Tuesday, April 28, 2015

be prepared

While driving today, I saw a sign that I had seen a hundred times before in various places: "Be Prepared to Stop." I knew then that I would be coming up on a part of the road that was under construction, and I may have to wait a bit before it was my turn to drive.

As I sat behind a few cars, waiting on the flaggers to let us through, I realized that the reason I felt calm in this situation rather than frustrated was because I had been prepared to stop. I knew that an obstacle to my drive was coming, and my heart was prepared to handle the inconvenience peacefully.

If only someone had waved one of those signs in front of my face when I was pregnant! Living with a small child is like driving on a road with construction every mile or so. You have to realize that it is temporary, and that growth will bring positive change.

In our house, the dishes are one of the major sources of stress and arguments. We do not have a dishwasher, and there are about a thousand things I'd rather do than spend time scrubbing food off of dishes. However, since I do stay home, I usually end up being the one responsible for dishes and most of the other household chores. Everly is not on board with this arrangement. She will happily play in her jumping gym for an hour while I sit beside her and do work or art, but if I am moving around the house and she is tired/grumpy/hungry, she will let me know until I come pick her up. This poses a problem when I am washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom. My hands are wet and soapy and I do not want to start over with a fresh batch of dishwater, but I put down the sponge, wipe off my hands, and hold my baby.

That's where I meet the Lord. He speaks to my Martha heart and shows me that all the work can wait while I stare at my sleeping baby's sweet cheeks as I rock her in the afternoon. The work is meant to enable this time. This little bouncing bundle of chubs is going to grow up into a young lady who is able to close her bedroom door and shut me out. I need to prepare myself when I am working to stop and rest with her, because it is temporary and priceless.

Now listen, I'm not advocating that you throw in the towel on your housework and watch Netflix with your baby all day. I'm telling you that the best houses are those that are lived in happily. As a stay at home parent, a working parent, or a work at home parent, know that this time in your life will be filled with roadblocks in the form of a needy little snuggler, and that it is good and right for the work to wait.

Be prepared to stop, and stop when the time is right.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

what women should do

The other day I was having breakfast with Everly at a local bagel place, and a group of sorority girls began smiling and waving at her. I thought nothing of it; she's a super cute baby and we get hounded everywhere we go.

Next thing I know, I'm overhearing a loud conversation about why none of those girls want to be me.

"I could never be a stay at home mom. They just like, clean and read a magazine."

(One girl starts acting like she's made of plastic, doing a princess wave, insinuating that stay at home moms are silly.)

I was shocked. They had just spoken to my sweet little girl, and here they are less than 10 feet away from me berating my choice of lifestyle. I posted about it on Facebook and got a huge response, and I realized that we have strong feelings in our society about What Women Should Do. We want to "have it all" and all is just too much for me.

what women should do (as society says)

wake up like this
be attractive
but not too slutty
catch a good man
but be independent
have a great career
have children
have a natural birth
but lose the baby weight in 6 weeks
feed them organic food that you grew without pesticides in your pinterest perfect garden
dress them in teeny designer outfits
avoid gluten, dairy, and sugar
but treat yoself with a frappe and pastry
have friends
keep your husband satisfied
make time for yourself
but also martyr yourself in the name of good parenting

And these are just the standards of the culture that I have chosen to participate in. All over this country, women find ways to judge each other based on what we do or don't do.

The standards are ridiculous and unattainable. We are basing our lives off of results rather than roots. The roots of a happy life are as follows:

1. Love yourself.
2. Love others.
3. Be around people who love you, and don't let the haters get you down.

By taking these three steps in order, all of the other things will follow.

three steps to being an awesome person

1. Love yourself:
Work out just because it makes you feel happy.
Treat yourself but eat healthy foods to take care of your body.
Believe in your dreams and follow them because you know you are worth it.
Take time to listen to your own heart and the Lord's heart for you, because they hold answers to many of the questions that stress you out.

2. Love others:
Kids will be fine if you make decisions with love and not fear. Don't worry about so much. Every single person you see around you was once a baby and they made it.
Spend time and energy with your husband.
Invest in your friendships. I feel like the investment is so underrated; we seem to think that meeting up for coffee once and not becoming instant bosom buddies is a failure on our part, but friendships take time and intention. 
*note: to properly love someone, you have to love yourself first. You want to give them the best in the world, so start believing that you are the best version of yourself and give them that.

3. Be around people who love you, and don't let the haters get you down.
If you surround yourself with people who love you, this becomes a cyclical list.

love yourself--> give love --> receive love --> realize just how worthy of love you are (answer: very worthy)--> love yourself more.

(don't let the haters get you down is self-explanatory.)

After all that, I feel like the biggest thing to takeaway from this incident is that you never know a mom's situation, and so should only provide support (as long as she's not hurting anyone.) When in doubt, just love.


I recently made the decision to take this blog ad-free, so I added a PayPal donate button to keep up the funding for this blog. I'm a busy mom-preneur and my hours are limited and valuable, so every penny helps further this blog and the words I have to say. Donate if you want to, don't donate if you don't want to, but know that it helps!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

bare necessities

Today was a tough one. Everly has been teething again, and I have put my foot down on sleep training and am being ruthless in not picking her up. Unfortunately, she's developed a hoarse voice from all the screaming, and it is so pitiful and cute that Everett can't stop himself from giving in to her demands. Needless to say, we're all exhausted. Everly and I spent today resting; walking down to our neighborhood's pond to watch the geese and get some vitamin D, and snuggling while watching Netflix and breastfeeding.

About an hour ago, however, I reached my limit of how long I could stay in my pjs. I don't know about everyone else, but I get so sick and lazy feeling if I don't get up and get ready for the day. To combat those feelings, I got dressed at 5 pm, did my hair and makeup, and cleaned a little with some nice smelling products like Mrs. Meyers. It took me only a few minutes to feel so much better, so I thought I'd share my essentials to a daily routine here.


(from left to right)

1. Hairspray-- I know I'm becoming a southern mama because I don't feel right unless my hair is fluffed and sprayed.

2. Dove dry spray (or any deodorant)-- I bought this on a whim when I was feeling like treating myself (oh how times have changed when $5 deodorant is treating yourself) and I love it.

3. Lipstick-- A swipe of a shade slightly darker than your natural lip color will leave you feeling refreshed and put together.

4. Tinted moisturizer-- For covering up dark circles and keeping my skin from flaking off (TMI maybe, but breastfeeding can be really dehydrating!)

5. Perfume-- I'm not gonna lie, I keep this by the door for last minute freshening.

You may have noticed how several of my picks have some sort of fragrance. That is not accidental. Motherhood can be very smelly.

tools of the trade

I posted a while back about the top pieces of baby gear that I recommended, but today I'm letting you in on the few essentials I need for my personal survival, self care, and general functionality.

(from left to right)

1. Markers/pens/pencils-- I write things down all the time. I need them to look pretty. I don't ever carry a pen if I don't like how it writes; what's the point in providing your own writing utensil if it's not attractive to revisit?

2. Phone-- I know, I know. iMommying is not the best route. However, there are a few apps I use on a regular basis that I need for sanity purposes:
  • Afterlight-- for editing photos on the go; makes my instagram look pretty.
  • Chatbooks-- I am in LOVE with this app/service. You subscribe to your instagram feed, and every 60 pictures you post, you get sent a book for only $6! It's $6 per book, not per month so you can go at whatever pace you want. I use it to get my pictures offline and to send copies to grandparents. (You can exclude any pictures from the book that you don't want to print, i.e. giveaway reposts)
  • Forest-- This one is fun and helps me to be less plugged in. I know what you're thinking, an app that reduces your screen time? In Forest, you "plant" a virtual tree and set a timer for its growth. If you close out the app and try to access other things, the tree dies. To collect a forest full of trees, you have to be totally unplugged from your phone for self-determined periods of time. It's great. I probably only have 2 trees so far because I do so much of my business on my phone, but I'm going to try to do better. 
3. Notebook-- I have a ton of cheapo little notebooks scattered around my living spaces, because I need to write things down all the time. I always feel like inspiration strikes hardest when I am on the go, so my notebooks go with me.

I hope this little list can help you find some sanity on those days where you look at the baby with your hair frazzled and circles under your eyes, and think, "I'm glad you're so cute."


Saturday, March 28, 2015

what's cooking

Hello readers! I've been away from this blog for about three weeks, and today I'm coming clean about why:

I've been working hard on the framework for a creative consulting business called Arboretum Creative, through which I plan to coach creative entrepreneurs on how to make money from their art without selling their souls. I am so excited to do this and help some of you with the operations and marketing of your creative businesses. I want to create some free products to give you more information about the creative arts marketplace, but to do that I need to know what you struggle with!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

As you may have noticed, I have also removed all of the ads from this blog. I've realized that monetizing my blog in that way is not for me, so I have replaced them with a Donate button from PayPal, where you can donate a dollar or two to help support me in the writing of this blog! Time costs money and art costs time, and this is just one of the concepts that I will be covering in my consultation packages.

If this is something you are interested in, sign up here for email updates on progress and products as I start chasing my calling!

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Friday, March 6, 2015


Life-filled work is what keeps a creative business going. I can't be creative if I try to separate my soul from what I do. As a work-at-home mom, I have to find some sort of structure between my work and Everly's schedule. She is currently learning about naps, and is getting so good at independent play. She has always had that stroke of independence; at 4 months she could play with her play gym for an hour. Now she is jumping in her little play saucer and telling me her opinion about everything while she does it. Those little da-da-das punctuate my workday, and I have learned how to synthesize my boss duties with my mommy joys.

I've heard from a couple different moms that they are having a hard time figuring out how to run a creative business while being a mother, so I've decided to give you all a peek into how we do things in the hope that it will encourage you that you can find a way to fit your work into your life and your life into your work.


We wake up around 7:30, and snuggle til 8 or so. Then Everly and I go into the living room and kitchen (it's one big room) to make breakfast and catch up on the news while Everett sleeps a little longer if he needs it. I'll put her in her bouncy seat or under her play gym while I eat breakfast and have a quiet start to the day. Everett then makes his nasty green smoothie and we all get in the car to take him to work. He works for himself, but is based out of a studio owned by our church. As a one car family, if I don't take him in the morning I am stuck at home until he gets home around 6.

Everly usually falls asleep in the car (or if we're home, in her crib) around 10 for her morning nap. I know that my brain is not the best at solving problems at this point in the day, so I use this time for running errands and doing chores while I let my mind wander. I find that this actually helps me be more creative, since I am not focusing too hard on a pressure to produce. I give myself permission to do what it takes to care for our family before I work on any projects.


At this point Everly has napped and been fed, and I have gotten some chores done. I've recently realized that the reason I didn't feel creative was because my creativity was coming in spurts between bouts of anxiety about all the stressors in my life. To combat this I've started trying to take care of at least two of those stressors before I sit down and try to do my art. I'll do something along the lines of paying some bills, replying to an email, or washing the dishes.

I then sit down and try to work for 15 minutes straight. This doesn't sound like much, but other moms will attest to the difficulty of getting those 15 minutes to actually happen. The point is to focus in hard on what you want to accomplish. "Do your best" is not the mantra that I like to use during this time. I'm a perfectionist, and my best is an unattainable fantasy that I've drafted up in my head while I'm stressing about how little I can do. Instead, do what you can do in the time you have, and give yourself permission to stop working when you need to. When that 15 minutes goes by, see where you are an either take care of what needs to be done, relax, or keep working for another 15 minutes. Of course, I leave my work when Everly needs me, but she is usually pretty happy with her toys.

To keep my motivation up, I usually have a to-do list with things that I know I will be able to get done sprinkled among the challenges. That allows me to feel some sense of accomplishment for the little things, like taking a shower. Moms should be congratulated and feel accomplished for showering!

do what you can do in the time you have, and give yourself permission to stop working when you need to.


After I've gotten some work done, I pick Everly up and we spend some quality time together snuggling, nursing, and playing games until her afternoon nap. While she sleeps I do some of my best creative work. I write a blog post, balance some books, do some painting. This is my time to release what the Lord has put inside my heart.


Whenever Everett is done at work, Everly and I go pick him up and come home for dinner. Everett's been cooking a lot lately, so I get a little down time before we eat. When Everly is winding down, we watch a little Netflix and I do a little reading. If I have time before I'm too sleepy, I'll do some journaling.

This routine is pretty flexible, and the tasks fit in a lot of different arrangements. Everett and I are so routine-averse that it's actually really amazing that we have been able to do this. I love that we actually got more structured after having a baby. It was hard, but it's been amazing. I've felt like the urgency of having less time to work has made me more efficient. I'm able to run our production company, schedule gigs, do some art, and even start planning the launch of my very own creative consulting business (shhh! More on that later).

I know that life will change through every stage of Everly's development, but I will take those changes in stride and adjust my schedule as I need to. I can't wait to see how our family changes over the years.

Questions on how you can work your own business into your life? Contact me for more information about consultations.


Monday, March 2, 2015

get a little crazy

This past week I have gotten very little sleep. Everly hates her crib, and I love to snuggle, so it's really hard to motivate myself to keep her in that cage while I could just scoop her up and kiss away her fears and cuddle her to sleep. Also, my body has realized that she wakes up a ton when she's in the crib, so my brain is like, "Why bother going to sleep when we're waking up in an hour anyway? Let's think about all the things that will happen in the next year."

This means that I don't really get the amount of sleep that I need to recover from things like colds, hard work, being a full time mom and full time musician, life, etc., so I've just learned to operate in a generally sleepy state.

I stay at home with Everly most days, and I love to make our house look like a home while I'm here. The kitchen has been bothering me since the day we signed the lease. It had this old blue country wallpaper that was peeling off and sucking up all the light coming from the glass doors. I had created a little workstation for myself in the corner next to the counter, and was just feeling stifled and suffocated when I would try to do work in my designated workspace. I ended up doing most of my work sitting on the couch with my computer in my lap, which was so bad for my back that I would have a headache by 3 pm every day.

In a stroke of inspiration (madness?), I woke up one day and decided it was time to make a change. This is not after a full night of restorative sleep; no, this was after a night of about 3 real hours of sleep. I had just hit my limit of days that I could tolerate that wall, so I did some research and bought my supplies and made my house work for me.

The process

Problems: The desk is right next to the door, so we drop everything there on the way in. We also leave stuff on it that needs to go out, like the stuff underneath that needed to go to Goodwill. It's the only place I have to store my printer, scanner, and large art. The wallpaper is so dark it makes that tiny corner look like a cave. This corner was one of the worst parts of our house.

Process: I got a little crazy one day and just started pulling the wallpaper down. I started where it was already peeling and took the entire first layer off. 

I then realized I was going to need to scrape off the bottom layer to add any paint to the wall. After some extensive Pinterest research, I decided that the fabric softener method was the one for me. (Details below). It took me a few hours over the course of two days (I had other things going on that took precedence), but it really wasn't that hard. 

I grabbed a $1 roller from the Dollar Tree and some leftover paint from the rest of the living room, and reserved a naptime for painting. It felt like it took no time at all since the wall really wasn't that big. I took the junky stuff to Goodwill and moved the printers into storage since I haven't used them in 2 months.

I took a few minutes to do some measuring, and found that the desk fits perfectly over the radiator that we don't use. The light is so much better in this spot, and I have better access to Everly and her needs. It feels more like an office and less like an afterthought. 

The paint color has totally opened up this room, and the rearrangement has made it more welcoming and functional. The total cost was only $2 since I used leftover paint and got the fabric softener and the roller at the Dollar Tree. I got a little crazy with this project, but the results are helping me stay sane.

Wallpaper Removal:

  • Squirt bottle
  • fabric softener
  • scraper
  1. Remove any outlet covers.
  2. Mix 1/3 fabric softener with 2/3 water in the squirt bottle.
  3. Peel top layer of wallpaper off.
  4. Saturate remainder with fabric softener mixture.
  5. Let sit until you can see bubbles under the paper. (You want it to sit long enough to be really soggy, but not long enough to dry.
  6. Scrape off the saturated paper. If it is still sticking, spray again and wait.
  7. After all the paper is down, wash the walls with water and a towel to remove any sticky residue before painting.

What is driving you crazy in your home? What's stopping you from fixing it? Leave a note in the comments!


Friday, February 27, 2015

7 steps to recover from a rough baby night

I'm trying to transition Everly from co sleeping to sleeping in her crib, and she does not like it at all. I mean, I understand; I'm making her go from on demand boob access to sleeping alone in a big box. She may or may not be teething too, so she's in pain in addition to being lonely. This leads to all night marathons of crying--being picked up--calming down--being put back--crying and so on. Since I'm completely in the thick of it right now, I don't have any advice for getting your baby to sleep through the night. I do, however, know how to live life as a semi-functional human being on little to no sleep, and that's something for which I had a hard time finding advice. That's why today I'm going to share with you my foolproof method for not being a zombie!

so cute. so loud. so not sleepy.

7 Steps to Recover from a Baby All-Nighter

1. Acknowledge that it happened.

You didn't get any sleep. Don't suck it up and try to be normal. But remember, you only get 5 chances to say, "Well I was up all night." This will keep you from entering martyr-land.

2. Shower.

VERY IMPORTANT. Hand the baby to your husband or put her in a bouncy seat. Get in the shower and take your time. Wash your hair and shave. When you're done, put on deodorant and perfume.

3. Picture day.

This one is from my mom. Get ready like you are going to have your picture made. Do your hair. Blush and mascara are a must. This is not so you can fit into some societal construct of beauty, but so that when you catch glimpses of yourself in the mirror you see some color in your cheeks and brightness in your eyes.

4. Reserve a treat for days like this.

Maybe you are off caffeine or on a budget, but today is the day for an iced latte. Keep something off limits except for days after all nighters, and treat yourself when the time comes.

5. Call someone. 

Social interaction will keep you from wallowing. Talk to a friend about something unrelated to the all nighter.

6. Walk.

Walk in the sunshine or around the mall, whatever the weather permits. The exercise and change of scenery will help.

7. Get a break.

Call your mom to take the baby, spend a little money on a babysitter, whatever, but get away for just a minute. You don't have to drive anywhere, you can just take a nap or read a book. The point is to take a minute to focus on self care.

Watch more than 2 Netflix episodes.
Eat lots of fatty/sugary foods. (One treat should do the trick!)

These steps can be woven around a full-time job or multiple children if you just ask for help. Don't try to do this alone. Don't be a martyr. You can do this, but no one was meant to be totally independent. Reach out. Shoot me an email if you feel like you have no one to talk to, I'd love to connect!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I post a lot on here about how I love to beautify my surroundings, and how important my home is to me in my quest for beauty. However, I've never given you a detailed look at how I do the little things with the little money I have budgeted for home decor, and I think it's about time I did.

My home is the place where my creativity is bound by my budget and square footage, but freed by my privacy and flexibility. 

I feel nervous about taking risks here or in my music because those arts are in the public eye, and I am terrified of making big mistakes. My home, on the other hand, is a place where people have to ask permission to enter and take a look at the decisions I've made. Today I am inviting you to take a small peek at some of my recent projects and triumphs, and maybe you'll find some ideas for your own home!

living rooms are for living

Our living room is where we spend the vast majority of our time. The space is connected to the kitchen in an open floor plan, so we do our eating in the living room. I also run all of our business from the couch so that I can watch Everly play and have easy access to all the things I need. The project I've been working on for the past few months is our gallery wall. For a long time, I just had one picture or none at all hanging about our couch, and as the only open wall space in this room, I felt it needed a little more attention. I did not have the budget for a decor overhaul, so I shopped around my house, refurbished some thrift store finds, and spent a little on some trendy items.

Here's the cost breakdown:

  • DIY painted abstract, egret, and quote: $10 worth of black canvases found on sale at Michaels
  • Clipboards: $1 each, printed graphic to go on brown one. 
  • Gazelle clock: $15 at an antique store, $1 worth of white gloss spray paint, $3 clock hands. (Needs batteries but I still love it)
  • Ship painting, framed photo, framed raccoon, letter H, mirror: shopped the house for things I already used in other rooms.  (I repainted the frame of the ship painting to match the wall.)
  • "Love" chalkboard: on sale at Michaels for $1

That's a total of $30 for the entire wall! I kept a black, white, and wood theme throughout, with a few pops of the blue color that's on the wall. It makes me so happy every time I see it, and makes our wall look a little taller (in an 833 square foot house, you maximize every inch!). 

The black and grey-blue canvas was a result of this post by The Nester, when I was inspired to just throw some paint onto a canvas with no expectations of what it should look like. I don't usually paint abstract (see egret above) but I had so much fun. I'll be doing a how-to post soon.

The clipboard holds one of my favorite prints, and all I did to get it was to search for public domain drawing tutorials. I found this tutorial on how to draw trains, and love that it has "A lesson in perspective" as the title. I need constant reminders to keep the right perspective, and this little print helps.

This little corner is another budget triumph. It's a lesson in "if you like it, keep it even if you don't know what to do with it", as well as "say yes when people want to give you stuff." Here's the breakdown:
  • Painting: inherited ($0)
  • Nesting dolls: gifts ($0)
  • Salt lamp: gift ($0)
  • Photo book under dolls: gift ($0)
  • Black table: hand-me-down ($0)
  • Gold basket: $0.80 on Christmas clearance at Michaels.
  • Glass and silver pitcher: $3 at Goodwill.
  • Flowers: $1 each ($2) at The Dollar Tree. 
Grand total: $5.80. This makes me want to jump up and down tallying this up. I love to look around my home and know that I did not spend that much money to surround myself with this much beauty. 

Note: I love to find faux flowers at the Dollar Tree. I have found several trendy blooms and branches there over the past few months, and for $1 each, it's hard to mess up.

Next is my favorite vignette in this room. Vignettes are little setups of beautiful things just to bring you joy. They don't have to have a function, they are simply there for beauty.

Here we go again!:
  • Flowers: Valentine's present.
  • Blue milk bottle: $1 at Goodwill.
  • Clear bottle: $1 at Ikea.
  • Wooden toy: gift.
  • & sign: $6 at TJ Maxx three years ago.
  • Shelf: $7 at Ikea. 
  • Globe lamp (yes, it lights up. Did I mention it's a TOUCH LAMP? Dreams really do come true.): gift. 
  • Framed Picasso print: $6 at a local thrift store.
  • Books: relocated from my (color-coded) bookshelf: $0
Grand total: $21 (including the shelf!). The more I do this calculating, the more excited I get. 

I can't do all this bragging without bringing myself back to real life, so here's what you would really see if I invited you into my house.

Don't hate, appreciate. It's a work in progress and I'm making the decision not to apologize for it! Welcome to my real life, hard working office. It's seen better days, and will see better days in the future, but today is a real life Tuesday and that's just how it goes.

-- Caroline

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek at the projects I've been working on! Are there any that you'd like to see instructions or tutorials for? What are you working on at your own home? Leave a comment below and I'll get back to you!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

take a step

I love creating art. I love the entire process of it. My favorite thing to do when I have a moment to myself is to play around with watercolors. I taught myself how to mix and blend and direct the colors where I want them to go. Watercolors seem to have a mind of their own, which is what I love about them. I spend so much time trying to control everything around me that approaching an art form and knowing I have less control over the outcomes than I would using markers or pens is incredibly relaxing.

Photography, however, is something that I have little to no experience or knowledge in. It's been a long-held dream of mine to be able to take photos of my family and home like I see on my favorite blogs, and to be able to capture memories with my daughter and husband. I decided it was time to take an e-course on the subject so that I could move forward with my dream. I'm learning about exposure, aperture, shutter speed, all these things that I heard photographers talk about but never knew what they meant. I'm making slow progress but my creative fire has been lit, and I feel kick started into this discipline since I've invested time and energy in myself to learn more.

I feel kick started into this discipline since I've invested time and energy in myself to learn more. 

I use a website called Craftsy to find tutorials and classes for various skills that I want to learn, and I've partnered with them today to give you access to a few free e-guides to help you feel inspired and invested in the art that you want to move forward in. Check out these links and pick out as many as you'd like, they're all free!

eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
Cake Decorating
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at Home
Paper Crafts
eGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
eGuide: Beginner's Guide to the World of Watercolor
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

*this post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

a beautifier

I'm having a sort of quiet crisis.

It's not one of those desperate moments where you need emotional triage; it's more of a slow and muffled cry for purpose in my day to day life.

I love being a mother. It's the life I was created for. I love waking up to her smiling face and being the one she reaches for in her need. I love every part of it.

Being a mother takes up 30 hours of my day, every day. That's right. I don't seem to have time to take a daily shower, let alone be creative and prosper from that creativity. What I've realized, though, is that the time that I am busy is not brain time, it's hand time. For example, I will spend hours every day just holding my baby girl because I'm taking advantage of her need for me and getting my cuddles in while I can. These hours have so far been used for Netflix and Pinterest (aka time suckers). I wish I could say I've been exclusively watching documentaries, browsing baby tips, pinning workouts and healthy recipes, but the truth is that I've been daydreaming.

Being recognized for creating beauty. Isn't that the ultimate dream?

Daydreaming about the perfect house where I have the right color walls, the right kind of flooring, the most beautiful art on the walls.

About sewing custom and organic baby clothes for my little girl, and keeping her dressed to the max no matter what the circumstance.

About having thousands of blog followers who hang on my every insight-filled word.

About creating beauty and being recognized for it.

Being recognized for creating beauty. Isn't that the ultimate dream? No matter what the industry, we as women have echoes of the creator's heart in us, and we want to add to the glorious symphony of the earth from our own hearts. That's why Instagram and Pinterest are so addictive-- it's easy to get sucked into the chasm of wanting to be more and believing that others have it locked in.

The truth is, I believe that I am created in the image of the Great Beautifier, and that I have the ability and prerogative to create beauty that permeates my world. 

I have a lot of outlets, as I was recently reminded in a conversation with my husband. I draw, paint, record music, decorate our house, etc. I love to create art and share it with others. What my heart longs for is a way to corral my brooks and creeks of inspiration into a powerful river of art and beauty.

Perhaps this blog is the place that I will find connections between my different forms of art. I will be pouring into it over the next season, so look forward to seeing more frequent posts about being a creatively motivated stay-at-home-mom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

bring in the brightness

This season has been so damp and cold and grey. It is so difficult to stay motivated and happy in this weather, especially doing everything with a tiny human that needs my attention 24/7. I think if it was snowy and I was stuck at home I might have an easier time of it, but I've been able to do all my errands and chores without getting to go outside and have fun. I'm being a toddler, I know, but here in the mountains you learn to love the sunshine as a source of energy and happiness. This Sunday was 60 degrees, and the entire town seemed to be at the park. We were outside for hours playing in the grass and on the swings and going on walks.

Now it's a different story. It is cold enough for wiper fluid to freeze on contact with the windshield. I'm burning a fire at 2 pm in the afternoon just to keep our house at a warm status quo through the evening. We are wearing sweatshirts while cuddled under blankets for naptime. It's hard to continue my postpartum depression and PTSD recovery when the weather outside is the same as it is inside my head.

We chose this area because we love the cool summers and the sparkling winters, so we have to find ways to brighten our home in the grey season. Here are 5 ways to bring sunshine indoors and feel better!

1. Take a good vitamin D supplement.
I take one every day along with a whole host of other vitamins. I've done research for what I need for my own body so I won't be sharing those, but vitamin D is one of those that pretty much everyone needs. You can get a high dosage bottle here.

2. Get some chlorophyll!
Wheatgrass has one of the highest concentrations of chlorophyll, which helps your energy levels and reduces your free radicals. You can read more about it here. You can get chlorophyll from leafy greens, algae (like spirulina), wheatgrass, etc. Growing your own wheatgrass is easy and cheap, and I love the color and life it brings to my kitchen. We throw it in our smoothies and barely notice it.

3. Eat some citrus.
In addition to the great vitamin C, I find that eating citrus in the winter just makes me feel brighter and warmer. I think God knew we would need that little bit of edible sunshine when he made them a winter fruit.

4. Wake up earlier.
Counter-intuitive when you feel so sleepy, but waking up earlier lets you take advantage of the front half of the day (which naturally contains more sunshine when the sun sets at 5:30!). You are more likely to feel better and be more productive if you wake up just 30 minutes before you usually do and take the time to do something good for yourself (like numbers 1-3!)

5. Text or call someone you love.
Winter isolates us, but with modern technology friendship is just a few clicks away. Text someone a silly picture or a quick encouragement, and your heart will be automatically lifted.

I hope these tips help you as you are stuck running from your house to your car for every outing!

-- Caroline

*this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 26, 2015


This past season I have felt totally dragged around by my circumstances. All the big moments of my life were out of my control, and I felt like I was drowning in helplessness. With preeclampsia, tough delivery, Everly's rough start, and my postpartum depression and PTSD, I had to fight to get out of bed every day. I fought to love my husband, and I fought to mother my baby.

I felt like I was caught in a riptide, and I was thrashing around to try and get air.

in the transition room at the hospital; one of my darkest times was waiting for Everly to get to come home.

"Let go and give it to God!" wise voices in my life told me. I cringed. "Letting go" is such a vague term. I wanted detailed step-by-step instructions on how to give my problems and pain to God.

That was the problem. In my desire for clarity, I was maintaining my white-knuckled grip on my life, wanting to keep some semblance of control amongst my chaos. When I read the signs about riptides at the beach, they warn against trying to fight your way out of it. The way to escape drowning in the deadly current is to relax.

Let go.

Close your eyes, release your grip, and rest in grace.

There are no instructions for this and that's the point. It's about learning to trust that God has you in the palm of his hand. He will care for you better than you ever could. My religious roots could not accept the presence of the Holy Spirit as a substitute for hard work. I needed the Lord to assure me that although my efforts were not and would never be enough, I, his beloved, was somehow enough to please him and fulfill my purpose during that season.

Letting go of our finances meant tithing when it made no sense.
Letting go of our marriage meant resting in the security of our love and bond.
Letting go of the household meant reducing the amount of things I had to do by reducing (once again) the amount of things we had.

My thrashing around to improve myself was rooted in pride and a desire for control. I needed to realize that all of me was created by God, and he had a plan for every dream of my heart. By fighting to find my purpose, I was ignoring the quiet whisper of the Lord in my daily life.

He had placed me in a nest of beauty waiting to be uncovered. My daughter blossoms more every day, and I have an opportunity to shape the environment that she grows in. By letting go of a need for perfection, I have the freedom to pursue beauty instead.

photo cred: Ben Roberts

It has been a long, hard season, but I feel like I am finally coming out of it. I am starting to be released from the riptide and I am ready to dive headfirst into the waves of my true calling. I am taking steps to find exactly what that is, as my biggest dream has already come true in Everly. Will I creatively focus on music, art, writing? All of the above? I'll be digging into that in these next few months to find what the Lord truly desires for me in this life, because it's so much better than anything I could ever scrap together.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

setting a foundation

My dream is for Everly to grow up to be a loving and caring girl, one with a servant's heart. I decided early on that service to others was going to be a huge part of my parenting style. I want it to be second nature to her. She has a natural joy around people, and is happy talking to anyone.

Our first official service project was to go to the campus of Appalachian State during exam week and park ourselves in the center of the student union with a little good luck sign.

The reaction from students was better than I ever could have imagined. They walked by multiple times, taking pictures and smiling and laughing at the little chubby baby that loved them. Several students stopped to talk to me, and I got to speak words of affirmation over their lives as Everly brought joy into their day.

photo: @daniel_barlow

When planning a baby service project, ask yourself - "What does my child have to offer the world?" Can she wave hello? Can she smile? Can she speak teeny tiny words of love? Take the skills and qualities that your child has and apply them to a need. Our next service project will be in February, and we will be handing out Valentines to some very deserving recipients.

What can you do with your child(ren) to bless someone's day? Leave a note in the comments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DIY Bundle

I often get asked what I do for a living, and it's tough to package it all into one neat little explanation. I manage a recording and production company with Everett, run my little Etsy shop (here), play violin in the studio and on stage, and do various side projects including this blog. Since most of my work is creatively based, I really want to focus on honing my artistic skills.

I recently purchased the 2015 Ultimate DIY Bundle here, and I'm going to go through the various courses as I have time. In the Being Boss podcast, they talked about investing in yourself as a kickstart for your business, (ep. 2, "What to do when you're freaking out about money"), and I think that the information in this bundle will be a great ramp up to my creative business work in this year.

It's tough to participate in any sort of professional development like this:

Displaying image.jpeg 

The DIY Bundle is a set of $1200 worth of ebooks, online courses and gift cards to online vendors. It's $34.95, which is what I would have paid for just one of the courses. I am charging up my camera and I'm ready for the Photography 101 class from ShootFlyShoot! The package is only available until Monday, so if you want it get it fast!

*I don't get any sort of referral credit for this, I'm just sharing this because I'm excited!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

beauty tricks for moms

As a new mom (five and a half months isn't that long!), I often find myself feeling rumpled and frumpy. I feel like I will never be clean or dry again (can I get an amen??). I want to look nice but I feel like I don't have the time or the energy to put into it like I used to. I read a lot of blogs, and so many of them tell me that I need to spend a ton of time working out to fit into a certain body mold and wear layers of makeup to hide my exhaustion. "Mommy street style" is a real thing, but I look at the outfits and wonder how I would manage to nurse in them. I take care of myself, but I just wonder how I am supposed to accomplish all these steps to being beautiful.

Then I realize it's the look in my daughter's face when I rescue her from her crib. It's the way my husband smiles when he says, "She has your eyes." It's the sweet conversations I have in baby language. Just as every other woman's beauty lies in their true identity, mine now rests in the heart of a child who loves me more than anything.

1. To mask puffy eyes and revive dull skin, bury face in a chubby baby belly (for at least 5 minutes, consecutively or otherwise).

2. For toned arms and a lifted butt, dance around the kitchen with a baby. For added cardio, sing silly songs at the top of your lungs.

3. For smooth and silky hands, catch spit-up with your bare palms.

4. For smile lines, see how many things you can do to make your baby laugh.

5. To stay on top of the latest trends, place a fashion magazine under the seat pad in your glider as you rock your sweet baby to sleep. 

-- Caroline

Got a tip of your own? Leave it in the comments!

Friday, January 16, 2015

follow friday

In terms of social media, Instagram has got to be my favorite. I love how it can create community among people with similar interests, and how it allows me to use photography to share the details of our life. I follow a decent amount of people I don't know personally, but have discovered through blogs or reposted images. I'm going to try to make this a regular post, but for now if you are looking for some great accounts to follow as a new mom, pregnant mom, or just as a lover of all things baby, here's a few I'd recommend.


photo credit: @mommasgonecity

This is the account that started #theoandbeau, the famous napping duo of baby boy and puppy. Although they have both grown since the beginning of their adventure, their family has recently expanded by one little baby girl and the trio napping together is one of the highlights of my feed.


photo credit: @raisingmissmatilda

I only recently discovered this blogger through a pin on Pinterest where I was struck by how much her daughter looked like mine! Although her daughter is a little older than Everly, she just had another baby and I can't wait to see what she writes about with this one!


photo credit: @cassandrahawkinsphoto

I found this blog on Facebook and have been following since I was pregnant with Everly. Warning: lots of freshly born babies may give you a severe case of baby fever. I love how supportive they are of every birth story.

Hope these three accounts give you something new to squeal over in your Insta feed! And if you are interested in keeping up with our little family, my handle is @hardincaroline and I'd love to have you!


Any accounts you'd like to see featured? Leave a note in the comments!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

minimalist mom - budget essentials list

I grew up loving things. I am a happy shopper and my primary love language is gifts. I enjoy little things and nice things. I am a thrift shopper so I have never been a heavy spender, but since we moved to our tiny house I have learned how to reduce the things I bring into our home. The advertising giants want you to believe that you need a ton of gadgets and supplies to raise a baby.

For example, Babies R Us has written in their search bar: "Search for something to keep baby happy!" What they won't tell you is that the thing that will keep your baby happiest is you! You don't need all the fancy gear and noisy toys. 

If Laura Ingalls didn't need it, you don't need it. 

Now there are definitely things that you may want and that will make life easier. When I was pregnant I got so frustrated about how most of the "minimalist mom" posts were filled with things that were way out of my itsy-bitsy budget! My list, on the other hand, represents a minimalist budget and will help you feel a little less overwhelmed and hopefully not make fear-based purchases. 

1. Crib

 You can start with a bassinet, but if you would like to save money you can start with a crib and skip the transition altogether. We got a secondhand bassinet and secondhand crib, so this was a non-expense for us. We did not have the two in the house at the same time, since she sleeps beside our bed. 

2. Swaddling blankets

These are your all-star players when it comes to baby gear. I use mine for:
  • swaddling
  • nursing covers
  • burp cloths
  • makeshift towels
  • carseat covers
  • lovey blanket (one for her to play with)
You can buy one here from Saranoni, or you can find them at just about any baby store. See my previous post for a swaddling tutorial! (PS: follow @saranoni on instagram for cute pictures of babies with blankets)

3. Clothing

I took a quick mental inventory, and through each stage of clothing I have used just about the same lineup of clothing needs:
  • 4 sleepers (one to wear, one to wash, one in the drawer and one in the diaper bag)
  • 4 cute outfits
  • 1 heavy coat (depending on your climate)
  • 1 light coat
  • 4 pairs of socks
You can tweak this list however you like, and this will make up the majority of what people will bring to your baby showers. Any clothes you don't need should be returned for diapers!

4. Diapers

This is a personal decision, but I chose to do disposable diapers due to the size of my house and laundry machine and the absence of a cloth diaper service in my area. For diapering, you will need diapers, wipes, diaper cream/ointment (depending on your baby's personal needs) and somewhere to change them. I have a little wipe-off changing pad that I keep at home and a changing pad in my diaper bag. Everly has never had real trouble with diaper rash, so for the occasional flare-up we use the Honest brand diaper cream. Aquaphor is another great choice.

5. Bathtime supplies

I bathe Everly in the sink and in our bathtub with a washcloth. I have a baby bathtub but don't use it yet since she can still fit in the sink. You will need:
  • baby soap
  • baby lotion
  • washcloth
  • brush (Tip: wash the baby's hair with a soft brush to get down to the roots!)
  • towel (baby towels are cute and small, but I only have one that I think is thick enough. Otherwise I use adult sized towels because I like to wrap her up and let her dry and be warm.)

6. Transport

For some people, this may be a stroller. I however, am obsessed with babywearing. I love having Everly right there on my tummy, and it keeps strangers from getting too close to her. I have both the Baby K'tan and the Ergobaby, and primarily use the K'tan at this stage/size. You buy the K'tan in your shirt size, and it is so unbelievably easy to wear and wash. I also love that it comes in colors that will go with your grown-up outfits rather than the baby's outfits!

Things I did not include and why

Diaper bag

Why? Because any bag that has diapers in it is a diaper bag. I have one from Skiphop that I love, but until I got that, I used a backpack from Target! Don't get oversold on diaper bags, but get something you want to use.


I didn't include these because I don't use them all that often and could really get by without them if I didn't work away from Everly. I have a pump that was provided by WIC, and use a MAM bottle because it's the only one Everly liked. If you choose to pump or formula feed, these will be an essential!


Babies don't walk. Socks will do just fine.


If you have some extra room in your baby budget once you get the basics, you can really get whatever looks fun! We have limited toys to good quality toys without batteries, but do not restrict the amount of books we collect. Books are a great thing to ask for from family and friends, and you will get a big variety with every person's preference (a great way to start a library for your baby!).

I hope this list gives you peace as you get closer to having a baby in your life!

-- Caroline

Something to add to the list? Leave a note in the comments!

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