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!

Momma’s Garden Project: Round 2

garden projectMy garden is back in action! With the big move taking every ounce of our attention, my garden was put on hold until we were settled in and the beds were moved from Stockton. Luckily, I have a green thumb of a dad and he came over last Saturday and helped me put the garden boxes in, pick out my plants and get everything planted.

SONY DSCRight now, we have four tomato plants, six pepper plants, two basil plants, four zucchini plants, a lavender plant and some beautiful flowers. All the plants seem to be doing fine, except for the basil and rosemary. Apparently I got a little sloppy with the basil and it wasn’t put all the way into the soil (whoooops), so my dad helped me fix that up a little and now we’re back in action! Except for the rosemary….

BASSSSILLLLL!!! So much pesto to be made...

BASSSSILLLLL!!! So much pesto to be made…

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Zucchini plants!

Zucchini plants!

Pepper plant

Pepper plant

TOMATOES!

TOMATOES!

You can already see it flowering...

You can already see it flowering…

Poor, poor lavender

Poor, poor lavender

Basil and pepper plants

Basil and pepper plants

Zucchini!

Zucchini!

This round already feels easier to maintain because it’s my second go-round, and it’s right in my backyard, where we spend a lot of time anyway. And I love that I can look out at it from my bedroom window. It’s a lovely view and a daily reminder that I need to keep it looking pretty so I’m not ashamed every time I look out there!

I’m looking forward to watching my second garden grow, and enjoying its bounty. There is still some more stuff I want to plant in all of the random planters we have around here, but for now…this is perfect. I just hope it can withstand a one-and-a-half year-old and a chocolate lab.

Have you started your garden? If so, what are you planting? Share your progress with me in the comments and if you have a blog, share the link so I can check it out! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest if you want more updates and photos of my garden!

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.

For the Love of: Roller Derby

One of my very good friends Teresa plays roller derby for Stockton’s Port City Roller Girls, so when I got an assignment to create a story with my photos for one of my classes – I knew exactly where to go. These photos are from a practice and though I have been to one of her game before, I really got a feel for how dedicated these ladies are after this shoot. It makes me such a proud friend!

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You can view my full album on Photobucket and if you live in the area, you can see the Port City Roller Girls’ schedule and find out more about them on their website.

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I have drastically limited my time on my personal Facebook page anymore. Sometimes I’ll post a photo of Cecilia so our family members who don’t get to see her often can get updates. Aside from that, I agree that it can be a major time suck, and I don’t get the fulfillment out of it that I used to. My blog page is a completely different story! I truly believe in the power of social networking now. If I see someone I follow post about a new place, page or community…I check it out to see if it’s something I’d like. And more of than not, it is. That’s just what happened when I found the Delta Workshop.

Photo from Delta Workshop

Photo from Delta Workshop

Delta Workshop is a studio located in Midtown, Sacramento, a city I frequent every weekend. They offer a variety of classes, like a knitting class for the next two weekends, and a blockprinting class in a couple weeks. There is an online gallery where you can see artists’ work, and a shop. Since moving to Stockton, I’ve been a little out of the loop with the art scene in Sacramento so I was stoked to see this! I’m definitely checking it out this weekend or next to see what it’s all about.

Another awesome find on Facebook…the Handmade Directory on Handmadeology!

Photo from Handamdeology

Photo from Handamdeology

Timothy Adam from Handmadeology  – a website dedicated to spotlighting different handmade shops and sharing creative business tips and resources. Awesome, right? –  launched the Handmade Directory. In the Directory, you can find crafty events and list your own event, you can shop by category and/or location, and you can add your own shop. Tim is offering a FREE listing for a limited time with the code 50OFFNOV. Get more updates on the Handmadeology Facebook. There are currently 75 listings and he’s shooting for 100 by the end of the day.

I was so inspired by what I saw, I got in contact with Tim and signed up as a Contributing Writer! Let me know if you post your business in the Handmade Directory and I will write a profile on you and your business to be posted on the Handmadeology site!

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Photo from TrashN2Tees

Jenelle Montilone, the wonderful woman behind TrashN2Tees, has started something new. It’s called Take Action Tuesdays, a series where Jenelle will share one way to take action – tutorial or tip, sharing a campaign, or a clip of pure human awesomeness – every Tuesday. If you haven’t checked out TrashN2Tees yet, then this will be the perfect opportunity. It’s a handmade line made completely out of recycled clothing, plastic, and pretty much anything she can recycle. She also features a Clothing Recycling Program and a Create Change app.

This find was from the wonderful handmade community that I am so happy to be a part of – Oh My Handmade Goodness.

Photo from Out of the Dark

Photo from Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark was founded by brothers Jay and Jade Blades as an extension to their charity Street Dreams that they founded 13 years ago. According to the website, Out of the Dark is a charitable enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture as a means to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their projects are all about supporting young people achieve a better life and steer away from crime, and this project brings in the element of craft, DIY and work skills. Not to mention the development of self esteem and confidence. They also offer workshops and they feature an online store.

What are your favorite things that happened this week? Share them in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #fridayfavorites to simply tag me in the post! Find more Friday Favorites inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fitness Fest: MyYogaPro

Me and the little one doing our yoga

Me and the little one doing our yoga

Today, I’m taking a little note from Elizabeth on Delightfully Tacky. She shared her experience with yoga on her blog the other day, and it totally rang true with me. I also started taking yoga when I was in College and needed some kind of fitness class. I’ve always been relatively active but unlike Elizabeth, I was never big on doing anything too strenuous. So when I saw that a yoga class was available, I snatched it up immediately.

I went back and forth on taking yoga classes around town but it never really felt right. Since the yoga community in Sacramento is so small, everyone in my classes always knew each other and even if I took beginner classes, they all seemed to be more advanced than I was – which was probably true. I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others – especially in a yoga class – but it’s hard not to do that. So I just stopped going. I wasn’t feeling it anymore.

I started doing yoga on my Wii Fit when I moved to Stockton, but that also just didn’t feel right. Yoga is a lot more than just doing the moves – it’s an experience. A spiritual journey, if you will. So I looked online for yoga classes. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com that I finally felt a connection. That’s why I have always promoted what they are working on, and love what they are doing.

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Erin is so down-to-earth and does not have that “I’m more in touch with my body” attitude that I get from a lot of yoga teachers. Not to mention, DoYouYoga.com is a really fun site that is user-friendly and also houses articles on yoga and the lifestyle behind it. The articles are all written by normal people, and anyone who has a connection yoga and healthy living in general can sign up as a contributor.

So when I saw that they were launching a Kickstarter for their new site – MyYogaPro – I got on board immediately. I signed up as an Ambassador and started spreading the word. I have been following the journey of Andreas Zolton (DoYouYoga founder) and Erin Motz – and I am excited to announce that the Kickstarter has officially launched!

As I’m typing this, the campaign has only been live for 2 days and they already have 664 backers and have raised an astounding $33.341 of their $20,000 goal. That’s insane! The campaign will be live for 38 more days so there is still time to pledge, and if you pledge $15 or more, you get a sweet soundtrack!

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

Image belongs to DoYouYoga.com

My Yoga Pro will the first-ever social online yoga platform that combines online yoga classes with a social network and a video game-like rewarding system. Andreas and Erin are hoping that this new concept will change the way people view at-home yoga sessions – making it fun an rewarding. For some of us, at-home sessions are the only way we can practice.

This idea was born after Andreas and Erin launched the 30 Day Yoga Challenge, which was also backed by Yoga Trail and  had over 20,000 participants in just a few months, myself included. With MyYogaPro, there will be 16 yoga courses and over 200 exclusive HD videos of yoga classes. Yogis can sign up for Challenges with friends and earn badges together, or can update their status to let everyone know that they’ve been practicing for a week straight.

Needless to say, I’m really excited to see what’s to come with MyYogaPro. I’m a huge fan of both DoYouYoga and Erin Motz and I think that the yoga world needs a website like this. If you are looking for a new yoga site and you have not gotten yourself acquainted with DoYouYoga, then I think that you should check it out. You can start the 30 Day Yoga Challenge at any time, and can learn more about MyYogaPro.

Follow DoYouYoga on Facebook and Twitter to get all the scoop and updates as they happen. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy inspiration!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

Since becoming a mom, I can definitely say that my idea of a good time has tremendously changed. While I still do like going out with my friends, it’s usually to thrift store or yard sale instead of the bar. The only shows I go to anymore have the word “antique” in front of them. Don’t get me wrong – if Atmosphere comes to town, I’ll be there in a jiff. But that’s very rare. I like craft fairs and street fairs over house parties, and I want to go to the Sacramento Antique Faire for my birthday rather than 2nd Saturday.

In the last few weeks, I have been lucky enough to go on many a thrifting adventure. It all started with the estate sale/yard sale/ antique store adventure on the “Mom Day Out” I had with my friend a few weeks ago. That’s right, we had a few hours all to us, and we spent them going thrifting. That’s how we roll. Then there was the Lodi Street Faire (aka…crack for crafters) and last weekend was the Stockton Swap Meet. This was all topped off by the Galt Flea Market just a couple days ago.

Side note – taking your baby for a stroll through anything like that is amazing. They love being strolled around outside while you get your thrift on! And, the undercarriage of most strollers can double as storage for your smaller items! Someone without a stroller can push around a cart for bigger items.

I also recommend taking out a specific amount of cash and leaving your cards at home or in the car. Somewhere that is not easily accessible – by you, or anyone else for that matter. You can usually talk the sellers down a little since they generally overprice for that reason. And if you can’t, maybe it just wasn’t meant for you that day.

Luckily for me, I can only afford $20 or less per adventure, so there is no way for me to overspend. I wanted to share with you some of what I got. Now, this isn’t everything. A lot of my stuff is being used for projects, but this will give you an idea.

thrifty finds

1. Cheese graters – I think my collection is up to ten right now. You can buy vintage cheese graters like these online for anywhere from $5-15 each. Or you can buy them at a swap meet/flea market/yard sale for $1-2 each. I have only found a couple at thrift stores, but when I do, they are pretty cheap. I’m going to share a tutorial for turning them into earring holders soon.

2. Suitcase – I got this vintage suitcase and another one at the estate sale for $5 each. You can find these suitcases pretty much anywhere – you just need to be cautious that some of them can be pricy. Bring your cell phone and research each suitcase if you can to find the worth.

3. Records – This pile is from my sweep. A few were gifted, but most of them were purchased at the swap meet and street faire. You can find records everywhere. Again, some will be more expensive and others will be cheap. It all depends on the artist and the condition. I will be sharing a tutorial on how to upcycle records into all kinds of things soon. Before you begin crafting with records, check the worth. I don’t craft with any records that could mean something to someone. Always check that first. I also play my records when I’m crafting, so I have a “keep” “sale” and “project” pile.

4. Apron – Got this for $1 at the flea market. Planning on tie-dying it but I’m not sure what I’m doing with it just yet. Whatever I plan to do, I will be sharing it with you for sure.

5. Oil cans – I got these as a package with 7 records, all for $8. I really want to learn how to make vegan candles (I’m not for messing with animal or human fat) and I thought these would be perfect inspiration/motivation for doing that. I want to use these as candle holders.

6. Loteria cards – I got these at the flea market for $3. I definitely could have bartered for them, but I have been wanting them for a while and haven’t been able to find a used set. The sets sell online for anywhere from $5-20, so I did get a deal. There are so many projects I can do with these, and I also want to teach my daughter how to play with these, along with other card games. I think it’s good for her to embrace all of her heritage (Mexican/Italian/Irish/etc.)

7. Three-tiered fruit baskets – I got this set for $10. Again, probably could have bartered a little. Apparently I’m not the best at that. I’m planning on cleaning them and restoring them a little. Then, I will use them as bread and snack baskets in the pantry. Our landlord (aka my boyfriend’s dad) isn’t so hot about me hanging anything from the ceiling in the kitchen so to the pantry they go! Still looking for a three-tiered fruit basket that stands on the kitchen table. If you know of any that are handmade or vintage/thrifted, let me know!

So, everything in this suitcase (suitcase included) cost me less than $40. And they are all things that I’m going to either use on the daily, restore or use for projects. What are some of your favorite thrifty finds? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftyfinds. Who knows – your thrifty find could show up on my blog, with your permission of course. Stay thrifty, my friends!