Bye, Bye, 155

Our first home when we bought it.

Over seven years ago, we moved out of my parent’s house and into a 3 bedroom, fixer upper five minutes away. It was two months before our wedding, and we sunk our savings into the down payment and renovation budget. Built in 1958, the one owner home needed a facelift in every corner. Renovating the 1700 square feet ourselves, with the serious help of some amazing family members and the occasional paid professional, we truly made the space our own.

During the process, my husband and I learned what our personal style was, how we worked together as a team, and what our DIY strengths and weaknesses are. Even though it can be stressful (and nothing ever goes as planned), we discovered we love taking something and making it our own. The process of planning and executing is a great way to bond and spend time together, and with a finished house we’d recently been missing that.

Selfie working on the kitchen backsplash – one of our final projects in our 1st home.

When we found out we were pregnant with kid #2, we immediately started looking for a new home. While the idea of doing this all over again – with a baby and a toddler – seems a bit ambitious, we needed a 4th bedroom because I work from home. After almost a year and a half of searching, we found a new home the week before Christmas… and sold ours overnight to the first couple to come through. We will be moving in mid-February to start the next chapter in our lives, and we cannot wait to share the process with you.

Our first home after we updated it.

It will be bittersweet to leave our little nest at 155. Everywhere we look is a memory of a project we tackled with our own two hands. I created two nurseries in this house, and brought both my babies home here; I will never bring a new baby home to the new house. It’s a sad thing to think about, but exciting as well.

Together, our family of four will be moving into a new space and working to make it our own. The kids will have bigger bedrooms and a dedicated playroom. They’ll have three floors to explore instead of two. There’s an unfinished basement to rollerskate in during the winter. There’s a fenced in yard to roam free, complete with a raised bed garden and chicken coop! There are younger kids to play with in the neighborhood and a quiet street to ride bikes on.

In the past, Hawks Homestead has been focused primarily on the personal care products I hand make and sell locally. In the future, we hope to share more of ourselves and the projects we’re planning to tackle in our new home. We hope you will stay tuned for our next adventure!

PS: Due to my husband’s job, I will not be posting the address of our new home or offering local pickup in the future. I have also decided to leave off my children’s names and other information when I post personal topics.  I love getting to know people, and I know we can’t be completely anonymous this day in age, but I hope you understand my reasoning.

Growing Businesses & Babies: Ellie Mae’s Vintage Boutique

A few weeks ago, I kicked off a series called Growing Businesses & Babies where I intend to feature working moms who own a small business. My first feature (that’s not myself) is Stephanie McLean of Ellie Mae’s Vintage Boutique in Ravenna, Ohio (shop here on Etsy). Ellie Mae’s is one of only 2 brick & mortar shops that carry my products, so I’m really excited that Stephanie said yes to being a feature here. Her shop is absolutely adorable and it’s clear she has a talent for running a tight ship/shop because she’s growing leaps and bounds in her first year. Since I was introduced to Stephanie in September, it’s been a pleasure getting to know her and see her accomplishments unfold. I hope you guys all like learning more about her shop and how she balances business and family.


Tell us a little about your business. What do you do?
Ellie Mae’s offers vintage inspired home decor and supplies. The product lines we offer, with few exceptions, are locally made. Monthly workshops offer the DIY crowd a way to hone their skills while receiving feedback on their technique.

Why and when did you start this business?
I started the business in April of last year while moonlighting at another shop in town and I opened my own storefront in September 2015. I didn’t set out to open my own business. I thought I was just killing time while my kids were at school and helping a local business by running their shop on days that they hadn’t been open previously (Monday-Wednesday). It turned out that the furniture painting and decorating that I did was very cathartic and served as a therapeutic outlet while I continued to grieve the loss of my dad.

What do you think makes your products/services unique from other companies?
Ellie Mae’s is a unique blend of one of a kind refinished vintage and antique furniture, upcycled items, vintage inspired jewelry and locally sourced lines of consumable products (soaps, essential oil products, candles). What separates Ellie Mae’s from the rest is the focus on items that are truly the best at what they do while still providing value to the consumer with a reasonable pricing model.

Do you do this full time or part time? If part time, do you work another job? If so, what?
I own and operate Ellie Mae’s full time. My “other job” is the extensive volunteering I do for the Boy Scouts of America.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am the mother of 4 kids, aged 8-18. Our fur family includes two dogs, three cats, and a lovely tank of fancy goldfish. We purchased my grandparent’s home 5 years ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed making it our own. My biggest struggle is taking things to the store when one of us really wants to keep it!

How do you balance work and family?
It’s better some weeks than others. We had a family meeting before I took on the responsibility of my own storefront. I needed to know that my husband and kids would support my decision and understand that some weeks would be more demanding on me than others. We agreed to how many hours I would dedicate to the business and what they would be responsible for helping with. It’s truly a family business and the kids are involved as appropriate for their ages. My girls help me with small tasks, organizing and cleaning where the boys get the heavy lifting but everyone likes to help stage!

What tips do you have for other working moms and/or momprenuers?
Have a plan. There isn’t any part of this adventure that wasn’t carefully considered before action was taken. Be deliberate. Know what steps will lead to the outcome you’re seeking. It’s hard to be successful if you haven’t defined what your vision of success looks like. Investigate. Explore your peers. Who is successful? Why? Who is struggling? Why? Look for the similarities, the differences, and define how those same trends will impact your business decisions. Know your limits. Is it financially realistic? Can you really devote the time needed to grow your hobby into a business? Managing your expectations from the beginning can help you avoid burnout and frustration down the road.

What do you love about your business?
I love the flexibility it offers. I love that I have a creative outlet. I’m thankful to be blessed to love what I do and the amazing opportunity to help others realize that same dream as they grown their businesses alongside mine.

What do you find most challenging about your business?
The flexibility in owning my own small store can sometimes also mean 10-14 hour days, sometimes for days in a row. If I don’t do what needs done, nobody else will either!

What are your plans for the future (business and/or family)? My plans for the business in 2016 included growing my brand through increased exposure, expanding the product offerings, and increasing my retail footprint. I have multiple outdoor markets scheduled this summer, continue to add new consignors and product lines to the Ellie Mae’s family and expanded my store to twice the original size in late February. 2016 is off to a tremendous start!

What are some of your favorite shops/products, besides your own?
I love to visit small stores and flea markets as we travel. I like to find amazing deals on items that are very common in other parts of the country but hard to find in Ohio.

If you’d like to visit Ellie Mae’s Vintage Boutique and meet Stephanie in person, she’s located at 256 W. Main Street in Ravenna, Ohio. She is also hosting a market on May 21, 2016. Details are forthcoming, but I’ve already set aside the date to join her as a vendor… so you’ll be able to shop the full Hawks Homestead line, as well as other great products.

Thanks again to Stephanie for sharing with us! If you’d like to nominate a hard working mama (yourself included) for a feature, email me at

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

I have had the most random pregnancy cravings this time around, and they’ve been challenging me to try new recipes to indulge them. This morning, I woke up and HAD to have a coffee cake muffin. This recipe comes up first in the search for Coffee Cake Muffins, and I’ll be honest, they did look damn delicious. So, my two year old helped me whip up a batch with a special cinnamon bark essential oil twist. Here’s our amended recipe.


Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffin Recipe

  • Prep Time 25 minutes
  • Cook Time 20 minutes
  • Total Time 35 minutes
  • Yield 12 muffins


For the muffin batter

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
For the crumb topping
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the glaze
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 2 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil

If you don’t have cinnamon bark essential oil, just omit this ingredient and call them regular Coffee Cake Muffins :)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, canola oil and egg. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
  • Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.
  • To make the crumb topping, combine sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Add flour and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
  • Sprinkle crumb topping over batter in muffin cups, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and 2 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil. Whisk until smooth.
  • When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin.
  • Allow glaze to set before serving.

Growing Businesses and Babies: Hawks Homestead, LLC Feature

As a working mom, I love hearing inspirational stories about other women that have taken the leap to start up a business. Whether it’s part-time or full-time, for hobby or financial freedom, I always think it’s exciting to hear why and how they do it all. Each week, I’m hoping to feature a new #mompreneur on my blog. To kick things off, I figured I’d answer the same questions I’m asking future featured ladies. If you would like to be part of the series, or you have a shop or business you’d like to recommend, leave a comment or email me at


Photo credit: My Wild Children’s Photography, Lisa Denton

Tell us a little about your business. What do you do?

Hawks Homestead, LLC makes small batch personal care products. Aimed at helping you lead a simpler, healthier, happier life, I use only all natural ingredients and pure therapeutic grade essential oils to produce everything from scratch.

Why and when did you start this business?

I unofficially opened shop in March 2015 when a few of my friends asked if they could buy the probiotic deodorant I had made for myself and my husband. I realized many people were interested in essential oils and switching to all natural products, but weren’t really up for the DIY method. I decided to share my favorite essential oils blends and few other must-have items under the Hawks Homestead name. Hawks Homestead, LLC became an official business in October 2015.

What do you think makes your products/services unique from other companies?

I really like to educate people on why and how to use something. While I find a lot of other companies offering the same types of products I do, I want them to be less of an indulgence item and more of a necessity. When it comes to the scent of a product or the feeling of a lotion, we’re in the mindset we need to be pampered. What we overlook is how bad many of these products can be for us, and we’re exposing ourselves to them on a daily basis. My goal is to show people they need less product to achieve the same result, and reduce their toxic load at the same time.

I also believe my branding sets me apart. It’s a hybrid between the really overdone white background with a black logo and the homemade kraft labels you see on products like mine. I like to name things so they make sense, not just so they sound good. When you see a Hawks Homestead product, it should be easy to know what it’s for and how you use it.

Do you do this full time or part time? If part time, do you work another job? If so, what?

This is a part-time adventure for me. By day, I am a Digital Marketing Consultant for a family-owned business.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

Our tiny family of three is made up of myself, my husband Chad, and our 2.5 year old son, Cole. We’re adding another member in August 2016 and we’re excited (but nervous) about the transition to a family of four.

How do you balance work and family?

Part of this is organization and time management, but a big piece is having a really great support system. My husband is incredibly helpful. He picks up supplies, drops off inventory to shops, and collects money for me. We joke about Hawks Homestead, LLC funding our dream homestead, but in reality we’re not kidding at all. He understands that helping me helps all of us in the long run, and he keeps me going with positive reinforcement when I get overwhelmed. My parents will watch our son if we’re setting up at a market or I need a weekend day to make stuff.

What tips do you have for other working moms and/or momprenuers?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew; set realistic goals for yourself. It’s really easy to over commit to something because you’re not quite sure what your processes are. Doing things in a repeatable manner and developing a set method for getting it done is mega helpful. Also, block your time out so you can be most efficient. For example, I try to only package and ship on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. Be creative in finding ways to work smarter, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others who have gone before you to understand their lessons learned.

What do you love about your business?

I love being able to create with my hands; there is something so fulfilling about holding a finished product you made from nothing. Digital Marketing is really creative, but let’s be honest… it’s a desk job. I also work from home, so I don’t have a chance to get out and mingle much. Working a market and meeting customers face-to-face is so fun for me.

What do you find most challenging about your business?

I have a lot of challenges – bookkeeping, time management, second guessing – however, I’ve noticed a big problem for me is trying to be everything to everyone. There was a time when if someone asked me if I could make a new product or make changes to existing ones, I’d say yes. The issue with that is you spread yourself too thin and suddenly you’re doing lots, but nothing great.  Having a clear idea of who you are and what you want to offer is important.

What are your plans for the future (business and/or family)?

Right now, I’m working to establish the wholesale side of my business so that I can continue to grow and expand Hawks Homestead, LLC to new customers. One day, I hope the company will be able to branch out and offer more of the homestead lifestyle experience my husband and I dream of. I envision an off grid gentleman’s farm with an outbuilding or two to hold canning classes, beekeeping courses, and more.

Meal Planning On the Homestead


Meal planning in our house is a bit of an ordeal. Each week, I sit down and plan out six meals and a corresponding shopping list. It takes me an hour or two, because I like variety and organization. I sort my list by section of the grocery store. I establish my day-to-day meals by what food will spoil first. The final result goes up on a huge chalkboard in my kitchen for the world to see and mock me for.

Here was/is this week’s menu:

  • Sunday: Cod, rice pilaf, cauliflower
  • Monday: Stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes
  • Tuesday: Lentil “meat” taco salads
  • Wednesday: Go out/pickup
    (The hubs works late on Wednesdays, so Cole and I have a standing date with my parents.)
  • Thursday: Kale and bean stew
  • Friday: Stuffed shells
  • Saturday: Vegetable frittata, hashbrowns

The Benefits of Meal Planning

First and foremost, planning ahead and having something written down holds me accountable. As a working mom, I know dinner will not happen unless I have everything ready to go. I used to do a lot of crockpot meals for this reason too. But, since we recently made a shift in our dietary habits I’m still searching for make-ahead meals that meet our criteria.

Second, it saves us time and money. Having a detailed list lets us get in and out of the store without wandering down aisles we shouldn’t be in, snatching up products we don’t need. We are able to use a bit of that extra time to shop around and hit different stores for different products. Where we live, we don’t have access to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. But, we’ve had great luck in shopping at my new found love – Aldi’s – and long-time love, Marc’s. If you’ve ever been to either of those stores, you know how important it is to be organized when you step foot in there. The store themselves are not, so having no direction can be extra stressful if you want to get in and get out. If you split the pain of grocery shopping with your spouse, this is also particularly important. It’s easy for them to get confused and buy the wrong stuff. My lists are very specific. Lastly, we only buy the ingredients we’re planning to use which is helpful in maintaining a weekly budget and reducing waste.

Third, we’re healthier for it. Recently, we made the decision to switch from a primarily meat-based diet to meatless. We haven’t cut out meat all together. However, we have switched from four meat dishes and two vegetarian, to two meat dishes and four vegetarian dishes. When you plan ahead to make dinner, you’re also less likely to skip homemade for takeout or pre-made. It’s so easy when you’re hungry and haven’t planned ahead to just say, “Screw it” and go out. I feel really guilty knowing I have a fridge full of food to cook, so I man up and make what I’d planned. That’s not to say I don’t have those days I just order from the restaurant at the top of the road… but I try to only do that once every two weeks when I’ve had an extra long day.

As I build the Hawks Homestead, LLC “brand,” I am trying to circle everything back to the theme of leading a healthier, happier life. This is something I really believe in. Meal planning is a part of this for us. If you’re looking to simplify and it’s not something you already do, I challenge you to try it for a month. Use Pinterest as inspiration for recipes. Get a small chalkboard to write your menu on, or simply write it on paper and put it up on your fridge. Once you get in the habit of meal planning, I bet you’ll never go back!

Are you an avid meal planner with a tip to share? Leave a comment? Do you have a great meatless recipe you want to help me out with? Post that too! I’d love to hear from you.