The Living Situation: Kitchen Storage

Living Situation Kitchen StorageWhile we’re working on building our little farmhouse kitchen, I try to add pieces here and there that work in our kitchen now and still give that vintage farmhouse vibe. For me, the easiest way to do that is through storage. I got a set of three metal containers for flour, sugar and tea at a flea market, and have since added sealed glass containers for all of my baking stuff. These small pieces make the kitchen feel like my own and give it a clean yet cozy feel.

storage 1 storage 2Here are some other storage items that I hope to include soon:

Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski / Sweet Paul

Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski / Sweet Paul

Right now, I have a big jar holding all of my utensils. The only issue is that the mouth is not big enough to hold everything, so I keep the utensils I use daily in it, and then throw everything else in jar, where it all gets lost and if I’m not careful, smashed. I love the idea of organizing my utensils in different sized tin cans – something everyone has. You can find out more about this project by visiting Sweet Paul.

Photo Credit: Unsophisticook

Photo Credit: Unsophisticook

The “food prep” counter is getting cluttered with storing our fruit, veggies, bread, sweets and spices, and since we have basically zero space on our walls, all of the cute hanging spice racks I see just won’t work in our kitchen. I do, however, have a spare drawer that could easily fit our spices in. I love this idea from Unsophisticook of using baby food jars, chalk paint and a chalk pen to label each jar.

Photo Credit: Diana/ Our Vintage Home Love

Photo Credit: Diana/ Our Vintage Home Love

See that ladder pot rack? Yeah, that’s my dream right there. My aunt has a gorgeous metal pot rack that just happened to come with her house. Whatever. And every time I tell my boyfriend I need one, he just laughs it off. Because he seriously has zero time for any home projects. I get it. But this. This I could do on my own. You can see a tour of this beautiful kitchen from Our Vintage Home Love on Eclectically Vintage, you can find out how to build your own ladder on Our Vintage Home Love and if you already have a ladder, you can get the tutorial on Womans Day. Got it?

Photo Credit: Yvonne / The Yvestown Blog

Photo Credit: Yvonne / The Yvestown Blog

The one place I do have wall space is by our dining room table, and I have a cabinet that would be PERFECT there! Just need to make sure it’s something I can hang. I love how this cabinet from The Yvestown Blog is styled. I was just introduced to this blog from a roundup on Arcadian Home, and I just love it. She has so many beautiful DIY and knitting tutorials and it’s just a really gorgeous site to look at.

I can’t wait to start adding these items to our kitchen! What are your favorite kitchen storage staples? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoogle + and Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Ashley Weeks Cart

yo momma monday

Meet Ashley Weeks Cart, 30, from Southwestern Vermont. She runs Cartwheel Farm with her husband James, and she is mama to two beautiful girls (Addison (Sunny) who will be turning five next month, and Courtland (Kaki) who is two and a half), a super mutt they call Hanna Banana, a puppy named Gladden, a potbelly pig named Penelope (“Penny” for short), a flock of five hens – Bunty, Edwina, Dora, Nemo and Ginger and an angel dog – their beloved three legged dog, Ursa Bear, who lost her life to cancer.

Before Ashley and James were introduced to the world of parenting and farming, they lived in Los Angeles and Ashley attended USC, where she received her MA in Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere. She also ran a reusable bag business with her sister at the time.

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

After Sunny was born, Ashley and James returned to the East Coast to be closer to their families. Both attended College in the Berkshires, so they moved back to Williamstown, MA for the first two years, and that is when they decided that they wanted the rural life. So they bought a farm across the border in the Green Mountain State.

“James’ family had a farm growing up, and we really loved the idea of our daughters learning about where their food comes from and the responsibility and care that comes from owning farm animals and tending a vegetable garden. That was all possible with this little property.”

Photo by Theron Humphrey. Click on the picture for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

Both Ashley and James are photographers and Ashley does freelance work on the side. Her introduction to photography began when she was just a kid, and would spend hours tooling away with her dad’s Nikon SLR. All of that playing and shooting paid off, because now she connects with her readers through her photography on her blog.

” I have albums of black and white photos of our pets and house growing up that I shot with that camera from back in 70s. It was totally a hobby, but it brought a lot of joy. It wasn’t until after college that I got back in to photography. I was working at another small liberal arts college that allowed me to take one course a semester.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I took a film photography class, and loved hiding out in the dark room and relearning how to really use a camera. When we moved to California we invested in our first digital SLR, and after our oldest daughter was born, James and I really began to want to better master our camera as we were amassing a slew of baby photos.

When we moved back east, I developed a great relationship with a local professional photographer and she really helped me take my work to the next level. I try to pick up my camera and shoot every single day. I learn something every time I do. Practice practice practice is the best advice I can give. That, and shoot in manual mode. Just do it. Your photos will be world’s better once you get a hang of it.”

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Ashley started her blog Blog a la Cart when she was still living in LA and was the first of her group to have any children. With James working all day, she felt alone and overwhelmed, and she needed a creative outlet that would get her thinking about more than changing diapers and feedings.

“Honestly, I write about whatever inspires me at the moment – there is no real rhyme or reason to my blog content – that space is ultimately an outlet for me, so I write about and share what is most impacting me at the time. Sometimes is as simple as a room makeover, other times it’s more serious feminist issues that I’m struggling with as a parent/mom.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I try not to be influenced or alter my point of view to please anyone but myself since that space was born very much out of a need to better support myself. I love that people share in that space, but it’s ultimately about being true to my voice and story.”

Since Ashley has a full-time job, her photography and blog are both done on the side. They are  creative outlets for her, and while she admits it can be tough balancing family, work, the farm and her creative business, she loves what she creates and is grateful to have both there to supplement their lives.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have a truly amazing partner. I would not be able to do all I do without him in the mix, providing the balance and support that I need. He is the girls’ primary caregiver, and does the lion’s share of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. This enables me to work a day job full time, and then come home and spend time with my girls and have meaningful family time, before spending my evenings editing photos for clients or writing content for the blog.

There is no way I would be able to keep everything in balance without James helping carry the weight. I think people don’t consider enough how their choice of life partner will be one of the biggest, most impactful decisions of their entire lives. People want the pretty wedding and storybook romance, but don’t often consider the long term weight of that decision. I feel very lucky to have been able to grow into adulthood with James by my side (we met at his 20th birthday party in college) – we’ve been able to make some huge decisions and changes together and we really compliment and balance each others strengths and weaknesses.”

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Of all the things her girls have already learned on the farm, she hopes that they will always have a respect for their food and the cycle of life. Both have already experienced the loss of a family pet they cherished and loved and they know where the food on their table comes from.

“We don’t shelter them from this, and they have a very thoughtful and honest perspective on death and life (for their age). I love that they understand that our Thanksgiving turkey comes from a turkey farm and must be killed before we can eat it for dinner. It’s not just some plastic wrapped lump from the grocery aisle.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the image for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

They know the sweetness and joy of picking blueberries right off the bush. They understand that maple syrup comes from the veins of a maple tree as they themselves have collected the sap and watched it boil down into that sugary delicacy. They’ve hand turned apples to cider. They’ve weeded and sweat and and pulled fresh carrots from the ground. There is something so simple and yet so very important from these lessons that we get to make a part of their everyday.”

Ashley’s best advice for working parents (whether it’s in or outside of the home) is to carve out time for yourself. She likes going to the gym or for a run or a walk once a day. It’s not only good for her physical health, but it’s good for her mental and emotional health as well. She also loves crafting, and shares many tutorials on her blog.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have trouble sitting still, so I build in crafts and projects to any free time I may have on a weekend or evening. I love working with my hands, and it’s fun to be able to involve my children in the projects when possible.

Mostly, I would be happy to spend my days knitting and listening to audiobooks – but it’s good to mix it up. I learned to quilt last year, and that is a dangerously wonderful, time-consuming hobby. I hope to be able to do more of it when my children are older – as it also demands a lot of stuff and space (iron, cutting table, sewing machine, etc.) whereas knitting I can keep in my handbag for a down moment waiting at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, etc.”

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

In the future, Ashley hopes to expand her photography portfolio and hopes to capture more maternity and childbirth moments. She wants to master tomato growing, to include alpacas or other fiber animals in their farm family so she can spin her own wool and she wants to bake a truly authentic loaf of French bread. Her favorite thing about everything she does is the impact it makes on other people.

“My favorite moments happen when a reader emails me to say that something I’ve written or shared has touched them in some way, either by making them feel not so alone, or validating their feelings, or even getting them to think about something in an entirely new way. Those emails send me over the moon.They bring me so much happiness.

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

And with the photography, I love getting feedback that I’ve captured a client or their family in a way that really represents them. Getting positive feedback on my work keeps me motivated and makes me feel like I am making a difference (however small) in my community.”

And as for the impact she has felt from her children, and life on the farm:

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“There are SO many ways that motherhood has changed me, mostly it has given me deep respect for my own mother and the  mothers around me as I am so acutely, personally aware of the challenges, joys, heartbreak, and perspective that motherhood brings. It’s humbling and inspiring and I am so very grateful everyday that I get to call myself a mother to my little girls. It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do, yet I am eternally grateful that I get to have this kind of experience and perspective and love in my life.

And the farm has connected me to life beyond my family in really meaningful ways. From the flowers to our vegetable gardens to our chickens, I am tuned in to the life cycles and seasons of life on the farm. I recently read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (everyone should read it!) and it has really inspired me and further enforced in me why James and I made the choice to buy this home and raise our girls this way, connected to their food and this place.”

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

You can read Ashley’s blog Blog A La Cart to find out more about raising a family on a farm, and you can also view her portfolio there. And check out her video about life on the farm! If you want to hire Ashley to take your photos, you can e-mail her and you can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you are an awesome mama or you know one and would like to be featured in this series, don’t be shy! Leave me a comment, e-mail me and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest.

Weekly Wishes #8

 

weekly wishes 8Since my daughter has learned to walk, she has also learned to scoot her way off of anything she can scoot off – laps, our couch and sometimes even arms. So when she cried every time I put her down, I knew something was up. Turns out she was sick – and has been since last Wednesday. Therefore – my life has been full of cuddling, hugging, comforting, sleeping and doing homework, making gifts and cleaning when she naps.

This little break from blogging and social media has been refreshing and has given me a good outlook on what I want my life to be. I tend to sign myself up for every creative project under the sun, only to feel beaten down and exhausted when I never seem to get the results I want from them. This has seriously effected my wishes for this week.

Let’s just say that I did not get any of my wishes done last week. But I’m not going to worry about it. I had a little one who needed me more than anything else did. Now that she’s feeling better, it’s a whole new week. My business and fitness goals will clearly have to wait until after Christmas because making gifts at home is a whole lot more work than I thought. But it has pushed me to be creative every day, and I love it.

This week:

Tuesday: Finish Addie and Elena’s gifts (painting – my absolute favorite!). Get them wrapped and ready to go!

Wednesday: Finish my parents gifts (trying something new for my very first time. I’m excited to share my project after Christmas). Get those bad boys ready to go!

Thursday: Start canning (apple butter, pumpkin butter and sugar-free jam for my brother!). Start working on the rest of Sadie’s and Jackson’s gifts (screen printing – my other favorite!)

Friday: Do finishing touches on gifts that need them. Continue canning

Saturday: CANNING, CANNING and more CANNING! Finish the beanie.

Sunday: Make sure everything is wrapped and all of my canning is done.

Monday: Bake-a-thon (gingerbread cupcakes and a whole lot of cookies!) starts!

This list helps me put the week into perspective and by splitting up my projects like this, I think I can actually do it! My posts from now until the end of the season will be more Holiday inspired, since obviously that’s all on that’s on my mind right now.

Once all this is done, I will have a little more than a month off of school and I’m planning on working on my creative business ventures and really getting things done so I will not feel so overwhelmed when school starts. Less creative projects, more focus on the ones I already have.

So,  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 hoping all of your holiday goals and wishes will be rewarded!

Yo Momma Monday: Bev Feldman from Linkouture

yo momma monday

Meet Bev Feldman, 31, from Cambridge, MA who is the newest mama I know, and the jewelry designer behind Linkouture – the modern chainmaille jewelry company that she started in 2010. She welcomed her first baby, Eve Lily Feldman, on the 17th of this month.

This interview was completed before Bev had her baby. You can read more about her sweet baby girl here. Her Etsy shop is currently in Vacation mode until the end of January for some mama/baby bonding.

Bev was first introduced the jewelry making business in the third grade, when she and her friends made and “sold” safety pin beaded bracelets to their classmates as part of a project for school. Then in the seventh grade, Bev participated in her very first craft fair – where she sold daisy chain necklaces and bracelets. It wasn’t until she discovered chainmaille on Etsy that she got serious about her craft.

“I discovered Etsy and went on a bit of a pearl-buying binge before I discovered chainmaille. I was instantly drawn to the look of it and decided to try it out myself. Before I knew it I was hooked and decided I wanted to open my own Etsy shop.”

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

With a background in both education and human services, Bev worked with Cambridge children and families who dealt with autism – organizing playgroups, doing outreach and general family support. Before she decided to take her business full-time, she traveled around South America for five months with her husband.

Bev initially started her blog as something she was supposed to do for her business and write a whole lot in the beginning, as she was more focused on the blog she shared with her husband – Flight of the Feldmans – where they chronicled their five month journey in South America.

“When I got back in June of 2012 I decided to focus more on my personal blog, and in the process realized I actually really liked blogging.”

Naturally, Bev’s pregnancy altered her work, especially in the first trimester and by the second trimester, she was feeling more like herself again. Once she hit the third trimester, it more affected the physical aspects of her work – like lugging around heavy tents at the local craft fairs she attended.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“I’ll admit, the first trimester was tough. I was exhausted, nauseated when I wasn’t eating, and it totally messed with my emotions. I really didn’t feel very motivated and wondered how I would ever work on my business… Also, I realized it wouldn’t be realistic for me to do holidays shows since I am due right at the start of the holiday season. Thankfully I am able to sell my jewelry at the Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery–amazingly things worked out really well and I’m lucky to be part of such an awesome handmade group!”

Bev has always loved going to craft shows and knew that was something she needed to participate in to really get her business rolling. Like anyone who is just starting out, Bev was nervous about applying and says she has been rejected from a couple of shows. However, she has also been surprised by the shows she did accepted into.

“It is a lot harder than I thought it would be (both getting accepted and actually participating in them), but it was well worth it in regards to exposing my work to more people and connecting to the handmade community in the Boston area.”

Depending on what’s going on that week, the amount of jewelry Bev makes per week varies. If she has a craft show one week, she will focus on creating new pieces and restocking her inventory – meaning she will average about 30 pieces per week. Other weeks, she will focus more on blogging and less on creating jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“Some days I am more focused on blogging, other days it is preparing for a show and making jewelry. Each day is so different it is hard to say what a normal day is for me! The one thing that is consistent is how shockingly fast each day goes by.”

Bev’s workspace also doubles as their kitchen table, which she says drives her husband a little crazy, especially when she is making jewelry! The large size and brightness of her kitchen makes it a good space to work, although she would love to have a little studio of her own, one day. She says her inspiration for designs can either come from wandering around a bead shop for a while and looking at all the different beads, and sometimes an idea might just pop in her head.

“Other times I will pull out a bunch of supplies and just see what I come up with.”

Jewelry wasn’t the only thing Bev started as a child – she also got into knitting in the fourth grade, when she was home sick for a day. Her mom got her some knitting needles and yarn, and taught her the basics. She didn’t pick it up again until she was sophomore in College and saw some people doing it, then she got a book and retaught herself. Now, she will do it as a social activity but says she never got into it the way she did with jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“It’s one of those activities I’ll do for awhile and get bored with and not touch again for a year or two. Unfortunately as a result I have several started projects and way too much yarn!”

She also took woodworking when she was in middle school and loved it, and would like to take a class again. Another hobby she has wanted to try for years is glassblowing.

For Bev, the best thing about running her own business is learning new skills that she probably wouldn’t use otherwise, and making her own schedule. The scariest part is identifying herself as both a jewelry artist and a blogger.

“I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself and surprised myself with what I am capable of doing…for the longest time I felt like a fraud and was going to get called out on it.”

She recently started a series of interviews with a variety of makers because she wanted to support other handmade businesses, something she knows needs to be done as a small business owner herself. She was inspired to start this because she is always amazed at what other people are doing and wanted a platform for sharing what she found with a broader audience.

unnamed5

Photo from Bev Feldman

“I definitely learn a lot from the people I interview–I think they offer great advice, which is actually applicable to more than just other makers.”

Looking into the future, Bev dreams of putting a book together for children and parents. Through her, she hopes that people will find inspiration to start businesses of their own.

“When I tell people what I do, I often get “That’s so cool! I would love to do something like that.” Just a couple years ago I would have never imagined I would be working for myself. I hope to inspire people to see that anyone can do it.”

You can find out more about Bev and Linkouture by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you have an idea for Yo Momma Monday, let me know by posting in the comments or using the hashtag #yomommamonday in your posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram. Visit my Pinterest to find more awesome mama inspiration!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I have drastically limited my time on my personal Facebook page anymore. Sometimes I’ll post a photo of Cecilia so our family members who don’t get to see her often can get updates. Aside from that, I agree that it can be a major time suck, and I don’t get the fulfillment out of it that I used to. My blog page is a completely different story! I truly believe in the power of social networking now. If I see someone I follow post about a new place, page or community…I check it out to see if it’s something I’d like. And more of than not, it is. That’s just what happened when I found the Delta Workshop.

Photo from Delta Workshop

Photo from Delta Workshop

Delta Workshop is a studio located in Midtown, Sacramento, a city I frequent every weekend. They offer a variety of classes, like a knitting class for the next two weekends, and a blockprinting class in a couple weeks. There is an online gallery where you can see artists’ work, and a shop. Since moving to Stockton, I’ve been a little out of the loop with the art scene in Sacramento so I was stoked to see this! I’m definitely checking it out this weekend or next to see what it’s all about.

Another awesome find on Facebook…the Handmade Directory on Handmadeology!

Photo from Handamdeology

Photo from Handamdeology

Timothy Adam from Handmadeology  – a website dedicated to spotlighting different handmade shops and sharing creative business tips and resources. Awesome, right? –  launched the Handmade Directory. In the Directory, you can find crafty events and list your own event, you can shop by category and/or location, and you can add your own shop. Tim is offering a FREE listing for a limited time with the code 50OFFNOV. Get more updates on the Handmadeology Facebook. There are currently 75 listings and he’s shooting for 100 by the end of the day.

I was so inspired by what I saw, I got in contact with Tim and signed up as a Contributing Writer! Let me know if you post your business in the Handmade Directory and I will write a profile on you and your business to be posted on the Handmadeology site!

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Jenelle Montilone, the wonderful woman behind TrashN2Tees, has started something new. It’s called Take Action Tuesdays, a series where Jenelle will share one way to take action – tutorial or tip, sharing a campaign, or a clip of pure human awesomeness – every Tuesday. If you haven’t checked out TrashN2Tees yet, then this will be the perfect opportunity. It’s a handmade line made completely out of recycled clothing, plastic, and pretty much anything she can recycle. She also features a Clothing Recycling Program and a Create Change app.

This find was from the wonderful handmade community that I am so happy to be a part of – Oh My Handmade Goodness.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark was founded by brothers Jay and Jade Blades as an extension to their charity Street Dreams that they founded 13 years ago. According to the website, Out of the Dark is a charitable enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture as a means to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their projects are all about supporting young people achieve a better life and steer away from crime, and this project brings in the element of craft, DIY and work skills. Not to mention the development of self esteem and confidence. They also offer workshops and they feature an online store.

What are your favorite things that happened this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites to simply tag me in the post! Find more Friday Favorites inspiration on my 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.

celebration-bags-2

“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!

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!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

This week has been very special. Instead of spending hours scouring Pinterest and Etsy for something lovely to write about, I found it all in my very own life. Not that I mind my creepily close relationship with both websites, it is kind of an amazing feeling to not have to search very far, or very long, for inspiration. Here are some of my favorite things that has happened in the last week or so.

IMG_0461

Cards! From CocoPress – I entered Emmaline’s Instagram giveaway, and I won this pack of cards! They are so super cute that I don’t really want to send them anywhere, but that would be just plain greedy. I’ve actually read about crafty pen pals, so if I get into something like that, these would be perfect! I will post Emmaline’s story on my Meet the Maker series soon, so stay tuned to read more about this wonderful printmaker!

Image belongs to The Petit Cadeau

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Why I Buy Handmade from The Petit Cadeau – Allison wrote about why she buys handmade and the slow gifting movement on her blog. “It’s about making a conscious choice for gifts. It’s about making gifts with love or purchasing something made with care by hand. It’s an energy” You can read more buy clicking on the link or image above. You can also join the movement with @thepetitcadeau on Twitter, just use the hashtag #whatimgifting. I’m also writing about the lovely Allison for my “Yo Momma Monday” series and you will get to read her story soon!

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Knitting contest from Interweave – I have actually formed a good relationship with Tiffany from Interweave through this blog, and she let me know about this contest! Interweave is offering a prize package to knitters who share the story behind their first knitting projects. I remember my first knitting project – I was trying to make one of those rasta beanies, and it got super stretched out so now it’s pretty ridiculous. I still have the beanie! I will share my story in the contest and will also share it on my blog. It’s going on now through Nov 8th. If you win, you get to choose up to 5 items for your prize package. Score!

Image belongs to Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Image belongs to Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – This is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing, and let me tell you – it sounds awesome! The cookie swap is hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, both blogs that I love. Participants must have a blog that is at least two months old and must have at least two food-related posts in the last two months. There is a $4 entry fee, which goes directly to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and the deadline to enter is Nov. 4th.

I have been taking little steps to integrating food more into my blog, and this is just more motivation to keep me going that route. And I get to try cookies from other food bloggers? Done.

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Weekly Wishes on the Nectar Collective – And last but definitely not least, I found this little goodie when I was doing some research on another wonderful person I am writing about, Lix Hewett. Melyssa, who runs the Nectar Collective and Weekly Wishes, posts her goals and/or challenges for the week every Monday. She then invites others to join her through a linkup.  I do this on my own every week in my journal, but it sure would be nice to share and get inspired by others.

I have found that the more I involve myself with others in the crafting community, the easier inspiration comes to me. If you see anything here that speaks to you, share your thoughts in the comments below. You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more of this goodness. Have anything you want to share? Simply use the hashtag #fridayfavorites or tag me in the post! Happy Friday to all!