July 31, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Natalie Ensor

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
A once broken and ashamed girl now redeemed by my loving Savior. My life depicts God's faithfulness and continual outpour of loving Grace. While smothering me in His grace he has crazy blessed me with a man I don't deserve, but God is cool like that and so I'll love my Micah forever and ever. Amen. 

Ten years of marriage and two wee ones later my cup runneth over! A stay at home mama to my Elsie Pearl and Vernon, trying to take advantage of our time soaking up the California sunshine before they are of school age. When those sweet faces are snoozing during naps or bedtime you'll find me caught up in some form of creative outlet; whether it be stitching my hoops, blogging or crafting up something for the next event on our calendar. Though I love to keep busy creating new things I'm in a season where God has asked me to be more available to both Him and my family, which can be (if I'm honest) a struggle for a creative soul. With that being said, taking this time to downsize our current living situation while striving to simplify our lives has been insanely refreshing and on the upside have found more time to enjoy tea and cannolis! 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
This often changes for me, which only means I enjoy them throughout the day, trying to savor their sweetness even in the midst of the crazy moments. Most times its the mornings that I love; messy hair, sleepy eyes, ready to read our devotions while we sit and eat together. (really it's Elsie and I eating while Vernon plays with his food and asks "why mommy?" to every sentence I read HAHA!) Then there are many times in the afternoon after their naps that just make my heart melt. Scratchy after nap voices, willing hands ready to help make dinner, sweet faces anticipating daddy's arrival home. It's during afternoons like this that make my heart burst with happiness and feel beyond blessed to be their mama.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Choosing three is almost impossible. I mean, I'm inspired and touched by so many women out there rockin' this whole mamahood thang, while being graceful and stylish at the same time. @caseyleighwiegand @joyprouty and @jaminato are constant lights for me. Their hearts for Jesus and love for their babies are infectious and seeing their beautiful photos fill my IG feed only make my heart happy. 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The challenge is balance. I remember when I was struggling with the decision of closing my shop early this year hearing our pastor's wife say "Saying YES to something means you're saying NO to something else." Whoa I was like, umm that's straight truth yo', and knew I needed to start saying no to certain things. 

Oh how I love to stitch my hoops and having the opportunity to bless people with the talents God has given me, but I also love being in the word, spending quality time with my family + friends and desiring to be more available for other opportunities God had for me to be used took priority. So there is a constant struggle to find balance in prioritizing my time as a mama and with my passion to create. God has been beyond gracious I feel because there are times I just need to sit and stitch and those are when the hours in the evening seem to drag out and I can enjoy what I love to do freely without the pressure of time.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
My husband is not from California but rather a small mountain town in NM called Ruidoso. It is lush with Aspen trees, snow tipped mountains and ridiculously fresh air. They have something called Aspen Festival. It's an annual Fall celebration with parades, car shows, chili cook offs and craft fairs. We absolutely love taking a break from the heat (and smog) here in southern Californis to go relax and enjoy all the fun in the cool crisp fall air while spending time with his side of the family! 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
This is my favorite room and wall in the house. Under it sits my juice and milk stained mid-century inspired day bed sofa where my littles often hang out. I sit and stare at this wall when I get quiet time for devotions in the mornings before they wake. It is filled with inherited pieces, vintage treasures we found on various travels and other gifted gems. I love it and brings so much warmth to our home.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I would normally never share this photo One: because of Elsie's naked hiney all bright and shiny and Two: the monstrous mound of unfolded laundry that I constantly have going on over here. But I love how she heard her daddy's car pull up and ran to climb up and peek out the window to welcome him home rather than get into the bath. Priceless.

Be sure and follow @takethecannoli1 on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

July 29, 2013

Embracing the Routine

I love this little boy so much it wreaks me. Yesterday, was a long day at home w/ the kids. I counted that the three of us spent a total of 13 hours in pretty much the same vicinity. And I'm pretty sure I spent about 3/4's of that time at the kitchen sink cleaning up because it seems as though my kids eat every hour! By the end of the night, my hands were dry, my energy level was a flat zero & yet as they were sleeping soundly - I missed seeing their happy little faces! Today, most likely will look about the same .. we'll run this routine again. Does routine excite me? Not so much. Do my kids thrive in a routine? Without question. I'm slowly learning to [embrace] the routine. A wise mom I follow - @inspiredtoaction - blogged how as mothers we're like firefighters. Here's what she said ... firefighters are extremely routine & scheduled, yet they become heros in a split second. They've chosen the predictable routine & discipline so that when the unpredictable happens, there is no one more prepared. As moms, we live lives of service. We choose to lay down our own desires, embrace self discipline & routine in order to create security for others. How empowering is that? Wise words, Kat! I love being a mom ... I really, really do. Thankful for the reminder of why I do what i do. So, be encouraged today, moms ... you have been chosen to walk this journey - embrace it! As Kat says, we are a sisterhood of heroes - we're in this together. You are a hero. So, with that, have a AWESOME day ladies! 
Vanessa | @butterflysparks xo 

July 23, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Heather Essian

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I'm a small town Texas girl who loves all things creative. Seriously, I can convince myself that I'm capable of just about every DIY project out there. Unfortunately for me I can't sew or follow a pattern to save my life, but nonetheless I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to sewing. Who does that?! :-) I met my creative match when I found photography during high school (a really long time ago.) It was the first thing I did that I ever felt I was a little bit good at and the ONLY thing that could keep me on a college campus for eight hours a day while developing and printing my own film. There's is something about seeing your images come to life that is so captivating! I met my hunky minor league baseball playing turned pastor husband nearly eleven years ago while studying photography. We fell in love fast, got married, traveled from state to state while he played ball, we ran my photography business together, started a church in Downtown Fort Worth, and had two beautiful girl's, Harper (2 1/2) and Hollis (9 mo.) All in the nine and a half years that we've been married. God has used all of the crazy transitions over the years to turn my heart towards Him, and is teaching me so much about myself and His faithfulness. I'm currently praying my way through helping my sweet toddler transition to a big girl bed. Can I get a witness?! I'm certain an "Amen" is to come...

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
We're currently in a season where we feel like celebrating even the smallest of victories is important. I love the part of the day when I get to celebrate my two year old staying in her room and napping. We cheers with m&m's and celebrate her obedience together :-). It's SO awesome seeing her overcome demanding her own desires, and helping her work through her emotions as much as we can. :-) Another favorite part of our day happens in the evenings just after dinner while my husband and I sit at the dining room table and watch our girl's crawl around on the wood floors laughing and playing in the curtains...both typically in their undies and diaper. It is such a sweet moment in the busy day for us as a family!

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Oh my goodness it's so hard to pick just three...I love watching the way these creative ladies mother just by the sweet photos that they share through instagram. Each has encouraged me in their own special way. :-)@cheriemarie / @gracyluoriginals / @alicepark 

[#4] The chores are done, there's nothing expected of you and you've got 45 minutes of personal free time...how would you spend it? 
How exciting! Depending on the amount of sleep I've had, you would likely find me designing baby onesies, re-designing my blog, reading Glimpses of Grace (an amazing book for Mama's) and if I'm really tired you might find me horizontal on the couch watching The Real Housewives on Bravo. Please don't judge me they're quite entertaining, no? 

[#5] What are your staple go-to pieces from your closet this month? 
I'm a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal with a dressy twist like wedges and a scarf, or a chunky necklace. Give me a cute dress with pockets made out of sweatshirt material and I'm golden. My fedora hat currently receives the MVP award, it's stylish and covers up my messy (errr...dirty) hair ;-).

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
"Prone to wander Lord I feel it..."  "Bind my wandering heart to thee"...This print is hanging in our family room. It reminds me that many times I seek to fill my needs first with other things besides Jesus. So many times I want to control or manage my circumstances rather than find refuge in the Lord. Far too often I convince myself that if I just had sleep or rest everything would be easier, rather than seeking to rely on God's strength to get me through the day. He's promised me that He is enough for me through every difficulty, even sleepless night after sleepless night. He is still greater than good ol' sleep, but yet I'm prone to wander and fill my voids with empty things that will not last. 
Psalm 62:8
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I wouldn't normally post this photo on instagram because the bed isn't made, it rarely is, but oh how I love a made bed! It's covered in a pile of laundry, and it's just plain blurry. Haha. But I also love it because the moment is so us.

Be sure and follow @heather_essian on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

July 17, 2013

MY Everyday Featuring ... Candice Williams

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I was born, raised, and still live right on the boarder of LA and OC. I married my handsome husband Derek in 2009 and our sweet son James was born in April of 2011. We are also the parents to a fur child shih tzu named Sweet Lou. I am an editor over at Baby Gizmo and have a blog called My Daily James (www.mydailyjames.blogspot.com) where I talk fashion for littles and share photos of my son. Our family loves Jesus and that, I believe, is the most important thing about us. I am blessed that I can do my blogging work from home and still be a stay at home mom- my dream job and something I am honored to do.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of the day with my son would have to be at the playground. We go every single day. My son is very spirited and loves to be on the go. When I had a child I stopped asking myself what I wanted to do each day and now I ask myself- "What would JAMES like to do each day?" He chooses the playground 9 times out of 10. We pack a picnic, bring sand toys, and make an afternoon out of it. It brings me so much joy to see James in his element.

[#3] Name Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
@kelli_murray / @freshlypicked / @brookeaubrey Three gorgeous women who are inspiring and amazing mothers who also happen to have insanely cute kids.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Well, I would definitely not say I'm the most creative person out there, because I'm not, but it can be a struggle balancing being a stay at home mom and my blogging work. If I'm on a deadline for certain posts at Baby Gizmo but James is awake and needing my full attention, that's a huge challenge. It's something that can really stress me out and overwhelm me but I've learned that in my scenario, the answer is putting James first because my work can usually wait a little while. I'm happy that I've been able to strike a balance of being a stay at home mom and then doing my "work" when James naps or when my husband gets home from work.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
I come from a huge Disney loving family. We had Disneyland annual passes ever since I can remember and travel to Disney World in Florida often. I love keeping that tradition alive for James. We go to the parks often, sometimes just to run down the characters for an hour or two, and we love it.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I could show our wall dedicated to the 1st year of my sons life, James' amazing cowboy nursery I spent so much time on or so many other images but realistically, this sweet, simple, and messy photo of James baking in the kitchen with me is perfect to me. I love cooking and baking and am in the kitchen daily trying out new recipes. James loves to help me break eggs, dump in flour, and mix. My kitchen is usually a disaster afterwards but I don't care because I will cherish the memories of him helping me bake forever. It makes our house a home and that's what I care about most.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I think I may be classified as an oversharer but I would choose this photo just because it totally shows real life. Sometimes we only post the good and we hide the bad and the ugly. The truth is- half of my photos are of James crying, looking away from the camera, or having mini melt downs. He's a great kid but he's two and I'm not afraid to admit that he has his moments just like all other two year olds. This photo is real life, and there's still beauty in that. Knowing that we all deal with melt downs and tough days.

Be sure and follow @fitzwilliamss on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

July 12, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Mandy Lynne

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I am happily married and mom to three kids who are my world. I am also an artist and enjoy making things....It gives me energy & inspiration. My creative journey has taken several twist & turns over the years. I've learned to appreciate the process. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves time to reflect and explore new ideas. I believe we come back stronger than ever.
For the moment my niche is creating vintage inspired imagery & still life which I license and sell in my Etsy shopLife is pretty amazing and I’ve loved every stage of it, especially motherhood.
There are times it has felt like a challenge to balance everyone's needs and my own dreams, but for me it helps to keep life simple, focus on what’s important, and just enjoy the ride.
I treasure unhurried moments of creating & exploring together. Homeschooling my two youngest for kindergarten the last couple years was a bit of an impulsive decision, but now I really appreciate the experience. It helped me get in tune with their individuality, and focus on effective ways to make learning fun that will continue long after they go off to school. It is bittersweet watching your kids grow up, but there are moments when I am intensely proud of the people they are growing up to be! 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Well, it’s not morning. I have strict hug & coffee requirements to get going!
I think the most meaningful part of the day is in the evening when we gather around and have devotions together. It's a way to keep God at the heart of it all. We read a short character building story, share our thoughts, pray and just enjoy a little family time. It usually ends with my youngest showing off his latest acrobatic moves. He's such a little ham! 

[#3] Name Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
There are so many moms I admire, but here are a few @joyprouty / @nathaliebearden / @carindavis 

[#4] The chores are done, there’s nothing expected of you & you’ve got 45 minutes of personal free time.. how would you spend it? 
My secret indulgence! You might find me curled up catching up on a favorite tv show online with a bite of chocolate or a bowl of kettle corn...other times I'm picking up a handmade project..probably crocheting or sewing. I'm also interested in healthy living. It's my mission at the moment to find healthy new recipes and ways of incorporating raw organic food into our diet. 

[#5] What are your staple go-to pieces from your closet this month?
Summer dresses, maxis & sandals. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
My office/school room is a happy spot. I designed it to encourage learning & creativity.. and my kids claimed it wholeheartedly. We have a reading nook with a big comfy bean bag & plenty of books. We also have cupboard full of craft supplies, work table, music station and my computer.
There is something for everyone. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
Well, it might involve a picture of myself, because I’m much too fussy about it! .. or maybe something that I worry only my mommy heart will find cute. This picture makes me smile. My son has made his own picnic and invited all his cars. How generous..now if only there was somewhere left for him to sit?! ;) 

Be sure and follow @mandylynnephoto on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

July 7, 2013

July Desktop + iPhone Download

/// We've got another FREE DOWNLOAD....for your computer desktop and iPhone wallpaper! This is a monthly collaboration between our friend Ashley of Thorn+Sparrow and Kelli. Ashley is the one who created the branding elements here on our blog! We love her! 

Don't you just love the word REFRESH? This is what kept coming to mind for this months desktop. The summertime can keep us all busy, but its so important to stop-be in the moment-and enjoy where we are at. For me, when I'm pulled in every direction possible- my life is anything but refreshing.

A friend of mine sent me an awesome text last week- we were talking about how busy we felt and how we were "running around with our heads cut off." Her reply was simple- to the point- powerful.
"I love that throughout the New Testament it says, 'And Jesus walked.' He never rushed or ran....I have to remind myself of this more than I care to admit."

Especially in this season with Ezra- as he is growing quickly before my eyes....I want to be present. I want to be all in. I want to soak in the little moments. There are things that I need to say NO to- so I can care for my family. My family is my treasure- precious cargo.

If you're a stay at home mom [or dad]- be ALL THERE! What an honor it is to raise up your own children. If you work a 9am-5pm that you're not crazy about....work it out and until a change comes your way, work in excellence! Late night hangout with friends? Who cares what other people are doing Instagram! Be engaged- get in the lives of those AROUND YOU!

I get it- we are creatives- we want to do it all! I challenge you this month.....to take on less so you can do more, and more importantly....BE ALL THERE! Leave distractions behind. Have dinner outside with family &/or and leave your phone inside! Draw a hopscotch game on your sidewalk with chalk...and play like a kid again! I dare you.....I doubt you'll regret it.

Enjoy this months desktop & wallpaper. I pray that this encourages you all month long....

DESKTOP // right click & save

iPhone background

July 4, 2013

Let Freedom Ring

We love the 4th of July!

In honor of our Freedom....below is a photography + styling shoot that we collaborated on before we moved from Nashville, Tennessee. This is still one of our very favorite projects....in fact, this was one of our first photography + styling collaborations. This started the "Kelli & Vanessa" series.....

A few of our favorite blogs featured it [Creature Comforts & A Beautiful Mess] so we knew we were on to something....definitely encouraging and inspiring to have such creative bloggers jump on board a project that we put our heart and soul into.

We hope you have a wonderful 4th of July with your family and friends. Enjoy the day.....soak in the little details.....take lots of photos [and jump in a few yourself!] and most of all, play safe!

k & v

July 3, 2013

Boom! Pow!

One year ago.....I posted the image on the left to my personal blog for my weekly maternity series. This morning we headed out the door as a family to pick up fireworks at our local stand....and I just had to get this photo! It's amazing how quickly this year has passed by.......Our little guy will be ONE on Saturday!

July 2, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Ashley Howry

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I met my husband at a small Baptist university in Missouri. He was there on a football scholarship and I was there on a music scholarship. We were friends for four years. Our last semester of our senior year we began dating. We graduated in May, were engaged in July and married in October. It was a whirlwind time and I wouldn't have had it any other way! After our wedding, I moved from Missouri to Texas to where Travis was already living and working as a football coach/teacher. I got a job teaching middle school choir and worked for one year. We were pregnant within our first year of marriage with our first daughter Emma. Eighteen months later came a little boy Colt. Twenty months after that came another little boy Colt. And twenty two months after that came our baby girl Eloise. Four babies in five years. I told you we like to do things in a whirlwind. ;) I have stayed at home since our first was home. I adore every minute of it and I can't imagine a better job than loving on and training up our four babies.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Definitely first thing in the morning. Especially when we have nowhere to be. There's nothing I love more than sitting on the front porch sipping coffee watching the kids play in the yard. Slow mornings with lots of giggles.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
@bitsofsplendor / @tiffanyruda / @mollyjunegrams

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The biggest challenge is finding the time to be creative. I have learned through trial and error that the majority of my creative time is best spent while my kids are either napping or in bed for the night. When they're awake they are my focus. My husband and babies will always be my number one focus. My blog (www.thevanillatulip.com) and anything creative take a back seat to them!

[#5] What is a family tradition you love sharing with your kids? 
One of my favorite traditions that we have started with our kids is having big morning breakfasts together as a family. I love the slowness of the morning mixed with the smell of coffee cake, bacon and hot coffee. While breakfast is being made, the kids curl up on the couch with my husband. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I would choose this image because it 100% depicts life for me right now. Every time I sit down to feed the baby the others are usually within a one foot radius. I adore my little pod! I know soon enough they'll all be big and wanting their own space.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
This particular day my husband texted asking how our day was going. I texted him this picture back. It was one of those days where everyone was fussy, including myself. 3 out of 4 kids were still fussing in the car. In an effort to cheer everybody up we were on our way to Starbucks for cake pops and coffee :) obviously we hadn't made it there yet.

Be sure and follow @thevanillatulip on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms