By Nicole North Rodriguez

Pick Your Power(Balls!)

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Summer is in full swing and so are summer camps! My son’s preschool is offering various week-long programs and this year I’m helping out with a few of them. Last week was Cooking Camp, but seeing as the children were all two to five years old in age, and letting little ones play with fire or operate stoves is highly frowned upon by the authorities, our “cooking” involved a lot of no-bake, but still tasty recipes and food crafts.

One of the recipes the kids made together at camp was energy balls. We have a version we make at home based on a Powerball recipe from the now defunct Wonder Time magazine, so for this month’s post, I doodled up the recipe for you. It’s high energy, big flavor, and totally adaptable to your tastes. PLUS, it’s no-baking, which makes it perfect for summer time “cooking.” My son is one of those “grab and go grazers” when it comes to eating, so these are great for getting something with some calories and nutrition in him!

To make Powerballs, you start with your basic ingredients…

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Then pick your goodies to power them up!

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Before camp I’d never had powerballs with coconut in them, but now that I have, it’s SO going in every batch from here on out (along with all the other goodies!)

So click here or on any of the pictures above to download the recipe. The illustrated recipe prints letter size, but there’s a 4″x6″ card in the center with just the ingredients and instructions that you can cut out for your recipe box.

Enjoy! And if you have favorite summer camp recipes to share or suggestions for yummy goodness to add to these powerballs, leave a comment below!

Soil Tilling, Soul Fulfilling

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I began my garden (creative biz) on a whim while on maternity leave with my son. I had little idea what I wanted to plant or what type of garden I was looking to create, just that I wanted to be home with my son and to plant lots of fun stuff. So I started a blog and an Etsy shop and I began “planting” things. Whatever struck my fancy- seashell crafts, sewing bits, upcycled stationery, etc. I met other gardeners online who were planting amazing things and creating beautiful gardens, and I was inspired to try new planting ideas and techniques- printmaking,¬† digital stationery and prints, greeting cards, surface design.

Things were fine, but it was all happening very haphazardly. I’d get an idea, I’d just stick it in the ground. Another blog was started, another Etsy shop was opened.

Along the way I encountered folks online peddling products and methods that were going to help my garden grow by expanding my readership, attracting new customers, etc. It all sounded wonderful and promising, so I read their blogs/books, enrolled in their programs, and tried applying their forms of business fertilizers.

It was sort of working. My garden was expanding, but it never really felt like it was thriving.

Then a major storm of grief came through and my garden and creative desire suffered major damage. After several months of neglect, signs of new growth began to appear, as did hope for my little garden.

And then another major storm of grief and loss hit last year and I all but abandoned my garden.

Now, almost a year later, my garden is an overgrown mess of weeds and dried up plants. As I slowly start to clear the debris, I see what poor condition the soil of my garden (and the soul of my creative business) is in. Much of what I planted over the last four years was in soil that hadn’t been properly prepared and then nurtured along the way, which also contributed to my garden’s demise.

At this point, I feel I need to start this garden over from scratch, which is as disappointing as it is exciting. Part of me feels like the last four years got me nowhere, but then I remember it’s not really from scratch.¬† I have the experiences of those years to till back into the soil and help nourish my garden (and my creative soul) this time around.

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Know Where to Go: Money Resources for Creative Entrepreneurs

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Admittedly, I’m no expert on the topic of money or business building. I’m not rocking some widely successful business (yet), and in fact, I only just recently returned to the business of moving Three By Sea forward after a year and a half long hiatus. But here’s what I do know so far:

  1. I’m not trying to work for free. Eventually I want Three By Sea to be a viable business, contributing real income to our household rather than existing in a loop of merely maintaining operating expenses. And let’s be honest, after the extended time away, isn’t even doing that currently.
  2. I’ve gotten honest about who I am. For me, I enjoy the designing far more than the actual producing, so as I move forward, business ventures, product ideas, and revenue producing decisions will be based on knowing that about myself.
  3. I’m okay moving forward without having all the answers- Being self-employed or an entrepreneur often means do a little flying by the seat of your pants or faking it until you making it, but the sooner you can figure it out, especially in regards to money, the better off you’ll be.

You don’t have to know, but do know where to go.

This is SO key for me. Places like Twitter and our Oh My! Handmade community have been amazing in finding the help I’ve needed, raising issues I hadn’t yet considered, or pointing¬† me to the resources I needed over the years. I also believe you should pay it forward, so here are my “go to” places for all things related to money:

  1. Tara Gentile– Tara is all about the YOU-economy and her ebook, “The Art of Earning: Because Making Money Should Be Beautiful” is a must-read for all creative/indie biz folks and entrepreneurs. She doesn’t tell you how to make money or give you pricing formulas, but rather, she presents an enlightening and empowering framework for thinking about how you make money, what to remember when you price your goods and services, and why making money is a GOOD thing. Your mindset about money will be forever impacted, I promise.
  2. Designing an MBA– Megan Auman is the jewelry designer, entrepreneur, and educator behind this site. As a maker, she knows the importance of pricing for profit, how to build your business through wholesale and trade shows and has created guides to help you with both. If you are a maker, you need to check her out.
  3. Daily Worth- “Money has meaning when it gives you the freedom to live an inspired life. We are here to do just that. Together.” Founded by Amanda Steinberg, Daily Worth aims to help women feel empowered when it comes to money rather than stressed or trapped by it. Trying to get a hold of your personal finances, plan for retirement or need guidance as an entrepreneur? Head to Daily Worth.
  4. Outright.com- I believe this is only for U.S. folks (sorry!), but it’s a handy (free!) online bookkeeping site for tracking income and expenses and helping you organize come tax time.

Hope this helps! Have any other go to websites for money guidance? Share it in the comments section!