Going Laminate

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.

Where have you been, friends? It's so good to see you! I'm really looking forward to catching you up on all the going-ons. . . but in the meantime, I'm hopping right back into the swing of things. 

We've been busy, busy around here re-imagining our home. Our suburban colonial was built nearly twenty years ago and though we are only the second owners, we have definitely, errr, made our mark on the place. Take for example, our carpeting. Our second floor has had the original ivory-colored carpeting in the bedrooms and hallways (thankfully not the bathrooms), and ivory it was no more. And despite our vacuuming, spotting, and shampooing, two decades of wear and tear had rendered our carpeting pretty gross. 

Thanks to the good people at The Home Depot, we were able to make a great change!! We selected a beautiful Pergo laminate flooring and installed it ourselves over a series of weekends! I am a lightweight DIY pro. I can craft with the best of them, but ripping out carpeting, pulling up staples, and laying down a floating floor was out of my comfort zone. But there's strength in numbers, and two heads are better than one, so my husband and I (maybe more him than me) set our sights on a whole new look for our entire second floor. Head over to The Home Depot blog to see our how-to and reveal!!

With a new dog, a renewed love for houseplants, and a 20-year old carpet, I was convinced that we needed new flooring!

With a new dog, a renewed love for houseplants, and a 20-year old carpet, I was convinced that we needed new flooring!

I wanted a clean break from carpet and a fresh feel for our second floor. All of our bedrooms are on the second floor, and our kids sleep and play in their spaces so easy-to-clean was a top priority for me. With our new dog (there she is, that's Cozi!) and new plants, I wanted something durable.

I'm really happy with how the flooring has refreshed our space. 

Our master bedroom had become too much of a catch all for items no longer needed elsewhere. My first big step was a major re-organization. Once we de-cluttered and removed excess, I began to see the potential for this space. Our master has a beautiful vaulted ceiling, plenty of floor space, furniture that I love, and three large windows that brighten the room for most of the day.

Our master bedroom got a refresh all around with new paint, fresh pillows, and new accents. It feels better than ever!

Our master bedroom got a refresh all around with new paint, fresh pillows, and new accents. It feels better than ever!

Thanks to the recommendation of designer Jeran McConnel, we also decided to repaint our room. It had been cool green shade called Rejuvenation by Sherwin Williams, and we opted for a clean Alabaster shade (also from Sherwin Williams). Alabaster is a warm white that feels like a color and not the blankness that concerned me when we first considered going to white.

We still have a gallery wall to install, and I'm creating a painting for above our bed, but I already love how our once-dated space feels like an artist's loft with the dark floors and white walls. And I am quite partial to artist's spaces.

Today's laminate, like the beauty of Auburn Scraped Oak from Pergo, feels and looks authentic.

Today's laminate, like the beauty of Auburn Scraped Oak from Pergo, feels and looks authentic.

I reshaped and recovered our nursery glider with this great fabric from Minted artists. Now it feels as comfortable as ever but has a graphic quality that matures it for our bedroom space.

I reshaped and recovered our nursery glider with this great fabric from Minted artists. Now it feels as comfortable as ever but has a graphic quality that matures it for our bedroom space.

We also re-imagined some furniture in our space like the baby glider. Anyone have one of those??

When our first child was on her way, we wanted one of the infamous baby gliders. Five years later, not only had the glider outlasted its purpose, but we were left with an eyesore. I can't deny that the chair is really comfortable so I attempted to repurpose the glider for the sitting area of our bedroom. I added foam to reshape the traditional lines, and I recovered the whole thing in a graphic pattern from the artists at Minted. Now, along with a floor lamp and great gold pouf, the chair makes a cozy hideaway in front of our windows. It's a lovely spot for morning prayers and journaling as well as a late night retreat for final emails or great books (like this one that I'm loving right now).

This soft shag rug from The Home Depot grounds the room in comfort, and the translucent curtains remind me of summer even in the perma-gray of winter.

This soft shag rug from The Home Depot grounds the room in comfort, and the translucent curtains remind me of summer even in the perma-gray of winter.

Our new white shag rug grounds the room in comfort and luxury. The philodendron (which I've named Phil) is a great touch of green. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy having plants in my space.

I have more to share!! And I'm looking forward to giving you more peaks into our space. I have some projects that I think you'll love, and I'm happy to be back on the blog with you. Thanks for sticking with me and for supporting this blog and small business for so many years!!

Onward and upward - xoxo, MJ

 

 

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in this Laminate Flooring Installation ("the Program"). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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How to have the best summer with your kids: The Summer Explorers

Do you know how many school days there are left for your children?

I do–19.

I would describe my feelings about 19 days left as a lively mixture of anticipation, excitement, and . . . dread. Summer has all sorts of blissful expectations (particularly in this part of the world where good weather shines on us a few months a year), and I so want it to be a fun, low-key, fabulous time for my three children AND me. The ten-week summer is also a ton of time together–potentially getting on each other nerves, saying "I'm bored" too often, and falling back on electronic devices for each of us.

But I'm not going to let my fledgling fears get in the way of a great summer. So, here's what I'm doing, and I really hope you'll join in, too.

We're going to approach our summer with a spirit of curiosity. Curiosity builds to creativity and diverse ways to view the world and the people who inhabit it. 

So we begin with this - what do you want to learn this summer? And we pursue their ideas. Secondly, we make our days colorful, messy, loud, and smelly. Many of the wonderful crafts and kitchen experiments that you may remember from childhood can be used to teach real learning, scientific concepts, art history, and so much more. There are also easy and high-quality projects you can do together with your kids that will make the summer weeks memorable and full.

I want to equip me and you with the best tools and possibilities to make this summer awesome. I’ve studied art to discover that possibilities are limitless, and I’ve studied education to learn how to share this knowledge with children. Bundling my experience with our need and desire to make this a wonderful June, July and August, let's be:

THE SUMMER EXPLORERS

PROJECTS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN TO DO TOGETHER 

While it's been quiet here on the blog, I've been working on a book project that I'm transforming into weeks of fabulous information and projects for you and your kids!!! I'm so delighted to offer full, detailed weeks of ideas with printables, instructions, links, and how tos you can use right away (in 19 days!!).

You can select a la carte and receive a specific topic week, or you can invest in the whole summer and move ideas around to fit your schedule. These downloads will save you all the searching on Pinterest and Googling, eliminate the midday ponderings of what to do next, and they'll equip you with fun facts to make all the creating together a rich learning experience, too.

EVEN BETTER . . .

I want to offer you a built-in back up - a community of smart and involved moms who want to enjoy their summer, too!! With my pal, Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine, we're putting our heads together to form THE STRESS LESS MAMA. This group will be your pep squad, your tutor, your wicked smart best friend, and your spot to share all the hilarious that comes up. Amy and I are delighted to get to know and to help moms be more present and more themselves through tips, ideas, strategies, and the secret sauce (well, really, there's no secret sauce, but we'll dream together, m'kay?)

Please click over to see all of the bells and whistles I want to send your way!! Let's make this a wonderful summer for us AND our kids.

MORE ABOUT THE SUMMER EXPLORERS AND THE STRESS LESS MAMA.

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Hot Cocoa and Homemade Marshmallow Gift + Free Printable

With the busy timing of holiday parties and gift giving, you might find yourself in need of something sweet and small to offer to new additions on your list! I find a sense of peace knowing that I have a few extra presents around for the surprises that pop up. Here, to the rescue is a quick jar present that you can make ahead and gift to your heart's content or, if not needed, scavenge for yourself.

First off, if you've never made homemade marshmallows, may I encourage you to grab some unflavored gelatin and get on it! We made our first batch this year, and I am hooked!! Seriously. So much easier than I ever imagined. And waaaaaay tastier.

You can catch our whole marshmallow creation over on the Honest to Nod blog! I'm a monthly contributor to The Land of Nod's fun site, and we shared our experience with fresh marshmallow here.

Download the free printable recipe for fresh marshmallow and pair it with a jar of cocoa mix for an almost-homemade gift for anyone on your list!

Download the free printable recipe for fresh marshmallow and pair it with a jar of cocoa mix for an almost-homemade gift for anyone on your list!

For these jars, we used small cubes of fresh marshmallow on top of our cocoa mix. You can create your own combination or go semi-homemade like we did (half Kirkland's cocoa mix and half Ovaltine) and gifted our favorite combination of Christmas cocoas. I topped the cocoa with a piece of parchment paper to keep the mix and marshmallows from mixing.

Top off your holiday gifts with these cute stickers from Tiny Prints! Make spirits bright all season long.

Top off your holiday gifts with these cute stickers from Tiny Prints! Make spirits bright all season long.

All of our Christmas paper goods came from Tiny Prints! Their round stickers look perfect on top of the cocoa/marshmallow jars! These also look great on holiday envelopes and packages. As you can see, I'm all about the hand lettered look this year, and it all came together so beautifully.

My family and I are are nestled home in the balmy 60 degree weather of Northern Indiana! It's pretty unreal, but it's not stopping us from enjoying hot cocoa and marshmallows. And it's certainly not going to keep our Christmas spirits down. We're making the white Christmas this year. Cheers and laughter to you and your family this holiday season! Thanks for reading and supporting Pars Caeli, and all of our new adventures!!

xoxo, MJ

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How to tackle THE thing you've always wanted: a post on big goals

You've probably noticed, but just in case, 2015 is almost over! After the Star Wars premier, the final office Christmas parties, and the big celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas conclude, we'll be left with those lingering, last days of the year.

And on those days, I get the itch and the urge to make resolutions and pull out my bucket list. The possibilities of a fresh, new year get my adrenaline pumping! And yet, even in my most determined years, I've rarely kept up with the deliberate work toward those goals. My energy wanes after a few weeks.

This year I'm going a different way. I'm putting my goal out there to the big world, gathering companions to hold me accountable, and carving time out every day to work toward the one thing that I want to accomplish.

Join in the journey to write a book by following the hashtag #100daysproject_writeabook

Join in the journey to write a book by following the hashtag #100daysproject_writeabook

1. name your goal and share it:

What is THE thing that I've been hoping to accomplish and putting it on the back burner, over and over? We all have at least one of those things, don't we? Being brave and communicating your goal to others helps solidify it. Yes, public embarrassment is possible, but so is total success with a team of cheerleaders supporting you along the way.

So, I'm laying it out there, universe, I'm writing a book. In 2016, I'm writing a book. And I'm taking you along for the journey. 

Just so we're all on the same page, I've never written a book and I have no book deal in the works. However, I know that I have a book in me - a useful, high-quality, unique book - and I'm going to get it out! And just maybe a publisher or book agent might see it in the works and jump on it. And if they don't, I'm ready to self-publish and share!

Beginning in early January, I'll be sharing my voyage with you over 100 days. Have you tried a 100-days project? I've challenged myself to 30-day goals, but not yet 100, and I'm scared and pumped to make this book happen. Follow @parscaeli on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #100daysproject_writeabook to see all my steps along the way.

2. Gather a team to support you:

This is a new step for me. Though I love my friends and community, I rarely ask people to help me achieve my goals. So, I'm turning myself inside out, and pulling together a team of goal-driven folks I'm calling The Finders. We are all working toward some goal over the 100 days. Some of us are wanting to commit to daily exercise over 100 days and others are taking incremental steps to build our own businesses or open an online shop.

We are connecting to hold one another accountable, to offer honest feedback, and to help us be kinder to ourselves than we might be on our own. It's the most loving kick in the pants that we've each been needing.

Research on reaching your goals and getting closer to your dreams.

Research on reaching your goals and getting closer to your dreams.

3. Acknowledge and sit with challenges but do not be deterred:

This one speaks for itself, but I've been schooling myself on all the failure wisdom I can prior to beginning this journey. I'm not doing so because I believe I'll fail but, rather, to see how I can work with my own missteps, road blocks, and mistakes because they will happen. They always do. I want to learn how to wrap myself around the challenge and take it as part of the journey. I suspect some of my greatest learning might happen this way.

Before you embark on your journey, be ready to weave your challenges into your story rather than let them stand in your way.

Failure should be our teacher.

Failure should be our teacher.

4. Carving out time every day:

I thrive in routine, but I also rebel against it. Oh, the paradox. My plan is to have a designated time every day to write and to photograph for the book. Typically I am a late night worker, but for this, I think I will need a fresh mind so I'm planning to wake before the house does to have some quite time to myself. I've heard from so many other moms that this is the key to success! So, I'm going to give it a try.

Consider when is the best time for you to make your goal happen. Can you make it a consistent time every day?

Your goals for 2016? Which ones are you willing to go for?

Your goals for 2016? Which ones are you willing to go for?

So, what is it you want to do in 2016? Is there one actionable goal that you can take real steps toward in a daily and deliberate way??

Join the party! If you'd like to be a part of The Finders group as we challenge and encourage one another, send me an email with your goal at mj@parscaeli.com. But, don't hesitate, I'll be closing off the group on December 31st as we launch our 100 days January 5. And, remember, you can follow my big goal to write a book using the hashtag #100daysproject_writeabook! Make your own hashtag for your goal and share it in the comments so we can follow and throw love your way!

Let's do this thing.

xoxo, MJ

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Advice on creating your vision

We've almost come to the close of another year, and the new year is awaiting us with possibilities. I have the pleasure of welcoming Monique Malcolm of Keep Chasing the Stars to the blog today. She has really unique insights to share on how we can best achieve our big dreams... my favorite bit of wisdom is at the very end!
How do we achieve the big goals we set out there for the new year?

How do we achieve the big goals we set out there for the new year?

How did you get started as a coach?

It happened organically. I spent a few years teaching middle school so the desire to educate and help people figure things out was already there. Coaching felt like the most logical next step for me.

 

What do you find most of us struggle with in terms of setting goals?

The dreaming and planning phases are easy but when it comes to execution, that's where things stall out. There are a variety of reasons why this happens. The three most common reasons that I find are the motivation fizzles, life happens or the fear of having to step up and get it done takes over.

 

What's the game changer to achieve our goals?

You have to be clear about the work that's required to get what you want. It's a really straightforward thing to do, but most people skip over this step. This is exactly why New Year's resolutions fail. Achieving your goals takes work. There will be days where the work is easy and other days it will just suck, but you still have to do it. We don't spend enough time considering the amount of effort we will have to put out to get what we want. Once you reconcile with the work required and commit to doing it, your progress will be explosive.

 

Tell us about the Visionary Journal and what you hope people might get out of it.

I was really intentional not to make the Visionary Journal revolve around to-do lists. Planning around your to-do list is ineffective because it doesn't reflect your goals.

The Visionary Journal was designed to be actionable and to force you to plan ahead. There are very few goals that can be achieved being short sighted and planning day-to- day. You really need to be thinking about the big picture and how everything (especially your goals) fits together. I hadn't found a paper planning system that reflected that philosophy so I created it. My goal with the Visionary Journal is to help big dreamers become even bigger doers

If you're intentional about the actions you take on a daily basis I promise you the payoff will be ten times greater.

Monique Malcolm of Keep Chasing the Stars talks about her Visionary Journal.

Monique Malcolm of Keep Chasing the Stars talks about her Visionary Journal.

Are you making any New year's resolutions? What do you recommend to clients?


No, I don't have any New Year's Resolutions. The things that I want to improve about myself, life and business I've already started working on now. I know the excitement of a clean slate at the beginning of the year prompts people to want to make huge life changes, but you don't have to wait until some opportune time. It's a New Year, yes, but you get a clean slate every minute of your life. Don't wait. Make the change now so that it will be a habit by the New Year.





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An Open Letter to Momtrepreneurs & Side Hustlers

Warning: this is a long post that's been marinating for a while. Thanks for sticking with me to the end.

To anyone who considers themselves a momtrepreneur, a side hustler, or a juggler of more than one main focus: a must read.

To anyone who considers themselves a momtrepreneur, a side hustler, or a juggler of more than one main focus: a must read.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty for a sweet minute, friends. To all of you balancing a full-time job/part-time job/relationship/child(ren)/pets/major projects and something else (likely another one of those things just mentioned), you are doing great work. Your efforts are worthy and noticed and, dare I say, appreciated.

All of the things you want might not be in balance, in fact, you might not be in balance, but you are making progress. You are getting something done, you are adding to the world. 

And the YOU of it all is more important than the final WHATEVER. I feel so confident in that statement that I'm going to make it a big old generalization.

Take care of you. You matter. If the you of you is not here, the whatever is not going to happen or to happen as well as it would with you.

I'm not trying to be cryptic here. Let me say more.

A few things you may or may not know about me:

  1. I've been blogging, designing, networking, project-ing, and shop owning here for almost four years (Hi blogger peeps!) on the side (AKA: side hustle/entrepreneur) which means in real life I create the world of Pars Caeli in the wee small hours of the night, on the weekends, and in the early mornings.  
  2. I have three incredible children (10, 8, and 6), and a husband who refers to me as Beautiful and means it (awesome everywhere but some public settings).
  3. I have a great full-time job as a graphic designer and social media specialist. (Hi coworkers!)

Like many of you, the mix of those three aspects of my life fills me up creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. And like many of you, the combination of those exhausts me, gives me many a sleepless night, and leaves me more prone to any sickness floating around. 

For me, this blog turned business is not a necessity; it doesn't generate sufficient income to do much. It's not a quick fix for my creativity. It's not a portfolio of my talent. 

It is a ton of work. Hours and hours and hours. Most of which are likely to have been better spent in REM sleep, exercise, hobbies (what?), and relaxation (and what the what?). There are many days that I am tired. There are many more days that I wonder how I will find time to do the next thing. There are days when I create a great post on parenting, and I'm a horrible mother. There are days that I create nothing, and I have a good read on my kid's lives. And there are those ever-so-rare days when all the planets (even Pluto that isn't really a planet any more) align and the projects are gorgeous, my kids are content and growing, and I'm a successful employee. I might be able to count those on my fingers.

So, why do it, right? Why have the job and the business? Or the kids and the job? Or whatever your list is.... It's not for the steady blood pressure or minimal aggravation. It's likely not for the fame or the fortune or the record books either.

People have asked me why I started a blog, and I find myself answering that question differently now than I did four years ago. I'm not sure if I'm rewriting history or getting to know myself better, but I thought I started to blog to have a space where I could create whatever I wanted, as well as hold myself accountable to do the activities and projects I wanted to do with my kids and my home.

And it has been that - on many occasions.

I also started to blog to be "in the room" with remarkable, capable, talented, and determined creators. I wanted to challenge myself to do more. And I wanted to challenge myself to learn from people outside of my direct circles, but still incredibly like me. For good or bad, I'm the kind of person who observes a crowd of people, notices dynamics, senses personalities, finds charismatic individuals, and says to myself, "I want to be that person's friend." The energizer, the empathizer, the artist, the satirist, the deep intellectual, the misunderstood, the genuine giver. All of these archetypes have fallen into my must-meet-and-befriend circle.

And I am so, so grateful that I now have a whole gang of people that I admire and I love because of this blog, this after-hours jumbo project. We are in the room together, and somehow over these four years, I've done enough and been enough that I finally feel that I have proven to myself that I am their peer.

Which leads me to why I think I really started this blog.

I needed a space to remind me who I am.

I needed a space to remind me who I want to be.

When I think through and peruse the hundreds of posts I've created through the years, each post seems to fall into one of two categories: a diatribe of who I am or a projection (via project) of who I want to be. 

I had a local friend tell me that she felt intimidated to read my blog. "How do you do all of those things? And have a job? And have a family? I could never do that." To which I responded something typical of me, "No worries. I don't really do it all that well. And feel welcome not to read the blog. I totally won't be offended." And she said,

"No, no. I keep coming back to it because I need to have something in my life to aspire to."

And I recall looking away (something I rarely do in conversation) because she put into words a feeling that I had not been able to.

I blog because I want something to aspire to. I blog because I want to be the me that I aspire to. And this process and hard work and creativity and networking and curating lead me to that person. Legitimately. I have seen it and I know this to be true.

It's ok to stop. It's ok to quit. It's ok to slow down or reduce or shut off.

It's ok to stop. It's ok to quit.

It's ok to slow down or reduce or shut off.

BUT, let me circle back here - I promise this will make sense...

There are times, perhaps more than I care to acknowledge, that all of the hustle, the emails, the support, and everything else drain me... Maybe they drain you. And let's just call it as it is - it's a LOT. The content creation, the idea editing, the project research, the making, the lighting, the photography and photo editing, the writing and the rewriting, the promoting and repromoting, the reaching out and the responding, the updating and the disclosing.

And the spark of accomplishment can be exciting and sparkly and awesome enough to propel us forward. I am an idea junkie! A great idea can sustain me for days. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

"You've got to keep up, don't slouch on those pins, stay in touch with your audience, when was the last time you posted? Send her an email, rework that content, you should be doing more this..."

And I/we can mistake the spark of accomplishment for good health or wellbeing.

And if the spark even slightly wanes, the truth shows herself.

And she can be angry, dehydrated, hungry, tired, anxious, sad, out of shape, lonely, or the whole mix together.

Because momtrepreneurs and side hustler friends, we can't function on the spark alone. And I feel weird that this is even a thing. But it is for me, and it might be for you. That passion and that desire is oh so sexy and exciting, and we convince ourselves that we can. We can do it all with one more hour, one more post, one more...

I recently talked to someone (entrepreneur) who is uber successful, incredibly gifted, and well on her way to making the profit she deserves for the endless hours she's invested in her business. But she has had such sole focus and drive on her blog/business, that she's forgotten to eat for a day, not left her home for weeks on end, and now finds herself in the hospital for a small health issue that blew up into a larger one because she was so focused on the drive and the business alone.

You matter. If the you of you is not here, the whatever is not going to happen or to happen as well as it would with you. (Fill in your words here.)

We think, I think, we have to push through everything to keep slogging away, perhaps to the detriment of THE REST OF OUR LIVES, entrepreneurs. But we have to have the rest of our lives; we can't forget about the people who love us, the nutrition and the rest that we need, the real life moments we want to experience in real life.

And so I say this from my four years of drive and from the softest spot in my kindred spirit heart:

It's ok to stop.

It's ok to quit.

It's ok to slow down or reduce or shut off.

It's all ok. Whatever that end goal that you're so passionate about is... it is not worth you. Your health, your personality, your smile, your integrity, your zest. 

This is a great big world of the internet, and people love the immediate and the now and the whenever-they-want-it, but if you're not there to supply the content, those people can find what they need elsewhere. It doesn't have to be you working tirelessly. It doesn't have to be you sacrificing yourself for the sake of something that might not really be your goal any more.

And I want you to know that your time and your energy is enough. It doesn't have to be what someone else's was/is. It was yours, and it was solid. And if it ends tomorrow, that does not detract from the inherent goodness of what you have done.

But please know, too, I might be sad, and I might miss you. Because the time that you have spent has meant the world to me and so many others. Because I can see the power of what you create far better than you will ever be able to.

But what you have given is so good that it is enough. Right as it is. Right now.

It is more important in the real world for you to take care of you. Don't let small issues become big ones in your relationships and in your health and in your family because you have been so focused on the other things. You give it your all. And you certainly have all the permissions to take weekends off, to be fully present with your kids, to watch TV, to daydream, to walk the mall, to fast from social media, to do whatever it is you need.

You see, the internet will still be here. The people who need to read and to hear and to aspire to these same things will still be here. Likely, I'll still be here - unless, I too find the need to need to break off and to mend. And for that, I'll have to reread this post a dozen times to convince myself that it's ok...

So I first write it to you.

Thank you for all of your creating, your time, your moments that none of us even know that have been sacrificed to move closer to your aspiration. That journey and all of its by products has enriched our lives and the common good.

Take care of you. You matter.

xoxo, MJ

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DIY Teeny Tiny Tic-Tac-Toe Game

This post is sponsored by Sprout by HP. The project and ideas are all mine. Thank you for your support of the brands that support Pars Caeli.

Shrink a classic toy down to its miniature for a new game of Tic-Tac-Toe. 

Shrink a classic toy down to its miniature for a new game of Tic-Tac-Toe. 

We love to make things around here, and when I can get my children involved in the making, the joy multiplies quickly. From looming to sculpture, watercolors to oil pastels, our creations fill the walls and shelves of our home.

And now our creations even fill our game cabinet. Or, at least, a teeny tiny portion of it.

Using 3D scanning technology, create a miniature tic-tac-toe set! #sproutbyhp

Using 3D scanning technology, create a miniature tic-tac-toe set! #sproutbyhp

Using our Sprout, we decided to transform my "vintage" Little People figure into a micro version of its former self. What is it about making things small that triples their adorable factor?

Since the Sprout has an integrated desktop 3D scanner, it was easy to experiment with our sizing for the game. We want as tiny as their hands could hold comfortably. Using a small piece of putty to hold the toy to the tabletop scanner, the kids and I scanned the figure from all angles.

Watch our quick movie below to see the creation is progress (my 6-year old was blown away by the scanning/pattern process - ah, so was I). 

Printing the 2.5" figure as a 1/2" copy took approximately four minutes from pressing print. This was my first experience with 3D printing and gazing at the layering process of each tiny figure was mesmerizing!!

As you can see below, the object is created layer upon layer to produce a finished "fine wire" texture. My children likened it to the grain of wood.

Have you tried 3D scanning? The results will surprise you. 

Have you tried 3D scanning? The results will surprise you. 

We printed ten tiny people in an hour! To get these ready for a fierce, yet small game of tic-tac-toe, I painted them two different colors. Using Sharpie paint markers, coloring the figures was fast and easy. Using a small piece of birch, I scraped the hashtag gameboard in the wood, and we're off on our first game.

These miniatures make a fun, new take on the traditional tic-tac-toe game. Put them in a tiny giftbox, and you're set for any restaurant wait.

These miniatures make a fun, new take on the traditional tic-tac-toe game. Put them in a tiny giftbox, and you're set for any restaurant wait.

The teeny tiny tic-tac-toe game adds its own level of new challenges! If you knock over your own player or someone else's you lose your turn. So the obvious moves and strategy you typically employ for the game are now turned on their head!!

After this experience of taking something right from our life and making it into something new and different, I can't believe how close we are to printing and to creating our own worlds! 

What would you create with a Sprout?  See more creations using the Sprout or find a retailer to buy one near you.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

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7 ways to help a friend take great selfies

This post is sponsored by Svens Clogs. Thanks to Svens, I get to send one pair of clogs to a lucky winner. Enter on Instagram from now until Sunday, Oct. 25, for your chance to win! Look for the red clogs on my feed and tag a friend! And thank you for supporting the sweet companies that keep Pars Caeli running and clogging!

Feel awkward in front of the camera? Ask a friend to capture you in action and use these 7 tips to take great photos!

Feel awkward in front of the camera? Ask a friend to capture you in action and use these 7 tips to take great photos!

I am at best cheeky and cheesy in front of a camera. Those dramatic, styled fashion shots you see of bloggers? I'm not in a one. I grin too big, sit too casually, and break out into a funny face right as the shutter closes. However, since I am a big part of my brand, and I love connecting with readers/mommas/designers, I know that people need to see me, my face, and me involved in the work that I do. So it seems it's time I figured this out.

I asked two talents, also my roommates for The Hello Sessions, to give me all their knowledge. Jeran of Oleander and Palm can photo style a home like no one else I know, and PJ of A Girl Named PJ has all the best sense for easy and chic fashion.

And, lucky you, I think some of their genius rubbed off. I'm sharing with you the 7 ways that you can help a friend take great selfies. I suppose these are more self portraits or headshots, but you get where I'm going with this. . . photos of you. . . that are usable, beautiful, and ones you'll be proud to share.

7 ways to help a friend take great selfies. Guidelines to try, even if you're awkward in front of the camera!

7 ways to help a friend take great selfies. Guidelines to try, even if you're awkward in front of the camera!

1. LET YOUR LOCATION WORK FOR YOU.

The ladies and I were strategic with our choice of hotels. We selected The ACE Hotel in Portland which we knew has its own cool, well lit, urban vibe. Basically every nook and cranny in the place is editorial and photographable. We stayed in a triple that was on trend and without a bathroom. Priorities.

Takeaway: Find a location that makes you feel good. It should have its own vibe but not distract from you.

2. Pick a good time of day.

We all wanted to look fresh but not just washed so we had our coffee and conversation before we decided to start taking some pictures. This was a huge help to me, giving me time to relax and ease into poses.

Mid morning works well for daylight, too, depending on your location. Consider a later afternoon sunlight as well. We thought we'd walk all over the city to find the right location for lighting, and it turned out that the hallway right outside our room was the perfect filter.

Takeaway: Photograph mid morning or late afternoon and give yourself time to ease into the setting and relax.

3. GET THE GIGGLES OUT.

When I'm in the company of friends, I laugh. A lot. Sometimes that makes for a great photo. Sometimes it's too much. Give your friend time to laugh, stretch, dance (we clogged quite a bit), and move in whatever way she needs. The more natural expressions are on their way once you work your way through some of the discomfort. Don't give up.

Takeaway: Don't hold back. You're with friends. Let out all the laughter and awkwardness. Some great photos might be in that release or some great ones might be right around the corner.

4. HELP HER FIND HER POSE.

Some of us are very gifted in the knowledge of where our limbs end. Me? Not so much. I'm not always aware of how my face looks when I'm doing certain activities or which way my feet are turned or hands positioned.

Having people who could help me turn towards light, angle my body, move my shoes was invaluable. And once they helped me figure it out 3-4 times, I began to understand how to do it myself. Lean forward from the hips, pull my neck out a little more, reach down with my hand, sit up straight, shoulders down.

And friends are the best at bringing you the back of the camera to review. Is this one you like? How do you feel about this composition? 

Takeaway: Help your friend look her best in her posing. If she's not getting your verbal direction, gently move her into the right posture (she'll thank you later). And show her what you've taken so that she can begin to learn what look she wants to project.

Jeran and PJ are incredible photographers. See all seven tips I picked up from them in our styled photo shoot with Svens Clogs.

Jeran and PJ are incredible photographers. See all seven tips I picked up from them in our styled photo shoot with Svens Clogs.

5. Throw out lots of compliments

Jeran and PJ rocked this one. Be effusive in your praise! Tell your friend everything that looks awesome and skip all the mentions of elements that are not awesome. Build confidence and comfort as you take photographs.

Takeaway: There is an element of vulnerability inherent in having your photograph taken. Be the friend that is super positive, telling her she looks beautiful and that you have so many great photographs. Keep the good vibes going.

6. Take a ton, a boatload of pictures

Yeeeeaaahh! We are in the digital age, and likely you are photographing on a digital camera or phone. So, don't worry about burning through film. Keep all the possibilities open and capture many, many images. Sometimes a strategic crop or a brightened image can be the money photo. I took well over a hundred photos of the three of us by the window, walking around, posing with our feet in the air, sitting on the couch, and (yes, yes!!) in the bathtub. Some I'm saving for our next friend reunion (insert wicked laugh).

7 ways to help a friend take great selfies

7 ways to help a friend take great selfies

7. Help your friend try something new

This is the biggest gift I think you can give. Perhaps she is used to making that same face in front of the lens or always putting her hand on her hip. Switch it up! Have her pick up her purse or lay across a couch. Ask her to hang upside down or go down the stairs. Sometimes the caught-in-the-middle pose is a fresh of breath air. Encourage props - keep the coffee in the photo and put on your glasses. Help her see herself in new ways through these images.

One more shout out to my ladies, Jeran and PJ, who had us in and out of all kinds of sillyness. It's not everyone that could get me to sit in front of a giant cat mural. But I'm kind of in love with the final image. Kudos, PJ.

Takeaway: Keep the possibilities open and challenge your friend to move differently and interact with the space in new ways! Surprise!! You might find the awesome photo in the unusual.

What did I miss? What do you do to take great photographs of friends? Share, please. I could use all the help I can get!!

xoxo, MJ


Don't forget all of our amazing clogs featured here can be yours!! Svens Clogs has a range of material, color, and style choices. Look for my red clogs over here and be sure to enter to win by tagging a friend now until Sunday, Oct. 25.

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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF A CREATIVE CONFERENCE

Thank you to my friends at Minted for these beautiful business cards! Check out their gorgeous range of cards, suited for every kind of creative business. Remember that most can be customized by converting your logo to a high resolution picture file and adding it to the "back" of a Minted design.
Your complete - free printable - checklist for everything you need to know before, during, and after a creative conference to get the most out of it!

Your complete - free printable - checklist for everything you need to know before, during, and after a creative conference to get the most out of it!

Have you taken the leap and attended a creative conference? Putting yourself out there and meeting other professionals who do the same can be a real life-changing and business-broadening experience.

It can also be totally intimidating.

As a semi-veteran and host at a number of conferences, I'm breaking it down for you - to assuage your fears (they will still be there, but we're going to put them over to the side, out of the spotlight) and help you feel ready to get the most out of your (likely) pricey conference ticket.

Have you made the leap and signed up for a creative conference? How to get yourself ready and get the most out of the experience.

Have you made the leap and signed up for a creative conference? How to get yourself ready and get the most out of the experience.

On the whole, I'm not a big conference proponent. They can be expensive and irrelevant. However, from my experience with creative conferences, if you find the right conference for your niche, you can quickly build community, find your tribe of people, form clever collaborations, connect and gain sponsorship from brands, have a grand old time, and get all the boost you need to keep your creative juices flowing for months to follow.

Grab your free printable checklist that includes everything you need before + during + follow up for attending a creative conferences.

Grab your free printable checklist that includes everything you need before + during + follow up for attending a creative conferences.

The key is two steps: to find the right creative conference and to make sure you have your act together. How can you do that?

1. Finding the right one - Talk to friends in your sphere (blogging, writing, crafting, etc.) and listen to what they've found valuable. If you don't yet have friends in your arena, follow some relevant hashtags on social media and research the conference pages. Review what speakers have attended, conference locations and fees, and take a look at their mission to see if it applies to you.

And if none of that makes sense, make your own conference!! Well, don't do that yet. BUT, I just returned from my friends' conference called The Hello Sessions. It's a brand new conference held in Portland, Oregon that began as a dream of Melissa and Joy. They wanted something different from what they were experiencing. Sometimes you make your own niche!

2. Make sure you have your act together - When you're in the decision-making dilemma, trying to decide if you press purchase on that ticket, take a deep breath. Are you ready to present yourself and your business to a broader community? If you have even an inkling of a shy yes in there, you're already on your way.

How can you feel more confident and prepared? What do you do when you're at the conference to get the most out of it? How do you return home and hit the ground running?

I've got your complete checklist for the before, the during, and the follow up for a creative conference! You can download it below, or grab it anytime from our sidebar. It's all you need on one paper!!! Grab it now, and share your thoughts on what you feel you still need to do to make that commitment to join in a conference. We'll help you out!