Yo Momma Monday: Tiffany McCauley of The Gracious Pantry

yo momma mondayAfter I had Cecilia, I got really interested in clean eating and living a clean lifestyle and one of my biggest inspirations was The Gracious Pantry. Tiffany’s recipes were simple, easy to follow, I didn’t have to search endlessly in a health food store for the ingredients and best of all – they were good! I was even able to trick my boyfriend into eating healthy. I learned about cooking from scratch from her website, and it forced me to slow down a little in the kitchen.

This is why I’m so happy to feature Tiffany in this week’s Yo Momma Monday!

Tiffany, 40, lives in Sonoma County with her son, whom she lovingly calls “Mini Chef” in her Facebook posts and recipes. She became a stay-at-home-mom soon after she found out she was pregnant, as her difficult pregnancy did not allow her to work much. She and her then husband had already planned on raising their son on their own, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

“The balancing act is always something I struggle with. The truth is, if you are giving your full attention to work, you will be lacking something in your mothering. And if you give your full attention to mothering, you will be lacking something in your work. So it really is a juggling act.

I think the most important thing you can do is forgive yourself for coming up short every once in a while. While most moms like to think they can do it all, it just isn’t humanly possible to actually do it all. So you have to focus on doing your best and forgiving the rest.”

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany is a self-taught cook who says the most valuable lesson she could pass down to a beginning cook is that burning your dinner is not the end of the world. She assures that just because you burned it one time doesn’t mean you’ll burn it again. “You can’t give up because of one mistake,” she says.

“I also learned that when you start out with making a casserole and end up with soup, you don’t throw it away, you have soup for dinner! Cooking is a very creative thing. It’s an ongoing experiment. Evolve with the food you make instead of trying to make the food conform. You never know, you might end up with a new family favorite!”

Now that she is comfortable in the kitchen, she heavily involves her son in cooking, and says that she never questioned whether or not he would cook.

“And I think that is the very reason he loves doing it. It’s not a matter of teaching your kids something they already like, it’s a matter of teaching them to like something they absolutely must do to survive. Showing them that cooking can be fun. After all, the memories made in the kitchen just can’t be made anywhere else.

It’s really just a process of getting your kids involved with the everyday functioning of your life. They are definitely their own people, but when you function as a family unit, everyone needs to contribute in some way. Making time in the kitchen a regular thing is important. And I have found that most kids naturally gravitate towards cooking. They love learning about food and how to prepare it. It’s usually a naturally fun thing for them to do. You just have to present it the right way, and set things up so it’s not intimidating for them. 
 
For my little guy, that involved a stepping stool so he could reach the counter, an age-appropriate knife with careful supervision, and apron that was just for him, and even a special pig spatula that he got to pick out at the store himself. When you set kids up to succeed in the kitchen, you’ll find very little, if any, resistance.”
 
Kid-Friendly YoNuggets

Kid-Friendly YoNuggets / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany realizes the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and she says our society has become incredibly removed  from the very thing that sustains us.
 
“I’m finding that many grown adults these days were raised on boxed and packaged food from a freezer or on food that came through a drive-thru window. I know kids today who get three meals a day from a fast food restaurant. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it.

 
I think that teaching kids about food is the most important gift we can give them. Because it not only empowers them to feed themselves and their own families some day, but it also gives them power over their own health. Anybody who has health problems can tell you how important that is. Particularly when the life expectancy of our children is now getting shorter instead of longer. All you have to do is step back and take a look at the bigger picture where the health of our country is concerned to see why teaching our kids about real food is so critical.
 
Gone are the days when we could “trust” a large food corporation. And I would argue that those days never really existed. Because if you really dive into food politics at all, you’ll see that the stuff they label as “food” is actually very far from it. Our bodies were meant to run on food. Not food-like products. So it’s easy to see why health can go downhill so fast when you are not giving your body the fuel it needs.”
 
Tiffany talks a lot in her blog about how she dealt with body image problems through much of her life, something she learned from her mother. She says that the hardest thing is to not pass those problems down to her own child.
 
Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

“It’s a constant struggle and sometime I fail miserably. When you have been raised to view your body a certain way, it’s a very difficult thing to change. Sometimes it feels impossible. I don’t think I’ll ever really get past it completely, but I am learning to respect my body for the things it does every day and appreciate it for what it can do.
 
I mean, this body of mine made an entire human being. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!! But I do still struggle with body image. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, no matter how much I try to show it respect. I think becoming a mom has simply made me far more aware of how badly I can put myself down sometimes. Not wanting to pass that on to my child has been a huge motivation for me to overcome this.”
 
For Tiffany, the biggest change she noticed after adapting clean eating to her lifestyle was how clear her skin was.
 
“I also lost some weight and started to feel much better. I noticed I actually felt full after a meal instead of wanting more and more food. I later understood that it was because my body was actually getting the nutrients it needed. I chose this lifestyle because I believe that real food is the answer to many problems we face today. My own personal eating plan is constantly evolving to suit my needs, but it’s always based on real food.”
 
Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Before The Gracious Pantry, she had several other blogs, so she know she loved the blogging process. With this site, she wanted to track her own progress and share recipes she created.
 
“The best part about the blogging community is how small it really is. There may be a million blogs out there, but the community itself has sort of a “small town” feel to it. Once you start to grow, you get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you.”
 
Since starting The Gracious Pantry, Tiffany has also wrote a cookbook, which she says was a long and difficult process, but one that is filled with creativity and passion, one she equates with giving birth.
 
“You work really hard, sweat some, cry some, spend a lot of money, and in the end, you have this wonderful, amazing thing you can hold in your hands. You forget all about the difficult stuff and can’t wait to do it again! And at the end of the day, you are doing something you love and something you hope that others will love as well.”
 
Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

She posts every other day without fail, because she wants to show people the endless variety of dishes they can make with real food. She wants people to learn that real food is delicious and to not be afraid of the kitchen. She also hopes people will learn that their health really will improve when they focus on real food and that cooking food does not have to take a lot of time, or money.
 
“The best compliments I get are the ones where people tell me that their lives/health/bodies have improved since they started cooking with my recipes. I think that sort of compliment is the most validating thing a health blogger could ever ask for.”
 
Her favorite recipe on her blog is the plum torte, and while she never posts a recipe that she does not like, she has had some fails – like a low carb brownie recipe that she is still working on. As for her favorite blogs and magazines, she likes iBlog Magazine and Will Write for Food.
 
“I tend to gravitate towards the blogs with the magazine quality photos. Really great photos are something I aspire to.”
 
Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious  Pantry

Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Now that Tiffany is in culinary school, she would like to host a cooking show in the future and to continue writing more books. “I’d also love to start teaching healthy cooking classes to kids. I’ve taught one or two and they are just so much fun,” she says. Her biggest advice for people who are beginning a clean eating lifestyle is simple: take it slow.
 
“Take it one meal at a time. Realize you WILL make mistakes. But the secret in success is using those mistakes. If you throw in the towel every time you goof up, you’ll never stick to anything. Using those mistakes to learn. A mistake isn’t the end of the world and it shouldn’t be the end of your healthy endeavors. Just keep at it. Success is found in perseverance. Come back to it again and again, no matter how badly you mess up.”
 
You can find out more about Tiffany and her recipes by visiting The Gracious Pantry. And for all you awesome moms out there, I still have two spaces left for a Yo Momma Monday feature so drop me a comment 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!

 

Creative Business Journey: Project 2014 (Week two)

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

Image from Oh My! Handmade Goodness

It’s the second week into Project 2014 at Oh My! Handmade Goodness, and I am loving it. I have an Accountability buddy named Lenore, who runs A Small Bird Designs. You can read more about her Project 2014 journey here and here. She is a freelance graphic designer and we are both working on some ginormous projects, so I think we will both be a huge help to each other.

I know I talked about my plans for this month, but I wanted to focus on a specific goal for the week. Finally complete a design board for my blog! I have some ideas of what I want it to look like, and now it’s time to really pinpoint what I want. And I wanted to share my inspiration with you!

Theme:

Image from Henry Happened

Image from Henry Happened

I don’t remember why I landed upon Henry Happened. I don’t remember if it was a tutorial, a recipe, or some sort of handmade fashion tip. What I do remember, is how beautiful and simple the theme is. I love how each category has a hand-drawn symbol, and I love how all the posts are visually categorized. It really excites me and makes me want to look for more. And I want people to feel that way when they happen upon my blog – I want them to feel like they found a magical land that they must explore.

Colors:

Image from Design Seeds

Image from Design Seeds

If you are into design at all, and you haven’t been to Design Seeds yet, you should probably visit. I am always so inspired by how Jessica can create an entire color palette from one object or photo. You can get the code for each color, so you can use that color in your design work and you can also adjust the colors by adjusting the RGB values. It is quite honestly one of the most resourceful sites I have found since I started caring about design. I love the color palette above because it’s rustic and includes my favorite color – teal! It’s bold yet not obtrusive.

Font:

Image from Betty Red Designs

Image from Betty Red Design

I absolutely love the cursive font in this design, probably because that is exactly how I write in cursive. I would love to use a font like this as my header, and I could probably even write it myself, scan it into my computer and incorporate it in my design. That seems a lot easier than searching all over for the font. Betty Red Design is an amazing site too, by the way.

Now, it’s time to work all of these into a design board. I can’t wait to see what Amy from Amy is the Party comes up with! So far, she is the only person I have trusted to touch my blog besides me (no pressure or anything), so it’s all very exciting! I also found a new site while hanging around Lenore’s website – XO Sarah is run by a designer who also focuses on helping bloggers and small business grow their businesses. Check out her Ebook and WordPress plugins for small businesses.

What are your major goals for your business this week? Anything specific you are working on, or is there an ongoing goal that you are chipping away at? Let’s talk about it. I would love to work on our projects together, and be sure to check out Lenore’s site, too!

Why I loved this week

Untitled-1Well, the time has come. My daughter has decided that her toys are way cooler than mom, and she would much rather hang out in her room and play with all of her cool stuff than hang out with boring ol mom. And while it’s a little insane seeing her grow up so fast, I’m relieved that she’s finally getting into all of her toys that take up every inch of space in that room, and I do have to admit that it is nice to get some things done around here. And I love hearing her in there, blabbing away and turning everything into a drum set.

This week, the Creative Collective started on The Nectar Collective, and our first prompt was to choose a word for 2014 and make something creative with it.

IMG_1220

IMG_1292

I chose simplify because I really want to work on simplifying my life and slowing down a little. I have a closet full of clothes I never wear and it stresses me out every time I look at it, I have a craft closet that has gone complete bonkers with projects that I barely touched. I need to simplify my closet, simplify my crafts and simplify my routine. I try to do too much of everything, and end up falling short. I am slowly learning to focus on one goal until it’s done and move on from there.

I’m choosing to let go of anything that causes unnecessary stress, and zoning in on what matters. I’m choosing to allow myself some creative time every day, because I need it. I tend to get so worked up about things, and when it comes down to it…my life is pretty simple.

And so far, it has worked! I finished more by doing that than by trying to do everything at once. I finished my cork/chalkboard that I have been putting off forever and I was actually able to make cookies AND coffee cake this week. What the what?!

IMG_1242 IMG_1285

The cake was so crumbly that I had to eat it with a spoon, which I was totally fine with.

I got to share Print Therapy‘s story this week, and I was so excited about how excited they were about it. When you write about someone else and their business, it can be a little nerve-wrecking. You are putting that person’s name out there, and it can be a truly amazing experience…or it can be horrible. Luckily, this was a particularly amazing experience. I also purchased this Valentines card from them, and I will continue supporting their business in the future. Because they’re awesome.

Photo from Print Therapy

Photo from Print Therapy

meet the maker

And, finally. I got this package that I ordered from Wilderess, and I love everything about it. I got an apple scented 20 hr candle, two cinnamon chapsticks and they included a little tealight! It came with a cute little bag and was shipped with eco-friendly packaging.

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A Burts Bees devotee, I was a little weary of trying another chapstick, but I love these! And they’re less waxy. I’m definitely sticking with them. Sorry, Burt.

So, what did you love about this week? What did you get accomplished? Share in the comments and post a link to your blog if you have one! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Yesterday, I shared some DIY/printable calendars that you could either add photos to in order to make your own, or even break out your needlework skills. Today, I’m going to switch it up a little and share some calendars from artists and small businesses that will not only help you organize your life, but also add some art to your home!

Photo from Carol Farrell

Photo from Carol Farrell

Eeek! I love this artistic calendar from Carol Farrell! Her illustrations are so beautiful and simple, and I also really love font she chose for the type. It’s $22 and holds 12 of her original watercolor illustrations. So you are not only getting a calendar, you are also getting 12 works of art. Pretty neat! And if you want some more of her work…check out her Etsy. It’s all wonderful!

Photo from Hello Small World

Photo from Hello Small World

Ok, this Jaunty Animals 2014 Calendar from Hello Small World is adorable and awesome! And check out that packaging! After taking my design class, I am really drawn to people and companies who put some effort into their packaging. The $16 calendar features 12 prints of animals partaking in seasonal activities (I love that description!) and it’s perfect for you and/or the fellow animal lover in your life. (gift giving does not need to stop after Christmas!) Their Etsy shop also offers a variety of prints, stationary and and totes.

Photo from Handmade by Kristina

Photo from Handmade by Kristina

This screen printed 2014 calendar from Handmade by Kristina is unique because she prints with acrylic ink on cotton rag paper. The calendar is $20 and comes with a green clip for hanging purposes. This is a technique that I haven’t really seen for calendars, and no two calendars will truly be the same. She also sells handmade jewelry and journals at her Etsy shop, and they are definitely worth checking out!

Photo from Two Hand Design

Photo from Two Hand Design

After receiving my beautiful cards and writing about Emmaline Lamond, I have quite the crush on Letterpress. To be honest, it’s slowly turning into an obsession. So, naturally, I was drawn toward this beautiful letterpress calendar from Two Hand Design. This $24 calendar is part of an edition limited to only sixty. It measures at 5 x 5.5 and comes with a repurposed cd case holder. Check out more letterpress goodies, like totes, greeting cards and journals at her Etsy shop!

Photo from Red Cruiser

Photo from Red Cruiser

Now, this 2014 Calendar from Red Cruiser has been on my radar since before Christmas. I am a huge fan of beer…and food…so this was a natural choice for me. But aside from that, I love the illustrations and learning a little more about food pairings. I’ve never really considered the science behind beer/food pairings, I typically just have an IPA with whatever I’m eating, when it’s available. But this is nice! All the info about food pairings, without the snobbery. This beer enthusiast is also offering a 15% off coupon on all purchases before Jan 7 so hurry into her Etsy shop and grab this! Now! Do it now!

Did you just get an awesome new calendar…and is it possibly one of these? Share with us! Also, if you offer beautiful handmade calendars in your shop, share the link with us in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google + with the hashtag #handmadecalendar. Find more calendars on my Pinterest and follow #fridayfavorite for more Fridays are for Favorites inspiration!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I love getting a new calendar and/or planner! While I have plenty of devices that are more than capable to track all of my important dates and ideas, I am not yet trained in relying completely on my phone. I just have this crazy concept that I am able to think better when I am writing on something in front of me rather than on my phone. And I like to make little notes and goals…so it just works better that way.

It never really occurred to me that I could create my own calendars until recently, and now I have found plenty of awesome calendars that you can create and personalize yourself! I am most definitely going to work on a calendar and can’t wait to share mine with you! Here are some ideas to get your creative juices going:

Photo from Our Collective

Photo from Our Collective

This calendar from Our Collective is simple and classic, and you can use your own photos for the graphics. You can get the calendar template by clicking on the photo or the link above and clicking on the “free calendar” tab. Once downloaded, you will receive 12 .psd templates (one for each month) and instructions. They also share an awesome idea for reusing your CD cases to hold the calendars!

Photo from Going Home to Roost

Photo from Going Home to Roost

Use your Instagram photos to create this calendar from Going Home to Roost. Just click on the photo or the link to be directed to her website in order to download the template. You will be given three different file types: .png, .pdf and .eps, depending on how much you want to edit. Don’t want to use your own photos? Then download and print hers!

Photo from Poppytalk

Photo from Poppytalk

Now, in order to complete this project, you will need to purchase the 2014 Stitch the Stars calendar set from Heather Lins for $25. So, it’s not free, but it’s worth the same amount of money that you would spend on any other calendar. And this one allows you to use a little creativity! She also offers a Year in Stitches calendar kit, but that one is unfortunately sold out 😦 Find out more about this project on Poppytalk.

Don’t feel like doing the work…or paying for a calendar? I ain’t mad at ya. Here are some free calendars with all the work done for you!

Photo from The Elli Blog

Photo from The Elli Blog

Download and print out this FREE 2014 calendar on The Elli Blog. I love this calendar because it’s simple and also has enough space to write down important dates and put your notes on the other side. She says to print on white cardstock, but hey…I say get crazy and print it on any card stock you want! Lots of good DIY projects and tutorials on this site!

Photo from Eat Drink Chic

Photo from Eat Drink Chic

I absolutely love this calendar from Eat Drink Chic! It’s fun and colorful, the only downside is that it really makes want some chocolate the moment I look at it! I would love to print this out and put it in the kitchen – which I think I just might do! You can circle or put little markers by the important dates, and I already know a couple people who would love to get this as a little gift!

So if you are like me and still don’t have a good calendar, don’t worry. You’re only two days into the new year and these projects are simple and easy! Have a DIY calendar you want to share, or did you complete one of these projects and show off what you did? Post the link in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. Find more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest!

My Creative Business Journey: A Manifesto

NEW YEAR

For the last month or so, I have had big plans of what I would write in my New Years post. It was going to be a series, and I would be organized and have a lot of projects I would unveil and so on. But as it goes, life got in the way. And here I am, typing my final New Years post at 9:40 pm on New Years day. I’ve always done things a little whacky though, so this isn’t too far off.

I started my blog in 2012 and they say it takes two years for to run a successful business. When I started the blog, I never thought of it in the business mind. It was a fun way to share my adventures in becoming a new mom and a stay-at-home one, at that. Now that I have come to the realization that this could very well be a successful creative business, and it was this blog that sparked my idea of an online art collective, and it was through this blog that I found so many DIY projects that ultimately led to my other creative business, Sweet Mariposa, that I now run with one of my closest friends.

So, this is what I have planned for my creative business(es) this year:

  • Blog: While I do not see my blog as a “business” right now, it is where I plan to go. I have seriously given it some thought, and I know I could use this to do a lot more. Share more small businesses and stories of beautiful mamas who started their own businesses from a very small corner of their homes. Share more inspiration of how live a simple and healthy life. I am planning on getting some awesome sponsors this year, and promise to never accept profit or partnership with a company or person I don’t believe in.
  • Baby Burrito Collective: I really love where this is going. This year is all about getting more people involved, and promoting more. We just added a directory so now artists can list all of their services. Helping promote the work of my members gives me ideas of how I can promote my own work. I just love the idea of a collective – all working together to help each other achieve the same end result.
  • Sweet Mariposa: Finish all of my projects and list them. Get our Facebook going and pick a craft fair. Finally, I want to find a retail spot where we can set up shop. I’ll be moving soon so where I want to set up a space by where my friend lives, and one by where I will live. We’ll see where it goes from there.

With all that in mind, my creative business manifesto is to hustle. To take all promoting opportunities I can and to make things happen. I have all the tools I need – a supportive family, the flexibility in my schedule, and the motivation. Now I just need to put it all into motion and see where it will take me! Since nothing really came into fruition until 2013, I’m going to give me until 2015, and then I may have to move on – depending on where I am.

While I know every situation is different, and some businesses take longer than others to thrive, it’s not just about me. It’s about our family and everything I’m doing is to help support all of us. So, if it’s not working out, then it will have to be placed on hold until I am at a place where I can give it a go, again.

Have you set goals for your creative business this year? What’s your manifesto? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #creativebusinessjourney. Find more creative business inspiration on my Pinterest!