Beauty in the Blooming

Image from Melissa at Print Therapy

Image from Melissa at Print Therapy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thrifty Thursdays: A Recipe

Ever since I met the coffee cake at Starbucks a long, long time ago, I have been a fan. Sweet, but not too sweet and moist and delicious. I love everything about it. A few months ago, when I was about to hit up the drive-thru Starbucks for a taste of that sweet delight, I made an instantaneous decision that changed my life forever. I swerved out of the drive-thru entrance and decided I would make one of my own.

I found this Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake from Joyful Healthy Eats and I haven’t looked back. My taste-testing team (AKA my family) has crowned this the best dessert I’ve made thus far.

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Here are the ingredients and you can get the full recipe by visiting Joyful Healthy Eats.

  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of canola or vegetable oil (I used olive oil because it was all I had)
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans (I used walnuts – all I had)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • I also added dark chocolate chips, because I pretty much add them to anything

I have deemed this recipe thrifty because it has saved me from many a trip to Starbucks (or any coffee house for that matter), which has saved me a lot of money. I also had all the ingredients at my house (yes, I always have pumpkin puree, I don’t care what season we are in) so it was free for me to make.

I do want to look for a spring/summer inspired coffee cake recipe, but for now…this one is perfect. Especially warmed up the next day and served with a cup of coffee.

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And…yes. I officially have matching dishes. I’m a grown-up now.

Do you have any good coffee cake recipes? Anything that saves you from a trip to the coffee house/bakery? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Respect Your Mother – A Fundraiser

Respect Your Mother

Quite some time ago, I happened upon Out of the Dark – a nonprofit in the UK where volunteers work with underprivileged kids to restore old furniture. The furniture is then sold online and the proceeds go back to the charity. Pretty awesome idea. I was so inspired by this, that I decided to bring it to Sacramento.

Luckily, I have volunteered for Vox – a local nonprofit art studio – on a fundraiser before, and I love the people behind it. I told Eric, one of the directors, about my idea and he loved it. We decided to get a fundraiser going to support the program, and there, Respect Your Mother was born.

Since Vox is near the closing of their brick and mortar and concentrating on working more in the community and supporting different local charities, this is the perfect time to reach out to another nonprofit. So we are working with another amazing local nonprofit Sol Collective, and the fundraiser will be held there.

The fundraiser will be held May 10, and we are even doing a couple things before the event:

  • Clothing Drive – We are working with California Clothing Recyclers to hold a clothing drive where people are encouraged to donate a large bag of clothing and/or linens at any of our participating locations. Those bags will be picked up by California Clothing Recyclers to be recycled, and the money earned will be donated back to our Charity.
  • Online Fundraiser – We are planning an online fundraiser for the week of May 4 – 10 and we are hoping to work with different eco-friendly online businesses to raise money for Out of the Dark, since they inspired this program. I haven’t worked out all of the details but I’m hoping to do something where people could purchase something and then enter a code for the proceeds to go to Out of the Dark.

At the fundraiser, we are hoping to have ten pieces of furniture that have all been painted by local artists and will be auctioned off. There will also be a raffle with goodies and gift cards from local businesses. We’re looking for ten eco-friendly vendors who want to purchase booth space for $25 to sell their goods and we’re hoping for an acoustic musician or two.

I’m still working on getting all of the information and graphics out, but I’m feeling really good about this event. I hope this program will succeed, because I would love to be able to work with kids on creating beautiful pieces from unwanted furniture. I think it’s so good to teach kids about working with their hands, taking pride in what they do and restoring something from start to finish.

If you would like to participate in this fundraiser, please let me know. There is lots you can do – whether you are in Sacramento, or across the globe. I will be posting more information weekly and you can contact me through e-mail or through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. I will also be posting some inspiration on Pinterest so check that out, too!

Weekly Wishes: New Years Edition

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I have given a lot of thought of what I want to accomplish next year. Goals I have made for myself, for my blog and for my two businesses. While I would love to blog and make stuff just for the pure fun of it, mama needs some money! And after applying to 20+ work-from-home jobs in the last couple weeks, I have determined that the only way I will make money is if I do it myself.

I figured this post would be the perfect way for me to share my goals and manifesto for 2014. I will be writing a health and business manifesto later this week, but this is my jump-start. This will cover all aspects of my life.

Goals for 2014:

  • Make at least $1,000/month
  • Make all of my food from scratch, eat clean. Get an awesome garden going
  • Learn to sew like a badass
  • Learn to knit on my own
  • Learn to screen print like a badass
  • Make a ton of candles
  • Start making my own graphics

How I will do it:

  • Start working on my projects and selling what I can. Work on getting sponsors on my blog and kick Baby Burrito Collective into high gear
  • Grocery shopping once a week and visiting farmers markets as often as I can. Make all the big stuff on Sundays and use it throughout the week. If I do eat out, choose food that is as clean as it gets. I have noticed how slumpy I get after eating poorly, and I don’t like it! I also need to work out and practice yoga at least one hour per day. Plant my garden before school starts so I can get all the hard work done before my life is dedicated to my homework.
  • Right now, I have so many sewing projects…that will the perfect way to start sewing! Then, I can do knitting, screen printing and candle making as the projects arise.
  • Work on one graphic/illustration per week. Tweak it until I love it. Then add it to my portfolio and start building on that.

So, my manifesto for this year is summed up in one word: DO. Stop thinking about everything I want and need to do, and just DO. Let go of anything that is holding me back from achieving my goals and just DO them. I will either succeed or fail, and that is all dependent on me.

What are your goals for 2014? Do you write them in a journal and keep them to yourself or do you share them? If you choose to post your goals online, please share the link in the comments and if you’re social, share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. You can connect with the Weekly Wishes link-up on The Nectar Collective.

My Healthy Life: A Journey

my healthy lifeSo, today is my birthday! Hooray! It’s also my goal date for my weight loss, and I’m about 14 lbs from it. Obviously, I’m not going to lose 14.5 lbs today, but that does not mean that I’m not proud of what I have done. Although I have cheat days, I focus on eating whole, clean food that makes me feel good when I eat it. I have started a yoga routine, and sometimes I’m even able to fit in a work out.

I’m able to wear some of my old clothes, and I was able to store some clothes that were just too big, and that feels so good. Sometimes when I’m showing Cecilia herself in the mirror, I catch a glimpse of myself and I’m comfortable with what I see. So even though the scale may not be showing the results I was hoping for, I can already see the improvement in my confidence and personality.

And it’s not just the weight loss. I feel a lot healthier than I did before. I can chase my daughter all over the backyard and not feel winded. I have learned how to bake and cook because of this journey, and I have saved my family a lot of money because we don’t go out to eat all the time like we used to. I have done it all just by eating better and working out. I did not take a magic pill, or limit myself to shakes. No crazy diets…just eating better and remaining active.

Wanting to step up my game a little, I decided to take a Core Strength Yoga Class from Sadie Nardini. Let’s just say that it was a 30 minute class, and I lasted 15 minutes. I was happy to hear my daughter cry when she woke up, so I could pretend that’s why I had to stop. If you want a yoga class to make you cry, check her out. I’m pretty sure I threw my back out, but I’m going to try it again this weekend to see how far I can get without injuring myself.

Photo from Sadie Nardini. Talk about a badass yogi

Photo from Sadie Nardini. Talk about a badass yogi

Yesterday, I wanted to find a low-impact workout since I was still feeling messed up from that yoga class and walking over 2 miles to find the Sacramento Antique Fair (one could say I really love antiques), so I found a good pilates class…and I think I’m in love. The class was a 15 minute beginner class so it was perfect for me, and it’s through Pilatesology. You can sign up for $19 a month and can opt for a 10 day free trial if you want to test drive before you buy.

Photo from Pilatesology

Photo from Pilatesology

I also made this pumpkin turkey chilli from The Gracious Pantry, but used potatoes instead of turkey. I added a couple cups of water to help soften the potatoes, but that is really up to you. I absolutely loved the way it turned out. My soups usually lack flavor, but not this one. The coconut milk was perfect for this recipe, and added a lot of spice and flavor. Next, I’m going to make it hotter by adding some chili peppers.

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And finally, I wanted to share something I found on Greatist yesterday. It’s a list of 50 bloggers making a difference in fitness, health and happiness…and it’s definitely worth checking out. The bloggers are all listed by category and you can click on their names to be directed to their site. I’m going to go through the list and will share some of the bloggers that I find inspirational and awesome.

Image from Greatist

Image from Greatist

Are you ready to take this pledge with me? To include healthy and real ingredients in our food and to remain active – no matter what the activity is? I would love to get this healthy party going. I will be sharing more and more healthy recipes, workouts and yoga routines that I feel are worth sharing, and introducing more real food bloggers. If you would like to join me on this journey, I would love to have you. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and share your journey with me by using the hashtag #myhealthylife or tag me in the post.

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I have always had an affinity for old, beat-up mens belts. Back before Ed Hardy was let loose into the world of belt design. Before “No Fear,” before flames showed up on everything, and even though I love a good frothy beverage, before belts could open beer bottles. There is just something about that simple and clean design that sticks out in my head. The more beat up, the better.

But like everything in life, you eventually outgrow your belts. You start having babies, and the men start gaining “sympathy weight.” You start poking new holes that go further and further out and and before you know it, your favorite belt ends up in a pile you never thought it would see – the donate pile.

Before you go tossing that belt all willy nilly, here are a couple projects that could bring new life to your old belt. If you happen to have (or find) a belt with a rockin’ imprinted design, or an old school big belt buckle – even better.

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Recycled Leather and Wood Shelf from Design*Sponge – Kate Pruitt is the Senior Editor at Design*Sponge and has completed over 100 projects for that site. Damn, girl. She used two different belts for this project, both of which she got at a thrift store. Kate brought up a valid point – belts can be rather overpriced, so keep looking if you can’t find one for a good price. Also check out swap meets and yard sales – they may be a little cheaper, and if not, you can talk them down. She ended up finding both belts for under $10, which means that she spent less than $15 on the whole project. You can find out more by clicking on the photo or Design*Sponge link above. You can also find more of Kate Pruitt’s projects here.

Image  belongs to Poppytalk

Image belongs to Poppytalk

Hanging belt vessel from Poppytalk – If you have ever tried reusing glass bottles and it has taken you beyond forever to get that label off, and you start thinking that maybe it would look fine if the label just stayed on. People would get the concept of a flower vase that is completely covered by an olive oil label, right? Well, Jan shared an alternative – peanut butter! It’s delicious and serves multiple purposes! You can get the entire tutorial, along with beautiful photos, and a whole lot more by clicking on the photo or the Poppytalk link above.

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Leather Belt Curtain Ties from House of Earnest – Along with the Poppytalk tutorial, I got this tutorial from a roundup at BrightNest. Erin’s blog is full of crafty yet classy projects like this, and her photos are both beautiful and informative. She also has a Home Decor section – where she shares home tours, sweet products and interior design ideas and inspiration. If you are looking to beautify your house without a spending a whole lot of money, you should go check her out.

And for an added thrifty bonus: APPLE BUTTER! I am lucky enough to live relatively close to Apple Hill – an amazing place in Placerville, CA that holds a craft fair, a pumpkin patch, and you guessed it – all things apple. While I was there, I sipped on apple wine while eating an apple doughnut. It was amazing. I came really close to purchasing apple butter – until I saw that it was almost $10 for a little jar. DAMN. Now, I’m all about supporting homemade, handmade and small businesses, but sometimes a girl just can’t do it. So I decided I would make my own. Here’s an awesome recipe I found:

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Homemade Apple Butter from My Baking Addiction – Jamie made this recipe in her crock pot, and I just saw another apple recipe she slow cooked – applesauce! I would have to say that I’m not a huge fan about eating apples a la mode. Not sure why, but I usually always have to pair them with peanut butter. We just got some apples fresh from Washington so I would really like to use them up! I think these recipes are both in order.  She also shares baking fundamentals and tips on her blog, so I see her site becoming a good resource for me.

If you have any belt projects you would like to share, or you completed one of these projects, post in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftythursdays. If there is a project you would like to see in the future, please let me know. I hope that this series shows you that there are many things you can do with discarded items that don’t take a whole lot of money. Stay thrifty, my friends.