, this is what I have planned for my creative business(es) this year:

  • Blog: While I do not see my blog as a “business” right now, it is where I plan to go. I have seriously given it some thought, and I know I could use this to do a lot more. Share more small businesses and stories of beautiful mamas who started their own businesses from a very small corner of their homes. Share more inspiration of how live a simple and healthy life. I am planning on getting some awesome sponsors this year, and promise to never accept profit or partnership with a company or person I don’t believe in.
  • Baby Burrito Collective: I really love where this is going. This year is all about getting more people involved, and promoting more. We just added a directory so now artists can list all of their services. Helping promote the work of my members gives me ideas of how I can promote my own work. I just love the idea of a collective – all working together to help each other achieve the same end result.
  • Sweet Mariposa: Finish all of my projects and list them. Get our Facebook going and pick a craft fair. Finally, I want to find a retail spot where we can set up shop. I’ll be moving soon so where I want to set up a space by where my friend lives, and one by where I will live. We’ll see where it goes from there.

With all that in mind, my creative business manifesto is to hustle. To take all promoting opportunities I can and to make things happen. I have all the tools I need – a supportive family, the flexibility in my schedule, and the motivation. Now I just need to put it all into motion and see where it will take me! Since nothing really came into fruition until 2013, I’m going to give me until 2015, and then I may have to move on – depending on where I am.

While I know every situation is different, and some businesses take longer than others to thrive, it’s not just about me. It’s about our family and everything I’m doing is to help support all of us. So, if it’s not working out, then it will have to be placed on hold until I am at a place where I can give it a go, again.

Have you set goals for your creative business this year? What’s your manifesto? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #creativebusinessjourney. Find more creative business inspiration on my Pinterest!

Weekly Wishes: New Years Edition

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I have given a lot of thought of what I want to accomplish next year. Goals I have made for myself, for my blog and for my two businesses. While I would love to blog and make stuff just for the pure fun of it, mama needs some money! And after applying to 20+ work-from-home jobs in the last couple weeks, I have determined that the only way I will make money is if I do it myself.

I figured this post would be the perfect way for me to share my goals and manifesto for 2014. I will be writing a health and business manifesto later this week, but this is my jump-start. This will cover all aspects of my life.

Goals for 2014:

  • Make at least $1,000/month
  • Make all of my food from scratch, eat clean. Get an awesome garden going
  • Learn to sew like a badass
  • Learn to knit on my own
  • Learn to screen print like a badass
  • Make a ton of candles
  • Start making my own graphics

How I will do it:

  • Start working on my projects and selling what I can. Work on getting sponsors on my blog and kick Baby Burrito Collective into high gear
  • Grocery shopping once a week and visiting farmers markets as often as I can. Make all the big stuff on Sundays and use it throughout the week. If I do eat out, choose food that is as clean as it gets. I have noticed how slumpy I get after eating poorly, and I don’t like it! I also need to work out and practice yoga at least one hour per day. Plant my garden before school starts so I can get all the hard work done before my life is dedicated to my homework.
  • Right now, I have so many sewing projects…that will the perfect way to start sewing! Then, I can do knitting, screen printing and candle making as the projects arise.
  • Work on one graphic/illustration per week. Tweak it until I love it. Then add it to my portfolio and start building on that.

So, my manifesto for this year is summed up in one word: DO. Stop thinking about everything I want and need to do, and just DO. Let go of anything that is holding me back from achieving my goals and just DO them. I will either succeed or fail, and that is all dependent on me.

What are your goals for 2014? Do you write them in a journal and keep them to yourself or do you share them? If you choose to post your goals online, please share the link in the comments and if you’re social, share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. You can connect with the Weekly Wishes link-up on The Nectar Collective.