Weekly Wishes

weekly wishesSomething happened last week that hasn’t happened in a long time. I sat down and methodically planned out my goals and I achieved each and every one of them. Come to think of it, I don’t think that has ever happened! And I know what was different. I kept it simple. I made simple and meaningful goals that I really hoped to conquer, and then I just did it. I gave myself time for my blogging, my crafting, my baking, and most of all…the house, my daughter and myself.

Last week’s wishes:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog (Ok, this one I’m still working on)
  • Finish my cork board
  • Write on my blog daily
  • Start my coffee can planter project
  • Make one recipe from scratch
  • Practice yoga once 
  • Update products on Sweet Mariposa

I was able to finish the cork board that I have seriously been kind of working on since Summer. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I still love it. And now that I have the hang of it, I see a lot more cork/chalkboards in my future! Even though it took a super long time, I loved working on it here and there and having a big project looming over me. Made it all the more wonderful when it was done.

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All done!

I gave myself a couple hours to write out my blog daily when my daughter was napping. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing the next day’s post the night before, but since she has been staying up later, that has been difficult. I figure that if I give myself one or two hours of doing things I love, I’m much a more pleasant person to be around. So it’s for the good of my family that I do this.

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And I started AND finished my coffee can planter today! I didn’t even know it was possible to start and finish something in one day anymore. Luckily, my daughter happens to have a loving and amazing grandpa who will spend any moment he can with her, so he entertained her while I got stuff done today. I’m really going to miss him when we move!

While I didn’t make all of the ingredients from scratch (ain’t nobody got time for that), I did make three – count that, THREE – recipes from scratch this week. I know! Crazy, right? I made some delicious cookies and coffee cake for the house and then some cookies for my friend’s birthday. I was kind of amazed by the Betty Crocker I was channeling this week.

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And I finally practiced some yoga! It had been so long and I needed a good yoga session. I did some restorative yoga with Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com right before bed, and my back popped the moment I got down to stretch. That’s when I was reminded of how much I needed it.

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And finally, I got to listing Kandyce’s items on our Sweet Mariposa Etsy shop! I haven’t had much of a chance to promote our shop, but I’m hoping to do more of that in the future. We have 14 items right now, and we’re hoping to reach 20 soon! Now that I force myself to save a couple hours for myself, I should get a lot more done!

What I wish for this week:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog – Still need to work on this.
  • Work on map tote – I joined a creative penpal collective but I suck at it. Really bad. So I still need to work on my gift that is long past due. I know, no more signing up for stuff for awhile.
  • Write article for Childhood Magazine – Now that the coffee can planter is done, I need to write the article and attach the photos. I’m so excited!
  • Make one dinner and one treat from scratch – As much from scratch as I can. We all have our limits.
  • Practice yoga twice – I need to keep it going and do one practice at night and one in the morning. I miss getting up and doing yoga every morning and I would love to get back in that routine.
  • Figure out a venue and date for the Vox fundraiser – I am planning a fundraiser for my favorite nonprofit, Vox. We are going to start restoring furniture with kiddos! We are in the works of planning a fundraiser/kickoff party so I need to work on the venue and date this week so I can start getting everything together. Hooray!
  • Start promoting Sweet Mariposa – Start posting on my social media sites and getting people excited.

Do you set goals for the week? If so, what are they? Join the Weekly Wishes link-up at Nectar Collective and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest to share and motivate each other!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

We did it! We survived the Christmas mania! Time to venture back to reality – where we wash dishes, and clean floors and make dinner. We don’t survive on cookies for our only source of nutrition and we don’t participate in the A Christmas Story marathon. All of our money is gone, and we don’t want to think about making another gift or batch of sweets for another year.

I put so many of my projects aside to focus on Christmas, that I want to start getting back to them. Like, today. I officially have four weeks left of my vacation and I plan on getting a lot of crafting done before I’m back to the grind. So the first project on my list? My DIY Cork and Chalkboard!

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I got this barn window from my stepsister, and after all the glass broke in our car (fun experience that was), I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it!

Since the glass was already broken, I didn’t have to worry about what to do with that. I decided to change the paint color of the window, so I got a sander (I think the sander may be one of my favorite inventions) and sanded it down until it was smooth enough to paint over.

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Then I got a piece of plywood at Lowe’s and made a line in the middle. I painted half of it with chalkboard paint and I spray mounted cork paper (?) to the other side. I also mounted foam to the back of the cork to make it easier for pinning. Right now, I’m at the point where I’m going to staple some fabric I got to the corkboard and then it will be time to mount the wood to the frame!

Before the chalk and cork

Before the chalk and cork

I’m really excited to see this project finally come to an end, so I can use this bad boy! Hoping to finish it by next week so I can move on. I have a big bin of odd things I’ve been collecting to make stuff with, and I can’t wait to share all of my projects with you! I’m planning on keeping some of them and then either selling or gifting the rest.

What projects do you have in store? Is there anything you put aside for Christmas and are going to get back to now? Post your project link in the comments and share your progress with us on Facebook, Instagram, Google + and Twitter with the hashtag #staythrifty. You can also find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Weekly Wishes #7

Right now, my workspace is full of remnants from my daughter’s first birthday, the semester coming to an end and Christmas right around the corner. I have projects upon projects that I need to finish and while I love working around a little chaos in my life, I feel like the chaos is kind of taking over.

This is after I cleaned.

This is after I cleaned.

So, in the midst of all the chaos, I have taken out some time to think about what I want to accomplish for the week. While it’s difficult at times to take a moment out to write a thought-provoking post like this, it saves me in the end because it gives me a chance to sort everything out.

Here’s what I wanted to do last week: Create a directory on Baby Burrito Collective, list Kandyce’s work on Etsy, finish cork/chalkboard, get my yoga routine down and focus on clean eating, turn my workspace into a Christmas wrapping station.

How I did: Well, I haven’t created the directory yet. Still looking up some good resources on how to do something like that. I did list Kandyce’s work on our Etsy site though! You can find Sweet Mariposa here. I just bought the fabric to cover the cork on my cork/chalkboard so hopefully it will be done this week. I did do yoga one day last week…but only one. And my workspace is definitely a Christmas wrapping station, along with everything else.

Repurposed hanging candle holder made by Kandyce

Repurposed hanging candle holder made by Kandyce

This week’s wishes:

Business: Find a resource for adding a directory for Baby Burrito Collective. Start spreading the word about the Collective and getting people to join. Continue listing on Sweet Mariposa and set up a Facebook. Look for spaces to contribute my writing. Make a detailed plan for Vox.

Creative: Add the fabric to my cork/chalkboard and finish it up. Finish my mom’s Christmas gift.

Fitness: Set a yoga goal – practice at least once a day when Cecilia takes her first bottle in her crib. Set a clean eating goal – at least one real meal per day. And a complete real meal.

Home: Compress all of my crafting stuff. Get a metal shelving rack to go in the closet to sort out my projects and what is ready to sell/give as gifts. One shelf for projects to be completed. One shelf for what is ready to sell/gift. And the final shelf for material/supplies. This is going to be my Christmas gift to myself, I think. It would be easy to take down and move when we move.

I know this is a day late, but 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!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Around this time last year, I was about 38 weeks pregnant and while I did brave the mall to go Black Friday shopping with my mom and aunt (it was fun—but in hindsight, a very, very bad idea), I was hardly in the holiday spirit. I had all these plans to make everyone’s gifts since I was in full-on nesting mode anyway, but never got to it…simply because I was exhausted, and taking a math class – which is the worst.

This year, however, I’m no longer pregnant (thank goodness!) and I’m very much in the holiday spirit. It doesn’t hurt that I’m much more into the crafting community these days, and everyone around me is posting awesome holiday ideas. Here are a few of my favorites.

Photo from The Paper Mama

Photo from The Paper Mama

50 Days of DIY from The Paper Mama – Now on Day 20 (pepperoncini cheese dip- yum!), Chelsey shares fun DIY Holiday projects and recipes each day. She is also the co-writer and co-creator of Make Your Day DIY, which I wrote about last week…so obviously, I’m a huge fan. Aren’t these photo place makers super fun? I have yet to actually host a Christmas dinner at my house (for reasons you can read about in my story) but when I finally do….it is so on!

Photo from Alison Butler

Photo from Alison Butler

One to Wear, One to Read, One to Play from The Petit Cadeau – Well, Alison has done it again. I feel like I’m always writing about awesome stuff she does on her site – and that’s probably because she’s always doing awesome stuff. This time, she has created a gift guide for the lil ones, where she picks one article of clothing, one book, and one toy to feature each round. She is going to gift one of the each to her kiddo this year, and none of them involve batteries. Sweet!

Photo from The Lone Home Ranger

Photo from The Lone Home Ranger

The 12 Days of Minimalist Christmas from The Lone Home Ranger – Better late than never, right? That’s what I always say. Justine from The Lone Home Ranger is on Day 10 of The 12 Days of Minimalist Christmas, and today she is offering a Giveaway of the book The Family Flavor by Whitney L. Ingram and sharing her review of the book. She also includes a child-proof “chicken chowdah” recipe!

Are you feeling the holiday spirit this year? What are your favorite crafty sites doing to get your creative juices flowing this season? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Also, remember that I will be posting small/handmade business Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales next week so if you are having a sale, let me know!

Thrifty Thursdays: Thoughtful Celebrations

thrifty thursdays

I know, I know. You don’t want to even think about Christmas right now. But, let’s face the facts. It’s upon us, and if you are planning on a DIY Holiday season, well – you better get a’crackin! I’m going to elaborate on the slow gifting and thoughtful celebrations movement I was talking about earlier and help you come up with some fun and affordable DIY ways to spend the holidays!

The Holidays are all about spending time with your friends and family, but in the hustle and bustle, it can be hard to get together. These awesome ideas incorporate slow gifting and thoughtful celebrations. Start a new tradition. It will take some planning now, but will keep it simple in the years to come – allowing you to spend more time on that awesome homemade gift you’re making:

Idea and photo from Alison Butler

Idea and photo from Alison Butler

Host a Mitten Exchange from The Petit Cadeau – Do you normally get together with your friends for the Holidays? How about creating a mitten exchange! Alison – who got me excited about the idea of slow gifting – collaborated with Kim from Joyful Roots to share this thoughtful and wonderful tradition! If you subscribe to Alison’s newsletter, you can download a free printable invitation. It’s free to subscribe and you check it out here.

Photo from Food Swap Network

Photo from Food Swap Network

Host a food swap! from Food Swap Network – Love food? Do you and your friends usually go out for a Holiday lunch or dinner and then all gasp and uneasily take out your wallets and try to dissect the bill? Or is that just me and my friends? A food swap is an awesome way to keep the expenses down and exchange homemade food. I just got into canning and baking, so this is perfect for me! If you’re not so hot at making stuff but your friend is the best cook/baker you know – pick a house and take an at-home cooking lesson! Do you belong to a crafting circle? Share this idea for a fun holiday party!

Photo from Darby Smart

Photo from Darby Smart

Throw a Darby Smart party! from Darby Smart – Decide on a project box you all agree on, and throw a little crafting shindig! The boxes come with all the supplies and instructions, and there are many for under $40 – probably what you would spend on the supplies anyways. The December TO DIY FOR mystery box is only $19 and would be perfect for your Holiday party next month!

I hope these ideas have given you inspiration for your new thoughtful celebration tradition. What are your favorite traditions? Do they involve homemade gifts? Share them with us and get more inspiration on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Alison Butler

yo momma monday

IMG_0509Meet Alison Butler, 31, from Newfoundland, Canada. She is a beautiful mama who recently launched her shop The Petit Cadeau, which is centered around celebrating and creating traditions. She creates handmade heirloom celebration countdown calendars for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and other special occasions. She loves to create and support handmade, and is usually happiest with a cup of tea and a book.

Alison cultivated her love for creating thoughtful gifts since she was a child and made homemade gifts or cards for her family, something that she says was fostered and encouraged by her mom. She took creative extra-curricular classes, such as art, pottery and cartooning but never took art in high school, something she still regrets.

“As an adult, it’s my “escape” – I love to make things, it calms my mind and body.”

As a mother to a  2 1/2 year old who works a full-time job aside from creating, she admits that she is constantly trying to find a balance, and that nothing ever really feels normal. (I second that notion). She usually spends a few hours each night creating and blogging, after her daughter falls asleep and tries  not to schedule anything on the weekend so her family can enjoy each other.

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Alison credits motherhood for her inspiration to create things for children and to give more thought about the way she does things – like keeping celebrations simple and thoughtful. Most importantly, being a mom has taught her to slow down.

“Everywhere I look, I see parents trying to do everything bigger and better. It seems to stress most people out.,” she says. “Why is it really necessary?  It’s not. My message is always – they won’t remember the gift (most of the time) It’s the memories and experiences that are important.  I want my daughter to remember feeling special.”

It was this idea that prompted her thoughtful gifting manifesto, a beautifully and thoughtfully written post about why she buys handmade, and/or from local businesses. Never a last-minute shopper, she keeps a birthday book and starts planning and preparing well in advance, thinking about what that person would really love.

She also started Thoughtful Celebrations, a monthly e-mail newsletter that focuses on just that – planning thoughtful celebrations. Recipients are privy to recipes and tips for throwing parties and different handmade shops to support. They also get special coupons and previews to new projects she’s working on.

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“I think I have a lot of internal drive to keep working at something I love, even when some days don’t involve anything creative and lot’s of the time I feel completely exhausted.  I’m building something that makes me happy and joyful.”

After a Twitter chat with Oh My Handmade – the amazing handmade community that she belongs to – she wanted to do something fun to promote handmade busineeses. Since she also happened to be training for the NYC 2012 Marathon, and decided to name her series The Handmade Marathon. She selected 26 handmade business participants, one for each mile of a marathon. The marathon was subsequently cancelled, but since the series became so popular, she decided to keep it going.

“I feature one handmade business per month, and changed my interview questions to reflect the direction my blog is heading.”

Alison gets a lot of her inspiration from beautiful magazines and all of her favorite blogs. She reads Oh My Handmade daily and also loves Susannah Conway and Alisa Burke. One of her favorite shops is Herriott Grace – a father and daughter team who started selling gorgeous hand-carved wooden objects online five years ago – and Alison is a proud owner for the cloud cookie cutter!

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

The personal touch is Alison’s favorite thing about the handmade community and she loves being able to connect with others through Oh My Handmade and share her interests and passions with like-minded people.

“There is a real THRIVING supportive community around handmade.  It’s wonderful to be a part of that.”

As an only child, Alison says that she embraces quiet and enjoys sitting in coffee shops to sip and read. She unwinds at local yoga classes and is excited about a new studio she just found and she and her husband recently took a chocolate making class. FUN! She also loves to craft in her downtime and loves learning new trades. One craft she hasn’t learned but would love to try is letterpress.

“I haven’t found anywhere locally where I could learn, but it just looks so beautiful and interesting. Knitting is also high up on my “must-learn” list,” she says.  “I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years – most recently bookbinding/making, wool felting and art journaling.  I’ll try almost anything once!”

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Alison says that her favorite thing about running her own business is interacting with new people and collaborating on projects and posts – and she has some great ones in the works in late 2013 and early 2014! She hopes that her blog will inspire people to make small, thoughtful changes. She wants people to feel inspired to make a gift when they might feel like they don’t have the talent and she wants people to start simple family traditions that will last a lifetime.

“Inspired to think about where the money goes and instead of buying five plastic toys, invest in one beautiful  toy – something that’s quality, made by hand.  Most importantly, I want you to feel like my blog is for you, because it is!”

As a mom, Alison works slower on her projects than she did in the past. She’s constantly planning new ideas for the shop and has  several in the works right now and she says she is learning to embrace the newer, slower pace of finishing projects or getting things completed.

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

“My hope for the future is to be able to incorporate creativity more into my everyday life.  I want to continue to slow down, listen, be present and enjoy my family to the fullest.”

You can find more about Alison, her thoughtful gifting manifesto through The Petit Cadeau blog and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you know of an awesome mama who would be a perfect fit for this series, please leave a comment or share the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Meet some more amazing mamas on my Pinterest!

My first knitting project

Me in my way oversized beanie

Me in my way oversized beanie

Today I’m going to share my first knitting project with you as part of my participation in the Your First Knitting Project: Blog It to Win It contest through Interweave! Participants also get to choose up to five products they want in the hopes that they win, and here are my choices:

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Intentional Printing $17.90

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Paint, print, Layer, Collage $19.96

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Screen filler and block out $10.99

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Inktense pencil set $31.99

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Handsewn $18.11

So, here is my story…

My poor mom. She tried so hard to get me interested in sewing and baking, but it never panned out. Ever. Until now. Now I wish I had all of that free experience at my fingertips, but I’ve always done things my own way. For some reason, the one craft that my mom taught me that actually caught on was knitting. I think it was because I could do it while watching TV, and I am a huge fan of attempting to multitask.

I really wanted to do a big, baggy beanie, so my helpful mom looked through ALL of her knitting books (she has A LOT) and we finally picked a beanie. She took me to the yarn store to choose my yarn and I started right away. I made all the rookie mistakes – picking up extra stitches and then dropping the ones I needed.

I would get frustrated and just put it down for a while, and once I came back to it, I was refreshed and ready to try again. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned from crafting – sometimes you just need to step away and revisit it later. I was really excited, and slightly relieved, when it was finally done.

I wore it every chance I got, and my friends had a lot of fun with it, too. As a result, it’s super stretched out now and is pretty much unwearable at this point. But I still keep it around, because it’s my first completed knitting project – and I just love it so much!

My mom can pretty much knit anything under the sun, and now that I am becoming more and more domesticated, I hope to learn some more from her and see what else I can make! I’m thinking scarves, mittens, pouches, and maybe even a beer koozie!

This post is for the Blog It to Win It contest through Interweave. You can enter the contest by clicking on the Interweave link. Share your post in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #firstknittingproject. Find more knitting 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!

Yo Momma Monday: Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Meet Gretchen Fleener, 34, from Mound, Minnesota. She is an Industrial Designer, Web Designer and face painter. She runs her own business, Junk Mail Gems, where she sells fun items that she makes out of junk mail. She is also an awesome momma to her two sons, who are three and five. Gretchen took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about how she manages everything, and what she wants her sons to learn from her business.

Gretchen got into junk mail art when she was making magnets from junk mail to preserve patterns that she liked in a functional way. She heard over and over again that she could sell her magnets, but it wasn’t until her sister urged her to start selling online. And that is where Junk Mail Gems was born, six years ago.

“She and I came up with the Junk Mail Gems name because the magnets looked like little gems.  I had a lot of fun designing the logo, then website, and coming up with more things to make out of junk mail to fill my store!”

Although  it may not be for everyone, Gretchen says that being the boss is the best part of running her own business. She loves that she can work when it fits in her life, rather than having to wait for work to be over to enjoy life. A life-long multitasker, she can be found packing items during a commercial break.

As for most small business owners, finances are a worry of hers. Fortunately, she has an incredibly supportive husband whose stable job covers the important bills, allowing her to work from home. He fits her business schedule into his and will come home early to watch the boys if she needs to go to a face painting job or a client meeting.

“He never talks down about my businesses or makes me feel less important because I don’t work 9-5 in an office anymore.”

Before she had her sons, doing anything creative or artistic gave her the most fulfillment. Now, she gets the most fulfillment from using her artistic skills (and revenue earned through them) on her boys.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“My kids blow my mind with the things they create already at age 3 and 5 and it’s so cool to see that part of me in them.”

As you might imagine, her boys love crafting with her, and her five-year-old has even caught the bug for turning junk into something he can use and play with! To help cultivate her boys’ creativity, Gretchen labeled a Rubbermaid bin “the project box” and throws odds and ends that the boys can use for their crafts. She also keeps all the kid-friendly crafting supplies at their level so they can create on their own.

“I love coming up with projects to do with them, but my favorite thing is to let them loose and see what they come up with on their own. One of my 5 year old’s most used Christmas gifts is his collection of brightly colored masking tape rolls that my sister gave him.  He is constantly rescuing things form our recycle bin and turning them into things…rocket ships, monster trucks, and houses for his stuffed dogs!”

Not only do her boys love crafting with her, they also love going to yard sales and thrift stores, too! Gretchen says that she talks to them about not wasting things or money, which has also taught them to be patient when they find brand new toys in a store, as they will probably end up at a yard sale or thrift store in a matter of time.

Much like her children, Gretchen loved going to yard sales as a kid and quickly became a big collector. Her collection is now limited to what she can use to decorate her house, and what her family can actually use. I feel your pain, girl. Her vintage finds came in handy last year when she redesigned her kitchen and decorated it with her scores from the 50’s. After facing the normal collector problem of acquiring more than she could use, she set up an Etsy shop.

“This gives me the thrill of the hunt, without the worry of collecting too much.  I love to imagine people looking through my site and getting as excited about finding the perfect thing for their kitchen as I do for mine!”

Gretchen says that she finds inspiration from everywhere – like an oil slick on the street or an old brick building. She also finds inspiration from surrounding herself by other creative people.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“I take TONS of photos and am always collecting inspiration for art, graphic, design or craft projects!”

As an Industrial Designer, Gretchen likes to stay current and is always looking into current and future trends. However, when it comes to her personal style, her love for the ’50s does not stop at kitchen utensils. She also leads a life that is deemed old-fashioned by many people today.

“..Staying home with my kids, canning stuff from my garden, baking cookies, making things by hand and cooking a family dinner each night!”

While Gretchen has always considered herself a motivated person, she says that she is now motivated by different things – like getting her work done early so she can spend more time with her family.

“I know that if I get overtired or overworked, I won’t be as good of a parent or spouse, and my family come first.  So in a way, getting in a little “me” time or letting the laundry sit there one more day  can be better for the family and everyone’s mood!  “

Gretchen credits her ability to get everything done to multitasking and creating lists, just like she used to make fun of her mom for doing years ago. Along with that, she stays super organized, and will rework how shes does something if she feels she’s not doing it efficiently enough – often finding a tool or an app that will help.

“But the one thing I don’t compromise on is sleep.  I just can’t function well on any less than 8 hours a night, and when I get enough sleep, being super productive comes much easier during the day!”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Although Gretchen says that she doesn’t really feel like her work is “work,” she does like to get outside and go fishing, biking and gardening. Living on a lake doesn’t hurt, either. She also likes to paint and work on something creative that is related to her businesses. One craft that she would like to practice more is knitting.

“I’ve done a little, but I love to crochet and really like how much faster it goes!  I’d love to learn how to make my own soaps or candles.  And I’d really love to learn Henna.  It seems right up my alley and would be a great addition to my face painting offerings!”

Gretchen also runs as a series of “Momtreprenuer” Interviews on her blog, as she says that she is always encouraged by hearing how other moms run their businesses and homes.

“So, I thought others might enjoy them too!  It’s also one small way that I can help support fellow moms by spreading the word about their businesses.”

She hopes that her Junk Mail Gems business gives people a new way to look at “junk.” She shares tutorials on her site for various recycling projects, so that people can get new ideas for their own projects.

“I hope to inspire them to find a way to do what they love and maybe even make a little money doing it!  I am always so happy to hear from people who were inspired to try a project I’ve shared too.”

Since Gretchen’s sons will be in school full-time pretty soon, she plans on adding more jobs to her line of work (as if she doesn’t have enough already) like freelance retail fixture design and body painting. She also wants to expand the merchandise section of her online face painting store and seek out more retailers for Junk Mail Gems.

“Right now I have no desire to go back to the corporate gig, but have a huge list of things I’d like to do to grow all of my businesses”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

If you are feeling inspired by Gretchen like I am, you can connect with her through Junk Mail Gems and ID Mommy and can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest. If you know someone who would be a good fit for Yo Momma Monday (your beautiful self included), post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find more Yo Momma Monday inspiration on my 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!