Meet the Maker: Kate Payne

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

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

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

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

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

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

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

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

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

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

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

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

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

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

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

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

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

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

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

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

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

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

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

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

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

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

Yo Momma Monday: Stefanie Schiada

yo momma monday

Stefanie Schiada, 36, is a home design blogger who started the very popular Brooklyn Limestone in the midst of her recent home renovation. She is a world traveler who calls Brooklyn, NY her home and she is mama to a beautiful one-year-old named Agatha Grace.

Stefanie started Brooklyn Limestone to document the renovation of her 100-year-old limestone in – you guessed it – Brooklyn. Now, her blog includes entertaining, design, travel and decor. Since Stefanie does not receive her primary income from her blog or graphic design site (she works in finance), she keeps the blogging to the weekends.

Stefanie admits that she never wanted to add a personal side to her blog. She was simply going to document her renovation, post some photos and hopefully make a photo book out of it when she was done. Two years later, she finally showed her “mug” and more personal details about her and her family.

Stefanie and Agatha at Agatha's first birthday! Photo taken by Stefanie's brother.

Stefanie and Agatha at Agatha’s first birthday! Photo by Stefanie’s brother.

Before she moved into this house, she and her husband lived in a much smaller house and did room-by-room renovations. Now, she “just takes a lot more photos.” Stefanie says she has been interested in the DIY process for as long as she can remember.

“I think I’ve always been a little on the cheap side which definitely makes me ask the question “can I do this myself?” and “can I do it better?”.”

Stefanie says she gets her inspiration from all the places she visits, and trips to the home improvement store can also get her creative juices flowing. “Sometimes a pile of wood can really spark the imagination.” She also searches for items that she knows she won’t tire of quickly.

Just a little snippet of the renovation that was done. Clearly, she doesn't mess around! Photo taken by Stefanie Schiada

Just a little snippet of the renovation that was done. Clearly, she doesn’t mess around! Photo by Stefanie Schiada

“While I always seem to have one project or another going, I don’t really want to have to change things out unless I’m in the mood.”

The experience Stefanie has with being a tourist – mixed with her knowledge and love of her city – has led her to create a downloadable one-day tourist guide for people who are visiting Brooklyn. Now, this was back in 2009 so I’m sure some stuff has changed, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you are going to be visiting.

In fact, she loves her city so much that she had a hard time picking just one thing that she loves the most about it.

The beautiful house when the decorated it for the holidays. So magical!

The beautiful house when the decorated it for the holidays. So magical! Photo by Stefanie Schiada

“If I had to pick a favorite its having the variety of choice here in eating and shopping.”

And in all of her travels, Stefanie says that her safari in Africa stands out from the rest, and says it’s hard to compare it to any other destination. Stefanie has even taken on the daunting task of traveling with her daughter – something I have yet to do.

“I’m a pessimist so the reality is much easier than I imagined.  Obviously so much depends on the temperament of the baby and the parents but we have found that its not that different than spending time with her in a restaurant or any other public place.  The key is just to GO!”

Asam Church in Munich, Germany

Asam Church in Munich, Germany. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

As a new mom, Stefanie wrote a post titled “Things I Wish I Knew Before Bringing Home Baby,” and man, could I relate. That post hit so close to home that I felt like I wrote it, and it is actually what pushed me to contact Stefanie about the interview. If you are a new mom, or you have been one before, you should read this. Trust me, you will have yourself a good laugh.

“My advice would be to not be so hard on yourself.  I think our generation of parents put this incredible burden on ourselves about creating the absolute perfect environment for our children (breastfeeding exclusively, organic only diet, educational toys, etc.) that cutting yourself any slack at all (no matter how much you are trying!) feels like a big failure.  

I know I cried many tears on countless subjects (especially about nursing!) that seemed absolutely crucial at the time but even  with just the little time I’ve had to think about it, its just not that important in the scheme of thing.  Its hard to remind yourself you are doing your absolute best and you are allowed to enjoy it too.”

Photo from Agatha's Christening Party, which Stefanie styled. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

Photo from Agatha’s Christening Party, which Stefanie styled. Photo by Stefanie Schiada

Stefanie recently planned her daughter’s first birthday and shared her experience and photos from the party on her blog. Since it was smack-dab in the middle of winter, and they live in New York, Stefanie came up with the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” theme, and beautiful decorations that fit perfectly with the theme.

“Don’t be ashamed to go over the top!  I love parties where you can see the host put a lot of time and effort into all of the elements and didn’t take the easy way out.  As a guest, it feels like you are part of something special.”

Thank you so much Stefanie for participating in this series! You can find photos from her travels and get tips here, and you can find party ideas here.  If you are looking for home renovation and design tips, just peruse all over her blog! And don’t skip this About page – it’s where she shares a lot of her tips and answers FAQs. Want an overload of inspiration – and adorableness? Check out her Flickr!

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Karen LePage of One Girl Circus!

Fridays are for Favorites

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Today’s post is dedicated to my most favorite person in the entire world: my daughter, who happens to be celebrating her FIRST birthday today! We are having a circus-themed party at a local kids gym, where the little ones can run around like wild banshees for a couple hours – under the supervision of professionals (aka: not us!).

So, today I am sharing some of Cecilia’s favorite things:

BOOKS!

Photo from Good Reads

Photo from Good Reads

Cecilia loves books. She loves eating them, reading them, using them as protection against kisses. I blame it on the fact that she is surrounded by readers. Sometimes when I need to take a moment to myself – you know, to do something luxurious like bathe – I will put her in her crib with a book and she will sit there and point at the pictures and talk to the book in her adorable baby babble. I was just looking up cute baby books and saw Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. I’ve seen this book before but now I feel like I need to get it for her.

Jennifer Petro-Roy shares a collection of good books for one-year olds on Good Life Books, so if you happen to have one on your Christmas list – check it out!

VINTAGE DOLLS!

Photo from Polly's Vintage Bears

Photo from Polly’s Vintage Bears

So, I used to be totally creeped out by dolls. Especially when they would stare at you from afar. Then we took a trip to the Lodi Street Faire in October, and Cecilia’s crazy grandpa bought a vintage doll for her. Of course, this turned out to be one of her favorite toys, and she took this naked doll with her everywhere – striking fear in everyone who saw it. Unfortunately, Cecilia now believes that she can poke any little baby she sees in the eye, like her four-month-old cousin.

You can find beautiful vintage dolls and bears over at Polly’s Vintage Bears on Etsy.

WALKING!

Photo from Friendly Toys

Photo from Friendly Toys

Of all the things Cecilia loves, walking is her all-time ultimate favorite. I fear for the days she starts sleepwalking because she loves it so much. I fondly remember the days I would get super bored just sitting and cuddling all day, because that girl did not want to get put down – ever. Now, I can barely hold her for a few minutes before she’s screaming and wiggling away from me. As much as I would just love to cuddle with her all day, I enjoy watching her grow and develop into her own little person – walking and bossing me around.

I found this super cute walking toy from Friendly Toys on Etsy. All of the toys are eco-friendly, organic and safe for the mouths of our favorite little ones.

I sure hope you enjoyed this little look into Cecilia’s life. If you have a little one, what are his or her favorite things? Share with us in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Look for more little one inspiration on my Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdaysFrom now until Christmas, I will be sharing some thrifty ways to make your own Christmas gifts for your family and friends. If you aren’t feeling very crafty right now, you can also find handmade shops that sell these cute little handmade gifts. You will be supporting small, handmade businesses and you won’t have to dig up all your crafting supplies that have been in your closet since you tried to make all your Christmas gifts last year! I will be making or purchasing each of these gifts for my peeps (depending on time and willingness to craft)…so I fully support all of them!

Photo from Scarves Dot Net

Photo from Scarves Dot Net

How to Make a Camera Strap from a Scarf from Scarves Dot Net – Remember when I wrote about the most awesome and amazing Stacie Grissom for my Meet the Maker series? Well, she shared this awesome tutorial on Scarves Dot Net. All you need is a silk scarf  (you can find one at a secondhand store for cheap), some leather ( or pleather, whatever you want for the accent), key rings and some basic sewing skills. Don’t have the time and/or patience to make one? Check out the cute scarf camera straps at Paisley Maze for under $20!

Photo from Mary Highstreet

Photo from Mary Highstreet

Breyer Horse Bookend from Mary Highstreet – There is not a full tutorial listed on this site, but from the looks of it, she got some reclaimed wood bookends and cut the breyer horse in half to attach to the wood. You can find bookends at any thrift store, or you can find some scrap wood and connect them to make your bookends. Breyer horse toys can also be found at thrift stores, or for cheap at a craft store. If you don’t like the color of the horse (or wood, for that matter)…get creative and paint them! You can also find a whole mess of bookends (and not just horse ones) for $20 at Parchment and Pallet on Etsy.

Photo from belle appetit

Photo from belle appetit

DIY coffee mugs from belle appetit – This is an easy craft that can be done a million ways, for a million different people. You just need a mug (preferably a solid color one…you can find these at a thrift store, too), a sharpie and an oven. You can also get personalized coffee mugs for $8 each at Monroe Mom of 2 on Etsy…which would make it less than $20 for two!

And here is the perfect match for your handmade mugs!

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Win a Numi Tea Blending Kit from A Beautiful Mess – Emma and Elsie, the lovely ladies from A Beautiful Mess, teamed up with Numi, an organic tea company, to offer a free Numi Tea Blending Kit to 10 lucky winners! The Giveaway is open until Nov 29 and you just need to click on the above photo or the A Beautiful Mess link to enter!

If you have any awesome DIY Christmas gifts, or if you happen to sell any of the above-mentioned gifts…please let me know. I would be happy to share! You can either post in the comments or find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. I am also looking for small/handmade businesses that are offering a sale on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or all of the above! If you are having one, or if you know of a shop that is, let me know so I can feature you or your favorite shop!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

My Healthy Life: A Journey

my healthy life

With a couple birthdays in one week, it has been a little challenging staying on track with my healthy plan. But, I told myself a long time ago that I would not force myself to be perfect 100% of the time. Sometimes your family will have Mexican food multiple times in one week, and heck…you might feel rebellious and go for the beans and Spanish rice. As long as it doesn’t become a normal thing, and you stay active…you will be just fine. This is preparation for Thanksgiving, anyway. That said, between chasing after my baby and going on weekly walks with my friend, I haven’t seen an increase in my weight. Hooray for that!

Since this is the perfect weather for some soup, I thought I would share a couple healthy soup recipes that I got from Greatist the other day. I love soup so much, and it’s an easy way to stay healthy. The only issue can be making sure you get enough flavor. I’m pretty stoked to give these recipes a try.

Photo from Cookin Canuck

Photo from Cookin Canuck

Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa from Cookin Canuck – I’m literally staring at my butternut squash that I haven’t had a chance to do anything with, so this would be the perfect recipe for that. I also have some quinoa that I am always trying to hide in our meals, so it’s a double bonus! I have shared a recipe from Cookin Canuck before, so obviously I’m already a fan.

Photo from Relishing It

Photo from Relishing It

Vegetarian Lentil Taco Soup from Relishing It – I must admit, after being a vegetarian for several years (I had to stop when I got pregnant due to some issues I had and now cooking for two meat lovers, I’m vegetarian for 2/3 meals), it can be hard to get flavor out of vegetarian soups. But this taco soup looks delicious, and I think the boys might even eat it, too. Once I saw the jalapenos and cilantro, I knew I would be good. Laurie, who runs Relishing It, is a mama of two, a foodie and an organic cook. She has a lot of good recipes on her blog!

While I was on Greatist’s site, I found a Here’s to Healthy contest, that you can enter right now. All you have to do is follow Greatist on Pinterest (done) and pin things that inspire you on their #healthyishappy board (um, done). Click on the “Here’s to Healthy” link to enter!

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.

a day of soup

I’m pretty sure that there is not one person in the world who loves moving. All of the packing and unpacking, I could really do without that. I can’t wait for the day when I can afford to have movers, that’s my version of achieving the American dream.

But, there is one good thing I can always count on when I move. If you give yourself enough time, it can be like spring cleaning. Of course, if you don’t allow yourself the time, you end up just throwing everything into boxes and bags and promising yourself that you’ll organize when you get there, which you’ll never do. Trust me…I’ve been there before.

Another thing I like to do before I move is see what I can make with the food in the cupboard and fridge so I don’t have to pack it, or even worse…get frustrated with all the recipes I bought food for but never actually used and just get rid of the food altogether.

IMG_2680So, when I looked in my cupboard and saw this little beauty, I figured this would be the perfect time to try it. I made a cup of rice with 1 cup of veggie broth and 2 cups of water. Then I added a cup of the soup on top of it and…voila! My lunch was served…and it was amazing. The soup was 8 points, which is a little high but it was healthy and I wasn’t ready to eat my own skin by the time dinner was ready, like usual.

For dinner, I decided to try another recipe from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker. This time it was a Southwestern black bean and veggie soup, which at only 3 points for a cup and a half of soup, it was surprisingly filling.

Due to some of the ingredients not being available, I had to make some small adjustments:

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes (regular diced is optional)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chili peppers, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce cans) black beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium

IMG_2679All you have to do is put those ingredients and then cook the soup on low for about 6-7 hours. Did I mention how much I love my slow cooker? I swear it was invented by a stay at home mom to a little baby. I was able to feed her, rock her, cuddle her, feed her, change her diaper, feed her some more and do my homework without ever touching the crock pot. It was amazing!

The best part of this…I have leftovers for tomorrow. You never truly appreciate the value of leftovers until you are the one cooking.