Yo Momma Monday: Tiffany McCauley of The Gracious Pantry

yo momma mondayAfter I had Cecilia, I got really interested in clean eating and living a clean lifestyle and one of my biggest inspirations was The Gracious Pantry. Tiffany’s recipes were simple, easy to follow, I didn’t have to search endlessly in a health food store for the ingredients and best of all – they were good! I was even able to trick my boyfriend into eating healthy. I learned about cooking from scratch from her website, and it forced me to slow down a little in the kitchen.

This is why I’m so happy to feature Tiffany in this week’s Yo Momma Monday!

Tiffany, 40, lives in Sonoma County with her son, whom she lovingly calls “Mini Chef” in her Facebook posts and recipes. She became a stay-at-home-mom soon after she found out she was pregnant, as her difficult pregnancy did not allow her to work much. She and her then husband had already planned on raising their son on their own, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

“The balancing act is always something I struggle with. The truth is, if you are giving your full attention to work, you will be lacking something in your mothering. And if you give your full attention to mothering, you will be lacking something in your work. So it really is a juggling act.

I think the most important thing you can do is forgive yourself for coming up short every once in a while. While most moms like to think they can do it all, it just isn’t humanly possible to actually do it all. So you have to focus on doing your best and forgiving the rest.”

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany is a self-taught cook who says the most valuable lesson she could pass down to a beginning cook is that burning your dinner is not the end of the world. She assures that just because you burned it one time doesn’t mean you’ll burn it again. “You can’t give up because of one mistake,” she says.

“I also learned that when you start out with making a casserole and end up with soup, you don’t throw it away, you have soup for dinner! Cooking is a very creative thing. It’s an ongoing experiment. Evolve with the food you make instead of trying to make the food conform. You never know, you might end up with a new family favorite!”

Now that she is comfortable in the kitchen, she heavily involves her son in cooking, and says that she never questioned whether or not he would cook.

“And I think that is the very reason he loves doing it. It’s not a matter of teaching your kids something they already like, it’s a matter of teaching them to like something they absolutely must do to survive. Showing them that cooking can be fun. After all, the memories made in the kitchen just can’t be made anywhere else.

It’s really just a process of getting your kids involved with the everyday functioning of your life. They are definitely their own people, but when you function as a family unit, everyone needs to contribute in some way. Making time in the kitchen a regular thing is important. And I have found that most kids naturally gravitate towards cooking. They love learning about food and how to prepare it. It’s usually a naturally fun thing for them to do. You just have to present it the right way, and set things up so it’s not intimidating for them. 
 
For my little guy, that involved a stepping stool so he could reach the counter, an age-appropriate knife with careful supervision, and apron that was just for him, and even a special pig spatula that he got to pick out at the store himself. When you set kids up to succeed in the kitchen, you’ll find very little, if any, resistance.”
 
Kid-Friendly YoNuggets

Kid-Friendly YoNuggets / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany realizes the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and she says our society has become incredibly removed  from the very thing that sustains us.
 
“I’m finding that many grown adults these days were raised on boxed and packaged food from a freezer or on food that came through a drive-thru window. I know kids today who get three meals a day from a fast food restaurant. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it.

 
I think that teaching kids about food is the most important gift we can give them. Because it not only empowers them to feed themselves and their own families some day, but it also gives them power over their own health. Anybody who has health problems can tell you how important that is. Particularly when the life expectancy of our children is now getting shorter instead of longer. All you have to do is step back and take a look at the bigger picture where the health of our country is concerned to see why teaching our kids about real food is so critical.
 
Gone are the days when we could “trust” a large food corporation. And I would argue that those days never really existed. Because if you really dive into food politics at all, you’ll see that the stuff they label as “food” is actually very far from it. Our bodies were meant to run on food. Not food-like products. So it’s easy to see why health can go downhill so fast when you are not giving your body the fuel it needs.”
 
Tiffany talks a lot in her blog about how she dealt with body image problems through much of her life, something she learned from her mother. She says that the hardest thing is to not pass those problems down to her own child.
 
Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

“It’s a constant struggle and sometime I fail miserably. When you have been raised to view your body a certain way, it’s a very difficult thing to change. Sometimes it feels impossible. I don’t think I’ll ever really get past it completely, but I am learning to respect my body for the things it does every day and appreciate it for what it can do.
 
I mean, this body of mine made an entire human being. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!! But I do still struggle with body image. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, no matter how much I try to show it respect. I think becoming a mom has simply made me far more aware of how badly I can put myself down sometimes. Not wanting to pass that on to my child has been a huge motivation for me to overcome this.”
 
For Tiffany, the biggest change she noticed after adapting clean eating to her lifestyle was how clear her skin was.
 
“I also lost some weight and started to feel much better. I noticed I actually felt full after a meal instead of wanting more and more food. I later understood that it was because my body was actually getting the nutrients it needed. I chose this lifestyle because I believe that real food is the answer to many problems we face today. My own personal eating plan is constantly evolving to suit my needs, but it’s always based on real food.”
 
Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Before The Gracious Pantry, she had several other blogs, so she know she loved the blogging process. With this site, she wanted to track her own progress and share recipes she created.
 
“The best part about the blogging community is how small it really is. There may be a million blogs out there, but the community itself has sort of a “small town” feel to it. Once you start to grow, you get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you.”
 
Since starting The Gracious Pantry, Tiffany has also wrote a cookbook, which she says was a long and difficult process, but one that is filled with creativity and passion, one she equates with giving birth.
 
“You work really hard, sweat some, cry some, spend a lot of money, and in the end, you have this wonderful, amazing thing you can hold in your hands. You forget all about the difficult stuff and can’t wait to do it again! And at the end of the day, you are doing something you love and something you hope that others will love as well.”
 
Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

She posts every other day without fail, because she wants to show people the endless variety of dishes they can make with real food. She wants people to learn that real food is delicious and to not be afraid of the kitchen. She also hopes people will learn that their health really will improve when they focus on real food and that cooking food does not have to take a lot of time, or money.
 
“The best compliments I get are the ones where people tell me that their lives/health/bodies have improved since they started cooking with my recipes. I think that sort of compliment is the most validating thing a health blogger could ever ask for.”
 
Her favorite recipe on her blog is the plum torte, and while she never posts a recipe that she does not like, she has had some fails – like a low carb brownie recipe that she is still working on. As for her favorite blogs and magazines, she likes iBlog Magazine and Will Write for Food.
 
“I tend to gravitate towards the blogs with the magazine quality photos. Really great photos are something I aspire to.”
 
Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious  Pantry

Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Now that Tiffany is in culinary school, she would like to host a cooking show in the future and to continue writing more books. “I’d also love to start teaching healthy cooking classes to kids. I’ve taught one or two and they are just so much fun,” she says. Her biggest advice for people who are beginning a clean eating lifestyle is simple: take it slow.
 
“Take it one meal at a time. Realize you WILL make mistakes. But the secret in success is using those mistakes. If you throw in the towel every time you goof up, you’ll never stick to anything. Using those mistakes to learn. A mistake isn’t the end of the world and it shouldn’t be the end of your healthy endeavors. Just keep at it. Success is found in perseverance. Come back to it again and again, no matter how badly you mess up.”
 
You can find out more about Tiffany and her recipes by visiting The Gracious Pantry. And for all you awesome moms out there, I still have two spaces left for a Yo Momma Monday feature so drop me a comment and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Print Therapy

meet the maker

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

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

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

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

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 Recipe

my healthy life

Last week, I decided to try the Vegetarian Lentil Soup that I shared from Relishing It. Turns out, I didn’t have all the ingredients listed in the recipe. Also, I might have forgotten that I needed to cook the dry lentils before adding them to the soup, which led to quite the experiment in lentil extraction. Needless to say, I had to improvise a little. And the soup turned out good. So good, in fact, that I decided to share my version of the recipe with you.

image

  • 2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed – let’s not revisit the lentil mishap
  • 2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed – (1) 16.5 oz can of kidney beans – don’t drain it
  • 2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed – (1) 16.5 oz can of black beans – again, don’t drain
  • (1) 16.5 oz can of pinto beans – you catch my drift
  • 4 potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of carrots – chopped
  • 2 celery stalks – chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)
  • 1 heaping cup frozen corn – (1) 16.5 oz can of corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • handful of spinach
  • scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

The taco seasoning recipe is below. After all the lentil drama, I was pretty beat. So, I did a few shakes of:

  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • allspice
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

You can find the entire recipe by visiting Relishing It here. I did not use a dutch oven – just a regular soup pot. I threw the potatoes and carrots in first, since they take the longest, and I threw everything else in as I chopped it. I also topped mine with fresh avocado…which of course was perfect…because it’s avocado. We decided that, again, it could use a little more of a kick so I will add some chilli peppers next time. We also reheated it up today and threw in a cup of rice to add a little variety to it. Few days later, and it was still just as good and hearty. I love soup season!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Or did you give this one a go? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #myhealthylife. You can also find more healthy inspiration on my Pinterest! I will continue to share more recipes, exercises and blogs that I find awesome and worthy of sharing…so please let me know of any that you would love to see on the blog!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favoritesThis week is all about crafts, food and business. I suppose that’s not different than any other week, but I have been downloading a lot of craft books, getting some new foodie supplies and a few food-oriented books, and my friend Kandyce and I are getting serious about our upcycle/vintage/handmade business. So, I have some business goodies I found this week to share with you, too!

Photo from Ashley Pahl

Photo from Ashley Pahl

Snowed In Magazine by Ashley Pahl at She Makes a Home – Ashley teamed up with Anastasia Christou of Anastasia Drawing and Dreaming,  Kayla Domeyer of Say Not Sweet Anne, Lara Habbinga of Lila Art Studio, Desha Peacock, author of the upcoming book, Sweet Spot Style, Megha Silvano of The Art Bug  and Lauren Thomas of The Full Catastrophe to create this beautiful free magazine that is full of holiday decorating ideas, planning, crafts and recipes.

Photo from Make Your Day DIY

Photo from Make Your Day DIY

Make Your Day DIY by Chelsey Andrews and Chelsea Costa – Chelsey Andrews from The Paper Mama and Chelsea Costa from Lovely Indeed came together to create a wonderful 150 page digital crafting book, that is full of awesome tutorials and printables to use with your crafts. To top it all off, any orders before Dec 23 will come with a bonus 2014 printable calendar, holiday gift tags, and a few surprises! The book is $12 and you can order it at makeyourdaydiy.com, you can also get 20% off the book at Poppytalk.

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking from Kate Payne – I got a couple Amazon gift cards for my birthday on Tuesday, so I was finally able to buy this book that I have been wanting to get! It’s $17.98 at Amazon and is full of information that any “half-assed domestic goddess” should know. She talks about decorating on a budget, canning, preserving, thrifting and more. I think she also shares a few recipes, which I’m stoked about! I think she’s working on a new book too….

Image from Wiley Publishing

Image from Wiley Publishing

Plate to Pixel from Helene Dujardin – This is another Amazon purchase that I got because it gives tips on food photography and styling. This is something I have really wanted to get into more, but have had some difficulty with. She also runs a food blog called Tartelette – where she shares recipes, workshops and more. Originally from France, Helene is now living in Alabama and she started her blog in 2006, after leaving a pastry chef position at a French restaurant.

Image from Stephanie St. Claire

Image from Stephanie St. Claire

11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business from Stephanie St. Claire on Medium – Since starting my own business, I have read a lot of articles on what you need to know to run a successful business. Few of them touch on how hard, tiring and lonely it will be, though. That’s what I liked about this article – it’s real, and she quotes Snoop Dogg. A super funny intuitive guidance counselor, she blogs at Blissbombed and offers custom guidance sessions.

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I had been hinting at a pressure canner for SO long and my boyfriend got it for me for my birthday! I am so excited, and now I can really get going with my canning. Christmas presents, anyone? My beautiful daughter is embracing her inner Vanna White and is displaying it for us. Truthfully, she was pushing it around the house and I caught her mid-pause. What a useful gift!

What are your favorite things from this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites You can find more Friday inspiration on my Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Meet Stacie Grissom, 25, from New York City. She runs Stars for Streetlights, which also happens to be one of the very first blogs that I fell in love with when I got more involved with crafting and blogging last year. I have been following her for over a year now, and she never ceases to amaze me with all the cool stuff she is working on!

An Indiana girl at heart, Stacie moved to the big city over a year ago, after dreaming about the move throughout high school and college. She got a job at a start-up company called The BarkPost, and decided there was nothing holding her back from following her dreams.

“The fast pace, the hard work, the energy— there’s such a magical pull to this city.”

A testimony to the power of social media, Stacie found her job through Twitter. A friend of hers sent her a tweet that said “Looking for a job in New York? Must love dogs.” Her love of dogs and journalism got her the position of running The BarkPost for a dog-centric company BarkBox. She was the third employee at the company.

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“It’s pretty cool to be with folks from the beginning and help work + build everything from scratch.”

Not only does Stacie love to write, she has also been a major fan of photography since she was a kid – using her mom’s film camera to capture photos of her dolls and pets (perhaps a little foreshadowing there). She then saved up her money and purchased her first DLSR in 2009 and got really into analogue photography after throwing herself into photography books.

It was around the same time that she started her blog, out of boredom from working her summer job as a lifeguard. With her blog, Stacie is able to combine her love for writing, photography and design. Her love for design stemmed from playing around with programs on her computer, and she agrees that design and writing are very much related.

From her first post. Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

From her first post. Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“You have to get many things across with a few words or images. The principles can be the same across both platforms.

Her blog also allows her to express her love for DIY fashion and crafting, something she has been doing since she was a kid. Her mom gave her a sewing machine when she was at the ripe age of six and living in Indiana, she was in the 4-H club for 10 years.

“Those things definitely make you into a lifelong crafter.”

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Stacie fits crafting in every day and is always working on something. She finds inspiration from books like Mark Montano’s  Big Ass Books of Crafts and the “Altered Couture” magazines from Stampington Co. and craft blogs like A Beautiful Mess, Craftgawker, Photojojo.

She also finds inspiration from walking around museums and being outside. Recently, she collected a bunch of rocks from every place she visited on a trip to the UK with her boyfriend, and she plans on making a statement necklace from her collection.

“If I’m not doing something with photos or blogging, then I am sewing or painting or Mod Podging.”

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

A glimpse at her apartment will show that she also has a serious passion for vintage items and last year, she wrote a post about all of her favorite antique shops and thrift stores from back home. Now in New York, she loves shopping at Beacon’s Closet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

An ode to both her past and present, she describes her personal style as “crafty, eclectic, earthy with a bit of glitter”  and says that while she loves both New York and Indiana, she needs the fast pace of New York to push her.

Stacie not only shares craft tutorials, interior decor tips and thrifting tips on her blog, she also shares tips for beginner photographers.

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

Image belongs to Stacie Grissom

“If I can help someone with a project in any way, I think that’s pretty cool.

Stacie would like to work on a craft book down the road, but right now she’s happy with writing at The BarkPost during the day and creating at night. Next, she hopes to learn more about sodering jewelry.

“I’m happy to work on my blog at night and create stuff all the time”

You can connect with Stacie through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. If you would like to participate in the Meet the Maker series, please post in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #meethemaker or tag me in the post! You can find more Maker inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I’ve had my blog for over a year now, and it has been through a lot of design changes. Some were made public, and some just didn’t make the cut. The blog design I have right now is by far my most favorite design. I think it’s super cute and extremely user-friendly. However, I want a more personalized design. At some point, I want to design my own blog and websites, but for now…I need to leave the creativity in someone else’s hands.

Anytime I see a cute blog that I like, I always look up the theme and/or designer, if the blogger employed one. I used to keep a list, but that list has since disappeared. So, I did what any sane person would do, and looked up blog design on Pinterest. It’s kind of insane all the stuff that’s out there. I’ll be talking about blog design more in the future, but for now…these are some of my favorite designers.

Image belongs to Maiedae

Image belongs to Maiedae

Maiedae was founded in 2010 by Jenny Highsmith and Savannah Wallace and became a co-ownership in 2011. They are best friends who met in college and ultimately decided to start their small business together. At first, they offered handmade items, but decided to go the design route, and now they offer web design, blog design and branding packages. They recently launched the Maiedae mixer – a networking event in the southeast region – and The Brand Market – a workshop for creative entrepreneurs. I think I love them.

Image belongs to Deluxemodern

Image belongs to Deluxemodern

Deluxemodern is the beautiful brainchild of Christine, who had this to say about starting her own design company: “if you’re not obsessed, forget it.” I think that can be said about anything that takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but is totally worth it if you love it. She offers both one-of-a-kind and starter logos, branding, blog kits, social media kits, backgrounds and kits. So, basically anything you want.

Image belongs to Smitten Blog Designs

Image belongs to Smitten Blog Designs

Smitten Blog Designs is out of Portland, OR and is comprised of seven lovely ladies who all happen to be designers. They started offering free blogger templates in 2008, and after receiving so many custom requests, they started designing custom blogs. They not only offer templates for both wordpress and blogger, but they also offer logos, print design and even free printables. Right now, they have a special going where returning customers get $5 off their purchase of $50 or more. You can follow their blog for more specials and updates.

Image belongs to The Weaver House

Image belongs to The Weaver House

The Weaver House was founded by twin sisters Kelty and Hannah. So, here is everything they offer, from what I can tell. I’m kind of information overload right now. They have an online shop where they sell vintage shoes, jewelry, paper and dresses. I think they make the prints by hand from vintage magazines and images they have found. They also offer photography and graphic design services, where they will either create the entire graphic design project for you, or do small custom projects, whichever you fancy. In their off time (as if they have “off time”), Kelty runs Working Theory Farms with her husband and Hannah makes funny holiday videos with her husband. Got all that?

To say that this little journey has been inspirational would be a huge understatement. The way I felt looking through all of the portfolios has proven to me that I took the right step in attending design school, and that blogging is what I am supposed to be doing. I’m so amazed that there are some many creative people out there, and that a lot of them live in Portland, apparently. I’ve been wanting to visit Portland for so long, and now I feel like it’s a necessity. But for now, I’m going to take a nap. Do you have an amazing blog design that you want to share? Perhaps you’re a blog designer and want to show off your portfolio? Post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #blogdesigns. You can find more of the blogs that inspire through Pinterest.