Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quiet Moments

Today was a snowy day and Monkey wasn't feeling 100% so we pulled out the watercolors. It was nice to sit in the quiet with him and just create. 







Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finding my zen...

As you can tell by my lack of blogging things have been a little bit crazy the past 8 or so months. Starting a business will do that I guess. Winter is here now though and that means it's the sloooow season for photography. While I am trying to spend a lot of time researching, working on marketing and learning during these off months I also made a promise to myself to start doing more of the other things I love. Being creative in any way is a wonderful outlet and helps me find my zen.

My first project of 2015 was a fun one and was inspired by a new friend! Jacquie over at The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood is a crafting/art/sewing/cooking/mommy hero! Seriously!! I'm so glad we met this past year and I am really looking forward to spending more time with her! She has totally motivated me to be more creative. I see her posts and it just gets my creative juices flowing and soon I find myself huddled over my stash of fabric and craft supplies. 

After messaging Jacquie and asking a million questions and being encouraged that I could quilt I picked a few fabrics out and got started...



I wish I would have taken some pictures of the process (there might be some on my phone) but here are the finished pillow cases...


Now I'm officially hooked and am considering branching out of the simple square patchwork and trying something a little more difficult. I stopped by a local quilt shop today and picked up some more gorgeous fabrics for my next project. Who knows, maybe I'll be brave and make a throw blanket for the couch...maybe. 


Also, Zimm is in love with the pillows and has begged me to make him a pillow case for his pillow so I'll be sure to share pics of that after it's finished. He picked some 'boy' fabrics so it should be an interesting project. haha

Monday, January 19, 2015

The flip side of technology....

Technology is amazing. I mean, think about all the things we have now that we didn't have 20 years ago. Tiny computers that are also our phones, hundreds of television channels and a little box that lets us pause or record live tv, that thing called the Internet that let's us instantly connect with some one who's on the other side of the world. I mean, it's all pretty freaking cool. But, like with most things, there is a flip side. A dark side. 

Have you noticed what technology has done to us? How it's changed us? How many kids do you see playing outside on a nice day? How many kids to you see walking around a mall talking and laughing? When was the last time you actually SPOKE to a good friend or family member rather than sending a text or an email. 

It's so easy to feel like we are part of some one's life because we see their updates on Facebook and know what's going on when we've actually not even talked to them in months or maybe years. Technology let's us be lazy about relationships. It allows us to look like we care without having to actually put forth the effort to keep up a relationship. Now, don't get me wrong...I don't think that's the case all the time but answer me honestly. How many people on your friends list to you actually talk to? How many of those status updates do you comment on. Do you just 'like' a post? Do you even do that? When was the last time you called someone to just chat? I'm guilty of using a text or email as an easy way to contact some one. As a mom it's hard to get on the phone but guess what...our parents did it and so did our grandparents. Why can't we?

Technology is such a sticky web. We need it...I need it. If I didn't have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I probably wouldn't have met half of my photography clients and I certainly never would have connected with my local blogging mommas. I know if I could I'd go 'off the grid' and just live an 'old-fashioned' life where you actually call people to see how they are. Heck, even texting is ok as long as it's sincere. But alas technology is a necessary evil especially in the business world. 

Why am I writing this? I'm not sure. Maybe just to get these feelings off my chest. Maybe to remind myself and others to remember how to have a real relationship. If we truly care then we have to make an effort. Take time and re-evaluate what and who is important in your life. Find ways to reach out to them that involve a pen or your voice. I know we can never go back and have things the way they used to be but if we all try we can make a change. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What I love…Holiday Card Edition!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I love” post but with the holidays quickly approaching I figured now is a great time to start back up!

The holidays are such a busy time of the year. We’re always rushing here and there trying to fit in every possible activity and trying to see our friends and family. Unfortunately, for many of us that’s not only hard but almost impossible. I’m not sure about you but my network of family and many of my best friends are spread all over the US. Heck, some even in Canada and Australia! A great way to spread holiday cheer to these friends and family this year is through beautiful holiday photo cards. I’ve shopped around and noticed you can pretty much order them anywhere. But for me I want something unique. Something that stands out as it hangs in the home of those I love.

This year I found Minted. How I have yet to discover this site up until now is beyond me! Maybe my subconscious knew that I’d have a hard time resisting all the beautiful things they have to offer. I mean, just look at a couple of my favorite card designs they have available from their new collection:
CompleteTreeChristmasPhotoCardbyMinted
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Gorgeous right?! Not only are they beautiful but there are so many ways to customize each card. You can have a flat card, you can get them in a cool shape, you can get ones that open up, you can change the colors, AND they even have these SUPER awesome Mini Book Cards! Wouldn’t these be amazing for the friends and family you don’t get to see as often as you’d like. I mean, this truly turns a holiday card into an actual holiday gift. Just beautiful!
MiniBookPhotoCardByMinted
Be sure to check out all the other amazing card designs Minted has available to create one that suits your family perfectly! Now, please excuse me while I spend the next 10 hours 30 min browsing the rest of Minted’s site…did you see they also offer gifts, home d├ęcor AND fabric?! I think I found my new addiction!
{This is a sponsored post by Minted. I was not financially compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Saturday, November 1, 2014

DIY Halloween Mystery Box Game

With this year being the boys first public school year school parties are a new thing for us. I was asked to help with Bub’s Halloween Party and while I was excited I was a little nervous too! I mean, we’re talking about a bunch of 9/10 year olds who are hitting that stage where you never know what’s still cool and what’s super lame and embarrassing. When the lead mom asked if I’d do a game I agreed and immediately hit my favorite place for inspiration…PINTERST! I saw quite a few cool sensory games so I decided to run with that and add my own spin and created this fun, creepy, and gross Halloween Mystery Box Game!

Ashley Mikula Photography

The idea behind the game is that you have each participant slip their hand into the box and try to guess what they are touching. Common food items are used and disguised as gross body parts like eyes, ears, tongues, fingers, teeth and brains. I mean, who doesn’t love a little bit of gooey, slimy, smooshy body parts on Halloween?

Ashley Mikula Photography

Ashley Mikula Photography

What you will need for this project…

~ Box (Make sure it’s big enough and sturdy enough to cut a small hole in the front for the hands to go through and a large opening in the back so you can switch the containers out.)

~ Plastic table cloth or wrapping paper to cover the box. (I used a table cloth on my box and used duct tape to secure it. I did not worry about covering the back of the box and the bottom is completely open.)

~ Felt to cover the opening in front and make teeth (if you want). (For the black felt I cut an X to make it easy for the kids to slip their hands in and out of the box without being able to peek in to see what they were touching.)

~ Creepy letters or stickers to decorate your box.

~ Small food containers to hold your sensory items.

~ Food items to resemble body parts. You can see what I used but get creative…there are a lot of other fun things you could do!

The kids seemed to really enjoy the game. I loved watching their faces as they touched certain items, especially the slimy bananas. I also expected some of the kids to not want to participate but they all loved it…even the girls! (Side note, my two younger boys were more hesitant to play at home and wouldn’t do it until I showed them first that they weren’t really touching real eyes/finger/brains/teeth/ears/tongues.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Be Perfectly Imperfect

Life is a crazy journey on which we see so many other people at a glance. We see all the prettiness of the outsides of their lives. We see their perfect house that they own, their shiny cars, their well behaved children, their calm demeanor. We see their status updates, tweets and Instagram pictures and feel that twinge of envy wondering how they do it. It’s so easy in the moment to compare ourselves to others especially if we are going through a rough patch. It’s so easy to think, “Why do they have it all together? How can they do it? Maybe I’m doing this all wrong?”

This way of thinking and comparing can be so destructive. It is a habit that is so easy to get into and one that is also so hard to break. We are all different and just because what we see on the outside looks perfect doesn’t mean that it truly is. With technology today and social media it’s so easy to make things look pretty, perfect and put together. I’ve seen this quote recently and I find myself repeating when I find myself starting on the comparison cycle…

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As a women and mothers we need to work on not only being easier on ourselves but also being honest with others. We need to know that it’s ok to fail. If your having a bad day, put it out there. Let other mommas know that you’re normal and that it’s OK to have a bad day. Did you yell at your kids too much today? That’s OK! We all have our moments. We are human after all. Be honest with your momma friends AND your kiddos and use that moment as a teaching moment. Show your kids that you’re not perfect and that  you don’t expect them to be either. That we all make mistakes and when we do we just have to pick ourselves back up and try to better next time. 

Let’s be mentors, not martyrs or fakes. Let’s live our life with our heart on our sleeve. Let’s show other women that perfection isn’t attainable and that imperfection is beautiful and perfect. Let’s live our lives with the goal to lift each other up and help each other through the tough times so we can celebrate the victories together. Let’s be perfectly imperfect.

On November 15 there is a unique conference coming to Pittsburgh called The Mom Con…A conference for moms, by moms, created to inspire, empower and connect moms. Why not join me at the Mom Con? Not only will you have an opportunity to meet some amazing women but I think you will find yourself lifted and encouraged by the speakers that will be presenting that day. Take a day for you. Sometimes us mommas need a little break and that’s OK! We have to be whole and happy ourselves so we can be a complete and content momma for those little ones who depend so much on us. Want to win a pass to The Mom Con? Just enter below for your chance for a free pass to the Saturday session. I hope to see you all there for a wonderful event that I know will leave us all changed for the better. xo

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Friday, October 17, 2014

#RiverRide100 – Raising awareness for arthritis one mile at a time.

Recently I had a story brought to my attention. A story of a group of friends biking 100 miles to raise awareness for a disease very near to my heart…Arthritis.

On Saturday, October 18, five friends will be riding a more than 100-mile stretch of the Great Allegheny Passage from Rockwood, Pa., to the Point in downtown Pittsburgh in one day to raise awareness and money for the Arthritis Foundation.

Last year, a similar group of bike riders traveled from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. over five days and raised more than $6,000 in just two weeks. 

RiverRideDC1

This year, the ride is being sponsored by Krakoff Communications, Inc. and Steelcoast creative, whose founders Jeff Krakoff and Scott Bowlin respectively, are participating in the ride.

Krakoff, 50, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two decades ago, and fellow rider Pete Chiste, 56, has osteoarthritis in his knee. Both agree that bike riding has really been a boost both physically and also emotionally. The other three riders are also very active people who have their share of injuries, aches and pains, and are candidates for arthritis.

RiverRideDC2

This year’s team includes Jeff Krakoff and Vic Walczak, Upper St. Clair; Scott Bowlin, Mt. Lebanon; Pete Chiste, Peters Township; and Craig Hoffman, Bethel Park. To read more about RiverRide 100 and follow this years journey be sure to like their Facebook page and check out their website, riverride100.com.

It warms my heart to see a group of people getting together on their own to raise awareness for arthritis. Being a parent to a child who suffers from Juvenile Arthritis this gives me hope. Not only hope that the funds they raise will help lead to better treatments and possibly a cure but also hope that some day our Monkey will lead others to raise awareness as well.

If you would like to help support this wonderful group of friends you can donate here. I know you may not know these friends personally but know they they are doing this for others suffering from arthritis and the children like our Monkey who will life with JA for the rest of his life. Thank you Jeff, Vic, Scott, Pete and Craig for riding for my Monkey and all the others who suffer from this disease.