I Need A Word...

…And we’re back after a very long break. A lot has happened since I last posted, but I’ll ease in slowly. Blogging can’t be my main concentration since I need to devote my energy at both my writing and homeschooling my newly-minted middle schooler.

But I will be blogging. The goal (limit??) is three times a week, which seems a lot easier to handle than trying to post daily like I used to. We shall see how that one goes.

I’ve been meaning to start blogging again for a month or so, and almost posted what has turned into the ending for this blog post as a Facebook status update, because that’s what I’ve been doing for so long. Tonight I deleted the FB status before posting, so here I am on Aspiring Mama to ask you for a word.

I need a word for the 2018 snowman holiday card I just finished. 

We will have three options this year on my Etsy Shop - two of the 2018 Pauline Campos Studios Holiday cards are by Eliana. She wants to encourage kids to give cards to each other (and I love that)! Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing her originals this weekend and getting the preorder process going. Mine will go on preorder in about week. I need the extra time for your feedback and which word or emotion this image brings out in you, and then a day or two to play with it digitally before calling it good for sale.

Hers will remain as she created it because she wants it that way. But mine needs a word. Every year, my snowman has a message. What will 2018’s be? 

2018 holiday card.jpg

On Art, Moving, & Outsmarting Myself (Maybe)

Funny how moving can force you to get on track. I've got an crazy amount of finished art pieces I've been meaning to list on the Etsy shop...  but good intentions don't exactly always mean stellar results. 



But now that I can tell you that we will be moving to the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, I also can tell you that I'll be damned if I wrap these pieces up to forget for another few years. If I pack one piece, moving tape and all, that's exactly what will happen. But because I decided to try to outsmart myself by listing as much as I can before I put it away for the move. Nothing like Actually Making Something Available to the Public for the odds of Actually Selling it to increase exponentially. 


Paper Petals

Paper Petals

We plan to leave Maine the week of January 13, and with your help, I'm hoping to sell enough art to cover fuels costs for the moving truck and my SUV. My Pie in the Sky goal is to raise enough funds to cover hotel costs along the way, as well. Moving is expensive, y'all. If you like something in my shop and decide to buy before we hit the road, it's kinda like loving me so much that you bought me a gas card. Which is totally flattering, by the way, and you are my favorite.

If you are looking for something and don't see it listed, tell me. I love commissions. Keep checking back for new finished art pieces and prints, because I'm listing at least two new items daily for the next week or so. 

Happy New Year! 



Half-Off Joyful Snowman Holiday Cards!

I guess it't not all bad if I'm only posting sales codes these days, right? 

Fans of my Joyful Snowman holiday card sets have the chance to pick up a set (or five) of cards for half off with the code JOYFULSNOWMAN. That means an set of 30 cards is $25 instead of $50 and a set of 10 cards is now $9 instead of $18. You still pay shipping AND play nice, because the code is only good for the Joyful Snowman card sets. 


I love this snowman. Last year, this guy was my Christmas card, and I'm so thrilled each time I find out my card was saved and displayed with this year's holiday decorations.

I've got a new design I'm sending out to family and friends this year and next year, the new design gets added to my etsy stock. I just got my order from MOO and I cannot wait to show you tomorrow. For now, don't forget that you can get 25% off all noncommissioned art in stock on the shop (HAPPYHOLIDAYS is the code). 

Note: Joyful Snowman cards are on sale for 50 percent off through 12/20 and then 25 percent off sale runs through 12/31. I'm out for tonight...I've got files to ready for a lined journal I'm self-publishing. 



Cyber Monday on the Etsy Shop

I had major plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on the Etsy shop, but life got in the way, so it's on to Plan B: and that's 25 percent off all prints, notecards, and original art listed (Sorry, commissions are not discounted.) Bonus? I'm running this sale through December 31! 

No, I'm not crazy. I am, however, planning a big move with my family and need to lighten the load. That means one goal is to sell completed art before it's time to load the moving truck! 

Before I share the coupon code with you, I want to show you something I just worked on for my writer friends, Alica. She wanted a few original art pieces with inspirational writer quotes on them to use for postcards she plans to give away at events. After a little bit of back and forth to get the ideas flowing, Alica settled on two quotes (one by me and one she came up with herself). I came up with a few original backgrounds for Alica to choose from, and once she chose her faves, It was time to combine art with inspirational words. That part I did digitally.

What do you think?

This one is mine. The cool part is that with a new background, I can offer a print on my shop and Alica's image is still unique to her! 

This one is mine. The cool part is that with a new background, I can offer a print on my shop and Alica's image is still unique to her! 

Alica came up with the inspirational quote and asked me to create a background to show it off. I am so proud of the final product.  

Alica came up with the inspirational quote and asked me to create a background to show it off. I am so proud of the final product. 

Now that Alica has her digital files (and is already ordering her first set of postcards!) I am working on the next projects. My friend, Heiddi, commissioned a monogram, which I am very excited about. And then there's the two journals I'm hustling to self-publish on Amazon in time for Christmas gift giving. I'll tell you about those soon. For now, though, stop by the Etsy shop for 25 percent off all non-commissioned art with coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. That means that if you haven't had a chance to order Christmas cards yet, you can score Joyful Snowman cards at a sweet discount and get them in time to send out to your friends and family!! 

Happy Cyber Monday! 


In Which I Introduce the F*ck-It Journal

Seems now that Mercury is out of retrograde and no longer being the biggest celestial asshole out there (again), I suddenly have my creative mojo back. So much so, that I'm alternating between getting paint under my fingernails with staring at blinking cursors as I try to figure out transitions and witty ways to wrangle words. It's times like this that being ADHD makes me smile.

One of my new Must-Make items in my list of Things That Make Pauline Happy is hand-painted composition journals. Yesterday I figured out that I can paint roses and then I showed a finished journal to a friend who decided she was going to buy it for another friend, which is cool, except my friend kept referring to my long-winded Original Altered Composition Journal as a Where's the F-Bomb on this Thing, or something like that.

As in: My friend really needs a fuck-it journal.

And: Why doesn't the cover have "fuck" on it somewhere? 

And: Aren't you going to paint the word "fuck" on this thing?

So I started referring to the long-winded Original Altered Composition Journals as Fuck it Journals and the rest only becomes history if this shit goes viral and I manage to somehow pay off my credit cards by swearing and painting pretty things.  

The journal that started it all. I cannot wait to make more.

The journal that started it all. I cannot wait to make more.

Check out my product description in my etsy shop:

When the kids don't listen to a word you say because if you have to tell them to clean their room One.More.Time...
When your husband has the man flu and actually gets to sleep because, ya know, he's dying...
When your blog post didn't go viral (again) even though it totally should have...
When Pinterest gives you a complex...
When life is sad & you can only share so much on Facebook...
When life is fucking amazing and you can only share so much on Facebook...
When you dream the dreams you want to remember...
When you dream the dreams you wish you could forget...
When you feel like a badass because you are one (but it's taken you entirely too many motivational memes to figure out the obvious)...
When you have things to say and want to say them out loud without making a sound...

This, my friends, is where the #F*ck-It Journal comes in. The one pictured here has sold, but that's paintbrushes and insomnia are for. These original & one of a kind, hand-painted, full-sized composition journals are perfect for you because you decide how to use it and get to have a say in how it turns out. 
Want roses? Talk to me. 
Doodles or Dia De Los Muertos art? I'm your girl. Mixed media? BRING IT. 

Is it your To-Do list? Your Dear Diary? Your time to yourself that you'll protect like a woman possessed because, fuck it, you deserve it?? Maybe your fuck- journal is all of these. And that's awesome. Maybe it's none and you fill your Fuck-It Journal with shit that is entirely Not Anyone's Business But Your Own

That's awesome, too. 

Write to your heart's content in an original, one-of-a-kind, hand-painted composition journal by artist, award-winning photographer, and author Pauline M. Campos. Each F*ck-It journal is made to order and will be unique. F*ck-It Journals are decoupaged, painted and/or doodled on both the front and back covers, featuring a hand-written #F*ck-It Journal tag affixed to the front cover with a dip pen & India ink. Your call on if your Fuck-It Journal tag is rated PG-13 or if you just DGAF what other people think about your love of the word "fuck". (<--- See What I did there?). Inside covers are unaltered because Pauline doesn't have that kind of patience, so... Fuck It!

Messy. Raw. Beautiful. Yours. 

What will *you* use your Fuck-It Journal for? 

Reserve your F*ck-It Journal here. 

#ChingonaFest: More than We Are

An Artist Trading Card of mine. Make your dreams a reality. I'm not new here. In fact, I'm what some of you may refer to as a veteran blogger (but I'm not really. I know a few who've been doing this way longer). But before I was a blogger with a column in one of my favorite magazines, I was a writer with a dream.

It was a simple dream, really. I was eight when I decided I was going to write books one day and maybe 10 when I dug my (obviously clueless) heels in and selected Canadian middle-grade author Gordon Kormon as my basis for having my own books on the shelves by the time I was 13. That's how he did it and it seemed simple enough. Write a full-length middle grade novel for an English assignment and blow the socks off my teacher who would then prep the manuscript for me to send to publishing houses and wait for the offers to start rolling in.

Seemed easy enough, right? Seemed would be the key word here.

An original Ink Drawing: Show of Strength

I could lie and say I totally rocked my pie in the sky three-Year- Plan but it wouldn't even be a good lie. And to be honest, I'm pretty sure the chocolate-flavored angst that followed the year I turned 13 and realized I had failed at life, consequently sending me spiraling into my first midlife-crisis, is the kind of angst every good writer needs tucked up inside. This is the kind of inner-artistic-creative-crazy IAMTHEBESTWRITEREVER tempered, naturally with Doubt (IAMTHEWORSTWRITEREVER) and a smidgen of necessary self-righteousness (thoseASSHOLESdon'tknowTALENTDammit!), that I think most writers would refer to as our inner drive. It's the source of our creativity and the reason we keep going when agents tell us our platform sucks because a platform that doesn't exist usually does. As do the platforms that aren't big enough to guarantee 10,000 copies sold if a publisher were to bite.

Sleepy Moon Series: Moon # 4 of 15.

Honestly, it's pure ego that keeps those of us with vision boards and high school classmates to impress at the next reunion from just saying Fuck It and changing our name to Snooki before querying again because platforms mean name recognition and publicity, not innate writing ability and Stop Looking at me Like That. I didn't  say I think Snooki can't write or ask the Gods of all Things Literary why agents don't just stop telling us that we need anything other than a reality show, a bump it, and a good spray tan because Really? No, my friends. I didn't say anything of the sort.

That would be unprofessional.

*Nods head solemnly*

Another ATC/ACEO card. I love making these and using bits of Kathy Murillo's paper from her Michael's line in my work.

What I said was that I didn't get a book deal the first time out the gate 'cuz I was 13 and nowhere near ready to be published. What I did get was secure in my identity as a writer. I called my friends at 11 p.m. at night on school days with my newest essay on Life and All Things Hormonal, freshly typed out on my new typewriter, and read to them the words that formed the path I was (and still am) dead-set on following. That's all well and good, except that in telling myself I was a writer, I inadvertently also told myself that I was only a writer.

Imagine my surprise when I sat down just last year to hand draw a set of animal note cards for a homeschool lesson and The Husband -- all sweet and surprised-like -- told me that my drawing didn't suck. High praise, you guys. High praise.

But it was enough to send me into an entirely new direction, complete with watercolor pencils and acid-free drawing paper and an etsy shop in which I sometimes remember to post my latest little creation. Even with art being commissioned by friends and strangers alike and the occasional sale from the artsy things I did manage to post, I still had a really hard time referring to myself as an artist. And don't even get me started on the inner-struggle I wasted five minutes on regarding the Being a Photographer thing. I am a writer, remember? I couldn't possibly be more than that because that's all I had ever allowed myself to be. Until, at least, I accidentally remembered I wasn't too shabby at this drawing and painting and mixed media thing and stopped telling myself I couldn't be more than I thought I was.

Original Mixed Media: Autobiography by Pauline Campos

We can all be more than we are because we already are more than we realize, usually. All we need to do is own our own potential.

And if that doesn't work, I suggest talking to yourself like you would your crazy talented and inspiring BFFs who you swear to God you are going to bitch-slap if they don't stop minimizing themselves and their talents and just say Thank You for once because Dammit, that's what you do when someone pays you a compliment, already. Honestly, it's like we can't create enough variations on the "I look good? But look at this ASS! No way, Bestie, YOU LOOK GOOD!' 'Really? BUT THIS TUMMY FLAB!'" bullshit we seamlessly fall into when trying to compliment our Best Amigas. Why can't we just learn to shut up and take a fucking compliment?

Good Hair Day. Photo by Pauline Campos

We can pay them forward all day long and we mean them when we say them to the women we care about. Which makes me think I had the "Stop Defining Yourself Through Other People's Eyes" thing wrong. Maybe we need to do the exact opposite, if the Other People are the ones telling us that we are Beautiful, Smart, Important, Talented, Funny, Inspiring, and Chingona to the hilt, that is. Maybe it's the perspective change that we need because we've been brainwashed to always see ourselves as Less Than because Celebrating Ourselves is seen as improper and stuck up  --  which is complete and utter bullshit, y'all.



So maybe the trick is to start with changing the inner dialogue and swapping our own internal Critical Tia for that of a good friend. Look in the mirror and let HER tell YOU why you are All Things Fabulous. You'll know you're doing it wrong if you suck at being a friend and tell your besties that they suck at that thing that they secretly think they might be sort of good at. If that's the case, I'm betting your friendship circle totally gets bigger if you give my way a try. You can thank me later.

A Mile in Her Shoes. Photo by Pauline Campos

Obviously, I eventually got over myself -- at least in this particular case -- and that was a good thing. I'm still a writer. But now, I'm more. And I like it that way.

Now it's your turn. I don't often ask for comments on my writing here, but the point of this Aha! Moment of mine is that we all could use a reminder here and there to swing our hips a bit more confidentially and to stop playing the Humble Card because Self-Pride is entirely underrated. Whether you are a proud member of the #ChingonaFest community or a writer, blogger, or fledgling underwater basket weaver, you are always more and capable of so much more than which you give yourself credit. Always Celebrate Who You Are. No One Else is Going to Do It For You. That's one of my most popular Chingonafest quotes, and for good reason. We are too often told that , as women and, for many of us, as women of color, that we aren't supposed to be anything but humble and unsure of ourselves outside of cultural and societal dictates.

I'm a writer. An Artist. A Mother. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Photographer. Friend.

I'm creative, driven, bull-headed, caring, bitchy, sarcastic, and sassy.


I'm that and I'm more and I'm ready to be open to the possibilities of what and who I may become tomorrow and proud of who I was yesterday, just as I am of myself and my capabilities today. And this is where I leave the ball in your court.

Tell me, amigas...

Who are YOU?


#Chingonafest Fridays: Pauline Campos

Welcome to WEEK 10 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama!


 If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.


Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Juliana Maulanda and Lisann Valentin were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing. 


Today’s featured Chingona is ....me.


Yes, I realize this smacks of All Things Self-Centered and Self-Serving, but if I tell you that it's my kid's birthday week and that her party was today and I decided to say Sure, Princess! when she asked for homemade coloring books as her party favor, and that The Husband and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning manning the two-person hole-punch & ribbon line while the cupcakes cooled enough to frost, you'll understand the reasoning behind turning this week's Chingonafest into a dual anniversary celebration for my role as Latina Magazine's #Dimelo advice columnist. You'll also pretend to not notice I'm posting a regular Friday feature on a Saturday night because, yaknow, Motherhood.  It's either now or never, which is also why I'm mentioning the Speaking at BlogHer '14 Thing for the first time on the blog. It's time-management at it's finest.


My mad self-promotional skillz are mind-boggling, I know.


Don't feel bad if you didn't buy me a present. I didn't even know I missed it until LinkedIn started sending me congratulatory notifications from friends with better observational skills than my own. I probably owe myself flowers.


After I put out, that is. For now, though, let's get to that Talking to Myself thing.



Is a caption really necessary?

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Aspiring Mama: Chocolate if it's a shake. Vanilla if it's ice-cream.

PC: Neurotic much? Wait, don't answer that. Describe yourself in third person instead.

AM: Pauline Campos is neurotic, has a weird thing with ice-cream, including the need to chew it even if it's plain vanilla, and thoroughly enjoys arguing with her DNA over her love of snow-shoeing. She's also the founder of #chingonafest and ha that column where she tells people what to do on life, sex, and cultural drama topics. to Oh, and her favorite days are the ones where she gets paid to give solicited advice from the comforts of her couch without ever having put a bra on.

PC: Weirdest. Mexican. Ever. It's like Freaky Friday but with better dialogue. You do realize there's a poor Swedish guy somewhere trying to figure out why he felt smug about knowing who Ricky Martin was before General Hospital served as his crossover to mainstream, right? No, don't answer that one, either. Do you dream in color or black and white?


AM: Color. I don't remember most of them, but when I do, it's all kinds of High-Def in there. Also? Re-read your last question to me. Now who's the neurotic one? *blinks* Wait, never mind.


PC: You see my dilemma, then. Carrying on...Do you feel Latina enough"?

AM: I'm allergic to eggs, dairy, corn, yeast, gluten, and a bunch of other crazy stuff. What do Mexicans eat for breakfast? Whatever we had for dinner last night scrambled with eggs, wrapped in a corn tortilla, and washed down with Cafe con (a fucking-lot of) Leche. This makes me allergic to my childhood and probably the world's worst Mexican.

Of course I feel Latina enough.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?


PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AM: Only if I don't have to burn my bra. Triple D's take precedence over social and political ideals.

PC: I'll second that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AM: I'm English-dominant now, but as a kid I know I wasn't aware of when I switched between languages. Now? I'm so concerned I'll pronounce something wrong in Spanish while sober that I think I'd benefit from an AA meeting and a sponsor prior to any events where my Spanish-speaking skills are a requirement. Also? Spanglish is my national language.

PC: Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AM: Seriously?

PC: Okay then. Moving on. Favorite book and why...

AM: Right now it's Rick Najera's Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. It's so much more than an exploration of Latinos and how we are represented in the media. I've been recommending it to writing friends of all backgrounds...because it pertains, dammit. And no, I wasn't paid to say that.

PC: You don't get paid for a lot of shit on this blog. But following up to your last answer, how do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

AM: It's equal parts a bullshit and wake-up call. I grew up watching telenovelas at my tias house and all the rich and beautiful were portrayed by the blonde and blue-eyed. If you looked like me, you were the help or the poor villager. While that needs to change -- because it's still an issue -- we can't bitch if we think our job is done simply because we complained.

PC: Opinion much? Who inspires you?

AM: Anybody who has the courage to say what they think and stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

AM: My daughter, Eliana, is my number one. Right now, she is everything I wish I was growing up; feisty, independent, strong-willed, and confident as hell. Everything I say and do comes from that place where motherhood takes us and the realization that my todays are building the foundation for her tomorrows.

PC: You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?


AM: My dad, I don't care, I'm allergic, and because I miss him.


PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...


AM: My mom and me sitting on the front porch in the middle of the night during sticky summers without central air. We'd tiptoe outside and talk for hours, ignoring the mosquito bites, while the house slept. I can't tell you one thing we talked about, but I'll always remember the laughter.


PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...


AM: That it's always perfectly acceptable to leave the house in red cowboy boots, a blue tutu, and a super-hero cape, public opinion be damned.



Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 6.09.16 PM

And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. A non-Latina wants to know how to navigate cultural differences with her employees.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.


Check out my Zazzle Shop for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

Top of Form

#ChingonaFest: 50 in 14 Days

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 11.56.42 AM I've got T-shirts, y'all!

Well, I don't physically like, Have have the T-shirts in my actual possession, but this is a good thing if you really think about it.

See, this way, you won't be waiting till 2037 for me to remember to mail them out after you order.

Here's the scoop: I like my Zazzle store. I like my Etsy shop, too. Especially for the stuff I can make on my own like quotable prints (but gimme a bit. Right now it's  digital prints only. At least until tomorrow, anyway).

So when I saw TeeLatino followed me on twitter, I clicked the link and followed back after screaming out something incomprehisible to the average person about Zazzle and Kickstarter having a baby together and now I get to offer more Tees with a really cool concept...

The Husband, by the way, halfway understood what I was saying, which is exactly why we are married.

The hook? I set me goal of how many tees I want to sell and the time frame in which to sell them. My campaign title, quite obviously, is ChingonaFest.

I chose 50 shirts as my goal. Fourteen days as my time frame.

That means it's all or nothing.

Forty-nine shirts ain't bringin' home the bacon and the campaign will be relaunched. No shirts are printed unless the goal is met by the deadline. And for you small biz and fundraising-types, no upfront cost, either. Just like Zazzle and Etsy and Ebay and most things in life, TeeLatino (which is for EVERYBODY, by the way...the URL is www.crowdt.com) takes their cut on the back end and only if the goal is reached.

I think I love these guys. Also? No, they are not paying me ... but you can bet your sweet ass I'm going to be making nice and practicing my adorable internet stalker look until they realize how perfect I am to be their ambassador-spokeperson-whatever-the-phrase-is-this-week. Because I am.


So, to recap:

* The first #Chingonafest campaign on TeeLatino/CrowdT.com is live

* The goal is 50 shirts to be sold in 14 days

* No shirts will be printed and NO ONE gets a #ChingonaFest shirt if all 50 do not sell

* On the flipside, ONLY 50 of THIS design will be made if the campaign is a success.

* After that, it's on to a new phrase, a new design, or even a new look for an old favorite. And I've got plenty.

Stay tune. I'll be launching an #AlmostWhite campaign for Rick Najera this evening. I'll update the post after it's live.

Make me look good, Internet. You have no idea how you validate the fact that I work at home in my pajamas.

The Aspiring Mama Tech-Free Gift Guide

I'm a sucker for technology. Proof? Right now I'm reviewing a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear Watch and that means I'm walking around with all that plus my iPh0ne. As a writer who lives and breathes social media, I'm knee-deep in tech stuff more often than is probably good for me. My kid has an iPad mini, The Husband is all about Android, and sometimes we consider the times we sit at the same table and never make eye-contact as family time. Sad, I know. But I know we aren't the only ones.

That's why I decided to put together a list of my favorite tech-free gift suggestions for my first attempt at a gift guide in an effort to drive some of the Cyber-Monday craziness to the little guys who are in it for the love and not the big bucks.

For the Wine Lover

We used to make our own wine from kits and only stopped when I was diagnosed with yeast as one of my many allergens. The In-laws, however, are still brewing their own at home because it does taste better than most wines. Trust me on that. When I saw this recycled wine bottle serving tray set from ConversationGlass on Etsy, I instantly thought it would be a perfect gift idea for the wine lover in your life. Priced at only $40 for the set (you can order a single tray for $20), it's also on what I like to call the Normal People Price list.

I know what I'm getting for my in-laws...and I'm glad they don't read my blog.


For the Fashionista

I have the patience of a two-year-old past her nap time and the crocheting ability of a woman who's been working on the same scarf for the last 6 months. I also live in northern Maine where 9 months out of the year, it's more important to stay warm than it is to look good. For $25, who says you can't do both?

I love these Laced to Please Fingerless Gloves from Superficial Hippie's etsy shop. My sister would love these. Cute and practical. As long as I remember to take them off when it's time to grab another log outside to throw in the wood burning stove.

For Your Inner Wonder Woman

Eliana declared Wonder Woman as the Ultimate Princess when she was only two years old. The Disney princesses may be pretty to look at, but pretty doesn't cut it when a super-hero is needed to save the world. Her last three birthday parties have been Wonder Woman-themed, and I'm hoping the next one is, too. That way we can both wear our headband and matching wristlets from iGlowRunning on Etsy. The set is priced at $14.

Also? Shout out to a fellow Latina!


For the Retro Girl

This summer I got in touch with my Inner Flapper Girl at the Gatsby-themed Latism awards gala. I poured hours of research into what real flappers wore and then plenty more searching for affordable options to piece together an authentic head-to-toe look. I think the steady stream of compliments served as validation.

My favorite part of my costume? My cloche from the Elsewhen Millinery Etsy shop. Trust me when I tell you that you'll be hard-pressed to find another shop that offers this much attention to detail at prices us normal folk can actually afford. Cloches range in price from $45-$85 and sewing patterns are $15.


For the Child

Before I say anything else, let me point out that Amazon has the Educational Insights Puppet on a Stick (set of three) for $16.99 (prime-- that means free shipping if you're a member) and Walmart is trying to hose you with a $79.99 sticker price.

I about cheered when I scored this set for a mere $8 at a local overstock store (Mardens is a beautiful thing here in Maine), and Eliana found these in place of the candy she left outside her bedroom door for the Halloween Fairy. She's played almost daily with her puppets and I love it. All imagination. No tech. That's the point, right?

If you don't believe me, read the Amazon reviews. Then order and wait for the magic on Christmas morning.

Whatever you do, for the love of God, don't give Walmart $80.

Also? You're Welcome.


For the Dr. Who Fan

The Husband introduced me to Dr. Who when we started dating (back in the day when admitting you met your man online was code for Please Write My Obituary.) I've been hooked ever since.

With Whovian-Pride running rampant due to the recent 50th anniversary specials, I'm thinking this officially licensed 4th Doctor replica scarf is going to be the only thing I get for The Husband to find in his stocking on Christmas morning (Amazon has it priced at $49.99 prime). His favorite Doctor has always been Tom Baker.

I'm more of a David Tennant fan, myself, but I've got to admit this scarf is pretty snazzy.


For the BookWorm

They might be delicate, but never underestimate a butterfly.

My anthology, born from an essay submitted to Girl Body Pride by H.C. Palmquist, is currently priced at 99 cents on Smashwords. Strong Like Butterfly brings the best of  Girl Body Pride to the pages of your e-reader in a collection of inspiring essays from women celebrating the You that You Are Right Now. Each writer in this anthology bares her soul and drops the judgement because they discovered the lightness of spirit that comes with sharing our truth.

One more time for emphasis: 99 cents. That is all.


For Your Best Friend

Because I can't mention the ebook without showing you the lovely bracelet created by Berkey Designs. The delicate design reminds us that we are just as strong as the butterfly who breaks free of its own cocoon with Strong Like Butterfly on the outer portion and Girl Body Pride against our skin.

The aluminum bracelet is priced at $26 (sterling silver available for $129.)

This one has Best Friend written all over it, don't you think?

And there you have it: My favorite tech-free picks for gift giving for the 2013 holiday season. I wasn't compensated for this list, which I think I legally have to mention, so I am. It's here because I wanted to write it, and that's pretty much it. Feel free to mention your tech-free gift ideas in the comments. And yes, you are allowed to plug your own stuff. If I like, I might even share with the internet.


Happy Christmas shopping, y'all.


The Beginning of Another End (In List Form)

* We stayed up all night cooking for our tiny Thanksgiving with new friends.

* Eliana decided to help Mama with the split ends I've been meaning to cut but haven't had the time.

* Thankfully the child has so much hair that it was next to impossible to see where she actually snipped off a good three inches of her curls.

* She's still grounded until she's 40.

* Pumpkin pie is possible even if you are egg, gluten, grain, soy, corn, and dairy free. And it's fucking fabulous.

* The Christmas tree is up.

* The Elf on a Shelf Eliana has named Etsy (shut up, she's clueless) has arrived for a month's worth of Hide & Seek.

* Naughty elves and crafty elves and Smore-Making elves are not allowed in my house unless they come with a house-keeping elf to clean up after, a blogging elf (with it's own elf-sized smartphone and laptop) to document the shenanigans, and a creativity elf who'd sole responsibility is to think up and set up tomorrow's escapade.

*There are presents to buy and wrap and mail, Christmas cards to order and address and send off.

* Tomorrow we decorate the tree. In four weeks we wake up to Christmas morning and surprises from Santa. In five we welcome a new year.

* Sometimes I stay awake at night just to hold on to a few extra pieces of today before it fades into tomorrow. Right now, that's exactly what I'm doing.

Open for Business


I'm nothing if not chronically behind myself. But if I'm going with the Glass Half Full line of thinking, then I'm also fabulously consistent.

I started Girl Body Pride over a year ago with Big Dreams and Big Intentions. Slowly, things are falling into place. And I keep at it.

One of my goals has been to start an Etsy shop with quotable prints and canvases. Because I like the idea of Gifts that Keep On Giving, I decided to start out with digital files. I'm imagining homemade greeting cards, post cards, and framed prints for GBP readers to surprise their friends with under the Christmas tree.

Maybe I'm just being consistent again, but I can finally cross that To Do off of my incredibly convoluted list. I've got more to list and more dreams to turn into realities. For now, though, I'm going to take my own advice for once and just tell myself that right now, this is enough.


More Solicited Advice with #LatinoProblems

Today is going to be short and sweet. Too much to do and too little time makes me wish I could wax poetic like Schmutzie more often than not. And I'll be honest; I'm not too sure NaBloPoMo is helping me in that area, either. I might be posting more often but the trade off is the time I manage to stockpile for the poetic waxing of words when I'm not in a mad rush to post and promote on a daily basis just to be able to chalk off another win. That being said, on with the show.

Last time I was in New York to record my #LatinoProblems advice segment for Latino USA, I happened to stop by Latina Magazine offices to schmooze with my fab editor, Damarys Ocana, and get my head shot taken for the magazine's contributor page. No one seemed surprised when I walked in wearing my Wonder Woman gear. It's like they know me, or something.

And now? My Wonder-Womaned self is on the Latino USA web page listed as a Futuro Media Group contributor promoting the latest #LatinoProblems segment on the show. Take a listen. Beth says I sound brilliant. I kind of like Beth.


Latism13 Goes Gatsby

I never did get into the Halloween thing much as a kid. But for some reason, dressing the part for the Latism13 Gatsby-themed awards gala became a personal mission. Maybe it was the fact that the 1920's were not exactly a decade known to be kind to women with hips and ass, what with the straight-style drop-waist dresses that were all the rage (or maybe it's today's designers screwing it all up, but we can save that for a Girl Body Pride post). I tried on so many dresses. Some were a nightmare and stopped at my hips when they should have flowed freely to my calves. Others were maybes that didn't fit the image of the flapper girl I imagined I would have been. Photos like this one at the Clarion Hotel in Portland, Maine (where I stayed on my way out of town and back), served as the perfect inspiration for getting into the #ElGranGatsby spirit.

I live in the boonies. This is not an exaggeration. There may be a Walmart in town, but the closest Target (and Starbuck's) is a two-hour drive south to Bangor where Stephen King lives. It's probably worth noting I used to be impressed by the idea of living in Bangor and roughing it writer style, but then I moved to Maine and blew past Bangor (and my trenta iced green tea with four honey packets, mind you) so I now figure I get to say I've got one up on Mr. King for where I live sounding bad-ass on the book jackets of my future works of awesome.

But I digress. The point to that whole living in the boonies thing was to simply emphasize why I went straight to the internet to dress myself virtually for the gala. Because I was shocked into a permanent grin from all the compliments I received on the authenticity of my look that night, I thought I'd share how it all came together.

I started with a vintage-look drop waist dress made for my curves that I found on DressBarn. Having shopped enough there with the BFF in Tucson before packing up for the Great White North, I knew I could order online without having to worry. What I didn't expect was that the dress would be so perfect. Just change up the accessories and it goes from Gatsby to contemporary in a snap. That fit with my Dress Buying Rule: If I can't think of three other ways to wear it other than for the intended event, I keep looking.

I started with the cloche. That's fancy for hat and yes, my kid reads a lot of Fancy Nancy. Anyway, my short and kinky curls weren't going to do a feathered headband any justice, so I combed through Etsy stores trying to find the perfect cloche -- and then I spent hours I should have been sleeping searching for one I could, yaknow, afford.

(Note to self: add vintage in front of any item and good fucking God on the price, y'all.)

Just when I was about to give up, I stumbled across Elsewhen. The name made the writer in me smile. And I found the perfect cloche, which I wore the hell out of while in New York. Minus the pretty flapper feather, it's pretty damned awesome with jeans and a simple tee and, of course, boots.

In case you were wondering, yes, I'll be buying from Elsewhen again.


The flapper feather was The Husband's idea. Jeeze Louiseto the rescue. You're welcome.

The purse was a handmade piece of art I found because I'm dedicated, y'all. I searched through hundreds of vintage and vintage-inspored 1920's era purses and almost all of them made me cry when I saw the price tag. This one from A Bit of Luxury not only fit my iPhone, it also was real people affordable and it's gorgeous. Win!

And of course, the shawl. I'll admit I'm self-conscious about my very non-Jada Pinkett Smith arms, so a cover up was essential. But it had to work with the authentic look I was working for. At this point, all the research I had done on what real flappers actually wore and how Halloween totally has it all wrong, so it was go big or go home. I went big and landed on the Trove Vintage Boutique Etsy shop.


The best part of all the compliments at the gala had to have been the utter shock that I committed to this whole thing from head to freaking toe. Thank you and You look great, too's were part of the conversation but shut UP....THE SHOES just made my fucking day. Yes, they are fantastic. Thank you, ModCloth, for getting them to me on time for departure.

I had a blast. I want to do wear it all again. It might be a bit over to top for Walmart, but the time will come. And I'll be ready.

Let's Chat: Body Image & Girl Body Pride with 30 Second Mom



Pretty, isn't it? You could win this exclusive Girl Body Pride aluminum cuff bracelet designed for me by Berkey Designs on Etsy during tonight's #30secondmom twitter chat. I'm leading the discussion tonight and we're talking Body Image: Learning to Love Your Reflection in the Face of Societal Pressure to be Perfect.

There's also a Zamzee up for grabs for one lucky chat participant!I love my sponsors, and I think you will, too.

I would love to see you during the #30secondmom party tonight, and your support would be greatly appreciated in getting the word out.


Send a message to your social media friends by cutting and pasting the following in a tweet or any other social media forum:


Learn 2 love yourself no matter what! Join @aspiringmama & #30secondmom Wed 8pmCT/9ET RSVP 2 win prizes:http://bit.ly/xwg237

Join #30secondmom & @aspiringmama 4 an amazing body image chat! Wed 8pmCT/9ET RSVP 2 win prizes http://bit.ly/xwg237

Who's in?


Mixing it Up

I used to fill journals faster than I could buy them. "Dear Diary" was too trite for me, so I just wrote for myself and ended each entry with a heart. There are at least 10 journals I have that take me from middle school through college and had I kept at it, there would likely be five times that by now.

But I got married. Got a full time job. Had a baby. Moved cross country. Through it all I managed to update a journal entry here and there. Instead of a daily journey through yesterday, I was able to capture moments in Polaroids built with my words.

Then something strange happened. I started blogging. The private thoughts jumbled in my head were no longer being saved for my pages. Instead, I was sharing them with anyone who cared to stop by for a peek inside my head. And all was well, until The Husband handed me this...


He saw me drooling over it at the Arizona Renaissance Festival and it came home with me. It's lovely. Hand-tooled. Real leather. And if I care to take the journal back with me next year, the artisan will cut out my bound pages and fill the cover with empty lines for me to fill again. The writer in me was thrilled. And then I got performance anxiety.

This wasn't just any old journal I picked up from the local pharmacy. It was special and deserved more than This is What Happened to Me Today. I could share that here, with you. And if I felt the need, I could delve even deeper into my head in the cheap journal I found with my own words that has taken me more than 3 years to fill. No, this one deserved something special.


So it sat on my desk, unopened and untouched waiting for me to decide when the time was write and its purpose.

I didn't think about it every day. There's the writing and the dreams of a book deal and the agent seeking and the raising a kid who is probably already smarter than I ever will be and the working out and the writing for Owning Pink and the new role as an official Erma and the Bookieboo writing and the remembering to breathe thing.


I've never really allowed myself the chance to be anything else. At eight years of age, I decided my destiny and have breathed that single thought ever since. I even went into newspaper reporting as my day job with the intention of writing for myself each night. That didn't work out so well. Others may thrive with that plan. I came home so burnt out I didn't want to write a shopping list. Maybe that's why I didn't fight it much when The Husband asked if I wanted to stay home to raise Buttercup after she was born.


Even with Motherhood redefining my reality, I've always been searching for a bigger piece of myself not yet defined by anyone. In short, I needed a hobby. Not blogging. Not journaling. Not anything related to the words that I am not paid for but for which the simple act of sharing keeps me whole inside. I needed something outside of that and stumbled upon it, and the eventual purpose of the new leather journal, quite by accident when I decided to start mixing my own natural beauty products for myself. Eventually I made some for my friends. And then I decided to add even more to my to do list by opening an etsy shop.

The Husband only asked me if I was crazy once. And that was before he realized that even if no one buys a thing, mixing things up in the kitchen is just an extension of my newfound yoga practice. It's another way to relax and something I truly enjoy. So he shut up, smart man that he is.


My journal now serves as a record keeper for my personal recipes. Words might still fill the page, but in a very new way. And this makes me smile.

Mamavation Monday: Meet Buffy

IMG_1500.JPG "Mama! Where's my kettlebell?"

She's standing between me and the TV, arms folded and hip jutted out to the side. Buttercup has been wanting in lately on the Pauline's Search for a Smaller Ass Healty Kick and that means less solitary Ohms and more creative inclusion. I grab the remote and hit pause on the Gaiam kettlebell workout I just bought, set down my own four-pound bell of wonder, and start scanning the room.

"Let' see what we can find for you to use."

Buttercup smiles. She's in!

"What about this?" I hand her the pink Disney princess squishy softball that was wedged under the couch. I'm figuring it's small enough to handle and light enough for her to mimic the movements without hurting herself.

"No. It doesn't look like yours."


I sigh and walk into her playroom, Buttercup hot on my trail. She isn't going to settle for a cheap substitute. She wants Mama's kettlebell. And Mama isn't gonna get her workout in until Buttercup is happy.

I'm not going to argue. I'm thrilled my little girl gets to see me setting a good example. And I am doubly happy that she associates exercise with being healthy and strong instead of the words that plagued my formative years.

Fat. Big. Calories.

I was bulimic by the time I was 15. I was eating disordered long before then, hiding in the food pantry to binge as a small child.

Buttercup wants a kettlebell to be healthy and strong. I want to encourage the positive.

"Baby, I can't find anything for you to use. Will you let Mama finish my 20-minute workout and then you can sit down with me on the computer to order you a kettlebell for kids? One that is safe for you to use?"

She considers while I hope like hell that such a thing exists. If not, it's back to working out after she is asleep, knowing full well I will have lost all motivation by then and go back to making excuses.

"Okay, mama."

So I work out. She plays. And when we are both done, we sit down on the couch with my laptop. Thanks to a twitter recommendation, I find a sweet stuffed kettlebell toy named Buffy on etsy. I buy it. And Buttercup is beaming.

When it shows up in the mail, Buttercup declares it her new best friend and wants to sleep with it. I, however, did not just pay $28 for a new addition to the Ignored Stuffed Animal Collection.

"Does Mama sleep with my workout equipment?" I point to my yoga mat, kettlebell, and hand weights sitting in the corner of the living room. "Or do I only use them for being healthy and strong?"

Buttercup chews on her lip, torn between the desire to play with her toy and the one to be like me. She breaks into a huge grin.

"No," she says, laughing. "That would be silly."

"Yeah," I say, "it would.

"Being healthy and strong isn't silly, right?"

"Of course not."

She nods her head at my response and sits down on the floor to velcro on her her sparkly gym shoes. She stands up, Buffy at the ready and her own little face the very picture of determination.

"Then let's do this."

Yes, ma'm.


This post originally appeared on Bookieboo