Monday, February 22, 2016

Getting (and Keeping) it Organized

Spring is on it's way and I'm elbow deep into Spring cleaning, purging and organizing my 850 square foot home. When you live in a small space, it's imperative that it works for you, not against you. I focus not only cleaning up, organizing and purging my physical belongings but I also look at other areas in my life and evaluate if my daily systems are working for me and if they aren't, I make changes to try a different approach and see if I have more success. Here are a few tricks that I use to help me get organized and stay organized.


  • Evaluate the mail, magazines and papers coming into your home. What can you unsubscribe from? I tear off the backs of magazines as I recycle them and clip them together so when I have five minutes, I can either call (or go online) to the company and remove myself from their mailing lists. I get a lot of my bills sent to a separate bill paying only email address so I can go online once a month and pay those bills without having to deal with the paper involved in receiving statements in the mail.


  • Make a quick list of 7 breakfasts, lunch and dinner and tape it to your fridge. I do this especially after the New Year and before Spring since I can get into a food rut and end up ordering way too much takeout. You can get fancier later if you like but I find that writing out the 7 items helps to jump start things and gets me back into the kitchen. 


  • Clean up your computer desktop and phone. Delete files that you no longer need, organize the ones that you do, put the more frequently used app icons in a folder on your home page of your phone and set a new, fresh backdrop wallpaper.


  • Empty your purse out weekly. Pick up a little makeup bag to hold things like bobby pins, lipsticks, gum, pens and kleenex. Organize recipes and throw away trash. Make your purse work for you. 


  • Reset your home nightly. Walk through your home and put away everything that you got out during the day, load the dishwasher, throw a load of laundry in the wash, throw away all papers that you don't need, sweep the kitchen floor, wipe down counters and stove after cooking dinner, take out the trash and recycling. Resetting doesn't have to take any longer than 10-15 minutes. 

4/100 day blogging challenge


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Busy


I should say that when I agreed to this 100 days of blogging, I couldn't have picked a more challenging time.

We (my family and I) are in the middle of selling two homes (theirs and mine). If you've sold a home, you know how much time and effort it take to get it to market. My parents have been in their home for 24 years and had so much to go through and send to storage before we could list their house. I have literally been at their house twelve hours a day for the past three weeks, leaving very little room for anything else.

You might be wondering, why did you take on this challenge when you knew you had a lot already going on? My answer would be this, because life is always busy. There is always something that needs to be done, looked after, maintenanced, attended to, etc. Everyday as an adult there are a thousand things to do, all vying for your attention and distracting you from what you might need to do the most. This blogging challenge, is something that I need to do. It called to me and it's something that I know I need to say yes to and in turn say no to something else. Such is life.

3/100 of the 100 day blogging challenge

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Self Care

Famers Market Flowers From My Instagram
Today was full of packing and realtor meetings. I am in the process of getting my house ready to get on the market as well as my parents house. The days are long getting these two properties together to stage, clean, paint a coat of fresh paint, prep for the photographer and last but not least sort through the years of belongings and whittling it down to the bare basics. In the middle of the day, I stopped off at the grocery store and then walked next door to make a massage appointment for myself, that I promptly forgot about, for 8pm tonight. The day marched on and I found myself at 7:50pm in my nightly bath, reading a book and recapping the days activities.  All of a sudden, I remembered that I had to be at the massage clinic in 10 minutes! I bolted out of the bath, pulled myself together and thanked myself for making the appointment earlier and for putting self care back into my schedule.

Self care is not something that comes naturally to me. I find it less enjoyable and more chore like to get a pedicure and manicure. I adore my hair dresser but I find myself dragging my feet when I need to head in for a trim. I find this all a little amusing since I basically encourage my clients to practice self love in my business as an interior designer.

Designing a space that functions as much as it is beautiful is the ultimate love for yourself and/or your family, in my opinion. I encourage my clients to purchase fresh flowers weekly at the grocery store, cook delicious food and invest in beautiful dishware to help them bring them daily joy into their everyday lives.

Today was a rare day off, we're in the middle of two major moves in my family and I found myself really run down this morning and desperately wanted to stay home but decided that I'd feel better if I got up, went to get my eyebrows threaded at the mall, stop in at my favorite nail salon to get a quick gel manicure and a pedicure and ended the evening remembering that I had made a massage appointment earlier in the day that I almost forgot about but finally remembered 10 minutes before my appointment. Thank you, my past self, for making the appointment. I really did need it.

During my massage I was thinking about easy ways to add self care into daily life:

1. Purchase long lasting, mixed flower bouquet at the grocery store and separate the bouquet into a few little arrangements, arranged in water glasses, mason jars or any other small vessel. Add one of the mini bouquets to the bathroom, there is something so refreshing about flowers in unexpected places.

2. Do you research and find affordable places where you can get a good manicure, pedicure, massage and/or facial. I go to a small massage place near my house that is super affordable, it makes getting services a lot less stressful and you can go more frequently when they fit your budget.

3. Find something that fires you up and do more of that. I love driving down the river near my home with the windows down and the music up. Sometimes when I just can't take being an adult for one more minute, I escape to the river for a quick drive and I always come back feeling refreshed.

4. Finish up the little stuff on your never ending to do list that is taking up physic mental space. Instead of thinking for weeks to you need to make a hair appointment, pick up the phone and schedule the appointment so you can stop thinking about it and you can also treat yourself to a fresh cut and/or color.

5. Move your body. Find something that you love to do like walking, running, cycling, pilates, yoga, etc. Anything that makes you happy and moves your body. This has double self care attributes, it reduces stress as well as helps you keep your body healthy.

6. Indulge yourself on items that help you live well like refreshing candles, a favorite bubble bath, going to the movies or cook a delicious meal at home.

What is your favorite self care act? I'd love to know in the comments.

2/100 of the 100 day blogging challenge

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Blogging

I've been reading blogs for a long time now. I remember reading and gleaning design and lifestyle inspiration from Jordan of Oh Happy Day back when she was living with her small boys in their one bedroom apartment in San Francisco and she created the most adorable nursery out of a closet, just like Harry Potter, although I've never read/watched Harry Potter but that's another story. I followed along with Nicole of Making it Lovely as she was moving with her husband from their apartment to their first house and I followed along as she was having her first baby, Eleanor. I have loved reading blogs but I never really wanted to write a blog or I should say, I wanted to write a blog until I knew how much work, effort and venerability was involved of opening your home and life up to others.

The last few months, I've had a few meetings with some great business friends and I also attended the Alt Summit, a blogging and creative conference, and at every turn I felt like the same question has floated out of everyone's mouth "why aren't you blogging more regularly?" Alright, sometimes you have to wake up when the universe keeps saying the same thing to you, over and over. Blogging. All signs point to here.

So, here I am. I'm suiting up, showing up and am curious to see why the universe keeps pointing me back here. You can't find out unless you show up, buy a ticket and see what happens, right? This is the edge of my comfort zone, which in my opinion, is where all the good stuff happens in life. Although, you might have to keep reminding me of that.

To get me back into the swing of things, I've taken a blogging challenge that I was introduced to by Emily of Harvest & Bloom whom I recently met at Alt Summit this past January in Salt Lake City.

I'm committing to blogging for 100 consecutive days. Part of me wants to write a caveat in here and say that I'll blog for 100 days but not weekends and then I think to myself "no Cara, that's not the challenge. You're either going to do it, or your not".

Which ps. that phrase that I just typed write there "you're either going to do it, or your not" literally was the catalyst for me embarking on one of the most transformative changes of my entire life. Which I'm sure will be one of the many stories that I'll be writing about in the coming 100 days.

Does the idea of blogging for 100 days consecutively make you want to hide under your covers? Well, then maybe it's just the challenge for you, too. If you join in, let me know and I'd love to follow along.

1/100 of the 100 day blogging challenge

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We're Hiring!



I am over the moon EXCITED to announce that I'm hiring! In the New Year, Cara Crowley Interiors and Events will be rebranding as Cara Crowley Creative. This move is the accumulation of 20 years of hard work. I will still be designing interior spaces for residential clients and still be producing events that have a heartbeat for what matters most in life. The name change will encompass new professional opportunities and allow us to grow without limitations. Plus, I love alliterations ;)

The Cara Crowley Creative brand is friendly, community based, family-oriented and built upon warmth and grace for helping people design the lives that they dream about through clean, beautiful design, products and content. The position that is open is basically for my right hand person, my Mary Poppins, a Jill (or Jack) of all trades. CCC is a small, grassroots type of business where each person must wear many hats. I’ve done my best to outline the responsibilities that this position will eventually grow into. I am currently opening this position up to 4-8 hours per week but the exciting part of this position is that it has the opportunity to grow into a full time position, based upon stellar performance.
Applicants must be motivated self-starters, highly attentive to detail, be exceptional friendly, have excellent communication skills, comfortable with fast paced processes and deadlines. A warm, personal demeanor is essential. In short, I’m looking for someone who is happy; who loves and can execute clean, classic, personal design and most importantly, someone who will be a wonderful, authentic representation of the brand.
The person best fit for this position must possess these traits:
  • A motivated self starter
  • Has a positive attitude and works well collaboratively
  • Is professional, has a kind, friendly and positive demeanor, energetic, organized, detailed and solution oriented and personable
  • Is an early adopter of new technology
  • Has a willingness to learn and ask questions and research to resolve issues
  • Has a love for helping people, homes, families, community, good food and design
  • Loves the Sacramento region

Qualifications:
  • Has experience with marketing/marketing strategy, content production, editorial calendar and production calendars 
  • Enjoys and is knowledgeable in the world and community of social media - Instagram, Twitter, YouTube specific
  • Has experience with working with media outlets and/or is willing to learn
  • Has experience pitching ideas and content to larger companies and media outlets such as blogs, magazines and television
  • Knowledge of basic camera and tech skills
  • Experienced with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign CS5

Logistics:
  • 4-8 hours a week, ideally one or two afternoons a week, in person 
  • Local position to the Sacramento, CA area. I am ideally looking for someone who is local and lives within 10-15 minutes of Midtown Sacramento. I would be open to this being a remote position IF it was the right person.
  • Must have consistent and reliable access to Internet, phone and email, with a quiet space available to return phone calls and/or FaceTime meetings

Job Description & Responsibilities:
  • Manage, track and grow campaigns, programs and relationships with local and national companies
  • Collaborate with clients and other businesses to create well-timed social campaigns to promote events, new products and new features
  • Create in-office imagery and help with product styling
  • Respond to customer service inquiries via social media and email with a positive and friendly voice
  • Outline and schedule editorial content for blog and social media posts
  • Track our social media analytics and use the data to guide new efforts

Job Requirements:
  • Must be able to lift at least 30 pounds
  • Have reliable and consistent transportation
  • Must be able to begin working the week of January 4, 2016. Although, if I found the right person and schedule permitted, I have work available starting December 18, 2015.
  • Must be able to commit to 2-3 interviews (including at least one in person interview)

Compensation:
  • Contracted Position, $10-15 per hour depending on experience
  • 4-8 hours per week, fluctuating at certain parts of the year

To Apply:

If this sounds like you and you'd like to apply for the position, please send an email to caracrowleycreative (at) gmail (dot) com with your application and a cover letter telling me why you're perfect for this role. Please include examples of your work or link to your portfolio. Include a link to your Instagram only if you use it to show your work. I currently do not use Facebook so please do not include Facebook links. Please be sure to let your personality and talent shine through! Applications will be accepted until February 27, 2016.




Friday, November 27, 2015

Turkey Enchilada Casserole


Thanksgiving leftovers can be a little daunting. There's generally a lot of food left and I get pretty sick of it really quick and it can be hard to come up with a fresh take on the same ingredients over and over. After a couple of days of eating the same old thing, I like to cook up something that feels a departure from the usual. One recipe that I make almost every year is this Turkey Enchilada Casserole that I found many years ago looking through an issue of Sunset while I was waiting in a doctor's office. The original recipe calls for ground turkey but around Thanksgiving, I just dice up leftover turkey and it works just as well as the ground version. This recipe is a loose outline for what I add in. Each time it's a little different, depending on what I have on hand. I love to heat this up for breakfast and top with a fried egg. You can also make two of these casseroles and put one in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal.

Turkey Enchilada Casserole
(adapted from Sunset Magazine)

1 1/2 pounds ground (or diced leftover) turkey (or chicken) breast
1/2 cup chopped onion (or leftover green onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salad oil
1 can (29 oz.) red or green enchilada sauce
1 can (8 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
12 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
2 cups shredded cheddar, jack, pepper jack or Mexican blended shredded cheese (8 oz.)
Leftover corn, diced olives, diced up spinach and even diced butternut squash can work really well

Toppings:

Chopped fresh cilantro
Sour Cream
Black olives
Diced Avocado
Tortilla chips

Directions:
1. In a large skillet or dutch oven over high heat, stir turkey, onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin in oil until turkey is cooked (or warmed through if using leftovers) and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1 cup enchilada sauce, black beans and any leftover vegetables that you want to add. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Meanwhile, cut tortillas in half. Arrange a fourth of the halves evenly over the bottom of a shallow 3-quart casserole, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas, then top with a third of the turkey and vegetable mixture and a fourth of the remaining enchilada sauce, spreading each level. Repeat to make two more layers of tortillas, cheese, turkey mixture, and sauce; top with another layer of tortillas and sauce, then cheese.
3. Bake in a 375° oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, avocado, sour cream, black olives.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins


It's starting to feel like fall here in Northern California. Let the baking and comfort food commence.

I recently saw these pumpkin muffins with dark chocolate chips on Everyday Reading and mentally filed it away until I needed a quick fall treat.

Fast forward to tonight when I realized I was supposed to bring something to a morning meeting tomorrow. I was tired and didn't want to spend a long time making something so I was in luck that these muffins take just a few minutes to mix together and by using an ice cream scoop to quickly divide the batter into muffin tins, I was done in about five minutes from start to finish.

I made a few changes and substitutions from the original recipe that Jannsen posted, the biggest swap that I did was to swap out the 1/2 cup of oil out or a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. The applesauce keeps the batter moist but drastically cuts the calorie count and ups the fiber in the recipe. See my tips below on how to use applesauce in place of oil in baking recipes. I love how these muffins came out and will be making them more often in the weeks to come. I'm already thinking that I can swap out the dark chocolate chips for raisins or dried cranberries the next time I make them.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from Everyday Reading)

Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce*
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dark chocolate chips, I used Nestle


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line your muffin tin with squares of parchment paper or parchment paper cupcake liners and set aside.

Whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, and applesauce until smooth. 

I used my Kitchenaid mixer but this batter is really easy to mix by hand if you don't have a mixer or don't want want to go through the trouble of getting your mixer out. 

Pour the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices on top of the wet ingredients and then whisk until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips just until combined (don't overmix).
Divide between the muffin tins and bake, about 25 minutes, or until the tops are lightly-browned and spring back when you press them gently with your finger.

Let cool for a few minutes then remove from the muffin tins. Serve warm. 

*I used a ratio of 1:1 to substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil in most muffin, quick bread recipes like banana bread and cakes like spice, gingerbread or chocolate cakes to make recipes healthier.