Get Smart with Yellow Owl Workshop

March 28, 2013

Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop has decided to “get wise” in her daily, educational Instagram posts. After succumbing to the very real issue of “mom brain” (view her original post here), she started 2013 with a personal mission to reclaim her sanity. “[T]hose chubby miracles are actually tiny burglars that loot 7 percent of your brain.  Maybe forever!” as she puts it. So far she has tackled subjects from plants and paints to TV shows and candy. I personally tune in every day, often sharing with my husband, to exercise my own fragmented mind. He’s partial the eloquent grammar lessons, and I’m quite inspired by the artwork itself. Her watercolor and ink drawings, as well as her paper cuts, are spontaneous and whimsical.

Christine is a mom and successful business owner (Yellow Owl recently collaborated with Schoolhouse Electric and was just featured in the NY Times today!) whose daily discipline of educational fodder should inspire mothers, new and old, to learn something new every day… and names of super heroes and Strawberry Shortcake’s friends do not count (anyone else’s toddlers know how to navigate Netflix?). Start following her posts on Instagram or Twitter and get smart. Now.

 

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sounds of spring

March 22, 2013

Happy spring! Despite the cold here in the mid-Atlantic, I’m getting good vibes from the budding flowers about and the crop of fresh music being released. I long for warmer weather to roll my car windows down and blast the stereo while singing the wrong lyrics. Yes, I’m “that” annoying car… only now I have a carseat in the back and test the limits of my child’s eardrums. Bad parenting, yes, but whatever makes mama happy makes for a happy family unit, eh? However, compared to last year’s toe-tapping beats, the early spring musical offerings seem to be coming in a little more casual and free-flowing, with simple acoustics and honest lyrics. Here’s are a few fave new tunes to hum while we wait for longer sunshine and greener pastures:

Photo by me via instagram

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I graduated! Now what?

March 18, 2013

A rather large, non-legible sheet of paper arrived at my doorstep recently, reminding me of an important feat I recently added to my repertoire – a diploma for a Masters of Science in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University. Yay! I completed my degree in early December, with a whopping 90-page thesis I still cannot believe I’ve written (this includes the title pages, images, and bibliography in there to sound extra impressive, too). But… now what? No more can you simply graduate and get a job in your studied field. You have to network and do free internships and apply everywhere. It’s exhausting. Additionally, I’m tasked with answering the question on everyone’s mind… “What exactly is ‘sustainable design’?” To which I have a standard answer to give inquiring friends and family alike: “It’s environmentally-friendly building methods and materials.” Simple enough, eh? I often get responses such as, “Like LEEDs [sic] and stuff, right?” from contractors or, “I love reclaimed wood and vintage things!” from starry-eyed mothers and aunts. Yes, yes. It IS those things… but so much more to me.

I started graduate school rather impulsively. After becoming a mother and looking for something more “green” in my field, I joined a young professional committee at a local USGBC chapter. I knew no one and wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but it found me. A chance meeting with someone who’d been in my shoes before led me to applying for the graduate program. A week later (I kid you not), I was in classes and still not sure what the hell I was doing. Most of my classmates were like me – needing a change from jobs that had nothing to do with sustainability, or wanting to advance their knowledge beyond the aesthetic green movement. The rigorous program really helped us focus on the aspects of sustainability that were important to each of us. For me, I realized that my passion for residential interior design and sustainability inspired me to know more and be more for my community. My thesis, entitled, “A Sustainable Home in an Age of Consumption,” initially grew out of a challenge from my professor to demonstrate that meaningful homes are inherently sustainable. I became consumed with the academic research on the topic, ranging from environmental psychology journals to US Census data to social impact business models. Today, I’m literally writing the book on my passion: the real value of home.

Now that the sting of all-nighters and PowerPoint presentations is safely in my past, I’ll have to indulge you on some interesting concepts soon. However, I’d love to hear your thoughts on family, food, traditions, and what is important in YOUR home. Leave a comment here or send an email to hello@generalmerriment.com.

 

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