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!

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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!

Maternity Style Inspiration

Maternity Style InspirationThe other day I was folding my clean laundry and I started chuckling because I realized that my PJs and yoga pants were slowly starting to overtake my life again. And since the majority of my maternity clothes that have already reappeared in my closet are more suited for the fall, I am determined to add some Summer style to my wardrobe.

After spending a small fortune on maternity clothes last year – only to learn that they would not be in the cycle for long – I refuse to make that same mistake again. I’ve found some DIY maternity clothing tutorials, used maternity clothes and some easy and cheap accessories that should make the transition simple and cheap. Just my style.

Of course, my first stop was Pinterest. Where I found this beauty from A Beautiful Mess, one of my favorite sites for DIY and design inspiration.

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

This DIY Maternity Wrap Dress is freaking adorable, and since it doesn’t require me to use a sewing machine, it looks pretty simple! You just need four yards of fabric and the entire tutorial with photos is in the post.

It was also through Pinterest that I found my newest obsession – Cotton and Curls. She shares A LOT of DIY clothing tutorials, and even has a maternity section! Her posts make even the very beginners of seamstresses (hi, me) feel like they could actually make this stuff.

Photo from Cotton & Curls

Photo from Cotton & Curls

It was actually hard for me to pick just one post that I wanted to feature, but I just fell in love with this DIY Very gathered A-Line skirt when I saw it. The fabric is from Sarah Jane, and the entire tutorial with photos is in the post. She also noted that with the elastic and gathering, this skirt is not limited to maternity.

Photo from ThredUp

Photo from ThredUp

And if you don’t feel like making your own stuff (I get it), ThredUp has some pretty cute used maternity clothes, like this casual skirt from Motherhood, which retails for $27, but is selling for $8.49. I always get a little anxious about buying clothes online because I don’t know how they fit, but since I’ve worn Motherhood before, I feel comfortable with their sizes.

Photo from Prudent Baby

Photo from Prudent Baby

And if you were wondering what to do with your tights since your pregnant self is not going to fit into them during this hot season, turn them into head wraps, like the ladies of Prudent Baby showed on the YouTube Channel, The Mom’s View! I’m not a tights fan to begin with, but I could certainly get some cheap pairs for this project! You can find more head wrap inspiration on Honestly, WTF – another awesome site I landed on today.

If you are also expecting, how are you styling your cute lil pregnant self this summer? Share any inspiration, tips and DIY tutorials in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest!

 

For the love of: Motherhood

My plan was to do a “Yo Momma Monday” reflection on my life as Cecilia’s mama this Monday, but we were visiting family in Stockton and I wasn’t around my computer. Family is always the perfect excuse for not writing. This is my third year celebrating Mothers Day, and the second year that I get to spend with my kid. Technically, I did spend the first one with her too…but she was celebrating in my belly.

A couple weeks ago, my friend and I were talking about that quote “Everything changed and nothing changed” when we had our kids. Sure, my Friday nights are a little different and all of the money I do earn is spent on formula, gas and groceries…but in the bigger picture, what all has changed?923957_1414953962103156_2455092_n

I’m still me. And while my family has grown, they’re all still the same people. I was never huge into traveling, so it’s not like that changed. She didn’t derail my studies, she actually motivated me to apply to the school I’ve always wanted to attend, and not give up when it felt like everything was crumbling around me. She didn’t take me away from my big, fancy job. I was working at a boutique here and there and interning at a local paper. Nothing that I had to fret about giving up when I had her.

In fact, I actually like this version of myself better. I’m nicer. I don’t forget birthdays and I’m not scurrying around my house to find random items I can give people as gifts. I don’t check for my money and suddenly remember I spent it all at the bar the night before, or I left my credit card there. I know exactly where I spent it all – at the grocery store, duh. I stick with plans I make with people (for the most part), and when I do flake, it’s most likely because my daughter fell asleep right before I was planning on leaving or she’s been in tantrum city. And when I do have a beer, I enjoy it. Because that will be it for the night.

02b5cad6a97211e3874612e79814bf9e_8I appreciate and respect my parents (and pretty much all parents) a whole lot more and I’m constantly in awe of everything they did for me and my brother. I learn to pick my battles, and I don’t argue as much. I get frustrated but now I deal with it, and not just freak out and shut the world out.

She teaches me to not value all the stuff I have lying around, because she will probably walk all over them, or chew on them, or tear them apart. She teaches me to put up anything I truly value and to take good care of it, because if I let her have it, she will most likely destroy it. She knows when I need to take a break from the computer or my cell phone. And most of all, she teaches me not to take myself too seriously.

929315_642978312447553_726817861_nBecause of her, I have taught myself how to cook, have maintained a garden and have healthy relationships with all of my friends and family. Because of her, I focus on the people and things that hold the most importance, and let go of what I can. Instead of putting 10% into a million projects, I pick a few and put everything that I have left in me into them. Because of her, I push myself to continue going to school for something I love, because I want her to do the same when she’s ready.

Because of her, I have changed. But I will always be the same Amanda.

My Creative Business Journey: Inspiration

My Creative Business Journey

My boyfriend’s favorite thing to say is “Pinterest ruined my life.” And I guess there is some truth to that. I have ruined a lot of meals, made him wait hours for some meals and have had to make emergency/expensive trips to the craft store, all in the name of Pinterest.

But I see it more as this magical world online, that you can totally make your own. Since it’s all user-based, we make up what Pinterest is. Tired of looking at someone’s board? You can simply unfollow that one board and you will never have to see it again.

Your experience with Pinterest is completely up to you, and for me – I like to use it as inspiration and motivation for my creative business, along with inspiration for home decor, design, crafts, and recipes. It has also opened my eyes to so many sites and so many people that I would have never found searching by Google alone. More than anything, it has brought organization to my scattered mind.

Now that I am in the midst of my blog redesign and I am focusing more on what I want for my business, I am revisiting so many pins that I completely forgot about, and exploring more. I wanted to share a few links that have really helped me and brought clarity to an often cloudy business path:

How to grow your social media networks, from Fat Mum Slim

Etsy: What I’ve Learned and Tips for Success, from On Sutton Place

Running a Successful Online Business | Balancing Work and Motherhood, from Le Papier Blog

How to craft for a living, from A Subtle Revelry

A Comprehensive Guide to Working from Home, from Lovely/Healthy

There are so, so, so many awesome articles about working from home, and where to take your work. At the point that I’m at, these have been the most inspiring. As I continue down my path, I will have more to share. And, for continual inspiration, motivation and swift kick in the patoot, here’s where I go:

Design*Sponge’s Biz Ladies column

Oh My! Handmade Goodness‘s blog. You don’t need to be a member to read all of these amazing articles by different creative businesses owners and bloggers, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Create & Thrive is perfect for budding business owners and it has tips on pretty much every aspect of running your business

Smart Creative Women – This is a web TV show that shares stories of creative boss ladies. You can find so much good stuff here, it’s not even funny.

Handmade Success – Here, all the advice is categorized. That’s how much advice they share. They have to categorize it.

What are your favorite articles and/or sites to visit when you need a little inspiration for your creative business? Share the link in the comments and on your social media sites. Let’s all learn together!

Psssst! The beautiful vintage typewriter illustration that I used for my design is from Marish on Creative Market – a wonderful site for bloggers and businesses.

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.

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“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!