November 26, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Andrea Gutierrez

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I'm a Southern California native, married to my best friend Rick for eleven years and mama to two children, Natalie, 9 and Finn, 20 months. My story is an ordinary one made extraordinary because of what Christ has done for me and continues to do. I'm constantly in awe of what He reveals in my life and I love finding my identity in Him. Making the decision to be a stay at home mom changed almost everything for us. We had to sacrifice a lot, including moving in with my family so that we could stand by our convictions. It's been a tough road of humility and constant learning but I am grateful for it. Almost ten years later, I am being encouraged and renewed in my calling as wife, mom and homemaker as I see the possibility of change and new things on the horizon. I am thankful everyday for God's patience with us and am excited for what new challenges He has called us to as we live this life for His glory. As for me, simple things add happiness to my heart. I enjoy drawing and illustrating, reading, laughing (it's my favorite!), baking, coffee in the morning, a cup of tea with honey any time of the day, and the beauty and wonders of the Great Outdoors.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
I never thought I would be a morning person but the last few years my perspective has changed. Knowing that I have a household to take care of encourages me to make the most of the morning. I love waking up to my children's faces, even on mornings where one or both are grumpy. Those mornings I have to remind myself that it is a gift being here with them, just for them, preparing them for the day ahead. It's also one of the greatest opportunities to learn and show grace. There has been many a morning that has been less than ideal, but through His redemptive work, I can take our sinfulness before Him and use it to live out the gospel in the hard moments by confession, repentance and grace. Every morning is an opportunity to find grace, even in the common things like freshly brewed coffee (with cinnamon!), the cool sweet air from an opened window and the day waking. I've come along way from just rolling out of bed with barely enough time to do what needs to be done. I am thankful to have mornings with more purpose and intentionality, pointing our thoughts and hearts towards Christ as we go forward with the day.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
These three ladies have made a significant impression on my heart: Joy @joyprouty, Terri @woodsermom and Stephanie @mamagaddis. They have sparked courage and strength in my heart to face the challenges of being a woman and a mother. Joy has so greatly shared with her followers a life that is real, beautiful and full of hope. She and her husband have bravely leaped into the unknown, and created a real-life adventure to share with their children in the process. By simplifying their lives, they choose to live by faith and not by the limitations of fear or doubt. 
Terri's life in pictures is an absolute inspiration to me. Her sense of purpose and love for her family are clearly evident. I'm constantly in awe over her idyllic photos and at the center of it all, a strong love for Christ. One day I will have a great, long conversation in her backyard, by the fire pit with her!

And my dear Stephanie! Who moved away too soon but through God's providence and the wonders of texting and FaceTime, has become one of my very best friends. She was a part of my church community group and after hearing her and husband's testimony, I was floored by God's grace in their life and their strength in Him to overcome. Shortly after having their sixth child, they moved to Louisville. She continues to encourage me by showing me real faith in real life. I adore her family and He has motivated to live a life more intentionally because of how she is faithful to what He has given her. 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
It's been tough carving out specific times to be creative and do something other than just domestic duties. I listed the above women because I see that life can be joyfully and creatively accomplished (with 4 kids, 9 kids, and 6 kids, respectively). Sometimes I am slow at grasping concepts but I also realize everything is a season. Now that my son is older and I am not constantly on call to nurse, I try to find little moments for creativity. Sometimes I am not so successful. It's trial and error and also allowing myself to be patient. I understand more and more that my family is my first priority and mission and everything else comes after. I still have goals with art and storytelling, there are still crafts I am dying to do and other creative pursuits. I know as I am constantly learning how to prioritize my life, I believe He makes way for things. Sometimes it's hard for me to understand it and have patience but it's pretty awesome knowing that. As I get life together, there will be time for these things, eventually! Who knows, I might become a celebrated author and illustrator when I'm 60!

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
When my daughter was younger, before life got hectic with school, homework, softball and just living, I loved making things and exploring life with her. I enjoyed showing her this world He created and learning about it through stories, crafting and being outside. Life is much different now and it seems it gets harder to have these special times, especially with her. The traditions I want to build for us are having time together that almost seem like ideas from bygone eras. Life is fast, busy and you have to 'keep up' with what culture says you should be doing. I want to find moments to slow down, pretend, play games and enjoy each others' company. This past Summer, we created 'Camp Lupine' in an effort to make the most of what we had during the months she was off from school. We came up with a couple of family holidays (she usually comes up with them on the day) like National Gutierrez Strawberry Dipping day. We started our own secret code that I drive her nuts with, leaving notes for her to decode and it's a crack up for me. Also, being intentional to help develop a relationship between the two children since there is an eight year gap. To have them spend time together, do things together and establish themselves as part of a loving, close family, not just being siblings with no connection because of their ages. I want both children (and future children if the Good Lord wills) growing up knowing that we purpose to be a family, making our own culture, having our own mission and being intentional with not just living, but enjoying life with one another, all for the glory of His Kingdom.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
Being that we don't live in our own place, I have struggled with the idea of home and what is 'mine'. On Instagram, I typically share photos of my family outdoors but the pictures that are inside the home are usually close ups. I realized I purposely do that because in my heart I feel like this is not our own surrounding. I know my parent's deeply love us and have helped us tremendously, but as a wife and mother, I am eager to create our own space, a place that has our signature on it. Most photos I put up on IG from the home are of what I'm about to make for dinner. A simple photo of a vegetable or two, on top of my cutting board. Those pictures, to me, say a lot of what 'home' is; providing for my family by feeding them a meal made with love, being together, growing together. It's my way of saying 'By His grace, I promise you this and more'. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
We have been learning a lot on how to be an intentional family and a frugal one as well. Most times we don't have the means to celebrate little things in big ways. It gives me the chance to hopefully create memories in simple ways. I try to do little things for my girl especially, so that she knows she is loved and important in the family dynamic. I know it can be tough having a much younger sibling that takes a lot of care and management. For her last day of school I put up a bunting I made her, with a small chalkboard sign welcoming her to Summer. I also brought her flowers as in our now tradition for the last day of school. I didn't post any pictures of the bunting or the sign because it's not much but that doesn't matter. What does is that I made it special for her in the way that I could. I hope when she is older, she can understand and appreciate that it's not always the big things that win, but the small, constant, simple ways love shows itself.

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

November 24, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Katherine Kuck

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hello! I'm Katherine Marie! Sometimes, when filling out forms where it asks for 'profession,' I half jokingly check the 'other' box and fill in "professional fun-maker, mess-maker, picture-taker!" Really that just about sums me up. I live in the Midwest with my husband and five kids and we make a whole lotta messes. We love to have fun. And I feel blessed to be able to capture it on "film."  Since I'm a list maker at heart, to give you a real snippet of me, I'd like to share a short list of my "life quotes":

1. God loves you just as you are, not as you should be.  Brendan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel 
2. Art is the smile of the soul.  Unknown
3. Be who you are and say what you feel.  Those you mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.  Dr. Suess 
4. You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.  Robin Williams
5. Grace means that ALL of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.  Unknown
6. If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.  Maya Angelo 
7. What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herin lies the key to your earthly pursuits.  Carl Jung
8. One day at a time. (If one day seems like too much to handle it's okay to take it minute by minute.)  AA Slogan
9. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.  C.S. Lewis
10. Don't worry my child. I have it all under control. ---God 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Life with kids is such a magical adventure! One of my favorite times of the day is when we have our "FUN TIME." Sometimes it's hard to find time when we can squeeze in uninterrupted moments of creativity and adventure, but I have an unwritten rule that we do AT LEAST one fun thing everyday. No matter how chaotic or stressful the day may be, my goal is to purposely create one moment of magic where we can celebrate together. It doesn't have to be elaborate.  Our moment might be as simple as tossing a football back and forth in the living room to practice multiplication facts. How many tosses can we make without making a mistake?!! Or it could be kinda crazy like our annual whip cream fight. If I'm really feeling dedicated it might even be a week long celebration where everyday we plan a different activity based on a theme.  I love creative arts... so anytime we are creating and learning together is my favorite time! 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
I am absolutely blown away by the creativity, joy and happiness that pours out through--- @jesussauvage / @mandylynnephoto / @annettab . These mamas are all completely different, but the one thing they have in common is that the way they weave creativity into their everyday world. It's pure BLISS!!!  

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The part I struggle with the most is fitting all the NON-creative stuff into my day! It's easy for me to make time for creating WITH my kids and FOR my kids because I just love it so much, but tasks like cooking, cleaning and the never ending laundry piles... well that's always an issue around here! My house is rarely clean and I only dream of being truly organized. I think I'm finally getting to a place in my life where I'm okay with that!?   

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Ohhhh what a task to pick just one! I love traditions like I love sweet coffee on a cold, drizzly day. I'm just crazy about them. Since Christmas is next month, I'll share my favorite holiday tradition. Every year the kids dress up in their Santa suits and hand out treats to the folks mailing off their last minute cards at the post office. It's one way we try to spread a little kindness during the chaos that sometimes accompanies the busy holiday season. Last year the kids gave out hot chocolate packets and Hersey kisses.  Between "customers" they sang carols and danced. I'm getting excited for Christmas just thinking about it!!  

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
My favorite part of where we live is our back yard! I can't decorate AT ALL! I have NO sense of style when it comes to the visual details of my home, but when I'm outside, amidst God's glorious design, that's where I feel most at home! In the warmer months we take projects and adventures outside whenever possible.   

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
Typically I have to force myself to share photographs like this one. I hate that nearly every photo of me with my family is horribly out of focus with bad lighting! What I'm very slowly learning to embrace is the beauty in the imperfection. Years from now I won't care that the photo isn't technically correct. I won't care who was looking at the camera and who wasn't. I know I'll treasure the simple fact that we are all in a photo together. 

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

November 11, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Katy Kristin

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I was born and raised in northern California. My parents taught me at a really young age what a life lived for Jesus looks like & I am forever grateful for their example. I met my husband Scott in college. We lived next door to each other for several years but didn't end up dating until we were out of college. We got married in 2005 and moved to a little town in central California where we knew no one. In April, we will celebrate our ninth anniversary. In those nine years, we have made lots of mistakes but we have seen much redemption and restoration. He is my very best friend, my better half & my rock. We have two little kids. Miles is 3 and Camden Jane is 1. My family is my biggest joy in life. There is no one else I'd rather spend my time with. I'm a stay at home mom and an etsy shop owner. I sort of have my hands full. :) I am a lot more introverted than people think I am; I crave alone time and peace & quiet. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, you can find me curled up with a blanket & twinkle lights, a cup of coffee with vanilla creamer, and a fantastic book. I love to write, to read, to create, decorate, design, laugh, and make others laugh too. I am never the life of the party, but I always like to have fun. I love to dream a big dream.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Right after naps, both of my kids are still waking up and life is still quiet and calm. Miles is probably a little bit grumpy & Camden just wants to be held. So we will go sit on the couch and I will hold both of them close while they wake up. Sometimes they want to read, sometimes they want to chat, sometimes they just want to watch Curious George. But I love this time because it won't last forever. In fact, I'm sure it will come to an end before I know it. So I smell their hair, and I feel them breathing, I hold their hands, and I pray for them. I pray for myself as I navigate how to parent them better. The moments are always over too soon for me. Soon, they jump off my lap and start playing with blocks and chasing each other down the hall. But I savor the closeness for those few minutes every day. 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
There are a lot of ladies that I would choose but since I am limited to three, I am going to choose @keepupwithjj / @life_made_lovely / @jessmcclenahan. Each of these moms have overcome something in their life as a mother & I am humbled by their stories. I love how each of them are real & honest & love the Lord. I would like to be the kind of mom that they are someday.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Well, since I am the mom of two very busy little children and a busy etsy shop, I have to be really careful with my time. I made a commitment when I opened my shop that I would never work when my kids are awake. My computer is in the office in the back of the house and I choose to be present with my kids (or else who knows what could happen out there!). Through this journey, I have learned that I just can't do it all. It has been good for me to learn that my family comes first no matter what. Sometimes I have to say no to something I really would have enjoyed designing. I have never regretted saying no to an order to spend more time with my children.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Usually between 4:30 and 6 is rough for me. I am exhausted and my kids are bored. Ha! All of us want Scott to walk through the door. So when dinner is over and we are calming down for bedtime, a few nights a week, we will go out to a field nearby and watch the sunset. Miles asks to watch it several times a week now. And it is a really good way to reflect on the day. Lots of times, I have to ask for forgiveness. (I make a lot of mistakes as a mom.) Lots of times, we have to leave early because someone is crying. But every time, I am reminded of God's beauty and the season he has me in right now. And every once in awhile, Scott takes us all out for ice cream. Those nights are the best. ;) I made a commitment to myself that for the year of 2013, I would post one picture a day of a moment I found beauty in. I have missed one day. I don't regret missing it. That is life. But I decided that even if it is the ugliest day, the sunset is still beautiful. So if you see me posting a sunset on Instagram, you know that I am sitting there with my family probably listening to a Mickey Mouse cd, singing along to it, and striving to finish off the day on the best possible note. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
We spend almost all of our time in our family room and kitchen area. It is sort of the hub of our home. So I would share this picture of my kids reading together in the living room. And also, this picture of them playing the piano together. This is where the life of our family is.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
A picture I wouldn't share on Instagram would be this picture of my kids laying together on the floor. It is beyond blurry and is so very grainy. There are toys all over the place and there is just so much wrong with it. But more than anything else, I see such a sweet relationship between the two of them. I am working so hard to teach my kids that they are each other's very best friend no matter what. And I feel like in this very blurry and grainy picture, that friendship is very evident. 

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

November 8, 2013

November Desktop & iPhone Wallpaper

Here's another FREE download for you [a collaboration between Ashley and I]! Below is a desktop and iPhone wallpaper for an encouragement this month. I really love this fitting for November, where we are reminded everywhere we GIVE. What gets me with this quote is the challenge.....don't just GIVE, BUT GIVE FROM YOUR LACK. It's easy to give from abundance, but when we give from a place where we really feel it....thats when our hearts begin to change. 

A few goals of mine this month is to give of my time. To open up our home, to have friends around the table and to get to know a complete stranger. My days seem to fly by and our schedules fill up, but it's intentionality that will slow us down and allow us to connect with those around us. I'll begin my social media sabbath in the NEw Year as well [our Weekend Adventure blog series]. It's just a good thing to unplug, slow down and re-connect [face to doesn't count here!]

My dad was so great at investing time into people. He talked with everyone. He knew no stranger. This inspires me to this day. Before my dad went to Heaven- he wasn’t in a good place financially. My sisters and I would all send him what we could to help him out each month and it wasn’t until after he left this earth that I learned that he would use part of the money we sent to buy grocery store gifts cards- to give to others in need. Are you kidding me?!? This didn’t surprise me…this was definitely something my dad would do. My dad always told me that as long as I gave….and helped others, I would be ok. There’s something that happens to our spirit when we take the focus off of ourselves….my dad knew this and I believe this was a huge factor in the joyful spirit that he had even though….times got tough for him.
What are your goals for the month? How do you want to end the year? In honor of my dad….”If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” How can you be intentional with your time and resources…and in what ways can you give till it hurts?!? I challenge you to slow down and bless someone around you with something simple as time, yet it’s something we all seem to lack these days.
Also, if you’re on INSTAGRAM….join our #ichoosethankfulness series!
Be encouraged, my friends!
XO- kelli

Desktop Wallpaper // Right Click and Save

iPhone Wallpaper

November 5, 2013

Our Favorite Little Shoes

We recently interviewed Melanie of Starry Knight Design....and today we are showcasing Ezra & Stella in her handmade [MADE IN MONTANA] soft soled moccasins that we absolutely adore.

I [Kelli] met Melanie at our local Farmers Market this summer. I had previously purchased two [of the same style] shoes that she had made so it was awesome to meet her in person. The shoes that Ezra wore [and wore out] the most this summer were her Bison shoes. Oh my! Can we say adorable?!? Ezra loved them and we got stopped weekly by admirers. Im a huge fan of Melanie's work. I also love that these are handmade by a passionate momma, who has a built a business to contribute to her family financially. So awesome!

For our blog readers and Instagram followers...we have a limited time DISCOUNT CODE for you to use. Now through November 14th use this code for 10% off your purchase in her Etsy shop! Believe wont regret it! Her prices are so great too! It's a win-win. Be sure and use KANDV10 before you check out!

Need help with sizing information?! You can always email Melanie directly through Etsy if you have questions- she's awesome and so helpful!

/// Starry Knight Design creating unique leather soft-soled shoes since 2008, for tiny babies up to big kids. Made from re-purposed leather and vibrant custom dyed suede. Elastic sewn in backs of the shoes to keep them on squirmy feet without being restrictive. 40+ Fun, bright colored designs for every style. Starry Knight Design soft soled shoes stay on when babies start crawling; wonderful for feet and balance when they start walking; and perfect house slippers for bigger kids. Great leather soft-soled shoes for every child! 

Starry Knight Design uses re-purposed leather and custom dyed suede pieces to create a variety of colors and textures on the soft-soled shoes. All designs are hand-cut for an original look on every pair. Patterns for the leather shoes are and designed and custom cut in my studio by me . My studio is solar powered, and runs my industrial leather machine. All of my products are made exclusively by me with love and care.