Transition Time

Transition Time

     Art and Soul boutique is undergoing an exciting transition. Ownership has been transferred from the amazing Amanda Kessens to the creative and talented Heather Finley. Amanda is helping to ease the transition because, as she put it "I want Heather to be successful". 
    I, Erica Hockemeyer, am Heather's sister and am excited to be joining the team. I will be helping with the administrative side of the business so that Heather can focus on creating those fabulous clothing items Art and Soul is known for; items girls of all ages love to wear! 

    We appreciate your patience through this transition time. Fabric is being sorted and the studio reorganized to make way for the new designs planned for release this summer. Follow us on Facebook at Art and Soul Boutique for weekly updates from the studio. 
   Thanks so much, friends. 

    Erica Hockemeyer :)

Soul's Spotlight




Q: Maggie, tell us a little about yourself.       

What is your family like?

Maggie: I have a little brother named Spencer, and I live with my mom and dad. 

Q: What do enjoy doing in your spare time?

Maggie: I dance a lot. I take ballet, lyrical, modern, jazz....

Q: Sounds like you're a really well rounded dancer! 

Maggie: It takes a lot of time to learn all of the different styles. But I love it. One day I want to learn how to do a double fouette! 

Maggie, modeling A&S Baja Breeze Dress
Q: Are you planning on making a career out of your dancing? Or is this just a fun hobby for now?

Maggie: I hope that I can grow up to become a dancer. That's the only thing I really want to do. Like, travel and dance in different places.

Q: So, if you could dance anywhere in the world, where would you want to dance?

Maggie: Washington D.C. I was there when I  was little, but I don't remember it. I'd like to go back there now that I'm older.

Q: Was this your first time modeling?

Maggie: I've modeled for fashion shows before, for charity. It's fun.

Q: What did you like best about modeling your dress for Art and Soul?

Maggie: I loved the trim of the dress, and especially the apron. It reminds me of dresses I used to wear when I was little. Fun and pretty!

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Back to School Recipes

Summer days are driftin' away, and your kids can't help
but feel a little melancholy for those lazy afternoons. 
Perk up their lunch time with a surprise meal, healthy
enough to keep them smiling throughout the day. 

Fruit Kabobs
Courtesy of
Turkey Wrap Bento Boxes,
Courtesy of Taste of Home
Apple and Grape Turtles,
Courtesy of
Bunny-Butter and Jelly
Courtesy of

Banana Crunch Wraps,
Courtesy of Weelicious
Deviled Chicks in Eggs
Courtesy of 

DIY- Teacher's Pet

It may not get you to the top of the class, but you'll definitely be teacher's pet if you use this DIY sweet treat pencil idea,
courtesy of Thrifty and Thriving. 

What you will need:
  • Rolo’s
  • Hershey Hugs (or Kisses)
  • Yellow and Pink Cardstock
  • Foil
  • Glue Dots
  • Ribbon or String
  • Craft Scissors w/ Pinking Edge (optional)
Pull the Hershey’s label out of the Hug, and use the Glue Dots to attach the Hershey’s Hug to one of the ends of the Rolo. If you aren’t familiar with Glue Dots, they are the best things EVER!!  Everybody needs a box or two or three in their house.  I usually pick them up at Michael’s with a 40% off coupon.
Cut about a 1″ thick pink strip to add to the top of the Rolo to resemble an eraser.  I cut a circle and attached it to the top to finish it off.
Next cut a piece of yellow cardstock to wrap around the Rolo’s.  Fold it about an quarter of an inch over and over to create the crease marks for the pencil, and then attach it to the Rolo’s
Cut a thin piece of foil to cover the part where the yellow and pink overlap, this works as the metal portion of the pencil. Lastly, you can attach a note to the finished product with a ribbon or string. You are done!
Optional: You can cut one end of the yellow cardstock with pinking scissors so it has more of that sharpened pencil look.

Stories from a Mom with Soul

Are you a Mom with Soul? Send us your stories, triumphs and epic fails! 
This week's story submitted by Jama Smith from Fort Wayne Indiana. Jama is a working mother of 5 and a freelance writer. 

My husband rides a bike like a girl. 

I can happily announce this, and although I should have checked with him on the wording before making such a proclamation, I think he would agree with me on it.

I hope he will agree with me on it. 

Before I launch this one, my usual "blog disclaimer" is necessary to ensure I don't receive the normal, "But not ALL of us...." emails. 

Who am I kidding, I'm going to get them anyway. Which, thanks to the scrambling my brain has been through after five kids, leads me to a completely different tangent.

Yes, I am aware, like with every blog, that NOT ALL of whom I'm speaking of are applicable.

Not ALL camping enthusiasts are judgmental, condescending nature freaks who insist on converting the masses to their sick, outdoor fetishes like a twisted organic cult. (But I stand by my opinion that if you begin to find wildlife sexually appealing, you're venturing down a moonless path.) 

Not ALL mothers who defend their right to stay at home are judging me for working a full time job while raising my children. (But I must take this moment to remind you that if you say things like, "Well, I just believe in putting my family before my own career choices..." in your argument, you're being a jerk-face.) 

Not ALL mothers of multiples have crying fits, anxiety break downs, grown woman temper tantrums, wine binges, and solitary rocking in a corner on a monthly basis. (In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who handles it so poorly.) 

Thus begins this disclaimer: NOT ALL MEN....

Having started my career in an industry dominated by men, I was maybe one of two females. And always the youngest. As such, I had a tremendous opportunity to see how men mentored, trained, and co-existed in an environment while dealing with the opposite sex. Eventually, I left this area of the work force and found an environment ridiculously pink and feminine in a fabulous retail chain (Yes, NOT ALL WOMEN are overly feminine or like pink, have to like pink to be feminine, I know.) Which gave me an amazing comparison to being surrounded by women and the vast differences in how they work together verses their male counterparts. 

This long winded and insanely wrong-turned explanation leads me back to the beginning statement: My husband rides a bike like a girl. No doubt.

A few months ago, my husband purchased me a bike as the warmer weather set in. I had been moaning about how I needed to find a workout that didn't take me from the kids for too long but still delivered some results, and I had to like it enough to not want to set myself on fire when an upcoming workout came to mind. Bike riding it was. Strapping a trailer for the little ones to ride, then bringing the older kids riding behind was perfect for our family.

When I say "perfect", I mean I struggled with it but had no excuse to give up. It was everything I had asked for...but it was still a workout, and my thighs protested loudly with every pedal. Working my way up from one mile, two miles, steep hills, through traffic filled streets or thick mud, a few more's definitely an endurance builder. My husband was right beside me, biking it like a woman. Here's how:

1. Women Identify the Struggle.
As we were riding up "Bitch-Ass Hill" the other day (That's the land-given name for it, really.) my calves were in a particularly grumpy mood, and not at all cooperating with the 100 pounds of child and trailer I lugged behind me. And somehow I think that hill had gained a few feet of incline with the rainfall...I'm sure of it. I was gargling my heart half way up and my husband said from behind me, "You're doing good, doing good. You're almost there....almost done..." and immediately after I finally got to the top, he hailed me with, "Way to go, baby! That hill's a killer but I think you're even getting faster at getting up it."

From my experience with male co-workers in positions of authority, the number one objective of any effort is to just GET IT DONE. Doesn't matter how. Doesn't matter at what lengths it took, what sacrifices were made, what grueling leg work had to be done to get there. Just that the job was finished. And in some respects, that makes a very effective leader who looks at the simple, unemotional bottom line. 

Whereas when I worked with women, I found them as equally vested in the involvement of what it took to get to the end of the line. What made it hard? Did it improve you or damage you? And most importantly, the encouragement throughout the process to validate that you're struggling but you're supported. Not everyone likes or needs this. But I do. And my husband knows it.

2. Women Identify the Success
So my husband and I alternate between who has the kids to pull along behind them. The last time we went our usual distance, and when we got home I remarked about how that uphill boardwalk was intense. He agreed and added, "You did awesome, though. You didn't even break stride." 

I DID do awesome, but that's not what the part that I found interesting. What I found most interesting about this was that he had done the EXACT same thing a few days before when it was his turn to haul the twins. He had every right to say, "Um, yeah....remember a few days ago? That sucked for me too." 

In fact, most of the time in working with men in large corporate settings, I found that any issues I had would be most likely met with "Yeah, I did that. And I did it better. And, might I add, faster." or "You found that hard?? I hate to see how you weather the next year!" 

Mind you, they don't mean any offense. It's their way of telling each other they can do more, better, faster, stronger. In a way of challenging each other to be the best, maybe. Even an encouraging "You can do it!!" with a huge splash of machismo. 

Whereas females I worked with were much more likely to take that path of, "Oh, that was tough, wasn't it? I had that project last year and I barely survived it." Even when I under performed, fellow co-workers gave me the benefit of the doubt. "Well, yeah, we had a higher volume. But you're average dollar is up, isn't it? See, that shows a greater investment per customer and that's a great thing to build on." 

You can see it as sugar-coating, or empathizing. Either way, I need it. And my husband knows it.

3. Women Understand Silence. 
Then came the day when my bike was jacked up. Something happened with my gears and  a few miles into the ride, they stuck in the highest most anguish-filled resistant state imaginable. I couldn't make it to the end, had to turn around and head those awful, stretched out miles back home, pulling the girls in a condition that made every second feel like pure torture thanks to the unyielding chain. 

I was panting, straining, pushing against the pedals with all of my might to get enough motion going to create a movement. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was the humiliation of people who passed me; I imagined that since they didn't know the situation, they merely saw a fattie mom who was so weak she couldn't muster enough energy to pull her kids on a bike down a flat path. Tears started to well up in my eyes. That wasn't me! It wasn't my fault! I WAS strong, physically stronger than I had ever been, but this was impossible! I wanted people to KNOW what was happening...but I just put my head down and pushed until I got home. Once there, I had a meltdown in the kitchen, sobbing and shaking as I conveyed what had happened to my husband.

"Hey, it's okay," he soothed. "Look, it's not worth getting this upset about. I can go out right now and fix your gears." 

I screamed back, "It's not about THAT!!!!" And he clammed up.

He understands, unlike a lot of men, that when females have a problem, we're not always looking for a solution. In the cases of many men I know, it's in their nature to be a fixer, a supplier. A problem solver who can help us through things; that when we bring them something broken, it's in their nature to want to patch it up. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all. Things need fixed sometimes.

In this case, I didn't want a fix because the bike wasn't what was most broken at the moment. My self-esteem was broken; my sense of worth. I felt weak and judged. I couldn't express to others that what they were seeing wasn't actually what has happening under the surface.  But I was helpless against it. I was hurting, and I just wanted someone to feel it with me. That's all. Just sit with me and feel what I felt. 

My husband knew that. And most women do too; they understand that silence is not only necessary to healing, it's essential to one's growth to administer to another person. So instead of giving me explanations for how I shouldn't feel that way, how the situation would be remedied, how it wouldn't happen in the future...he just listened. I ranted, cried, blamed him a little for messing with the brakes in the first place, apologized, sighed and finally stopped. When I was done, he quietly grabbed his tool box and headed out to the garage to fix my bike. 

Like I said, things need to be fixed. But things need to be given attention first. My husband knows it. 

While I understand that not all women stick to the above when dealing with others, I'm very happy to say that they are qualities that I've seen when working with so many of them over the years. And I'm even happier to say that I have a partner who follows the approaches of my fellow females.

So I can happily say this again: My husband rides a bike like a girl, and he should be very proud he does. It's the only thing that keeps me pushing forward down the path, that keeps me headed home. 

Stories from a Mom with Soul

Are you a Mom with Soul? Send us your stories, triumphs and epic fails! 
This week's story submitted by Jama Smith from Fort Wayne Indiana. Jama is a working mother of 5 and a freelance writer. 

The high road, the road less traveled, the rocky virtuous path...

I find myself traveling these more and more the older I get (and although I stumble along the way) I find that it's mostly an uphill walk and it's one of the many things that has yet to get easier with age.

Case in point this week: The Mutual Friend.

Before I launch into this, I'll start by saying that I've learned not to be a martyr in my friend and family relationships. While I believe all relationships require equal effort, love, compassion, tolerance, and a fair share of disagreements and sometimes breathing space, I've also found that some people simply cannot be kept in your life without infecting you with their brand of poison. And that simply means that you have to cut off the infected area, suck the poison out, and do your best to avoid future infections. 

With those relationships that fall into the category of "friendship", it's a bit less complicated than family, albeit still a sharp sting when it comes to sucking that poison out. In most cases, I've tried to take the high road with a conversation that goes something like, "Look, the relationship we have has become toxic. And if it's that way for me, it has to be that way for you too. So there's no need for us to keep it going if it's hurting us both. I'm not saying I never want to be friends again. But I'm saying that right now, you're causing me pain and I can't keep putting myself in the position to keep feeling it." 

And it goes over really well, right? The person respects your honesty, your feelings, and admits their own part in the blame, vowing to be a better person while allowing you space and time, right?

Of course not. That would be too easy for that walk. No, most likely you're selfish, a bad friend who thinks they're perfect, judgmental and taking everything the wrong way. 

It is what it is. I don't linger on what that kind of person thinks, as chances are, if I'm having the "poison" talk with them, they've already proven they can't handle the responsibility of mutual consideration. 

Let me take a moment to point out this: I'm no saint. I'm not above venting, anger-talk and coloring armpit hair on a yearbook picture. It's all within the bounds of being human. I just try to keep that within my own circle of friends, who have no relationship with said Poison Person. I don't take it to anyone who has a flourishing relationship with she who spews poison, which in my non-saintness, allows me the right to vent without guilt. 

The problem seems to be (see above) the mutual friend. They stay loyal to both sides, they vow allegiance to no one. They are Switzerland in the province of your life. 

While this could complicate things, I've always rather preferred it this way. I state to the mutual friend that so-and-so and I are not speaking right now or we're taking a breather as we've experienced some drama within each other, but I don't expect them to stop being friends just because I am. I promise that I bear their friend no ill will, and I will not speak badly about them, as I have no wish to cause them any awkward feelings of being caught in the middle.

And that's exactly what the other person does too, right? Your ex-friend completely does the same thing and takes the high road right with you, just on a different map, right?

Of course not. Again, too easy for your walk. 

Irrevocably, ex-friend cannot help but share their grievances (imagined or real) with Mutual Friend and as a result, Mutual Friend cannot help but mention or relay feelings, or just plain discomfort at the situation you may or may not have initiated. 

This is where I find the high road so damn detestable. 

I was recently in a disagreement with someone (let's call her Rita), and a Mutual Friend from out of town came to my home for a pleasant visit. After a bit of fun conversation, a subject came up that I knew Rita was very displeased with. Trying my best to "high road" it, I tried to glaze over it, but Mutual Friend was having none of that. They wanted to know why I was trying to hurt Rita, why I had intentionally said/done things...of course "Rita" had left out quite a few details and unflattering truths in her version of the story about me, and for a moment that seemed to stretch into forever, I was very tempted to deliver the same blow that had been dealt to me.

I could stretch out on my couch and talk about her actions, list her faults and flaws, paint a horribly ugly picture that in my mind was very true and very deserving. And it would just be self-defense, would it not? Didn't she start it by trashing me to Switzerland? Aren't I justified in returning the favor? 

Sure I was. But I didn't. I said, very solemnly, that I wasn't willing to discuss that situation. That it was private between me and Rita, and I was sorry she felt the way she did but in the future she should come to me and not people outside the situation. Particularly people with whom we were both friends with.  But otherwise, the topic was closed.

Did I run the risk of letting her paint the more vivid picture? Pave a slicker road, a smoother path than my own? You bet I did. And it's a path more people want to follow based on the reflections of our society. A road where they will find many companions, but perhaps no one really worth sharing the trip with. 

But it still isn't my path. So although I hate the high road, and I secretly detest always having to take it, it's really the only road worth traveling.  

Soul's Spotlight



This Week: REAGAN 

Q: Reagan, how old are you?

Reagan: Six

Q: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Reagan: I have two sisters, Arianna and Grace,
and one brother, Cooper. 

Q: It's summer time, so what's your favorite thing to do in the warm weather?

Reagan: I love to go swimming!

Q: How about when you grow up? What do you want to be?

Reagan: I want to be a teacher when I grow up.

Q: You looked like you had so much fun during the shoot. Have you modeled before?

Reagan: For charity fashion shows and pageants, yes. 

Q: So how did you like modeling
for Art and Soul?

Reagan: I loved it! My favorite part was posing for the camera!

Q: How did you like wearing a piece from Art and Soul's new line?

Reagan: I loved the dress! I asked my mommy to buy it for me, and another one in pink too! 


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