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!

Beauty in the Blooming

Image from Melissa at Print Therapy

Image from Melissa at Print Therapy

In the summer of 2011, I lost the office job I had for over five years. Knowing that I did not want to get back into the world of workers’ compensation claims, I headed back to school to concentrate on my first and true love: writing. But as a writer, it’s hard to find decent pay, especially while you are still in school. So I started crafting more, hoping to make something that would sell. I was so focused on selling stuff in order to make a living, that I wasn’t fully involved in what I was making. Needless to say, it didn’t work out. The passion just wasn’t there.

So I got a little job at a local boutique and put crafting/selling on the back burner. After I found out I was pregnant in the spring of 2012, I left my boutique job and moved to Stockton, where I was introduced to the life of a stay-at-home-mom. I continued to going to school online, but I was also determined to make my own money. So I started selling anything I could, took on several freelance writing jobs and it was around this time that I started this blog.

I was falling behind in school because I was so busy trying to do a million things at once, and I ended up having to drop a lot of my gigs because I didn’t want to have to drop out of school. It’s funny, in every job I’ve had and in every resume I’ve filled out, your ability to multitask is not only a bonus, it’s almost necessary. But I found that in my real life, outside of the office, trying to multitask a bunch of things at once was not working for me.

A little while after my daughter was born, I enrolled in the Graphic Design program at Academy of Arts. I had watched the print industry decline further and further, and I saw the quality in writing decrease. I went to school for Journalism because of my love for writing, but I was finding myself falling out of love. So, before I quit it altogether, I changed my path to Graphic Design.

Still trying to make my own money, I picked up some more freelance writing jobs, somewhat started an art collective and started business with my friend. Apparently I did not learn my lesson about multitasking. With school and raising a baby taking up all of my time, I decided to let things go and focus on what I needed to in the moment. I decided to stop worrying so much on the future and just worry about the present. It’s hard, but it had to happen. My baby was growing before my eyes, and I wanted to be there. Not just around, but there.

So, I stuck with my school and my blog to still keep my hand in the writing game. And I could feel the difference in my attitude, and even saw an improvement in my relationship with my daughter. I was a lot more patient. I wasn’t constantly rushing around the house, and I was enjoying life a lot more. Except for when I was doing homework. Nobody enjoys that.

SONY DSCI found out I was pregnant again during the last week of school, so I while I was exhausted, my morning (aka all day) sickness did not come on till later, so I was able to finish school an even brought my grades up! I thought I would have all this time to beef up my blog, work on our house projects and get started on my business again, but my all day sickness hit me hard, and my baby was getting sick more often. This is when I ultimately decided to just focus on my health and the health of my family. To get as much rest as I could, and to use the couple of months I have on break to spend with my daughter.

Because a month after my next semester is done, our second baby will be born, and I will be back in school a couple weeks after that. So while I’m not writing as much, or doing everything I wanted to during vacation, I’m completely fine with just being a mom right now. With visiting family and watching my daughter learn how to say words and explore our backyard. With hanging out with my boyfriend on his days off, and not just asking him to watch her.

When I was pregnant with Cecilia, everything was so rushed and I was so worried about getting everything done on time. And now, I just want everything to go in slow motion. I’m taking my time on working on little projects for Cecilia’s room and waiting for the last minute to move my office/craft room to the space in the back. I’m decorating and working on our house when I can, and I’m crafting and making stuff when I get a chance. And I feel so much better than when I was trying to get everything done at once, and to be honest, I’m probably getting more stuff done. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

SONY DSCThis post was part of the Beauty in the Blooming blog tour that was created by the beautiful Melissa at Print Therapy. You can check out her post here and you can find the blog tour on the Print Therapy site tomorrow. Are you taking some time out to focus on the present? Finding beauty in the blooming? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favoritesThis week is all about crafts, food and business. I suppose that’s not different than any other week, but I have been downloading a lot of craft books, getting some new foodie supplies and a few food-oriented books, and my friend Kandyce and I are getting serious about our upcycle/vintage/handmade business. So, I have some business goodies I found this week to share with you, too!

Photo from Ashley Pahl

Photo from Ashley Pahl

Snowed In Magazine by Ashley Pahl at She Makes a Home – Ashley teamed up with Anastasia Christou of Anastasia Drawing and Dreaming,  Kayla Domeyer of Say Not Sweet Anne, Lara Habbinga of Lila Art Studio, Desha Peacock, author of the upcoming book, Sweet Spot Style, Megha Silvano of The Art Bug  and Lauren Thomas of The Full Catastrophe to create this beautiful free magazine that is full of holiday decorating ideas, planning, crafts and recipes.

Photo from Make Your Day DIY

Photo from Make Your Day DIY

Make Your Day DIY by Chelsey Andrews and Chelsea Costa – Chelsey Andrews from The Paper Mama and Chelsea Costa from Lovely Indeed came together to create a wonderful 150 page digital crafting book, that is full of awesome tutorials and printables to use with your crafts. To top it all off, any orders before Dec 23 will come with a bonus 2014 printable calendar, holiday gift tags, and a few surprises! The book is $12 and you can order it at makeyourdaydiy.com, you can also get 20% off the book at Poppytalk.

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking from Kate Payne – I got a couple Amazon gift cards for my birthday on Tuesday, so I was finally able to buy this book that I have been wanting to get! It’s $17.98 at Amazon and is full of information that any “half-assed domestic goddess” should know. She talks about decorating on a budget, canning, preserving, thrifting and more. I think she also shares a few recipes, which I’m stoked about! I think she’s working on a new book too….

Image from Wiley Publishing

Image from Wiley Publishing

Plate to Pixel from Helene Dujardin – This is another Amazon purchase that I got because it gives tips on food photography and styling. This is something I have really wanted to get into more, but have had some difficulty with. She also runs a food blog called Tartelette – where she shares recipes, workshops and more. Originally from France, Helene is now living in Alabama and she started her blog in 2006, after leaving a pastry chef position at a French restaurant.

Image from Stephanie St. Claire

Image from Stephanie St. Claire

11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business from Stephanie St. Claire on Medium – Since starting my own business, I have read a lot of articles on what you need to know to run a successful business. Few of them touch on how hard, tiring and lonely it will be, though. That’s what I liked about this article – it’s real, and she quotes Snoop Dogg. A super funny intuitive guidance counselor, she blogs at Blissbombed and offers custom guidance sessions.

8ef7e42c4c2311e3abe412df1b842658_8

I had been hinting at a pressure canner for SO long and my boyfriend got it for me for my birthday! I am so excited, and now I can really get going with my canning. Christmas presents, anyone? My beautiful daughter is embracing her inner Vanna White and is displaying it for us. Truthfully, she was pushing it around the house and I caught her mid-pause. What a useful gift!

What are your favorite things from this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites You can find more Friday inspiration on my Pinterest!

From the home of: Anne Davis

Anne 2009Not only do I find a lot of inspiration from artists and creatives, I also feel so inspired when I see a beautiful home, especially one that was either built by hand or completely renovated by hand and is full of special, personal touches. Always wanting to know more, I have asked a few of my favorite designers to share their stories with me, and my first guest is Anne Davis, 51, from Kimberley, British Columbia. She blogs about remodeling her 1930s bungalow over at DesignDreams by Anne.

Anne moved into her place in 2010 and has been working on a full renovation. Before her purchase, she did subcontract work on a log home that she assembled with her ex, and some of their friends. She did all of the painting, staining, insulation and vapour barrier. She notched out holes in the logs for all the electrical runs, installed all the doorknobs and deadbolts, helped build the kitchen cabinet and hung all of the window treatments.

“I did all the landscaping by myself without the use of heavy machinery and that was the hardest project of everything I did!  I landscaped an acre and a half by hand.  I don’t recommend it to anyone!”

As soon as she found out that blogging existed, she wanted to start writing about her renovations and sharing them online. Her ex was against it, however, so after they separated, she decided it was time to start blogging!

“I was in a long-distance relationship that left me on my own a lot.  Plus I had this house that I was decorating and fixing up so I thought it was the perfect time to share my adventures.”

She self-taught herself to do most of the renovating and repairing in her house, but she admits that that she will not touch rough plumbing or roofing.

House Tour 2013

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

“I don’t want to mess with something that could become a total disaster… Well worth the money to get someone who knows what he/she is doing.”

Anne loves building things with her power tools, and her favorite tool is her 18v Makita circular saw, because of it’s versatility and all of the stuff she can do with it. Her favorite things to build so far have been her baby greenhouse and her new potting bench, although she is most proud of her bathroom – which took her three years of working on it in her spare time to complete!

“The more practiced I become, the more I get into building really cool and beautiful things.  Such fun!!!”

Anne describes her style as eclectic, and says that she likes so many different styles that she changes things frequently, depending on what she loves at the time. She also decorates her house with items she finds on the side of the road or in a dumpster, her favorite being an almost-new dining room chandelier.

DSCN4387

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

Another hobby of Anne’s that pays off big time when she’s renovating is painting. She claims a paint addiction and has been painting and repainting walls since her first house, many moons ago. Her love for painting really came in handy when she started frequenting yard and estate sales and flea markets more and would repaint the found furniture a color she liked. She then moved on to paintings after she found paint sets at the Dollar Store for watercolor, acrylic and oils three years ago.

“I bought all three and started playing.  It was such fun that I kept it up and now I’m in love with painting pictures.  My fave is acrylics although I’d love to learn how to use watercolours properly.”

Since Anne works a full-time office job during the week, her play and renovating is usually restricted to the weekends. She notices that her projects run smoother when she isn’t forcing herself to do something, because she doesn’t have to think about what she’s doing.

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

“I plan to do something and then when I wake up on Saturday, I  wind up doing whatever it is that I’m inspired to do – and it usually isn’t what I planned to do. I don’t force myself anymore.  Go with the flow!”

Her house was recently on a home tour, where she gained a lot of followers, and made a lot of new friends. She says the first thing people say when they walk in is “nice ceiling!” something she laughingly says she had nothing to do with. Next she wants to tear down the wall between her living room and dining room, and she wants to rip off the “crappy little deck” she has in the backyard and build a new one.

Anne gets her inspiration from other bloggers, Pinterest, and sometimes just out the blue! She hopes her blog can be a source of inspiration for other people who want to do the same things she’s doing – without it costing a fortune!

“What held me back for years on my other homes was the cost of labour for the things I wanted done.  Now I research the things I want to do, I view lots of how-to videos on YouTube and ask a lot of questions before I tackle something I’m not sure how to do.  Then I take the plunge.  This process has worked well for me.  Once I believe I can do something, there’s no stopping me.”

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

She advises that renovations are stressful – even if you live alone – and if you’re not into what you are doing, it can only get worse. If you are renovating with someone else, make sure you are both on the same page with what needs to be done – and what the time frame is.

“Make sure whatever it is you are planning to do is something that you truly want to do or learn to do because otherwise you will be very unhappy with the process…If you aren’t both in agreement, don’t do it!!!”

Anne’a favorite thing about what she does is turning her house into the perfect living space at a fraction of the cost – thanks to salvaged materials, yard sales, dumpster finds, and of course – saving money on labor. She has done more than she ever thought she could, simply by investing in a few major tools that made for easier work. She says that when she first moved in, the amount of things she disliked about the house weighed her down, and back then, she didn’t think she could take it all on by herself.

“Now I walk into my home and feel a great sense of pride and enjoyment from how beautiful it is and that I did it by myself.  It’s comfortable, beautiful, quirky and happy – just like me! ;)”

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

Photo from DesignDreams by Anne

You can find out more about Anne’s renovations and see her full house tour on her blog, DesignDreams by Anne and find updates on her Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter for more home inspiration!