Archive for 'events'

Women and work…

I met with Tina Hambly yesterday morning, the owner and founder and chief designer at Valentina Shoes; hip girls, happy feet. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but when she walked in I felt instantly happy by her presence. Maybe it was her casual and down to earth style? I expected someone more corporate perhaps? Maybe it was her sweet blue sweater with the giant red heart woven into it that seemed the perfect sweater for a woman who had followed her heart to a career.  Whatever it was, I felt quite satisfied sitting outside at a local café with my latte in front of me and Tina across from me – you know that satisfaction that comes from the feeling that you’re about to learn something cool?

Tina worked in the corporate world for nearly two decades as an event coordinator, and still does actually, when she decided to return to her design and fashion roots. With her then 6 year old daughter serving as her muse, she started Valentina Shoes; hip girls, happy feet. (And can I add, on a personal note, the thing that stood out the most to me and that I appreciated almost as much as the styles themselves,  is that there is not a heel in sight on these shoes for young girls!)

On October 24th, Tina will be speaking at the Texas Conference for Women on the subject of pursuing your passions, going big, following your dreams. She’ll be addressing the young women at the conference made up of high school juniors and seniors. She’s excited about meeting with them and hopes to share with them the idea of finding your passion, examining them and then taking active steps to truly follow them in a big, true way. I can only imagine how great it would be to hear that message at so young an age from someone who was living proof that it is the way to happiness and success.

She told me the story of making the leap into her own company and how she called up a man in Houston who had a similar company and she asked him for help. Without hesitation he shared ideas, lessons learned, and insights that were priceless to Tina in the creation of Valentina, “He spent two hours on the phone with me, having never met me before, sharing incredible information.” From that Tina learned that sharing is key. “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Find the people who can help, find a mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask them for information.” Now when people ask Tina, she is ready, willing and able to share with others what she learned in a sort of Pay-It-Forward method.

Tina makes it a point to slow things down at home with her husband and two children. “We have dinner together just about every night. It’s a sacred time for me, a time when we can all connect with each other and get a glimpse into each other’s day.” She also tries to keep weekends for family and when that doesn’t’ always work out, Tina is super intentional around carving out specific blocks of time rather than having business bleed into family life all weekend long.”

With a growing business and a family to tend to, Tina is also careful to tend to her own proverbial cup – filling it with solo walks and time spent pouring over stacks of design magazines where she not only gets her relaxation but also design ideas for new products. “It’s crucial for me to get some solo time. It’s a time when I can check in with myself and also stir up new ideas.”

Tina is excited about attending the Texas Conference for Women for the first time and excited about sharing ideas with the young women in attendance. She’s also looking forward to listening to the many other amazing speakers and said her only dilemma really is deciding which talks to attend. If you are on the fence about attending the conference, just one glimpse at the list of speakers should spur you on to registering for this day full of insights, inspirations and big beautiful ideas. Whether you already know your passion, or are pondering just what it might be, surely this day surrounded by amazing professional women will be just the thing you need to take it to the next level and an opportunity to follow Tina’s advice to “get active in your passion.”

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Gretchen Rubin started a year-long  Happiness Project a few years back based solely on the idea of being happier everyday. As simple as that. She wanted to be happier and express more happiness and she wanted to share what she learned along the way.  She wrote a book about it called of course, The Happiness Project,  that is changing the world one simple happy act at a time.

As she conducted the year-long project that became The Happiness Project, Gretchen realized that her home, in all its aspects, was the most crucial element influencing her happiness.This year her new book came out, Happier at Home, about creating more happiness in the home and finding ways to make it all feel better; from the mundane to the major. Her idea being that we’re in it, we have to do it, why not do it happily?

On October 24th Gretchen will be speaking at the Texas Conference for Women, an all day conference of ideas, inspirations, networking, motivation and moving forward as women, in the home and business world. Our own Carrie Contey, PhD will be speaking with Gretchen in a breakout session and I look forward to the amazing ideas that will come out of those two brilliant minds sharing the same stage! Along with the host of other incredible discussions which will be had that day.

Next week Gretchen will be hosting a free teleclass around the ideas shared in her new book. Sign up is easy and if you’ve never done a teleclass before I am here to tell you they are a great way to go! Just dial in and listen as you move about your life doing whatever needs doing. Or, if you’re lucky, you can even listen while curled up somewhere still and quiet with just your headphones as company.

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Community Swap

This past weekend at my kids’ elementary school we held our 6th annual back-to-school clothes and book swap. It”s a rather amazing event that grew out of a similar swap we attended years ago at Austin Maker Faire 

We have sewing stations and amazing screen printing arranged by parent and art teacher Andrea Fiore – where folks can get their new duds redone with some fine imagery like hearts and stars and monkey faces. It not only freshens up an old garment, but it states to the world forever more, “yup, I got this at the swap.”

There are volunteers galore: sorting, sewing, screen printing all so that the swap runs like a very well oiled machine. Thanks everybody for all your hard work!!! Without you this would not be possible.

The only rules of our swap are “Bring what you can. Take what you need.”  There is no minimum to bring or maximum to take. There are no rules about tit for tat or any of that. There are no admission fees or print fees. There is a tip jar for those that can and for those that can’t, no problem.

After the swap we get so many notes from attendees stating how they got clothes and books for their entire family and shoes and accessories and how, in addition, they also had a really, really fun time. One of the many bonuses. Another sentiment heard quite often, “It was such a relief to clear out all that stuff we were no longer using.”

At the end there is so much left over and we donate it all to various charities – this year Goodwill was the winner when they volunteered to have a truck arrive at the end and pick up every last little bit.  It is a definite lesson in abundance: there really is so much.  And if we all bring what we can and take what we need, there is really, more than enough for us all.

It’s a great day. With great results. And I highly recommend it for your own community. If you want to know how to get started, there’s a tutorial here, on how to do it. Easy. Fun. Community building. And clothes for the whole family.

Austin Mini Maker Faire

Do you know about Austin Mini Maker Faire? It’s going to be an amazing event with everything from technology to craft. There will be music and robots and birdhouses and soap making and so many cool things that will inspire you and let you get your hands dirty!

May 12 10-6pm at Pine Street Station in downtown Austin.

Want to win 2 free adult tickets? Head on over to Future Craft Collective for a chance…

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Screen Free

As free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, I want to be free! At least for a few days, wouldn’t it be fun to have your whole family be free from screens?

Do you know about the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood? They do a lot of good work lobbying to get commercials and marketing and advertising out of children’s lives and out of public schools. They bring a lot to light for families and for organizations in regards to just how much advertising is thrust at our children, at our families, from birth on. Check out their website to see just how much good work they do.

This month they are also organizing the annual SCREEN FREE WEEK from April 30th-May 6th. It’s a great way for families and children to break away from the screens for a week and see just how big a part screens play in our lives. Everyone on their own screen – watching, texting, reading, exploring and zoning out on the screen be it phone, computer, tv, game station or other. It’s sort of relentless. It’s not that screen usage is bad, au contraire! But the numbers show that the average child spends 7.5 hours per day on a screen. That’s a lot of time staring at electronics. And a lot of time not engaging with the world and with each other.

In our house during school days we do a couple hours everyday screen free – from 5-7 there’s no surfing, texting, emailing, viewing. It’s not always easy. But it feels pretty good. And 2 hours feels totally doable.

Can you do it? Do you dare? Can your family be screen free? Can you turn it all off (excluding work of course which still must get done!) Can you spend that time doing something else? Here’s some ideas to get you going…

  • Go outside and lay in the grass.
  • Hug a tree
  • Play jumprope
  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Play a game
  • Draw together
  • Go for a walk
  • Look up random words in the dictionary
  • Visit a neighbor
  • Have friends over
  • Throw a party – invite only your own family
  • Have a fancy dinner
  • Play charades
  • Listen to music
  • Build something

Take a week and slow it down. Connect with each other and with nature and with your imagination. See what you come up with. And if you’ve got some screen free ideas of your own, let me know.



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Getting campy!

The camp brochures are starting to hit the streets and Austin Waldorf School has just sent us a beautiful ad for their amazing list of summer camps. Starting with the wee ones AWS has a whole list of lovely offerings. Including, my personal favorite, a camp called Endless Summer that sounds to me just like my memories of what summer can be. Check out their ad in the sidebar and go to their website to read more.


If you’re looking for something fun to do on the school holiday of February 20th, I, in my Future Craft Collective Hat will be offering a one-day camp at Austin Children’s Museum for kids ages 8-11. It’s called the Art of the Letter and we’ll be reading old letters, making tons of cards, folding up origami envelopes and reigniting the ancient Art of the Letter.

Or if you’re looking for something fun for everyday, you can always check out the incredible happenings at Austin Tinkering School. Kami is definitely blowing some minds over there and at the same time, gearing up a whole generation to participate in Austin’s Mini Maker Faire.

I love this town!!!





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Valentines in Austin

I love Valentines Day. And I love making cards. I love sending letters. And I love a good girls’ night out! So what better way to celebrate all of these things than with a Valentines Girls’ Craft Night out!!!  If you’re in Austin, come join me on Saturday February 4th from 4:30pm-9:30pm in South Austin at a beautiful place called the Writing Barn. We’ll craft and stitch and stamp and fold and collage. I’ll have writing prompts full of love and we’ll eat and drink whilst we craft and talk of love and many other splendored things.

Here’s the link for more info…

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Slow Family in the News

USA Today had a big story yesterday about slowing things down for your family. They touched on some of the points such as cutting out some of the excess activities and really putting the connection in place now so that you can have connection down the road.

Read it yourself and let me know what you think…‘Slow
family’ movement focuses on fewer outside activities –

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Walk for West Cave

For those of you in Austin, have you ever been to West Cave Preserve? It’s not a hang out in the sense of Hamilton Pool or Blue Hole. It’s more of a sanctuary, a preserve which has been taken back from the depths of many years of abuse and litter and rough housing by our fellow humans.

If you have been there you know how valuable it is to preserve the beautiful grotto hung with ferns and dripping with cool, clear water around, in and under the rock cave. You know how amazing it is to see the plants coming back to life because of the tender care of the keepers of the preserve. And you know how unfathomable it is to think that not long ago it was strewn with litter, cans, bottles and other cast-off detritus.

West Cave is, in a word, magical. And if you have a chance to join in one of their weekend tours, I highly recommend it. And if you are free on October 2nd and want to take a nice slow walk around Lady Bird Lake with hundreds of other proponents of all things wellness, read on…

Westcave Preserve is one of 15 partners chosen to participate in the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s inaugural Be Well Walk, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 4 p.m. at Longhorn Shores on Lady Bird Lake. Come walk with us and help support Westcave and a healthier Austin!! To register simply click here… It should be a super fun walk in the park!

Girls, crafts, nature and play

A few months ago I started an after school group for girls ages 7-10. It’s been amazing. And enlightening. And fun. And creative. And just beyond my wildest dreams fantastic to watch it all unfold, to watch the girls grow and create, and to see the group form into a cohesive group. It’s like my own little scout troop – full of new skills, community service, meetings and crafts – but without the cookies sales and uniforms.

Next week we’ll be starting up our second session. I can’t wait to get going on some of the ideas that have been stirring – all inspired by my own projects and by my time with the girls.

From the weekly group came the one day camp. While I loved our 2 hour after school meetings, I longed for a more spacious day to really dive into a craft project and to talk and to just be and the 7.5 hour “camp” provided just that.

On Friday, April 22nd, we’ll be doing another full day! Basic details below and more info at the Future Craft Collective website


Who: Girls ages 7-10

What: One-day craft workshop

Where: 411 W. Monroe Austin AMP (Austin Artists and Musicians Partnership)

When: Friday, April 22nd 9:00am – 4:30pm

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