Friday Finds

Friday FindsEven though the temperatures are high and the sun still hurts when I walk outside, it’s feeling more and more like Fall. There are pumpkin recipes coming out of the woodworks (not that I mind, of course) and I’ve seen so many back-to-school crafts and projects, that I almost feel like I have a kid going back to school. I even caught myself almost pinning a couple. So, it’s no surprise that my food find for the week has my most favorite ingredient in it.

EAT:

Photo Credit: Joy / Joy the Baker

Photo Credit: Joy / Joy the Baker

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Brown Butter Glaze from Joy the Baker

This recipe is from last year, but technically I found it this year, so it’s new to me!

READ:

Image Credit: Allie and Claire

Image Credit: Allie and Claire

Charge Up e-book by Allie from The Wonderjam and Claire from Claire Deane Marketing

I learned of these ladies through a Design*Sponge post, and needed to find out more.The book is not out yet, but it looks like it’s going to be a good one. It’s a guide to running your business and networking from an introvert’s perspective. Since I have my own troubles with networking and marketing, I’ll definitely get this book when it comes out!

DIY:

Photo Credit: Liz Marie / Liz Marie Blog

Photo Credit: Liz Marie / Liz Marie Blog

DIY Honey Cinnamon Nutmeg Face Mask from Liz Marie Blog

Right now, my skincare routine consists of washing my face with a bar of Irish Spring soap and then using Aveeno hand lotion as a moisturizer. I need something new, but even if I wanted to, I couldn’t shell out the big bucks for natural skincare products. So, I was happy to find this DIY on the 15 Cinnamon Beauty Uses list from Henry Happened.

LOCAL:

Image Credit: Capital Public Radio

Image Credit: Capital Public Radio

This Drink Radio Design Contest from Capital Public Radio looks like so much fun!

I am super new to graphic design, but it would still be fun to give it a shot

What are your favorite finds for the week? Did I introduce you to anything new? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

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!

The Living Situation: Work it, girl

Work it girlI never really imagined how challenging it would be to get any projects finished with a toddler in the house. She’s constantly on the move, which means I am, too. So I was actually pretty pumped when I learned that my workspace would be moved out of the house  – due to the baby on the way – and into the studio in our backyard. We’re pretty lucky to have that studio in the first place.

Half of the studio will be storage for both our belongings and our tools, and the other half will be all mine! Obviously I won’t be able to get in there that often, but when I do, I will have free range to do what I want! To help get the creative juices flowing, I found some pretty inspiring workspaces and wanted to share them with you!

From A Beautiful Mess

From A Beautiful Mess

Of course I love this space from A Beautiful Mess. It would be perfect for the tool storage, and I could put a lot of my bigger supplies there, along with the little ones. I would just need to figure out a way to include the personal belongings storage and make it all work. This is definitely a good place to start, though.

From Karson Butler Events on Inspired by This

From Karson Butler Events on Inspired by This

I have a multitude of notebooks, ranging from big and small, and everything in between. I try to keep one with me at all times in case I get inspired by something. Since I often write in different notebooks, the ideas and concepts often get lost. I would love to have a chalkboard wall with a corkboard so I can keep track of all my crazy ideas. And there is just something about this chalkboard wall from the design studio of Karson Butler Events, and featured on Inspired by This. It just screams “CREATE IN HERE!” (hence the caps).

From Paper Fashion, featured on Glitter Guide

From Paper Fashion, featured on Glitter Guide

Katie Rodgers from Paper Fashion sure knows how to make a comfy workspace. I would probably opt out of putting a couch in the room – strictly out of fear that I would just end up lying on it the whole time – but I would definitely love to have the lights up, and I love all of the bright colors. It totally brightens the mood and gets you energized…perfect for getting to work. You can see more of this workspace over at Glitter Guide.

From Heart Handmade UK

From Heart Handmade UK

What really caught my attention about this room by Heart Handmade UK was the use of storage, especially this fabric cabinet. All of my fabric ends up in a bin and then is forgotten. If I kept it visible like that, it might actually get put to use – what a thought! I also love the vintage odds and ends she has decorating her space. See the entire craft room tour by clicking on her blog link above.

Have a fun creative workspace to share? See something that inspires you? Share it in the comments and join the fun by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Twitter!

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!

Oh, hello again!

I know I have been pretty quiet around here for the last few weeks, but I have some really good news to share! And that will also explain why I haven’t written much lately. We found out last month that we’re expecting again! Cecilia’s little brother or sister will be due in January, and I must admit that the first trimester has been rather rough.

925495_252536484947289_1641411222_nThere are also some other things growing around here! While many of my plants have fallen victim to the triple digit heat around here, my zucchini and tomatoes are still hanging in there! I will need to get some more soil for one of my garden plants, and replace the basil and some of my pepper plants.

IMG_2393

Zucchini buds sprouting!

IMG_2398

Little baby tomatoes!

IMG_2401 IMG_2403Since I’m lucky enough to have a few months off school, I have been lounging around my house and eating when I can, while everything else has sort of been pushed to the side. But dang it – I needed some rest! Now that I’m feeling better, it’s time to get back into my groove while the gettin’s good.

There are some projects that I want to finish before school starts again in August, and I wanted to share them with you so there was some sort of accountability:

  • Finish painting house
  • Fix faucet
  • Fix light fixtures
  • Put faceplates back on all outlets
  • Restore Cecilia’s bookshelf
  • Change window coverings
  • Work on backyard garden – get soil, change out dead plants, fill old planters
  • Work on front yard – pull weeds, change out plants
  • Clean out craft room – move to back house, transform room into nursery
  • Clean and organize Cecilia’s room
  • Paint kitchen table

I realize there’s a lot there, but I’m giving myself (and any nice family and friends I have) two months to get it done. I realize there will be small projects here and there, but I want the major stuff done so I won’t be going crazy during school and the last few months of my pregnancy.

I mean…summer cleaning is a thing, right?

What projects are you working on over this summer? Share your projects and progress in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! I will be sharing updates on all my projects as I work on them!

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.