September 30, 2013

Creator Series // Ashley Rodriguez

We are super excited to introduce you to Ashley of Thorn + Sparrow. It was an honor to collaborate with her on our branding for our new blog! She is wonderful to work with....we can't speak highly enough about her. Thanks so much, Ashley! xoxo

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I'm married to my absolute best friend and super handsome musician, who has taught me so much about love and life and being comfortable in my own skin... he's one of my favorites parts of my story and I could just chat all day about him! But don't worry, I won't. :) I live in northwest montana with said wonderful husband and our pet bunny, and as a southern california native I can't believe how much I love it here. There's no where else I'd rather be!

When I was about 5, before I started kindergarten, I was molested a few times by my babysitter's teenage son. It's something I kept secret for a long time, I felt trapped by shame and I let that define me internally, which I believe kept me stagnant. After going through a Beth Moore study in 2011, I finally felt the relief of my childhood burden... I gave it to Jesus and felt a rush of healing. I really feel like that was the start of a domino effect because ever since that moment, God has been opening so many doors to share my faith, step out of my comfort zone, and finally use the gifts He has given me, and I don't feel defined by it anymore. It makes my redemption through Christ so much sweeter, and lays the foundation for the meaning behind my business name....   

[#2] What is the story behind Thorn + Sparrow?
When I started thinking about what my business name would be, I knew I wanted it to reflect the life change that had recently happened - I always wanted to see the name and be reminded of what Christ has brought me through and the freedom he continually gives. It's a reminder that no matter what happens, however difficult, God will get me through it. So I prayed about it, read my bible, and almost immediately I knew what it was going to be, but I sat on it for a couple of days and decided I couldn't get it out of my head so I went for it!  

[#3] What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day usually starts out with a homemade breakfast with my husband, both of us in the kitchen tag-teaming the meal! Then we'll chat about the day's plans, have some devo time, get ready, and send each other off with a kiss and 'I love you'... actually, it's usually my husband that's being 'sent off' to work, since my workspace is at home. It's funny, the roles have totally reversed --- I used to work full time in an office and he was the full time artist/musician. Now, he works for Fresh Life Church [and still has a home studio] and I'm the full time artist. :)

Next, I'll dive into the emails for a bit, then brainstorm/sketch/paint/scan/design/blog for pretty much the rest of the day. I usually have a few projects going at once so there's always something to be done! I'll take little breaks here and there to get coffee, eat a snack, browse pinterest and read a few of my favorite blogs. The day goes by so fast and before I know it, I'm having to think of something to make for dinner... which is usually eaten pretty late. Thank goodness my husband is so gracious! I have to say, I have so much admiration for all moms [creative or not] because I just can't fathom how they do it all!! Go moms!

Now that it's warm outside, we'll take a walk after dinner, visit our pet rabbit [who lives in the barn], and chat about the day's festivities and future plans we've been dreaming up... then we usually cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie and head off to bed around midnight. It's such a fun full day and I'm so thankful for each moment! 
[#4] How did you discover your passion for paper goods design and illustration?
I know it sounds cliche, but I've been drawing for as long as I can remember... I literally can't think of a time that I didn't have an artistic drive. My dad has always been an artist and he must've recognized the same passion in my little self and sowed into that - letting me sculpt leftover chunks of clay [he was a full time ceramic artist at the time] and urged me to keep at it. 

I took every art class I could in high school and ended up selling two of my paintings to my school... it was the first time I had sold any of my work and it's something I'll never forget. I was shocked and excited and I knew I wanted to be doing more of it. There was always an urge, a drive to create, but I didn't pursue it after I graduated highschool... I think I got stuck in the 'corporate america' mentality, that's just 'what you should do' I thought. 

In 2011, we found ourselves in montana [invited by our dear friend Crystal Lewis], where I rediscovered my love and drive for art again... and with the help of some encouraging friends, I started thorn + sparrow, where my passion gets to thrive!!

[#5] What is your favorite material to work with?
That's a tough one! I love working with ink + watercolor day to day but I also really love painting with acrylic on canvas... it's so inspiring.  



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September 23, 2013

Kelli Trontel x Boba Family

One product that is always on me or in our car......the BOBA carrier. 

I purchased the 3G Boba Carrier earlier this summer [from a recommendation from a friend] and instantly became a HUGE fan. When Vanessa and I had the opportunity to partner with BOBA- this was a no brainer for me! I immediately got super excited to try out a new product and give my review. Vanessa just blogged her review of the 3G here.......and today, I am blogging about the BOBA AIR.

This carrier is super lightweight and the material is thin....think Jansport backpack. I love that this carrier rolls up into it's own bag.....this thing contains itself, which is perfect for the on-the-go mom! I also love that all the tightening straps [shoulders, chest and waist] roll up to eliminate having any dangly fabric. The design and craftsmanship is thought out and very well executed. I really love this color blue too!

I've been on long hikes, walks around the lake and have pulled long hours at our shop with baby in tow. What I truly love the most about the BOBA carriers [both the 3G and Air] is how comfortable they are. This is a huge plus for I love being able to wear Ezra [all 27 pounds of him] and have him part of my everyday, without sacrificing my back.

Here are a few images from an evening at the lake....and how I wear the BOBA AIR.

September 16, 2013


Recently, Kelli & I partnered with Boba ... a company whose very well known for their baby carriers & wraps ... to style + photograph + try the carriers for ourselves. First of all, I can not even begin to tell you how many carriers I have tried ... in fact, let's not even talk about it. Seriously, I think it's every carrier on the market! Either Stella didn't like it or it murdered my back. I honestly had let go of the very dreamy idea of carrying her around hands free. But then, Boba shows up on my radar ... & can I just tell you - IT IS AWESOME!!!! Stella still enjoys being carried in the front & being that she's 20+ lbs, that's a lot of weight in front of me. My back would typically begin burning from pain w/ any other carrier, but the SUPPORT I receive from the Boba carrier is life changing friends. I could carry her around for hours & not be phased - so needless to say, Stella & I are both oh-so-happy!

One evening, we took Stella downtown to enjoy a little park date & had the BEST time. Walking around downtown stroller/hands free is a dream! She is able to enjoy the scenery & I manage to go w/o a bag since there are TWO POCKETS on different parts of the carrier. I'm able to hold my keys, cards & iphone all inside the carrier ... genius idea! And since we were at the park, I decided to let Stella out of the carrier to walk around for a bit. And rather than letting the carrier just dangle down in front of me, I snapped the arm shoulders around my waist & it worked out perfectly! I was able to explore the area with her, while still holding onto the carrier [& my personal belongings] hassle free. Awesome.

I can't think of anything else to say about the Boba carrier except that you need one. And you needed it yesterday. ;) It's greatness, a game changer & all around a wonderfully constructed carrier that I'm so grateful to have.

September 12, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Erin Wakeman

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I was raised in a fairly small town in the Pacific Northwest the youngest of six. I wrestled a lot of my childhood searching for an identity that wasn’t already taken usually ending up with some version of self-inflicted disapproval. It wasn’t until I graduated high school, moved across the state the next morning and spent a few years searching that Jesus, ever so lovingly, smacked me in the face and heart with 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “‘...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me...for when I am weak He is made strong.” It was never about who I was or wasn’t. It was always about who He was and is.  Shortly after that I met my husband, Jake, who daily teaches and reminds me that I live to please One Master. I can’t get cool enough for Him, and there’s nothing I can do to lose His approval. We moved a few times, ending up back where I started and are about to break ground on our new home. We steward the sweetest gift ever, our precious daughter Zoey, who just celebrated her first birthday and daily mirrors to us the grace giving love of our Father.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of our day...that would have to be our walks. At some point during every day, I love to take my Zo for a wagon ride or a spin in her Red Flyer and just chat about the Creation around us. We like it when the sun shines but maybe even more when it rains and can feel the Creators liquid love for our world. I consider it an honor to introduce my little to where we live and teach her how to respect it. We break for pinecones and treasure hunt for pebbles and it wouldn’t be unheard of for us to forge a small creek just for the wildflowers on the other side.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Oh you’re killing me. Just 3? Here it goes.
@_cherishthemoment / @katherinemaries / @mockabee7

Let me tell you about these mamas. They decided somewhere along their beautiful lives to live and parent with intentionality. Each in their own way, they are purposeful with the lives that have been entrusted to them. Acquainting each of their littles with a God who is bigger than them and still loves them in the most detailed of ways. I’ve never met these women in person, and would consider it a giant joy, but to know their hearts is to know a little more about the essence of a mother: honest. passionate. joyful. vulnerable. benevolent. wise. I am a better mother for knowing them.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
It’s important to me that Zoey grows up with a mama who loves life and loves to experience it. I’m always ready to try or create something new and I truly believe that I am a more enjoyable person when I find little moments for things I enjoy. However, that doesn’t always come easy. There are days when I have the best plans and intensions for designing my kitchen cabinet layout or sewing Zoey some new accessories. But she has other plans. She just needs her mama. A mama who’s willing to put life and lists on hold to read “That’s Not My Monster.” one. more. time. I’m an imperfect mama, and I rush and hurry and forget. But on the days when I slow down, and be all here with her, I am the most blessed.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
The traditions we’re pretty excited about are still pretty small, we’ve only been a family of 3 for a year. Jake and I still get giddy over nightly giant stacks of bedtime books and praying together over our daughter. But our most cherished tradition for this season is definitely the mornings that we’re all home together. We all have a passionate love for breakfast food, coffee and lazy mornings that keep us in pajamas for way past a decent hour. We get to serve each other, dig into good conversations and sometimes take it all outside for breakfast al fresco. It’s small, but to us its sacred. I wouldn’t trade our family mornings for anything.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
Funny you should ask! We are currently unashamedly homeless :) About a year ago we purchased a few acres of trees in my hometown and 3 months ago we sold our home, most of our belongings, and headed north and west for a fresh start. If you look at where we call home you’ll see pine trees, grassy fields, blackberries for snacking and plenty of places for the perfect tree swing. In the next few months, hopefully by the grace of God, there will be other lovely things like running water and flooring. But with or without them, we step onto that piece of land and instantly feel like we’re home. I’m so excited for a big white farmhouse kitchen and the perfect playroom for Zoey and all in good time. But this season of building our family’s physical legacy with our own two hands has been priceless, and I wouldn’t rush it for all the master bathrooms in the world.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I wouldn’t normally post this photo because it’s quite blurry, a common issue these days now that I have a walker on my hands! But this is from one of our many visits to Zo’s daddy at work, a favorite weekly outing for everyone. Zoey gets loved on by all his employees, we get to take Jake out to lunch and if a little shopping happens while we’re there, well, that’s just part of life. :)

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

September 10, 2013

My Everyday Featuring ... Anna Novak

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
I am a Mama to 2 wonderful little ladies, Zoe and Lola and married to my very best friend Matt. We live in northern NJ in the town I grew up in, and we love it. We get to spend our days here while Matt commutes to Brooklyn during the week. Matt and I shoot together on the weekends that we have jobs, so we get some one on one time that way.  I am at a place in my life now that I feel so extremely blessed and grateful to be at. My story is layered and complicated filled with rebellion, loss and brokenness. And, in spite of all of that God has shown so much grace to me. I have been, and am constantly being redeemed by His LOVE.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
My favorite part of the day with my girls is just after dinner. Just as the day is winding down we take a walk to the park across the street or go to the lake, its really quiet and we swing or play until the fireflies come out. Matt and I get a chance to catch up on all of the ridiculous and adorable things the girls have done and we make plans for the weekend... and if it is the weekend then we definitely are going for ice cream :)

[#3] Name Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Oh this is a tough one, I have connected with so many amazing, inspiring, creative and beautiful mamas on IG. I'd say Murr @murrjohnson because she loves lake living as much as I do and she is one of the kindest mamas I have met. Jessica @houseinhabit because she is able to capture the innocence and love she has for her boys perfectly and I love her sense of adventure. Kassi  @kassibacquet is one amazing mama of 5, I adore her style and love for her family, I secretly wish I was part of this family

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
My challenge will always be time and balance. Running our business and shooting on the weekends is tough. It forces me to be aware that every moment is fleeting, which, in turn reminds me to always be present mentally, not just physically, when I am with the girls. We all share a mutual love for photography and music, so bringing those things, as activities into what we do daily makes for really great time together. I also love having them "help" me with the things I am working on so that it isn't separate, and they feel more part of the things that we do or create.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Matt and I love traditions! We have made so many with the girls, my very favorite is birthday berry picking. My birthday and the girls are all in summer and we live about 15 min from the most amazing farm that we can go pick from. We head up there and spend the afternoon in the cherry trees and berry bushes, get all sweaty and then.. you guessed it.. go out for ice cream!  Our favorite creamery is on top of a mountain that overlooks the Delaware River Valley...we spend A LOT of time there in the summer. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
Well, its not technically in the home but our out side deck is my favorite space. In the summer it is full of flowers and the rodeo lights are strung, the fire is going and the girls are happy roasting marshmallows. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
Ha I love this.. there are so many real life moments that I never want to forget. Sweet times of Matt with the girls being the best Papa, or Zoe and Lola laughing hysterically at some silly new game they made, or dressing up in as many costumes they can get on their bodies. This time with these beautiful little ladies is flying by and I try and soak up every second of it, but lets be honest.. its tough. I run low on patience and sometimes I lay awake at night wondering if I loved them well enough. But I pray for the wisdom and that my heart is full.. I trust that His love is enough and thank Jesus each day for his never ending grace.  

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