16 weeks already?

I have officially been pregnant for 16 weeks now, and I have a big ol bump to prove it! I’ve heard that you start showing a lot sooner with your second, especially if they are close in age. And boy is that true! I remember being 16 weeks with Cecilia and I barely had a bump, but now it’s out and ready to party. I’m also feeling kicks earlier. Cecilia likes to laugh at me every time I react to them, too.

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I happened to have this dress from when I was pregnant with Cecilia and because I was a little bigger then, it’s wonderfully loose fitting (for the moment), which is perfect for this crazy heat.

Luckily this time around, I don’t have to be fearful of any food (I couldn’t get anywhere close to spinach with Cecilia), and I don’t have any new cravings either. I also don’t worry about every little thing, read every baby book or research every thing I fear online, because for one…I know what’s going on this time and two…I don’t have the time. The only books I’m reading right now are either written by Dr. Seuss, feature a Disney character or are part of a Baby Einstein book set.

Here are some things I’m loving on right now:

  • Frozen yogurt, but that’s not any different than with Cecilia. It’s the only thing I seriously crave. My favorite spots are Big Spoon, Vanilla Bean and there’s a frozen yogurt/cupcake spot in Roseville that I haven’t tried yet, but I’m sure it’s my favorite.
  • Burgers. I’ve never craved a burger before in my life. And for a long time now, I haven’t been a fan of red meat, so if I do get one, it’s either turkey, chicken or veggie. But right now…I want the real deal. Veggie and turkey burgers never sound good anymore. It truly has opened my world to the variety of burgers I can get now. I don’t eat them often, but when I’m craving one, they hit the spot. I love Burgers and Brew and Habit the best for said cravings.
  • Fresh fruit. Again, not something new. I’ve always loved fruit. But now I crave it more than anything and it always has to be on standby, namely strawberries, blueberries, bananas and nectarines. And with all the unhealthy cravings I have right now, it’s probably not a bad thing. And luckily I live in Sacramento, so I am surrounded by fresh fruit stands and Farmers Markets, like the huge one downtown on 8th and W on Sundays, the Tuesday Farmers Markets at the Fountains in Roseville, and of course – Denios on Sundays!
  • Loose fitting dresses and skirts. It’s too damn hot to wear jeans, and shorts can get uncomfortable so I have been sticking with dresses and skirts that I had in my closet, or have picked up at the thrift stores. They are perfect for your belly to grow in, and still work after pregnancy. I’m also lucky to have a mom who sews, and she’s been working on a skirt and dress for me!
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Can’t stop, won’t stop

So excited that the next time I post a pregnancy update, I will know the baby’s gender – and name!

Thank you for joining me on my pregnancy adventure and be sure to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest for updates, inspiration and more!

Hey I finished a project!

Yard sales are good for the soul, and for the house. I should have one every month. My mom is having one next week and I cleared out so much stuff that I was hoarding to prepare for the sale. Because of that, I found a bunch of fabric that I love and can’t wait to work with, and a lot of my old concert and band tees that I wanted to make a quilt with long, long ago. That dream is a little dead now…but I have a few ideas for what I want to do with them.

I also finally finished my chalkboard project, and actually baked something. I got an oatmeal cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and they turned out so wonderful and moist! I substituted the raisins for blueberries since I was out of raisins, and while her recipe says to bake for 10 minutes, I had to bake for 15 since my oven is a little funky.

10538681_1389727607938469_1318935655_nSo, here’s how I made the chalkboard:

IMG_2497First, I took a simple frame I got from the thrift store for $1. Then I painted it with some acrylic paint that had been left in my car for wayyy too long. So, naturally that exploded everywhere. Luckily, I happen to buy a lot of teal paint so I had some back-up and after A LOT of cleaning, I was able to resurrect my project.

IMG_2555Since the frame had an indented line on it already, I used a gold paint pent to do the line and left one side blank to add some fancy stuff to it. Unfortunately, the paint pen was too thick and not I couldn’t simply wipe it when I made a mistake. So, I painted over it and chose to do a yellow line. The yellow ended up not working since it was so light and I had to paint multiple coats, which made it look thick and chunky…not the look I was going for.

IMG_2561So, after I cleaned that up a little…I found a sort of salmon pink that I liked, and covered the yellow with that. I chose to do little diamonds on the side I left blank. They are by no means perfect, but they will do!

IMG_2652While that was drying, I used a few coats of chalk paint to paint the backboard. And ta-da! It’s a chalkboard!

Have a project you want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

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: Banana-Blueberry Chocolate Shake Recipe

Any time I hear the words “healthy shake,” I cringe just thinking about the existence of protein powder in the drink. Protein powder is fine if that’s what you’re into, but why do you have to mess up a perfectly delightful beverage with it! So, when I saw that Laura from A Beautiful Mess posted a new healthy chocolate shake recipe, I was a little hesitant.

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

As it turns out, this chocolate shake had no sign of protein powder anywhere, and it was indeed – as described – healthy and delicious! I had a hankering for chocolate and knew that this was probably a better choice for me than the Girl Scout cookies I had been devouring for the last couple weeks.

I decided to add blueberries to mine, and since I was making it for someone else too (promise), I increased the portions.

  • 1 frozen, ripe banana 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (crunchy or smooth) 2 tablespoons peanut butter (it’s what I had)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 2/3 cup coconut milk (again, what I had)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

I used my ghetto blender and for once – it didn’t threaten to blow up! I just blended for about two minutes until it was nice and smooth, and voila!

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

Since I used up the last of my peanut butter in recipe and I LOVE me some peanut butter, it’s the perfect time to make my own!

Do you have any recipes that are delicious and surprisingly healthy? Did you try this recipe? Share your link in the comments and on social media!