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!

The Thrift List

the thrift listAs attached as I am to my phone, I still have a difficult time using it as my personal notebook or calendar. When I have an idea or an important date, I will always jot it down on a piece of paper or in my paper calendar. I guess I just still like writing things down, makes it feel more concrete. The only problem is that sometimes I lose the paper I write on. Or my daughter draws all over it with pen, crinkles it up and tosses it.

So, as we’re working on our house, I am constantly jotting down mini “thrift lists” on scratch pieces of paper, losing it, then forgetting what I wanted in the first place. In order to keep my ideas in one place and make it a little more fun, I’m going to start posting a thrift list. Each time I get or need a new item, I can update the list as I go. Sounds fun, eh?

Here’s my list so far:

Image from Unearthed Vintage

Image from Unearthed Vintage

Vintage wooden milk crates for storing movies and books on our wall

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

Vintage Children’s Dresser. Photo credit is unknown

Photo Credit: Ashley / Shanty 2 Chic

Photo Credit: Ashley / Shanty 2 Chic

Bar Cart – for storing our laptops and printer. Because that’s how much we entertain

DIY Bar Cart tutorial on Shanty 2 Chic

Image from Cult of Weird

Image from Cult of Weird

Vintage posters – like this one from Cult of Weird

What’s on your thrift list? Share it in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoogle + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends

I want a farmhouse kitchen. Now.

Living SituationBefore we even made a bid on the house we are living in, we were already scouring the world wide web for ideas on how we wanted our dream house to look. To be honest, I was already pinning home ideas long before I knew we would be buying a house. Luckily, we agreed on pretty much everything we looked at and the biggest thing we had in common is that we wanted a vintage farmhouse kitchen. Like everyone else in the world, it seems.

From the white subway tile to the butcher block counters and large farmhouse sink. From the open shelving to the mint cabinets. It all just feels so comfortable and lived in. That’s what I want. I don’t want a kitchen where I would be afraid to make a mess. I don’t need shiny counters, I want counters I can work on. Now that we are finally here and the dream is feeling more real, it’s time to really think about how we want our kitchen to look.

I want to share some of the inspiration I’ve found, and since I’m lucky enough to have so, so, so much to share, I figured I would break it up into categories. Today, I’m sharing general kitchen inspiration – how I want the kitchen to look as a whole. Then I will get more and more specific as the weeks go on. Man, this really makes me want to start demolition today.

2c8b7c6b22ab08b313697d0ced3ed985Ah, the kitchen that started it all. Now, I’m not sure this is technically classified as farmhouse style, but this is what gave me the idea that I wanted a vintage style kitchen. I love the colors and the open shelving. And of course, I’m totally loving on that oven. I would go with a different floor and different bottom cabinets, but it’s still pretty damn dreamy. I’m not sure where this photo came from as it was directly uploaded to Pinterest. So if anybody knows, please fill me in!

Image from Better Homes & Garden

Image from Better Homes & Garden

Just about everything in this cottage kitchen from Better Homes & Garden is just what we want. The subway tile, the cabinet colors, the mix of open and closed cabinets and of course, that gorgeous sink. We’re doing concrete counters with one butcher block counter, but everything else is exactly what we have in mind.

Image from houzz

Image from Shawn St. Peter

Here’s another beautiful kitchen with our color scheme. This 1901 kitchen remodel in Portland was designed by Garrison Hullinger Interior Design and it’s featured on houzz. The coolest thing about this is that if you click on the houzz link, you can get the info on different items in the photo. Like, the paint color used here is Van Alen Green HC-120 by Benjamin Moore. BOOM! It was beautifully done and looks like it could be lived in.

Image from This Old House

Image from This Old House

Something a little different. This warm and bright bungalow kitchen was featured on This Old House and while I can’t stop thinking about how hard it would be to keep all that open shelving clean, I’m just so in love. It’s homey without being too cluttered and I love the simple mixture of colors and vintage accents. And I’ve decided that I’m just destined to have a 1950s O’Keefe and Merritt stove. Just need to find a stove and get it restored – should be easy and pretty inexpensive, right?

I hope you will continue to join me as we work on our little nest. Next week, I’ll be sharing some different cabinet and shelving inspiration. If you have anything to share, please post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest.

Hey I finished a project!

Yard sales are good for the soul, and for the house. I should have one every month. My mom is having one next week and I cleared out so much stuff that I was hoarding to prepare for the sale. Because of that, I found a bunch of fabric that I love and can’t wait to work with, and a lot of my old concert and band tees that I wanted to make a quilt with long, long ago. That dream is a little dead now…but I have a few ideas for what I want to do with them.

I also finally finished my chalkboard project, and actually baked something. I got an oatmeal cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and they turned out so wonderful and moist! I substituted the raisins for blueberries since I was out of raisins, and while her recipe says to bake for 10 minutes, I had to bake for 15 since my oven is a little funky.

10538681_1389727607938469_1318935655_nSo, here’s how I made the chalkboard:

IMG_2497First, I took a simple frame I got from the thrift store for $1. Then I painted it with some acrylic paint that had been left in my car for wayyy too long. So, naturally that exploded everywhere. Luckily, I happen to buy a lot of teal paint so I had some back-up and after A LOT of cleaning, I was able to resurrect my project.

IMG_2555Since the frame had an indented line on it already, I used a gold paint pent to do the line and left one side blank to add some fancy stuff to it. Unfortunately, the paint pen was too thick and not I couldn’t simply wipe it when I made a mistake. So, I painted over it and chose to do a yellow line. The yellow ended up not working since it was so light and I had to paint multiple coats, which made it look thick and chunky…not the look I was going for.

IMG_2561So, after I cleaned that up a little…I found a sort of salmon pink that I liked, and covered the yellow with that. I chose to do little diamonds on the side I left blank. They are by no means perfect, but they will do!

IMG_2652While that was drying, I used a few coats of chalk paint to paint the backboard. And ta-da! It’s a chalkboard!

Have a project you want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Crafting and the art of taking it slow

My attention span has always been incredibly short. If something wasn’t completed in the first few hours of me working on it, it was done. Tossed aside and never to be looked at again, unless by happenstance. So many cute sewing projects, paintings and DIY projects are still unfinished and in storage bins that I don’t have the courage (aka patience) to dig through.

Motherhood has taught me to handle things a little differently. My attention span is still small, as I will find half-finished piles of laundry and a sink full of half-washed dishes from time to time, but now I have an excuse. My daughter is constantly pulling at me and if you saw her face, you would pick her up, too.

IMG_2497I made a plan to work on my art projects while she was sleeping, which is about two hours a day, give or take. Sometimes I trade in art time for a nap, for cleaning time or to just veg out on the couch. A couple weeks ago, I finally decided to go into my bin of projects I have yet to start – mainly because it will be less to move when I have to relocate my little workspace – and found a frame I wanted to paint.

IMG_2499The first day, I worked on the first coat. I was reminded that I left my paint in the car for too long the other day, because it was super liquidy and made a huge mess. So I spent the majority of my two hours cleaning paint off every inch of my table and trying to thicken it up a little. After I finally surrendered to another color, I was able to finish the first coat before she woke up.

That night, the shelf above my table came crashing down, spilled my paint cup all over the place and ruined two projects I previously worked on. That taught me to not leave finished projects lying around, but to actually do what I intended to do with them. Now I have zero proof that I finished a project.

IMG_2555Throughout the week, I was able to put a couple more coats on, and finally got it ready for the detailing. I tried to do it all with my paint pen so that I wouldn’t have to waste time getting all my paint stuff together and could do it while Cecilia was watching cartoons, but it turns out that my pen is too thick for the thin line I want to paint.

I’m slowly learning that it’s OK to give myself time to work on something. I enjoy having a project to work on every day, and it gives me time to think about different ideas for my piece. I still need to paint the backboard with my chalk paint, and then I’ll hang it up in either my workspace or Cecilia’s room. And then it will be on to the next unfinished project!

IMG_2561

I’m leaving one side undone until I figure out what I want to do with it. My attention span is not that bad 🙂

IMG_2562What projects are you working on? Do you give yourself a couple hours a day to work on it or do you get it all done in the first shot? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays: Repurposed cabinet doors

IMG_2440I haven’t worked on any restoration projects in a while, and I was starting to get in a slump. So I was excited to learn that my generous stepsister (who gifted me the barn windows I worked with earlier) had some cabinet doors and old frames that she wasn’t going to use. After I find out what I can and can’t paint with during my pregnancy, I’m excited to get to work on them!

I searched for some projects on Pinterest to get some inspiration, and I found a couple of really cool tutorials!

Photo belongs to Autie from iCandy

Photo from Autie at iCandy

First, there is this repurposed cabinet door art table for the kiddos, which I love. I don’t think it will work for the cabinets I have, but it’s definitely something I want to try in the future! The tutorial is written by Autie from iCandy on U Create, and it’s complete with instructions and photos!

Photo from The Elli Blog

Photo from The Elli Blog

Sometimes I think I’m over all the chalkboard stuff, but then I find beautiful designs like this, and I decide that I love it all over again. I’ve seen cabinet doors turned into chalkboards before, but I really just like how nice it looks when it’s done. I wanted to put up a little chalkboard in the corner by our dinner table and this would be perfect! The entire tutorial with photos is written by Lia on The Elli Blog, a beautiful blog that focuses on weddings but also has tutorials for everyday living!

Photo from DIY Inspired

Photo from DIY Inspired

And finally, a beautiful jewelry organizer from Dinah on DIY Inspired. Now, I don’t wear jewelry a lot. I don’t go out very often, and the my daughter broke the necklace that my boyfriend got me literally days after I got it. But I do have a lot of jewelry (and not all of it is costume) and when I do go out, I like to get all gussied up since it probably won’t happen again for another year. So this repurposed cabinet door would be nice to put up in our room or bathroom!

Have you restored a cabinet door and want to share your project? Did you follow one of these tutorials and want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! I’m always up for new ideas and inspiration so share em if you got em!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

The Living Situation: Cecilia’s Room Inspiration

Patience has never been one of my strong points. So it’s no surprise that from the moment I found out we were buying a house, I’ve been on the hunt for a theme and colors for Cecilia’s room. Since we moved so soon after she was born, I have never really had a chance to decorate her room.

Once we get our house, Cecilia will no longer have to offer me office space in her room and it will be all hers. So I want to make it all about her, because that’s kind of how it goes around here. And since she spends a lot of time playing in there –  and I spend a lot of time cleaning in there – I want it to be fun.

I’ve decided on a vintage carnival theme and at the moment, this is the color palette. Since we have a coupon for Benjamin Moore paints, most of this is from their collection. We roll thrifty, yo.

Cecilias Room PaletteThe print is from Yatana Co Photography, but their Etsy shop is no longer available.

I will continue to share inspiration for our living situation each week on Tuesdays, including decor ideas, flea market finds, color palettes and more. If you have any ideas to share or have felt inspired from what I’ve posted, please let me know! Post any links you have in the comments or e-mail them to me and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google +!