Coffee With: Sarah Bragg of Surviving Sarah

posted in: Coffee with..., creatives, Women | 0

Though we are no longer Atlantans, I still think of many of the friends that I came to know during our 3+ years of living in the city.

One such friends who welcomed me into her world, listened over coffee, prayer, empathized, cheered on, and encouraged me in the Gospel, was Sarah Bragg.  She is a podcaster, wife, mom, author, cheerleader, and gingham-wearing, coffee-drinking friend.

Her podcast has been such an encouraging feed to me over the last year and I encourage you to go read her blog, her book, and hear her talk to many others, championing what they do, and encouraging women along the way.

So, here’s a little interview with her.  I hope you love her as much as I do.  Friend, I’m thankful for you!

1.  Can you tell my tribe a little about who you are?
I am in my late thirties (its strange even typing that), married to Scott for 12 years and we have two elementary age girls, Sinclair and Rory. I worked full-time student ministry for about 6 years and then transitioned to work for a non-profit organization, Orange, who helps equips those to work in ministry. After creating resources for middle and high school students, I currently lead a team who creates small group material for adults. My first book, Body. Beauty. Boys. The Truth About Girls and How We See Ourselves chronicles what I wish I’d known when I was a teenager—how to learn to be content to be who God made me to be. But my most favorite and fun thing that I do is host a weekly podcast called Surviving Sarah where I get to have conversations with different people about how they are surviving life. We talk about all the things that relate to women.
2. With so many other forms of “social”, why a podcast?
Before kids, I used to travel and speak to young women or women groups around the country. I absolutely loved using my voice to inspire and encourage others. But when my kids were little, it was difficult to even put words together to form sentences so using my voice stopped. As elementary school approached for my kids, I would pray, “God what do you want me to do?” And for two years, I felt like God answered with, “I want you to push others forward.” But I didn’t know exactly what that meant. I would tell God that I just wanted to use my voice again. I liked writing but I loved speaking.  I was still unsure of what God would do. But in October of 2015, God spoke to my heart and said, “I want you to start a podcast so that you can use your voice to push others forward.” I still get to inspire and encourage women while shining a light on the guest on my show.
3. I know you learn so much from each person on your show, but has something really stood out to you in the past eps?
With nearly 100 episodes in the books, I have had several favorite episodes. For me, my favorites tend to be ones about motherhood since that is the state of life for me. I’ve loved chatting with Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Julie Barnhill. And one of my all time favorite episodes was with Suzanne Stabile, the author of The Road Back To You, as we discuss what the enneagram is and how when you understand who you are wired or those around you, then you are able to extend grace more for yourself and others.
4. How do you balance it all?  Is balance such a thing or just this lofty idea?
I definitely wished that I was able to balance it all. Most days I feel like I’m dropping the ball on something. I think it looks different in different seasons. My kids are a priority, but in this season I can’t volunteer weekly in my kids school. I can’t lead in the PTA. And I can’t bring homemade cupcakes to the Christmas party. I have to be realistic about my schedule and my own limitations. But I can send in money to help with something. Or volunteer once a month in their classroom. It also requires some effort on my part to schedule well. And not just my work hours, but family hours and personal hours. Some days are good and some days are a struggle. And at the end of the day, I have to receive a lot of grace. 
5.  I love your thoughts on hospitality and your kitchen table, your intro the blog each week. Can you talk about how you use your home for hospitality other than your podcast guests?
I have learned a lot over the past several years about not waiting for perfection until you allow others to step into your world. If we wait for perfection, then we’ll be waiting for a long time. Hospitality is about letting others in. It’s about sharing what you have. It’s about vulnerability. I want our home to be a place where people are welcome and feel comfortable enough to be their authentic self. So we have people over for dinner or impromptu sprinkler fun outside. In fact, our front yard has really become an extension of our home. We spend a lot of time in the front yard. My girls know all the dogs in the neighborhood. It takes effort to know the people around you and sometimes the last thing you want to do after a day of working is to talk but that is what hospitality is. Come as you—even if its messy or untimely.
6. If I was still in ATL, and we could sit down at your fave place to chill and chat…where would we go and what would you be drinking?
Well, that depends on the time of day! But my favorite place to sit and chat with someone is my local Starbucks. I can always count on my drink being just right. And I always see people I know from the community. In the summer months, my drink of choice is an iced coffee with cream and vanilla. In the winter months, I stick to a Misto which is basically coffee and steamed milk.

Coffee With: The 213 Shop

posted in: Coffee with..., creatives | 8

There is so much wrong with this world, that when you come along something that makes things right, offers hope, and changes the way things are – you want to share them with everyone you know!

I’ve never been to Nepal, and probably never will be, but I know people who have loved that country.  And one way a friend of mine has loved that country is by The 213 Shop. Listen to their story, visit their site, support them by buying beautiful jewelry (I wear my bracelet every day), and read to the end for a special giveaway!

Can you tell us about 213 and what’s its mission is?

The Two Thirteen Shop: Her Skillful Work – Your Purposeful Purchase – Their Impacted Lives 

The Two Thirteen Shop was established in 2016. After spending 10 years overseas and seeing firsthand the talent and creativity of so many women, even in the remotest parts of the world, and the benefits of women being given good, wholesome, creative work and skills development opportunities, it is my desire to do all I can to help them get their beautiful products into the hands of people around the world.

The Two Thirteen Shop seeks to provide people in the US with a place to purchase beautiful, handmade, above trade products made by hard working, talented women around the world. Purchases help sustain jobs for women artisans in developing countries. The more we sell, the more jobs are created and the more lives are positively impacted with love, hope and truth. When we impact the lives of women we impact their family and the community they are a part of and when that happens there is no limit to all of the great things that can be done.

How did 213 get started, where is it now, and where is it going?
About 4 years ago, while I was living in Nepal, I had the privilege of helping 3 of my closest friends, all women from Himalayan mountain villages, start Blessed Hope (the business that makes the jewelry that we sell at The Two Thirteen Shop). It started out as an idea and has since grown into a full business completely owned by local women (it is the first business owned by women among their people group). Last year our family returned to America for my husband to finish his PhD studies and I wanted a way to sell and promote Blessed Hope jewelry and products made by other women’s organizations around the world so I started The Two Thirteen Shop in June of 2016. I wanted to stay connected to the women and continue to do all I could to promote their beautiful creations, highlight their story, help create more jobs for and enriching opportunities for women. I am not 100% sure where The Two Thirteen Shop will go. I have big dreams and visions for it but I am taking it slowly, pursuing opportunities as they come and trusting God to lead the business to the places He desires it to go.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?
I love our Pangden Bracelet because it was designed after the colorful, handwoven apron (Pangden) that Himalayan women wear. Wearing the bracelet is a way to appreciate the beauty of the Himalayan culture and I love the way it mixes Western and Himalayan fashion. Each of these bracelets that are sold include a card telling the history behind the Pangden and a picture of one of the Blessed Hope Nepal ladies wearing the Pangden that the bracelet was designed after.
Can you share a personal story of one of the ladies who works with 213?
Sangjung Bhote is one of the original ladies from when we first started Blessed Hope (BH). Before working at BH and making the crocheting the beautiful jewelry we sell at The Two Thirteen Shop she worked on a pig farm and made rice liquor to help make ends meet. Her husband works overseas and she has one son. After the devastating April 2015 7.8 earthquake in Nepal, her BH income helped pay for her son’s school fees, food, cooking gas and other household needs when her husband was unable to send money home. Her job at BH continues to be a reliable form of work and income in an unpredictable country with very few opportunities for women.
When people buy 213 jewelry, how does it impact the lives of the women involved?
Most of the women who make the jewelry that we sell are uneducated. There are very few good, wholesome opportunities for women in Nepal and especially for those that are uneducated. Although many of the women are uneducated in the traditional sense, they are some of the smartest women I know. They are very good with their hands, very creative and extremely hardworking. Working at BH gives them an opportunity to be creative and use their talents to produce something beautiful while also helping to provide for their family. Every item purchased at The Two Thirteen Shop helps continue to provide more and more work to the women. The women are paid per piece that they make so the more pieces equal more work and more work equals a better, more stable livelihood for these women and their families. Through the money these women make they are providing the basic necessities for their family like flour, vegetables, meat and oil, paying school fees, buying clothing for their children and paying for transportation to get around town.
Can you talk about justice ministry and what it looks like in your world?
As a Christian, I know that God values each and every life and it is a privilege to invest myself in work that strives to help women see their value and worth to God and give them opportunities to grow and thrive in the place that they are in. I love watching lives transformed. It is awesome to watch as one women’s life is transformed how it spreads and impacts so many others.
 If we were sitting down for coffee, what would you be having and what would we be talking about?
What I’d be drinking…..it depends on if I am choosing the healthy option or not….my favorite healthier option at coffee shops is an almond milk latte without sugar. I LOVE the nutty flavor and I can always use all of the caffeine I can get (and it’s low in calories!). If I am splurging I would choose a mocha (without whip cream) because I love the foam on top and I LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate.
What we’d be talking about….probably about all of the things God is teaching us and having us walk through. As a verbal processor I love to talk through the things God is teaching me and showing me with friends. It’s a great way for me to process it and I love hearing from my friends how God is at work in their lives. I am sure our conversation would also include some discussions about parenting and how being a wife, mom and woman in ministry is often a lot to balance but is also such a privilege. And I’m sure I’d talk about Nepal. God has engraved that place and those people on my heart forever. It would be hard to have a conversation without talking about it.
Ok – here is your chance!  To enter to win: go over to the shop and tell me what is one thing (or 4) that you would buy!  I’ll choose a winner later this week – and so thankful for the 213 Shop for hosting this giveaway!  (And the set of bracelets above is what you will receive!)

Coffee with : Audrey Grace Photo

posted in: Coffee with..., creatives, Georgia | 1

Atlanta is such a hub of creative powerhouses!  So many are excited to collaborate, meet up for coffee, help you excel in your craft, and champion you to help you be a better creative.  Seldom have I found a competitive spirit among the creatives I’ve been introduced to.

Audrey and I are currently neighbors, which we didn’t know until I had to drop off her wedding vows, like literally a quarter mile from each other – in a huge metro area!  We bonded over Davinci Donuts and milk while my younger son watched Thomas the Train and Curious George.

We talked life, photography, and church.  Audrey took some amazing photos of the calligraphy wedding vows I did for her and her husband.  And I got to know another beautiful photographer in this town.

How’d you get started in photography and what advice do you have for newbies?

When I was a kid, my dad had a Minolta film camera that I would play around with. I’d go to the library and check out every book I could get my hands on about photography. If there was a photo I loved, I would literally copy the settings out of the book onto my film camera and try it out. A lot of trial by error! Haha. But my love for photography grew and I kept learning. My advice for newbies; always be teachable. As an artist you are constantly learning and your brain should always be open to learning new technology and new techniques. Just when you think you have learned it all….you learn something else. And always be thankful for where you are and what you have. Comparison really is the thief of joy. So what if you have limited equipment? Rock it! Don’t let anything as silly as what camera or laptop you have hold you back. Think of it as a challenge!

What do you love about the creative vibe in ATL?

Atlanta is such a cool area to live in. I love how diverse the art scene is. There’s not too many areas where you can go to an all white modern studio space and next door is a wall of colorful graffiti. And everyone has that southern charm and respects each other and their art. Love that!

Where are your favorite places to shoot in the ATL?

That’s such tough question! I have so many favorites! Just a few recents; The Goat Farm, Ponce City Market and The Belt-line have beed really fun to explore. I also love…now this sounds weird….but photoshoots in clients homes! There’s something so intimate and cozy about taking photos of clients in their own environment. And the window light is always gorgeous to work with!

What advice would you give to newly engaged couples trying to find their ideal wedding photographer?

Pick me! Haha, ok. Just kidding. But my advice would be to get an idea of what you like before you go “photographer shopping”. It’s so easy to look at it as “how much can I get for the least amount of money?”. Working with a professional will make a huge difference in your experience and end results. I also tell brides that you don’t realize how much your wedding photographer is with you on the wedding day. They are pretty much with you the whole time! So make sure you comfortable with their personality and demeanor. Will they be a source of peace or add stress to your day?

If we were hanging out and having coffee, where would we be and what would you be drinking?

I absolutely love Chattahoochee Coffee Shop on the river. It’s so relaxing and peaceful. I’d have a vanilla latte of course! Or in the summer…an iced americano.

What other creative avenues do you enjoy?

If I have free time, I love watercolor painting. As well as cooking! I’ve been trying a lot of new recipes….even though I usually end up not following them and going my own route. I guess that’s the artist in me! haha.

How do you balance your life and your business?

I’ve always been thinking of ways to implement this more! It’s one of those things that seems easy to do; but practically….I just want to give clients all my attention. I can be such a perfectionist! When really that’s not fair to my family or….even me. I’ve recently made the choice to only respond to emails before 6:00pm. It’s the best! And I have chosen this year to not work on Sundays. Having one day off to just relax and focus on close relationships has been so refreshing and beneficial. I highly recommend it!

Coffee with: Cathy of Cathy Nugent Weddings

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I really love Southern friends.  I mean, just hearing yall, a sweet laughter, and an hospitable chat over a cup of coffee, can definitely set a new friendship, a fun morning, and a commonality in all things southern and creative.

Atlanta has been blessed with a young girl from Texas who loves all things wedding.  i met Cathy in our Pursuit ATL group, and we’ve already had coffee.  So, I wanted to introduce yall to her.  Whether you are planning a wedding, or just love to hear a creative chat about what she loves, including her husband, her dog, and mochas – then keep reading.  If you are planning on getting married soon in the ATL metro, or know someone who is, she’s your girl!

1. Tell us about your story? Who are you?

So, my name is Cathy Nugent! Before you ask if I am related to Ted, I think my husband is somewhere in there but I have yet to meet him! I am a 23 year old living the life of owning her own creative business after taking a leap of faith, and let me tell you: it is my dream job! I am a wedding planner, coordinator, and designer who loves to blog. I also like to dabble in calligraphy on the side as well as be a regular attender at weekly craft nights with my bible study girls, so I guess you could call me the jack of all trades. I am married to a cowboy, and we have a chocolate lab fur baby together named Beaux. I have lived all over the country growing up, but I am currently planting my roots here in Atlanta after moving here in June with my husband. We moved from College Station, Texas where we actually met while we attended Texas A&M University. (Whoop! Go Aggies!) Anyone who knows me knows that I have a high key obsession with Fixer Upper, and I pride myself on having Joanna Gaines as my spirit animal. My husband and I dream of one day buying our own fixer upper here in Georgia!

2. How did you come to love weddings so much that you wanted it to be your full time job?

To be honest, I fell in love with weddings when I met my husband. It was one of those things where we knew right away that God had brought us together. I became one of those girls who had a secret wedding Pinterest board! How my business started was actually opposite how many other people in the industry got their start. After I got engaged, I actually had a wedding blog where I would write about wedding stuff and my own wedding planning. My husband and I were long distance a lot of our engagement and my family was so spread out that it was hard to have everyone so involved. I’m known as the crafty one among my friends, and I have always loved to write, so I used my blog as the opportunity to share with the world what I was up to (with never failing to add in a whole lot of sass). Before I knew it I had a following, and my office hours as a TA turned into wedding planning sessions. I realized how much I was helping people and how much people listened to what I had to say. (and better yet, how much I loved it!) After a lot of prayer I took a leap of faith in starting a business out of my blog and skills, and I have never turned back since!

3.  How does your faith inspire your work?

I am a firm believer that my work would be nothing without my faith. Period. I have yet to wake up to face a day without praying for God to lead me to the people who need me. With that being said, I feel like God’s love is what I strive to be seen through my work because, after all, “We love because He first loved us.” My dream is for everyone who comes into contact with my work – whether bride and groom or just a wedding guest – to be overwhelmed with the feeling of God’s love.

4.  What is your favorite part of wedding planning?

My favorite part of the wedding planning is seeing the excitement of the bride and groom after they’ve just gotten married. I am a firm believer that everyone deserves to have their best-day-ever on their wedding day, and being able to help bring a couple’s dream wedding day to life is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It makes my heart so full to know that they will remember nothing but how amazing their day truly was – because they got married! All of the stress I may have faced getting everything perfect melts away when I see the smiles on their faces. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world.

5.  Since you are in the wedding business – about love, what is your favorite part about your own wedding and what do you love most about your mister?

I think my favorite part of my own wedding day was our wedding ceremony. Although it rained on and off all day and the ceremony was forced to be moved inside, it was even more perfect than I originally had planned it to be. It was a lot more cozy, and the room was overflowing with just so much love. (To the point my non-emotional husband actually choked up reading his vows!)
Although he’s not the emotional type, I am definitely way too emotional so it evens it out! I think what I love the most about my husband is how from day 1, he has lead our relationship like God has called the husband to do. And most importantly, he makes me want to be a better wife as he is constantly leading me closer to Jesus. He loves me well and has been a true protector and provider over me.
6. How does the creative community work together in this industry?
The creative community that I have found in Atlanta is absolutely amazing. I feel so blessed each and every day for the support of those in the industry running the same race that I am. Through vendor communities such as the Rising Tide Society as well as Pursuit, there is really a sense of community over competition and helping each other out. Together there is an amazing support system, problem solving help, and a close knit of referrals to help out each other’s businesses. Plus, I get to have coffee with amazing people like you on the regular, so it makes me enjoy what I do even more!
7. What’s your fave coffee shop and what would you drink?
Kimberly, you know how much I love coffee. There’s just something about the amazing conversations that can happen over a good cup of coffee. Since I am new to Atlanta, I am still searching out them all. I am a sucker for trying new coffee shops! So far I have fallen in love with Octane in West Midtown and Cool Beans Coffee Roasters in Marietta Square. Don’t tell my husband because we are suppose to be on a diet, but I can’t help but order a Mocha!
We’ve already talked about our mutual love of Cafe Intermezzo – so maybe a late night work session.  Can’t wait to hear her co-teach a meet-up next week on blogging – definitely one of my loves that often gets put to the back burner.

Coffee with Kelsey of Kelsey Butcher Photography

Kelsey Butcher

Atlanta metro is such a fabulous area for meeting other creatives and supporting each other in our craft.  And there are plenty of playgrounds around so even though we do have young ones, we can still hang out and our kids can play.

Allow me to introduce you to another photography creative, Kelsey.

Who are you and What do you love?

I’m Kelsey of Kelsey Butcher Photography.  I am constantly inspired by and love Jesus, florals and tulle, period drames, books, visually pleasing things and Asian cuisine.

Kelsey Butcher Photography

Tell my readers a little of your photography story, please.

During my Senior year of high school, we were required to compete a senior project.  I wanted to do something artistic, but something I’d enver done before.  As any high school senior, I also wanted something that wouldn’t be too much work since I knew there was a research paper, along with several other tedious tasks that the project required of me.

I chose photography because I’ve always been a a hands on/visual type of learner, so I figured what better thing to choose than photography, which is the embodiment of that and because I had always found imagery compelling to me personally.  I got an A on that project (woohoo!) and I just unexpectedly found a hidden passion for photography through the whole process.  And since then, I’ve not looked back.  I started my photography journey in September of 2010.

Because I’m a visual person, I have always enjoyed most art forms, painting/drawing, dancing, music, etc.  I play violin and I also draw (mostly for fun), so I have always been artistic in more ways than one.  I would say, when I was just starting my photography journey, I was inspired by my sweet friend and fellow photographer Kayla Johnson.  Her testimony is incredible and moving and I’ve always felt that her photos reflected that in a beautiful way.  She inspired me to keep on growing and how to show people the love of Christ with this creative outlet.

I love how photography can represent emotions, how images can evoke and endless variety of feelings from person to person.  And it can freeze that moment in time visually so it can be relived, whether its captured with an iphone or a DSLR.  These moments like a couple’s wedding, birth of a baby, and anniversaries can all be remembered through photographs.

We can relive the past, even as those moments come and go in a single breath.  I love that so many people could see the same setting or image and all have different perspectives and feelings about it.  Just a perfect picture of how unique our Creator made us.

Kelsey Butcher Photography

What do you love about the metro area?

Visually, everything is so stimulating, from the nature of North Georgia to the metropolis of actual Atlanta. I love the geometry and clean aesthetic of the city buildings, with all of the reflective surfaces and green space combined. It’s a great place to feel inspired when it comes to shooting bloggers’ street style and just going to feel inspired from places like Crate and Barrel, and other stores that have that light and clean feel I like that inspires my photography.

I love further north and all the suburbs for more greenery like woods and downtown areas that inspire my more whimsical inspiration. In every direction, being the visual person I am, there is just endless potential that constantly inspires me. I’ve traveled to several places within the US and outside of the country, but where I really want to go is the Pacific Northwest like Oregon/Washington, as well as California, because the aesthetic there, just from what I’ve seen online is just a completely different vibe than here on the East Coast.

Outside of the US, I would love to go to Europe because of the history that translates into every part of each country there. Plus, who doesn’t love want to try authentic European food? I see photographers like Ben Sasso and Jordan Voth, as well as some others I keep up with, who live over there, and their work inspires me to someday shoot on the West Coast.

If we were hanging out over coffee, etc – what would you get?  Where would you go?

I’m so not a coffee snob, and I don’t even care about such things as pour overs. Neither do I care for alcohol because honestly, my body doesn’t tolerate it well, so I pretty much never venture into all of that anyways. I like my Starbucks, so we could always go there where I would proceed to either get a White Chocolate Mocha (espresso) if it’s cold outside, or I would get a Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher if it’s hot. I also love their “Pink Drink”, the Strawberry Acai drink with coconut milk. If I’m feeling like I still want coffee, but it’s hot outside, I sometimes get a Frappuccino of some sort. If we went to a more independent coffeehouse/place, I’d choose either Copper Coin Coffee or Chrome Yellow Trading Co for either a White Chocolate Mocha or an iced version, depending on weather. Like I said, I’m not a coffee snob or social drinker, so it helps to not make me that picky, really.

Summer has been great, but what are you looking forward to about Fall?

I’m super excited about the weather and leaves changing colors which so evidently display God’s Creation, all of Fall attire I’m going to get to wear, and all of the exciting sessions and projects that are coming up! I physically feel my business growing, and I love that. Never stagnant, and never boring! I honestly hate summer, but I would have to say the ONLY good thing about it was watching my daughter play outside and going to the pool with her and my husband.

How do you balance a life of a photographer, a mom, and a wife?

I read a book the other day called, “Bebe Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman. It’s pretty self explanatory, but in the book, it guidelines basically what French parents do to get their kids to behave so well and be wholesome people. As I read through it, I realized that I’ve been doing almost everything this book says without even realizing it was the way French people parented. I don’t do everything exactly down to the letter, of course, because they totally acknowledge that kids are all unique and different, so this “method”, if you will, applies to each differently. But, for the most part, I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment, as a mom. My daughter has been sleeping through the night since she was 2.5 months old, she has a healthy appetite and diet, and she doesn’t have to be entertained every second of the day.
Honestly, the hardest thing about having my daughter has been her hard-headedness/stubbornness, running after her, having patience with her sometimes (it’s me, not really her), and trying to edit with a toddler (imagine a tiny person trying to climb on you or underneath your chair while you try to tediously edit someone’s skin lol). But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, truly.
As a wife, I think that I’ve been truly blessed with a husband who is 100% supportive of what I do. He never complains about me doing a shoot or staying up into the wee hours of the night to edit sessions. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to feel guilty or resentful for not giving my full attention to him (or my daughter) when I’m in my photographer zone, but I know that he knows that I love what I’m doing, and he will always communicate to me if he needs my full attention. Otherwise, he is good about finding that time to do something he enjoys or plays with our daughter to keep her out of my way while I edit.
In that same book I mentioned above, Druckerman wrote that French people fully believe that women are totally capable to have careers and take care of themselves and still be a wonderful mother. There’s no guilt-trip like here in American culture where people think that you’re a bad mom if you work or are no longer driven toward your dreams if you choose to be a stay-at-home mother. They believe you can have both and it was a light bulb moment for me, that I shouldn’t be feeling any guilt for trying to balance this photographer work life right alongside my home life. I don’t care about “having it all” or anything. I am lucky to be able to work from home and not miss the moments I want to be here for in my daughter’s life. But when I go to shoot a wedding all day or something, I don’t feel guilty for being my own self away from my family. Another mommy friend I have who is a photographer/blogger and SAHM I got to shoot for the other day agreed that one of the hardest things about motherhood was trying to find that balance and not letting her daughter, who she said she’s made her whole world since having her (which is something that is beautiful!), overshadow her own needs and her marriage. She felt guilty when she would ask her husband to take the reigns in caring for their daughter whenever he’d get home from work, so much so that she burned herself out FAST. I 100% agree because I know exactly how that feels, as I’m sure many other moms out there can relate to. While it’s a balancing act in itself, and it’s HARD WORK to do it all in some capacity, I think that there’s no room or necessity for guilt in my life in this regard. I compartmentalize, I minimize, I do my best to stay pretty organized, and I feel like that has helped me balance it all, along with some fervent prayer! I don’t worry if some areas bleed over into others because it makes me who I am, in every role I assume.

Coffee with: Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

The Atlanta Zoo is a crazy place.  And we were in the petting zoo one afternoon and tons of kids were around and the smell of animals was around too.  All of a sudden, I hear my name.  But, I didn’t recognize anyone.  So, I figured my name is pretty popular so maybe it was for someone else.  But, then she was looking at me, knew my son’s name, and said “don’t worry you don’t know me.”

And that, dear readers, is how I was introduced to Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen.  We have one friend in common – and that one friend is a pretty strong tie.  Since that day in the zoo, we have had a play date, and cooked together, and I got to be in her home and her kitchen, learning from her on many fronts.  You will definitely want to check out her recipes and kitchen advice, as she has had some recipes published – she’s my someone famous that I know!

Yall, meet Jeni.

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Jeni is a SAHM of kiddos ranging from high school to preschool.  She married a twin, lives near Athens, GA, in a small southern town, and declares it was love at first sight with her now husband.  She has a bright sunny home and kids all around, and she makes healthy meals for her family.  It can be done, yall!  This was great encouragement to my heart as it is one of my struggles (getting things cooked and having two preschoolers).

Growing up, Jeni’s mom helped her learn all things in the kitchen.  Her mom made things from scratch and encouraged Jeni to do the same.  She wanted to experiment with foods and spices!  When she was first pregnant, she wanted to make sure her baby got all the nutrients she needed so she wanted to make every calorie count.  She then ended up making her own baby food along the way, making sure her babies got healthy food in their growing tummies.  She has wanted and made a healthy family atmosphere, both in food and spiritual content.  She has set her mind to something, worked hard at it, persevered, and the Lord has blessed her endeavors.

Some of Jeni’s inspiration comes from familiar names: Pioneer Woman, Sara Moulton (I love her too), Rachael Ray, Southern Living (of course, who doesn’t).  She also does something that I like to do, she asks her family what food they want.  Of course there is pizza, spaghetti, and tacos.  But, instead of getting all of these take out, she takes the time to make these at home, making them healthier for her family.

I asked Jeni what her favorite kitchen tools are (and I agree with these, and I’ve already bought some of the towels she recommended and I love them):

Five Kitchen Tools:
1. Every cook needs a good all-purpose knife! Wustof and Henckels are both solid choices for price and quality.

2. Stand Mixer – I’m not sure how I truly lived before my sweetie pie surprised me with a Kitchen Aid for Christmas one year. Cookie dough, whipped cream, pizza dough, bread/rolls … life changing, I tell you.

3. Blender/Food Processor – With picky children, this is an invaluable tool to use for hiding fruits and veggies. Homemade marinara, soups, smoothies … I use mine all the time.

4. Silicone Spatulas – The best all-purpose tool aside from your hands. They’re heat-proof and super durable for use on the stovetop or for just mixing together ingredients.

5. Flour Sack Towels – I bought a huge package of them and use them for everything! Drying dishes or produce or hands, mopping up spills, covering yeast dough, whatever. Wash and bleach ’em and they’re ready to go again!
These are some of her favorite recipes:
Jeni’s Summer Cake (this would be fabulous at any summer bbq with friends)
Italian Heritage Casserole – One of my mom’s favorite go-to special occasion meals. (Note, I made this recently and it is super yummy and easily whole30 compliant and perfect for meat and potato eaters)
Scalloped Potatoes w/ Ham & Leeks – It would be more efficient to paste this directly to your hips. But totally worth it.
Lasagna Rolls – I made this dish for Leah when Georgie Girl was born.  My mom made a podcast recording of me making it for a project when earning her Master’s Degree.
Here are the two she has had published by Taste of Home:
Thai Chicken Pasta (This won 3rd place in a healthy cooking contest.)
And like any good host, she had yummy stuff waiting for us, and we definitely like this Blueberry-Orange Quick Bread.

A Creative Space

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Creative Space

I’ve come to learn that you really can be creative anywhere: in the car (thinking, hopefully not driving while you are coloring), in a doctor’s office waiting to be called, during your children’s nap time, while listening to a lecture (I multitask pretty well), or my fave place – on the beach.  But, I can’t always get to the beach – and I seldom have quiet time at home with two boys 3 and under – but I still love to be creative.

My ideal work space is definitely not what I have now – but I am thankful for what I have now.  We live in a small-ish town home so my desk (that we got as a wedding gift) is in the corner of our living room.  It has a mirror and a huge window so I’ve got lots of natural light.  I have a little set of drawers that my parents had had forever that I took (with their permission) and repainted with Annie Sloan in a wonderful teal.  I recently repurposed some shelving that was in our son’s room and brought it downstairs to make the tight space more manageable and warm.  When on a tight budget, like we are on now, it is better to repurpose then to buy new.  I love having all my paper, markers, pens, ink, and books!  It definitely helps to have a space to write on – and not just pulling up a lap.  And my husband appreciates me not always taking over the dining room table!

creative space at home

Now, with my ideal space: I would have beautiful pottery barn baskets to hide the “stuff” and anthro pens holders (but I do love my Talenti Gelato containers).  I would have it in a closed room so I could leave it more messy sometimes if I’m working on a big project (like addressing wedding invitations which is my weekend project).  I would also love more bookshelves because I love to read and I think reading spurs on creativity.  And I would love a big comfy chair to curl up in!  And I know laptops are great but I would love a massive mac for photo editing.  And, when I worked as a curriculum writer for a church in NC, I had a round table in my office.  I would mostly work there instead of my desk and it was perfect for having collaborative meetings – definitely get one of those too!  A girl can dream right?

WeWork has inspired me to talk about my ideal creative space.  They rent out creative shared office space in (mostly) big cities to creatives who need to have a studio or just a desk.  It is really helpful for creatives to be around other creatives.  Something about being with creatives that really spurs me on – even if its just talking about our creatives muses or collaborating on a project.  If I have the chance to do that once the boys are in school, and there is one in whatever city we live in at that time (currently live in the metro ATL area), that that would be great for writing and photo editing, especially.

We Work

 

 

Coffee With Karisse Joy

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Karisse Joy

I’ve known some pretty creative people in my life, and this long time friend is certainly one of them.  Her life is one turn after another and I love to watch how she handles it all with a creative flair.  And her latest project – a coloring book with a spiritual tone to it (mostly for adults) is definitely a winner and would make a great Christmas present for any one over the age of 8 – but really thinking for the lovely creative lady on your list or even the teenager who loves to be creative with a crayon or colored pencil.  Now that I’ve given you one way to finish your Christmas shopping, let me introduce you to my friend, Karisse.

We’ve not sat down together in a long time – but if we were sitting down together for a cup of coffee in a favorite coffee shop – what would you be drinking and where would we be?

We would be sitting at my favorite coffee shop: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf! I fell in love with this place when I lived in Los Angeles and wish they had one here in Florida! I would be drinking a Strawberry Tea Latte or a Vanilla Iced Blended which chocolate covered coffee beans. We, of course, would be lucky enough to have snagged the corner with the comfy chairs. 🙂

Be Kind

This coloring book is a new venture for you – but not living the creative life.  Can you tell us about some of your other creative works?  (Folks, she did beautiful art of Scripture for my boys’ rooms.

My sister and I started a small art company called “Pretty Philosophie“. We paint inspiring quotes and silhouettes. (Our fave silhouettes are of Audrey Hepburn, Anne of Green Gables and Marilyn Monroe.) We never use stencils and I often do the lettering freehand! I’m also in the process of writing two books! One is the story of how my grandmother (Oma) escaped from Concentration Camp in Yugoslavia. (We aren’t Jewish, but German and our people were put into concentration camps right after WWII.  The other book is about my experience with cancer and what I learned about myself, illness and God in the process.

Why a coloring book and why a quiet time?

Let’s be real. Sometimes reading the Bible, focusing while praying and meditating on Scripture can be difficult. At least, it can be for me. When I was in high school I started writing out my prayers as a way to help me focus on them. In college I doodled while I took notes so I could pay attention. In my 20’s I started writing out passages of Scripture in “fancy” lettering so that I was forced to work slowly and really meditate on the verses. And I’ve always loved coloring!

Creative Quiet Time: A Coloring Book for Your Soul is my labor of love to pass these practices on to others. I wanted to enable a way for people to spend time with God while using the arts and creativity. Besides, God is the one who created the arts, and, well, creativity! My prayer is that this book enables people to connect their mind, soul and spirit to Jesus and receive revelation of His ways and His love as they color.

 

What is your favorite coloring page in the whole book?

Oh, that’s a tough one! I think that my favorite, because it’s so detailed, is the “Be kind to yourself” page. “Be kind to yourself” was my motto in 2014 and it bled into 2015 as well. I based that on Philippians 4:8–focusing on things that are life giving, true, beautiful and lovely. So often, we are our own worse critic and don’t see ourselves the way that God sees us. We have a tendency to have a negative track running through our minds. But, Jesus has countless loving thoughts towards us, and I think we should have the same towards ourselves.

What will be coming next from the creative genius of Karisse?

Oh gosh! I am hoping that a second coloring book, or a new and improved version of the current one (with extra pages) are on the horizon. And finishing my books! Both of them! My sister and I will continue to work on our art and are expanding to include furniture refurbishing too!

Creativity and Travel

You love to travel – how has that played in to your creative life?

I think you spice up your life by travel. It’s beautiful to see how each culture expresses themselves. God has used that to reveal to me aspects of Himself that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was at home. I love pulling the various pieces of design from each place too. Thailand is full of sparkles and vivid colors. India is packed with details in every nook and cranny. South Africa has a freedom about it that is so warm and welcoming. France and Italy have a regal beauty that invites you to sit and enjoy what surrounds you. I think I have borrowed from every culture I’ve encountered.

Why do you love the color teal?

You know, that’s a great question. If you knew me in college (or right after) you would say that my favorite color is purple. While I still love purple, in the last decade teal has taken over. There is just something so fun, free and inviting about that color. It’s just perfect.

Coffee With Danielle of The Little Things Workshop

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Here’s a new Friday and a new introduction to a new friend!

 

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 Hello!  My name is Danielle and I’m brand new to the maker scene! Well, I’ve been a maker all my life, but now I’m a seller too! I opened my shop, The Little Things, less than 6 months ago. Grateful to be a part of the maker community!!

I have a degree in Interior Design, which I put into practice in Atlanta for 6 years. Then something stirred inside me and I developed a huge heart for missions.  I spent about 5 years working for a small overseas missions organization.  God has me taking a step back for a season.  It has become perfect opportunity to open my shop! Something that’s always been a dream of mine. I’m back in my home state of Michigan. Currently my “day job” (as I like to call it) has me working at the front desk of a counseling office. When I’m not there, you can find me working in my shop, attempting to stay Paleo, playing with my nieces and nephews or scrolling through social media!  Ha!

If we could sit down at your favorite coffee shop together, where would that be and what would you be drinking?

So hard to decide!  There are lots of little coffee shops where I live in Grand Haven, MI.  Today I would pick The Bakers Wife and I’d be drinking a hot green tea.  If I were still in Atlanta, my favorite has always been Land of a Thousand Hills in Roswell.

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I love your state-designed prints. How did you get started in those?

Thank you! Since Michigan has a rather unique shape, I’ve seen Michigan themed designs for a long time.  It seems that “state love” is not just for Michigan any more and as popular as ever, so I couldn’t help myself!

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Where did your love of design come from?

I think I must have been born with it!  I even remember sketching houses when I was little.  My mom is super-woman when it comes to all things creative – basket-making, sewing, quilting, collages, even baking.  I must have some of her genes because I get so much joy from designing, creating and making anything and everything!

What is your favorite medium to work with and what is the thing that inspires you the most?

Favorite medium? I don’t know if I could pick!  I started with cards and prints because I’ve always enjoyed it and I had all the supplies just waiting for me.  There are so many other things I enjoy though!  Including sewing and lots of random Pinterest inspired projects.  This may sound silly, but thrifting inspires me!  I go with my mom a lot and I’m constantly seeing things and thinking “I could make that into something!”

What are three things in your life that you can’t live without?

I need my quiet time!  If I don’t get even just a little in the morning, my entire day feels off.  Music.  I’ve pretty much got it on 24/7.  And a list!  Whether it’s hand-written or digital.  A calendar or a task list.  Work or personal.  I just need a list!

You mention your love of Jesus, please share something he is teaching you about himself and how incorporate that truth into your art.

Right now I feel like He’s teaching me how to rely on Him MORE!  I see His strength kicking in when I have none.  Not so much physical strength, but that sustaining grace that helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I hadn’t thought about how I incorporate that into my work, but I will be from now on!  Some of the quotes on my prints come from ideas that have settled in my heart.  I’ve had lots of different thoughts about how my shop could have a kingdom-impact, and I haven’t landed on any of them yet.  I’m hoping in the near future to figure out how to dedicate a percentage of my proceeds to support work in the 1040 Window.

Go show some love to Danielle!

What’s the Scoop with Grown-Up Coloring Books?

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Saint Simons Nature

If you haven’t been in a Michaels are read blogs you may not know this – but coloring books are back.  No, not for kids – but for adults.  Mostly women who want to have a creative outlet.  Coloring books are definitely a new thing in the adult coloring world – and may be here for at least a little bit – and one of the fads I love.

My friend Karisse is doing them and I love hers because they are simple and based on Scripture for the most part of really cool quotes that she likes.

Blogging For Books had one I chose by Daria Song.  I really loved the prettiness of the book, but for me it was a little too detailed.  I like to color to relax and just think and do nothing.  When I have to be that detailed in my coloring (I like coloring inside the lines) then it isn’t as relaxing for me.

I can’t wait to do some more though and keep the coloring trend alive!