Featured Designing Mom: Jennifer of JCasa*Handmade

by Cat on November 21, 2011

The more amazing, creative moms I meet these days, the more I see how +, / and – symbols are needed in order to explain the multiple roles in which we all move through our days. Jennifer Casa of JCasahandmade.com is a self profesed mama + maker + homebody + rocker + dreamer.  She is also the author of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Crafting with Kids.
Annie at the studio had a chance to ask her about her inspired life and a peek into her day to day…
What is a typical day in your life?
I get the kiddos up + ready for their day, and it’s almost always me asking for the extra kiss before they get on the bus for school.  Then I head out on a walk for about an hour.  Often times I’ll meet up with a friend along the way, and sometimes I walk alone.  Once I’m back home, I will have breakfast + coffee before getting down to the business of the day which includes frequent volunteering at school and yoga practice a few times a week.  I am also trying to devote more time to creative endeavors each day – designing new patterns, making goods for my shop and working on a new book is the bulk of my creative time lately.  I try to keep the necessary bits of keeping house from taking over, but when they do, I strive to be thankful for where I am and what I am doing.  Once school is done, I focus all of my energy on being Mom to our children.  I love having the opportunity to share this time with them and have been so happy with my decision to resign my teaching position in favor of becoming a home+maker once our children were born.  We’ll have a snack, talk about their day, play for a while and then do homework together.  Many days there are after school sports/activities, and I will have already put together dinner in the trusty crock pot; otherwise I will start dinner and the girls will either help me or scamper off to play.  We eat dinner together every evening, and then enjoy time as a family afterwards.  Once the kids are in bed, my husband and I will listen to music or watch a show as we wind down.  We write music together and have a band – Mild Mannered – and we often work on that in the evenings as well.
Have you always been creative? What inspired you to start your blog and etsy shop?
I remember things always being crafty growing up, to be honest.  My mother was (and still is) always making something, and our folks encouraged our interests in trying new sports, crafts, musical instruments, etc.  I believe in pursuing your interests and never being afraid to try something new, and I hope my own children grow up feeling the same.
In 2005, after the blurry first few months with infant twins, I reconnected with my creative spirit through sewing and knitting.  And while participating in an online course about integrating technology into the classroom, I was introduced to the world of blogging.  I found myself drawn to the growing online crafting community, and so I began writing my blog.  The journey of JCasa *handmade has allowed me to reconnect with my creative soul and discover likeminded people all over the world.  I am thankful for the opportunity to share beautiful bits and pieces of my everyday life in this space.  In 2006, I opened the JCasa SHOP on Etsy to sell my handmade goods.  Over time, I began designing and writing sewing and knitting patterns to sell in my shop as well.  I enjoy the opportunity to be my own boss and do what I love, connecting with fellow makers through my blog and shop, and am looking forward to seeing where this path will lead me next.
How do you balance cooking, crafting, and taking care of your family?
Now that our girls are in first grade and at school all day, the rhythm and routine of my days is evolving to include more time to pursue what I love.  My husband owns his own business and works long hours and weekends, so being the primary parent has been the bulk of my everyday life for the past 6 years.  We have learned to celebrate each day and make the most of our time together – that has made all the difference.
Some days I look back and am amazed by all that has “gotten done,” and then other times it all seems to have whooshed by without a thing to show for it.  It’s then that I try to slow down and focus on the positive moments throughout the day.  Sometimes things flow just so, and other times it’s more a matter of hanging onto the rollercoaster and embracing the moment of whatever is going on.  At the end of it all, seeing both the sunrise and sunset of any given day is what it’s all about.
What are some of your favorite activities to do with your daughters? What do you like about encouraging their creative abilities?
I enjoy crafting with my kids, of course – having the opportunity to write Teach Yourself VISUALLY Crafting with Kids with my children was a wonderful experience that I truly cherish.  Lately we’ve been doing a lot of journaling with paint and collage, and they are also terrific at inventing their own toys and games.  I especially love listening to their stories – kids have the best imaginations – and it’s beautiful to see them express themselves so freely.  I hope that our creative time together nurtures that spirit in them.
Another thing my girls and I have been doing together (since their days in the double stroller) has been going treasure hunting at thrift + antique stores.  I enjoy being able to introduce them to beautiful bits of history, and learn so much as they always offer a fresh perspective and insight I hadn’t considered.
How do you make time for yourself? How do you recharge your creative batteries?
I try very hard to carve out some creative time each day – sometimes it’s knitting in the evenings, and other times it’s hours of craft + sewing.  I get together with local friends as often as possible, and also really enjoy reading through blogs a few times each week and visiting with online friends through their sites, flickr, and twitter.  And of course there is Pinterest which is a wonderful way to bookmark bits of inspiration I come across while online – but it’s so easy to get entranced by all that inspiration, which is why I try to limit my screen time each day, as well.  Getting back into yoga is strengthening both my balance and mind, and I really enjoy my morning walks as well.  The quiet, fresh air and seeing the daylight begin to stretch into the sky is a wonderful way to reset your mind and body.
Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on Mom Inc. Daily!  xoxo
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