Back to the Grind #coaching

Now that summer vacation is coming to a close, it's time to reign things back in and focus on your business again.



This last week of August is a great week to sit down and map out your plans for the rest of 2014.

It's easy to turn off our brains as mompreneurs in the summer and declare that we are on holidays. Sure, lightening your workload so you can enjoy the sunshine, be more in mom-mode and whatnot is a great thing, but not in ever circumstance does it work to turn you business off for two full months. Now is the time to bring in your focus and do some planning.

Have you set your goals for September through December?
What are the main things that you want to accomplish?

Have you prepared your online store for Christmas, and set your order deadlines in advance?

While it might be a time where panic is setting in, you still have a good chunk of time to focus and plan for the upcoming months. Don't let taking the summer off to have a good time with your family overwhelm you now. Remember why you did it {likely to enjoy your little ones and recharge your batteries}, harness that energy, and go be awesome for the rest of the year!
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Preparing for Baby: Your Business #pregnancy #newborn #mompreneur

While I have definitely prepared my blog for the arrival of Little Bear (post to come next month!), it is definitely not as easy to prepare my business for his arrival.


As any mom knows, adding a babe into your world gets your days and nights mixed up, your ups and down reversed. It can definitely be an overwhelming thought to be running a business with a newborn (and in my case, a preschooler as well!) but I have faith in myself and my abilities that it can be done.

In the case of my business, authenticity, transparency, and communication are going to be key. I have been posting about my pregnancy little by little, to the point that my clients know when he is expected and when they can expect that I will be taking a little time off. If we are having a great day once he is here, I will post that! If we need a little space, I will post to that effect.

Will I put my studio on vacation notice? No. For an artist on Etsy, this is like shooting your promotion in the foot. If you put your shop on vacation, that means people can't find you, or your products.

Shipping of products will likely be once a week...and will involve a detour to Starbucks where I can sit, sketch, and take a few minutes of breathing room.

In terms of coaching, that is the area of my business that I am not sure of right now. I think I will likely take the four to six weeks off following his birth, but then get back into consultations and whatnot. Ideally, I like to give my clients my 100% undivided attention and we all know that with sleep deprivation and adjusting to life with a 4 year old and new baby will mean my attention is in a few places at once when it is brand new.

So...right now I am just going to play it by ear. Life will change, sure, but that doesn't mean that I have to close up shop for a certain period of time. My art studio is something that is just for me, a place where I can breathe and create pretty things. So long as my heart is happy, it will stay open even with a newborn in tow. (hello babywearing!!)

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The Mompreneur Conference: Recap 6

So as you've read this week in my recaps, the Mompreneur Conference was an amazing experience. From hearing some amazing women speak, to engaging in a brand audit, and having an enlightening experience facilitated in my higher consciousness...it was incredible.

It wouldn't have been made possible without the attention to detail and amazing organization from Maria, President and CEO of The Mompreneur. She spoke with grace and poise, raw emotion and passion. It all clicked for me, this path that I am on, hearing her and the other incredible women speak throughout the day.

Her amazing team of Mompreneur chapter owners impressed me time and again. They were filled with such enthusiasm and heart, it was refreshing to see women who genuinely want you to succeed.


Women are catty. They are mean. They gossip and they bring one another down as a result of their own insecurities.

Not this group.

They uplift. They encourage. They inspire you with beautiful passion, power and grace.

I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of this organization and am excited to see where all of the women at the conference take the tools that they learned and implement them into their companies.

We are all in this together. There is no competition, only needs that can be filled by other companies when we can't fill them.

If you haven't checked out this amazing organization, become a member of your local chapter, or looked into opening one in your area to help motivate women in your city...now's the time!


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The Mompreneur Conference: Recap 4

One of the keynote speakers at the Momprepenur Conference this past Saturday was Tracy Moore from CityLine. I had seen pictures of her and heard from others just how amazing she is, but it wasn't until I was sitting front and centre that it really clicked.

Tracy is the mom of two, a working mom at that. Both of those things in and of themselves strike a wee bit of fear into me, but hearing her speak about how much balance she has been able to achieve was incredible.

She's not perfect. She's not super mom {though she does have incredibly toned arms that left me rather envious!}.


She's a mom with every day struggles. She goes to the grocery store. She works out. She leads a balanced and healthy lifestyle. She wears amazing dresses featuring the floral trend as of late, with amazing shoes.

When she spoke, she spoke from the heart. She was truly authentic and explained that even she has mom guilt. People engaged with her, she took extra time to answer questions {which I personally thought was really amazing} and was just real.

The main theme, it seemed, from the women in the group were that they struggle with how to balance their home life with their work. For those of us who work at home, it's a little different as we also have to find a separation between work and home, but all in all it was a constant theme for discussion, even until the very end of the day.

How do we get over the mom guilt? How do we have our husbands understand that our online, freelance, blogging, artistic, home businesses are actually viable businesses? How do we take time for ourselves? Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Tracy's advice was something that I believe in wholeheartedly.

Be good to yourself so you can be good to others.

Ladies, this means manicures and coffee dates with friends. It means buying a new pair of shoes when you need them. It means having a date night with your husband.

And it means not feeling bad about taking that precious time for yourself.

It was really validating to hear Tracy speak, and it was a great time to reflect on how supportive my husband is with my workload, and just how far I have come since starting on this professional journey in 2010.

Do you struggle with balance? Let me know in the comments and lets chat!


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The Mompreneur Conference: Recap 3

From the moment that I saw Rania Walker from RW Speak Boutique at the Mompreneur Conference, I knew that I stood to learn a great deal. Our chapter owner, Sara, told me that I should definitely not miss Rania's session, which was all about public relations and media.

I am so glad that I decided to sit in on it, and for a few reasons. First and foremost, Rania is a passionate and intelligent women who has a wealth of knowledge and experience that I know professionally I can grow in learning from her.


Secondly, she spoke about storytelling, something I absolutely love, but from the media's perspective. Everyone loves a good story, and implementing those strategies into press releases is such a good thing.

She asked us to think about who we are and what we do? What problem do you solve for your customer? If you don't know it off the top of your head, then you may need to spend some time soul searching and figuring that out!

For me, my list consisted of the following

Unique
Creative
Authentic
Home Decor Expert
Brand Ambassador
Writer

So, what does that mean? Well...I am an artist specializing in abstract paintings and sculpted home decor pieces. I can help make your space beautiful, while focusing on current trends to modernize your home.

Quick and easy, right?

But why would the media care? Rania talked about being quirky, timely, odd and different {pretty easy things when you're an artist!} and also talked about having an editorial calendar for your business, which is something that I had implemented in 2010 in regards to sales and certain product launches, but not in terms of when to reach out to the media to garner additional attention for myself and my brand.

She was such an interesting speaker and if you're struggling to find a way to stand out and make the media notice you, I definitely recommend following her on Twitter.

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The Mompreneur Conference: Recap 2

Two people that I was very excited to meet at The Mompreneur Conference and Gala were CJ and Brittany from TPH Canada.

These ladies are nothing short of witty and amazing. They conducted a dynamic presentation about branding and the #notsooldschool print media that they are able to offer. As small businesses, and bloggers, we have the ability to be fluid in our printing choices and think outside of the box when it comes to printed materials.


This is one of the things that I have always loved about TPH; I can email them with a crazy layout idea or wanting something fresh and new, and they always deliver {shipped within a couple of days!} exceptional quality.

It was fantastic to hear new ideas about video books, memorable ways to stand out, and about their sustainability program. As small business owners, making your marketing dollars stretch is something that is very important, which is why digital printing and small batches are great. Sure, everyone needs a business card, but does everyone really need 5000 brochures with information that is bound to change within a couple of weeks of being printed? No.

You need a way to stand out, something that is different and outside of the box. You need TPH Canada.

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The Mompreneur Conference: Recap 1

This past weekend, I attended the Mompreneur Conference in Toronto, Ontario. I wasn't sure what to expect, anticipated alot of business-like seminars for learning best practices and left my home {very early in the morning} with an open mind.

Wow.

I am simply blown away by the experience, and I will have to spend a few days this week recapping everything that happened. I came home a changed woman, with a renewed sense of focus, who felt strong, powerful, thankful and validated.

The day started with a brand audit, led by the ever amazing Shelagh Cummins of MomBiz.



I already knew that I am my brand and my brand is me, but what was interesting to find was how strong my brand is. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but popping up #1 in a Google search is never a bad thing...followed closely by your Facebook page in #2, .com landing page {to be developed} #3, Pinterest page #4, Twitter #5 and Etsy #7.

Ah-mazing.

What is taught me was that while my branding is strong and pretty dominant, I do have areas that I need to improve on. I need to grow. I need to learn. I need to continue engaging and inspiring. I need to focus. I need to connect on those emotional levels with my customers.

And I need not undersell my time, work or expertise.

I am my brand
My brand is me
I am authentic

Shelagh hit home some things that I already knew, and made me feel validated; like I'm on the right path.

While the Mompreneur Conference and Gala was one full day {and in conference terms, that's really not a huge chunk of time}, the amount of content and the amazing experiences that I was fortunate enough to participate in deserve their own recaps. Stay tuned this week as I let you in on some really amazing things!

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Mompreneur Award of Excellence

We're in the final 10 days of voting for the Mompreneur Award of Excellence....I can't believe how close we are to learning who is in the top 10!


Why vote for me? Well, personally, each and every one of the Mompreneurs deserve your vote in their own right. They have all worked incredibly hard at managing their time, the work-life balance, and still making time for themselves to emerge as really strong women.

I would truly appreciate any votes and comments that you want to send my way. I started my business as a creative outlet in 2010 after having my son, and being diagnosed with PostPartum Depression when he was just a few months old. It was my release, and my space to breathe while navigating some really troubling waters. Two full years later, Sweet Stella's has become my fulltime art studio, an amazing art and design blog, and has taken me places beyond even my crazy imagination!

For me, the Mompreneur Award of Excellence isn't about competing with other mompreneurs for a top prize. It's about taking stock in what I have accomplished, and being a part of a really powerful movement. It's about recognizing that you can strike a balance between work and family, and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

So please, cast a vote once a day until January 31st, be it for me or another mompreneur that you believe in.

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Jockey P2P Clothing with Christine...a review!






Have you ever wanted fashion at your fingertips? Recently, I was introduced to the Jockey Person to Person brand by a lovely mompreneur from London, Ontario - Christine. She is the sweetest and most bubbly person I have ever met, and after chatting for a few hours about the amazing brand behind Jockey, I had a look through the catalog and was absolutely amazed.

Lush, bold colours
Flattering styles
Comfort like I've never experienced before

Working with Christine was incredible. She not only took the time to answer all of my questions, but she also answered ones that I didn't even know that I had, but more on that in a review for another time!

The Fall 2012 catalog {select items on sale now!} is just gorgeous. From jackets and the most flattering jeans you will ever wear, to ruffled cardigans and dolman sweaters, Jockey P2P literally has something for everyone, and even has new plus sizes!



When looking for a pop of colour to pair with a simple white tank and a pair of skinny jeans, the sapphire blue ruffle cardigan was my pick. Belted or not, it was flattering and super comfortable. I foresee many afternoons cuddled up in a chair with a cup of tea in this sweater - it's just that  comfortable.

I received so many compliments on the sweater at dinner and felt beautiful and confident the entire time that I was wearing it. The bold sapphire blue was the perfect colour for me, and the cut and line of the ruffled down the front was perfect.

Contact Christine today about getting 60% off select styles! londonjockey@rogers.com

Stay tuned for a review of the uncut {bootcut leg} cords - simply the softest and most booty-flattering pants I have ever worn!


*Disclaimer: I was provided the ruffle cardigan by Christine for the purposes of doing this promotional review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.



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Mompreneur Monday: Balanced Mompreneur


I am a work life balance coach for mompreneurs. It is my passion to help other moms that run businesses to create greater work life balance by mastering time management, creating a mindset for success, creating meaningful and strong relationships and creating a rock solid life plan to keep them grounded and focused on achieving their goals. I do this through my signature program 360 degree coaching that takes my clients through a systematic approach to finding solutions tailored to them that create greater balance in their lives so that they can reduce stress, do more in less time and take time for themselves. I kind of came by it naturally by experience and through my passion for helping others. I have always dabbled in running a business and have had to juggle my career with having children throughout the years. 




When my children were very small  I began to create systems and methods to simplify my life out of pure necessity. Over the years I have honed these skills  to suit my needs. Being a mom was very important to me so my priorities were to be there for my children when they needed me. I still wanted to pursue a rewarding career but not at the expense of my children. I wanted to have it all, and I did. I stayed home with them when they were little, freelancing as a makeup artist and running a salon out of my house. It wasn´t always easy but through the struggle of mile high laundry, endless snacks and constant fighting ( or so it seemed some days) of the kids I made it work. 

Many years passed and I ended up finding myself unemployed for the first time in my life. I had just gone through a divorce, lost a job due to recession that I really loved and was on my own for the first time in my life. All alone taking care of 4 kids. I felt betrayed by my employers and decided to turn that feeling around and do something good with it. I had been searching for coaching schools for many years but for some reason had never really found anything that I liked. This time was different. Almost immediately I found a school that I knew was perfect for me. I enrolled and started my journey of becoming a coach. Coaching was everything I was looking for in a rewarding career. It allowed me to help others, to grow and evolve as a person and work from home so that I could be available for my children and have a flexible schedule. . I am very passionate about what I do and have to be careful to keep a healthy balance between working and family. I do this in a few ways. I create schedules and schedule in time with the kids, I make sure to be available to them when they need me, I make a point of using the time I am with them to be present when I am with them. I have also made sure to teach them over the years the importance of being part of the family. 

That means that everyone has to do their share. When they were very little that meant learning to be independent, helping with simple chores and being autonomous. Now it means helping around the house, cooking, notifying me where they are and what is going on and taking care of their school work and rooms without being asked. When they were really little they learned that if mom had a client then they had to play by themselves, now they know if I am working or have a client they need to wait, but they are ok with that. I think that my children have learned a valuable lesson from having a mother that is a mompreneur or at least I would hope so. They have learned that nothing is impossible, that you can have a job that inspires and excites you, that you can choose how your life plays out and what you want to have in the future. 

I think that an entrepreneurial mentality is one of no limits. I would like my children to feel confident that they can reach their goals, that they can reach high and that they can create the life they want. I want them to be part of the population that believes they create their life rather than that life happens and that their only option is to react to it. I hope to teach them to believe in themselves and their dreams so that they can live a life of their own making and enjoy it to the fullest. I want them to dream and then have the courage to go get it.


Want to use this on your website or ezine? Great! Just make sure you include the resource box below.
Drifa Ulfarsdottir CPC , founder and CEO of Balanced Mompreneur is a Certified Professional Coach specializing in work life balance and a member of ICF. She helps busy mompreneurs stop the tug of war between their families. By using her simple solutions mompreneurs can find more time for themselves, their families and their business so they become better mothers, wives, sisters,daughters friends and business owners
Grab your free report 5 Secrets to Running your Family and Business Like a Well Oiled Machine at Balanced Mompreneur

Mompreneur Monday: Crest Counselling with Marissa

I was fortunate enough to connect with Marissa through #mombizmondays, both on Twitter (Monday nights at 10pm EST) and Facebook. he is truly inspiring, and gives great focus when you need a little splash of reality to know that you're on the right path!





I work in private practice as a professional career counselor. Whether you are starting your first job, considering a career change, assessing your options, or looking for help to become a more competitive applicant, I can help.  The goals of career counseling are to help you identify your values, skills and unique talents, assess your current situation, focus on possibilities, enhance your marketability and help you design effective future career development strategies. 

I believe that career satisfaction is absolutely essential to overall life happiness. I became a career counselor over a decade ago, working within the higher education sector. After receiving requests for my services from within my personal networks, I decided it might be time to launch this new business venture. 


As a mom of a busy two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, I think the term work life balance is paradoxical.  I prefer mindfulness as an approach to juggling multiple priorities.  As a counselor I have been trained in the art of active listening and being present. I try to balance my dual roles by being in the moment and enjoying activities and time with my children and husband to the fullest when in "Mommy" mode. Conversely, when I am in career counselor mode, I stay tuned into patterns and possibilities for each clients success. Technology also helps me to be more effective in blending my professional and personal roles. For example, I use Skype to work with clients remotely, allowing me to take appointments after I tuck my little ones into bed.

I hope my children learn to follow their passions from me. I try to model this, as well as instill it at home with my kids, and at work with my clients. I also hope to teach them that if they make an unsatisfying choice in their lives, change is always possible!

For Sweet Stella's fans, I am happy to offer a one time resume "tune-up" at a highly discounted rate of $25 (US) through December 31st, 2012.  Feel free to email me at mdeitch@crestcounseling.com for more information. To take advantage of the resume "tune-up" offer, mention "|Sweet Stella's fan" in the subject of your email.  

For additional information on my services, keep reading!
Adolescents and Young Professionals

Career counseling can benefit adolescents seeking to find a path or college major, launch a career path and gain experience through internships.  I offer career assessment inventories such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to help you understand how your preferences influence career selection and satisfaction.  Young professionals benefit from my expertise in navigating an increasingly competitive job market.  I offer expertise in resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, conducting an effective job search, developing networking strategies, and using social media in your job search.  I offer graduate school advising to college graduates and will work with you on crafting an effective graduate school essay.

Adults and Experienced Professionals

With my adult clients we realize that career choice impacts many other areas of your life and work with you to explore the fit between your career goals and your overall life goals.  In addition to fine-tuning your resume and interview skills, I help experienced professionals cope with career challenges and transition, develop and implement career goals, and become more competitive job applicants.  Experienced professionals seeking a new direction can also benefit from a career assessment inventory such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  I also offer digitally recorded mock interviews and can help you negotiate a job offer.


Marissa Deitch
Vice President, Career Counseling
Crest Counseling and Educational Services
www.crestcounseling.com
email: mdeitch@crestcounseling.com
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/marissadeitch

MOMpreneur Award of Excellence 2013

I am so blessed and honoured to get to do what I do...I get to paint and sculpt...I get to write and teach you all about art and design, taking you through different projects and hopefully inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and try something artsy.

Now I've been nominated for the MOMpreneur Award of Excellence, presented by The Savvy Mom.ca, Parents Canada and The MOMpreneur.com

I would be so incredibly grateful for you to vote, and vote daily! Voting is open now, and closes January 31st. The award is presented March 2nd, 2013 at the Awards Gala.


Wondering what I would do with the prize?

Well, I would put it into materials and exhibition fees to have a couple gallery exhibitions next year. That is the goal in everything that I do, to get back into a gallery setting and complete two to three groupings of artwork every year that explore my journey. Currently, I have about 4 different series of work mapped out, all of which explore the struggle of PostPartum Depression. I would love to explore these bodies of work, and show them in a few gallery exhibitions.

To each and every one of you, thank you SO much for your support!


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Mompreneur Monday: Genevieve and Lucy

Happy Monday! I have a lovely mompreneur to introduce you to today, Lisa from Genevieve and Lucy.

I met Lisa a while back during #mombizmondays and she is just a delight!! Read more about why she does what she does, and what she hopes to teach her children in being a mompreneur.

What do you do?

I help people connect and share good news by designing one of a kind stationery for their most special occasions. I do this because I have always loved occasions like weddings and the arrival of new babies. I love being able to help set the tone & personality of these special events and help them share their joy with the world.


How do you balance that with being a Mom?

Balancing this with being a Mom has been a real challenge. And making it even more difficult was working a full-time day job at the same time. The best I could do was try and schedule my time well. Work my full time day job. Fit in some of my business during my lunch hour. And then fitting in more when the kids went to bed and on weekends. I even used my vacation days for working on my business. I am now in the midst of a whole new balancing act. Having recently been laid off I am learning to reschedule my time and find a new balance. After all, this lay off could be a blessing in disguise. I will have more time to work on my business and balance that with my family.


What do you hope to teach your children in being a Mompreneur?

I hope being a Momprenuer will teach my children they can do anything as long as they work hard at what they love. My 8 year old daughter already talks about making and selling her work online. I think she is already a budding entrepreneur!


Mompreneur Monday: Quirky-Creative-Sassy

I was so excited to meet today's Mompreneur through our weekly #mombizmonday twitter chat, and have so quickly fallen in love with her philosophy that artists deserve some badass recognition. When I got her answers to my little survey of sorts of a Mompreneur Monday feature, I was blown away!

Meet Amanda, Quirky-Creative-Sassy

What do you do and why?


I coach creative moms, who are excited about making a killing doing what they love. There's so much romanticism attached to being a "starving artist", when in reality creative people have just as much right to make a good living as anyone else. But there's a shame attached to it. If tech industries want to make a lot of money, that's okay. But if creative people want to make a lot of money, they're branded as sellouts. So we are working together to eliminate the shame, and stamp out the "starving artist" mindset.

How do you balance it with being a mom?

I balance it with being a Mom, by making sure that I have time frames that are focused purely on my children. I have a personal policy, that if my children walk into the room, I will stop typing/writing/working and turn to give them my full attention. I also homeschool my oldest daughter, and so she gets personal time focused on that. Reading is big for both of the 2 girls...they're 7 & 2, so the 7 year old is learning to read & the 2 year old loves being read to. The 10 month old doesn't care as much, but he gets plenty of cuddle time. Baby cuddles are the best.


What do you hope to teach your children by being a mompreneur?

I want my children to know that pursuing your dreams, is so worth it. I want them to know that it's possible to be highly successful, without having trade it for a family life. And I want them to know, that they always come before my clients. When they look back on life, I want them to be proud of their Mom. Not wonder why I never had time for them.

Amazing! So many of us strive for our kids to be proud of us, but do we ever really sit back and reflect as to what we want them to be proud of us for? I think it's safe to say that Amanda's kiddos should be very proud of their mama!     

Who...Me? You want to know...me?

Oh hey!!

A lot of bloggers heading off to the Big Apple for BlogHer'12 in a few days (4 sleeps!! yay!) are doing little intros of themselves on their blogs so people know what to expect and blah blah blah.

So...here goes.

I'm Shannon, but will most definitely answer to Shan, Shan North, Stella (so many people think that's actually my name, totally not! It was my great grandmothers name, though!), Mama, Girl-who-drinks-tequila{by choice!}.





I'm an almost 30 year old mama to a 2 year old little fireball named Owen, and the wife of a loving and very understanding dude named Colin who puts up with my antics and artsy-fartsy nature.


I'm a painter...a sculptor...a dreamer...a writer! I'm a total goofball, but I take things way too seriously sometimes. I have mortality issues, Post-Partum Depression {even though my kiddo is 2...it doesn't magically go away}, anxiety, and have really really bigtime fears about not being here one day.

I keep it real.

I'm stoked to meet my roommates {Shizz, Shaun and Mel} on Thursday. There will be wine...and there will be cupcakes! These are women that I've known for about 3 years since we were all pregnant with our kiddos at the same time. I am...just giddy with excitement to meet Jenni, MrsG, Steph and Kelly for coffee, and cross paths with so many other amazing women like Mandy from Harper's Happenings, Katie from Ruffles&Truffles, and Dee the Cocktail Deeva herself.

I was just telling my husband the other day that I feel like I know most of these women already, especially Jenni and Shizz. Those two ladies...honesty, expect water works when I meet them. From monster babies to PPD...we've been through it together and I've been so grateful to them both, that to be able to thank them in person...opportunity of  life time.

I'm a social media butterfly, I love to dance {so excited for Sparklecorn} and it doesn't take me long to get comfy and come out of my shell. I'm very open about my art, life and PPD so if you have a question, ask!!
Come find me at BlogHer'12...I'll be the one in the raspberry pink cropped pants!

Sponsor Love: Love Me Knott



Sometimes that perfect summer dress needs a pop…a pop of purple 

Amanda from Love Me Knott has created the perfect purple dragon vein agate piece that will surely get you noticed at your next big event.



Chic and feminine, the purple is a lovely shade…almost muted with a grey undertone, and perfectly paired with white stones and intricate silver work.

The eye-catching pendant features a gorgeous veining, named the Dragon Vein, and picks up on the various undertones in the piece. Oranges….grey…a slight olive tone. It really is the perfect piece for any wardrobe. 

Dress it down with a white t-shirt and jeans, or make a statement with a black cocktail dress and big sparkly heels!

Mompreneur Monday: BailyBelle has a new look!

Remember that little shop I introduced you to earlier in the year, BailyBelle? Well...Ms. Vanessa has been working incredibly hard on her new website and I want to share it with you!!

The new BailyBelle features the same infinity scarves that I've fallen in love with, but also an incredibly celebrity collection, and unique eco-friendly tote bags that are too adorable not to share!




Vanessa has designed custom pieces for Lauren Conrad, Tenley Molzahn, Zooey Deschanel and Kim Kardashian! Pretty amazing if you ask me!


She's even been taking some of her older pieces, tearing them apart, and creating something totally new from them. I think it's so incredibly refreshing to meet an artist who has vision, and isn't afraid to look at something they've done, appreciate it for what it is, and turn it into something fantastic and new.





I proudly own four rings, an infinity scarf, am getting a custom business card holder made for my trip to BlogHer and own this amazing piece!


The photo does not do the necklace justice. It is so incredibly awesome, I just adore it!! It packs such an amazing punch, and is a real coversation starter.

Don't own a piece of BailyBelle yet? Hop on over to her Etsy shop...get 10% off with code BLOGHER


My First Piece of Art...

I put it out there to the twitterverse a few weeks ago that I would be happy to answer any and all questions from you about me, or my art.

@apnuttmama wrote "What was the first piece of art you ever created."

Oh gosh...that would probably go back to grade 3 to a drawing of a dolphin underwater in the days that I wanted to be a marine biologist.

Since I don't have a photo of that masterpiece, I thought that I would post the first piece that I created that has a whole lot of meaning behind it - my Dad's favourite.

The Gates - 2004
It was the first piece {in a series of four} that I painted on wood, using drywall plaster first to build up the surface to make it three dimensional. I absolutely loved the technique, and when my Dad saw it for the first time, he said that he saw fireworks.

It made me really proud, and it's continued to be a piece that I hang on my wall with pride...only now we don't seem to have a wall for it anymore. I'd love for it to find a new home...but it's pretty big {about 24"x30"} so I'm not sure what the future holds for this red blazing beauty.

Sponsor Love: Epicure Selections with Amanda



What’s a summer BBQ without the snacks??

As you all know, I am a big fan of healthy alternatives and making as many things at home for my toddler as possible. 

Enter the Epicure Chipster and Ceramic Slicer 


Use the slicer to slice up your veggies…parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes…try it with hard fruits too like apples and pears! Then, pop the slices into the Chipster and put in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and…

Healthy alternative chips! Right at home, and without the added oils! 

Add any of the wide variety of Epicure seasonings before popping the slices in the microwave, and you have new chips all the time! 

Having the girls over for a girls night? Forget the veggie tray, and offer up a tray of homemade chips, that won’t go to your hips!

Sponsor Love: Epicure Selection with Amanda


The King of the Que…the Master of the Grill…

Whatever you call him, Father’s Day is coming up and we all know that Dad deserves a great steak.
What makes a great steak? The seasonings!

The Hot Off The Grill  Collection from EpicureSelections is the perfect package for bbq lovers. It features a Montreal Steak Rub (yum!), Smoky Bacon Topper (yes….I said bacon), Cheese, Chives & Bacon Dip, and a Burger Seasoning! Whether Dad likes to entertain the boys after golf, hang out with the family on a lazy hazy weekend or have the neighbours over to show off his new BBQ, this seasoning collection is sure to impress.


A few ideas to get your taste buds watering…

Loaded baked potatoes with the Cheese Chives & Bacon Dip
Steaks grilled to perfection with the Montreal Steak Rub
Flavourful burgers with the Burger Seasoning …stuffed with cheese, and grilled
Grilled chicken topped with the Smoky Bacon Topper and a slice of swiss cheese

Grab a cold one, and treat Dad this Father’s Day with the Hot Off The Grill Collection from Epicure! {link}