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.

Recipe finds

I made a goal this week to make at least one thing completely from scratch. Then, I saw Greatist‘s Monday prompt to make a recipe I’ve never done before, or to try a new ingredient. So, I set out to find a recipe that would fit both challenges. Where else would I go but Pinterest?

Recipe I tried:

IMG_1239 copyI found this recipe all over when I searched for “healthy cookies,” but it’s super mysterious and elusive so I couldn’t figure out who originally wrote it. So if anyone knows, please pass it on to me! I used this photo from the batch I made today and then I added the recipe. I was a little worried to try them out but they ended up surprisingly good! I suppose I fibbed a little on my goal since I didn’t make my own almond milk or apple sauce, but they are as close as I’m going to get for now.

Recipe I want to try:

Photo from MJ and the Hungryman

Photo from MJ and the Hungryman

Now, this is something I am pretty excited about! This sweet potato lasagna from MJ and the Hungryman looks absolutely delicious, and not too bad for you, either. All real, whole ingredients and I love anything that has the word lasagna in it. If I can get this past my family, I can do anything!

Are there any recipes you look forward to experimenting with? I dare you to find a new recipe online from a site you haven’t used before and see what you get out of it. Share your experience and the link in the comments and on social media with the hashtag #makestuff.

My Healthy Life: A Journey

my healthy life

I don’t know about you, but my interwebs are a buzzin’ with inspirational quotes, healthy recipes mixed with Valentines Day recipes, fitness challenges and organizational tips. So it’s no surprise that this post is going to be a little of all of that, minus the Valentines Day recipes and tips on organizing.

Photo from Erin Motz Yoga

Photo from Erin Motz Yoga

The 10-day ab challenge from Erin Motz Yoga is already in full swing, but the awesome thing about her challenges is that you can join in at any time. The videos remain on YouTube and while you won’t get the daily e-mails sent to your inbox, you will still get to check in daily, or as much as you wish. I always love doing her practices because they are lighthearted and fun, and chances are she will virtually toast you with champagne when the challenge is over.

Photo from Greatist

Photo from Greatist

You know all those detox cleanses that everyone posts the day after New Years? Well, this ain’t it. Over at Greatist, Sophia Breene has compiled a list of 49 satisfying yet detoxifying meals, and even better – categorizes them by meal type. Of course, you can eat these at any meal (for instance, I’m a huge fan of breakfast for dinner when nobody else is home), but the categories make it easy. There’s 8 breakfast options, 10 lunch options, 9 dinner options, 8 snack options and plenty of sides and drink options. You could easily use one recipe per day for 2 weeks (minus the weekends) and eat something new every day. My tip? Pick the recipes you want and make a grocery list of everything. Then do all your shopping in one trip and make a meal plan.

Photo from Greatist

Photo from Greatist

And I know I have talked about this before, but if you haven’t checked out Greatist’s Renew Year challenge, you definitely should. Each day, they post a new task and then you snap a photo and post it with the hashtag #healthyishappy. And don’t worry, not all of them are centered around exercise. One task was to write five things you’re grateful for, and another was to meditate for 10 minutes. It’s all about focusing on your health – mental and physical.

Are there any interesting challenges you’re participating in this year? Share them in the comments and on all the social media channels with the hashtag #newyearchallenge. You can connect with me by clicking on any of the social media buttons at the top of my blog.

Weekly Wishes #3

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

This is the third week I have been blogging about my Weekly Wishes – an awesome link-up started by Melyssa of The Nectar Collective – and I have to say, it has been a huge motivator. I’m holding myself accountable for my goals and challenges, and I’m figuring out why I didn’t do what I had planned to do. And it always boils down to do this…life really does get in the way. It might seem like the biggest and most widely-used cop out in the world, but it is true! Sometimes, you really don’t have enough hours in the day, and that rang true last week.

Last week’s wishes:

Business: Get together with Heather to go over her Press Release (very exciting stuff!

Creative: Restore the three-tiered basket I recently purchased at the Lodi Street Faire and finish my chalkboard tray to use as a prop for my photos.

Fitness: 15 minute workout along with a 15 minute yoga session in every day

Home: Switch out the garden – work on moving all of the old stuff out, cleaning up the garden area, and starting planting new veggies

I did get my business wishes completed last week. I got the Press Release from Heather so I can start promoting her work more, and I found a bunch of new author communities for her to join. She’s going to look through all of them and pick one for now. She’s also looking at independent bookstores in San Diego where she can do a reading and sign some books – so I’m excited to see what happens there! We also have some Book Reviews I need to check on and share!

As for my creative wish – I got the tray done, finally! And as it turns out, it works perfect as a prop for my photos! I used to take a photo of a recipe I’m working on, and it added a really nice touch. I need to find a rust removal solution for my three-tiered basket, so if you know of any – please let me know!

DSC02617

I was not able to get much of an exercise routine in last week, so I’m going to try it again this week! My daughter is starting to get more of a sleeping schedule down, so I should be able to fit something in during her naps.

And, my garden. I’ve decided to hold off on working on it until I get some new plants in. Then I can take a day to just clean it out and put new stuff in. I need to look up what plants will do the best in this season and go from there. I’ve started making salsa and hot sauce with the peppers from my garden, and that is a big motivator to keep it going!

This week’s wishes:

Business: Start working on my logo and graphic design work for Baby Burrito Collective. I’m going to work on the website as well, but I at least want to get my branding done before I do more work on the site. My goal is to eventually learn web design and build my own website, but I’m taking it all step by step. I’ve learned what trouble I face if I try to do it all at once, so I’m trying more and more to take my time with everything. I’m going to keep a Pinterest board with all of the colors, fonts and designs I want for my site.

Creative: Start working on the three-tiered basket. I need to soak it in some rust removal solution and then I will paint it a lovely color and hang it in the pantry. I didn’t know how much I would love repurposing and upcycling old stuff to make it the way I love it, but it gives me such a rush! I also need to work on the chalk/cork board I have been wanting to fix. I have the frame, just need to make board now.

the baskets are holding the cheese grater

the baskets are holding the cheese grater

Fitness: Get a routine. I did so good for the last couple weeks, and now the weight is creepily finding it’s way back. I just need to get a routine that works for me instead of worrying about doing it for a certain amount of time, and just doing it every day. Even if it needs to be something quick, it’s better than nothing, right?

Home: Get all of my peppers and basil out of the garden before the frost hits and start canning like mad. I’m hoping to get a pressure canner, which will help a lot. I’m thinking of canning apple butter, hot sauce and pesto as part of my Christmas gifts I’m giving away. I always love getting that stuff, and I would love to do it for my family!

What are your weekly wishes? Write about them and link up to the Nectar Collective. You can also share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Here’s to having another lovely and productive week!

 

Weekly Wishes #1

Last week, I wrote about this awesome site I happened upon – The Nectar Collective – where Melyssa, who runs the blog, started Weekly Wishes – where she shares her goals and challenges each week. I do the same in my journal but I thought it would be cool to also share them on my blog. So this will be the first time I’m linking up my blog to the Weekly Wishes party! Here are my wishes for this week.

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Business wish – Create buttons for both my Sweet Mariposa shop and my blog. I have wanted to do this for a long time but with how tricky WordPress is, I have had some difficulty. I am able to post buttons I have grabbed from other sites, but I’m having trouble posting my own. I found a tutorial on Jade Louise Designs so I’m going to try that out since I haven’t had any luck with tutorials I have found before. If you have had luck posting a button you created on a WordPress.com hosted site – please let me know! Another business wish is to read through Ch. 9 in The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin. I’m starting Ch. 7 tonight so I’m hopeful that I will reach my goal by the end of the week.

Image belongs to Kari Chapin

Image belongs to Kari Chapin

Creative wish – Finally finish these cheese graters! I originally painted them purple and put an octopus on one and was in the midst of putting a butterfly on the other when I decided to ditch both designs and go in a different direction. So I spray painted them both a crazy lime green and now I’m working on finishing up the designs and adding some embellishments before they officially earring holders! I’m going to share the tutorial on my Linkouture when I’m done!

photo(6)

Fitness wish – 15 minutes of exercise + 15 minutes of yoga each day. I’m starting at the beginning again, and hoping that I can accomplish that every day. I get plenty of walking with my daughter but I’m only 14 lbs away from my goal weight and I know if I put a little more effort into my exercise every day, I can get it done. Then I can finally do the ol’ wardrobe switch-a-roo!

Home wish – Start canning all my vegetables from the garden. Also, learn how to can. I’m going to start at Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and move on from there. Things I want to make: hot sauce, salsa and pesto, for starters. Helllooo Christmas gifts!

What are your wishes for the week? Post in your blog and then link up to Weekly Wishes to share! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for find more inspiration for my weekly wishes and join me on my journey!

Gettin Fit: Old Clothes Challenge

Image belongs to My Yoga Pro

Image belongs to DoYouYoga

On any given day, my daughter interrupts me nine out of the ten times I’m on the computer. Usually it’s so she can look at the screen or play with all of the buttons on the computer. Sometimes it’s because she want’s her momma, and that’s a good sign for me to put everything aside and just hang with my daughter. Lately, I’ve been waking up with my boyfriend so I can get a good couple hours of work in before she wakes.

Well, today she woke up before her normal time, and the interruption came in handy. I was well on my way to writing a really boring post and she must have somehow felt that was happening because she sprung out of her sleep and climbed on my lap (I should also note that she has become more accustomed to sleeping on the couch than in her crib right now. I know. We’re working on it).

Now that I have had some time away from the computer, I’m back and ready to write a super non-boring post (I hope!). I do have some exciting news to share: I’m officially an ambassador for the MyYogaPro Kickstarter campaign on DoYouYoga! This means I get all the inside scoop before the Kickstarter campaign actually starts. I know, I’m pretty special.

It also means that my photo is placed on the Ambassador page, and it links directly to my blog. So, it’s a double-promotion, aka double win! So, let me tell you a little bit more about MyYogaPro. It was created my Erin Motz, my most favorite online yoga teacher thus far, and Andy, who founded DoYouYoga. If the campaign goes as planned, the site will offer 16 full-on yoga courses and 200 exclusive HD videos of yoga classes, poses and sequences, all hosted by my girl Erin.

It will also allow you to connect with other yogis around the world and you can enter challenges with your bust bud. Even if you’re doing it solo, you can earn badges after completing courses and you will have a personal progress bar. So if you want to become a rad ambassador like me, click on the badge or any of the links above.

I have been really falling behind on my yoga practice, so that is just the push I need to get back on track! I also decided I would make my own pumpkin spice creamer today. This is really only because we don’t have any creamer left and a girl can use almond milk as creamer for only so long! I happened to find a recipe for both pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin creamer on my go-to clean eating site, The Gracious Pantry.

photo

The creamer is chillin’ in the fridge (literally) overnight, so I will write a full review when I’m done to let you know how it turns out! The last couple times I have tried the recipe have been failures, so I’m hoping for a win on this one.

I also tried on a few pairs of my old pants (mostly because my one pair I wear now was in the laundry) and to my surprise – they fit! I will also write a post on that for next week, and will show off the new/old duds! It’s definitely motivation to keep doing what I’m doing…and it’s super thrifty because I don’t need to buy new clothes! I already have them, hidden in that magical forest I like to call under-bed storage.

Please remember that I am not compensated for writing about DoYouYoga or The Gracious Pantry. I am writing about them simply because I love their websites and I believe in what they’re doing. If you would like to keep up with my gettin fit journey or if you want to join it, connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I would love to have you!

New Year Challenge: just a little lighter

Current weight: 160 (eeek!!)/ goal weight: 130

So I’ve finally learned the trick to not cringing every time I get on my Wii Fit to weigh in. Push the mute button. Of course, the day I figure this out is the same day I actually want to hear what that little Wii Board dude has to say! I finally did it…I lost 3 lbs!

I made sure to track everything I ate and not just ignore the app when I hate something that would rack up the points. Of course, I allowed myself a splurge day at Macaroni Grill on Saturday, but to be fair…I was moving and cleaning that day.

I also started following the 12 Exercises for New Moms, which is way easier than trying to work out through my daughter’s screams and cries. When she gets cranky while we’re working out, I just take a break and let her chill out then we get back to it. Being able to work out with her will make it easier to stay on track.

challenges_aheadI also wanted to start making weekly challenges for myself. In just a couple days, it will be a month since I started this diet. By this time, I was hoping to lose 10 lbs, at 2.5 lbs a week. Since my main goal was to lose 30 lbs in 3 months, I’m a little behind.

So, my goal for next week: do a new exercise routine every day with the baby. If I complete this goal by next week, I can move on. If not, I will keep that same goal for the next week and so on, until I finish it.

One of my biggest issues I have with myself is not being able to finish anything I start, so hopefully this will also boost my confidence a little.

Do you find it easier or harder to achieve your goal when you set yourself little challenges, or do they prove to be obstacles?