Good Things That Happened in 2016

I know what you're thinking.

"Well, this is going to be a short list."

Ha! I was thinking the same thing! (jinx). It's been really easy to complain about 2016 and thumbs up all the "2016 in flames" gifs. Like, really easy. But, I think it always actually feels better to look for the good. To find gratitude in hard times. This post was inspired by a tweet from my friend, Heidi, and from the talk "Gratitude on the Sabbath Day" by Henry B. Eyring, which I was listening to in the car the other day. Here are some of the good things that happened for me in 2016:

I surpassed my 2016 reading challenge goal on Goodreads. This was a big one for me. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I love reading. But it's been really hard for me to actually just read these last few years. But, ever since separating from Camaron, I've basically been absorbing books. It's been a sort of divorce coping mechanism, I guess? A direct quote from my mom: "At least you're not drinking!"

Spending more time with friends than I have in probably the last 2 years combined. Old and new friends. This may be the best part of this year. Being around the people who lift me up, make me laugh, and inspire me has helped bring joy into my life in so many ways.

I got pictures taken with me and the kids. This is a big one, because I am soooo that mom who is never in pictures. I love taking pictures, but don't always feel comfortable coming out from behind the camera. I don't know why. And I didn't even realize I was so bad about this until it was time to submit a photo of our family to our ward directory. I seriously couldn't find any that had the kids and me in it. Well, actually I did find one. And I was blurry in it. Jenny and I joked that it was our ward directory photo session when she took our pictures for us. It was.

I launched my modern calligraphy workshops this year! I've loved and used modern calligraphy for a few years, but was really intimidated about teaching, even when people expressed interest in me starting up a class. But I decided to finally just do it ...and I am loving it! And I have been overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who has signed up or helped spread the word about my workshops. All three of my workshops coming up in January sold out within a day of my posting them! I was/am shocked. Thank you!

Pinner's Conference was such a fun and amazing experience. My first big big show that I had my Little Kit Design booth at! I loved meeting so many people who loved creating and getting to take classes and having success in selling my pieces.

I got to see San Francisco for the first time this year. It was beautiful and the sourdough lived up to all of my expectations:)

Also, in 2016, this picture happened:

so, there you go.


Happy Christmas Weekend!

By some miracle (a Festivus miracle, duh), I'm all done with my Christmas shopping! So This weekend shall be filled with cheesy Christmas movies, treats, and more treats. Then presents. Then more treats. And snuggles. Happy Christmas weekend!!!

Modern Calligraphy Workshops

The last couple weekends, I had the opportunity to teach a few modern calligraphy workshops. It took a bit of work to prepare and  a little bit of nervousness in anticipation, but it was all completely worth it. I loved every minute of sharing a skill that I've come to love over the years.

My first class was actually held at my friend's parent's home with a few members of her family. A nice, intimate setting. They even had the Carpenters playing in the background! It was so much fun. I loved the excitement in those students. And they totally rocked the pen and ink! Plus, Bethany's mom's cookies were so, so yummy.

The next class was a bit larger and held in my home. Both classes had a bit of a holiday theme, so we worked in black, as well as gold ink. We also worked on some holiday phrases once we were warmed up and had some letter practice. These ladies were so talented! I've had requests for an intermediate class, so we can go more into letter spacing, composition, flourishes, different nibs, and more! I'm so excited to set that up.

Here is the link for the next upcoming workshop. How fun would it be to gift to a friend or family member and then attend together?? Spaces are very limited, so sign up quick:)



F: "Mom, why do you have to go to work?"
M: "So I can pay for cool stuff for us."
F: "Well, why don't you just get money another way."
M: "Do you know other ways to get money?"
F: "Yeah, like just go to a bank."
(of course!)

"Awww come on!" -Fox's reaction lately whenever something doesn't go his way.
Ex: (When he saw he got some gum from someone for Halloween) "Awww come on!! Don't they know I'm just a kid?!" (I may have convinced Fox that gum is gross and only for adults) p.s. I always think of THIS when he says it

M: "What are you doing?"
F: "Oh, just sitting on nothing." (he's obviously sitting on a covered pile of toys. Suddenly, I hear a toy train whistle from under him)

"I'm not even enjoying this." -Fox playing Pokemon go in the car while I drive and discovering we're out of pokeballs.

(Overheard from the other room)
F: "Quick, Sloane, hide! Grandpa is coming. We do not want him to find us. Cause if he finds us, he'll toot on us and then say that we did it!"  -Grandpa is known for blaming others when the cheese is cut.

Photo taken by @jennybsnaps

Halloween 2016

 A Detective, French toast, and Minnie mouse (and her baby)

Our costume plans evolved a lot over the last month or so. Mostly because (as much as I fought it) the kids were/are in charge. We had a group/theme costume I was really excited for, but then Fox just came up to me one day and announced that he wanted to be "a 'tective with a mag-fying glass." So that was that.

His costume wasn't too difficult to make (I used these directions), but Sloane got really sick during my appointed "costume-making-time", so she ended up with a store-bought Minnie costume -which we were all perfectly fine with. It's way cuter than what I could've made, for sure. And she requests to wear it everyday:)

We went trick-or-treating in my parent's neighborhood, and the kids were done after two streets (just like last year) ha! They still ended up with A TON of treats, though. Not many kids went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood this year, so everyone gave Fox and Sloane extra-large helpings of candy (which I am helping take care as I type). And yes, Sloane brought her baby with her the whole time we trick-or-treated. How was your Halloween?

Aftermath of the Divorce Post

Writing my most recent post was a lot harder than probably any other post I've written. Not only was I worried about reactions to the news, but that perhaps I wouldn't express my thoughts accurately enough -that my words would be misunderstood.

Now that my words and story are out there, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for the warm embrace I felt after exposing a very personal and difficult part of my life. I have felt nothing but kindness and love from each comment/hug/chat/drop-by/message (whether from someone I know or anonymous). I mentioned in the post that I'm doing much better than I thought I would, but of course all of this is still very hard. So, again, thank you so so much. Can I just take you all out for donuts?

Also, something I really didn't expect, I have received a few private messages from people going through somewhat-similar situations asking for advice. I feel incredibly unqualified in this department. I'm totally fine discussing what some of our struggles were, but please keep in mind, every relationship is unique. Something that was incredibly hard for us to overcome may not pertain to someone else's relationship (does that make sense?). On a related note, if you're having a hard time and just want to talk, I'm all for chatting:)

When A Marriage Ends

One night over the summer, when I was home alone (Camaron was at work), I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. It was an older-sounding lady doing a survey about families. Even though I sometimes get anxiety talking on the phone, I usually go ahead and do surveys like this. I figure a job at a call center is probably no fun, so I try to be as nice as I can. The questions she asked that I remember were along the lines of "are you married?" "Do you have children?" "Does your family practice religion?" "Does your family pray daily?" Eventually, she got to one of the last questions, "Do you see yourself still married to your spouse in five years" and I could only answer "no". I immediately felt sad and uncomfortable, and even though she had to stick to her script, I could tell she felt it too. I've known for a while that things weren't going to last.

All marriages are hard. I'm pretty sure that's a fact. I went into ours knowing this. But, for the first year or so, I felt like we just lucked out. We were so great together. We were on the same page for almost everything. We worked well together and made each other happy. It wasn't perfect, but I had heard so many friends complaining about their marriages, so I just knew ours was something extra special. But, not too surprising, things changed. We changed. And we didn't change together. It was actually more opposite. I won't go into detail because it's just sad. I don't mind talking about what happened, but I feel I'm better at explaining some things in person, so I'm not going to post details on here. There are two sides to every story, and I would really rather portray things in the clearest way possible to be fair. Maybe that doesn't even make sense. It's the best I can do right now though.

This is a post I never wanted to write. For the past year or so, though, I knew I eventually would type these words (or something similar).

 It made it hard to plan things for the future. Should I buy these concert tickets for us? Should we plan that trip? It just felt so unlikely that Camaron and I would still be together much longer. But I kept moving forward and we kept moving forward. Then I'd get my hopes up for a while that we were going to grow old together ...even though we were both miserable inside.

Doesn't that just happen for couples who fight all the time? Couples who sleep in different rooms? Couples who talk crap about their spouses to others? Not to couples who say "I love you" and have a goodnight kiss EVERY night. Not to couples who finish each other's sentences way too often. Not to me.

But we've been sad for so long. Sure, we have happy moments. The kids are awesome (oh, the kids. The hardest part in all of this). We enjoy doing a lot of things together. But the happy stuff is all just surface level, it seems. There were lots of little things. And we have had big issues. We've been to multiple counselors (I'm a big fan of counseling, FYI), but in our situation, we just weren't able to work through it.

We've worked for this marriage. For us. But we still ended up here. I don't write that to make it seem like divorce is inevitable. I just want to make it clear that we definitely have not taken our marriage lightly. We haven't just given up. I honestly feel like I did all I could. I would have never agreed to a divorce if I didn't feel that way.

Once we officially made our decision and I moved out and into my parent's house, into my old room, at a time when I should have felt so so terrible and sad and alone and confused, I felt a weight lifted. I felt less anxiety and stress than I had in years. I joke that maybe it was just my new anxiety meds finally kicking in, but I know it was something I was meant to feel. That it was a reassurance that this was the right decision -even though I had never wanted it.

It continually amazes me that I haven't had a day where I just sat at home crying to myself all day long (if you know me even slightly well, you know I'm a big cryer. Uncontrollable. Ugly). I've definitely been sad about this situation. It's not ideal. But I've been able to feel happy. To feel optimistic. I don't speak a lot about religion on here, but I would be a huge liar if I didn't attribute these feelings of comfort as direct answers to prayer. And not just the feelings, but the people who have been there for me right from the moment everything happened. I know each person who has texted, called, volunteered babysitting, hugged me hard, bought me treats... each of you has been a blessing for me from a loving Heavenly Father. These experiences have brought light back into my life.

So, I think we're all caught up now. I don't know what's next for me and my family. It's definitely going to be hard for a while. But I know that I'm not alone and I can do this and I'm moving forward.

*The pictures in this post were taken by me on my trip to Switzerland in 2010. I love these pictures and didn't want sad pictures in this post:)

**Sorry if this comes as a big shock to some of you. I would have liked to tell more of you about it in person, rather than have you find out this big change on my blog. But the truth is, I hardly told anyone. I'm terrible with sharing things like this. Again, sorry for not telling you sooner.

***As I mentioned earlier, I don't mind talking about what happened. If you have questions, please let me know. I don't mind if you're just curious, or if you are in or have been in a similar situation and would like to discuss. I'm totally down for that.


Phoenix Fire Station Field Trip

Fox's preschool class recently had safety week, which was capped off with a visit to a local fire station. Sloane and I lucked out and got to tag along too. This was such a cool field trip! 

Their faces! Hahaha
The firefighter who gave the tour was awesome. He showed us just about everything at the station and in the fire trucks. And he let the kids take turns spraying the fire hose -major highlight!
There may be a few future firefighters in the bunch:)

Other highlight: we went the the fire station at lunch time, while the fire fighters were cooking their lunch feast. holy cow. If you ever have an emergency that requires you to stop by a fire station, plan it around lunch time:)

My Experience at Pinner's Conference 2016

Have you heard of Pinner's Conference? It's a show where you can take amazing classes and then shop hundreds of super-talented vendors. Basically, it's the best weekend ever. In the past, the conference has always been held in SLC. But this year, they expanded to a few other locations, including AZ!

I first heard about it a few years ago, because one of Camaron's aunts is a healthy food/life genius and was a presenter at the SLC show a few times. It looked like so much fun. So, when I was invited to be a vendor, I jumped on the opportunity. And I'm so glad I did, because it was so much fun and I learned so much (both from classes and from experiencing my first big trade show). 

The classes were one of my favorite aspects of the weekend. Thank you Natalie for being my booth-mate, so I could take some classes!!! (and also, because it's always fun to hang with you). I took a watercolor desert botanicals class and an advanced watercolor florals class. I have a tiny bit of watercolor background, but I always love learning more -and I did! Pink Puddle Studio and Natalie Malan were such great teachers.

Ok, let me do a little run-down of my booth. 

I wanted to make sure to document it well. This was not just for my benefit, but for anyone else looking for inspiration for their first big booth. (If this isn't your thing, just scroll to the bottom;) 
I felt kinda like I was going into this blind, because I couldn't find many resources for different setups for a booth similar to mine (selling hand lettered art prints). So, be ready for plenty of pictures! And just a heads up, the lighting at the show wasn't the best, so some pics are a little grainy -not my fav, but you get the idea:)

My goal for my display was to showcase as many prints as possible and also show some framed prints hanging, to help customers to picture my work on display in their homes. Also, it had to be cute. My dad can make anything, so he was an amazing resource in bringing my ideas to a reality. 

We built a bi-fold wall from plywood. Each side is 4'x6' with a piano hinge connecting them. I then hung the framed pieces using Command hanging strips -which worked great!

The tri-fold on the table is made from pegboard. I'm pretty sure it's 3' tall and the middle piece is 4' wide with the sides being 2' wide each. Then I screwed in bulldog clips to display my prints with.

Let's just go ahead and cut to the chase here, though. The real stars of the booth (and possibly the whole conference) were the giant paper flowers that my extremely-talented friend, Jenny Bradford, created for me. I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you that EVERY SINGLE person who came to my booth commented on them (or wanted to buy them). Even people who were just walking by did double-takes because these flowers are just so pretty. I couldn't get my camera to do them justice! So if you ever need paper florals, Jenny is your girl!

I added triangle wood shelves (built with Ron Swanson-like precision and love) and canvas banners to my inventory this time around:)

You guys, I sold out of these woodland animal prints. Sold out! milestone.

One of the most common questions I got right after Pinner's Conference wrapped up was "would you do it again?"

It was an incredibly stressful week/weekend, and I definitely went out of my comfort zone trying to not come off as a nervous, shy kid sitting in a booth. And i didn't go to the bathroom the whole day. Both days.

Here's my answer: I'm already planning on it:)

All of these prints are available in MY SHOP


Kitchen Helpers + Cookie Cake Recipe

When it comes to making desserts, I seem to always find two little volunteers begging to help out. I love how much Fox and Sloane are interested in all things involving making food. They always seem to be willing to stir, whisk, peek in on, pour, ...or just straight up lick a bowl clean. It really makes doing dishes a lot easier ;)
I made this cake for Fox's birthday back in August (guess it's about time I should post the rest of his birthday pics??). I asked if he wanted donuts for his party (because I wanted donuts, of course), but he told me he wanted a cookie party. So cookie cake it was! And it may be one of the best decisions of my life. It was sooooo good. I've been getting requests from my mom to make it again and again (now you know where my sweet tooth came from). I used this recipe. Make one and invite me over, please. Like asap.
Licking the bowl used to be my favorite baking task. But I'm ok with being replaced when the replacements are this cute (and they remove their shirts so they don't get chocolate on them) :)

Book Club

I know I've mentioned before that my kids are huge fans of books and reading, but I don't know if I've ever shared how I feel about reading. I love it! For as long as I can remember, I've always loved books. Library days were some of my favorites in elementary. I devoured Goosebumps, everything Roald Dahl, the Little House books, then came Joan Lowry Nixon thrillers, classic lit, and of course all the Harry Potter books. And so many more. 

The past few years though, it's been more difficult to set aside time for reading. I usually try to make goals for reading more, but I've been slacking. The last month or so, though, I've found myself with some extra windows of time that I have been filling with new books. Most have been YA novels (shameless guilty pleasure). Some I've liked. Some I've loved. One I hated. So, I thought I'd start doing some book recommendations on here. Partly to keep track of my reading progress, and partly to share with you some books I really enjoyed. I'll do my best not to post spoilers!

So, I guess this isn't exactly a book club (unless you want to start some discussion in the comments -which I love!). But I am in an actual book club. We wear muumuus to our meetings. It's the best. I chose "All the Light We Cannot See" for our October meeting. Have you read it? I'm so excited to dive into it. 

Alright, here we go. Oh, just an FYI, I recommend all of these books! Some I just favorite more than others:)

Saint Everything // Sarah Dessen
super-simple synopsis: Sydney's super-popular, family-favorite older brother ends up making poor choices and goes to jail for almost killing someone. Everyone is worried about her brother and she feels like she is the only one who feels bad for the victim of his crime. Sydney feels like everyone only sees her as her older brother's sister, so she decides to change schools to get a fresh start. Here, she meets the Chatham family. She immediately feels accepted. She makes lots of fun memories with them, meets a boy... I don't want to spoil too much!

I really loved this book. It was simple, but I really enjoyed it. It has a love story (which I loved), but it's more about the protagonist's relationships in her family -to me anyway. About how someone else's poor decisions can affect you. I really liked the characters and the personal growth Sydney goes through.

Love and Gelato // Jenna Evans Welch
After her mom dies, Lina spends the summer in Tuscany. She doesn't want to be there. But she ends up meeting new friends, meets and forms a relationship with her dad (love this), and gets to know some cute Italian boys (ooo la la -wait, that's French). And visits tons of cools places in Italy and eats a ton of gelato.

This book was fun and a little cheesy, but it was just such a nice simple read. And I loved learning her mom and dad's love story along with her. And the cover is so cute. And it makes you want to visit Italy so bad. And eat gelato. Why am I not eating gelato right now??

The Unexpected Everything // Morgan Matson
Andie is a prominent politician's daughter. So she's lead a pretty planned-out life and basically has to make sure she doesn't mess things up for her dad. Then, her dad's career gets put on hold, so everything changes. Unexpected! (Get it?) She becomes a dog walker and meets a cute boy and realizes she needs to figure out what she really wants in life and be more flexible.

I really like this author, but I like her other books better. This one was good, I just wasn't a huge fan of the dad's political background as part of the story. It made it feel kinda like the 90's classic "My Date with the President's Daughter", except her dad isn't even the president. Still a good book though. I'd give it 3.8/5 stars. Who's down for watching "My Date with the President's Daughter" this weekend??

The Girl on the Train // Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them.Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. The book suddenly become a thriller.

This book was pretty good. Not as much a thriller as I wanted, though. I read it mostly at night, but never felt scared ...but I also couldn't put it down. It's going to be a movie next month, so read this one quick. There was more swearing and adult themes in this book than the others -but it's not as sensual or whatever as the movie trailers make it seem.


Happy Birthday, Fox!

Let's go eat some cookies as big as your face again:)

San Francisco and Santa Cruz // In Photos

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