Monday Inspiration

Monday Inspiration

Whenever I’m feeling down and out, I always find a little light when I log in to my social media sites and see all the wonderful things people are doing. Whether it’s making a new recipe from scratch, finishing a long-time project or visiting an amazing city, there is always something to lift my spirits.

And then it hit me. While I wholeheartedly encourage seeking inspiration from others when you are feeling overwhelmed or just plain out of it, why aren’t I looking inside myself for inspiration? Why aren’t I amazing myself? I could do all of these things (aside from traveling, that will just have to wait), I just need to make time for them. So what’s my excuse?

I will have to say, I did make a few meals from scratch last week, and we were able to eat leftovers throughout the week. But then by Friday, it all came to a halt. I got exhausted and just couldn’t push myself to create. So I’ve gone over what was bothering me, what made me feel so uninspired, and I made a list of how to fix it. I absolutely love making lists. I don’t always follow them, but I do love to make them.

Image from Huffington Post. Lots of good positive mantras in that post.

Image from Huffington Post. Lots of good positive mantras in that post.

Then I made myself a daily schedule and now I’m working on a weekly meal plan. It’s all totally boring stuff and I feel sort of silly writing about it on my blog. But it’s a part of life and I can pretty much guarantee I’m not the only one who has felt like this. So while I don’t want to write out every detail, here is what I have planned out:

  • Write daily. Whether it’s on my blog or in my little journal, just write.
  • Cook something new and fun when I can. Find new recipes and experiment a little. Mix it up a bit. Share what I cook online.
  • Work out 30 minutes a day and practice yoga at least once a day. It’s insane how much energy I get from working out, and I always feel invigorated after doing yoga. These simple things change everything, but I never make time for them.
  • Set aside 4-6 hrs a day for school work, depending on what I have. Turn everything off so I just have that to concentrate on. Of course I will take time for baby breaks, but that’s it.
  • Schedule more Pampered Chef parties and start selling more of my stuff online
  • An hour a day on creative art stuff. It’s something that I love doing, but never give myself the time to do it.

I got inspired to work on this list after I read a little something from Danny J – who runs The Sweaty Betties – about not making any more excuses and making goals and sticking to them. So I hope I can inspire someone as well. I’m going to turn this into a little self-spring cleaning. Spring cleaning of the soul, maybe?

Share any of our Monday inspiration in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google +. I plan on sharing more of what inspires me and makes me happy in my own daily life.

*Photo of beautiful flowers from Pretty Stuff – by Patterson Maker

Meet the Maker: Kate Payne

meet the makerSometime last year, I was virtually introduced to Kate Payne, the author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. I don’t remember how the introduction occurred, but from the moment I visited her website, I’ve been hooked. I was so hooked that I purchased her book last November, and I love reading it in the little snippets of free time that I get.

I’m hoping to put a lot of her homemaking tips to use when we get our house, so I will do a full review of the book then. But for now – I just want to share her amazing story.

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Before this book, Kate was what she calls “a flashy cook” – cooking food that would excite, but was not necessary by any means. She has also donned titles such as grant writer, half-assed homemaker, nanny, after-hours poet, doodler and gardener. She studied anthropology and sociology in the Sonoran Desert and once worked on an organic tomato farm.

Kate started the blog in 2009, when she was living in a ground floor apartment in Brooklyn, NY. She wasn’t making the money she was used to, but she still wanted the comforts of home. She dug inside for a little creativity and improvisation, and there the blog – and subsequently the book – were born.

“I started the blog specifically with the intent to write a book. The blog was a sort of sounding board for me to see if what I was thinking about writing was of interest to anyone besides me. I was not a blog reader at the time and my background in grant writing didn’t factor much into my blogging endeavors. I think the rigors of writing well–proofreading, syntax, punctuation, grammar, etc.–should go into any style of writing one does, whether it’s books, blog posts, magazine articles, or grants. “

She decided to write a book because she felt like there wasn’t enough resources out there for women who weren’t so hip on homemaking and keeping a clean house. Aside from that, she found herself questioning if it was normal for a modern, empowered woman like herself to actually enjoy the domestic life.

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

“The stigma and history surrounding women and domesticity fueled my intrigue in exploring my own relationship with the kitchen and household chores. With my book and approach I hope to shed a new light on DIY and eco-oriented homemaking. We all need somewhere to call home and shifting our attitude toward our homes is a good first step.

I’m of the opinion that you should pick and choose what you do yourself based on what you actually like doing, and then dedicate money you save there on quality items or services you don’t particularly enjoy. What makes the most sense for certain people to do themselves, doesn’t make sense for others. “

On top of maintaining her blog and writing her books, Kate also writes grants part-time for a nonprofit and maintains a quarterly column for Edible Austin. She works with her Marketing Coordinator Christina Valentine on the blog, tour event planning and managing workshop preparations. And because that is clearly not enough, she also works with a local farmers market group and helps maintain their website and social media.

“Freelancing means I’m working nearly all the time, but working on things I feel passionately about makes it worth it. I always carve out time to eat dinner with my wife, who does most of the sustenance cooking around our house. (I manage the fermenting, canning, desserts, ice cream and bread making, the projects we love, but can ultimately live without.)”

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate started canning in 2009 and peach jam was among her first projects, which she was afraid to eat because she was terrified the jars were full of botulism. She also made a triple citrus marmalade, from Eugenia Bone’s book Well Preserved.

“As I endeavored to learn more about canning, I soon discovered that all the hype surrounding your imminent death by canning was not really likely if you followed USDA-approved canning methods and practices. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for beginners.”

A self-taught cook, she gets a lot of her recipe inspiration from Joy of Cooking and many of her gluten-free recipes will start from there and from pastry chef David Lebovitz. She will then make the recipes gluten free-friendly by substituting the flour for a flour blend based on what she is making. As for her preserving projects and recipes, she’s inspired by Linda Ziedrich, Eugenia Bone and Sandor Katz.

She and her friend started the Food Swap Network, which provides hosts and attendees with a bevy of resources and information. Existing swaps that are registered on their site are searchable for anyone nearby who wants to join the fun.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate’s new book The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen comes out next month and is available for pre-order now. She says it will be in the same style and format as her freshman book – it will just focus completely on the kitchen, which really is a world of its own.

“I took over the cooking for the year I wrote the book as evidence that even someone like me who doesn’t enjoy daily sustenance cooking can reasonably and affordably incorporate cooking into their busy lifestyle.”

She hopes people will just simply focus on doing their best, and will relax when they hit the learning curve that comes with working on new projects. And as for the best compliment she’s received:

“A single mom told me how she’s never had time for any household things, but my book and small-batch preserving recipes on the blog inspired her to try doing some kitchen projects with her daughter. They now spend more time together cooking and canning, which means the world to her.”

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Kate will be kicking off her HGGK Book Tour (hooray!) on May 24 in Ann Arbor, MI and the tour will close in Albuquerque, NM on July 1. I have listed the dates and locations of her book tour, and you can also see her full classes, demos and signings schedule by visiting her at katepayne.net.

      • May 24 – Ann Arbor, MI: Literati Bookstore, time TBD
      • May 27 – Austin, TX: BookPeople 7:00pm
      • May 28 – Houston, TX: Blue Willow Bookshop, 7:00pm
      • May 29 – Brooklyn, NY: Greenlight Bookstore, 7:30pm
      • June 13 – Tucson, AZ: Antigone Books, 7:00pm
      • June 17 – La Jolla, CA: Warwick’s, 7:30pm
      • June 23 – Seattle, WA: Book Larder, 6:30pm
      • June 28 – San Francisco, CA: Omnivore Books, 3:00pm
      • June 30 – Phoenix, AZ: Changing Hands Bookstore, 7:00pm
      • July 1 – Albuquerque, NM: Bookworks, 7:00pm

You can find Kate Payne by visiting her on The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking website, you can find neat stuff in her store and you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. If you know an awesome maker who would be perfect for this series, please leave a link in the comments, share on my social media or e-mail it to me!

Things Worth Celebrating

ThingsWorthCelebrating_700pxWhen I signed up for the Things Worth Celebrating Community Blog Tour with Petit Cadeau, I was racking my brain for things that would be worth celebrating on my blog. I ultimately decided that the little things we celebrate every day (like when Cecilia naps for longer than 30 minutes, or she eats all of her baby food) just wouldn’t make the cut, so therefore – I didn’t really have a lot to write about.

Then, we rented Dallas Buyers Club last night – it’s about a cowboy who found out he had HIV and eventually exploited the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and Doctors. It’s crazy to imagine that this was a true story, and I knew how much I was into it, because for once – I didn’t fall asleep in the middle of it, even if it was way past my bedtime. It got me thinking, there is something worth celebrating and it happens every day – life!

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I’m in the middle of so many things that haven’t come to fruition yet, but I hadn’t yet realized how wonderful it is to be involved in so much. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to stress about school, to worry about if my businesses will thrive or not, and how unbelievably happy I was that the only thing I have to worry about with my daughter is if she will sleep good for me and eat her food.

I don’t have to worry about living with something that is slowly killing me or anyone in my family. I don’t have to worry about medications, or where my next meal will come from. All the things I have to worry about are good things. They mean progress, and they mean that we’re doing alright.

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The other night, I was banging my head on the table and eating as many Samoas (I will never refer to them as Carmel Delites) as I could possibly shove in my mouth because of my project for school. I was making a DIY photo box for school and I suddenly realized how useful this will be to me, and instead of fighting it so much – I should embrace the lesson and take all from it that I can. I should celebrate the fact that I’m in school, learning about a field I hope to work in for a long time.

Another school assignment I did that I loved

Another school assignment I did that I loved

And as stressful as house hunting can be, I’m happy and grateful to have a home to hunt. We should be embracing the hunt, not fighting it. This will be the home that we will raise our family in, where we will make memories that will last forever and a place that we can make – and call – our own.

And finally, even though my businesses are not thriving right now, I should be grateful to have the opportunity to start a business from home. I should be celebrating the fact that I have a supportive boyfriend and family who make it possible for me to do this. I should be more fearless with my business choices, and I should make the most of it. Take this time to focus on making a prosperous life for me and family. I should definitely celebrate that I am working with one of my best friends. Not a whole lot of people can say that.

IMG_0768So, today I’m celebrating the good worries and the good stresses. Because they mean forward movement. I’m not saying that I will never get stressed out again. We all do. It’s a part of life. But instead of being stuck in that negative place, it’s always good to think about what worries and stresses you, and see the good in it. Because, for the most part, there’s always good in it.

My Healthy Life: A Manifesto

my healthy life

Before writing this post, I thought I would revisit what I wrote around this time last year. I had just signed up for Weight Watchers again, and had already lost close to 20 lbs since having my baby (she was a month old at the time – crazy to imagine, eh). Since then, I have made some major changes.

While Weight Watchers totally kicked my butt into gear and helped me learn from the food and activity choices I was making, I have opted for a complete lifestyle change and ultimately chose a route where I wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee to be told how to eat. I also was not completely behind the idea where you get count points based on caloric intake – tricking people into believing that diet food is healthier for you, when it can often be worse.

I don’t want to focus on consuming diet food, but rather consuming food that is real, whole, good for you and delicious. My healthy goals for this year are to: workout for 30 minutes per day, practice yoga for 30 minutes a day and cook all of our meals from scratch. Sure, there will be times where we go out to eat. I am in no way perfect when it comes to my diet, and I think 99% of people can agree with that. But I will be more conscious when I do go out to eat. That’s all you gotta do. Be conscious.

I also want to focus more on remixing recipes by substituting good, healthy ingredients where they are needed and I will continue sharing my concoctions with you.

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In case you are also resolving to get more fitness and healthy food in your life for the next year, here are a few websites that really helped me last year:

  • Greatist: This is one of the first websites I got into when I started this health kick. I attempted many a health challenge through Greatist, and while I barely ever stuck with them – I learned a lot and I love how proactive and fun the writers are. They actually created Renew Year, where they post new challenges each morning and you share on Twitter when you complete the challenge with the hashtag #healthyishappy. I love it!
  • The Gracious Pantry – This is by far one of my favorite sites and has truly motivated me to keep eating real and good food. Her recipes are all clean and she has good ones! My family loves every recipe I make…and that is really saying a lot. Because they hate anything with the word healthy in it.
  • DoYouYoga.com – I love this yoga site, and I love Erin Motz. She always makes yoga practice fun, and they’re always adding new videos. She has really inspired me to pursue a yoga instructor certification, and that is one of my goals now.
  • Fitness Blender – I found this couple through YouTube, and I love their workouts. They’re quick, but get the job done. They also do different challenges that you can join in, and they often post videos talking about nutrition and health – which I love. It’s not about being skinny for them, it’s about being healthy.

While you may not be on your A-game all the time, as long as you are eating good food and remaining active, you’ll be fine. I promise.  Let’s do this not to be skinny – let’s do it to be healthy. Most of all, let’s DO IT.

Have you made a resolution to be more healthy in 2014? Did you write about it? Share your link in the comments and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #myhealthylife. You can also find more healthy inspiration on my Pinterest. Cheers to healthy and happy new year!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I just got into baking last year when I was entering my “nesting” phase (which hasn’t left yet, so I think it’s more than a phase now, it’s an eternal state of being). It quickly became an addiction for me, and I find myself at more baking and cooking stores than clothing stores, now. Sometimes, I don’t even go in there to buy anything, I just love to look. I especially love going to the Baker’s Boutique in Stockton, they serve you cupcakes that are made in the back!

Since I love baking so much now, I also happen to love anything that goes with baking. I’ve seen some cute baking inspired clothing and prints all over Pinterest and Etsy, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Culinary Inspired Canvas Tote from KatchACanvas – When we first had Cecilia, we had what I’m pretty sure was the world’s largest diaper bag. Then we downsized to a large backpack (not much of a downsize, to be honest). Now, I normally just carry a couple diapers, some wipes and her formula in my purse. Since she is getting more into her toys and loves having them with her, I’m thinking this tote would be perfect. And the best part – the shop is run by preschool teachers from the Philippines. France, one of the owners, lives in San Diego now and continues teaching in America. They donate one book to a needy child in Philippines for every tote that is purchased. This one goes for $12, which is not bad at all.

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Ladies Kitchen Mixer T-Shirt from Caustic Threads – Erica Voges, the wonderful lady behind this shop, drew up the design herself and then screen printed it on the shirt. She makes every item as the order comes in, so it’s made fresh, just for you. Voges is a mama in New Mexico, who wanted to screen print for a long time, and finally got started in 2010. The shirts are all dyed by her and she screen prints everything by hand.

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Pyrex art print from eat.say.love. – Ashley, who is the owner and designer at eat.say.love, is a graphic designer in Boston, MA. She individually prints each print on archival paper and ships them off herself. There are a lot of other cute prints like this in her shop, such as “Fork It, Let’s Get Takeout,” a conversation that has been shared many times in this house. And if you follow her on Instagram under @eatsaylove, you can get exclusive deals and giveaways!

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Baking is Happiness Large Digital Vintage Image from Pretty Things For You – This Etsy shop is full of digital vintage images that can be purchased for a really good price. This print is only $2 and is available for immediate download. You can use the images on all of your crafting projects. The image can be sold as a finished project, or if it was digitally layered and flattened. It cannot, however, be sold as is. That’s just not cool.

Image belongs to Little Ink

Image belongs to Little Ink

Made with Love Wooden Stamp from Little Ink – Suzie, who runs this online store, mixes her love of natural fibers and material with her love of bold colors to come up with her designs. This stamp is $30 and measures 32mm x 25 mm. It’s mounted with a beautiful black wooden handle and also comes in a cloth pouch. You can use this design for all of your homemade goodies, and any clothing you make by hand. That would be so cute!

One of my favorite things about blogging is finding hidden treasures like these. I want each and every one of these items, and will work on purchasing all of them when I can. Like I’ve said before, I promise to never share anything with you that I wouldn’t get for myself. Do you know of any cute baking-related items? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #favoritefridays. Follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorites!

Yo Momma Monday: Amy Christie

yo momma monday

Amy Christie, 31, is the wonderful mind behind the this heart of mine blog. She has two adorable kids, and when she’s not busy taking care of them, she makes all sorts of good stuff, from yummy food like the strawberry shortcake from scratch that I featured in the weekly treat, to beautiful polymer works of art.

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Anytime I see a mom who is able to do her artwork from home while raising her children, I have to find out how they do it. So I contacted her to find out more about her and her life, and this is what she had to say.

Describe a typical day.

The house wakes up. It’s breakfast time and I try to sneak in some emailing too. The morning is filled with lots of different things – playing, outdoor activities, beach play, creating, prepping posts, project creation, etc. We have lunch (and on beach days, we eat at the beach!). Our afternoons are usually spent at home, stilling playing and creating with a nap thrown in here and there. My husband gets home and we have dinner. Then it is the bath time/bedtime rush. When the children are in bed, I finish up posts, edit photos and brainstorm. I usually go to bed late which makes the morning come too quickly. 🙂

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Image belongs to Amy Christie

When did you start crafting?

I grew up in a creative household, my mom encouraged lots of creative activity.

What was the first craft project that you did, and how did it turn out?

Probably something for my cardboard Barbie house.

What about baking/cooking?

I love baking and cooking. Again, I grew up on homemade food and continue that in my own home.

What is the one treat that you always get asked to make?

Nothing specific. Home-cooked food is very appreciated though, desserts especially.

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Image belongs to Amy Christie

How often do you spend each week on crafting and baking?

Not sure, I don’t keep track, but probably a good chunk of my time since we have to eat every day and my job is to create content. 🙂

What is the most challenging thing about balancing work and play with your kids?

The most challenging part is the balancing – how to get everything done, get everyone’s needs met all while trying to take care of myself. It’s a daily battle.

What projects are you currently working on?

Lots of things!! Recipes to share, projects and DIYs to post and we have a few house projects going on as well. Lots to do.

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always appreciated it. My mom had a 35mm when I was growing up and we talked about the points of good photos. I bought my own 35mm when I graduated high school and after my daughter was born, got my first DSLR. I am self taught but I learned how to take photos the way I want them to look and I like that.

What is the favorite craft that you’ve done?

There are so many!! Recently I finished pallet shelves for my work space and I’m fairly enamored with them right now.

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Image belongs to Amy Christie

What is the best and most challenging part of being a mom of two?

The busyness and noise. There is always something happening and it’s usually at top volume.

What inspires/motivates you?

Making is what I do, it’s how I’m wired. I don’t feel complete if I don’t get to create. I stay inspired by taking time to brainstorm, getting outside, away from my desk and doing projects that are just for me. It’s hard. Sometimes I feel tapped out but if I step away, I come back inspired.

What is your favorite piece of decor in your home and why? Any pictures of it that you want to share?

Like I mentioned above, the pallet shelves I just finished are my current favorite. They were fun to make and an experiment that what I envisioned was possible. Here’s the link to their reveal. http://www.thisheartofmineblog.com/2013/07/22/work-space-update-new-pallet-shelves/

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Image belongs to Amy Christie

Favorite room in the house and why

I like our kitchen/living/dining area. Lots of things happen in that space. It’s where our little family hangs out at the end of the day, it’s where our friends gather and good food is shared plus our couch is really comfy.

What book are you reading right now? Ever thought of doing an online book club?

No online book club but I’m reading a handful right now. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, The Host by Stephanie Meyer and The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely.

Where do you hope to see your art and blog go next? What are your plans for the future?

Like most businesses, I want to grow and expand. I have steps in mind, hopes and dreams and I’m excited for the adventure. I feel so blessed to be able to create for a living.

You can find out more about Amy Christie, her recipes, and her art at this heart of mine. If you know of any cool moms (yourself included) who would be awesome for this, please feel free to leave a brief description and contact info in the comments. You can also email me at mamabecrafty@gmail.com. It has been so amazing getting to know all of these inspirational and rad mommas!