Monday Inspiration

Monday Inspiration

Whenever I’m feeling down and out, I always find a little light when I log in to my social media sites and see all the wonderful things people are doing. Whether it’s making a new recipe from scratch, finishing a long-time project or visiting an amazing city, there is always something to lift my spirits.

And then it hit me. While I wholeheartedly encourage seeking inspiration from others when you are feeling overwhelmed or just plain out of it, why aren’t I looking inside myself for inspiration? Why aren’t I amazing myself? I could do all of these things (aside from traveling, that will just have to wait), I just need to make time for them. So what’s my excuse?

I will have to say, I did make a few meals from scratch last week, and we were able to eat leftovers throughout the week. But then by Friday, it all came to a halt. I got exhausted and just couldn’t push myself to create. So I’ve gone over what was bothering me, what made me feel so uninspired, and I made a list of how to fix it. I absolutely love making lists. I don’t always follow them, but I do love to make them.

Image from Huffington Post. Lots of good positive mantras in that post.

Image from Huffington Post. Lots of good positive mantras in that post.

Then I made myself a daily schedule and now I’m working on a weekly meal plan. It’s all totally boring stuff and I feel sort of silly writing about it on my blog. But it’s a part of life and I can pretty much guarantee I’m not the only one who has felt like this. So while I don’t want to write out every detail, here is what I have planned out:

  • Write daily. Whether it’s on my blog or in my little journal, just write.
  • Cook something new and fun when I can. Find new recipes and experiment a little. Mix it up a bit. Share what I cook online.
  • Work out 30 minutes a day and practice yoga at least once a day. It’s insane how much energy I get from working out, and I always feel invigorated after doing yoga. These simple things change everything, but I never make time for them.
  • Set aside 4-6 hrs a day for school work, depending on what I have. Turn everything off so I just have that to concentrate on. Of course I will take time for baby breaks, but that’s it.
  • Schedule more Pampered Chef parties and start selling more of my stuff online
  • An hour a day on creative art stuff. It’s something that I love doing, but never give myself the time to do it.

I got inspired to work on this list after I read a little something from Danny J – who runs The Sweaty Betties – about not making any more excuses and making goals and sticking to them. So I hope I can inspire someone as well. I’m going to turn this into a little self-spring cleaning. Spring cleaning of the soul, maybe?

Share any of our Monday inspiration in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google +. I plan on sharing more of what inspires me and makes me happy in my own daily life.

*Photo of beautiful flowers from Pretty Stuff – by Patterson Maker

Meet the Maker: Kate Payne

meet the makerSometime last year, I was virtually introduced to Kate Payne, the author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. I don’t remember how the introduction occurred, but from the moment I visited her website, I’ve been hooked. I was so hooked that I purchased her book last November, and I love reading it in the little snippets of free time that I get.

I’m hoping to put a lot of her homemaking tips to use when we get our house, so I will do a full review of the book then. But for now – I just want to share her amazing story.

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Before this book, Kate was what she calls “a flashy cook” – cooking food that would excite, but was not necessary by any means. She has also donned titles such as grant writer, half-assed homemaker, nanny, after-hours poet, doodler and gardener. She studied anthropology and sociology in the Sonoran Desert and once worked on an organic tomato farm.

Kate started the blog in 2009, when she was living in a ground floor apartment in Brooklyn, NY. She wasn’t making the money she was used to, but she still wanted the comforts of home. She dug inside for a little creativity and improvisation, and there the blog - and subsequently the book - were born.

“I started the blog specifically with the intent to write a book. The blog was a sort of sounding board for me to see if what I was thinking about writing was of interest to anyone besides me. I was not a blog reader at the time and my background in grant writing didn’t factor much into my blogging endeavors. I think the rigors of writing well–proofreading, syntax, punctuation, grammar, etc.–should go into any style of writing one does, whether it’s books, blog posts, magazine articles, or grants. “

She decided to write a book because she felt like there wasn’t enough resources out there for women who weren’t so hip on homemaking and keeping a clean house. Aside from that, she found herself questioning if it was normal for a modern, empowered woman like herself to actually enjoy the domestic life.

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

“The stigma and history surrounding women and domesticity fueled my intrigue in exploring my own relationship with the kitchen and household chores. With my book and approach I hope to shed a new light on DIY and eco-oriented homemaking. We all need somewhere to call home and shifting our attitude toward our homes is a good first step.

I’m of the opinion that you should pick and choose what you do yourself based on what you actually like doing, and then dedicate money you save there on quality items or services you don’t particularly enjoy. What makes the most sense for certain people to do themselves, doesn’t make sense for others. “

On top of maintaining her blog and writing her books, Kate also writes grants part-time for a nonprofit and maintains a quarterly column for Edible Austin. She works with her Marketing Coordinator Christina Valentine on the blog, tour event planning and managing workshop preparations. And because that is clearly not enough, she also works with a local farmers market group and helps maintain their website and social media.

“Freelancing means I’m working nearly all the time, but working on things I feel passionately about makes it worth it. I always carve out time to eat dinner with my wife, who does most of the sustenance cooking around our house. (I manage the fermenting, canning, desserts, ice cream and bread making, the projects we love, but can ultimately live without.)”

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate started canning in 2009 and peach jam was among her first projects, which she was afraid to eat because she was terrified the jars were full of botulism. She also made a triple citrus marmalade, from Eugenia Bone’s book Well Preserved.

“As I endeavored to learn more about canning, I soon discovered that all the hype surrounding your imminent death by canning was not really likely if you followed USDA-approved canning methods and practices. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for beginners.”

A self-taught cook, she gets a lot of her recipe inspiration from Joy of Cooking and many of her gluten-free recipes will start from there and from pastry chef David Lebovitz. She will then make the recipes gluten free-friendly by substituting the flour for a flour blend based on what she is making. As for her preserving projects and recipes, she’s inspired by Linda Ziedrich, Eugenia Bone and Sandor Katz.

She and her friend started the Food Swap Network, which provides hosts and attendees with a bevy of resources and information. Existing swaps that are registered on their site are searchable for anyone nearby who wants to join the fun.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate’s new book The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen comes out next month and is available for pre-order now. She says it will be in the same style and format as her freshman book – it will just focus completely on the kitchen, which really is a world of its own.

“I took over the cooking for the year I wrote the book as evidence that even someone like me who doesn’t enjoy daily sustenance cooking can reasonably and affordably incorporate cooking into their busy lifestyle.”

She hopes people will just simply focus on doing their best, and will relax when they hit the learning curve that comes with working on new projects. And as for the best compliment she’s received:

“A single mom told me how she’s never had time for any household things, but my book and small-batch preserving recipes on the blog inspired her to try doing some kitchen projects with her daughter. They now spend more time together cooking and canning, which means the world to her.”

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Kate will be kicking off her HGGK Book Tour (hooray!) on May 24 in Ann Arbor, MI and the tour will close in Albuquerque, NM on July 1. I have listed the dates and locations of her book tour, and you can also see her full classes, demos and signings schedule by visiting her at katepayne.net.

      • May 24 – Ann Arbor, MI: Literati Bookstore, time TBD
      • May 27 – Austin, TX: BookPeople 7:00pm
      • May 28 – Houston, TX: Blue Willow Bookshop, 7:00pm
      • May 29 – Brooklyn, NY: Greenlight Bookstore, 7:30pm
      • June 13 – Tucson, AZ: Antigone Books, 7:00pm
      • June 17 – La Jolla, CA: Warwick’s, 7:30pm
      • June 23 – Seattle, WA: Book Larder, 6:30pm
      • June 28 – San Francisco, CA: Omnivore Books, 3:00pm
      • June 30 – Phoenix, AZ: Changing Hands Bookstore, 7:00pm
      • July 1 – Albuquerque, NM: Bookworks, 7:00pm

You can find Kate Payne by visiting her on The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking website, you can find neat stuff in her store and you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. If you know an awesome maker who would be perfect for this series, please leave a link in the comments, share on my social media or e-mail it to me!

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.

Thrifty finds

I think the men of Creedence Clearwater Revival were clearly underestimating the amount of thrift stores in Lodi when they wrote the song Stuck in Lodi Again. I’ve been so spoiled by all of the good prices here, that I have a hard time thrifting in Sacramento because everything is so overpriced. There are so many good stores, and I will have to remember to get photos of them all.

It was actually during a thrifting excursion when my friend Kandyce and I were talking about how much we both love taking trash and turning it into something awesome that we decided to start Sweet Mariposa together. Now when we get together, that’s what we do. Go grab some lunch in Lodi and thrift around town. It has become one of my favorite rituals.

During our last trip, we hit up our two favorite shops – Lodi Junction and New & Again.

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  • I got a 1st Edition Farm House Book that  at New and Again for a $1 and it has a lot of good tips for self-sufficiency, canning and a whole bunch of recipes.
  • I got the embroidered hat box for a $3 at Lodi Junction, and I have completely fallen in love with it. Kandyce and I decided we’re going to keep it and use it to transport our stuff when we attend craft fairs and whatnot.
  • I got two tote bags for $1 each and I’m planning on screen printing something on them. Not sure what yet, though.
  • The records were 6 for $5 and I got some good ones – Johnny Mathis, Babs, Sound of Music. Not sure if I’m going to collect them or sell them. I already have so many records and I’m sure it’s giving Sam an ulcer. So I might have to sell.

So, I got all of that for $10. Kandyce got some stuff at Lodi Junction, so our total came to $15, and we got $5 off that with a coupon. It’s kind of amazing.

Did you score any good thrifts lately? Share them in the comments and on your social media sites with the hashtag #staythrifty. I love sharing good deals! And as always, stay thrifty my friends.

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!

Why I loved this week

Untitled-1You are the company you keep. I have heard those words over and over again in my life. If your friends are truly a reflection of you who are as a person, you should be particular about who you choose. I can easily pinpoint phases in my life by the people I chose to hang out with. There are a couple people whose friendship carried over to now, and I can literally count them on one hand.

This also holds true in the online world, too. When I first got pregnant, I added and followed just about every mama blog on the planet, without giving it much thought. Then slowly but surely, I started weeding blogs and people out. Not that they weren’t lovely in their own right, but they weren’t right for me. I made a decision to be more particular about who I follow on social media and to keep it to inspiring people who motivated me to keep my creative dreams alive.

Because I made this adjustment, it’s really easy for me to find things I love to write about. There is always something creative, something meaningful and something wholehearted.

Found this awesome Illustration from Lisa Congdon today. How perfect

Found this awesome Illustration from Lisa Congdon today. How perfect

Here is what made me happy this week:

Photo from Design*Sponge

Photo from Design*Sponge

I love Design*Sponge not only because it’s such an amazing resource for beginner and advanced crafters alike, but also because of the topics they cover. When I first got into this site, I found a column called Biz Ladies, where they share biz lady profiles and also tips for ladies running the biz. Now, they just started a new column, Veterans and Startups, where they feature one veteran and one startup company in the same niche. This week, the focus was coffee. Grace posted the interview with Heartbreak Coffee (the startup) and followed it up with an interview with Intelligentsia Coffee (the veteran).

Photo from The Mombot

Photo from The Mombot

When I saw this today, it spoke to me. I am super blessed to have a DSLR, but I have not a clue how to use it. I’ve read photography tips here and there, and I am learning Photoshop through my design school, but I don’t have all the time in the world to mess with it. I would love to take beautiful shots from the get-go, and not have to worry so much about all of the editing. My usual problems are lighting and focus, so it would be awesome to get some tips. Not only does Amy hope  to motivate you to use your camera every day, she’s also sharing tips from her professional photography contributors, like Candace Moss of Mom and Pop Photo School, who is also hosting a giveaway on Mombot on Jan 20!

Photo from The Day Book

Photo from The Day Book

I loved this essay on blogging from The Day Book, it all felt so real and actually inspired me to start expressing myself more in each post I write. It also got me thinking about how I immediately assume that every other blogger is living this amazing life, where they have cupcakes every morning for breakfast, get new, free clothes shipped to them daily and they just craft all afternoon. Nobody does that (unless you do…then I want to meet you and be your best friend). We all have crappy days. And we all have amazing days. We all have meltdowns. And moments of pure bliss. Because, we’re all human.

This week was the week for inspiring essays because Joy from Oh Joy shared her thoughts and goals for 2014, and my girl Grace was on point with this essay on mindfulness.

What did you love about this week? Any good crafts, recipes, interviews and/or essays you want share? Post the link in the comments and share on your social media sites. This is how we get an awesome community going, by sharing all the beauty we find. And if you are feeling bogged down, take a minute to think about what you’re looking at.

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.

My Healthy Life: A Manifesto

my healthy life

Before writing this post, I thought I would revisit what I wrote around this time last year. I had just signed up for Weight Watchers again, and had already lost close to 20 lbs since having my baby (she was a month old at the time – crazy to imagine, eh). Since then, I have made some major changes.

While Weight Watchers totally kicked my butt into gear and helped me learn from the food and activity choices I was making, I have opted for a complete lifestyle change and ultimately chose a route where I wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee to be told how to eat. I also was not completely behind the idea where you get count points based on caloric intake – tricking people into believing that diet food is healthier for you, when it can often be worse.

I don’t want to focus on consuming diet food, but rather consuming food that is real, whole, good for you and delicious. My healthy goals for this year are to: workout for 30 minutes per day, practice yoga for 30 minutes a day and cook all of our meals from scratch. Sure, there will be times where we go out to eat. I am in no way perfect when it comes to my diet, and I think 99% of people can agree with that. But I will be more conscious when I do go out to eat. That’s all you gotta do. Be conscious.

I also want to focus more on remixing recipes by substituting good, healthy ingredients where they are needed and I will continue sharing my concoctions with you.

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In case you are also resolving to get more fitness and healthy food in your life for the next year, here are a few websites that really helped me last year:

  • Greatist: This is one of the first websites I got into when I started this health kick. I attempted many a health challenge through Greatist, and while I barely ever stuck with them – I learned a lot and I love how proactive and fun the writers are. They actually created Renew Year, where they post new challenges each morning and you share on Twitter when you complete the challenge with the hashtag #healthyishappy. I love it!
  • The Gracious Pantry – This is by far one of my favorite sites and has truly motivated me to keep eating real and good food. Her recipes are all clean and she has good ones! My family loves every recipe I make…and that is really saying a lot. Because they hate anything with the word healthy in it.
  • DoYouYoga.com – I love this yoga site, and I love Erin Motz. She always makes yoga practice fun, and they’re always adding new videos. She has really inspired me to pursue a yoga instructor certification, and that is one of my goals now.
  • Fitness Blender – I found this couple through YouTube, and I love their workouts. They’re quick, but get the job done. They also do different challenges that you can join in, and they often post videos talking about nutrition and health – which I love. It’s not about being skinny for them, it’s about being healthy.

While you may not be on your A-game all the time, as long as you are eating good food and remaining active, you’ll be fine. I promise.  Let’s do this not to be skinny – let’s do it to be healthy. Most of all, let’s DO IT.

Have you made a resolution to be more healthy in 2014? Did you write about it? Share your link in the comments and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #myhealthylife. You can also find more healthy inspiration on my Pinterest. Cheers to healthy and happy new year!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Today’s post is dedicated to my most favorite thing that happened this week – I won the Handmade Winter e-book giveaway from the Creative Mamas Collective through Maker Mama!

Photo from Creative Mamas Collective

Photo from Creative Mamas Collective

This e-book is 92 pages of awesome. There are ideas for books for all ages, drink and food recipes, party ideas and crafting tutorials. Not only that, but the book also includes a few prompts for starting meaningful traditions with your family during the holiday season and continuing through the year.

So, for books….

Photo from Harper Collins Childrens

Photo from Harper Collins Childrens

They not only offer ideas for books like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, that we all know and love. But they also offer book ideas for some books that I have never heard of before – like Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson – that look incredibly awesome and I can’t wait to get for my little one. When you click on the Harper Collins link or the photo above, you can choose to buy from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and you can also click on the Indie Bound link that allows you to search for indie bookstores in your area. Score!

Photo from Rajovilla

Photo from Rajovilla

There are also recipes for making wonderfully delicious authentic Warm Masala Chai like the drink pictured above from Rajovilla. I remember when I had my first chai, and I immediately fell in love with the spice and how warm it made me feel. It’s perfect for after dinner when you want something warm to drink but you’re not about staying up all night. It never occurred to me that I could make my own chai and now I’m on the hunt for of all of the ingredients – and the strainer!

There are several other dessert recipes, including Gingerbread Crinkle Snowflake Cookies from Simple as That and Gingerbread Ice Cream from Things for Boys. Wait, hold the phone. Gingerbread Ice Cream?! I think I might be in love.

Photo from My Life at Playtime

Photo from My Life at Playtime

Have you ever heard of a Favorite Things Party? I had not until I saw the idea from Deborah at My Life at Playtime in the e-book. There is a set dollar limit (she uses $10 but that’s really up to you) per item, and each person brings three of their favorite items. Everyone writes their names on three pieces of scrap paper and puts them in the hat. You then pick names and each person passes out one gift to the person who picked their name. You can make each party themed, too. There is more information in the book and you can read about Deborah’s experience by clicking on the link or photo above.

You can learn how to make awesome crafts, like leather and chain jewelry from Small and Friendly, chalkboard imagination blocks from Classic Play and Polymer Clay Vases and Placeholders from Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! too! And for you crafty ladies you know your way around a sewing machine, there are PLENTY of sewing tutorials, too!

Finding new tutorials and ideas are amazing. But more than that, I love getting these collaborative books because I find bloggers and makers that I have never seen anything from before, or maybe someone that I have come across but never actually saw their stuff. It also reminds me of bloggers that I have followed for a while and sparks something new.

I learned about the Creative Mamas Collective during my usual stalking of Maker Mama. If I counted correctly, there are 21 collaborators in this book, and over 50 DIY ideas. The book is $15 and it’s my understanding that you get it immediately after your purchase. Could be the perfect gift for a crafty someone in your life, or you could use the ideas for last-minute handmade gifts and party ideas! Join the Creative Mamas Collective by following them on Pinterest and following and posting #creativemamas on Facebook and Instagram.

What are your favorite things that happened this week? Any new finds you want to share? Post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+ with the hashtag #fridayfavorites. Find more of my favorite inspiration on Pinterest! Now, back to gift making and wrapping!

Thrifty Thursdays: Holiday edition

thrifty thursdays

With Christmas a little less than three weeks away, I thought I would share some thrifty ways to gift for the holidays. There are a few gifts I’m making at home (some of which I can’t share in case the recipient is reading), and I wanted to help you also maintain your budget while creating thoughtful gifts this year.

For one, I will be utilizing my brand spankin new pressure canner this year, and already have requests for some apple butter. I was thinking of also adding pumpkin butter to the mix (because, why not) and some hot sauce. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Photo from My Baking Addiction

Photo from My Baking Addiction

Homemade Apple Butter from My Baking Addiction – I made this recipe a little over a month ago, and it was a huge hit. So huge, that everyone is asking for some for Christmas. I also used it to make apple oatmeal cookies and you can read my recipe on Today’s Mama here. Need some labels? I found cute, free holiday printables at Over the Big Moon and the From Scratch Club.

Photo from See Kate Sew

Photo from See Kate Sew

Pumpkin Butter Recipe with Free Printable from See Kate Sew – Now, I haven’t tried this one, so I can’t vouch for how wonderful it is – but I’m sure it will knock my socks off. Not everyone in my family loves pumpkin like I do; some just downright despise it (you know who you are), but for the ones that do – this will be the perfect gift!

I would highly recommend using a pressure canner if you are going to give out any canned goods, just to be on the safe side. If you don’t have a canner, make sure to write that their goods should only last about a week or so in the fridge, so they will want to eat them quickly (which I’m sure they will have no problem doing).

Now maybe you have some mason jars lying around (or you know you can get them for cheap at The Dollar Store, secondhand stores and even Michael’s), but you don’t feel like canning anything. You can also create cute cookie mix jars by just adding the dry ingredients and writing the full recipe on a cute piece of paper. You can also step up your game and write the recipe on a ceramic cookie jar in permanent marker, then bake it.

Photo from Domestikated Life

Photo from Domestikated Life

Handmade Holidays: Cookie Mix from Domestikated Life – Kate grabbed a recipe off a bag of Tollhouse Chocolate Chips, added the dry ingredients to a jar, wrote out the recipe and prettied it up with some Martha Stewart labels she got. You can use also use any of the labels I linked to above, as well. You can also choose any cookie recipe you want, just make sure you don’t add any liquid ingredients, as that would sort of be a disaster.

What are your favorite homemade holiday gifts that you can make in your kitchen? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also share them on any social media channel with the hashtags #thriftythursday, #homemadefortheholidays #whatimgifting. Find more homemade holiday inspiration on my Pinterest! Have an idea you want to see here? Let me know!