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Friday Finds :: Sea Turtle Pendant

Turtle pendant omerica organics 3Handmade crafts have a special place in my heart. Even though I studied industrial design, which is all about designing products that can be manufactured in bulk, I really love the personalization and care that goes into crafting a single product.

Omerica Organic is an environmentally conscious, Denver-based shop that crafts beautiful jewelry pieces out of wood. My friend Esther, posted about them a few months ago on her blog, and I knew I needed to add one of these little jewels to my collection.

After browsing their site, I spotted this turtle necklace.

Turtle pendant omerica organics 2

Sea turtles hold a very special place in my heart. They are one of my favorite animals to spot when we go diving.

So, I informed my husband that I wanted this turtle as my push gift.

And this past Thursday I finally received this little guy.

Isn’t he a beauty?

Turtle pendant omerica organics 1

Oh, and our new little addition to the family isn’t too shabby either.

Crane family at hospital

July 24, 2015 - 6:17 pm

Esther of Local Adventurer - omg!! congratulations on your new addition (both the baby and the necklace hehe)!!! I feel so out of the loop over here on the west coast.

July 29, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Melissa - Thanks!! And I feel so out of touch because I don’t have time to blog anymore :-/ miss you guys!

Why I Need to be a Working Mom

Mommy belly pics with older sisterAfter almost 7 years of freelance work, I started a full time job back in February. I think I shocked quite a few people when that happened, myself included. But after five months of this change, I can confidently say that it was the best decision I could’ve made.

Here’s why.

I’m not fit to be a stay-at-home mom. 

Being a SAHM is truly a special job, believe me, I lived it for over two years.  While I wouldn’t trade the time I got to spend with my daughter for anything in the world, I found my patience wearing thin on most days and my brain felt like it was melting from lack of adult interaction.

Now that I’m working full time outside of the house, I’ve found myself less stressed. And happier when I come home and get to spend those precious few hours with my daughter and husband. Quality over quantity is what works for us.

My daughter is flourishing at daycare

She is learning things that I wouldn’t have taught her on my own, both because I don’t know much of anything about educating kids and from pure exhaustion from chasing a toddler around all day. She got bored at home a lot, now she stays busy at daycare all day and she loves it.

I don’t feel that I am losing an important part of myself.

I have been a passionate and driven person my whole life. I set goals and I make plans to reach those goals. It’s such a big part of my personality and  what keeps me going.

Being a SAHM was causing me to feel as if I was losing that part of myself. Even though I was still doing freelance design & photography work, having to balance both work and taking care of a child wasn’t working for me.

I didn’t want my career to stall while my kids were young, and then have to start my career again when the kids are ready to go to elementary school. A bit selfish on my end? Maybe. But it’s what’s best for my mental health, and I’m a strong believer that if Mommy isn’t happy, the kids (and husband) won’t be either.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (of Design Agencies)

good bad ugly design agencies

Been hearing horror stories of people dealing with design agencies lately, and since it’s Friday the 13th, this seemed like the perfect day for a post like this.

I’ve been wanting to write on this topic for a long time, and now that I’m moving on from freelancing/running a small design agency on to a full-time job (as a designer, but not at an agency). It’s time to share some of these thoughts that have been simmering deep in my belly with you.

When searching for an agency, you are looking for a partner to guide you through this crazy design process. Especially if you are new at the design process, don’t know much about developing and managing a website or just need to hand the project off to someone else to handle, you need to be thoughtful with who you choose to work with.

The Bad:
– Will they give you a straight answer when you ask them a question. Or do they try to avoid the question?
– Do they make changes by the time they say they will? Or does it take them two weeks to make a copy change.
– Are they helpful? Do they make suggestions toward the design of the project? When the client asks for suggestions? One of the big reasons clients hire design agencies is for our creative input

The Ugly:
– Restrict WordPress: The beauty of using WordPress is that we (the agency) can hand the reins over. The only reason an agency would put restrictions on WordPress is so that they can make more money from you (the client) when small changes are needed to be made.

Let’s end with The Good:
Signs of a good design agency:
– They give you straight answers
– Provide guidance
– They are willing to educate you on the design process.

My biggest tip: Does the agency treat you with kindness, respect and (most important of all) transparency.

Good luck out there! But be assured there are some fantastic agencies out there to work with. You just might have to dig through the bad and the ugly to find the good ones.

Three Hobbies

I came across this image on Pinterest last week and it really resonated with me. Since my word of the year is “passion,” I thought this would be a great place to start.

Find three hobbies you love quote

After some thought, here are my three hobbies:

One to make you money: design + photography
My love/hate relationship with design and photography continues…. but no worries, it’s more love than hate.

One to keep you in shape: tennis, running, swimming
Okay, so I have three of them. But, tennis is tough to do on my own (the husband doesn’t play). Running gets really boring on its own. And swimming? Well, without a gym membership, swimming is only possible during the summer months.

One to be creative: sewing
I finally learned to use a proper sewing machine last year, and now I can actually make useful things out of all the pretty fabrics from the fabric store. First up is a tree skirt for Christmas next year.

So, what are your three hobbies?

2015 Vision Board

It’s that time of the year again.

It’s resolution time.

For me, that means making a vision board. This has an annual tradition for me since 2012, when I landed a speaking opportunity at BlogHer Food, just under 3 weeks after I made my first vision board. Plus, being a visual person, I love being able to look back at my vision board throughout the year to check on my progress and to find some inspiration.

Here’s a look back at 2014‘s vision board:

2014 vision boardLeft to Right, Top to Bottom:

1. Begin working on getting my rescue diver SCUBA certification – This one will have to be revisited in a couple years.
2. Launch a children’s product business – done, website launched
3. Eat a healthier, more plant-based diet – not as much as I would’ve liked
4. Continue growing as a mom to a toddler – and still learning everyday
5. Inspiring quote, don’t ya think?
6. Learn to sew properly on a machine
7. Start playing tennis again – done, joined a community ALTA team
8. Run bitch – done, earned a 5K PR
9. Plan and grow a large backyard garden – done

Now, on to 2015:

My friend, Robyn, challenged her blog readers to choose one word to focus on for their New Year’s resolution, and to apply to how they approach the upcoming year. I just loved this idea, so the word that I’m choosing for 2015 is: passion.

When I was younger (think: 5 years ago), I used to do so many things with passion. I knew the things I was passionate about and I pursued goals with passion. So, what happened?

The burden of building a business in areas that I was not passionate about has jaded me. It’s not convenient for me to take dance classes anymore with the responsibility of being a mother to a toddler. Morning sickness, fatigue and nausea have deterred me from exploring new restaurants and being inventive with new recipes.

The more I thought about these reasons, or should they be called excuses, the more I’ve realized that I need to find the passion in my life again. That it’s entirely possible to be passionate about what I do. I just need to set my mind to it.

So, here is this year’s vision board, put together with images from my updated Pinterest board.

2015 Vision Board
Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
1. Create and preserve more memories.
2. Eat healthier, and more of a plant-based diet.
3. Grow our family.
4. Improve upon my sewing skills, learn to quilt.
5. Passion. My word for the year.
6. Publish a book.
7. Continue playing tennis, perhaps start teaching Mini-me to play this spring.
8. Run bitch.
9. Beautify the yard around our house, gardening both flowers and vegetables.

January 9, 2015 - 4:33 pm

estherjulee - 😀 passion! I like it! and get that book published, girl!

January 10, 2015 - 1:04 pm

Melissa - Thanks girl! Gotta get (re)motivated on that book writing!!

Inside the Mind of a Work From Home Mom

Today is a major milestone.

I’m finally getting to experience what many moms feel at the beginning of each school year: freedom!

Okay, maybe not exactly “freedom,” but I am getting a little bit of time to myself. Mini-me is off to pre-preschool also known as “Mother’s Morning Out” and I’m getting to do something that I haven’t been able to do in almost two years:

working at Bagel Boys

Yes, working at a coffee shop this morning with my friend, Robyn, something that I took for granted during my pre-baby days. Now, it’s an absolute treat!

Being a work-from-home mom has been quite the challenge these past two years. It’s a delicate balance between building a business and raising a child. It’s funny… some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind while attempting this almost impossible balance between two parts of my life:

– “Deadlines become an entirely new beast when a toddler is involved.”

– “You magically work so much faster under the threat of the end of naptime closing in.”

– “Where can I find someone who will deliver espresso?”

– “I’m bored.” (Just kidding. Never this one).

– “Why am I so tired? And why does everyone in the house get to take a nap except for me?” (Always this one.)

Now, to wrap up this blog post so that I can get some work done while I still have some time to spare. Happy Kids-are-finally-going-back-to-school to all you fellow moms out there!

Goals for August

Whoops. It appears as if I’ve skipped two months in goal posting.

But never fear! I’ve been working hard this summer on getting a whole host of things done.

summer goals completed
1. Survived a family trip to Denver.
Maybe this one should be more appropriately titled “Survived yet another plane trip with a toddler.” We flew out to Denver at the beginning of June to visit my brother, who’s getting his PhD at the University of Denver (smarty pants!). I just love that part of the country and I’m glad we have a great reason to visit often!
2. Getting lots of outdoor time
We’ve been frequenting the pool this summer, teaching Mini-me to swim has been great fun. Also, making sure that I run almost every morning, have to get ready for a 5K race coming up in a few weeks!
3. “Summer” cleaning the house
We kind of missed the whole spring-cleaning thing. So, we’re catching up with a little summer cleaning: bags of old clothes have been dropped off at Goodwill, bags of junk finally thrown out of the upstairs office and ugly bushes pulled out of the backyard.
4. Learned to use a sewing machine.
What?! It took almost 31 years, but I’ve finally learned to properly use a sewing machine. Made so far: four pillowcases, two dress-up capes and one play tent. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s a bad thing that I know how to use a sewing machine now… but, look! I can make such pretty things now.

DIY play tent

 

this months goals
1. Launch the website for The Little Hero Project.
Ohhh yes, this one has been a long time coming. The elves have been working hard on this project this summer. Website coming early next week!
2. Make one pillowcase dress for Mini-me
You can blame my new sewing obsession. See #4 above.
3. 31 days of 31
It’s officially my birthday month! I’m turning 31 and there are… 31 days in August. One full month of fun ahead! (follow along on Instagram @melissahcrane, I’m not going to be posting about the celebration here daily)
4. 100 happy days
Trying this one again. It failed in April (we were having a tough time with a miscarriage), so I’m going to try it again starting this month ( follow along on Instagram if you’re curious @melissahcrane).

The Wild Animal Sanctuary | Colorado

While in the Denver, Colorado area visiting my (not so) little brother, we made our way to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the oldest and largest nonprofit sanctuary in the US dedicated exclusively to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores.

So it really is: Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

07-Tigers-Wild-Animal-Sanctuary

What a great organization, that does great work with rehabilitating animals who have come from circuses, small zoos and roadside attractions, and give them a life that is as close to living in the wild as possible.

11-Mama-Bear-Wild-Animal-Sanctuary(pp_w624_h415)

Visitors walk along a mile-long raised walkway so that we can view the animals at the sanctuary without infringing on the animals’ territory.

Read more about the The Wild Animal Sanctuary here.

04-Wolves-Wild-Animal-Sanctuary(pp_w624_h415)