Rosemary & Thyme . the Gift of Self-Employment

The Gift of Self Employment

This day-before-Thanksgiving, besides ushering in some possible snow flurries, brings the second in my holiday guest series on gratitude. Yesterday Kelly shared the story of a donated living saving the life of her six-week-old daughter Matilda, an ultimate sacrifice and gift. Today, Kriste, a friend I met soon after moving to DC, shares her thoughts on the gift of self employment at the ripe old age of 25. Yeah, you’re not the only one thinking back to 25 and trying to imagine yourself doing this… Without further ado, I give you Kriste of Rosemary & Thyme.

Rosemary & Thyme Takes Root . The Gift of Self Employment

Most 25 year olds are likely doing their best to climb whatever ladder their college degree thrust upon them. After all, we all paid a lot of money for those ladders, and who knows what kind of ground we might hit upon landing? As my first quarter century passed me, I began to feel the itch to leap — to just close my eyes and see what happened. And with the support of my loving husband, that’s exactly what I did. I shut my lashes tight; took a deep breath; and let go; and the free fall has been anything but boring!

Flash forward nine months and you have today. While I still toss and turn at night, tumbling the idea of failure in my brain over and over again, I must admit, I have been extraordinarily blessed through the process of becoming self-employed! When it comes to naming what I am most grateful for this holiday season, I find myself overwhelmed to pinpoint the most important to share with you. After giving it a good deal of thought, I have narrowed down my list to five daily blessings.

Herbs, the gift of self employment

Creativity Released

This is probably the most exciting piece of this puzzle I now call my life! I grew up a very wild, free-spirited child who often went on errands in dress up clothes and couldn’t be told I wasn’t a fairy princess. The desire to create stemmed deep, and I would routinely exit my room with some new work of art ready to be gifted. I loved the concept of giving away what I created. It felt so wonderful to express how much I cared about people in a tangible way. Somehow through the years, I lost that. I forgot how a drawing can make someone smile, how a handmade card can bring relief to stressful days. I had forgotten, and it broke my heart! With full control over my schedule, that passion has rekindled in my heart. As I begin to create and give away, I feel this overwhelming surge in my soul. Once something has passed from my hands to another’s, I’m immediately struck with new ideas, and the cycle begins all over again!

Cranberries, the gift of self employment

Eating Habits

Alright, as unrelated as this may seem, it is actually pretty big for me. Food is not only one of my favorite things but also an area that lacked control. I simply ate foods that made me feel good in the moment and gave little thought to how it would affect my body. Since making the switch to self employment, I have been able to gain control over the food I bring in my house and cook. My husband and I made the shift to a Paleo diet this summer and with it, we have found a renewal of health that has shocked us both! While it was a struggle to get through 40 hours a week, I now have the energy to work from the time I get up to when I lay down to sleep. That is a major blessing while juggling my workload, transitioning to housewife status, and keeping up with family and friends!


Discovering New and Old Passions

Working in a creative environment has opened the door to endless possibilities. Just take a cruise on Pinterest or read through your blogroll for the day and I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling. I try new avenues daily, and while I sometimes choose a different path for the next day, I do find roads that I never knew I would love to travel! I have developed passions for graphic design, painting, and even cooking — all of which I would never have explored before the shift. Along with the new, I have rejuvenated my old passion for reading books and listening to music. Stuck at a desk, I was limited in what I could fill my thoughts with all day. But now, I use 10-15 stolen minutes while lunch is warming to squeeze in an extra chapter or two, and my days are full of songs. Good songs — the kind that stick to your soul and stay with you all night after you’ve closed your eyes for sleep.

Calico Cat

Daily Comforts

My job has allowed me the luxury of setting my own work times and places, and I’ll be honest, most days find me at my dining room table. Growing up homeschooled, I learned at an early age the importance of a home. That it’s not just a box to house our stuff and provide shelter for sleep. No! It’s a place that’s meant to be loved and cherished. A place for us to laugh with family, a space for us to learn and grow! It provides a safe haven for conversation and dreaming. If the walls could talk, they would have tales upon tales to tell, but they will always remain your silent sounding boards, ready for whatever you heart is dreaming up that day. Being home with my candles lit, cats in tow, dinner simmering, and cozy slippers on my feet nestle me to safety. It challenges me with comfort to ask the tough questions and to dream the impossible.

On Marriage

Building Marriage Bonds

This transition has brought my husband and I closer together than I thought possible. We are partners in all things, and we feel that bond as pressures over finances, time and life shifts increase. Rather than worrying about the moment, we choose to dream about the future — and do we have some wild ones! When it comes down to it, we are both free spirits. We will never be tied to a desk, we will never fit the mold, and we are ok with that. We are ok with how strange our life looks to some, and we absolutely can not wait to see where it takes us! We have some schemes beginning to take shape, and the very thought of them soon becoming reality could bring me to tears.

At the end of the day, as I lay my head to the pillow, I find I am grateful for the challenges. I am thankful that my life has shifted radically. With this season of thanks upon us, I feel truly blessed by the truth that has been brought to relationships and the depth that has released in my soul.

Rosemary & Thyme, The Gift of Self Employment

Kriste Janczyk, Rosemary & Thyme

Kriste is a freelance blogger, creative assistant, event stylist and writer. She chronicles her journey at Rosemary & Thyme and is a contributor for Deeply Rooted Magazine and Trouvé Magazine. With the love and constant encouragement from her husband, Kriste is on a journey to make her daily dreams a constant reality.


Baby’s New Liver . the Gift of Organ Donation

the Gift of Organ Donation

Today is the first in a series of guest posts about gratitude because it’s so important to remember to step back and make a mental note of everything good in our lives. This first story by Kelly of Cloudy Day Gray had me in tears and is an incredible reminder of what can come of somebody giving the ultimate gift: life. The gift of organ donation saved the life of Kelly’s daughter Matilda. If you aren’t an organ donor yet and want more information, Donate Life is a great resource!

The Gift of Organ Donation for Matilda

That six week mark is often a big milestone for parents. Smiles begin, feeding becomes easier, nights might even start to calm down. But for us, that six week birthday was one that we will never forget. For our daughter Matilda, it will always be the most important day of her life.

Matilda was born on September 21st, 2012. She was healthy and beautiful, we took her home and ate chocolate cake to celebrate with our two-year-old son Parker by our side. Everything seemed perfect. But by the time Matilda was nine days old, she had been rushed to one hospital, transferred to another, and finally sent to New York City with a diagnosis of acute liver failure. She was put on life support and we were told she would most likely not make it.

the Gift of Organ Donation

Over the next five weeks she remained on life support. We found ourselves saying goodbye. Nurses started staying long past their shifts, they would whisper sweet words to her, hold her hand, and shed a tear or two. The doctors didn’t have much to say, but their sad eyes told us everything. She had fought long and hard, but time was something that could not be stopped. We made plaster casts of Matilda’s hands and feet, so that we could always keep a piece of her.

On November 2nd, 2012, Matilda’s six week birthday, she was offered the liver of a two-week-old who had passed away. Only 1% of Matilda’s original liver was functional at the time of removal. She was literally holding on to her last moments, waiting to receive the most important gift of her life. The transplant was a success. Matilda healed quickly with only a few minor setbacks.

On her four month birthday, we walked back into our home – with both our children in our arms. Matilda was healthy and beautiful and we ate chocolate cake to celebrate. It has now been two years since Matilda received her transplant. She is the most joyful child I have ever known. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about how close we were to losing her – how different our life would be without her laughter, without her hugs, without her reminder of what is truly important.

Gift of Organ Donation

I always considered myself a grateful person. But now I have the privilege of nurturing the most precious gift I have ever or will ever receive. Amid unthinkable tragedy, pain, and sorrow, a mother chose to gift me with happiness. To gift me with the opportunity to watch my child grow. To gift me with love, laughter, and hope. She chose to give a piece of her baby, so that mine could live.

We all have cloudy days, moments in time that are really difficult, I believe it is what we do with those cloudy days that defines who we are. I do my best to give, live, and love while advocating for pediatric organ donation as a way to not just be grateful, but live grateful.

Cloud Day Gray Kelly

Kelly, Cloudy Day Gray

Kelly Smith founded the blog Cloudy Day Gray after her daughter underwent a successful liver transplant at six weeks old. Since then she has been moving forward determined to give, live, and love a full life as a mother, wife, and donate life advocate. Her projects have been featured on, Apartment Therapy, and You Are My Fave, among others.


Taxidermy Reindeer Antlers Advent Calendar . How To-sday

reindeer antlers advent calendar diy
I’m dredging up a favorite from last year: the taxidermy reindeer antlers advent calendar! Thanksgiving is fast-approaching, and then the countdown to Christmas begins! I wanted to do something fun for an advent calendar this year. I started thinking back to my last taxidermy project and decided I had to try another one. This tutorial will walk you through making an adorable plush reindeer advent calendar.
Check out the full tutorial after the jump, and have fun crafting!

reindeer antlers advent calendar
  • Printable antler template
  • Lightweight, small Christmas ornaments (Michaels & Hobby Lobby have them for super cheap.)
  • Faux greenery
  • Wooden plaque
  • Sharpie or fabric chalk
  • White acrylic paint & brush
  • Small paper bags (25)
  • 9″ x 12″ felt sheets (2)
  • 1/4″ wooden dowel, split into two 9″ pieces
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  • Hot glue
  • Paint pen, paint, calligraphy pen & ink, or stamps, as desired
  • Drill
  • Thread, twine, or yarn
reindeer antlers
1.   Drill two holes into the plaque at a roughly 45-degree angle. Use a drill bit big enough for you to slide the dowel into the resulting hole. I drilled all the way through to make sure the dowels would have plenty of support.
Using white acrylic paint mixed with a splash of water, paint a white wash over the entire plaque. Set it aside to dry.
2.   Print the antler template (linked under materials), and use it to draw a set of antlers onto a piece of felt using a Sharpie or fabric chalk. You can fit two antlers to a sheet of felt. Cut out each set twice.
Using a sewing machine set to a zigzag stitch, sew each set together around the edges, leaving the bottom open. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can stitch it by hand. Maybe try an embroidery thread in a bright color for some fun contrast.


3.   Use scraps of felt to stuff the antler ‘branches.’ You can roll up the scraps and use a dowel to stuff them into the right spot. Only stuff the ‘branch’ ends, leaving the main part of the antler empty.


4.   Wrap the end of the dowels in more of the scrap felt. Affix it to the dowel with a bit of tape to get started. Wrap it a couple times to build 6.   thickness, and then slide the wrapped dowel into the antler. This should fill out the long part of the antler and give support to the whole thing.
5.   Number the little bags with a big digit on each. You can use markers, paint pens, calligraphy, a brush, stamps – just about anything! Number the bags 1-25 for a standard advent calendar, or you can stop at 12 for the 12 days of Christmas like I did. *Confession time: I actually just ran out of bags… ;D
6.   Slide the antler dowels into the holes on the dried plaque. Mine are secure without any glue, so I left them unglued so that I can take it apart to store after Christmas. You can use hot glue if you need some extra security.
Hot glue a few springs of faux greenery beneath the antlers for color and balance. Think of it as ‘ears’ to give you an idea of placement. Glue a bright red bow at the top center.
Use paint pens or paint to write a message beneath the antlers. It can be a cute holiday sentiment, or you could personalize with your family name or the year.


 7.   Put some sort of little treat into each bag. Fold the top over, and punch a hole through it. Tie a piece of thread, yarn, or fishing line through the hole. Vary the length of the string for each bag so that they hang staggered later.
Stick five tacks, brads, or pins into the bottom of the plaque. I used pearl corsage pins, but you can do whatever you like. Hang the bags from the tacks and the antlers at various heights. Hang a few lightweight ornaments and extra greenery between bags to add color (and sparkle – lots of sparkle).
* Disclosure – certain links within this blog may result in a commission for Shrimp Salad Circus to help me cover all the time I spend putting it together. See my disclosure statement for more information.