October 30, 2013

My Everyday / Creator Series featuring ... Melanie Knight Of Starry Knight Design

[#1.] When did you launch "Stary Knight Design" and what prompted you to start your own business?
In 2008, I started making soft soled leather baby and toddler shoes as a way that I could be home with my boys(then 2 years and newborn) and still have a small income. We had just gone through some financial upheaval and wanted to simplify our lives by being more independent and self employed. Now five and half years later, it is our only income and has grown exponentially! I now have 50+ designs in many styles and colors in sizes newborn to kids. It has given us the freedom to live up in the mountains and not have to be on someone else's schedule. Over the last few years, we have built our off grid homestead. We now have three boys-1,5,8 and are able to homeschool. I am so thankful for the life we have.

[#2.] What tool/marketing strategy has helped you the most in regards to getting your business noticed?
Etsy has been a great way for me to have a consistent year round income. I sell at markets in summer ,in the “off season” people can find me on Etsy as well. It has helped me be able to meet wholesalers and open accounts around the country.

[#3.] Share with us a few of your tips for balancing motherhood and business.
I do work a lot but it helps that my studio is in our home. The boys are always there with me doing drawing, schoolwork, playing on floor with baby, reading, napping in ergo. My husband is home most of the time as well, so the older boys can go outside and help him and play. Some days go really smooth and I get a ton of shoes made, other days I get way less done. Its nice to have the flexibility to work when you need to and play when you can. I try to take breaks whenever possible. 

[#4.] Divulge one of your dreams for your business.
One of my dreams for my business is to be able to continue on building and projects on our property. We have forty acres and lots ideas on what we want to do over the years on our land.  I also would love to travel more with my business! (either alone or with the family!)

[#5.]What advice do you have for moms who have a creative dream in their heart and desire to start their own business from home?
Start it now! It can take a long time to build a business, so start right away. It has just been in the last two years that Starry Knight Design has been our primary and only income. Even if you don’t have time to do much, at least get going on some ideas and start finding out what will sell.

[#6.]Share with us a peek of your working space.

[#7] Name three mompreneurs who inspire you. 
@digthischick owns and runs Geo handmade, blogs, runs, gardens.
@melodyjoy1983 owns Melody Joy Designs ,crafter, homeschooler, blogger.
@magbagmissoula owns Magbag, mommy of 3, great market friend.

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

October 21, 2013

Praying for my kids | The most important conversations of my life

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Lately I've been reading about praying scripture intentionally over your children & how it can bring fresh perspective & power along with it. My hope in sharing is that it encourages your soul as much as it has mine ...

Jesus has promised that every prayer of a God-seeking person would be answered. "Everyone who asks receives." [Matt. 7:8] So, how good to know that when we as parents pray for our children, that we can be certain our petitions are always received & responded to! The Bible is a ready-made prayer book, so whenever we speak to God with the words of God, we move closer to the type of vital, effective prayer life we long for. And my heart longs for this ... !

With children who need to be prayed over daily ... sometimes hourly, it's vital for me to speak God's word when I lift them in prayer. My mediocre prayers just don't cut it for my children who I so passionately love! Praying the actual Word of God has helped me pray with confidence & expectancy.

It's me moving away from the "Lord, keep Noah safe today" prayer to the "Lord, You've promised to content fiercely with every circumstance for Noah's life [Isa. 49:25-26]. You have commanded Your angels to guard him [Ps 91:11]. Be Noah's champion today, as you've promised [Isa. 43:5-7]."


We don't pray to accomplish our parental goals; we pray to grow in wisdom, to recover ... & we pray to give thanks. We pray to stand in the gap & plead before God on behalf of our children - they NEED us to do so! Our concerns can make us so focused on getting God's help with our parenting tasks that we overlook the fact that He has also asked for our help. He has invited us to make a difference! Listen, I can not tell you how encouraged & blessed I have been by the book "Praying the Bible for Your Children" [Kopp] ... I highly recommend it.

Kopp states, "being a parent makes praying feel as necessary as breathing." YES.

My hope is that my prayer life, along with yours, will become our own heart-felt expressions & encourage us as moms to go deeper in the most important conversations of our lives! 

Oh how I LOVE this growing boy of mine ... thank you Jesus for such a GIFT. xo

October 16, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Sara Parsons

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Let me start by saying I'm pretty sure I'm not cool enough to be amidst all the amazing moms that have been featured on My Everyday. Like, I’m the most normal of normal. With that said, here's a bit about me:

I'm a child of the Most High; a wife of thirteen years to my best friend and college sweetheart; a mother to three beautiful children - Stella, Jonah and Ava; and a self-taught photographer (going on four years). I was born and raised on a little island in Washington, in a little town called Friday Harbor. After graduating high school I left and headed to Southern California to attend The Master's College, a small Christian school just north of L.A. There, during my freshman year, I met the love of my life, Sean, a true California boy. We were married the summer after our graduation in 2000. (Side note, getting married in the year 2000 makes it real easy to remember how many years it has been, just sayin’).  

Once we were married, we lived in California for a year, then moved up to Seattle. It was at that time when I became pregnant with my oldest, which in turn, brought us back to my hometown on San Juan Island. So we've been in the beautiful San Juan Islands for almost eleven years now. When my youngest, Ava, was one I got my first dslr, the Canon Rebel. Really, photography has been a true snowball effect for me. It’s been such a fun, creative outlet and I’ve gotten to meet some pretty cool people because of it.  

On our homestead, we recently started a couple new adventures: chickens and gardening. I think it’s safe to say I never thought I’d be a chicken farmer, but I have enjoyed every part of it.
When my husband first mentioned he'd like to get chickens, we made a deal that we would make a cute coop. Yep, I married a good man. Our chickens have a pretty, little home to lay their eggs in. I kinda think our garden is cute, too. I mean if you hang lights on it, anything's cute. ;)  

I love pretty things, I love to paint the walls in my house, I love old chairs and chippy paint, I love to laugh, I love drinking coffee and most importantly I love my family and the life the Lord has blessed me with.

Photo by //// Joy Prouty 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
This has changed since they've all gotten older and are all in school (insert crying). It is so bittersweet watching your children grow up, but I think my favorite time with them is within the moments when I'm tucking them into bed. It's as if a sweet little window into their hearts opens up. It's there, when we’re alone and together, they tell me things they're excited about, nervous or worried about, ask questions, and talk about their days. I have to remind myself in the days when I want to rush bedtime, to stop and take that time with them. It is so precious, so fleeting, I usually walk out with tears in my eyes so overcome with love and thankfulness. Getting to pray with them, calm their fears and tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them, now that, that is something I never want to take for granted. It always blesses me.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Oh man, just three?!  
Well, I could share my three favorite photographers @joyprouty, @tarawhitney and @yanpalmerOr three that make me smile @chrystalsmith , @simply_rosie and @babybythesea, or I could share three that are just plain cool @underthesycamore @_sheenarae and @becky_earl, or I could share the three who I'd like to borrow their babies @sheye_rosemeyer, @christine_simplybloom and @krystamanthemetcalf ... yeah, maybe those three ;)  I'm such a cheater.  I honestly could list all of those I follow for different reasons for I truly am inspired by each and every one of them.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
I believe the biggest challenge is learning how to say no. It's hard for me, but I now understand that if I don't say no, everything suffers: my family, my house. This past summer was the best season yet because I was very intentional with what I took on. 

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Our family doesn’t have a ton of traditions, but one that we follow and value is eating dinner together. It’s important to us, even in the crazy, late-night-soccer-practice-homework-stressed, nights. Shared meals brings us together, it keeps us whole.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I’d share this photo of our kitchen because it truly is the heart of our home, and maybe this photo of our living and dining room because it’s where you’ll find us hanging out.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I’ve been known to share photos of my kitchen so messy you can’t see the counter, or of my laundry room with piles of clothes so high they almost touch the ceiling. So I thought I’d share this gross photo of like 30 slugs I found in my garden. I didn’t share it on Instagram, but it is a real life happening for us Washington gardeners. Don’t worry, I used that Kosher salt there and gave them all a salt bath. ;)

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

October 14, 2013

Vanessa Warren x GM/Buick

Recently, Kelli & I were approached by GM/Buick to take part in an all expense paid "Buick Bucket List" trip - awesome! Sadly, Kelli couldn't make the trip ... so I asked my husband to come along for the little adventure. So, off we flew to Cincinnati, Ohio not really knowing what all to expect. We decided to embrace the unknown & relish in the fact that we were kid free for the first time in ... oh, six years!

Fun story ... on the flight to Ohio, I recognized a mom that had been featured on our My Everyday series ... the lovely Emily Anderson! How crazy that we had to meet in an airplane when we both live in the same city! Well, I adore her & am so happy we got to spend time with her & her husband Keith on the trip.

So, we arrived at the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati ... & oh my heavens that place! Unreal. The boutique hotel is contemporary & so chic. The first two floors of the hotel is a museum that is open to the public 24 hours a day. It's filled with such incredible art ... we seriously loved all the details & enjoyed our stay there immensely.

On Friday soon after all the bloggers had checked into 21c, the entire crew was whisked away to the American Sign Museum. The museum was rented out by Buick to host us & it was awesome. Countless classic signs greeted us the moment we walked in. I was stunned at what great lengths Buick went to ensure the dinner ... wait, make that the entire trip ... was branded Buick. So much HARD WORK was put into every detail - most definitely this did not go unnoticed ... they have an INCREDIBLE team that I grew to love!

Saturday morning was a new day & oh was it just beginning! After a lovely breakfast, we all walk outside the hotel to see rows of the NEW 2014 Buick Regal lined up in an alley way in downtown Cincinnati. So cool! Mark & I instantly looked at each other & said ... this feels like the Amazing Race - HA! Although this wasn't a race, we were handed a super nice book of what our day entailed as we drove off into the city. Our first pit stop - Louisville, KY!

Driving the Regal to Louisville was a blast! First off, it's so nice to drive in a fancy new car. The exterior of the car is very sleek & elegant. The Regal is their luxury sports sedan & truly is luxurious! They describe the Regal as the athlete in their Buick family. The car is extremely comfortable, rides smooth [& fast] and the technology inside the car was mind blowing! The white diamond exterior color was my FAVORITE. Would select that one in a heart beat. We *loved* cruising the road in the Regal!

When we arrived in Louisville, our first stop was at the Flame Run to create our own glass ornament. We actually got to blow the glass ourselves ... so cool! I created a red ornament & Mark a dark purple one. Because they had to cool down, we couldn't take them with us so they mailed them to our homes. So nice! It was a memorable experience for sure ... really, really fun!

After creating the ornaments, we headed to lunch in the rain. We dined at a really great place called Harvest ... where everything is farm to table. SO delicious!

We then headed to Hound Dog Press to learn the history of letter pressing. I absolutely love anything letter pressed, so it was really neat to learn the art behind it, plus we were given the chance to create our own little piece to take home w/ us!

After an amazing time in Louisville, we hopped back into the Regal to make our way back to Cincinnati. That evening we had THE MOST incredible dinner of our lives. Seriously. I was staring at all the food thinking how can I go back to eating spaghetti & chicken sandwiches - NO! Ugh, I can't think of a dinner that I've loved more. If you ever find yourself in Cincinnati, do yourself an incredible favor & dine at Metropole. Everything is cooked on an open fire & it is just INSANELY good. GO!  

Overall, I want to give a HUGE, BIG thank you to Katie, Lauren & Patrick and the entire Buick team for asking us to be a part of such an incredible weekend. Kelli & I appreciate you reaching out to us ... truly an honor, it was lovely ... so thank you!

You can find my new friends at the places listed below. Thanks for following along on our little adventure - it was a blast!

Website | Facebook | Instagram

October 5, 2013

October Desktop Download

Free Desktop + iPhone download here on the blog, today! A collaboration between Kelli, Vanessa & Ashley of Thorn + Sparrow.

Autumn offers such rich opportunities to connect with people [strangers & loved ones] and we want to be more intentional than ever. We want to use all that God has given us [our homes, our kitchen table, etc.] to connect with people on a new level. We hope this October download inspires you….to look for new ways to connect and gather, and most importantly…to be intentional.

Desktop Download // right click and save

iPhone Wallpaper

October 3, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Tara Gray

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hi there, I'm Tara and live in the beautiful state of Colorado with my husband Luc and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Channing. I am a native to Colorado and we currently live in Colorado Springs. I love spending as much time as possible outdoors, drink a lot of tea (always hot, even when the weather is warm), love watching movies, am an Interior Designer by both degree and profession, enjoy dabbling in all sorts of crafts and creative endeavors, LOVE color (as you can see through my Instagram feed) and am in the process of restoring a 26 foot 1966 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht, which we’ve named Sweet Coco. We are busy, always busy. Just when I think things might slow down a little and I am able to just do nothing for a bit of time, I always get myself going on another project. It just seems to be engrained in both my husband and I.  But more and more lately, I have really been yearning to slow down and take a bit of a break. 

Along with being a wife and mama, I am also the Department Chair of the Interior Design Program at our local college where I run and develop the program as well as teach the college students. Although I really would love to be at home full time with my little one, it just isn’t in the cards for us right now. However, I feel very fortunate with this job to have long breaks at Christmas time and during the summer to spend at home.  

On top of the above, I also teach spinning classes at the YMCA (I’ve been teaching fitness classes since I was 15!). And I have an Etsy shop (MavenMercantile) where I sell handmade items. 

Yep...I absolutely need to figure out how to take a break :). 

A Felt Flora piece, which I sell in my etsy shop. 
A Dream Catcher, also from my Etsy shop.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
We have beautiful weather here in Colorado and are fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors during the day. I love working in our little garden of succulents and local plants and having Channing work along with me. My favorite is watching her explore and pretend and truly appreciate the natural surroundings we get to enjoy. She's just as happy as can be playing with rocks and sticks and leaves and mud.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
This is soooo difficult for me. I have so many favorites. But, narrowing it down...can I do 4? 
    Lysey (@five_chicks_and_farmer). If you follow her feed, you know exactly why she is on my list. I love her honesty and her heart. They are a family of truly hard workers and her amazing spirit just shines through her photographs. I learn new things from them and am inspired by Lynsey every day. 

    Casey (@caseyleighwiegand) Always an amazing source of positively, honesty and inspiration...through both her blog and her Instagram feed. She is absolutely lovely. 

    Sarah (@casadecupcake). You know when you just meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I feel about my friend Sarah. We met through Instagram and then in person and now have chats through texts and FaceTime. She is an amazing mother, supportive, kind, caring, creative and the loveliest friend one could ask for. I am so thankful IG brought her into my life! 

    Katy (@katyannev). Another soul I swear I’ve known forever or knew in another lifetime. And I can’t wait to someday meet her in person!! Katy and her girls bring a smile to my face everyday and I feel honored to call her my friend.  

    [#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
    I feel very fortunate to have met and married my husband and spent several years enjoying our marriage before deciding to have Channing. We really enjoyed having those years to build a foundation and truly enjoy one another as husband and wife. My first year with Channing was really challenging and pretty overwhelming, as I know it is for most new mamas...and I was pretty hard on myself. We were fortunate to have Channing at home, with a midwife. Labor was rough, really rough, and right from the get-go, I was hard on myself for not "doing better" during my labor (even though we had no complications and a beautiful healthy baby girl came out of it.) I’ve always been really hard on myself when it comes to meeting my own expectations and good grief...labor and parenthood have not been an exception. At first, I really had a difficult time figuring out who I was (because everything felt so different) and how I was going to be able to balance being a mom, a wife, staying true to myself and also work outside of the home. I was also challenged with having to sacrifice my creativity and just having time to myself... and then feeling enormous amounts of guilt for feeling that way. I was way more overwhelmed with having a baby than I ever anticipated on being. I could never have imagined, before having her, how I could love such a little being so very much while also having so many internal struggles with myself.  

    When Channing was about 18 months old, we found out that my hormones never recovered after her birth. I was basically running on empty. Even today, things still aren't back to "normal" for me, as far as hormones go. We are still trying to figure that piece of the puzzle out. That has created a few frustrating challenges for me, including self acceptance and confidence. And just plain old feeling good. When you don't have the right amount of hormones coursing through your system, EVERYTHING is out of whack. Working out is tough as well as finding creativity...two things that have always come to my rescue in the past! It has definitely been discouraging.

    At about the same time we found out about my hormone issues, I discovered Instagram and, as silly as it sounds, I feel like it truly helped me to tap back into myself and my creativity again.  I have a lot of ups and downs in feeling good from day to day, but having this outlet has been so therapeutic. When I post photos and have conversations with people (through IG) I try to be really honest about what kind of day I am having and especially when it’s really rough...this community continues to lift me up and helps me feel stronger.  I've met the most amazing people and am inspired everyday by the positivity, humor and creativity out there. I've connected with other women, going through similar challenges after having their kiddos, which has truly helped me to see that I am not alone. I've felt so much love and support, from people I've never met in real life but can honestly call my friends. It has been such a blessing to me.  

    Slowing down and focusing on Channing also helps me put things into perspective. The days where I stop what I am doing and sit down to paint with her (instead of folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher) are the most rewarding. The dishes and laundry can wait...and sometimes it's really hard for me to remember that. I love the time I get to spend with her.  I love watching her be creative and tell me crazy stories from her imagination (and let me tell you, there are some doozies that come out of her sweet little mouth!) I NEVER regret taking those moments. I do regret it when I don't. So, I am trying to be better at it. It's better for all of us when I do! 

    I LOVE this Instagram community! 
    Slowing down with this girl is always helps me to breath and reconnect. 

    [#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
    Sometimes, I get caught up in the specialness of creating just the right traditions to enjoy together...when in reality I need to remember that the simple things we do from day to day also create amazing memories for all of us. We try to always eat dinner together at the table, unless either Luc or I aren’t home on a given evening. Luc takes Channing to either Home Depot or Lowe’s twice a month for their build it sessions with kiddos. We've gone swimming every Tuesday night since C was 5 months old. We always have music playing in the house. We read a book and sing a song every night before Channing goes to bed. As for holidays, now that Channing is getting a little older, we are figuring out what kinds of traditions we want to carry on with her. I adore advent calendars at Christmas time, a big balloon garland on her door to wake up to the morning of her birthday and I always make apple cider brined turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  

    [#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
    This is the view I see most of the day when we are inside. Our kitchen/dining room/living room is all one big space. This is where we play, watch cartoons, read, paint and have our meals together. 
    Our garden is truly one of my favorite spots of our home.  We spend as much of the day out here as possible...including breakfast and dinner when we can! 

    [#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
    Helping daddy...always wanting to help daddy. It's not that I wouldn't post this one on IG...it's just kind of hard to see what they are doing and it's kind of dark and blurry. Channing is "helping" to install the new power jack on the Airstream. She's also a dirty, wet mess after jumping in puddles...her favorite way to be!  
    Be sure and follow @modernmaven on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms