What Makes me...amazing?

I had a good giggle, and maybe even a slight blush, when I saw that @mrs07c wanted to know "What makes you so amazing?" when I asked if anyone had any questions for me.

Gah! Really? Me? Amazing?

Then I started thinking about it, and maybe she's right! I think I'm quite a catch!

I think it stems from having a strong upbringing and parents who always encouraged me to chase my dreams {something I'm passing on to my son}. They knew that I loved art from an early age, and they encouraged me to just go with it, no matter what the outcome was.

I wasn't a sporty kid growing up. I was that geeky one in the choir, who could sing her little heart out {fairly well I might add!}...the girl in the art club who would organize fundraisers and other such things to help out in the community.

I'd like to think that I'm pretty well rounded...and that makes me amazing. I have a good head on my shoulders, have had to face challenges probably before I should have had, and had to grow up a little bit quicker than some.

I think it helps that I have a bit of a temper, and an attitude that I have nothing to lose, but so much to gain by putting myself and my work out there.

There's also a curly haired little blondey boy with blue eyes that makes me swoon...and because I made him, that's pretty amazing too.

What makes YOU amazing??

Mama Moments...on a Friday?

Going to get a little sentimental today.

Tomorrow, my son turns 2.

Two

T-W-O

Deux

No matter which way you put it, it's emotional for mama.

I remember it all so clearly...the water breaking, the epidural, the 10hours of LOST that we watched...the aftermath.

I remember your Daddy walking in with you in his arms, and the biggest smile on his face {anyone crying yet, because I sure am as I write this!}. I remember snuggling you for the very very first time, and how in that one moment, I knew that I would be mush everytime you came to me for a snuggle from that day forward.

Tomorrow, you're two, little Bear.

My sweet sweet Bear...

Oh, how time flies.

I want to never forget how you say peas, tank-too, and welcome. I want to never forget how you say wuv-you and blow kisses to everyone, even from your carseat to people in the next car when we're stuck in traffic.


I will never ever ever forget the kisses you give first thing in the morning, or how you still like to have  All My Loving sung to you when you`re upset.

Happy birthday, Bear.

Mama's Time Out: Bowling?

Our outing for this month's Mama's Time Out was to go bowling...

Oh the best laid plans...haha how they never pan out properly! We had made plans to go out for a night of bowling and appetizers - some Mama's are pregnant, some mama's are nursing...other mama's have to work in the morning, and others get to sleep in.

Unfortunately a lot of the kiddos (mine included) took sick and only 3 of us were able to venture out. By the time we got there, the lanes were full for a few hours. Pretty disappointing...so we headed to the bar for appetizers and some drinks.

Usually our talks revolve heavily around our kids....who's sleeping and who's not...who's sick...developmental milestones.

This chat took a bit of a turn...I started talking about mortality issues. Do you mama's have them? I know it's a bit heavy to think about, but once you lose a parent, and then become a parent...it weighs on you. Or at least, it weighs on me.

So, MNO this month wasn't thrilling and exciting and relaxing. We all had things that were weighing on us between sick babies and toddlers, my mortality issues...

Being a mom never stops - whether you work at home, stay at home, or work outside of the home. You're a mom...24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year...sometimes even 366 days a year.

MNO should be fun next month...we're doing a pamper afternoon with my BlogHer sponsor, Michele from Mary Kay!

SWH4T$: Pinteresting Printables



One of the trends I've been seeing lately is printing things out at home, instead of buying them ready made at the store.  Most printers today have settings to allow for ink-saving, therefore printing at home has become much more cost-effective than it used to be.  Lately, I've been finding a lot of printables on Pinterest (duh).

Labels
Lately I've become an organizing freak, as in I've labeled almost 50% of the contents of my kitchen cabinets.  OCD much?  Here are a few of my favorite printable labels (free, of course!)

Source: bhg.com via Shannon on Pinterest

I used these in my kitchen, the blue ones (my favorite color :)


These are great because you can download an editable PDF file and type out the text you want directly onto the label (great for messy handwriters!)

Planners
I do better when I have a task list, and planning pages are a great way to get things done.  Especially for all you mommy bloggers, blog planning pages are a great way to brainstorm ideas, keep yourself organized, and stay in check with your marketing strategies!


I like this one because of the pretty colors (I sound like a 4 year old, right?) and also for the fact that you get 2 pages on 1 8.5x11 inch piece of paper :)  Eco-friendly and cheap :)


I like this one because of the stats box at the bottom.  Its hard for me to remember my growth in stats, so its nice to have a place to write down where you were at that moment in time.

Coloring Pages
Why buy a coloring book when your kid is probably only going to mark up a few pages and then get sick of it?  Print out pages one by one, and don't waste paper :)


We like this one for obvious reasons :)  CARS!


This whole website has free printables, but I especially like the number and alphabet coloring pages because they are simple.  I feel like toddlers get overwhelmed with lots of lines, so these are straight to the point.

How do you use your home printer to save money?  Have any favorite free printables you'd like to share?


WAHM Wednesday: #Roadto30 Updates!

Welcome back, everyone!

I'm really excited to share with you some updates from my amazing roommates, Shaun and Mel, who I'm sponsoring in their #Roadto30....a journey to lose 30lbs each by BlogHer this summer!



Their journeys are going strong - Shaun and I have even connected on the Map My Run app for iPhone and I love reading about the routes she is taking. Every step may seem like a small one, but it's a step in the right direction and that's what matters!

I am growing increasingly proud of these ladies. They're not stopping at BlogHer...oh no...in fact...they're going to keep pushing themselves and are going to run the BlogHer 5km Fun Run! Amazing!






I'm considering joining them for the run. It might be crazy...it's be the first 5km I've ever run in my entire life...but I want to support them to the very end of their journey and show them just how incredibly proud I am of them.

Stay tuned! More on their journey next month!

Interested in sponsoring them? Contact Mel and Shaun today!

SWH4T$: Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice
by: Shizz



I'm sure you've all seen this floating around Pinterest, Rainbow Rice to put in a sensory bin for toddlers to play with. I've been wanting to make this for a while, and Monday was the perfect day since the weather here was 85 degrees and sunny (yup, its still April).



I used this recipe as my guideline :)



I tried to break down the cost by cup of rice, but it wasn't really working, so here is what I paid for everything today (I have leftovers).



1 10 lb bag of white rice: $5.49 (I only used about 1/3 of the bag, I made 12 cups of rice total)

bottle of rubbing alcohol: $1.09

Ziploc bags (sandwich size): $1.00 for 15 (Dollar Store!)

Food coloring: $2.50 for 4 bottles

Plastic container for storage: $1.00 (Dollar Store!)



So that's less than $12 for a fun activity that I could probably make about 8-10 batches from that one bag of rice. Not bad at all!






Step 1: Gather your supplies:


Ingredients listed above,


Wax paper for drying


Disposable gloves (if you hate dye on your hands like I do)





Step 2:


Bag up your rice: 1 cup to a bag






Step 3: Add color


1 T rubbing alcohol + 10-12 drops food coloring


First batch I mixed them in these little bowls, 2nd batch I added


the alcohol and food coloring directly into the bag (much easier)



Step 4:


Squish Squish Squish the bag till all the rice is colored.


Make double sure that your bag is sealed.


Trust me on that one...






Step 5: Dry


Spread out on wax paper in the sun and let dry


I think it took about 30 minutes to dry






Step 6:


PLAY! Dump into a bin, sand/water table, cookie sheet, large bowl,


basically any large container. Add a few utensils, cups or spoons,


and let your toddler go to town!






Jack loved it :) He played with it for about an hour :)


I was worried about the dye coming off on his hands, and I'm


happy to report that there was not one speck of dye on his hands :)

Talk-To-Me Tuesday...with Casey Roberts

Good morning everyone! I have a very special treat for you mamas, WAHMs, SAHMs...just about all of you out there!

Her name is Casey Roberts, and she is amazing. Casey contacted me a couple of months ago about doing a guest post about continuing education. I find that so many of my mama friends are either in school doing their Masters at a physical institution, or are taking continuing education courses online.

Without further adieu, here's Casey and her 10 Essential Tips for Moms Going Back to School

With the start of another new semester, it can be normal for everyone to ask themselves if they should go back to school. With many mothers (and fathers) experiencing higher bills, it can also be a great way to increase your earning power while setting a good example for the kids. For those of you who are hesitant to do so or have already begun, check out these ten essential tips for moms going back to school.

1 You are not alone – As educational options become more available, a wider variety of students are enrolling. This includes everyone from the traditional college age kids to foreign students to working parents. If you think you will be the only mom in the class, chances are there will be at least one more.

2 Financial aid – It isn't just for kids who can't get their parents to pay for school. It is also for working families. How much financial aid you qualify for depends on many things like number of dependents and income, which are huge factors in determining how much aid you qualify for.

3 FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a must for any student in college. It is a lengthy form but is essential to the financial aid process of just about every school.

4 What if I need help? - If you need help with the FAFSA or any other aspect of financial aid, speak to the counselors at your current or prospective school to get all of your options. They are paid professionals whose job often entails making school as affordable as possible.

5 Grants – These are forms of financial aid that can be earned by filling out the FAFSA. They are tax payer funded and intended to help needy students of all ages get a college degree.

6 Working parents options – In addition to the usual grants, there are also those for working parents who are trying to get a degree. There are even some especially for single mothers going to college.

7 Loans – We've all heard about the burden student loans can become. The student loan is quite the temptation. It offers a huge sum up front, no payments until graduation, and low interest rates. However, it is recommended to exhaust other methods of paying for school before considering a student loan.

8 Fine print – So what is the catch with all this financial aid? Those who are granted any form of financial aid can often be asked to keep a minimum GPA of 2.0 (C average) or higher. They must also graduate on time.

9 Daycare – But what will I do with the kids while I'm in class? This is a common question that many schools are answering by providing free or low cost daycare at their facilities, which is a good thing to look for when applying for schools.

10 Degree or no degree – If you know what career you are looking for, make sure you know what kind of degree, certification, licensure, etc. you need before beginning studies. You should also make sure that graduation from your degree program qualifies you to take any exams or tests you need to work in your desired career.

Casey Roberts is a student and also writes for Radiology Assistant which helps students find the right radiology degree.

Mompreneur Monday: Rebecca Nash Photography

I am so excited for today's mompreneur....someone that I actually know in real life, have had the chance to sit down and have coffee with (more than once!) and have gotten to know as a person, a mama, and a mompreneur.

I'd like to introduce you to Rebecca Nash, fine art photographer located in Southwestern Ontario. She has an eye for colour and beauty, and even has her work off to a
very special place...that she'll reveal at the end of the post!

1) What do you do?

I am the owner and photographer for Rebecca Nash Photography. I specialize in Wedding, Portrait and Fine Art photography. I love heading out to work with someone new to create beautiful images that I know will be cherished for years to come. The fine art photography also challenges me but in a completely different way. Instead of building a relationship with my subject in order to create a great portrait or wedding image, I have to create an image that shows or provokes an emotion within viewer through the subject and setting. It’s a completely different challenge and I thrive on this opportunity to change it up.


Link


2) How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?


Prioritize, schedule, and be ready for anything! Finding the balance is always a challenge for me. I make sure to plan out my tasks, have a to do list to keep me on track, and try not to get worked up about schedule changes that seem to always pop up. By having my own dedicated space for my business within our home I’m able to really get focussed on what I’m doing with minimal distractions. I also capitalize on time after my daughter has gone to bed when I’m sitting in front of the TV to go over schedules, to-do lists, and work on blog entries. Blogging at night allows me to get all my ideas out and still have a chance for a quick reread in the morning but also helps empty out my brain a bit before bed.


3) What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?


For me it’s always about finding the balance. I love my family and my daughter dearly and some days I’d rather stay home and just be a mom and homemaker but in the same breath I am a creative type and I love my photography. It is sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane. Unfortunately I have a habit of swinging from completely family focused to completely immersed in my business without any middle ground. This year my goal is to schedule time for both every week and stick to my schedule!


4) What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?


Link

Research, plan, build your support system, and then go for it! It will be a bit of a roller coaster so make sure you set boundaries and talk to your family about what you’re doing so everyone’s on the same page.


So where is your work off to now?


I’m thrilled to be having the opportunity to participate in the MTV Movie Awards Celebrity Gifting Suite and Swag Bags for the upcoming awards show in early June. In honour of this event I’m in the process of designing and creating a line of new products which the celebrities will receive and you can get too! Watch my blog for all the info on the design process and the product launch!

SWH4T$: Cabinet Re-Organization

It's Thursday again! One more day till TGIF time :)



It's so easy to link up, here's how:



1.) Follow your hostesses at Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's via GFC


2.) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".



3.) Post our button on your post




Have fun linking and finding new blogs to read!













SWH4T

Cabinet Re-organization

I've been on this organization kick lately, especially with all of my cabinets in my house. I've just gotten sick of how messy they get, so I've been putting things in bins, labeling, purging - and its been awesome! My latest project was one of the larger cabinets in my kitchen, which houses a lot of infrequently used items, and tends to just get things thrown in there without any thought.

This is the before picture, not too nice huh?



I started off by taking everything out and throwing out what we didn't need or didn't use (ice cube trays from our baby food making days, a spoon rest that we don't use, a votive candle holder that was half-broken). Then, I took all the shelves out and wiped them down, and applied a new layer of Contac Paper.



Next, I put everything that was being saved back into the cabinet, and organized it so it made sense. I moved out our wooden formal flatware box and displayed it on the china hutch in our dining room, which freed up a lot of space on one shelf. Aprons and bottle coolers went into medium-sized bins. Small baking molds, grill accessories and paper/plasticware went into other smaller bins. It's a deep cabinet, but I made sure not to shove things too far back, because otherwise you can't see them, and you'll be less likely to use them.



After everything was in the cabinet, I made a list of what was on each shelf. I used Microsoft Word to print out the list of items, cut out each shelf list and then glued it onto a pretty piece of scrapbook paper and taped it to the inside of the cabinet as a map of sorts.



Then, I printed out some labels to put on the bins. I got the labels from here. I didn't have sticky label sheets to print them on, so I was cheap and used what I had: regular white printer paper and clear packing tape :) Worked just fine.



The final product:



Big improvement huh? I hope that I've made everything easy to find and easy to put away, with the intention that the cabinet will stay that way.

This whole project cost me about $15:
2 medium wire bins from Target: $5
2 medium plastic bins from Walmart: $2.38
3 small skinny plastic bins from Walmart: $2.38
Roll of Contac paper: $5.89

Got any organizational projects you've done recently? Link up!






Mompreneur Monday: The Mom Writes

Happy Monday, mamas! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Prerna...the mastermind and mama behind The Mom Writes. What does she do? Well...she provides affordable and effective solutions to help mom business owners live {and survive} online!

What do you do?

I am a professional freelance web writer, business blogger and social media manager.


How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

Focus. Shutting out distractions like Twitter, FB and my email works wonders. Also, I’m an early riser and am often up at 4 in the morning. That gives me a good 4 hours before my preschooler needs to be up for the day.

Also, saying, “no” to tasks that wouldn’t add to either my life as mom or mompreneur helps.


What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Keeping a hold on ALL the ideas that keep jumping into my head. I’m constantly thinking about how to grow my business, add more value to my clients’ businesses


What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Start. Don’t wait for the kids to grow up or to move to a house with space for an office. Just start.

Take action. Every day. Do something to build your business every single day. From researching ideas to building your customer database, make sure you’re working on your business, every day.

Stay hopeful and positive. Honestly, it isn’t easy being a mompreneur. There will be discouragement and disappointment, but don’t let them shake you. Surround yourself with positive, inspiring women who’re rocking the business world and stay encouraged and positive.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with Sweet Stella's readers?

First, I’d like to offer ALL your readers with a business a FREE one-on-one social media/web content strategy session. Please sign up here

I’d like to offer a 20% discount on ALL web content, business blogging and social media services. Please mention "SweetStellas" in your email to me. I can be reached at prerna(at)themomwrites(dot)com.

Web

Twitter

Facebook

Blog

SWH4T$: Love {in a} Jar

Happy Thursday everyone, and welcome back to She Works Hard for the Money - a bloghop for hard working mamas to share their time and money saving tips!

The rules are super simple!

1) Follow your hostesses, Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's, via GFC

2) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".


3.) Post our button on your post

Have fun linking up and finding her blogs to read!


SWH4T

Love {in a} Jar

So...my husband decided to be super romantic this Valentine's Day and booked us a night at a local hotel, a romantic dinner, and even got a baby sitter for our son. I was shocked...pleasantly surprised...but absolutely shocked!

And I had squat to give him!

I started thinking and came up with this cute idea, which would be perfect for anniversaries as well!

Materials:



1 jar (I used a large jam jar)
3 pieces of paper
10 pieces of his favourite candy (Rockets for my Hubster)

Soak your jar a sink of hot water. This will make scrapping the label off a sinch!

While your jar is soaking, cut your paper into strips. They don't have to be perfect by any means. I did 5 notes for every year that we've been married, and 5 extras.

Set aside 5 strips of paper

Write out love notes on the remaining strips of paper. Reasons you love him...are proud of him...proud to be his other-half...proud of him as a father Really anything that you love about him.



On the 5 you set aside, write out activities to do together. Thing like...slow dancing...taking a walk together...whatever you'd like! Wrap them around his favourite candy



Scrape the label off the jar, and dry it thoroughly...you don't want those papers getting wet!

Once the jar is dry, stuff it with the notes, activities and extra candies!





Sweet and corny, but super thoughtful!

Link up your crafty, thrifty and frugal ideas with us!






Mompreneur Monday: CoachInU

Good morning everyone!

What a sweet week we have in store; a new Mompreneur today, and Valentine's day tomorrow!!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Nuria Lencina - a life coach and mentor who coaches specifically expectant and new mothers on how to deal with the expectations of their new role as a mama. Man...how I wish I had of met Nuria 20months ago! Her advice is nothing short of inspirational!

What do you do?

My name is Nuria Lencina and I am a mother of two, a Psychologist and a Certified Professional Coach. I empower expectant and new moms to embrace their motherhood by supporting them with their daily struggles.


How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

I do have my own struggles but I am now working on a TimeMap to support my progress and keep me on task. Not having structure makes me procrastinate and also not value the things that I do. By having a system in place that holds me accountable for my own actions I feel supported and it gives me sense of direction.


What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

I think that time management is the most challenging aspect of having my own business, especially since I have small children. In my case I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. They are still very attached to me and I consider them my full time job. Running my business has to come in second place and it is difficult to let go of your work commitments in order to care for your family. Setting up the boundaries, and not neglecting my job or my mom priorities, is very difficult.


What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

I would say to them that the key for success, apart from a great business idea, is a really good support system and a lot of patience. If you believe in your product, and you are committed enough to start a business, there are a lot of chances that you will get what you want. But it is important to establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Timely) goals and objectives and surround yourself with a good support system to help you accomplish them. Having all that in place it is a question of time, and it can take a while, but PATIENCE has to be present in your goals too.


Is there anything additional you'd like to share?

I would like to share with you that it is never late to ask for help. If you feel like giving up find someone to talk to. Get into a networking group, join some kind of group of moms who talk about what you love, call your best friend, do something, but don't give up just yet. It is really hard to have your own business, take care of your family, run the household, and on top of that remember to wash your face in the morning. But you are not alone, there are so many of us doing it everyday. Let it out.

I would like to offer EXCLUSIVELY to the SweetStellas readers a 50% discount (ONLY $45) on their first coaching session with me, if they are willing to explore what coaching can do for them, or how I can help them get a better daily structure, how to improve their communication with their partner, how to find ME time, how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster, or how to increase the confidence and self-esteem.

Also, if you decide to sign up for the ‘’Foundation Package’’ (4 x coaching sessions – $359) and you refer a friend that signs up for another ‘’Foundation Package’’, you will immediately receive a 50% discount on your purchase, or on your next purchase. This offer allows you to one discount only and cannot be combined with any other offers.

Mompreneur Monday: BellaGrey Designs

Happy Monday everyone! Do you know what's right around the corner?

Valentine's Day!!

What better timing to introduce you to this fantastic Mompreneur, Jennifer Kirlin from BellaGrey Designs! With super cute invitations, cupcake toppers, printable, tags...you name it and she's got it for you! There's even a free Valentine's printable at the end of the post!

What do you do?

I create custom party decor


Link

How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

I get up early to start my day, get the kids off to school and then work like crazy until I pick them up. I try to spend most of the late afternoon with them. Once they are down for the evening, I'm working again. I work when I can, for as long as I can.


What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Drawing the line between time devoted to BellaGrey Designs and time with my family is really hard for me right now, because I'm constantly "working" in my head, thinking of new designs o
r colors I can use.



What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

If you truly believe in yourself, then you have to believe all of your hard work will pay off. Sure some days you'd like to throw in the towel, but you just persevere. One day at a time.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Yes! I've created a beautiful Valentine's printable...free to download
here!




SWH4T$: Time Saver Pancakes

Happy Thursday everyone, and welcome back to She Works Hard For the Money - a bloghop for hard working mamas who do everything they can to save time and money!

The rules are simple...

1.) Follow your hostesses at Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's via GFC

2.) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".

3.) Post our button on your post


Have fun linking and finding new blogs to read!





Time Saver Pancakes

I find myself in a bit of a rut sometimes. Between my crafty, artsy business...another new business that I'll be launching with a great Mama friend of mine...my Husband having his own business...plus our son's activities...I'm stretched pretty thin.

Because of that, I try to plan at least one meal ahead of time to save myself time, frustration and allow myself to enjoy a meal with my son throughout the day. Breakfast seems to be the easiest, and I've developed a recipe for success!

I make one or two full batches of pancakes at the beginning of a week, and whatever we don't eat that day goes into a Ziploc and into the freezer. Then, I can pull out pancakes as needed, pop them into the toaster and know that my son is getting a super wholesome breakfast.

Here are two varieties, that just so happen to help with fussy eaters who don't get alot of fruits or veggies.

Pancakes...two ways


Whole Wheat Oatmeal Mixed Berry


Whole Wheat Oatmeal Asparagus (yes..you read that right!)

Preheat griddle or frying pan while you mix the batter

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp oil (I used canola, but you can use whatever you'd like. I would not recommend EVOO as it has a distinct flavour that will alter the pancakes)

Mix all ingredients together

For Berry Pancakes, mix in 1 cup of mixed berries. I used frozen berries that I had on hand, which I thawed in the fridge overnight.

For Asparagus pancakes, finely chop approximately 6 spears, and add that to the batter.

Each full recipe will make approximately 8-10 pancakes.

Once cool, put in a Ziploc and pop them in the freezer!

Enjoy!

Have a time saver recipe, coupon, trick or tip? Link up with us today!





Mompreneur Monday: The HopeFULL Company

I am absolutely thrilled about our Mompreneur team today!! They are a dynamic duo of moms, who are bringing a message of hope...and full bellies...into the world!

Meet Jessica and Stephanie, sisters and owners of the HopeFULL Company. They have created the cutest ways to help kids eat more whole foods with the idea of eat happily ever after.

What do you do?

We are both mothers to two young children and we're on a mission to help kids eat more whole foods!
Lately we've been busy launching our newest product, The BellyFULL Kit, which helps parents make nutritious and delicious frozen whole food pops at home with their kids.


How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

Get up before the kids do! It's not always easy getting up early, but those extra couple of hours before the kids get up really helps us get ahead.

What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Finding balance is always a challenge. We love our work, so sometimes it's hard to turn off the computer or take a day off! We make a point to schedule time for ourselves, and we make quality time with our families a priority - time where we are present and enjoying the moment.

What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Be patient - it doesn't happen over night! We've also learned that just like parenthood, it takes a village. There are many wonderful resources out there for women entrepreneurs. Legal Corps, Women Venture, SCORE to name a few. Reach out, network and make connections. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride!


Is there anything additional that you'd like to share?

We'd love to offer a BellyFULL Kit giveaway to one random new "liker" on our Facebook Page! Just head to https://www.facebook.com/thehopefullcompany, "like us" and post "Sweet Stella's sent me!" to qualify!

SWH4T$: Ikea

Welcome back Ladies! It's been an awesome year for SWH4T$ so far: we've organized our coupons, repurposed jars to make super cute home decor, and now let's decorate our houses some more!

See how you can link up your own projects! Only 3 simple steps:

1.) Follow your hostesses at Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's via GFC
2.) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".
3.) Post our button on your post

Have fun linking and finding new blogs to read!





SWH4T

IKEA

Ikea. The Motherload of cute and functional stuff for cheap. Mizzle and I are HUGE fans of Ikea, our entire dining room set is Ikea, our endtables are Ikea, our dishes and several pots are Ikea, and Jack's playfood is from Ikea.

For 9 years now (ever since we moved in together) our dining room set was a hand-me-down from my parents: a teak table with 6 chairs that my parents swiped from the Student Union at University of Arizona when they were redoing the building (my dad went there for undergrad). The chairs are likely mid-century, and they are in surprisingly good shape for surviving thousands of college kids, me and my sisters, and then finally Mizzle & Jack (not to mention numerous drunken house parties in the pre-Jack days...).

We loved the table and I loved the chairs (they squeak, Mizzle hates it. I think it gives them character). Our dining room is small, and we needed a smaller table so that things were not as crowded, now that we have a toddler table and Jack's play kitchen in the dining room.

I wanted a round table that was better for traffic flow, Mizzle wanted a table that would comfortably sit at least 6 people when extended.

This was what we got:
Bjursta Dining Table with extendable leaf, seats 4-6
$229

Not bad huh? It's super sturdy, wipes easily, and is about a third of the price of what you would pay at a furniture store. Now, this isn't an heirloom we are going to pass on to our children, but it will last us for quite a while. Let's put it this way: the Ikea furniture that we already have is already at least 5-7 years old, and has held up amazingly!

Now what about chairs? While shopping for tables I realized that chairs can often cost more than the table itself! Seriously! We wanted 4 chairs, and then if we had extra people we would use folding chairs. I used to buy household furnishings with the maximum number of guests in mind, but now having a kid, I buy what we need for NOW. The rest can be figured out later.

I really liked these chairs:
Ingolf Chair
$59.99

Cute right? But, if we got 4 chairs, that would be $240. Not exactly what I wanted to spend on chairs. Granted, we were on a budget, and if we weren't, I would have totally got these. However, we were on a budget, and trying to walk out the door under $350 for the table & chairs.

So this is what we got:
Ivar Chair
$19.99
I know what you're thinking: they don't match. Well you're right. BUT, not for long! We went to Lowe's and got some stain to match the table. 3 coats of stain and 1 coat of polyurethane/stain combo later, we have a matching set! Pretty sweet for $308.96!

We are still sanding and buffing them down, so I don't have a finished picture for you, so I guess you'll just have to stop by Baby Shmizz next week to see the finished product! :)

Just goes to show that with a little shopping around and some elbow grease, you can have a fancy looking dining set for 1/3rd the price! Not to mention that in the cafeteria that day, kids ate FREE! Bonus!

If you are looking for where your nearest Ikea is so you can run there like a madwoman, check HERE.

How have you decorated your house for less? Share with us!


Money Saving Mamas!





Talk-To-Me Tuesday....with Sarah Sloboda

Good morning everyone!!

I have a special treat for all you mompreneurs and mama bloggers out there! I'd like you to meet Sarah Sloboda, who is a brilliant photographer creates gorgeous heirloom inspired photos and runs fantastic workshops! She's here to help you all make the most with iphoneography! {note: she's seriously making me want an iPhone!}

iPhoneography for Business Owner Moms
by Sarah Sloboda

As a photojournalist-style photographer, I am enamored with real moments in
time. I love photographing kids because they’re so spontaneous! We adults can
learn a lot from their free-spiritedness. I see a lot of moms who want their kids’
hair to be brushed just so, for their clothes to be perfect, and for their smiles to be
practiced. However, none of those things speak to me of childhood. So, I
encourage the kids to giggle, to run, and to explore. Yes, I have to chase them
around a lot. But when they stop and catch their breath, I am ready with my
camera. And, they’re usually beaming.



If you want to take better photos of your family (and set your child up to be more
photogenic for life), think of yourself as a documentarian. Document what you
want, yes. But don’t manipulate. Don’t ask for poses. And, don’t fuss! Let the
kids enjoy themselves, and what you hold dear about this time in your life will
show through in the moments you capture.

The iPhone is an incredible tool for moms and business owners alike. I
recommend you turn the flash off, and pay attention to natural light sources in
the environment you’re shooting in. Make sure to arrange yourself so that light is
falling on your subject. In other words, if you’re facing a lamp and the baby is
silhouetted in between you and it, don’t expect the camera to give you a good
exposure. And, be sure you get low to the ground – you want to be on your
subject’s level.

Plus, the iPhone is something you already take everywhere you go, so using it for
social networking and marketing is a no-brainer. It’s an invaluable tool for giving
your audience that coveted glimpse behind the scenes.



iPhonegraphy tips for documenting your family and business
marketing:

1. Get on Instagram! If you haven’t already, sign up for an Instagram account.
It’s free! Just go to the app store and install. If you want to use it for marketing,
select a username that corresponds with your brand. For instance, my Instagram
name is sloboda.

2. Apply filters to your images before you share them. If you also install other
photography apps, you’ll have a whole bunch of one-click PhotoShop-like settings
at your fingertips. My favorites include Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Camera+, Iris,
and Filterstorm. They range from $1.99 to $5.99, and can seriously enhance just
about any image you take.


3. Mix and match multiple filters from various programs by saving to your photo
library and then opening in a new program. When you’re pleased with your
flashy new picture, open Instagram and click on “share,” to upload.

4. Get tagging! Hashtags are a great way to get followers of similar interests on
Instgram. Use @[username] tags to respond to someone who has commented on
yours or another’s photo. Link your profile to twitter and automatically tweet
your photo (with capture and hashtags – up to 160 characters, of course). To be
really savvy, use twitter tags in Instagram so your intended audience sees your
image.

5. Be yourself. Share your interests, and your day-to-day. Document moments
with your family. Get involved in an activity! Frame your shot and be ready to
snap when natural smiles (and all kinds of expressions) occur.

Sharing photos of genuine moments goes a long way towards communicating
your values to your audience. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? That’s
like 41 tweets!

*****
Sarah Sloboda is a modern kids photographer. She has been featured in
numerous publications, and her work can be found at http://sarahsloboda.com.
Be sure to follow “sloboda” on Instagram.
All content and photos ©Sarah Sloboda 2012. These images were produced
exclusively on an iPhone.

Mompreneur Monday: Awe Inspired Designs

Happy Monday! I have a wonderful new Mompreneur to introduce you to today, Cicily Atkins of Awe Inspired Designs.

I ran across her shop on the Dreamers into Doers forum on facebook, and was immediately blown away by her letterpress invitations and custom stationery for every occasion. There's just something about an embossed font that I just absolutely love. Cicily's designs are gorgeous and wonderful, and I am pleased to introduce you to her today.

What do you do?

I take paper dreams and turn them into a reality. I meet with clients who want stationery that does not come from a catolog. With each client, I design every aspect of their event stationery (save the dates, invitations, programs, table cards, fans), each piece custom to each event.



How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

Oh my goodness, as a momprenuer, I sneak in work, whenever I can. I maximize nap time, and bed time. And when I meet with a client for a consultation I will bring the kiddos to an at home daycare close to my home.

What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

LOL.. My biggest challenge is balancing my budding baby entrepreneurs. They sooo want to help me with each project. So i might let them count (teaching them to count, ;-) ) , or I will let them put in packing peanuts, or some other VERY important task.



What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Nike-Just Do it! Don't stress when you are up late, or if your kids wanna help out. Do your best, and be patient with yourself.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd like to offer up a $35 gift certificate towards a Custom Invitation Suite Order (Quantity of over 50 invitations) for a random new fan on Facebook. Custom Invitation Suite includes Invitation, Response, and Information Cards (with accompanying envelopes). Winner will be drawn by random and will be contacted by Awe Inspired Designs!

SWH4T$: Repurposed Jars

Welcome back, crafty, thrifty mamas!! We're so happy to have you back for She Works Hard for the Money!

Before we get hopping, we've got some rules...

1.) Follow your hostesses at Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's via GFC

2.) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".

3.) Post our button on your post


Have fun linking and finding new blogs to read!




Repurposed Jars

Before the holidays hit, I was looking for some simple crafty projects to take my mind off of a super stressful time (packing to move...selling our home...going on vacation...coming home...moving).

Have some empty salsa jars lying around the house? Maybe some funky patterned paper? Podge?

Well that's all you need for this project!!





Choose your paper...I chose some grey and blue tones so that it will fit nicely into my new studio once we move

Wrap it around your jar, and make a mark where the paper meets

Cut out the pattern that you desire. I cut around the flowers and vines, but there are really no rules to this project!

Smear adhesive to the jar, and attach paper. Seal the paper with more adhesive



For me, they make perfectly pretty water jars (and drying jars) for my paint brushes but they would also be great with some inexpensive flowers for a hostess gift (I'd tie ribbon round the top to finish it off), some stones and fallen branches for some bathroom or kitchen decor



Happy repurposing!






Mompreneur Monday: Call for Moms!

You've seen some really great moms featured over here on Mompreneur Monday like Julie Cole of Mabel's Labels, Vanessa Hotchkiss of BailyBelle and Tina Allen of Tina Dean Designs...do you have what it takes to get some notice?Link

I'm currently on the hunt for some really awesome mompreneurs to feature in the Mompreneur Monday segment, and would so love to collaborate with you!

A few things to keep in mind...

  • Offering a discount code or giveaway to Sweet Stella's readers is always great and will get you more traffic, but it's not required so don't let that hinder you in contacting me
  • It doesn't have to be artsy and crafty in nature! If you're a mom and you run your own business, I'd love to hear from you!
  • Make sure that your website is top-notch, so we are putting your best virtual face forward
  • Include a photo sampling with your email so I know what type of work you do (if applicable)

Interested? Have what it takes? Want to get some free support from the WAHM community?

Drop me a line! shannon@sweetstellas.com