Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays.

my sweethearts
218 cookies later...
DIY boxes to house all those homemade cookies
Bought this little baby Jesus ornament at the Kid's Christmas
Sale in Brattleboro
I am a sucker for pretty paper
...and now for a little time alone.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

She Makes a Home

Welcome fine readers. In the midst of the very sad and disturbing news of the CT tragedy, I hope you can take a reprieve and look at the beauty that also exists. In the end, there is nothing more important than home, family, love and kindness.  I hope you find inspiration in this interview with Ashley Pahl, of She Makes a Home. Ashley is a creative entrepreneur and mother of two who embodies the beauty and sweetness that reminds me to keep my chin up. May love and kindness prevail.

1. I recently discovered your gorgeous blog via Holly Becker's Blogging Your Way forum and fell in love with your unique aesthetic. Can you tell us about your blog and shop? Did you design your own graphics for your site?

I wish I had designed the graphics myself! I actually have no graphic design education, but I'm very specific with what I like. I've been blogging since January 2008, and over the years, my blog has had a couple of name changes and complete design overhauls. It was over the summer of 2012 that I came across the work of Kendra at the Darling Blog, and it was exactly what I had been looking for all of these years. The design that Kendra made is exactly what I would have done, if I knew how to do it.

I am at least comfortable enough to work with clip art and HTML code, so I tweak a lot of my blog myself, such as the specialized fonts, buttons and badges, etc. I like to work with graphics by The Ink Nest, almost exclusively.

2. What is the inspiration behind your new e-mag?  Will you make more?

The idea for Snowed In has been in me since I was 8 or 9 years old. I used to make magazines out of construction paper and notebook paper, and try to sell copies to my relatives - I've always been a bit of an entrepreneur. I've seen so many amazing e-Magazines and catalogs online now that I thought it was time to give it a try. There's really no better time than the holidays - people love gift ideas, little DIY projects and help with throwing their parties. I was lucky enough to find a great group of women to contribute to Snowed In with me. I'd love to make it an annual thing, but that always depends on my work schedule in my paper goods shop. 

3. You describe yourself as a "paper-crafting workaholic-at-home mother of two", as a mother myself, I often notice the struggle between wanting to fully devote myself to my creative endeavours and making sure I spend quality time with my daughter... how do you manage your creative business with mothering?

I have to admit that it's not always pretty! Since I stay home with my girls, I look at my three jobs like this: 

1. my children
2. my business
3. housework.

Although, my marriage is pretty important too, so housework is more like 4th priority. I can usually do a good job of playing with and taking care of the kids during the day, and work on my blog and paper goods shop during naps, nights, and weekends. The result is that my home is not always as clean or organized as I'd like it to be. I feel like something will always be lacking - it just comes down to deciding what that thing will be. Right now I have my online shop on vacation mode, and my house hasn't been this clutter-free in a few months. I also make sure to take a vacation in the summer so our family has some quality time together. I guess there is a season for all things. When my girls are in school all day in a couple of years, I'd like to be working during the day and spending time with them in the evenings.

3.You have an Etsy shop, and recently your cards got picked up by Terrain- how did this come about?

A buyer from Terrain contacted me directly, so I'm not entirely sure how they found me. I probably should have asked! I was Etsy's Featured Seller back in June, so it could have been from that increased exposure. 

4. I see that you are a fan of Danielle LaPorte, what inspires you about her work and how have you incorporated her message into your own life?

It was actually a year ago that I was introduced to Danielle's work. I bought The Spark Kit, devoted a week to it, and I believe it changed my whole life. I became more focused and driven in my work, and I started taking more time for myself and making my happiness a priority. What I like about Danielle is that she doesn't tell you, "this is the only way - it's my way or the highway." Instead, she gives you the tools to help you figure out what's right for you. The reader has to dig deep and do the dirty work.

At the end of the Fire Starter Sessions and The Spark Kit, Danielle says, "Just start. Now." Everything in your life doesn't have to be perfect to get started on your dream. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll see results. And that's what I did. I refined and edited my paper goods line, and refocused my blog. 2012 has been the best year for both my shop and my blog, and I can't say I would have made those changes if it weren't for Danielle's influence. She just radiates awesome.

5. On my blog/show, I like to ask people if they are living in their sweet spot, a self defined place of meaning and fulfillment. Are you there?

I can't say I'm there yet, but I do feel like I am on my way. There's nothing I could complain about in my life, other than needing more time, of course. There are definitely some things I still need to work on. I need to go to bed earlier, so I'm well-rested in the morning. I need to be more patient. I could stand to be more social. But as far as what I have - my family, my home, my work - I wouldn't change anything.

6. What makes your home YOUR home?

I'm very sentimental. I have personal photos in each room. I've painted the main living spaces in colors that make me feel calm. There are little objects from my past on the shelves that remind me of good times and good people. I definitely want my home too look good, but I'll never sacrifice memories and personalization - I have to work those into each room. This is the first house we've ever owned, and I'm hoping to stay for a few decades. I have a little series on my blog so you can see the changes I've been making since we moved in.

7. Where can we learn more about you and your products?

My entire line of handmade paper goods are on Etsy as AshleyPahl, and my blog is She Makes a Home. I'm also pretty active on Facebook and Pinterest, so you can connect with me there!
THANK YOU Ashley for sharing your beautiful story and lovely home. xo Desha

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Enhabiten Sweet Spot HOME

Welcome. I'm writing a series called Sweet Spot HOME about how people are creatively expressing themselves in their homes while infusing values, meaning and personal style into home decor. I'm fascinated by this concept and hope to share many more homes here. See my first post with writer/musician Robin MacArthur here. If you would like to join in, please leave a comment below and share this with others who might be interested~

Today, we are lucky to get a sneak peak at the home of Etsy shop owner Liane of Enhabiten. Isn't it inspiring to read about someone who is doing creative work they love and making a living at it? That's Liane! Make sure and check out her shop, she's got some lovely handmade items there perfect for your holiday gift list. 

Can you tell me a bit about you? What is Enhabiten
i studied painting in college, then married young to my high school love and raised 3 kids full time (now 14, 20 and 22) while working a variety of odd-jobs.  now i'm single and working full time at enhabiten, which i started in 2009.  enhabiten began as simply a creative outlet to keep my hands and mind busy but it turned into much more.  it's a mostly textile-based little business but i think of it as an open-ended creative exercise.  it may or may not evolve into something different.  it pays the bills which thrills me.  you can tell a lot about what's important to me by what i make.  i'm a tactile person hence the textile use.  i love the feeling, comfort and concept of "home".  as well, issues of lifestyle, environmental responsibility and sustainability are primary concerns for me, hence the materials i choose to use.

You just moved into your new home, what are you doing to make it feel good to you?
back in august i moved into a small two room cottage.  it appealed to me because it had some nice old woodwork, a little wood stove and private outdoor space.  my 14 yo has the one bedroom and i got creative in the main room with a handmade barn board day bed which doubles as a sofa. so far, i've done some staining and painting.  my mind is always busy considering what else i'd like to do here to make it a more personal space.  i have to pace myself though as i devote time to my business.

How does your home reflect who you are, your values, aspirations, or creative expression?
when i moved here i brought very little with me from my previous home and life.  although i'm constantly mulling ideas over in my head it's slow going in terms of decorating and accumulating the "things" we surround ourselves with in our homes.  i think this reflects where i'm at in my life right now anyway.  i've realized i'm not a pack rat and lots of stuff in my environment makes me feel unsettled so this period of my life actually complements that well.  small spaces force you to edit and keep things tidy.

Do you have a space that's just for you? If so, what's it's purpose?
it's just me and my son eli here and he has his own bedroom so in many ways this place is more "my own" than any other in the past.  the main room is my space.

What's your ideal life look like?
i suppose very different than in the past, i'm not looking toward the future as a "better" iteration than the present.  this feels like a big relief to me and helps me to focus on here and now.  but i'd have to say that i do hope to own my own little place someday (i currently rent) and i want to have outdoor space where i can grow my own food and maybe raise some animals.  i want to continue to do creative work for myself in order to support myself.  i want to be in control of my own time and creative energy.  i also want to apply the principles of environmental sustainability to all aspects of my life.

What do you love about your life right now?
i love do the work i do.  i love looking back on my mothering years and seeing the people my kids have grown to be.  and i appreciate the personal time i have now that those early parenting years are waning.

THANK YOU Liane for sharing your home and story.
If you would like to join us, please leave a comment below. I want to hear your story~ xo Desha

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Spot HOME with Robin MacArthur

My dear friend Robin MacArthur is an inspiration in many ways from the music she makes, words she writes, her natural and relaxed parenting, and her devotion to maintaining a sense of self amidst it all. We are both big Pinterest fans, so when Robin encouraged me to check out Enhabiten's pins, I was happy to see some familiar spaces that I recognized as Robin's sweet home in Marlboro, Vermont. 

I found a full post and interview on Enhabiten, and was so inspired that I asked owner Liane permission to repost part of the interview here. Read the full interview with more pics here

I've always been fascinated by how people choose to creatively express themselves within their homes. It's important for me to have a home that feels welcoming, cozy and full of art. As Oprah says, "Surround yourself with beauty and you will feel beautiful". What is beauty to you? What makes you feel good in your home? Do you feel like you are in your sweet spot in your home? If not, what can you do to make it feel good to you?

Interview with Robin MacArthur, text and photos by Liane of Enhabiten

what can you tell me about the building and decoration of your house? 
Our house has been an ad-hoc creation that seems to reflect the stages of my life to a T. It began with a small, one room cabin I built with my dad when I was sixteen. It was breezy and full of salvaged windows and sat on crooked stumps and piles of rock. I would go there to drink wine with friends and sleep with boyfriends and write poetry and smoke cigarettes by myself. It was perfection. At twenty-five my boyfriend (now husband Ty) and I were living in New York but wanted to have a place to return to for all seasons of the year, so we added on another small rectangle that was insulated. 
It was still funky--the electricity came from a two-hundred-foot extension cord that ran through the woods, the windows were old breezy single-panes, and there was no running water, just an outhouse and a stinky bucket under the sink. Also perfection! We spent a summers and a few winters there, then moved to Philadelphia. At twenty-nine we decided we wanted to have a baby and that we wanted to raise that baby in the woods on the land where i was born. So addition number three: this time with a septic system and real electricity and some double-pane windows. We just got a dishwasher, which makes our house verifiably bourgeois. 

can you tell me about your writing and reading?  
Books. I love books, and read probably six in a month. I have an MFA in fiction writing and though I usually devour fiction, the last four months I've been after much more lyrical things, tied to what's real. My favorites right now are Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Gtting Lost, Megan Mayhew Bergman's Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Terry Tempest Williams' When Women Were Birds, and poetry, which I've been reading a lot of: Gary Snyder and Sharon Olds and Mary Ruefle, at the moment, all of whom feel like old friends who crawl into bed with me when I curl up to read. My favorite poem right now is Olds' New Mother, which if you've ever given birth, (which I'm about to, for the second time), might mean something to you. "The first time you're broken, you don't know you'll be healed again, better than before." 

how does music fit into your life?  tell me about your relationship with your grandmother and her music.  what music are you currently listening to?
Although I have many musician friends for whom music is the thing of their lives, it's not at all like that for me. In order to rid myself of the anxiety of wondering how I can make room for all my passions, I've starting thinking of my life as a quilt of sorts, which is, fittingly, a very feminine art form. Say, a log-cabin design, with repeated colors and patterns. Music is one of those patterns and colors in my life. Playing it around the house might be a deep gray color--I was raised in a family of folkies and so banjo and guitar around the wood stove feel like a cat purring on one's lap. Performing is the bright red one--the time when I get to don tight jeans and cowboy boots and eye-liner and leave my daughter with my parents and stand up under lights and feel radically young again. The rest of my life is quite earthy and domestic--a vegetable garden, mothering, cooking, writing from home during naps. For those reasons I desperately need those splashes of Red Heart Red. 

My grandmother, Margaret MacArthur, lived in the farmhouse up the road from our cabin and made a career for herself as a touring folk-singer. She was also a mother of five who grew a huge vegetable garden, baked twenty loaves of whole-wheat bread a week, and filled her cellar with canned goods each summer. Her life was a rich, tangled, idiosyncratic blossoming quilt too, and for that I'll always be grateful to her for paving the way. 
I'm currently listening to the music of friends, most of whom live in faraway cities. I miss them and being around communities of musicians, so I keep finding myself listening to their tunes: Birdie Busch, Sam Amidon, Jack Ohly, Soltero, Dr. Dog, The Buried Beds...I could go on. 

what makes you happy? what makes you sad?
The indomitable spirit of my daughter makes me unbearably happy. As she and I like to say to one another, "It's just too much! I just love you too much!" Spending time alone also makes me happy. Without those punctuations of time where I can sit and think and write and create I go crazy and get flustered and turn sad. Which I guess answers your next question. The state of the world also makes me unbearably sad. Which is one of the reasons I decided to have children; I needed a way to not sit around being sad all the time. 

what are your idiosyncrasies?  what makes you you? 
It might be better if my husband answered this one, but I'll try. My grandmother, the folk singer, has a heart-shaped pink bathtub jacuzzi-style bathtub in the upstairs bathroom of her muted, antiques-filled 1803 farmhouse. That bathtub has always exemplified, to me, the wonderful idiosyncracies of her untamable heart. I have a claw foot bathtub, which is not at all radical, but in my heart I still dream of being a hairdresser in a trailer in the desert somewhere, and that dream is essential to my understanding of what makes me me. 

Want to learn more about Robin and Liane?
Listen to Robins' music at Red Heart the Ticker
Read her blog at Woodbird
Check out Liane's cool Etsy shop and come back soon for a follow up interview with her on this series of SWEET SPOT HOME. Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Q & A with Gabby Bernstein!

Q and A with Gabrielle Bernstein, Author of May Cause Miracles

Hello dear ones! I would like to introduce you Gabrielle Bernstein, manifestation guru and author of May Cause Miracles. I first learned of Gabby via Marie Forleo and was impressed with her on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. She's offering a great deal right now which includes getting a FREE group-coaching course  in December on the topic of manifesting. You can attend the live event in NY, on-line or on the phone.  I'll be there virtually! 

Many of you know that I practice manifestation in my own life, and I thought I'd share some insights from Gabby in this interview and video above.  What rings true for me is this- manifestation is a subtle energy and really all you have to do is start seeing yourself where you want to be- which means you have to believe you can have the things you desire. What's important in this process is having the "right" desires, so if you are manifesting for the higher good for you, your family, your community and the universe- you can't go wrong. Enjoy the Q & A!

Q – You are a self-proclaimed manifesting maven. Can you demystify this topic for us?

Gab- We are always manifesting. Each thought we have creates an energy flow within and around our physical being. This energy attracts its likeness. So if you’re thinking, “I suck,” then your energy kinda, well, sucks--and you attract sucky experiences.

The opposite experience occurs when you think high-level thoughts like, “I rock!” When you think and feel, “I rock,” you exude an energy of confidence and in turn attract great experiences into your life. Each thought you have informs your energy, and your energy manifests into your experiences. Your thoughts and energy create your reality.

Q – You talk about manifesting mishaps. Can you tell us more about this.

Gab - Manifestation has become a buzzword lately. Though it’s totally awesome that the Law of Attraction is now trendy, it also can be a bit misleading for folks who are unwilling to do the heavy lifting. If you truly want to use your energetic power to manifest greatness, you must clear all that blocks you from believing in your greatness.

A Course in Miracles teaches that on some level, you’ve asked for everything that happens in your life. Your intentions create your reality. There’s no need to beat yourself up: simply recognizing how your low-level thoughts negatively affect your life is the first powerful step toward changing your experiences. Begin your manifesting process by getting honest about how your low-level thoughts, energy and feelings of disbelief block you from receiving what you desire. Once you get clear about the blocks, you can begin to clean them up to clear space for positive manifestations to occur.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweet DIY Gifts for Under $5!

Do you like receiving handmade gifts?

I do! Some of my favorite things are made by friends, each one telling a little story- like a ceramic bird that rests on my fireplace or an embroidered tea towel that I made into a cafe style curtain. Each handmade gift is a little treasure. Sure, making things takes time but adds so much value, not to mention it's often budget friendly~

Maybe it's the cold weather moving in, but I've found myself in a very crafty mood in the last few weeks. It started with a hand sewn patch for a baby blanket, which inspired me to make some new napkins in time for Thanksgiving, which led to an insatiable desire to decoupage!

My plan is to make a variety of yummy sweets and fill these boxes for a little holiday joy-making. I'm always looking for nice containers for gifts of all kinds and decided to try making my own. This way, it's like receiving two gifts since the box itself can be used for other purposes. I also like the fact that you don't have to wrap it, and there's much less waste involved.

For this project, I chose sturdy cardboard boxes with lids and wooden boxes, with a few little wooden purses for children. Both the boxes and the wooden containers cost between $1-$4 a piece at Michaels, although an old hat or cigarette box would be cool to use, too. I purchased sheets of craft paper at Micheals on sale for only 16 cents- making this project very easy on the old pocketbook. Children's art, old maps, wallpaper, and even fabric would work as well. I also incorporated some of my art and my daughter's art into these pieces because the stuff is too precious to throw away, yet we have mounds of it!

These little gems are super easy to make. Just grab your box, glue the paper and use Modge Podge (which you can get at any craft store) and gently brush over the whole thing to complete. A medium container of Modge Podge is about $8, which goes a long way. But, if you want to get super thrifty, you can make your own glue like we did.

This Homemade Glue Recipe is just made of flour, water, sugar and vinegar. There's no chemicals, and you can even eat it (don't recommend it, but OK for small children who tend to want to taste everything!) We used the homemade glue to glue the paper to the box, then used a light layer of Modge Podge over the top to keep it sealed. You can choose glossy or matte finish.

Now we just need to make the cookies- any favorites recipes you'd like to share?
xo- Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What are you THANKFUL for?

Giving Thanks.
What are you thankful for?
I'm thankful for the power to create my own reality.
I'm thankful for beauty.
I'm thankful for bubble bath.
My daughter.
Soul sisters.

What are you thankful for?

Photo courtesy of The Sweet Occasion 
Photo by Elle James

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Decorate Workshop by Holly Becker

Happy to receive my copy of Decorate Workshop by beloved blogger and stylist Holly Becker! I've written about Holly and her work a lot on this blog because:

1. I love her style and her books. 
2. I've taken a couple of her Blogging Your Way classes and learned so much. 
3. I love her personal story: it inspires me to see how Holly is following her dreams. 
On my shelf
So, you can imagine that when her second book arrived, I was quite excited and couldn't wait to pour a cup of tea and settle in! It's called Decorate Workshop and although it's paper back, it's still quite hefty with over 200 pages of gorgeous photography by Debi Treloar. This book is different from her first book Decorate because it's more of a step by step guide to help you move away from the book and actually pick a project to work on. There are 8 steps to help you get in touch with your creative nature and express yourself. I am very drawn to this concept. I am intrigued with how people decorate their homes and love to explore friends' homes to get a better glimpse of who they are, where they've been and how they choose to express themselves through their decor. Of course it's an ongoing process and by no means does your home "make you who you are," but it certainly is fun to see what people choose to display in their homes and how they represent themselves. People have told me that my home is really "me" and I take that as a compliment since it is my intention to reflect who I am in all aspects of my life, including my nest.

Holly recommends that you use this book as an "interactive workshop" and after having taken her classes and listened to her podcasts, I can really hear her voice as I read. There are spaces in the book to make lists, write down inspirations and jot down ideas in each chapter. Holly encourages the reader to write in the book, which I've never done in any decor book, but I found it was quite fun to write my name in the book and begin a sort of journaling process. 
My favorite sections are the first two- Seek INSPIRATION and Find your PERSONAL STYLE. I like Holly's prompts such as  "List 5 cities that you adore and detail why" or "My favorite places to visit are..." 
Another bonus is that we get to see Holly's home as she explains her creative process with decorating her own personal space. 
 Less is more when it comes to a child's room
Learn how to make a mood board to catalog and guide your inspirations
The patchwork tile floors, dangling lights and vintage cabinet make this
kitchen stand out from the norm.
Go ahead, write in it!
Soothing neutrals
A perfect example of how vintage can look polished and clean,
with just the right amount of texture and nostalgia.
A vintage medicine cabinet in the kitchen adds character
I'm probably on step 3 right now, "Identify your project". Although I've put a lot of time into personalizing my home, I still have grand plans to remodel my kitchen, decorate my office and update all the bedrooms. Yikes, sounds like a lot of work! Yet, Holly's right, your home is always a work in progress, but having a guide like this makes it more fun than work~

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