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Last week I announced that I created a moccasin collection with Freshly Picked and they have officially launched this morning! I still can’t believe this is real life, as I’ve been a huge fan of Freshly Picked since I became a mother. They make the most adorable baby and kids moccasins, shoes and sandals. Each pair comes in vibrant prints and gorgeous colors. I am thrilled to have joined their team and have my hand at designing moccasins with a little Baby Boy Bakery flair. I am so grateful for the love everyone has shown the collection so far, I hope you and your little ones love my moccasins as much as I do!
A little walk down memory lane, I first saw Freshly Picked moccasins on Instagram. My friend Lauren shared a photo of her son wearing a tan pair and I loved them immediately. I bought the same color for my own son Ryan and my obsession began. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I bought a pair of teal Freshly Picked moccasins for her to wear when coming home from the hospital. Mila wore those teal moccasins all the time and now they sit on a shelf in her bedroom as a little memento. To me, the moccasins have become much more than just shoes. I believe they are signs of a life well lived and each pair carries with it a story.
I’ve always held Freshly Picked and the founder Susan Peterson in high regard. Simply because Susan built her company from the ground up and hustled so gracefully to the top. As a mother of two herself, she is inspirational on many levels. When my son Ryan passed away Susan was one of the first people to reach out to me and my family. She sent me a large clear glass vase full of white lilies and a card that simply said "I am here for you. I love you. Susan" I had only met her once before that and ever since our friendship has been that of support on every level. As a small business owner myself, having the support of Susan Peterson was quite a big deal to me and something I sort of keep sacred.
As I mentioned before, for me, Freshly Picked has always been more than just a cute shoe. I love that my children's shoes support the stories that frame their life. When I look at the soles of each moccasin and see dark footprints I see memories ... I hear laughter. Freshly Picked has the ability to support children with adventure and I love that a simple product, a shoe, can do that. When I look my daughter's moccasin collection I don't just see shoes, I see; her first steps, our camping trip to the Redwoods, that time my husband bought her a vanilla ice cream cone or when our family cheered her on while she danced.
My daughter Mila just turned two and Freshly Picked has been along for the adventure. Mila has been in a pair of moccasins for just about every memory and if I am being truthful, Freshly Picked has also been a part of the hard times too. Like a few memorable tantrums and the first time Mila took a big fall and scraped her knee. We adore Freshly Picked, the colors and prints highlight our weekly Disney trips, cooking together in the kitchen, our camping trips and our Saturday pancake dates. As a family we crave adventure and are constantly dreaming up things to do together, big or small. Sometimes it can be a trip or making a fort in our living room to watch a movie. Whatever it may be, Mila seems to be wearing a pair of moccasins.
Adventure awaits and I hope we can inspire families to spend time together, through a shoe?! The concept may seem crazy, but if you own a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins then you are familiar with the nostalgic adventure they induce. I can only hope my own Freshly Picked collection will convey the same feeling for others!
Here is a bit of how my designs were inspired and came to be …
I have a habit of seeing beyond a product. My husband says I am too emotional, too personal. But I believe that everything ought to begin by being personal and have emotion tied tight to it. When I begin thinking about designing products I am inspired by what I know best. And what I know best are my own children and my own motherhood. You know those two things look different on everyone, but at the very core they are similar. My children inspire everything that I do, but as a mother I am drawn to children and never just want the best for my own. I want the best for every child. The very best thing you can do for your child is to spend time with them and take them on adventures big or small. If you follow along with me and my family on social media, you know that most of our adventures take place at home, within our kitchen or in Mila's bedroom playing make believe. As parents we help narrate their little lives until they can do so on their own. So yes, my children inspire me and what I create. But it its that want to inspire other parents to live a life full of adventure and to make memories daily that drives the design for all that I create.
Motherhood and childhood although messy, it is the very best journey. It was with that notion my moccasin designs were born. If you look closely to my designs you can see the mess, you can see the beauty and you can see the adventure that motherhood and childhood hold alike.
Photos by Lily Ro Photography
To me this shoe encapsulates my daughter. It is soft and beautiful floral print shoe, but it also packs a punch with pops of bright pinks and yellow. The scattered florals remind me of how my baby girl can be messy and gorgeous all at once.
It's My Party!
I think children live a life free of judgement and inhibition. They truly love deep and play hard, they dance, they laugh all as if no one is watching them. Their life is their party, day in and day out. I wanted to created to a shoe that truly brought to life the way children live. A party isn't a party with out balloons. And if you know me, you know the red balloon within this design signifies my own son living his party as well. Shining bright upon me and my family. I also love the subtle beige background that mimics clouds in the sky, but also represents that beautiful mess life can be. Dare I say, this shoe is my most favorite? I see many kids wearing this shoe and living their party!
This design in one word is 'childhood'. It is all over the place, with overlapping colors and scattered dots it screams that disaster childhood can be at times. Though the print overall has a gorgeous quality and weaves within it that feeling we as parents get when we look deep into our child's eyes. That warm love mixed with overwhelming awe. This design takes you by surprise but doesn't back down until you fold and say "yes". It was the best way I could emulate my children within a design. Beautiful. Bright. Messy. Poppyseed is an artistic approach in describing childhood.
Today I have a recipe that I know your family will love, at least I hope they will! We make these tasty rolled tacos a few times a month and every time feels like the first. They are so flavorful and beyond simple to toss together. PLUS, they are vegetarian meaning zero animals were harmed in the making of this dinner. Which don't get me wrong, I love meat. But it is nice to enjoy a meal or two with out it sometimes. I think there also is a common misconception that a vegetarian meal can't be hearty since there is no meat. Though I am here to tell you, that isn't case. The recipe I am sharing with you today is a perfect example!
I am sharing this recipe in hopes of inspiring you to get in the kitchen and kick off your year with a healthy, hearty vegetarian meal. I've actually partnered with Hedley & Bennett and their Get In The Kitchen Challenge. Which is a 3 part cooking challenge with a giant grand prize. One part of the challenge is to cook a vegetarian meal (my idea ;) and if you make the recipe I'm sharing today you are nearly halfway there! If you are interested in more kitchen inspo check out the challenge HERE. I am thrilled to start my year off with the Hedley & Bennett crew and I honestly love these rollled tacos so all in all today is GREAT DAY!
I hope you all are enjoying your January. Let me know if you roll up some of these tacos in the near future and what you think! Recipe down below
All Photos By - Lily Ro Photography
Apron - Hedley & Bennett
SWEET POTATO + BLACK BEAN ROLLED TACOS
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12-15 flautas
12-15 small flour tortillas or corn tortillas. *See note about working with corn tortillas.
3-4 large sweet potatoes peeled and diced.
1 can black beans drained and rinsed.
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro chopped.
1 tablespoon taco seasoning.
1/2 tablespoon cumin.
1/2 an onion chopped.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
1/4 cup water.
2 garlic cloves.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil. *To be used with a pastry brush
Optional (Use a cashew cream to keep meal vegetarian) - Add 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning and a few drops of hot sauce to 1/2 cup of sour cream. Mix well and drizzle on top of the warm flautas!
*Be sure your flour tortillas are made with out lard. You can also use corn tortillas. TIP - If you use corn tortillas warm them in the microwave for about 10 seconds to make them more "rollable".
Begin by prepping all your ingredients and lay them out for easy access. This will help things go quickly and with ease.
In a 10 inch fry pan with a lid, start by warming up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is warm add the chopped onions. Use a grater to grate the two garlic cloves into the oil and onions. Or a garlic press. With a wooden spoon cook the onions down until they are soft and opaque.
Add the diced sweet potatoes into the cooked onions and stir. Add in 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning and 1/2 tablespoon of cumin. *Notice I don't add any additional salt, because the taco seasoning has it already. Though you can add salt and pepper to your liking.
Once the sweet potatoes have a bit of color on them add in the water and place the lid onto the pan. Cook the sweet potatoes down until they are fork tender.
Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, add in the black beans and 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro.
Turn off the heat. Now with a potato masher, mash the sweet potato + black bean mixture until well incorporated. You are looking for a smooth texture with just a few lumps within it.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Set up a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Pour your vegetable oil into a small bowl and grab a pastry or BBQ brush. Create a space to fill and roll your tacos.
In each tortilla add 2 tablespoons of the sweet potato + black bean mixture. Tightly roll up each one and lay onto the baking sheet. Use the pastry brush to brush on a light coating of oil onto each rolled taco. *If you are using corn tortillas you may have to secure each one with a toothpick to keep them rolled.
Bake the flautas for about 10-15 minutes or until the tortillas are golden brown on the edges. Serve warm with salsa, flavored cashew cream or sour cream.
It has been a dream of mine to design and create things for mothers where in, they feel good about themselves. As well as create things that encourage parents to make and capture memories with their children. The driving force behind my inspiration are my children and my experience as a mother. Though every mother is quite different, I have found we are more alike than not. Our children are different, our journeys definitely vary however, the emotions run the same path and our motherly hearts bleed the same unconditional love for our children. No matter your motherhood we as moms can agree on that feeling of living with our hearts outside our body. We can find solace with each other while depicting the mass fear that overrules us when our child even hints at being in danger OR the immense joy that floods through us when we see our child happy and laugh. What a roller coaster of pure, uninhabited emotion. There is no other way to live it than with our hands up! Enjoying every turn and twist. Of course, what we do need are other mom friends who understand and support us when feeling so crazed. It is that support I want to be for all moms. If nothing else, I want to let all the moms know I am here for you! This mom job isn't easy in the least, but it is a damn good one I wouldn't trade for anything.
So, while my children and my own motherhood experience fuels my inspiration when designing and creating ... It is my want to support other mothers that ends up being the true reason as to why I do what I do.
Last year Starling approached me about designing a piece of jewelry and I jumped at the chance! I knew right away I wanted to create something to honor motherhood and the incredible journey it is. I wanted to showcase words that I though emulated motherhood, though I knew what I may thought about being a mom may look different to another. I decided on a word that I found special and extremely meaningful to me, then left the other two words up to my friends on social media! I asked my Instagram friends "If you could give motherhood one word, what would it be?" I received thousands of comments in just hours. I sat with the Starling team and sifted through each and every comment, to which we narrowed it down to; brave and complete. The word I chose that says my motherhood in one words is, forever.
Now, those may or may not resonate with you at first glance. Trust me though, those three words have heavy impact. I love that a mom could simply wear the 'brave' necklace, not feeling brave all the time herself, though her necklace could be a reminder. To be a mother is to be brave. We sacrifice our entire being for our children and strive to be the best for them. The strongest creatures are that of mothers and my dear, you can not be strong with out being brave. Day in and day out we may feel defeated. Though it is our bravery that fuels us and helps us master motherhood!
In choosing the word 'complete' for my collection it seemed necessary. It wasn't a word I associated with at first, but truly after diving into the meaning I feel it has resonating with me 100%. Our children are the most important to us and with them we are complete. We've always been incredible, but since becoming a mother we take on a new sense of self. We are re-created into a more strong, resilient, beautiful woman. Our children fill in our flaws and make us a better version of ourselves. Together we need not anything but each other. Our children makes us complete.
The word I first chose and wear so proudly is 'forever'. This word is dedicated to all the mothers out there who have loved and lost their child. Though, to be honest we end up saying good bye to our children in many ways as they grow and leave the nest. Even as a thirty two year old woman and mother myself, I still need my own mother at times. Simply put, once a mother, forever a mother. When I lost my three year old son I went through a few stages of not feeling like a mother. I had my daily motherhood duties ripped away from and coming back from that was hard. I questioned my motherhood many times. How can I still be a mom when my child is no longer here? I've come to the conclusion that my motherly duties for Ryan just look different than what they once were. Now instead of getting up and making him lunch, getting him dressed and to school on time (we were never on time) but instead of all that, I just get up and get ready for the day. That takes a lot after losing your kid, I promise. I honor my son is ways that help others and live a loud and wild life in his memory. That is what my motherhood has become and I am damn proud of that. Now with Mila in tow I've resumed those physical motherhood duties which I am so grateful for. But, I'm forever Ryan's mother as well.
My hope is that mothers love these necklaces as much as I do. I hope you find a word that resonates with you and your motherhood journey. You can take a closer look at the necklaces below and I left the shop link below as well!
I love all you mamas out there!
Shop My Necklace Collection Here
I am thrilled to be sharing this Mother’s Day gift box project I have been working on for the past two months. As Mother’s Day is right around the corner our world is buzzing with ideas on what to gift Mom. I am a big believer of pampering the Moms in our lives. (Listen up Dan! ;) Though my perfect Mother’s Day would be complete with a day full of family time topped off with Chinese take-out and a cold glass of Rose’ after Mila goes to bed. I think a little pampering or surprise gift is also welcome. Motherhood is a journey that genuinely includes all aspects of life and emotions. Moms spread themselves thin to service those around them and most of the time we exclude ourselves from being taking care of. Simply because our children, our family need us and we will fill their needs as best we can. It is the best job in the world, being a mother. But let’s remember to take care of ourselves as we take care of everyone else.
With the want to create something special and pampering for deserving mothers, I of course wanted to do something that would also give back. I decided to work with Gratitude Collaborative to curate the best Mother’s Day gift box wherein we benefit No Kid Hungry with the proceeds. I’ve always been a fan of Gratitude Collaborative simply because of their beautiful gifts for loved ones and how they all are delivered for a good cause. I have actually sent a few to my friends in their time of need. My experience as a customer of theirs impacted me so much, I just had to work with them! I love the way their gift boxes have a whimsical way of making people feel special.
I curated my own gift box devoted to mothers and 100% of the proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry. That is something I am pretty proud of! As a mother we don’t just want the best for our children, but for ALL children. I love that my gift boxes feed children in need, along with pampering well deserving mamas.
I chose products I honestly can not live with out. I also included some of my own products like my toddler memory book and a necklace from my collection with Starling. My hope is that these gift boxes offer things that help with every aspect of ‘Mom Life’. For example, moms can enjoy covering up with the cutest ball cap by Gigi Pip and use the Detox Whipped Dry Shampoo by Drybar to revive their unwashed hair. Mamas can take moment to indulge with some decadent fudge by Au Fudge and treat their skin to the best moisturizer by Kate Somerville. After a long and tiring day moms can achieve that second wind by using the Rose Spray by Herbivore Botanicals. All together these items provide a unique and usable gift that moms will enjoy from upon receiving it to a year or more from now. Have you ever received a memorable gift? Where you got butterflies opening it, a shrill of delight escapes your lips, you carefully take in the gift and even save some of the packaging? I’m sentimental like that. I still have the envelope the N*Sync tickets came in from my dad on my birthday. Anyways, I created this gift for moms to give them a bit of magic. We can always use a little magic! (I wish each box came with N*Sync tickets too! Or where you a Backstreet Boys kinda girl?)
Aside from the products within the gift box being so great, the actual design of the gift box is extremely special. My gift box design was done by Joy of Oh Joy! Joy is dream. She is a friend of mine but also a role model for me. She has the mom-work-life balance down pat and I aspire to achieve that myself with as much grace and integrity as she has. We’ve been wanting to work together on something and to have her design the box for my gift was perfect. Joy has an impeccable eye for stylish design. Her brilliance featured wrapped around my gift box is perfection and really makes the entire package come alive. I adore the funky pattern of muted blush tones with bright pops of pink. Hopefully mamas love the design as much as I do.
Take a closer look at my Mother’s Day gift box below and go HERE to learn how to gift it to someone special (or treat yourself)!
Never in a million years would I have thought myself to be a 'designer'. I've always been the creative type, daring with style and quick to make things on my own. I love putting together things that don't belong and fancy myself a DIY gal ... Unless I burn myself with a glue gun. Then I throw everything in the trash and just buy whatever it was I tried to make.
This past year I have dabbled with some incredible brands, fearless companies willing to take chances on me. Me! Me and my ideas. With every design came the question, "Who or what inspires you?" The answer is simple, and maybe a bit obvious. My children inspire me daily, they inspire me to do the things I do and live the way I do. When I sit and think about designing products my children are at the forefront of my mind. Alongside my children, being a mother in general inspires my creativeness. Mothers and the journey of motherhood as a whole is very inspiring, and as a mother of two I always want to create pieces that mothers can identify with. Pieces that mothers would enjoy using or wearing.
When I first got asked to design jewelry for 31 Bits I thought long about what my pieces would even look like. What exactly did I want to portray and how could I emulate my children and being a mother into these jewels. Now, having a daughter I look at jewelry with a whole new light. I remember snooping through my grandmothers jewelry box as a little girl. Slipping on her rings, stacking bracelets onto my tiny wrists. I loved the feeling and weight on me. I told my grandmother, "One day, you will give this all to me." On my wedding day I wore a ring of hers and really it was my favorite thing I wore that day. Jewelry has this ever evolving beauty and lasting remembrance of the past within it. Jewels are heirlooms. Thats what I wanted to create. Pieces that could become heirlooms within families. Passed between mothers, daughters, sisters.
I created a Mother-Daughter set that I just adore. It is a beautiful gold with subtle coral details. It is funky and functional. I love that the coral pops of color are what binds the mother daughter pieces together. They match, but aren't too match-y you know. I honestly can't wait until Mila is old enough to wear her bracelet. I had the complete honor to have my niece model the mother-daughter set with me. Her and my son are just one year a part and I can't help but see Ryan within her (and her brother who is the same exact age as my son Ryan). It is a bittersweet feeling, though I am so grateful to have them to help show me Ryan. You can see my niece and I below ... she did such a great job.
I also created a piece inspired by mothers and our motherhood journey. I think so often we are running around; dropping children off at practice, school pick-up, grocery shopping, Target runs, quick lunch or coffee dates with friends. We are holding down the house, taking care of our family and trying our hardest to take care of ourselves. I wanted to create a piece of jewelry that was easy! Easy enough to toss on and feel great. A little bit of glam to dress up your day. Something that makes you feel put together when you definitely don't feel as such. You can also dress up this necklace too. The layered look gives it endless options.
I had such a wonderful time working with 31 Bits. You can check out my jewelry designs here.
A while back when Zuzii Footwear reached out to me about possibly doing a collaboration with them I couldn't answer 'YES PLEASE' fast enough! If you aren't familiar with Zuzii Footwear then I am excited to introduce you to them! Zuzii was born from the love two sisters shared over handmade shoes and the endless creative options that could ensue there after. The pair hand craft each and every pair you see with only the help of their mother! The sister duo are the epitome of what a real dynamic duo looks like. With that said, the shoes themselves are comfortable and are come in all kinds of colors and patterns ranging from bright colors to muted chic tones. It is safe to say . . . I Love Zuzii!
After confirming that my collaboration was really going to happen and it wasn't just a dream, I met with the Zuzii sisters (Ryan and Alex) and set to work on the design process. First off, being asked to design a shoe may seem like an easy feat but it was a little difficult because the options were limitless. I felt overwhelmed and wanted to create 10 pairs just so I could incorporate all the details I enjoyed the most. Then I decided to hone in on two pairs, one for each of my children. We started on Ryan's shoe first and I immediately knew it had to feature his signature 'red' color. I imagined him running and playing hard as he always did and we came up with a subtle lightening bolt print. The lightening bolt print to me captures Ryan perfectly. I know he would enjoy wearing these and running fast as lightening. For my daughter's shoe I knew I wanted to keep it girly with a touch of sparkle. Dan and I always talk about what this little lady will end up loving once she is here, as most parents do while pregnant. We dream. I dream of her as a dancer, Dan dreams of her as a soccer player. We always settle on her doing both of course. In true child like fashion she will probably end up doing the complete opposite of what we had dreamt for her. Anyways, a gold toe seemed fitting for our little girl and I loved the idea of pairing it with something simple and chic such as the black leather.
Between a few trial runs, various leather options, shoelace choices and even discussing what the sole would look like the shoes started to take shape. In a matter of weeks the 'Ryan Oxford' and the 'Gold Saddle' shoes were born and to me look perfect!
The best part of this entire collaboration with Zuzii is that our labor of love was for a great cause. As you know, one thing I'm passionate about is having the chance to give back in any way I can. A portion of my Zuzii collaboration proceeds will be donated to No Kid Hungry and help foster their journey to end child hunger in America.
From end to end this has been one great partnership! I hope you'll take the time to check out my shoes and love them as much as I do.
Click here to view my Zuzii Collaboration!