40% off your Mama Mandolin purchase! (and a chance to win!)

Happy Black Friday, y'all! I personally don't partake in the deals at the store, I prefer to do my shopping online. I don't handle crowds very well. I hope you're all finding some great deals today!

In honor of the holidays, now through Monday I'm offering 40% off your order in the Mama Mandolin etsy shop using the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. I've added a few more blankets (and a few more this afternoon) and more bow ties.
And another huge announcement-all bow ties are now available in clip on versions. This means the bow ties can now be for ANY man in your life, little or big! SO excited for this new option. I've had many requests for the clip on bow ties, I'm glad it's now an option for all of you. 

Want to know something even better? With your purchase over the next 3 days, you're entered in a drawing to win this amazing baby quilt made from scraps of all of my favorite Mama Mandolin blankets. My friend and fellow etsy seller Kristine from Josh and Paise made the quilt and we're so excited to offer this prize for you! 

a little bit of failure, a lot of learning: my first craft show

This past weekend the big day finally arrived-I attended my first craft show as an exhibitor. Y'all- I was so pumped. Getting ready for this thing was the most work I'd ever done for my little business. Months of planning, researching, and of course making. I haven't sewn so much in my life. I had no idea how big the show would be and the last thing you want to do is run out of product.

The show didn't go exactly as well as I'd hoped. I went in with really low expectations. I told myself I'd be happy to make back the $100 I paid to register. That was it. Anything else would be gravy. 

My friend Kristine has been awesome through the whole process, nice to bounce ideas off of, helps me brainstorm my crazy ideas and has been some really sweet manpower behind all of the sewing work I've had to do. She and I arrived right when the doors were opened so we could have the full 2 hours to get everything prepared without rushing. It took us about an hour and a half to get everything just right with the display. And let me tell you, my table was pretty damn awesome. 

I paid more to have a booth on the perimeter so we could have both electricity and no one behind us. I was right next to the restroom (lots of traffic) and near the entrance. I put lights all over the the table, raised a vertical sign and some curtains and completely transformed just one little 8 foot table into my little world. I'm so proud of this table. 

I made sure to make my products touchable and raised up off the table. I wanted the booth to be warm and inviting and to highlight what I'd worked so hard on. I had packaging ready, business cards out, a mailing list sign up sheet to help convert potential in person customers into online ones. Above the bow ties I made signs letting people know WHY they need my product- a list of times/places bow ties are great for (family photos, parties, weddings, school photos, etc). I even printed a cute photo of the boys, if not just to show them off :)

I tried my very best to invite people into this online world I've made my home. In this aspect, I think it was a total win. My table, my product, my marketing...it rocked. I got SO many compliments over the course of the day about how beautiful my booth was and how cute the product is. Numerous exhibitors came over to tell me how much they loved the set up. 

However I learned one tough lesson this weekend, no matter how pretty the package, sometimes people just don't want to buy it. I made $20. 2 sales. 2 sales on these gift tag kits that I'd actually just decided to throw in 2 days before the fair. To say it was a little bit of a bummer would be an understatement. Selling something you've put your whole heart puts us in a very vulnerable position. Online you don't exactly see the people passing you by, which makes the experience a little more bearable. In person, you get little twinges of hope each time someone lingers at your table a little longer, studying the things you've made. You try to strike the perfect balance of being friendly but not pushy, reading each person as best you can, trying to make a sale without making it look like you're trying to make a sale.

As much as I'd like to wave the white flag of defeat-I'm more determined than ever. I've always been someone who when told I can't do something, or if I've failed, to have even more fuel added to my fire. I know it wasn't my product, or set up or me. It was the fair. It just didn't feel like a good fit for me. I know I'll find my place over time, and this has been a great learning experience that I can take with me to the next show. 

a post with no photos.

It's Tuesday at 4:38pm and I just made and took a sip of some freshly brewed coffee + peppermint mocha creamer. Not the sugar or fat free kind, that stuff just doesn't feel right. Full fat, full cream, give me all the freaking sugar, peppermint mocha creamer. I use a plastic bendy straw to stir it, and I drink it so slow that it'll be cool enough to drink out of the straw before I can finish.

The boys just woke up from their nap and are happily playing in the living room. They brought every. single. blanket. from their room to the living room couch and are laying there together, pretending to sleep and then waking each other up. It's only a matter of seconds before this seemingly perfect play is stolen by tug of war over blankets. Then there's screaming, hurt feelings, scolding about fighting from mom and then cuddles until everyone's ego is built back to normal. 

This morning I hardly knew what day it was. Is this my life now? That I'm forgetting the day of the week? My back aches, my lower back that is. Sometimes I'm not sure if it's my slipped disk ever-so politely reminding me that I need to work my ass out, or if it's just that time of the month. You know that time. When your body gives you a big ole middle figner and does all it's reproductive maintenance shit that is really just pointless at this point in time. Why, Mother Nature? Why? When you have a million things to do but your hormones keep slapping your patience around and your outbursts are worse . Sorry boys, I'll freak out after I've told only told you once- because I can't control my rage at absolutely nothing. Don't look at me like I'm a psycho mom. Ok, yeah I'm being kind of a freak. 

I sit here writing this at a table scattered with sewing to-do's. My first ever craft show is this weekend and I'm going in somewhat blind. I've never been to this show, have no idea what to expect. I like to live life on the edge. This also means I've been in some sort of sewing and creative haze of madness for the past two weeks, trying to maintain some sort of balance. I can do this, I tell myself. Only a few more days and then you can rest. But I won't rest. It's the holidays! I'll rest when I run out of coffee.

It IS Tuesday, right? 

Stitchfix #5

Stitchfix #5 arrived! 

If you haven't heard of Stitchfix here are the deets: 
1) Go the link, sign up and fill out all the info they ask for about your personal tastes, they'll hook you up with a stylist who'll send you a box with 5 items that they think will look great on you, based on what you tell them.
2) Pay a $20 styling fee which includes the box shipped to you and goes toward your purchase should you choose to keep anything in the box. 
3) Get your box (which you can set up on auto for once a month or schedule them as you wish) and try on your items! You have 3 days to decide and there's a free shipping bag included to send back what you don't want.

That's it. I seriously love it. Here's what I got this month. And this month I went a little bit out of my comfort zone and tried to dress each piece with what I had in my closet. You know, make it an actual outfit. I'm not a fashion blogger or even that particularly well of a dresser lol but though I'd give it a try!

1. Caramela- Benfield Heathered Drape Front Cardigan
I apparently didn't wear this right, I guess it opens up even more on the top (or so the photos say that come along with each piece). This is so comfortable, love the color. It's a keeper. Also good for fat days and Thanksgiving.
Outfit details: hat- Urban Outfitters // Jeans - Levi's // Boots - Minneotonka 

2. Margaret M - Kayla Skinny Jean
My first time ever getting pants. I was a little wary on signing up to get them but these are awesome. A little more expensive than I pay for pants but they are so stinking comfortable and stretchy. And although I thought they'd show every lump and bump on my thighs, nope! They're amazing. 
Outfit details: Sweatshirt and shoes Target // scarf - I have no idea lol

3. Chris & Carol- Eugene Striped Button Detail Knit Shirt
I like the length of this. I like the stripes, I'm just never quite sure about the should stripes that go horizontally over my shoulders. I don't know why I'm so particular about this. I just am. However, the shirt is SO comfortable. There's also a couple of little buttons on the shoulder which add a nice detail.
Outfit details: scarf - Kohls // Jeggings - Old Navy // Shoes - Ross

4. 19 Cooper - Cathleen Split-Neck Tulip-Sleeve Blouse
Love, love this shirt. Gathered arms, there's a v-neck under the scarf, nice and flowy. Definitely keeping it. 
Outfit details: Scarf- World Market // Corduroy Pants- Kohl's (Lauren Conrad) // Shoes - Aldo 

5. Kensie - Kellam Colorful Yarn Knit Sweater
I WANT to love this. But up close, the colors just remind me of Google colors haha! Or it's just a little too chunky? I don't know. It's comfortable, so that's a plus. Just not sure about it. 
Outfit details: Jeggings and boots- Old Navy // Headband (although you can't really see it) Acute Designs

Want to give it a try? There's nothing to lose, even if you only do it once, it's a super fun experience. GO HERE to read more and sign up!

thoughts on blogging.

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile but haven't really known where to start. I guess I'll just let it all out as it comes to me, and nope it all makes sense in the end.

I feel like this blog is slowly slipping away from me. Or maybe not that, but it's losing direction. I've felt it over the past year, it's just seemed like more of a burden or just one more thing on my to-do list that I felt obligated to do. I've lost a little bit of the spark that I once had for documenting life. And that's the thing these days-if you don't document it, did it ever really happen?

Blogging has changed so, so much in the past couple of years. I truly believe it started when Pinterest got popular. Suddenly, all blogs were using Pinterest to compete, to get traffic, it all just got completely out of control. So many blogs have turned into recycled DIY's. For awhile I thought maybe I should jump on that train, too. I love love making things myself, I though maybe I should share it with the internet so they can make these things, too...or be inspired to try to be a little crafty in their free time. But then everyone started doing it and when I did it I just worried it didn't seem sincere. 

Want to know what sucks the most? Pinterest has become my #1 source of traffic. Seriously. I made a a couple of curly hair tutorials before Pinterest even existed and now 2 years later I'm getting daily comments and emails on them. This post? Has gotten over 2 million page views. All from a website I feel pretty much changed blogging as we know it. If I were a good blogger I'd think about ways to get new readers from that traffic. But I just don't care anymore.

I don't have the time or motivation to take and edit photos of my life and share them everyday, but it seems more and more these days nobody will read anything you write if it's not accompanied by 100 perfectly posed and edited photos. Crazy, huh? I get the most interaction and comments on posts where I have photos, where the content is mainly photos. 

So where do I go from here? I don't know. I can't give up this blog completely, I also like to use this blog to drive some of you all to my etsy shop, which is what I really love to do. I don't know where this blog is going, I haven't known for awhile. (As you can tell by my less than consistent posting schedule.) I know I have a voice, and a story and if nobody wants to read it, that's fine with me because you wouldn't believe how much time I've spent going through old posts, remembering and re-living things I thought I'd forgotten- especially the blur that was the first year of motherhood.

I don't know how to end this post, I wish I had a witty and uplifting line to leave you with, but I don't. I just needed to get some of these thoughts out, hoping it might help shine a light on the direction I'm supposed to go. I do want to thank all of you who've been here with me through it all, knowing there's at least one or two people out there who are listening gives me a little bit of comfort. 

time to grow out the hairs. it's going to get nice and awkward.

Welp. It's time to start growing my hair out. I'm really starting to miss my curls. After about a year of the pixie cut, it's time to move on to something new. I've been somewhat dreading this stage since before I even cut my hair, but thanks to Pinterest I have a little bit of hope for the coming months.

Here is some pixie grow out inspiration I'm hoping will help motivate me to keep going when all I'll want to do is chop off my seemingly endless mullet stage.

I mean, Michelle Williams pretty much always does hair right. 

Um, this is kind of where I'm at now, so WHY DON'T I LOOK LIKE HER? 
Although this is cute..and probably where I'm headed next, I have a big head. And way more hair than her. I will look like a lightbulb. Going to be hot.
Once the sides (and everything else) grows a bit longer. 

Have you ever tried to grow out a pixie? How awkward was it. Have you ever tried to grow your hair out in general? It's always awkward.

Sleeping Hubs.

It's no secret that my husband is borderline narcoleptic. It's not that he always sleeps, it's that I always catch him sleeping, and that he can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. He's very much a night owl and I honestly don't know how he functions staying up super late into the wee-hours of the morning. The best thing is, he can sleep for 8 hours at night and still take naps during the day. He's like a newborn baby. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see he's developed quite the following - I've been taking photos of him sleeping for over a year...and yes, he's cool with it. He usually just chuckles and shakes his head when I show him the photos. 

I thought I'd highlight a couple of my faves.

Man, they sleep so much when they're little don't they?

Free Customizable Cleaning Schedule

Growing up, my mom instilled in me a strong sense of pride for one's home. From a young age I was always asked to help with cleaning the house. On weekends I'd have to help dust, vacuum, clean windows, do laundry. I didn't really love doing it, but what kid would rather be cleaning than playing? However, now that I have my own home, that sense of needing to take care of my nest has been ever present.
Sure, everyone wants a clean home but at as we get older and life gets more hectic, it feels like this never-ending battle in which we're never ahead. For some reason, my bran won't turn off if I feel there's this list of things I need to do that I don't want to forget. Enter- the cleaning schedule. I felt a little embarrassed at first for even wanting to make one. I mean, how OCD can I get? Is it really THAT big of a deal that I need a schedule? Then I realized, if it'll help me not be so freaked out in my brain about everything I feel like I need to get done, than who the heck cares.

That being said-I wanted to share my cleaning schedule with all of you! I even added a to-do list to the side for you to add anything else you want to get done each week. If you print this out and put it in a picture frame, you can write in dry-erase on the front to cross things off your list and add to the to-do side. 

 Click here to save and print for yourself OR you can also download and edit it in photoshop! 
I've been working on this schedule for months, editing it when I felt it wasn't doable or adding things when I felt it was important. I won't say I keep up with this perfectly; sometimes I'm days behind on a few things. The most helpful thing is that I have a visual list, I know what to expect and I have it planned out. I'm learning I don't have to do it all at once and that I'm so much more at ease when I have the comfort of knowing it will get done and I have a plan.

I'm posting every day this month as part of National Blog Post Month or NaBloPoMo you can follow along with everyone participating here

how the heck is it November already?

Ok so I've already failed at National Blog Post Month. I missed yesterday...and I'm super late today. BUT in my defense, I have 2 sick children. And then my husband came home from work all sniffly and sick. Today I couldn't do much other than sit with and love on my sick babies. It's only a matter of time before I catch the sickness, too.

Wait, how the heck is it November already? Summer is over? What is going on?

Ok. What I really wanted to talk about today was what's going to happen at the end of this month. I'm going to be a vender in my very first craft show! Jinglefest is happening in San Jose and I'm going to be selling my handmade goods. I have no idea what I'm in for, I really don't know much about the show or size. Just going to cross my fingers and hope for a good turn out.

In the meantime, I've been making up a storm. Not only will I have the craft show, but Black Friday and the holiday shopping season immediately following. My friend Kristine came over this weekend and we had a 4 hour sew-athon. She's so awesomely volunteered to help me with this whole thing and it's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. 

I've started making some glass pendant necklaces, something I've been wanting to do for quite awhile. I'm hoping to have them in the shop soon for all of you! I mean, check out how awesome these are...
Teen crushes anyone? Once I got started, I couldn't stop. Oh, the memories. Look at Leo. He's so pretty.

I'm posting every day this month as part of National Blog Post Month or NaBloPoMo you can follow along with everyone participating here

Halloween 4.0 #NaBloPoMo

So I totally have a bunch of Halloween photos on my camera that I've been meaning to edit (just like all of our vacation photos) but let's face it, it may be a week or so before I get to it. As promised, I wanted to show off a photo or two from our Halloween. 

A few days ago I posted a Halloween flashback of all the costumes I'd made for the boys over the years. I threw together the last minute bat costume for a party I thought we were going to but we ended up not able to go to it, so I at least got a photo of the boys in the costume. 

I mean...how cute are they? I bought $5 black shirts from Target, hand stitched some orange flannel I had on to the front. The wings are made of black jersey fabric, also something from my fabric stash. My friend Kristine made the ears, by sewing fabric to cardboard and then we just glued them to a headband. $10 total for 2 costumes! And although this isn't what they wore on actual Halloween, I fulfilled my inner need to create costumes for them every year just like my mom did for me every year.

For the boys Halloween costume (the original one I'd ordered) I picked Mickey Mouse for both of them. Mainly because they don't really get Halloween yet, but if they could I think this is what they would have picked themselves. AND, it's not too much of a costume so I didn't have to fight to get them to wear it.
And I dressed as sugar skull-faced Minnie Mouse. 
I practiced the makeup a few days before Halloween to make sure the boys weren't terrified of me on the actual day. They stared at me a little bit, and at one point Julian handed me a washcloth and told me to "wipe it off" but for the most part, they were more confused than scared. On Halloween night, they were totally fine.

I even got Chikezie to wear one of the boys' Batman masks. Even though I'm sure he secretly wanted to or probably does when we're all asleep. 

The boys did awesome with trick or treating. I'd talked to them about it for a few days before, telling them we wear costumes and go to the houses on our street. We'll ring their doorbell and they'll give us candy. The boys seemed pretty cool with this idea but when we got the first house, they had no idea what was going on. I coached them through it...and slowly each house got a little better. By the last few houses, Isaiah was going first, ringing the doorbell while Julian knocked furiously lol. Oh, and sweet Julian! Poor kid had a fever and he still did awesome. 

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween and are slowly coming down from your sugar high!

I'm posting every day this month as part of National Blog Post Month or NaBloPoMo you can follow along with everyone participating here

spending large sums of money in an obnoxious period of time. #nablopomo

You may have seen around the blogosphere that this month (although every month kind of is) National Blog Post Month or NaBloPoMo where bloggers commit to blogging every. single. day. for an entire month. It may not seem like too big of a deal but dude, writing every day takes some dedication. Especially when you have a life, and a family and you know...things

I've thought about doing it in the past, and maybe unofficially tried to do it thinking I'd get through the month and then fail like, a week in. But I officially put my blog on the blogroll and I'm going to do it! Said every blogger ever.

Now, because only in my wildest dreams could I come up with enough quality content to fill an entire months worth of posts, I'm going to be using some of the prompts given just to get me going, get me in the writing mode. You can find them all here.

Today's prompt:
If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

I'm sure we've all dreamed at some point in our lives what we'd  do with a butt load of money. We talk about all the things we'd buy, the things we'd pay off, the places we'd go. But a million dollars to spend in one day? Whoa. Talk about stressful. I'm going to go with my very first reactions/thoughts about this because that's what I'd be doing if it really happened.

1. I'd pay off any remaining debt we have.
2. Call my friend Jenn in Portland and tell her to find us a sweet house we could buy that day.
3. Pay off all debt of my parents and in-laws.
4. Give $100,000 to each of our parents. 
5. Buy us a new car. 
6. Realistically, if I had to SPEND all of this money by the end of the day, I'd use the rest of the day to drive to the city and just walk around handing out sums of money to random people. I'd first ask them what they'd do if someone gave THEM a bunch of money. There's nothing else I could do in one day that would make me feel as good as that. We'd be debt free with a new car and a house in our favorite place...I'd love to spread the good luck on to everyone else. Being able to see someone's face as I handed them 5-10-15 thousand dollars? That would be better than keeping all of the money to myself. I'd never look back on my life and wish I would have done something different with the money.

What about you all? What would you do with the money?

If you want to participate in NaBloPoMo, you have until Nov 5 to sign up!