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.

Yo Momma Monday: Linda Peterson

photoMeet Linda Peterson, 47, from Southern Missouri, who is the wonderfully creative mind behind Linda Peterson Designs, where she shares mixed media craft tutorials, how-to videos and polymer crafts. She is a mom, a grandma and a crafter from an early age.

My mom said I was always busy with my hands and if she gave me playdough, I’d play for hours so she could get her housework done.

She continued creating throughout her life, and did a lot of painting and sewing when she had little kids. Her creativity turned out to be a big help when her daughter Mariah was diagnosed with cancer, and Linda crafted in the hospital room to ease her anxiety.

At the time Mariah was born I was busy making rag jackets and when she was born, I was making onesies out of little boys t-shirts and decorating them on the front. This is what I took with me to the hospital when Mariah was little.  I crafted in her room – alot!

She never saw herself as professional artist or designer, but that all changed when she started selling her work to the nurses and Hospital staff. Linda says that necessity was the major push for starting her creative business, since Mariah was in out and out of the Hospital and they lived three hours away. It was at this time that a Nurse urged her to sell at craft shows.

I took literally the last $500 we had to our name, booked a show, bought supplies and did the show.  I made $1500 on that weekend and I was hooked into making and selling.  It was the perfect “job” for me at the time because it allowed me to be flexible and work on my own schedule which was very important considering Mariah’s frequent illnesses and hospital stays. 

Linda admits that starting her creative business was not easy in the beginning – she had a lot of self-doubt, and her first husband did not have faith in her business. She continued selling at trade shows for about five years and in 2001, she finally felt successful.

I empowered myself to not let anyone drag me down and I became ever more determined.  Once I did that, I found success in writing books, guest appearing on TV shows and traveling around to tradeshows for manufactures and teaching all over the world.

Image belongs to Linda Peterson Designs

Image belongs to Linda Peterson Designs

Linda saw that all of her creative friends were blogging, and she decided to give it a whirl. It started as an online journal where she wrote about what she was doing at the time. She started posting tutorials and things that she was interested in, and it evolved from there.

Linda credits Polymer clay artist Donna Kato as her first mentor. She worked with Donna at trade shows and soaked up a lot of her helpful advice. Donna then introduced her to Carol Duvall and Linda was on the The Carol Duvall Show on HGTV for several years. When Linda met Tiffany Windsor from Cool2Craft five years ago, they became instant friends.

Her knowledge of the craft industry, she really gave me the swift kick I really needed to boost my business.  I owe her alot!!!

Anything from something in a magazine to something on the side of the road can inspire Linda to create. She also gets inspiration from her favorite crafters and bloggers, like A Gilded Life, Where Women Create, Spellbinders, Cool2Craft and Funky Junk.

My personal style is vintage with a rustic edge – kinda funky junky and I have a fondness for rusted metal.  I try to follow a variety of styles to keep up with trends.

Linda is now focusing on her own line of products and consumer goods. She is working with a major paper craft company and producing how-to videos and product development. As if that’s not enough, she is also writing a couple books, too.

ART+LIFE BOOK

Image belongs to Cico Books

My work is very diverse, sometimes I’m producing how-to videos (being the producer, director, on camera host and the project creator), other times I’m in front of the computer all day in the video edit bay or writing project instructions.  I write books as well, so when those deadlines are approaching, I’m busy designing projects. A creative day is never the same, which is good, because I’d get bored!  I work just about every day of the year on something – it’s okay – I love it!

She also makes clothes for her granddaughter Carlee Jane, who is almost seven months old. But as we all know, babies grow fast and it’s hard to keep up! Linda says that she is just focusing on enjoying her, and being the best grandma she can be.

Linda says that she enjoys the flexibility of running her own business, but admits that it’s scary to constantly worry about whether or not you will have a job. “It’s feast of famine,” she says. When I asked her if she had any advice for people who are just starting their own businesses, she had this to say:

Do what you can to promote your business by way of a blog, social media and mailing lists.  Toot your own horn and share with others.  Celebrate one another’s triumphs.  It’s all about team work and generally the crafts industry is a pretty happy place to be.

And when it comes to taking advice?

Be willing to accept “CONSTRUCTIVE” criticism and learn from it.  (notice I said, constructive, not de-structive).  If you are creative you are always working – even if you’re not in the studio actually making something.  Stay on trend.  And be willing to accept a lot of NO’s before you get that one YES!  Don’t let anyone rain on your party!

Image belongs to Linda Peterson Designs

Image belongs to Cico Books

You can visit Linda on her website, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. If you know anyone who would be a good fit on Yo Momma Monday – including yourself – please post in the comments and share more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #yomommamonday. Find more awesome maker mommas on my Pinterest!