Moms Know Moms Day 1 : Heather

Heather, thank you for being a part of the Moms Know Moms series. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Gosh, I feel silly chatting about myself. Our day to day is just like any other family out there. I’m a married, mother of two active girls that keep our family in a constant state of motion.  An average day in our world is filled with all the hustle and bustle of school, the standard family jazz, schedule juggling, work and very little downtime. I’m sure the drill sound all too familiar.

One of our biggest struggles is dinner.  When the girls ask me “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I cringe.  I need to become more organized in this department and have things planned out.  Not to mention that my youngest is one picky eater.
(Feel free to share any of your favorite recipes please!)

The Sewing Loft Logo

Why Blogging?

I can be found stitching up a storm on The Sewing Loft. Basically, I started blogging 2 years ago as a way to say engaged with the creative community. I had just moved 700 miles from NJ to NC and felt so disconnected. I’m sure to many of you the distance does not seem that far but for this NJ born and raised girl, it seemed like halfway around the world. From my home base in NJ, I could be in NYC in a heartbeat and my local creative community was always buzzing. I needed to start over and was unsure where to begin. Insert blogging.

For many, sewing/crafting is a big part of who you are as a person. Why is “creative expression” important to you and how has it affected the quality of your life?

Heather Valentine kitty-small-collageSewing and crafting is just in my DNA. You see, I come from a long line of creative gals and my mother always promoted creativity.  Halloween was big in my house growing up and I always made my own costume. Mom helped along the way but the main requirement was that it had to be handmade.

Since my girls see me in action daily, it has been easy to keep the tradition alive.  Each girl has her own creative area.

My older daughter loves all things paper and my younger daughter is itching to sew. I swear, she wants to put the pedal to the floor and just go!

Working inside or outside of the home (or running a blog or website on a part to full time basis) can be especially tough because of the difficult choices we have to make with how to divide our time between work and family. Have you ever felt guilty about the choices you’ve made, and what advice would you give to someone struggling with those same types of feelings?

Work/ life balance is something everyone struggles with. When my family started to grow we made a choice, I would work outside of the home while they were little and then be more present when they were older.

Well, they are older now and I do work from home, but I feel like I am juggling more than ever before. That said, I may be physically present but my mind is always racing. This is that delicate tight wire that moms have to manage. We are the Queens of Multitasking. One of the things that I worry about is will my girls get tired of me asking them to try things on, take pictures or even worse that they will be tired of me saying that I am busy. That brings me back to the work/life balance. My advice—keep standard hours and find time to power down everyday. That means no electronics. This is something that I am trying to do right now.

You’ve transitioned from hobbyist to business woman, what made you take the leap?

Heather Valentine Make It Pretty PillowsThe transition from Corporate America Employee to Independent Designer/Small Business owner was an unexpected one. You see, I had been juggling a job that I loved with a hobby I loved for many years and something had to give.  Luckily for me, my husband could see that. One day I came home from work and Dear Hubby told me there was something for me on the computer. After cooking dinner, getting the kids to bed and settling in to zone out in front of the TV, he gently asked if I had looked at the computer. I felt so defeated that I did not get the chance…. He turned off the TV and told me to go check it out. To my surprise, it was my resignation. He gave me the kick in the pants that I needed.

For most moms, multitasking is synonymous with motherhood. What’s been your biggest personal challenge with juggling so many things? Have you found a way to stay balanced? If so, what are some of your strategies?

Well, I mentioned before that I struggle at meal time. This is one chore that I find incredibly stressful. So, I have been Heather Valentine Pinterest Boardsasking my girls for help. Insert Pinterest!  Yes, the power of Pinterest has helped out tremendously. My older daughter pins things that she would like to try and sometimes even makes dinner. (Massive score in my world!) We have a deal, if she makes it, I clean it. We keep it simple.

In terms of family, career and motherhood, how do you define success?

Success is something that I struggle to define, but one moment that I am extremely proud of is when my youngest daughter received a new set of spelling words at school. The teacher asked if anyone knew what they were. One of the words was entrepreneur, and she was the only child in class to raise her hand. She explained to the class that her mom was an entrepreneur. Now, I’m sure in second grade she did not have all the details down, but to me, it meant the world! It meant that she recognized and understood in some small way what I was doing.

I hope that by stepping away from the main stream to follow my dreams, I somehow give my girls the strength and the courage to not be afraid to walk the road less traveled. I know, corny…. but it’s true, we all beat to a different drum.

Things aren’t always perfect but that day was a win in my book.

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Heather, thank you for sharing with us today.

You can find Heather on Pinterest and Facebook. I’d personally suggest her Sewing Tips and Tricks page on her blog. Excellent Resources!

Join us tomorrow for Day 2 of Moms Know Moms. We’ll have the lovely Stacey from Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy Crafts

Want to continue the conversation? Join the Moms Know Moms Facebook group for more tips, information and resources.

A Question for You:

I like Heather’s comment to “keep it simple”. What shortcuts or suggestions do you have for keeping a busy life simple? (Feel free to share links to your favorite recipes, too.)

21 Comments

  • Bonnie Ferguson says:

    I actually teared up a little when I read that your husband wrote your resignation letter for you, Heather! (Pregnancy hormones much?) Having the support of your husband and kids makes a world of difference. Let’s see, keeping it simple . . . mealtimes can be a struggle for us, too. Use your crockpot! I’ve found that I usually have more time and better focus in the early morning than I do in the late afternoon, and I love the little sense of accomplishment that comes from having dinner taken care of before I even start the day.

    • Heather Valentine says:

      I totally teared Bonnie! I was so shocked at first that I thought it was a joke. Fast forward I feel so lucky to have his support. Being an indie designer has not been a smooth path for us but fingers crossed it will work in the long run! And crock pot- I have one and never use it. Do you have any favorite reciepes? If so, do share.

      • Shannon_CC says:

        I agree with Bonnie and Tracy that having support inside the home makes a huge difference.

      • Bonnie Ferguson says:

        It’s so encouraging to me to hear that this hasn’t been a completely smooth path for you, Heather! I’m moving forward in faith that this is the path I’m supposed to be walking. Most days I absolutely love what I do, but some days are really hard. Recipes! This recipe is amazing: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/02/25/recipe-the-best-whole-chicken-in-a-crock-pot/ . I make it at least once a month, sometimes twice. We have a big family, so I’ll often do two chickens at once in separate crockpots with sliced organic carrots in the bottom with the onions. I use the leftovers to make chicken noodle soup or chicken salad or some other kind of chicken casserole. My whole family loves cabbage, so we do pork & cabbage or all-natural sausage & cabbage. There are lots of times, though, when I’m not feeling terrible inspired, that I’ll just throw some chicken breast in the crockpot with a jar of organic salsa and decide what to do with it later. You can shred it and make enchiladas or fajitas, or you can cover it with cheese and serve it with a vegetable, or you could even chop it up, toss in some canned black beans and pour it over rice or noodles.

        • Heather Valentine says:

          Oh Bonnie, I am a firm believer that great things come to those who work hard and press on. Thank you so much for the link …. I am so checking it out.

          ps- we’re meeting at market right?!

        • Bonnie Ferguson says:

          Oh, and Heather and Shannon, if you eat a lot of rice, you NEED a rice cooker! I’m gluten-free, so we eat a lot of brown rice which takes a long time to cook. With the rice cooker, you just throw it in when you think of it, and it’s waiting and staying warm until you’re ready. We usually have dinner around 6:30, and I know that our rice takes about an hour to cook, so when my husband calls to say he’s leaving work between 4:30 and 5, either I’ll go throw rice in or one of my teens will do it for me.

          Yes, we are definitely meeting at Market! Do I have your email address? I’ll see if I can find it and send you my cell # in case you need to track me down.

      • Wendy says:

        I make pot roast in the crock pot. Put a pot roast cut of beef with 2 cups of cola (I use diet coke) and a jar of chili sauce. I add one onion cut in chunks and a few peeled carrots. Cook on low about 8 hours and turn up to high for last hour.

  • Heather Valentine says:

    Thank you so much for having me Shannon. I know that many others share a similar story. I can not wait to see who is next and ready about their journey!

  • Tamika says:

    Heather, I like how you have given your daughter some ownership on the meal prep front. Have you all tried any freezer meals? Some really like it and some really don’t. Maybe there are some meals your daughter would get a kick out of preparing that could easily be pulled out of the freezer a little while before dinner. Meal time can be something else in our home too. I agree with Bonnie about feeling great to have dinner taken care of in the morning. I did this the other day and felt that my day went so smooth. There was no anxiety from not having a plan and dinner was good. We had tostadas and I cooked my meat and chopped veggies before the kids got up that morning. All I did was reheat and assemble at dinner time. There is a recipe below. Of course it can be customized to fit the tastes of your family. Thank so much for sharing Heather!

    http://www.food.com/recipe/tostadas-42591

    • Shannon_CC says:

      I definitely like the idea of preparing a week or two worth of meals ahead of time and then freezing them. It would be so easy to just pull them out and go. Now if I could just find an extra 10 hours in my day, I just might be able to make it happen.

    • Heather Valentine says:

      I’ve never tried freezer meals Tamika…. But I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes we have breakfast for dinner.

  • Tracy King says:

    Heather it sounds like you have an amazing Husband!! Wow that support at home is priceless. I don’t really have any suggestions for keeping a busy life simple, sorry, I am not a very organized person. I do however have a tiny suggestion about dinner time. If you like rice then buy a rice cooker and definitely invest in a steamer if you don’t have one already. Steaming my veggies and even meat has become one of our all time favorite ways to prepare food and the kids can do it easily. No stove top needed. Even my 7 year old can now help out with supper. She knows how to get the rice going and will measure out the frozen veggies into the steamer. We are still eating real food but it’s easier. You would be surprised at how many things can be steamed (even eggs!) and how easy it is.

  • Shannon_CC says:

    I like to cook, but it is definitely not on my top 5 list of favorite things to do. My biggest time saver has been getting my kids familiar with the kitchen and cooking when they were younger. It wasn’t a big time saver then because of the time commitment. It was so much easier and faster to do it myself. But then I received some really good advice from another mom. She said that teaching them while they’re young (cooking, chores, good study habits) will make life so much easier when they’re older (I’m paraphrasing.) And she was right.

    My 13-year old started started cooking small things like scrambled eggs when he was 6 or 7 (when I could monitor him at the stove) and now he can cook a full meal for our family of 8. Granted the meal is very simple, but it has really come in handy, especially lately when my energy levels are extra low. We’ve also been watching a lot of kids cooking shows lately which has motivated all of my kids to want to try new things in the kitchen. It makes for a really busy kitchen sometimes, but in the long run I think taking the time now to show them (especially if they show an interest) is a great investment. (Now I just have to work on those study habits :))

    • Heather Valentine says:

      Shannon, I try to get the girls to help as much as possible but eighth grade homework is taking it’s toll. I’m afraid, it’s only me in the kitchen. I feel bad for the crew as they are getting tired of my standby meals. I am a real make it work girl and I always have a few things my back pocket. aka- pantry!

      • Shannon_CC says:

        I agree about the 8th grade homework, Heather. It’s pretty crazy. I like Tamika’s idea for freezer meals. Maybe we’ll be able to take a few hours one Saturday to cook a ton of food and freeze the meals for later during the week.

  • Kris Smith says:

    Heather, what fabulous write-up! Thank you for sharing.

    I loooove my crockpot. My favorite crockpot meal is chicken breasts (or any boneless chicken,) corn, black beans, and salsa. Push button. Eat later with tortillas, cheese, sour cream, or whatever strikes your fancy. It takes about 4 minutes to put together and can make a TON.

    Also, check out http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ Bonnie, if I remember correctly, she’s gluten-free too! (as are we 🙂

    Thanks for putting this together, Shannon. Supporting each other as moms and as women is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

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