5 Tips to Start Cultivating Community

I have always loved people… getting together with friends & family, making new acquaintances. I haven’t been as active & worked on building up the community around me nearly as much as I would like to. Our schedules have often restricted us from having the parties we would love to have. But I need to face it: there’s also some selfishness, laziness, & a hesitation to commit. I don’t feel like the work it would take to get the house “company ready,” I don’t feel like the stress of organizing a party, or the work involved in cleaning up the aftermath. And then there’s the fear that comes along with it: “What if nobody wants to come?” often pops up in my mind.

But life is made up of people. It’s those we care about, & those we haven’t met yet. It’s the friends we love, all sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows & laughing. Sharing life with those around us is so important, & I don’t get to do it enough. Recently, I realized that I don’t want to let weeks & months go by without cultivating the amazing community around us. Hubs & I decided to change that, so I’ve come up with a list to get me started. I hope it will help you too!

Life is made up of people; made up of those we care about, & those we haven't met yet. Here are 5 ways to start cultivating the community around us.

1) Make it Happen. 

If you have an idea for a fun party or gathering, the only thing stopping it is you! (Preaching to myself on this one!) I’m the one who’s not opening my calendar app & seeing what day is free. The first thing to do is to set a date. Make an event on Facebook, & start planning!

2) Make it Easy. 

Pick a gathering that’s simple to put together! Don’t go all-out on a costume party or super-fancy themed dinner. To goal is to build community, not your wardrobe! Try a potluck, where everybody brings a dish so you don’t have to worry about what to cook.

3) Make it Cheap

Whatever even you decide on, it shouldn’t break the bank! If you want to decorate, use leftover tissue paper to make flowers, or hang the light strings you use at Christmas. Ask friends to bring their outdoor lanterns & lawn chairs.

4) Make it Stress-Free

If your house has toys strewn around & your friends are starting to pull in… don’t worry about it! They know how to walk over the train tracks! All that really matters is a clean bathroom. I guarantee: your guests will NOT leave because your house looks lived-in.

5) Make it Simple

Now is NOT the time to pull out the fine china! Use those paper plates from two birthdays ago, & have a big black trash bag that’s easily accessible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help cleaning up, these are friends! Chances are, they’re having a blast & want to get together again.

6) Make it Fun. 

We have a community with some amazing musicians around us. I grew up spending many evening clustered around the piano, singing harmony with friends & family. Do you & your friends have a fun activity in common? You can have a mini-concert in the backyard if you ask friends to bring their instruments!


So, here’s a challenge for you: just start! Make a date for your next community-gathering. I’ve decided to stop putting it off, & make something fun happen… & I’m encouraging you to do the same! Within a few weeks, you’ll probably see some pictures showing up in my social media feed of our very first gathering at our new home.

What get-together would you like to have?

newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

5 Ways to Give Yourself Grace.

Since I was a kid, I was constantly losing stuff. Leaving my purse at restaurants. Over the years, it’s become such a problem in my own eyes that I’m terribly ashamed of it. I’m embarrassed when I lose my keys (again). When someone comes over & I remember that I forgot to wash the dishes. I really meant to do it… I just got distracted! The worst part is; there’s no quick fix. Oh, believe me, I’ve tried… I’ve written lists, set alarms, made color coded schedules in half-hour increments. I forget where I put my list, the bread still burns, & let’s face it: strict schedules just aren’t my thing. My ability to forget EVERYTHING is my least favorite things about myself, & unfortunately, one of the most difficult things to change.

The truth is, I’ve been looking at my forgetfulness in all the wrong ways. I’ve turned it into a “problem” that I need to fix. Like it’s some kind of bad habit that I can somehow magically change with the poof of a wan, or a self-help book. Sometimes, “problems” aren’t problems at all. It’s not a flaw, it’s a quirk. It’s a goofy, lovable quirk that makes Hubs smile every time I get flustered trying to figure out where I left my favorite pen. What I need most is to give myself grace.

5 Ways to give yourself Grace. We all need extra grace in our lives... here's what I'm trying to apply so I can live in grace, & not in frustration.

So, here are a few ways I’m trying to learn how to give myself grace:

1) Realize there’s nothing to fix:

There has to be a problem in order to fix it! Forgetting where I left my car keys isn’t one of the 7 deadly sins… although I may get cranky while I’m frantically searching & late for an appointment! If you’re feeling guilty because you don’t make the kids homemade pancakes; stop, & think: There’s Nothing Wrong. You can buy pancakes, they come in a box in the freezer aisle. (Trust me, the kids don’t care anyways… they just want the syrup.) You can’t fix something that’s not broke!

2) Stop beating yourself up over it. 

This is going to be a hard one for me… I’ve always treated forgetfulness like it’s a huge character flaw. In reality, it’s just a character quirk. There’s nothing I can do to rid myself of it. Do you dislike cooking? You can’t force yourself to love it, so there’s no sense in beating yourself up over it. I ate my fair share of boxed macaroni & cheese… I’m still alive to tell the tale! (I sense a cooking theme starting here…)

3) I need to change my technique. 

Having lived with the frustration of forgetfulness has taught me a lot. I’ve learned that order & routines are really important for me. The more organization in my life, the less I forget. For years, it’s seemed like there’s the big, bad wolf named “Lack of Memory,” that I’m supposed to kill. In reality, I don’t need to kill the wolf…  I just need to learn how to outsmart it!

4) Stop hanging on to past “failures”.

I can go back & remember all the times I’ve forgotten things. I’ve hung on to those bad memories like they’re trophies or something. They don’t define who I am, & they’re just silly mistakes. But I’ve held on to the memories until they define me. All my past “failures” have turned a silly quirk into a problem (see #1!). You’re not a failure because you don’t make homemade ravioli… you just don’t like to cook. (Yep, definitely a cooking theme. We’re just gonna go with it. Okay? Okay.)

5) Realize it’s going to take time.

It’s going to take time for me to put all of these into practice. Time to develop routines, to stay organized. Time to learn how to outsmart my quirks. It’s learning to stress less over failures & to love who I am… quirks & all. Giving yourself grace isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a daily process.


Please understand: I’m currently trying to apply all of these in my life, in more areas than just forgetfulness! I need to give myself grace with my body image, mothering, cleaning… I just need lots of grace in life. Don’t we all?

How about you… Where do you
need to learn to give yourself grace?


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Maker Interviews: Kanina Miller

Today, I’m starting a small series… I wanted to share a bit about each person that helped in the Campfires collection. So, welcome to Maker Interviews! Today I’m interviewing Kanina Miller, of The Yarn Nomad. Not only is she a talented creative, she’s also my business bestie! (And, oh my gosh, have you SEEN her hair?) So, without further ado:


Tell us a bit about yourself: Oh friends, It’s great to meet you! I’m …well….ME! My name is Kanina (pronounced Kah-9-ah) and my shop is The Yarn Nomad. Kate has become my business bestie over the last few years. (I’m not sure about this, but I’m pretty confident that I would not even have a business at this point, if not for her inspiration, support, and help.) Have you ever met someone and just KNOWN that you were going to be friends? That’s what happened with Kate. If I’m stuck, Kate is the person I call, or text, or message, or show up (with coffee and donuts usually). And since that first moment, when we were thrust together by some mutual friends, we have been seeking collaboration opportunities. Campfires collection has been a labor of love, for all involved. I’m honored to be a part of it.
look a'mah hair!
I’m sure others would love to hear about The Yarn Nomad… Why the Yarn Nomad? The easy answer is that I love to travel, and I love yarn. I have a hard time holding still and my travels have taken me to places all over the US. I’ve lived in Phoenix, Columbus, Iowa City, and Raleigh. As well as tiny towns like Bridgeville, DE. I’ve traveled internationally, as well. Russia, Ukraine, and Thailand, with a brief visit to Vienna, Austria. (When a layover turns into an overnight, you go exploring! #makinglemonade)
Another part of The Yarn Nomad is telling stories. My stories, other people’s stories. The ultimate dream is for The Yarn Nomad to pay for me to travel. And for me to be able to purchase fair trade items to be able to sell through my website, and potentially a ‘bricks and sticks’ store.
What inspires you to make stuff? When it comes to making, inspiration can happen almost anywhere. Spending time with friends (and their children), movies, TV shows, Podcasts, Music, and books. Audible is my BFF and Librivox (app or .org, check it out!)  is my true love. I’ve just finished re-reading (for approximately the 1,000th time) the Harry Potter series. And now I am all about making the H.P. themed things.
kanina-105
Where do you plan to travel next? My next nomad-ing will be taking me back to Thailand I’m super excited. There is a group going from my church and I get to go along! Basically all purchases are going towards funding that! (PLEASE BUY THE THINGS!!) And after that? I don’t even know, yet. But something will come up.

So why campfires? I mean it is August, and here in our part of the world, it is STILL hot as blazes. So it might seem a little silly to be talking about sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. For me it’s because it is the season I look forward to the most. Not only is my birthday in the fall, but it is such a glorious relief after the hot summer.

What is not to love about fall? The cool, crisp air. The crunchy leaves. Did I mention the cool temps?! I mean, it’s just lovely.

What is your favorite season, & what do you love about it?


You can find Kanina sharing all things yarn over here: Instagram | Facebook | Website

The Day(s) After.

So, it’s been a few days. Honestly, after all the time & effort (& stress!) to get Campfires off the ground, I knew I needed to take a few days to enjoy life. To put my laundry away, & away cook something, just because I can. I mean; that’s what this whole “small business” thing is about, right? Crafting a life I love; one that fuels me & inspires me.

These past few days have been about slowing down. Launch day was AMAZING! Y’all literally BLEW UP my site, I was wondering if we’d experience a crash… thankfully that didn’t happen! I had a blast seeing all the love on social media, & being all nerdy watching my stats. 😀 On Tuesday, I watched The Little Prince & nearly cried my eyes out! Let me tell you: The Little Prince = Perfection. A stunningly beautiful, incredibly sweet movie about growing up, life, & creativity. I really didn’t want it to end.

IMG_1633

 

For the past few days, we’ve slowed down. I made pancakes & homemade bruschetta. Went to the gym. Folded the laundry-mountain (!), & washed the dishes. It was SO nice to just rest & be. My fingers are itching to hold some needles, so I browsed Pinterest for some good knitting ideas. This entire project has given me SO much inspiration. The more I create, the more I want to make.

IMG_1639

With that said; there’s already another collection in the works… it will be out just in time for Christmas shopping! If you purchase something from the Campfires collection, you’ll get a little hint… or, sign up for the newsletter below, and you’ll get to hear about it soon!


What are you doing to create a life you love?

newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Campfires.

Campfires collection is finally here!

This entire project has been an absolute JOY to create. From the beginning, this project was about me doing what I love. After making many products, watching other makers create incredible pieces, & watching an amazing photographer pull it all together… I’m thrilled to finally be able to reveal the Campfires collection!

If you’d like to get a better idea of what it’s all about take peek at the Lookbook:

Campfires_Lookbook_4

And shop the collection here:

Campfires_Lookbook_10

Last, but not least, if you’d like a 10% off coupon, sign up for Corner Chair News:

Campfires_Slider_1

Also: a big shout-out to ALL my friends & family who have supported
& helped me pull this whole thing off. 🙂 Now… Happy Shopping!

Letting Go.

On Tuesday, I drove my two sweet munchkins down to my parent’s house. We all ate dinner, laughed as the kids played, & gave them all baths. After jammies were on & the last of the milk was drunk, I headed home… without my babies. It was an odd feeling to drive home without 2 little faces peering at me in the rearview mirror.

I needed some time to think so I could finish a lot of the smaller details for the Campfires launch. However, the house was so strange & silent feeling… it felt like I had lost something! I went to the coffee shop by myself. (That was really nice!) Luckily, my Mom understands, so I got many texts & photos & funny captions throughout the day. Late in the afternoon, I picked them up. All I wanted to do was squeeze them tightly, but they were more interested in Nana’s bowl of ice cream. 😀

Version 2

My Mom’s text: “I thought they were being awfully quiet!”
They were “cooking’ with the cat food. 😀

It was good for me. Good to feel like an individual again. So good to enjoy a little space, peace, & quiet. I got some “me time,” & got a lot prepared for launch day (yay!). It was good for the kids, too. Apparently the boys thought that waking in the same room was hilarious, & good naps were had by all.

IMG_1580

I love Z-man’s serious thought on his
painting. That tongue hanging out!

But, it was also hard. Our pastor once said that parenting is made up of “letting go’s,” until they finally spread their wings & fly. For now, I’m just thankful that the letting go have been mostly easy. There’s many more years of practice ahead before they fly. That my babies are still so sweet & little that I can sweep them up in my arms. For cuddles & bedtime stories.

Getting to raise these two small humans is amazing. Doing it while running a business is probably crazy. But life is good. So, SO good.


How about you? What is a hard, but good thing in your life right now?

newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

 

Letting Go: Raising kids is a series of "Letting Go's" until they FLY.

Journaling: A Lifestyle.

I love journaling. I’ve written on & off for over 10 years now. I write about my heart. My emotions. My prayers, joys, & heartaches. I’ve actually thrown most of my journals away, because they are too deeply personal for me to want to share them with the world. Hubs begged me to let him keep my last two journals… someday we’ll probably read them over & laugh at our newlywed arguments. I finally tucked 2 journals away in the attic.

The best part of journaling is seeing how I walk through life. The process of writing helps me figure out the “why” behind my feelings (because, let’s face it: life can be confusing!). They help me see the growth in my outer & inner life. Sometimes the pages are full of questions; & at other times the words reflect a peace-filled heart.

Journaling: A Lifestyle. Talking about the habit of keeping a personal journal.

I can’t really remember when I started journaling. I’m sure I probably began after reading Anne of Green Gables, or some other book I read in those super-sappy romantic early teen years. Now, sitting down with my Bible & journal is the thing I look forward to most each day. Well… that, & my coffee. 😀 I try to be sure that I’m awake about an hour before I get the kids up, so I have at least a half an hour to do some writing.

I think that’s why I love writing here; it’s like a journal (but less of the nitty-gritty life-stuff!). I write my first drafts of blog posts on paper, & it’s like sitting down with an old friend. I can share the exciting projects I’m making. My thoughts on trying to live a simple life, & anything else I want! I can look back in the archives & see SO much personal & creative growth. The more I write, the more I have to write. The more I share, the more ideas I get.

How about you? Is journaling something that you’ve tried but it never stuck? Or, like me, has an empty page & your favorite pen become like an old, familiar friend?

What’s your favorite topic to journal about?


 

newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Room to Grow.

It’s interesting looking back on the last few months of my blog posts; I see SO much personal growth in a short time. I went from feeling stuck in a rut creatively, to realizing things in my business needed to change, to working SUPER hard to make this new collection happen.

I’ve seen my own babies growing up so quickly… i expect big changes in their lives. They learn to walk, talk, & ask questions. There are new teeth, food to taste, like & dislikes to learn. Why, then, do I think that I’m not growing & changing, just like Miss T & Z-man? I have forgotten that it takes a lifetime to figure out what I like & who I am.

Room to Grow: Allowing some space for personal growth.

Allowing room to grow looks different when you’re an adult. I mean, let’s be honest: all 5 foot of me is never going to need a bigger bed, like my toddler currently does! But I do need to be able to allow my tastes to change, to learn new habits, & to try new things. I’m finding out that who I am seems to change frequently. For years, I liked certain styles, certain hobbies. Now, it’s different. It’s taking me a while to learn what I like now. I need to figure out who I am all over again.

One of the hardest things for my own personal growth is having the space to change. Right now, it’s so easy to lose sight of myself with a growing family to take care of. In fact: I did lose myself for quite awhile amidst the busy-ness of pregnancy, nursing, & learning what being a Mom is all about. This blog was SO important to me while I was in a very awkward “who am I” stage, & now that life feels more steady, I’m spending more time on myself. I’ve discovered some interesting things; I decided to make more thoughtful purchases, & learned that I need to stop playing The Comparison Game. I took a deeper look at what I really want my life to look like… I want it to be Wild & Precious… full of hard work & simplicity.

Everyone’s journey is different… how
to you see yourself growing these days?


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Save The Date: Campfires Collection!

Last Friday was… Magical. I have a privilege of watching 4 stunning models taking part in a photoshoot by Samantha Jane Photo. It was MY shoot. Watching a photographer in action is pretty amazing… especially when you’ve worked hard making or curating all of the products!

Campfires_Slider_2

Without further ado:

Campfires_Slider_1

If you would like to stay in the loop, subscribe to my newsletter! (Click on the picture above.) You’ll get:

  • A printable 8×10 of “Simple Life”
  • A 10% off coupon for Campfires
  • All the news FIRST
  • A sneak-peek at the collection! 🙂

I’m so looking forward to sharing this collection with you all! Thanks for your interest; I hope you love all these amazing goodies as much as I do.


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Simple Living.

While enjoying some quiet time a few months ago (my quiet time usually involves my journal, a Bible, & iced coffee), I got to thinking that I needed to re-focus a bit. I’d kind of lost sight of the “bigger picture” while living life each day. I felt like I wasn’t living it to the fullest… I wasn’t feeling challenged & inspired. So, I took a bit of time to re-think things. Think about what really matters to me. What I want my life to look like on a bigger scale.

After a lot of scribbling, thought, & prayer, I realized:

I simply wanted to live simply.

& I really needed to figure out what that looked like for me.

Living Simply: Learning what my life goals are & living them out every day.

Simple Living is choosing to do what you love, & weeding other things out. For me, this looked like a totally new journey for my creative business. A huge bit of growth for this place, & being an extrovert, I knew I wanted to involve others in this new path.

Simple Living is allowing family & friends to blossom, & doing your part to help them grow along their journey. Snuggling the kids when they need extra hugs. Chatting with family about hard stuff. Texting friends when they need your support to get through a rough day. Making time for people.

Simple Living is not being afraid to work hard towards your dreams. Once I figured out what it was I desired, I started chasing after it. Fast. This new project has included lost sleep, lots of caffeine, & simple dinner plans… & it’s been worth every second!

Simple Living is knowing when to take time off. Still working on this one, honestly! After this week, I’m definitely taking a few days off. Hopefully, relaxation, Netflix, & baby snuggles will happen. 🙂 I’m also craving a personal project, specifically something involving knitting needles & some yarn from my stash.

Simple Living is clearing out the clutter so I can flourish. Mostly for me, it’s been physical clutter… old craft supplies I’ll never use; clothing that is no longer my style, etc. I suppose it could be mental or obligational clutter as well (thinking about stuff that causes worry or wastes time… having too many obligations on the calendar.)

What’s your life goal, &
how can you live it out?


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

5 Ways to Handle a Tough Day.

There are just some days that really don’t go as planned… everything takes twice as long to get done, the kids are cranky & getting into mischief every time you look the other way. Yesterday was DEFINITELY one of those days. We’re getting very close to launching the new collection, & with that in mind… “crunch-time” is officially here.

On days when nothing seems to go as planned; here's 5 Ways to handle a Tough Day.

  1. I have found a few things that help when I feel like I’m up against a really tough day. One of the most important things to do is look at my to-do list. If I’ve got too many obligations piled on, I can quickly feel like I’m treading water instead of surfing the waves! So, the first, best thing you can do for yourself is to see if you can remove anything from the list.
  2. If there isn’t any way to remove a few to-do’s, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Last night, my bestie came over. She helped keep the kids out of mischief, & gave me some much-needed adult conversation! This morning, my ‘Mom 2″ (mother-in-law) is watching Z-man for a few hours so I can go to the gym & run errands. In a few days, we’re doing a rather large task for the collection, & I’ll have friends helping me prepare & a babysitter to watch the kids.
  3. If you’ve been working like crazy to get to the end of a deadline, sometimes you just need to let yourself take a break. If you’ve not let yourself any rest, you will feel it. Trust me, I know! Watch a TV show, take a bath… go for a walk. Sometimes, the to-do list just HAS to was until you take some time to recharge your own batteries. Last night, I ended up watching a TV show for the evening, & not going what I had planned. I still got stuff accomplished, just not as much as I had planned… & ya’ know what? It’ll be fine.
  4. When everything doesn’t seem to be going as planned, sometimes you just need to stop & laugh! Laugh at yourself, your crazy to-do list, or the way everything you attempt to do has seemed to quickly go downhill. I think that I needed some comic relief yesterday… there came a point when the afternoon’s events were just plain funny! (This may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I got hit on the head by a falling gallon water jug…) Either way, it felt good to have a laugh about the whole evening, & it immediately changed my perspective.
  5. When everything seems stressful, look for little moments of joy. After the kids had gotten into everything that is off-limits, and thrown fits about everything I said… I was feeling rather cranky. Later on that night, Z-man came in from the garden holding an ear of corn & said “Mommy! ‘Oook! A Fow-er!” (Translation: “Look! A Flower!”)… let’s just say I melted. 🙂 Life is good.

When you’re seeking a life of simplicity & intentional living, it doesn’t mean that every day suddenly gets easier. You’ll still probably have days where you’ve over-booked your schedule. The kids will still get cranky, & projects will sometimes take longer than you had anticipated. I hope these simple ideas helps encourage you to find joy in the journey!

How do you handle the tough days?


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art

Coffee (noun):

  1. A beverage made by percolation, infusion, or decoction
    from the roasted and ground seeds of a coffee plant.

Let’s just be honest: I pretty much live on coffee. I’ve always drank hot coffee, fresh off the stove, & absolutely loved it that way. Until I got pregnant with Miss T… it’s like a switch flipped in my brain, & I only want cold coffee. A few months ago, I was chatting with my sister & she told me that making cold brew is SUPER easy! It required a trip to buy a French Press (mine had broken)… I got an 8 cup Bodum from Target.

How to make your own Cold Brew coffee... it's EASY!

 

 

First up, the coffee: I don’t like my coffee crazy-strong (I would never sleep!), so I put in about a 1/2 cup. You can add more if you prefer. My all-time favorite is to buy roasted coffee from a local company. Pour the coffee grounds into your french press.

How to make your own Cold Brew coffee... it's EASY!

 

Next: add water. Fill ‘er up to the line! The ground will float up to the top & look kind of bubbly. It’s kind of pretty, actually. (What about coffee isn’t pretty?) Put plastic wrap over the french press & stick it in the fridge.

How to make your own Cold Brew coffee... it's EASY!

Yep. It’s that easy. You need to let it steep at least 12 hours, but you can go up to 24. I usually make mine at night so it’s ready in the morning… but again, I don’t like crazy strong coffee.

How to make your own Cold Brew coffee... it's EASY!

(I also have 2 french presses so I NEVER run out. 😀 ) The next morning, grab the press, and slowly push all the grounds down to the bottom. Pour some coffee (I always add milk!), & enjoy.

How to make your own Cold Brew coffee... it's EASY!

How about you? Coffee, or Tea?


newsletter_simple
newsletter_simple_art