Monday, August 31, 2015

Teaching the Next Generation

I have very fond memories of being taught to sew by my mom and my grandmother. When my granddaughter was 2 and showed interest in learning to sew I taught her how to handle a needle and thread. 
Likewise, my husband, who is a 3rd generation carpenter and taught my son about woodworking, has begun his journey of teaching our 6 year old grandson about crafting things from wood.

Working from a drawing that Micah made of a birdhouse, they figured out the dimensions of each piece and began turning his picture into reality. It will be years before he will be able to handle power tools on his own but he learned that he could use his love of Math in grandpa’s wood shop. 

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

Just as I taught Kyla that the pointed end of the needle can hurt her, Micah learned about having a healthy respect for sharp tools that create beautiful things.

In the end, 3 generations came together to create a birdhouse which will soon hang in Micah's great grandma's backyard. 

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

building a birdhouse with a 6 year old

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hashtags for Creatives to Follow and Use on Instagram

Instagram is by far my favorite social networking platform. And as I mentioned earlier this month, a single photo post and/or the right hashtag can open up endless opportunities.

If you are using your Instagram account to grow your blog or business, you must use hashtags.

Hashtags for Creatives to Follow and Use on Instagram


Hashtags are a word or a series of words (without spaces) that follow a hashtag symbol(#). They are used to tag a photo so it can be easily found. Much like the tags we use for Etsy or our Blog, these word(s) help us find all the postings or photos that pertain to that specific hashtag.


You may have gone to a wedding where they have a sign posted at the guest book table that asked you to use a certain hashtag if you post a photo to Instagram from the event. This is a super easy way for everyone to see all the candid shots that were taken throughout the day.

Hashtags can be used in the same way for your personal or business Instagram account. You can create your own hashtags and tag photos that you want to find easily.


If you are using your Instagram account to grow your blog or business, you must use hashtags.
You will be amazed at how powerful these little words can grow your followers. They are super valuable! They are hugely beneficial for getting your Instagram out to the right audience.

It’s important to know that the idea isn’t to just add a bunch of hashtags to your photo without thinking about whether they relate or not. Look through each photo and decide which of them truly match the hashtags and the communities they represent. You want your photos to relate to the tags and to stand out so you attract new followers who are intrigued and want to check out your account.


There are “influencers” (individuals with the power to influence others in their social media circle) who create hashtags with the intention of creating a community. A Beautiful Mess is a prime example of this. They are highly influential on Instagram and have created several hashtags for the purpose of identifying photos that they can share on their Instagram account.

You can only imagine the exponential growth of your followers list if they choose to share your Instagram post! It is beneficial to you to use one or more influencer hashtags on your photo in hopes of getting chosen for a post on their account, but it also allows that hashtag community to view your photo. This may not open the door to the enormous growth of getting featured but it certainly makes others aware of you.

I have found that my Instagram community grows every single day just from using influencer hashtags!!


#ABMLifeisColorful / @abeautifulmessofficial
Beautiful Mess has a good number of hashtags that they use and they add more as the seasons change or as they add new features to their blog. Some of their other hashtags include #ABMLifeisSweet  #ABMCrafty #ABMathome #ABMlittlethings #ABMtravelbug #ABMhappylife

#FlashesofDelight / @glitterguide
Glitter Guide started this hashtag to feature anything fun and girly. They also look through this hashtag feed and feature selected photos on their Instagram page.

#ThatsDarling / @darling
This hashtag was started by Darling Magazine. The idea is to share darling moments in your life so it’s a pretty open-ended concept and you can really get creative! Darling also reposts photos quite often. Other hashtags they use are #DarlingWeekend #DarlingMaker

#DSColor / @designsponge
A Design Sponge hashtag that features colorful photos which they often repost to your Instagram page. Some of their other hashtags include #DStexture, #DSpattern, #DSart

#Craftsposure / @craftsposure
All things creative


With so many hashtags to keep track of I have found it difficult to remember them all. What works for me personally is writing them down in a notebook. Every time I find another one that works well for me, I write it down.

Using hashtags can be a little overwhelming at first, but the most important thing to remember is to stay true to yourself. Search for hashtags you might be interested in by looking at the tags other creatives are using.

What are some of your go-to hashtags? Have you found any that have significantly grown your community?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don’t Put off Opening Up Your Own Shopify Shop

I know it can be a bit scary to actually take the step to set up that online shop you’ve been thinking about for a long time. I held onto that thought during all of 2014 and never acted on it. When 2015 rolled around I was determined to set up my Shopify shop before summer started. Yes, it was a bit daunting at first especially because I kept going about doing things with an “etsy” mind set. 

A new series on Shopify Tips to help you get past the fear of taking the first step to opening your shop

I remember the night about 3 weeks ago when I opened a chat with a customer service “guru”. I’ve always put backl inks in my Etsy shop listings and was wondering how I could do that in my Shopify shop. I was totally blown away at how easy it is!!

When I have a question I’ve never waited more than a couple of minutes on the chat line and their answers are always on the money. I really appreciate getting my questions answered so quickly!!

So here’s the thing…..I know that taking the first step is the hardest. Staying in your comfort zone, even if you aren’t getting the results you want, is the easy answer. It takes hard work and a lot of brain energy to make decisions and get it done.

I’m starting a new training series here on my blog to walk your through all the things that I have learned about setting up a Shopify shop. My hope is that it will take some of the fear out of taking the first step toward your dreams and goals of having your own website.

Some of the great things about opening a Shopify shop is that they offer you a 2 week trial period for FREE. After that you can choose a plan for as little as $29 a month. If you are ready to get started and have things going for the holiday shopping season I’d appreciate it if you’d use my affiliate link to sign up.

One of the first things I was overwhelmed with was choosing a template. I didn’t know where to begin. Shopify has so many great choices and I had a hard time narrowing it down. So how did I choose? I started looking at other Shopify shops and seeing what templates were appealing to me. It was a process of elimination that turned out to be a pretty easy choice after all. The beauty of it is that you aren’t stuck with your choice forever. If you want to change it later you can.

I am looking forward to sharing lots more with you in my SHOPIFY TIPS series in the coming weeks. In the meantime…...use this link to get signed up and get yourself one step closer to your dream!!

I’d love to hear from you!! Share your questions about Shopify. What are those nagging questions that are holding you back from getting started? Or, if you have opened your Shopify shop already, what questions are still hanging around in your head?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How an Instagram Post turned into a Stamp and Print Making Workshop

When my daughter started joining me in my studio back in April of this year, I suggested that we schedule a couple of artist dates each month. These days didn’t necessarily need to be an outing, but rather a set day or two when we’d put all our orders aside and play with new techniques for art making.

I’ve done a little bit of stamp making before and I wanted to explore this medium even more. We picked a day in the middle of the week in the middle of June and played! I pulled out every possible tool and material we might want to use and we put ourselves in discovery mode.

It was a total blast!!

stamp and printmaking

stamp and printmaking

stamp and printmaking

stamp and printmaking

As usual, I took some photos, posted one on Instagram and kept working. This is when I learned how photos and hashtags can connect people out of the blue when you least expect it. Within 30 minutes I was asked if we teach workshops. What? That’s crazy right?!!
I took the conversation off Instagram and continued discussing this question through email. Long story short, Heather and I are teaching a Stamp and Printmaking Workshop in Carlsbad, California on Saturday, September 26th. Both she and I have taught different types of art to various groups and will be using our knowledge and what we’ve discovered about simple stamp and printmaking to present a fun 2.5 hour workshop for all in attendance. 

If you’d like to sign up we’d love to have you join us! All the details can be found here.

I’d love to hear your stories about opportunities that have opened up because of something you posted on a social network platform.

stamp and printmaking workshop

stamp and printmaking workshop

stamp and printmaking workshop

stamp and printmaking workshop

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What I Did During My Summer Break

How do I summarize the last 2 months in a few paragraphs? So much has unfolded in that 8 week period and I’m still processing much of it. The best I can do right now is to give you some highlights and unpack more of it in the weeks and months to come. 
When school is out my grandma schedule changes. Both of the grand kids are here the whole day, 9am - 6pm, and that dynamically influences my work schedule. I’ve been doing this for 6 years now so I know more or less what to do in that transition but it always takes a bit of adjusting.

School starts back up this week so we’ll transition again. In the meantime, we’re trying to enjoy every minute left of Summer!

making the best of the last days of summer

Earlier this year it became apparent that I needed to make some significant changes in caring for my health. Most of the things that I’d been doing, which I considered “healthy” choices, were not cutting it anymore. In late April I made some huge changes in my diet and exercise. Switching thoughts in my head from short term solutions to long term patterns is currently my focus. I featured this recipe on my blog here.

Gluten Free - Quinoa Pilaf on Avocado and Baby Greens Salad

Mentoring has always been an important part of my business. Whether it’s something I have years of experience in or a topic I’m currently learning more about, I’m always glad to share that knowledge with others. 

Recently I met with 2 individuals who have very different online businesses. Self doubt always seems to creep in and causes me to wonder whether I have anything useful to offer people.  After meeting with each of these wonderful people I was truly surprised as to how much I really know.

As you have learned over the years, my whole family loves to create! We get our inspiration from different places and we express our creativity in different ways. My daughter took the Summer off from her teaching job and joined me in my studio several times a week. We’ve been working on new ideas, having fun with different art mediums & creative processes and I’ve been mentoring her in her business. It’s been good for both of us and teaching us to be patient with the process. 

brainstorming ideas always required colored pens and markers

During one of our creative afternoons together we played with stamp making and printing on paper and fabric. It was a blast and we had no idea that a few photos on Instagram would turn into an opportunity to teach a workshop. Crazy huh?!! That’s how social networking works! I'll be sharing more about this workshop soon. We're getting pretty excited about it!!

Printmaking Workshop in Carlsbad, California - Registration is now open!

At the very beginning of Mama Bleu Designs, when I had not quite mastered the art of free motion stitching, I hand stitched my illustrations. Over time this changed but my love for hand stitching remains strong, rooted in my early childhood memories of being taught by my mom. 
Because of my love for typography art it was only natural for me to blend my affection for hand stitchery with my handmade bags and home decor. When I develop new designs my first desire is to stitch the typography, whether it’s a word or name or monogram, in a way that is clean and beautiful. Sometimes free-motion stitching is the best method and sometimes hand embroidery is better. 

In the coming months I intend to introduce another line a products that express typography art in a completely different medium. These ideas have been rumbling in my mind for quite a while and I’m still refining them. I’ll keep you posted about the release date! 

In the meantime, I’ve decided to clear all of my stitched illustration wall hangings from my inventory. They are reduced in price and you can find them in the sale section of my Etsy shop. 

Inspirational Stitched Illustration Wall Hangings - on Sale |

At my personal website on Shopify,, you’ll find a whole new line of personalized bags. They are different from my personalized and monogram clutches in their size and they feature a gusseted bottom so they can stand up. Perfect as a cosmetic bag, jewelry pouch or a grab and go bag for packing in a larger purse. These are all custom made and you always have a choice of fabric colors. 

cosmetic bag with monogram zipper pull | Mama Bleu Designs

personalized cosmetic bag with embroidered name or word | Mama Bleu Designs
colorful monogrammed bridesmaid cosmetic bags | Mama Bleu Designs

Yes, a lot has happened in the last 8 weeks and that is just the highlights. More news is coming  so stay tuned!!