Paper jewelry, and also another reason I love my job.

As I'm gearing up to post my first giveaway EVER (so excited!), I wanted to share the spoils of our last giveaway over at the TomKat Studio. One VERY lucky winner walked away with a $100 credit for Blush Envy, where she sells amazing jewelry made out of paper.

You heard me right. PAPER. 

I didn't believe it when I read that she made her pieces from such a fragile textile, BUT THEN. I went over to Kim's house last week and got this lovely PINK surprise that I haven't been able to take off my finger since!

IMG_1628
IMG_1632
IMG_1636 

Check out that packaging- gorgeous! Many thanks to Brandy for thinking of me when she sent the lovely goodies over to Kim!

Hop on over to her shop and show her some love by purchasing one of her handmade treasures! Or feel free to pick a fave and put it on your wish list. Wouldn't these rings make lovely bridesmaid's gifts or a fun gift for a mom-to-be to make her feel pretty? No doubt my dainty and timeless piece will be handed down to LJ when she's old enough to know not to put it in her mouth or play with it in the mud. In other words, she can wear it on her wedding day 🙂

Advertisements

True Things.

Love this song and think this is such a cute video! Some fans of JJ Heller made it and I found it on her site today. I adore her music and think her daughter, Lucy, is the sweetest little peanut! I love her blog because she loves to sew and so do I, and she shares the cutest projects for little girls as well as home decor ideas. Music, sewing and decorating… it's the ultimate trifecta for this fellow mama.

Using the F-word with abandon. Or, my blog sucks.

K, so I'm a week behind on starting this (if you know me, this should not be shocking AT ALL), but I'm stoked to say that I've joined the ProBlogger Summer Challenge with the SITS Girls Community on BlogFrog! Assignment one: Develop an Elevator Pitch.

Let's say you're stuck in an elevator with someone who you're DYING to connect with. You have ten seconds to entice them to give you a second thought beyond the elevator ride. What do you tell this person?

Dooce, the mother of all mom bloggers, was my inspiration when I started blogging in 2007 at a different time in my life, when I didn't even have the mommy-blogger thing going on yet. I was able to write relatively funny posts back then, but apparently one of the side effects of being a new mom zapped me of any ability to be funny. My mojo grew legs and moved to Timbuktu because IT WAS NOT READY TO BE A DADDY YET. (I have yet to receive one child support check from that lousy S.O.B. Mojo? YOU OWE ME.) And now? Mom bloggers are a dime a dozen, if we're gonna be honest. On the flip-side, it's emerged as a bona-fide profession. So what makes me stand out? Why did I start this little blog in the first place?

The truth? Because a year ago, when I learned I was going to be a mom, I didn't even know what to say. And apparently I lost my sense of humor. So I started a blog.

Made perfect sense to my pregnancy-clouded brain.

It was a place for me to process this whole mom-to-be thing. And write about how all I wanted to do was barf. And while I have friends and family who read it faithfully, I originally intended to build a readership outside of that sphere, and I never did. Needless to say, the lack of comments doesn't make me feel very interesting. Ha!

(That's your cue to leave a comment. In case you were confused about what to do next.)

Truly, my tag line sums up my original purpose nicely: "When motherhood and all its joys catch you completely by surprise." It's been there since the beginning, and it hasn't changed. Everything about the experience of becoming a mom has taken me by surprise. And I have discovered things along the way that would be helpful to other moms who are only beginning this journey, and I want to learn from others who have been where I am going. So if I could expand it to a ten-second pitch- if I were in an elevator with Heather (maybe someday we'll be on a first-name basis. OK, maybe not)- here's how that conversation would go:

(Pretend with me for a second that she would actually be interested in anything I have to say.)

The Pitch:

Me: "Hi Heather, you probably get this all the time, but I adore your blog and the fact that you shamelessly write out the f-word like your grandma isn't reading your blog, even though she probably is. I'm a mom blogger too, but I don't use the f-word."

Heather: "Another mom blogger? NO WAY. What's your spin on motherhood? And how do you NOT use the f-word? It is a rite-of-passage in the mommy-blogger world, after all."

Me: "It's called Baby Steps to Mom: When motherhood and all its joys catch you completely by surprise. I share stories, tips and fun finds from one novice mom to another. And I don't want to be judged for using the f-word, even though I'm perfectly OK with being judged by my breastfeeding choices."

Heather: "It's pure genius, I declare! On that note, I'll tell you what. If I had a nickel for every mommy blogger I met in an elevator, I'd be a $%@&ING MILLIONAIRE. Have a nice day!"

See? I still can't bring myself to use the F-word with the abandon she does. Not even in a fake conversation where I'm quoting a fake Heather Armstrong. Maybe if I start dropping f-bombs on a regular basis, I will build an interested readership that leaves TONS of comments on all my wit and charm! But, let's be serious, people. I'm not ready to do that.

My grandma actually does read this blog.

Dallas Shaw Paperdolls.

A few months ago, my friend Alex hooked me up with Dallas Shaw, a Delaware-based fashionista who also happens to be a fantastic artist. Dallas was looking for someone who had a cute nursery to feature her new "Paperdoll" artwork. Alex referred her to the feature on Linnea's room on Project Nursery, and Dallas contacted me to see if I would be willing to take a photo of the artwork in the space in exchange for a customized print. Linnea's happened to feature her name- hand written- and her birth month.

IMG_0242
 

IMG_0237

IMG_0250
See? Gorgeous!

Be sure to visit the Dilly Dallas blog for fashion and design inspiration as well as her Etsy shop for her prints, original artwork and design sketches.

Thanks, Dallas, for the beautiful artwork- it is perfect in my little girl's nursery!

The One With the House.

I am loving my friend Katie's new blog, The One With the House. This dear woman moved back to Portland a couple of years ago after a four-year stint in sunny Arizona. She recently bought her first home and her blog is documenting the progress. I have to say… I'm a little jealous. Scratch that- totally jealous! What a fun project! 

Katie's house

Not only is she gutting and completely remodeling an old home in one of my favorite cities, she knows how to GARDEN. And she'll have her own CHICKENS. Yep. I adore that about her- she's always been so crafty and DIY and I wish she lived here still so I can learn awesome things from her! However, I think if we tried to keep chickens in this heat, they would roast alive in our backyard. Save us a step, I suppose.

Anyway, I just wanted to share her link because it's so much fun and I'm totally missing her these days. She's been there for some of my favorite times of my 20s, and I can't wait to go visit her so I can catch a glimpse into this amazing life she's building for herself!

Dang it… all of my closest friends have moved away from us. Doesn't change that they are my closest friends, but… perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if we up and moved to Nashville after all. I'd just have to convince my family to come along too.

Naughty Blogger.

I am a naughty, naughty blogger. Good bloggers stay on top of posting. Good bloggers have something interesting to say, and the best have something interesting to say every day. I have determined that I haven't been keeping up with posting regularly because I haven't led a very exciting life lately. I started this blog hoping that becoming a mom would provide me with a plethora of hilarious, endearing stories to share with my readers.

But alas, my child is so perfect, I have nothing exciting to write about.

So what if I'm biased… and kidding. But she eats well. She's gaining weight at a normal rate, finally. She sleeps ALL THE WAY through the night. She coos, and smiles, and almost laughs, and today she rolled onto her back from her tummy for the first time. TV enthralls her (unfortunately), and I stay home with her most of the week. I take her everywhere I go and she is a little angel pretty much all the time. When she's asleep, or generally content, I get some work done. All in all, a pretty tame existence. I have an amazing kid.

P1000544
P1000548
P1000552
P1000556

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Bloggy Boot Camp with my talented and world-famous client Kim of the TomKat Studio. My head has been swimming with ideas ever since, and so has Kim's – so much that we're closing up shop next week so she can get some ideas implemented and the brainstorming can commence. It was pretty spectacular being surrounded by ladies who get what it's like to be a mom, to want to contribute to the family income, to use business-savvy and social skill to propel ideas forward. We learned about Web design, PR, SEO, small business, monetizing, and being authentic. It was fantastic. It was inspiring to meet like-minded women who support each other; not compete with each other. How refreshing for a profession that has the potential to be incredibly catty.

I have to admit though, that for a novice like me, it was a tad bit intimidating. I have tons of ideas that I've wanted to see come to life, but the adjustment of new motherhood and working from home has been tougher than I thought. It's not that life is so hard or complicated; it's just that I don't have it down to a science yet. While everyone there was super welcoming, it definitely was hard to feel like part of the "club" because I didn't feel like I had much to offer. These ladies are so talented and seem to have this ability to juggle responsibility that I can barely wrap my mind around. But it was so good to see firsthand that yes… it can be done.

Life as a new mom has been incredible in ways that I couldn't have even imagined. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I can't complain about having such a perfect child. Ha! I'll be paid back a hundred fold for such a comment, I'm sure (The tween years? Honestly). I mean, seriously, writing about how Linnea has been cooing happily on the couch next to me while I get some work done is only exciting… oh… never. I'm not saying I'll never write about her- she is my muse, after all – I just have other things to share here as well. I'm working on a list of topics and a schedule to follow, and I can't wait to get organized and share them with you.

On another note, I just finished the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Don Miller, and also had the chance to hear him speak at our church a few weeks ago, and it was a timely, much-needed message for not just me but my husband Cody as well. We're working on our "What If" lists and are determined to live a better story (you can read his here). If I've learned anything in recent months, it's that life is short, and precious. Cheers to making the most of it!

Why I am SO EXCITED: The TomKat Studio.

As you may know, when I found out I was expecting Linnea, I set out on a mission to start a home-based business as a Virtual Assistant and developed No Strings Virtual Solutions. As is the case with most business ventures, it took some time to develop and get off the ground, and before I knew it, Linnea was nearly here and my world was taken over by all things baby. That's the beauty of owning your own biz- you can prioritize your life appropriately and focus on what's most important! I had a couple of project-based clients that I helped with the launch of their Web sites and blogs, but I put anything beyond that on hold as I prepared to become a mom. 

The TomKat Studio

My hubby went back to work on Wednesday, and I was finally settling into somewhat of a rhythm with the little one to where I would be able to start building my business and taking on clients again. That's when I saw a post on Twitter from the TomKat Studio (whose blog I've been following since I saw her on the cover of our local magazine, Go Gilbert! back in May) saying that she was seeking a virtual assistant for her paper and party business. Kim has THE CUTEST blog I've ever seen and it's clear that her business has taken off in recent months, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I even had friends who saw the post and sent it to me knowing I would love it. Imagine my excitement when she e-mailed me to let me know that I was her top choice! I mean, LOOK at her adorable creations!

The TomKat Studio

There are so many reasons I am so thrilled to work with her, besides the fact that she is one of the sweetest people I've ever talked to. She is immensely talented, creative and is genuinely living out her passion, and I love that kind of energy! Back when I started No Strings, my husband asked me what kind of clients I wanted to serve. I told him that I could work with almost anyone, but in a perfect world I would love to work with creative entrepreneurs- just like Kim! Her Web site was one I frequented when I needed inspiration and it also got me excited that I was having a little girl- bring on the pretty parties please! And lastly, that issue of Go Gilbert! is the only one I kept around the house because it was that article that inspired me to venture out on my own. It was only a few days after I read it that I found out I was expecting- and you can bet it gave me the confidence I needed that I could handle being an entrepreneur AND a good mom too!

The TomKat Studio

So who would have thunk that a couple of months after our little one was born that I would be working with the very person who inspired me to start my own business? It will never cease to amaze me the way that God orchestrates things in our lives. We NEVER know just how good His plan can be until we find ourselves in the midst of it! And I am sure there is so much more amazingness to come! For now, I am looking forward to helping this successful, creative business owner and fellow mom build her company and realize its full potential. Cheers to Kim and the TomKat Studio!

The TomKat Studio