Meet the Maker: Amy Cluck-McAlister of Amy is the Party

meet the maker amyAmy Cluck-McAlister, whom I met two years ago when she donated some wonderful handmade jewelry to a fundraiser I was organizing, is a creative force to be reckoned with in the Sacramento indie community. She runs Amy is the Party, where she shares party styling ideas, DIY projects and the places and people she loves in Sacramento. She is also the founder of IndieSacramento – an online gathering of local creatives. She also happens to be doing all the behind-the-scenes design work on my new blog platform, which will be launched next week!

Today, I’m so pleased and honored to share a little more about her!

First, tell us a little about yourself!

Hello there, I’m Amy! I am a web designer with a passion for parties, decor, and desserts.

Some might say I was born in the wrong era. I believe in home cooked meals – in thank you cards – in baking from scratch. I strive to be the “hostess with the mostess”. I couldn’t agree more with Julia Child when she said “A party without cake is just a meeting” – although I think it’s perfectly fine to substitute cake with cupcakes or pie (or whatever dessert you find fitting). I also believe in creating memories – special moments of time that your friends and family will carry with them, long after the celebration is over. I believe in celebrating everyday with the little bits of joy that living creatively can bring.

As a blogger, entrepreneur, and web designer, I have been involved with both the online and local crafting community for several years.  A socially awkward socialite, I spend my free time supporting small businesses and events in my hometown of Sacramento, CA. I also enjoy searching for vintage treasures and indulging in the shenanigans of my husband and two cats.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister. DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet. Click the photo for the full tutorial.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister / DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet / Click the photo for the full tutorial!

How did you get into graphic/web design?

I took a commercial art class in high school. We mostly made posters and learned calligraphy but I knew that I wanted to use my artistic skills for advertising or something along those lines. I took a few graphic design and beginning web classes at American River (Community College) while getting my general ed out of the way. By the time I graduated, I knew I was specifically interested in designing for on-screen (computers). The closest degree program that Sac State offered was Graphic Design so I stuck with that for a year until I saw that a new Multimedia program was being added. I quickly changed majors! The Multimedia program sort of focused on making interactive CDs, which isn’t a really a thing nowadays. It’s hard to predict the direction technology will take us! When you get into something like graphic and web design, you have to be flexible and you have to continually educate yourself on new techniques.

What about entertaining and DIY’ing?

Both my parents and my grandmas on both sides were into DIYing different things. I grew up making handmade Christmas gifts and baking dozens of cookies for the neighbors. I lived for holidays and family get-togethers. I didn’t think about it much, plus I don’t think it was considered cool to be into domestic stuff when I was younger. After graduating college, I started to get back into crafting a bit. Then I started finding all these people online who were into making items that were actually trendy and I felt really inspired. This was about 10 years ago when sites like Craftster and GetCrafty were just starting.  I jumped right in and started making and selling jewelry. I gradually started to gravitate towards party planning since it incorporates all of my loves: baking, dessert styling, decorating, DIY, and graphic design.

What pushed you to start your blog?

Finding other people who were making crafts and selling them really inspired me. It seemed like a lot of those people were starting blogs and I wanted to be a part of it too, not just to show off what I was making but to show off what other people were making as well.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial!

What is your creative process like?

I come up with ideas, scribble them on post-it notes, lose the post-it notes, forget some of the ideas, and don’t have anywhere near enough time to follow through with all the ideas that I don’t forget about! Occasionally, I actually get to follow through on something. I’m an impatient crafter but I’m also a perfectionist. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the creating process because I’m so excited to get to the end result.

What inspired you to start Indie Sacramento?

A couple national craft shows (Bazaar Bizarre and Renegade) popped up that were different from any craft show I had been to before (“not your gramdma’s craft fair” as they would say). The vendors made trendy items that I would actually wear or display in my home. Both shows were located in San Francisco (as well as other cities) but not Sacramento. I had started networking with local crafters and I knew we had enough local talent to put a show like that on here so I started IndieSacramento.

I felt like IndieSacramento was a pretty successful event, but it was also A LOT of work and a lot of stress. I decided that an online collective of local crafters was the way to go so I quit holding craft shows and choose to expand the website instead. Of course, now I have other ideas of what I’d like to do with the site but there never seems to be enough time!

How do you feel about the creative community in Sacramento?

I’m really proud of how our creative community has grown in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago when we were in need of a venue for “alternative” crafters and artists to sell their goods at. Now we’ve got all kinds of events like the Indie Craft Fair and GOOD, just to name a couple. I’m also really impressed with the amount of networking I’ve noticed among talented individuals in different industries – we’ve got bloggers and crafters, boutique owners, restaurateurs, photographers, event planners, etc. all working together to promote each other to put on awesome events together.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck - McCallister / Amy's DIY Wedding / Click the photo for the full details

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck – McCallister / Amy’s DIY Wedding / Click the photo for all the details!

Favorite places to get your supplies (craft, party, etc) in town?

Wrapped All Up is a really fun warehouse type place that carries every kind of ribbon or wrapping you could want. The Paper Garden is a great place to get inspiration for paper crafting – plus they also carry some fun washi tapes and baker’s twine that you can’t get anywhere else locally.

If somebody wanted to start working on DIY projects, where would you tell them to go first?

There are so many resources, it’s hard to say! Brit.co is one of my recent favorites because they feature a variety of trendy and easy projects. I would also suggest joining a crafty forum or two. Cut Out + Keep is one of my favorites. You can check out other peoples projects and tutorials, network with people, and upload your own projects.

My husband and I just bought our first home (yay!) so I’m sure amy is the party will start featuring more home decorating projects (just like I started featuring more wedding related content before we got married). I think my blog will always branch out to fit my current interests, as long as it’s still related to entertaining and creative living.

Click the photo for the full DIY

Click the photo for the full DIY!

My plan is for IndieSacramento to include small businesses of all types, not just crafters. It will be kind of a directory for people to shop local and to find unique and fun businesses to support.

You can find out more about Amy and all the awesome things she’s doing at Amy is the Party. Want to be featured in Meet the Maker or know a special someone who should be featured? Leave a comment here and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

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!

My Healthy Life: A Recipe!

my healthy life

My favorite time of year starts around October 24. Everyone is getting ready for Halloween, and the pumpkin craze is full steam ahead. People don’t look at me weird for adding pumpkin to everything I make and fall is finally in full force. I used to love summer. Now I loathe it, because my daughter gets wayyy too hot if we take her outside, so we’re like little recluses in our house.

With the Holidays surrounding us, it can be rather difficult to maintain your diet. I know that for me, we have a huge leftover pizza from Cecilia’s birthday, and with final projects for school, Christmas projects and trying to get my small business going, I have been living on pizza and cupcakes. Luckily, I treat myself every morning to this wonderful pumpkin muffin I found on Recipe Girl.

Photo from Recipe Girl

Photo from Recipe Girl

I wanted to make the same muffin but a little cleaner, so I consulted my favorite clean eating site – The Gracious Pantry – for the food substitution chart to see what I could do with this recipe. And here are the changes I made:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour  2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I would have done 3 cups whole wheat flour, if I had enough!)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted  1/4 cup apple sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar  3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
My version

My version

I also opted out of making the glaze, which was part of the recipe. I’m sure there is a clean glaze I could make, but I didn’t worry about it this time. You can get the full recipe – including the glaze – over at Recipe Girl, and you can download How to Convert Recipes at The Gracious Pantry.

I will be sharing more and more recipes that are cleaned up a little and perfect for the Holidays in the next couple of weeks. If you have a healthy holiday recipe you would like to share, or you would like to see a favorite recipe of yours cleaned up – please let me know in the comments and share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #healthyholidays. You can find more healthy holiday inspiration on my Pinterest!

This Week at the Weekly Treat

weekly treat

Back when I could eat donuts whenever I felt like it, I would love the maple sprinkled donuts. You couldn’t find them at every shop in town, but when you did, it made your heart soar. Well, at least mine did. When I was a little older and classier, I ditched the sprinkles and just stuck to maple bars. It’s been a while since I hit up a donut shop, but I still love a good maple recipe. Here are some worth trying out:

Image belongs to food plus words

Image belongs to food plus words

Baked pumpkin autumn maple donuts from food plus words

Image belongs to Hot Polka Dot

Image belongs to Hot Polka Dot

Maple Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread from Hot Polka Dot

Image belongs to Two Peas and their Pod

Image belongs to Two Peas and their Pod

Mini Chocolate Chip Maple Pancake Cupcakes from Two Peas and their Pod

Image belongs Annie's Noms

Image belongs Annie’s Noms

Mini Maple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins from Annie’s Noms

Image belongs to Lauren's Latest

Image belongs to Lauren’s Latest

Pumkin Maple Rolls from Lauren’s Latest

And if you’re in the mood for something healthier….

Image belongs to Opera Girl Cooks

Image belongs to Opera Girl Cooks

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Spice Glaze from Opera Girl Cooks

I hope you enjoy these maple recipes, and I hope that you take a few moments to check out all of these blogs. I do my very best to only get recipes from food bloggers, and I try to steer away from the big companies as much as possible. There are so many awesome food bloggers out there that spend hours planning their recipes, and even more time making sure every crumb is in the right place for their photos.

If you are a blogger and have some recipes you would like to share, please post in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will be sure to check out your blog/website and share any recipes that work well with what I’m writing. I’m also up for any ideas you have for future weekly treats. Just let me know! I don’t post every recipe I find, so if you are looking for more Weekly Treat recipes, check out my Pinterest.

This week at the weekly treat

weekly treat

Usually when I do a weekly treat post, I have an ingredient in mind. But after the day I had today, I had no inspiration left in me. So I did what any normal person would do when they were at a loss, I went on Pinterest. And there I found the source of this week’s inspiration: lemon and blueberry.

Image belongs to The Mommy Games

Image belongs to The Mommy Games

Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins from the mommy games

Image belongs to Epicurean Mom

Image belongs to Epicurean Mom

Lemon blueberry cheesecake bars from Epicurean Mom

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Image belongs to fancyfoodfancy

Lemon frozen yogurt with blueberry swirl from fancyfoodfancy

Image belongs to Lemon Blueberry Pie Cupcakes

Image belongs to Lemon Blueberry Pie Cupcakes

Lemon Blueberry Pie Cupcakes from Beyond Frosting

blueberry lemon scones organic healthy clean green living recipe-5

Image belongs to Sincerely, Kinsey

Clean Lemon Blueberry Scones from Sincerely, Kinsey

If you love baking or are just getting into it, check out our Weekly Treat group for some recipe inspiration. Share your lemon and blueberry treats in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #lemonblueberry You can find more of my lemon blueberry inspiration on Pinterest!

 

This week at the Weekly Treat

weekly treat

A couple weeks ago, I bought a huge bag of grapefruit at the store, assured that I would eat every last one of them. When I got them, they weren’t that ripe. I figured I would give them some time and by the time I checked them again, they were nearing their expiration date.

Not wanting to lose my grapefruits, I thought I would find a couple of treats I could make with them. And here they are!

grapefruit scones 059

Image belongs to Arctic Garden Studio

Grapefruit scones from Arctic Garden Studio

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Image belongs to Squirrel Bread

Grapefruit Sorbet from Squirrel Bread

Perfect for this friggin heat!

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Image belongs to Completely Delicious

Pink grapefruit cupcakes by Completely Delicious

The name serves the blog well. These look completely delicious. Definitely trying this recipe

grapefruit-header

Image belongs to Eat and Relish

Grapefruit brulee from Eat and Relish

This makes me feel fancy just looking at it

If you want to add to our weekly treat group, find us on Facebook. Share your favorite avocado treat recipe in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #grapefruitreats. You can find more of my avocado inspiration on Pinterest.