Oh, hello again!

I know I have been pretty quiet around here for the last few weeks, but I have some really good news to share! And that will also explain why I haven’t written much lately. We found out last month that we’re expecting again! Cecilia’s little brother or sister will be due in January, and I must admit that the first trimester has been rather rough.

925495_252536484947289_1641411222_nThere are also some other things growing around here! While many of my plants have fallen victim to the triple digit heat around here, my zucchini and tomatoes are still hanging in there! I will need to get some more soil for one of my garden plants, and replace the basil and some of my pepper plants.

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Zucchini buds sprouting!

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Little baby tomatoes!

IMG_2401 IMG_2403Since I’m lucky enough to have a few months off school, I have been lounging around my house and eating when I can, while everything else has sort of been pushed to the side. But dang it – I needed some rest! Now that I’m feeling better, it’s time to get back into my groove while the gettin’s good.

There are some projects that I want to finish before school starts again in August, and I wanted to share them with you so there was some sort of accountability:

  • Finish painting house
  • Fix faucet
  • Fix light fixtures
  • Put faceplates back on all outlets
  • Restore Cecilia’s bookshelf
  • Change window coverings
  • Work on backyard garden – get soil, change out dead plants, fill old planters
  • Work on front yard – pull weeds, change out plants
  • Clean out craft room – move to back house, transform room into nursery
  • Clean and organize Cecilia’s room
  • Paint kitchen table

I realize there’s a lot there, but I’m giving myself (and any nice family and friends I have) two months to get it done. I realize there will be small projects here and there, but I want the major stuff done so I won’t be going crazy during school and the last few months of my pregnancy.

I mean…summer cleaning is a thing, right?

What projects are you working on over this summer? Share your projects and progress in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! I will be sharing updates on all my projects as I work on them!

Momma’s Garden Project: Round 2

garden projectMy garden is back in action! With the big move taking every ounce of our attention, my garden was put on hold until we were settled in and the beds were moved from Stockton. Luckily, I have a green thumb of a dad and he came over last Saturday and helped me put the garden boxes in, pick out my plants and get everything planted.

SONY DSCRight now, we have four tomato plants, six pepper plants, two basil plants, four zucchini plants, a lavender plant and some beautiful flowers. All the plants seem to be doing fine, except for the basil and rosemary. Apparently I got a little sloppy with the basil and it wasn’t put all the way into the soil (whoooops), so my dad helped me fix that up a little and now we’re back in action! Except for the rosemary….

BASSSSILLLLL!!! So much pesto to be made...

BASSSSILLLLL!!! So much pesto to be made…

SONY DSC SONY DSC

Zucchini plants!

Zucchini plants!

Pepper plant

Pepper plant

TOMATOES!

TOMATOES!

You can already see it flowering...

You can already see it flowering…

Poor, poor lavender

Poor, poor lavender

Basil and pepper plants

Basil and pepper plants

Zucchini!

Zucchini!

This round already feels easier to maintain because it’s my second go-round, and it’s right in my backyard, where we spend a lot of time anyway. And I love that I can look out at it from my bedroom window. It’s a lovely view and a daily reminder that I need to keep it looking pretty so I’m not ashamed every time I look out there!

I’m looking forward to watching my second garden grow, and enjoying its bounty. There is still some more stuff I want to plant in all of the random planters we have around here, but for now…this is perfect. I just hope it can withstand a one-and-a-half year-old and a chocolate lab.

Have you started your garden? If so, what are you planting? Share your progress with me in the comments and if you have a blog, share the link so I can check it out! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest if you want more updates and photos of my garden!

My Healthy Journey

SONY DSCLast Wednesday, something kind of miraculous happened. I set my alarm for 8 am and I actually woke up to it! Didn’t hit the snooze button, no lying in bed listening to my alarm’s rampage – I simply just got up and put my workout clothes on. I jumped on the Wii Fit and was immediately reminded that it had been 183 days since the little Wii dude last saw me. Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m here again…punk.

After it weighed me – and confirmed my suspicions that I gained weight – it was back to the grind. Since then, I’ve gotten up every morning (sometimes a little later than 8 am, not going to lie) and did some sort of exercise before Cecilia rises. She’s a party animal and goes to sleep at midnight and wakes up around 9 or 10 am. And it is kind of nice to have a couple hours of alone time before the beautiful insanity begins.

I worked out a little schedule where I could fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day:

  • Monday: Wii Fit
  • Tues: Bodyweight Exercise
  • Wed: Wii Fit
  • Thurs: Bodyweight
  • Fri: Yoga
  • Sat: Walk around the park with Cecilia
  • Sun: Yard duty (that is truly a workout)

It has felt really good to finally get in a groove and get back in the kitchen. Those couple weeks of fast food and pizza while moving really effected us in a weird way. I’ve been using this workout for my bodyweight days and it totally kicks my butt. I know it’s not completely all bodyweight, but that’s what I’m calling it.

I also downloaded a basic shopping list from The Gracious Pantry and I’m challenging myself to use up all the produce we have here before buying new stuff so nothing goes to waste. I’m also challenging myself to add an extra exercise every week. Since I accomplished 30 minutes a day last week, this week I’m adding 15 minutes of morning yoga.

I have ten pounds until my goal weight. That’s when I’m going to go through all my old clothes one last time to see what I can keep and what I totally need to just let go. Because I have zero plans to get under 130 lbs.

Thank you for hanging out with me while I’m on this journey to good health. I’ll be sharing awesome workouts and recipes I find as I go, and post one last update when I hit my goal. If you are also on a healthy journey and want to compare notes and trade tips, share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest!

For the love of: Vintage Carnival room decor

Clearly, I’m more excited about decorating Cecilia’s room than any other room in the house. I don’t think that should be any surprise though, little kids’ rooms are so much fun! I’m sticking with the Vintage Carnival theme and I have found some really cute stuff to put in her room. The only thing…this stuff is expensive!

I do agree that it’s hard for a lot of these small businesses to stay afloat because everyone is going the DIY route, and I do also agree that artists should be compensated for the craftsmanship that goes into their work. I am in no way saying that their prices are not deserved, I just don’t have that kind of money. There are some things that I just cannot make, and for those…I will be happy to shell out some bucks when I have extra bucks to shell out.

Ok, rant over. Here are some of the awesome things I found to adorn my little baby’s abode.

Vintage Carnival Room Decor1. Vintage Circus Toy Chest from Rosenberry Rooms – Has anyone heard of Rosenberry Rooms before? I just started seeing things pop up from the site, and it looks pretty cool. It’s all high-end furniture for kids so if you can afford it…go for it! And while this chest from Art for Kids may be a little out of my price range at $2000, it has inspired me to create my own chest for Cecilia, either be repurposing an old one or starting from scratch.

2. I know fabric bunting has been over and over again, but I’ve always been a little late to the party. I would love to do this over her crib, maybe even do several strands throughout her room. Some strands could have photos on them. Fun! This banner from Starlit Nest is sold out, but she has a lot of cute stuff in her shop.

3. So, here’s something I probably won’t be able to recreate for a while, and it’s in my price range. BOOM! This Carnival Nursery print from ScarlettElla is $8 for a 4×6 and of course, as the size goes up – so does the price. She also sells a set of nine of Carnival Nursery prints for $50.

4. I love this Marquee letter “C” and luckily, I happen to know (and live with) an amazing welder, who would probably make it or teach me how to weld if I begged him enough. This inspiration has come from Gilt who has a 24″ one going for $154, if you are inclined.

What are you loving this week? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter!

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.

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!

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