2.27.2015

Women In Business: Simply Mel & Co

{photo courtesy of Simply Mel & Co's etsy page}


Today we are featuring an Etsy shop 
on Women In Business.
Simply Mel & Co sells great
accessories for the woman and little woman in your life.
She has some great pieces so that Mama and her little princess can coordinate,
or simply make a statement alone.


A couple of months back I ordered some
stand out pieces for my girls and a pair of earrings for myself.
Simply Mel & Co was also gracious enough 
to answer some questions for me about starting up her own business.

The pieces arrived and I was so pleased.
Not only was it packaged so pretty
(I really am a sucker for great packaging!)
but she included a sweet card and an extra pair of earrings!
Thanks Simply Mel & Co! 


{photo courtesy of Simply Mel & Co's Facebook page}

It is hard to pick a favourite,
but I do absolutely love Buffalo plaid and the headband fit both my girls,
so I think it won first place.
It it is so adorable on them!




My darling eldest daughter 
has questionable clothing taste these days.
She often pairs her Adidas track pants with 
a floral blouse and a tiara.
Or her oversized Thompson Rivers hoodie with a floofy skirt
and rubber boots.
She's three, I am sure you get the picture.
I was so thankful when she was willing to 
work her new plaid scarf into the mix! 
She loves it.
and so do I.

 {Cardigan by Wheat Canada and t shirt by SHE IS Clothing }



The earrings are so sweet. I have worn them often
and they don't hurt my ears.
Each time I wear them someone asks me where I got them,
and I happily tell them Simply Mel & Co.

Supporting small businesses is important to me.
I try to buy local and support small businesses whenever I can.
I love that Mel is a stay at home mom and works from her home in Kamloops.
She communicates well, puts her family first and I love that about her. 

Here is a little Q and A with Simply Mel & Co!

Just An Ordinary Family: Did you work before Simply Mel & Co?
Simply Mel & Co: I worked for my mom's company Tracycakes. 
JAOF: What lead you to start Simply Mel & Co?
SMC: I am a major busy body and since I have becoming a SAHM [stay at home mom] I know I needed something to keep me occupied during naps and early bedtimes. Life slows down a lot when you have kids and having this business gives me something to do other than being mom. I love creating and crafting items so I thought I would open a Etsy shop and give it a shot! Having my own business allows me to stay home with my girl. Both my parents own businesses so I've always had a entrepreneurial mindset.
JAOF: Who or what inspires you in your work? 
SMC: I'm inspired by trends, seasons, and making women feel a little extra pretty when they wear something I've created.
JAOF: What is it about Simply Mel & Co that makes you get up in the morning and do it all again?

SMC: Being creative has always been something I've been passionate about.



JAOF: What advice would you give to other women who are hesitant in making that leap to being their own boss and following their passion?

SMC: Just give it a shot! You never will know where your dreams will take you unless you try. My mom is a big inspiration to me. 

JAOF: How do you find working from home?

SMC: Working from home is great during naps and bedtime! Other than that it's a bit of a gong show. It's hard to craft or sew with a busy toddler running around and climbing on you.

JAOF: Balancing being a mom, wife and a job can be tough. What's your secret?

SMC: I take on more than I can handle. If I have too many orders I close my shop so I can catch up. I always put my family first!

JAOF: What would be your top 3 tips about growing a business?

SMC: Make sure to market your product through social media and be consistent and engaging with your followers. Stay passionate and true to yourself.


Thanks so much Mel for sharing with us!
We love your products and we wish you well in your future endeavours!


To purchase Simply Mel & Co visit the Etsy page here.
You can also follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.



All photos are property of Just An Ordinary Family.
Please do not use without permission from JAOF first.

2.24.2015

Crafting With My Kid

Don't you feel discouraged
when you log into Pinterest and see 
these perfect crafts done by kids? 
Whose kids are they?
Did Mom actually do them?

For a while I had been waiting for Claire to be crafty.
Painting, colouring, cutting and pasting were all
things I had dreamed of doing with my kids before I had them.
I had visions of my fridge slathered in the most beautiful masterpieces.
My windows would be filled with sticky fingerprints and lots of decals
declaring whatever Hallmark holiday was up next.
My Bear was always to busy to sit down and craft.
I had made a couple of attempts in the past
but they were usually ditched half way through
for some princess dresses and a toy microphone.

About fall of last year Claire started showing interest in it.
Mostly the novelty of having access to scissors and tape.
One particular day she told me she was going to brush my hair
for me while I was nursing.
She took her seat on the back of the couch and began brushing my hair.
There was a slight pause and then...
SNIP.
A chunk of hair fluttered to the cushion beside me.
She.Cut.My.Hair.
Needless to say I am sure,
the scissors went away for a very long time.
Now they only make an appearance when she is completely supervised. 

Just before Christmas she became consumed with crafting.
Michaels and the dollar store have amazing little kits 
you can buy for reasonable prices.
I stock up on those and we can do one or two on a morning
while sister is napping.


She gets quite focused and serious about her art,
and doesn't appreciate having photos of it taken until its complete.



The dollar store can become quite addicting for kids stuff.
The other day I stocked up and my total came to $12. 
Hours of fun for $12? Count me in.
One of the purchases I had made was glow sticks.
We cracked a hand full, threw them in the tub and shut out the lights.
She thought she had reached kiddie nirvana.
All for a $1. 


For Christmas I found her some cookie cutters in letters and numbers.
She is just getting into 'homework' 
and has been loving practicing her letters and numbers through books and games.
So this evening we whipped up some sugar cookie dough
and cut out letters.
We made a letter for our family and friends and practiced the sounds along the way.
Hands on learning is my favourite kind,
and I think it is becoming Claire's too.



The cutters I purchased on zuilily.com
for I believe about $8.
They were a hit!

What are some of your favourite kid crafts?

2.20.2015

5 Months

This is the highlight and dread of every month. 
It has been fun chronicling Jane's growth in photos.
Taking pictures of her growing up and out.
Those rolls, double chins and elastic band wrists.
Throughout the past 5 months some things remain the same.
Her eyes sparkle, her crooked grin,
and her funny sense of humour of laughing when her sister gets in trouble.

Her laugh is more of a chuckle and it turns any bad mood around.
She is different than her sister in many ways.
She drools so much. She is plump, she wears clothes that her age to size, 
sometimes even bigger. 
She sleeps like a champ, takes a bottle and once in a while a soother.

It constantly amazes me how different it is being a second time mom.
Jane was in our bed since day 1 and I didn't feel any guilt.
She has her own bassinet that she sleeps in for the first part of the night,
but after her first feeding she snuggles right in beside me on my arms, one hand on my breast.
I love it. I love stirring awake and taking a big whiff of her baby head.
These days go by way too fast and I know that now so I savour it all.
My instincts are much sharper and I listen to them much better now.
Before I was worried what people would think of my parenting style.
We never read baby books about sleeping and eating, I always just went along with Claire's cues.
Now I do it again, this time knowing its what works best for us.
I have spent all my parent-book reading now with a toddler.

That desire to nibble her arms and thighs take me over and I do it.
The urge to hold her just a little bit longer, I give in to it.
Sitting with a cup of coffee and just staring at her as she plays with her sister,
I stare, I watch, I smile.

This mom-of-babies-life is going too quickly.
I could waste this blog lamenting about that.
Instead I am going to share with you the thousand and one photos
I took the other day when Jane went from being 4 months old to 5 months old.

Does anyone know how to freeze time?














PS: I Love that it took me a day and a half to blog this post because my babies need me. I hope they always need me in some way or another. 

2.12.2015

The Power of Friendships

This morning I woke up to day number 3 of being sick.
Ugh, as my husband showered and dressed for work I looked in the mirror as I was coughing
and despised what I saw looking back.
Haggard, bags under my eyes, swollen dry lips...
Really it was a sight for sore eyes.


Determined to make it through the day 

I set my daughter up with some Valentine's Day crafts
and put the baby in her jumperoo.
For the time being everyone was happy and I could lay on the couch.


It wasn't long before I had someone on my shoulders

and one on my boob. 
All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep the day away.


Sometimes, life as a mom is like this.

We are in our pajamas far too long,
covered in spit up
and forced out of bed when we want to sleep the day away.


Once I got everyone settled I sat down with a cup of coffee and opened up my email.

What I found was my daily devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries

Lysa TerKeurst
FEBRUARY 12, 2015
3 Ways to Find Life-Giving Relationships
LYSA TERKEURST
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
Lysa TerKeurst
I pressed my forehead against my front door window while tears quietly slipped down my cheeks. I watched my husband pull out of the driveway and head off to another day at work. I then turned to look at what my day would hold — a crying baby, a messy house and an overwhelming feeling of dread. How could this be?
I finally had everything I ever thought would make me happy, fulfilled, significant and satisfied, yet I was more miserable and lonely than I’d ever been. Finally realizing a great husband, healthy baby and a comfortable house with a flowerbed planted out front, weren’t the answers to ultimate happiness in life, rattled my soul to the core.
There are deep places within our soul that God hand-designed and reserved only for Him to fill.
But my whole life had been focused on getting these other things that I thought would fill me up. So when they fell short, I slid to the ground and cried, "God, I can’t do this. Where do I go from here? How do I find You? Help me!"
A few weeks later, my husband called and said there was a woman in his restaurant who wanted to meet me. I glanced down at my spit-covered sweatpants, ran my hands through my greasy hair, and willed my mind to override the desire to pass on meeting her that day.
I couldn’t handle the relationships I had in my life, I certainly couldn’t make time for more. Plus, if I got too close to women who appeared to have their lives together, they’d judge me for the pitiful way mine was falling apart. I just didn’t have the whitespace for anything but my family.
But that was exactly the problem. I was giving everything I had to my family with nothing to fill me back up, no one to encourage me past the hard spots, and no one to share practical advice because she’d been there, done that.
So, I crammed my diaper bag full and headed out the door.
Over the years, I’ve thought about that pivotal decision to pursue and embrace the necessity of friendships. Not only have they helped me personally, my friendships have been crucial to my success (and sometimes survival) in my roles as wife and mom as well. They’ve made our key verse, Hebrews 10:24, come to life for me.
What I once thought would take away from my family, has proven to add a richness I couldn’t have gotten any other way.
If you can relate to the season I was in, here are 3 practical ways to find life-giving friendships:
1) Find a friend who does something well that you wish you were better at.
It may be managing paper piles, cooking, organizing kids’ rooms, creatively loving her husband, effectively disciplining her kids or a hundred other things. Whatever it is, ask her if you could spend time observing how she does what she does so well. Women love to talk about things they do well.
2) Choose a friend with whom you feel comfortable to pray.
There is no better gift we can give our families than to be wives and moms who pray. Praying with a friend about our families will not only knit our hearts closer to the ones we love, but to that friend as well.
3) Pursue a friendship with someone who is one stage behind where you are in life.
Offer them practical help in their area of stress and weave in the wisdom you gained as you went through that same stage.
Why not spend some time today praying for the friends you have and the friends you’ve yet to meet? God loves to answer those friendship prayers! And trust me on this — go ahead and wash your hair, just in case you get a call like I did all those years ago.
Dear Lord, You know the friendships I need in this season of my life. So I’m praying today for the friends I have right now and ones I have yet to meet. Help me be a God-honoring friend who always points them back to You. In Jesus’ Name Amen.
I can say that the way Lysa and I differ is that in the season of life I do have amazing people in my life to encourage me through these tough spots. I have an amazing family, and in-laws (to of whom live downstairs and have been a big help the past couple days!) I have friends that know me and fire me an encouraging text. I am so thankful for them and blessed to have them. 
When we moved to Portland 4 years ago I left with a stubborn heart. I was determined not to make new friends because I already had awesome ones at home. And I didn't need to make new ones just to say good bye to them at the end of 3 years. 
Boy oh boy did God prove me wrong! Not only did I meet new friends, but some of them who wold become some of my best friends. I have said it here before and I will say it again/ Becoming a mother alongside Marissa and Michelle made for some life long friendships. Not just them, but many others through school and church. 
Yes, we did have to say good bye and it hurt my heart so incredibly much. My heart hadn't ached like that in a long, long time. I cried big, ugly messy tears as I said good bye to each one of them. BUT, there is good news. If you invest in those friendships they will last. Of course it is a two way street, and when it works, it works well. 
Michelle and her family live just over an hour away, and her parents happen to live a hop, skip and a jump away. We get to see them often and it makes my heart swell with gratitude. Marissa and her family live further away then I would like but that's what it is. We have used up flight points and spent money to work on this friendship and we have both commuted to see one another. We get to spend Easter weekend with them this year. I am so thankful for FaceTime and Skype for these long distance relationships. In just a couple of weeks Spencer and I are returning to Portland for the first time since we moved back to B.C. and it will be a sweet reunion! We are so excited to see our old friends again! 
Friendships are a blessing, in every season of life. If you are relating to Lysa, like I did, and afraid to step out in your over-stretched yoga pants, spit covered shirt and overflowing diaper bag to meet new friends... just do it. It may be scary, but it will be worth it to open yourself up to someone else. Chances are, they need you too.

2.06.2015

Motherhood

Happy Friday!
It is a long weekend here in B.C. Canada
and my wonderful husband took today off work to make it a 4 day weekend.
We are off on a little get-away to spend some 
time together as a family.
Really looking forward to lounging in my yoga
pants and sharing diaper duty! 


There have been many articles the past 
while floating around the internet.
Moms pouring their hearts into words
about the reality of motherhood.
You are familiar with it I am sure,
even if it was many moons ago.

The reality of a blissful,
sleep deprived, emotional rollercoaster,
cheerios mushed into the  carpet,
spilled milk,
sticky kisses and big squishy hugs 
motherhood.


Dear friends,
I write to you from the trenches of this reality.
And oh my gosh I love every single bit of it!
These are the days I longed for and already they are too quickly passing.
We aren't even done our family yet and 
already I feel is slipping from my fingertips.



When I was in grade 3 I distinctly
remember my teacher asking the age old
"What do you want to be when you grow up" question.
To which I confidently replied,
"A mom."
I wanted it to be my full time job.
I didn't yearn for a career,
anything before or after would just be a job to me.
What I wanted was to have babies,
mother them, play with them, be creative with them
and love so hard on them. 

Over time I began to feel that 
this response was inadequate.
Why, in a world that we worked so hard
to get to a place where women can thrive and excel in the workplace,
would I choose the life of June Cleaver?
This iconic version of a 1950's housewife seemed so silly.
Not that it is exactly what I wanted.
But, yes, I did want to stay at home with my kids.
Take them to and from school,
be a chaperone on field trips and volunteer in their classrooms.
I did want to be at home to bake and cook
and make meals for not only my children but my husband, too.
I wanted him to be taken care of because he goes to work
so that I can stay at home and do what I wanted to do too.
My husband chose his career not only because of his passion
but because I could stay at home.

Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot,
please do not thinking I am pointing out 
those who must go to work
or want to go to work.
I am not talking about that.
(That is a whole other area of Judgey Mom syndrome I really don't want to get into.)
I am talking about what I wanted growing up,
and how now I am so blessed to be able to live out that dream.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.
Soon I began to realize that choosing to be a stay at home mom 
was an inadequate response to that particular question.
I got giggles and snickers and so I changed my answer.
I said I wanted to be a teacher.
Not realising at the time that teaching is indeed a gift.
After a few months of volunteering and many tears later
I realized I do not possess that gift.

I guess what I am trying to say is that 
yes, like any other job,
motherhood is very hard and at times very isolating.
Other moms blog about the realities of motherhood
because it makes other moms feel understood.
That there is so much beauty in that sticky job,
in the simplicity of our days and long nights.
That when we put our hearts into these words
it gives other moms a little bit of encouragement to keep on keepin' on.


Here are two other blogs I have read recently 
that have greatly encouraged me. 
by Denise Stirk on PopSugar
but Elissa Joy Watts
on Professional Amateur

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did
and even mutter a few 
"mmhmm" and "Amen, sister" phrases like I did.

Happy Weekend everyone!
If it is Family Day Monday like it is here,
I hope you enjoy some fun activities together!

xo,
Michelle


2.03.2015

Zombie

The Zombie Mom is back in full force.
I'm not sure if the adrenaline of having a little baby
has completely worn off or if I really am sleeping less.
My suspicion is that it is a combination of both.

Forgive me for the lack of blog posts.
I have wanted to and I have so many ideas swirling around!
Some fun things coming your way.
Right now I just need to catch some z's when I can,
keep up with the house and also play with these girls!

There has been so much talk about Claire
heading into preschool this September.
I didn't realize registration is largely in January,
so I need to make a decision quickly. 
When I think about her being gone for so much of the day 
it makes me sad.
I am really going to miss her!
She is so excited to go.
Always chatting about school and her homework
and asking when she can go.
She is more than ready and I have a mere 7 and a half months to prepare myself.
On the other hand it will be great to have some one to one time with Jane.

What did you do when your eldest went off to school?



1.27.2015

Taco Bites



These are easy to make,
a little tedious to fill
and a huge hit at a party.

Everyone loves tacos, right? 
These are the perfect snack to bring to a girls night,
a Super Bowl party or any other gathering.

What you'll need:
- a bag of Tostitos dippers (the chips that are like little bowls)
- your favourite taco meat (or omit to make it vegetarian)
-grape tomatoes (about 15)
-cilantro
- 3 green onions
-shredded cheese
-sour cream
-taco seasoning

Directions:
1. Cook your meat according to the taco seasoning packet directions.
(Typically, you brown your meat, add some water, add the seasoning.)

2. Take a serving platter and place unbroken chip bowls on it.

3. Let the meat cool slightly and then place just a little bit into each bowl. 
You do not want to overfill them because other toppings will be going on top.

4. Chop the grape tomatoes in half. Slice the green onions thinly, but on a sharp angle to create long pieces. 

6. Add a small dollop of sour cream, a few pieces of shredded cheese. Place a grape tomato half, a leaf of cilantro and a few pieces of the green onion on top. 

6. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can prepare it all ahead of time, however don't put it all together until you are about to serve it as the chips lose their crunch.

Bon Apetit!