Mother son journal and business changes

May 13th, 2016

About a year ago, I looked at the tidy stacks of book rings and pages of writing prompts that needed to come together to create some of Gadanke’s bestselling handmade journals. “I can’t keep doing this,” I whispered to myself. Pre-motherhood, I didn’t mind all the management—people, materials, tools, finished products, space to do it all—because I always had time for the parts I loved: sharing stories and encouraging folks to share theirs. Then I became a mom; it’s my favorite thing in the whole world! My available work hours shrunk, and I felt like there was no time for connection and empowerment.

I realized that if I separated the medium (handmade paper goods) from my message (storycatching), I could really begin to help people celebrate their stories.

If you’ve popped over to Gadanke any time this month, you’ve seen the change. I’ll still offer a couple handmade journals for a short time this summer. But I thought I’d step back and share a little of my discover with you.

Step One: Offer several beautiful bound journals

The first thing I decided to learn about was professional publishing. I already knew how to add ISBNs to my products, but I didn’t know how to build a book layout or find an American printer. I had to locate my ideal editors, illustrators, and designers (they’re all moms!) and create a gifting program to help kids affected by domestic violence. And to me, the most important thing was that I needed to compile everything I’ve learned about writing, storycatching, and relationships and work them into my new journals—taking me as a writer and you as a journal keeper further than ever.I started with the professionally bound Montana travel journal because this state is my comfort food. The journal let me stretch and learn, so I’d be ready for my first big dream last Christmas: Time Capsule: A seriously awesome kid’s journal.This month’s another really exciting story in this chapter: Between Mom and Me: Mother son journal is here!
mother son journal in trees
The illustrations are beautiful, the words are powerful, and the prompts have a way of getting boys to open up.
mother son journal entryThis engaging journal has been wildly popular already this month. It’s for the mother and son who crave a rule-free, creative way to connect with each other.
mother son journal by katie clemons
It’s the perfect tool to strengthen a mother son relationship.
mother son journal page Step Two: Let go so new ideas can come
By closing handmade at Gadanke for a while, I can really focus on the best ways to serve you in the future. It’s also the chance to celebrate the new mother son journal and Time Capsule kid’s journal. I’m not yet sure which handmade products (if any) will be available later. I have a few other storycatching directions I want to take my work—steps three, four, five!
Thank you for letting me take this ride full of rich stories with you.
Huge thanks to these bloggers who helped me spread the joyful message:

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This month’s announcement is a part of an on-going monthly essay series on gratitude and joy. If you’d like to receive monthly stories published on Making This Home in your inbox, sign up here.

Breathe the fresh spring air

April 1st, 2016

If there’s one thing I love to do when the birds begin chirping and the flowers start popping up, it’s opening the windows to the fresh spring air. That’s step number one to beginning my spring.

(Second for me, of course, is grabbing a lighter coat and racing outside.)

go outside in spring. or bring outside in

Opening windows wasn’t a ritualistic part of my life until I moved to Germany. I’d walk down the Berlin streets and see apartment buildings full of wide open windows and balcony doors. It didn’t matter if it was the retired woman with lace curtains or the young man who could stay up all night playing techno music and drinking beer—they all welcomed the fresh breeze … especially in the spring.

You’ve probably heard that the air in our homes is more toxic than outdoor air, even in the city. Our furniture, cabinets, and carpets are slowly releasing nasty toxins like formaldehyde. If we don’t open our windows, those chemicals stick around, and we keep breathing them.

When we make hot tea, take a shower, line dry clothes, or do anything else that adds moisture to the air (including our breathing), we’re also creating an environment that’s conducive to mold. It loves warm, damp environments. As construction technology makes our homes tighter, the problem grows.

Then there are all of our cleaning products—you know, the things with labels like “toxic” and “hazardous”.  These products are supposed to be getting rid of bad stuff in our homes, and they do! But if we don’t get a little air circulating through our houses, I’m afraid they’re adding bad stuff, too.

If you notice your eye water, your nose runs, or you can’t kick a headache, it may be a big red flag: you need some fresh air.

We crack our windows open a little every day. I have to channel my inner German when it’s -30 degrees Fahrenheit during the Montana winter. But now? That frigid weather is gone. Spring is creeping in, and I hope you join me in letting it blow into your home.

Feel European if you want; I know you’ll feel a little more alive.

Springtime also means I’m taking time to:

Gustav Mahler was an Austrian composer who said, “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”

And when I can’t get out of the house, I’m opening my windows.

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This month’s essay is a part of an on-going study of gratitude and joy, which all began with the creation of this gratitude journal. If you’d like to receive monthly stories published on Making This Home in your inbox, sign up here.

17 gift ideas for new moms

March 4th, 2016

17 gift ideas for new moms

A lot of my first months of parenting felt like a blur—but the kind gestures people extended to me didn’t go unnoticed. I know I couldn’t have survived without help. Here are a few things that people either did for me or that I would have loved to have done.

Save this list for when someone you know has a baby, so you know just what she might need.

  1. Change and wash her sheets and baby’s sheets. She probably doesn’t remember when this was last done.
  2. Hold the baby; let her take a long shower or bubble bath. Or just eat a snack or even a whole meal. Most likely, she doesn’t remember when she did these last, either!
  3. Bring her that commonly referenced frozen meal. She probably won’t even want you to put it in her freezer.
  4. Fold some laundry and get another load started. Don’t make funny faces when you come across her and her husband’s underwear in the basket.
  5. Un-decorate her Christmas tree (or whatever holiday or seasonal decor and household things she needs done. Put screens back in her windows for summer? Pull out the winter clothes?
  6. Give her this baby book. I designed this book with the busy, baby-holding mama in mind. You can fold the book flat, and jot down quick notes in response to the fun writing prompts when time is limited. The ring closures make it simple to tuck in treasured mementos.
  7. Sit down and simply visit. She’d love the company.
  8. Bring her coffee and baked goods from the bakery. She probably can’t get out of the house yet, so treat her.
  9. Bring groceries and make her lunch in her kitchen. Clean it up. And leave leftovers. She might insist you take the leftovers; ignore her. You both know she could use them.
  10. Unload and load her dishwasher. She had no idea this little task would become such a bottleneck in her life.
  11. Refill her soap dispensers. When baby came home, the family was washing their hands like crazy.
  12. Take care of the baby while she goes through bills and gets caught up. The phone company doesn’t really care if she’s just had a baby.
  13. Tell her she looks beautiful and mean it. As Megan at Sorta Crunchy pointed out, its easy to feel un-beautiful when you’ve got babies and still don’t fit into your pre-maternity clothes.
  14. Take out her trash.  Run the recyclables to the recycling center.
  15. Walk the dog. We don’t have a dog, but believe me, if we did, the poor thing would be desperate for some outside time right about now!
  16. Upload her photos to a photo printing site for her, then print a few and give them to her.
  17. Give her a hug. Look her in the eye and tell her you’re there for her.

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This month’s essay is a part of an on-going study of gratitude and joy, which all began with the creation of this gratitude journal. The words here are based on a post I originally wrote for The Art of SimpleIf you’d like to receive monthly stories published on Making This Home in your inbox, sign up here.