Women Who Creatively Inspire Me

With my last blog post about my Instagram following, I mentioned that I was really grateful for some of the women I've been lucky enough to connect with on Instagram. These women not only inspire me, but they have been great sources of encouragement and inspiration and I attribute a large amount of my positive experience on Instagram to them. A lot of you may know who they are, but if you don't I'd love for you to have a look at their amazing work and follow along, or at very least, know that if you're just starting out, it's not impossible to get to know people with larger numbers. To all of you I'm about to mention, thank you, thank you, truly! Xo

(Also, each image shown on this post links directly to their image on their Instagram account!)

Kayla of @this.little.wandering

#lovelywanderings

#lovelywanderings

I'll never forget the first time Kayla  liked one of my photos - my heart jumped in my chest. I was a fan girl! What?! It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it's true. Not long after, she started following me and we began talking. And then I realized there was nothing scary about her! She's the sweetest, most thoughtful person I interact with in this little social space. She's a wealth of knowledge for me and she encourages me and gives me guidance when I ask. Also, she's just an awesome human. We talk about everyday things as well! Kayla, you are so lovely and I can't tell you how much our conversations mean to me. Thank you!

Kayla and her two daughters, Jessamyn and Ophelia

Kayla and her two daughters, Jessamyn and Ophelia

Kayla and her newborn (at the time) Ophelia

Kayla and her newborn (at the time) Ophelia

Alexandria of @alexandriaslens

#ourmagicumbrella

#ourmagicumbrella

Well isn't that just magical?! I connected with Alexandria only a month ago I think but from the beginning she's been really kind and inspiring! We chat every now and again about creativity and kiddos and she encourages my creative endeavors! She's another lovely soul that I highly suggest you check out and follow because you are certain to find magic every day on her feed! 

Self portrait - are you amazed? I am! I honestly can't wrap my head around it because I'm no good at self-portraits at all!

Self portrait - are you amazed? I am! I honestly can't wrap my head around it because I'm no good at self-portraits at all!

Her and babe are completely lovely and moody. He words are inspiring and magical in this photo on her IG account also!

Her and babe are completely lovely and moody. He words are inspiring and magical in this photo on her IG account also!

And finally but not lastly or least:

Barbora of @herinternest

#thisautumnlife 

#thisautumnlife 

I first discovered Barbora via Sara Tasker of @me_and_orla 's blog looking at her Bloom & Grow course. (Ps. I discovered Sara Tasker from Kayla of @this.little.wandering - you see how I love this community?) I completely fell in love with Barbora's delightful, squishy face and all the images on her feed! I followed her instantly and then later participated in her hashtag, #thisautumnlife that she created with Sarirah of @prettynotinc . Eventually she noticed one of my photos and started following along with me, as well! Since then Barb has become a mentor of sorts. She pushes ideas, challenges me, and offers insight into the world of Instagram and she also asks me to look within myself. Barb, thank you, thank you, for being wholeheartedly you and for branching out to help others! You are simply amazing! Xo

Really though, how great is that?

Really though, how great is that?

She has a few magical windows in her little home in Norway that make for the loveliest shadow play!

She has a few magical windows in her little home in Norway that make for the loveliest shadow play!

These are by no means the only amazing people on Instagram, they're just a few I'd like to specially mention and pay it forward. Again, thank you three for your kindness and support!

Xo

Ashley

Why I'm About to Lose a Lot of Instagram Followers, and Why I'm Okay with It

This goes without saying for some but not for all; we put a lot of time into curating our feeds and the content in which we put forth. We each have different motives and I'm not going to say what motives are right or wrong but I am here to say that I'm okay with the fact that I'm about to lose 100 followers on Instagram and I'll tell you why.

When I decided that I was going to start a blog and put more thought into the content I was producing, people invited me to "mom to mom follow loops" and pods via third party apps where there were hundreds, sometimes even thousands of members in the pods. I had no idea what these were but the people that ran these pods invited me on the notion that "it's how we beat the algorithm to get our content seen" and "it's to support each other," and I'm here to tell you that that's all bullshit, save a few people I didn't cull. 

I participated in a few of these "pods" for about two weeks before I realized enough was enough because nothing about it felt right. It was not authentic; nothing about it was authentic and it felt like cheating. So I quit participating, deleted the app, and focused on producing better content. What I didn't do however, was stop following many of those users. Partly because I was afraid of losing the numbers and partly because I felt bad. And then I realized that they don't care. They're scrolling past my content and not engaging as much as I'm scrolling past theirs and not engaging with theirs. 

As I focused more on my content and my images got better (and I strive to continue improving,) I started attracting the audience I wanted to: people that I inspired and people that inspired me! My people find me just as much as I find them. It's like an instant friendship almost. Currently, there are several women who totally and completely inspire and encourage me every single day and I'm saving a special thank you post for a few of those women, though I suspect a few of them may know who they are! I am so grateful to have this little community of creatives to push me and encourage me. I'm also happy to pay it forward to those who ask for advice! This is what this community should be about.

For me, this is not about competition - it's about creativity and inspiration. If we get collaborations out of it, that's great, but honestly, it's firstly about creative expression in my mind.

So tonight, I was scrolling and got fed up with seeing uninspiring images and seeing images from Instagram users that never interact with mine either so I decided it was time to cull, and just as I suspected, they're unfollowing right back which solidifies the fact that they don't care for my content, nor I theirs, so why keep pretending? This is why I'm okay with it. I'm okay with losing numbers to free up space for more lovely and inspiring feeds and for people that want to engage with me as well.

How's that for #hashtagauthentic ? If this blog post turns you off, I understand but I wanted to put in my two cents about follow loops and insane Instagram pods. They're not for me and they never will be again.

Please stay tuned for a new blog post on the women that totally inspire me coming soon! They are completely lovely and I couldn't thank them enough!

On that note, sweet dreams, loves.

Xo

In My Kitchen: Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Hi everyone, I'm excited to share these cookies with you! They're not exactly the most autumnal cookies ever, but they ARE delicious and who ever said you can only have pumpkin pie in the fall anyway? I don't know either so here's a delicious recipe for you to enjoy all year round!

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What you'll need:

Flour, sugar, honey, butter, salt, lavender. Just six simple ingredients to make a tasty treat! But how much of each?

  • 1 cup softened butter (that's 2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dried lavender (I buy mine from my local food co-op but if you don't have one in your area, head on over to Under a Tin Roof to order some online!)

Mix softened butter, sugar, and honey in a large bowl. Add flour and salt and mix with mixer again. Next, add lavender and mix in with spoon so to not destroy the lavender flowers with the mixer. Also, if you haven't made cookies like this, don't worry - it's not creamy. It will look clumpy until you knead it all together with your heads. I guess that was the next step :) After you get your mix into a ball, place in freezer for a half hour.

Preheat your oven to 325 and when it's ready, pull out your cookie dough and make balls about 1" in diameter and then flatten with your hands to make a circle. You can use cookie cutters if you like a more shaped, polished look to the cookie. Place them in lightly greased parchment paper on a cookie sheet; leaving about a half inch to an inch distance between cookies.

When you're all done, place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until lovely golden brown.

You can eat warm but they'll be a lot gooier than if you let them completely cool and refrigerate. Either way it's completely enjoyable and lovely!

I hope you all enjoy making these sweet and delicious little cookies!

These cookies were my own take on a recipe from The Baker Upstairs.

 

September is for Apple Orchards, Birthdays, and Lil Bellies

If you know me personally, you might know that September and October are my favorite months. It's all the autumn feels, and Virgoness, and earthy vibes. It's apples, and pies, and pumpkins, and Halloween (also, my anniversary - Halloween, that is!) 

For my birthday this year, I decided not to really make any specific plans, other than to take Silas to the apple orchard for the first time. We meant to go last year but we missed the boat! We had such a lovely time walking the orchard and picking out apples, despite the oddly high temperatures of over 80 degrees! We even brought along his own little bolga basket from Lil Bellies for him to forage and keep his favorites :)

The first few apples of the day | Door Creek Orchard | Cottage Grove, WI

The first few apples of the day | Door Creek Orchard | Cottage Grove, WI

Since it was so hot and the sun was in my eyes, I decided to try to seek refuge under an apple tree and offer Silas some cold apple cider. He ran to me wildly then he tried a tiny sip which certainly he loved, but he was just too excited to sit down and share that moment with me. Partly I really wanted him to share that experience with me but on the other hand, I know I brought him to have his own experience - it's part of this letting go thing, letting go, knowing that Silas has is own personality and desires so deeply to explore, even if that means moments without mama. It's a hard lesson for me but I know I can't make him do everything the way I dream of it in my head.

"Silas, I have a treat for you!" Come on, buddy!"

"Silas, I have a treat for you!" Come on, buddy!"

Trying to guide him with a his enamelware from Lil Bellies - He still has a very had time drinking from a cup.

Trying to guide him with a his enamelware from Lil Bellies - He still has a very had time drinking from a cup.

After a little while, Silas's cheeks were getting rosy and I was beading sweat on my brow so I took this cue to start packing up to leave. Silas was so upset but we knew we couldn't keep him outside too much longer! Next time we go (maybe even again this year) we hope it's a bit cooler and feels a bit more like autumn so he can enjoy his time more!

Bolga Baket  & Pinafore Apron - Lil Bellies
Lil Bellies has the cutest little enamelware mugs and cups for your little ones!

Lil Bellies has the cutest little enamelware mugs and cups for your little ones!

And since I love Lil Bellies so much, I've partnered up with them to offer you a Promo Code to use in their shop Friday (Sept 22nd) - Sunday (Sept 24th) for 15% off your purchase. Use code WHIMSY15 at checkout. Yay for the first official day of fall!

Lil Bellies' mission is to keep children outdoors and to never stop exploring! They even have a section of their shop dedicated to exploration which I can't wait to delve into once Silas exhibits a bit more of that imagination that's growing so rapidly. Check out the explorers section HERE.

If you're interested in the beautiful bolga basket (they make adult sized ones as well) click HERE. I encourage you to peruse their whole site though because all of it is so wonderful and inspiring - all while being eco-friendly made with sustainable materials!

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your little ones find joy over at Lil Bellies!

XoXo,

Ashley

In My Kitchen: Simple Homemade Applesauce (No Fuss, No Special Equipment!)

We told Silas he could have a treat for being good but this time, instead of reaching for some kind of snack he thinks is a treat, I decided to make him some applesauce since he loves apples and we recently took a trip to the apple orchard (different blog post about that coming soon.)

This recipe's so so simple and only takes about a half-hour start to finish. In this case, I went to use about 10 apples but saw that Silas was getting cranky so I decided to just finish peeling the second one that was already in my hand and just made a small batch.

I told you, it was a small batch!

I told you, it was a small batch!

As mentioned in the title, this is a no-fuss recipe which means I didn't use any canning equipment or any electric processors. Anything made like this would need to be consumed within a week for safety reasons.

What you'll need:

  1. As many apples as you choose (in this case, just 2 for a little snack) and whatever varietals you choose (try mixing and matching for a more complex flavor!)
  2. Mixing bowl
  3. Handheld peel, paring knife, or whatever you already have on deck for peeling
  4. Potato masher
  5. Small pot with lid
  6. Cinnamon (optional)
  7. Apple cider (optional)
  8. Jar or other container with a tight fitting lid

To begin:

Make sure your apples are really clean, and that your jar or container is also very clean and sanitized (this is particularly important if you do wish to can your applesauce.)

My favorite apron, ever. Get yours at  CLOTH  or at  Lil Bellies  (both companies are linked to the apron.)

My favorite apron, ever. Get yours at CLOTH or at Lil Bellies (both companies are linked to the apron.)

Water Bath

Now that you've washed your apples, peel them and set them aside to be chopped.

Instructions:

You've probably already completed the first two steps but here they are outlined below.

  1. Wash your apples
  2. Peel them next and set aside
  3. Chop your apples into about 1" pieces making sure none of the core or seeds are left in
  4. Place chopped apples in a small to medium pot and cover them with about 1" or less water or cider or both (make sure that the liquid is only just enough to fill to the same line the apples are.)
  5. Turn range to high and cover - get the apples really going. Once it's really going, turn down just a little to medium to medium-high.
  6. Set timer for 20 minutes and be careful to gently stir every now and again to make sure the apples don't burn to the bottom
  7. Once the twenty minutes are up, pour the apples into your mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher (your apples should be soft enough that it forms the apple sauce almost instantly - you shouldn't have to add any muscle at all.)
  8. Add cinnamon to taste and stir in. You can also add a little bit of sugar if you'd like but I think you'll find it's not necessary
  9. Pour the apple sauce into your jar/container or serve as a warm desert!

AND THAT'S IT. SO SIMPLE!

Thanks for reading, I hope you all enjoy!

XoXo,

Ashley