name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : September 2017


The Best Small Shops. For Moms. By Moms.

Oh, mamas! Do I have a post for you! I am so excited to share some of my favorite small shops - created by passionate mamas who have YOU in mind. Whether you want to get some beautiful shots of your family, grab a shirt or two for you, help your kids in school, or snag some goodies for your kids AND your home - look no further.
These hardworking mamas helped me by writing their stories themselves. Go take a look - then go visit them and maybe help out a small biz or two!

Jennifer Spencer Photography


My name is Jennifer Spencer, and my love of photography has turned into the most rewarding and fulfilling job.  My three kids have been the perfect subjects through the years and because of them, my love for photography grew.  Now, my hobby has become my passion.   I am a self-taught, studio and natural light, portrait photographer for almost 10 years, but my passion is newborn photography.  I started the newborn side of my business about two years ago, and now it is my specialty.  I provide families with the best memories you can have during the most hectic and exhausting time of their life.  I always remind my *tired* parents during their newborn sessions that once they get their newborn images hung and decorated in their home, their baby will have already changed and won’t look quite like the newborn they brought home.  Posing newborns is a challenging and physical job.  At the start of each session, I have to take the time to get to know each newborn and recognize what soothes them (some babies like patting while others prefer rocking), what keeps them happy (a pacifier, shushing, head rubs) and what positions they are most comfortable with (not all babies will do every pose!).  In a typical session, I can spend upwards of 20 minutes perfecting a pose while keeping your newborn sleepy and comfortable at the same time.  My studio space is kept very warm, so I am a sweaty mess by the time my 3 hour sessions are done! 

I didn’t start out with newborns, my journey started with families and children.  I learned how to use natural light by trial and (lots) of errors, learned how to shoot full manual and how to use my camera to make the best images.  After every family session I would take a moment to figure out what I didn’t like about the session, figure out how to make it better, and use that at my next session.  I never stop learning and trying new techniques.  The most important rule I learned the hard way was to get your images correct in camera!  It takes so much practice but it’s worth it.  Luckily, I have great friends and family who don't mind me taking their pictures (all the time) so I could perfect manual mode. I wouldn’t trade my busy photography life for anything!  I love it!

Chicks Picks Boutique

Instagram / Facebook

My name is Christina, and I am the owner of Chicks Picks Boutique. I have over 15 years of retail experience from being a department manager at Neiman Marcus to opening up my first brick and mortar boutique in the early 2000s. I sold my boutique shortly after I got married, and we decided to move to the suburbs to start a family! I was a stay-at-home mom of two school-aged boys and found myself needing something more to do with my time while the boys were in school. I am very blessed with a hardworking husband who encouraged me to live out my dream by starting Chicks Picks Boutique out of my home in early 2015.

It grew from there and next thing I knew, I had a website! Today, I am running my website, social media sites, and hosting shows where I am able to meet my amazing customers! I LOVE what I do, and I couldn't have done any of this without trusting myself and trusting God!

Make It Mine By Gretchen

Make It Mine by Gretchen is a custom appliqué and embroidery shop.  I do everything from personalized birthday and holiday shirts to baby gifts, monograms on backpacks, school spirit shirts and custom hooded bath towels.  I started making fun t-shirts for our two daughters, our family and friends.  I have several albums on my Facebook page with examples.  I am always updating the page with new creations!

Rooted Woods Signs

Rooted Wood Signs is a small business that specializes in custom made painted wood signs. It started just a short year ago when my husband encouraged me to get back into painting - but painting on those wooden signs has become my passion! Plus, it allowed him to work on those carpentry skills he was dying to activate. So off we went and we haven't stopped!

We offer a range of sizes and styles - the sign is ALWAYS handcrafted just for you! We also offer DIY classes or parties where you and a group of friends can come to make your own custom sign together. Visit my Facebook page and contact me if you'd love to come take a class or order a sign. I love it when friends or new clients contact me and say "can you do this?" Most of the time, the answer is YES! As a gift or for yourself, you'll always be glad you purchased one. It's my personal mission that everyone is always 100% happy. 

Maddie & Mae Designs

My name is Holli Lynn Vongphakdy, formerly Gifford. I am from Waller, Texas, a small country town about 40 miles NW of Downtown Houston. I grew up learning how to craft with my great grandmother, Mama Dee, as we spent many hours and days of my childhood creating things together. My passion for making things roots back to those days spent with her and all of the things she taught me along the way. I originally opened my business in 2015 under a different name, Burlap & Bling, creating handmade wreaths, crosses, and signs.

I never thought in a million years I’d be able to turn a hobby that I loved so much into a business, but my beloved grandma Barbie gave me a good shove in the right direction, and so it began. I reopened my store in 2017 under the new name Maddie & Mae Designs, for two reasons. One - I was adding new things to the store and the name just didn’t seem to fit anymore. Two - in 2015, I had two life changing events happen - my son Maddox was born (Maddie), and my beloved Grandmother passed away (Mae).

Prior to having a baby, I was a Certified Paralegal working a 7-6 job that allowed little to no creativity, which drove me crazy.. My dream was to be able to have my creative outlet and be able to stay at home with my son to watch him learn and grow everyday. I have such a passion for creating things, which is why I love what I do. I get to stay at home with my sweet boy, while doing something I love so much and still contributing to my family’s financial future. Saying that I am blessed is truly an understatement - how many people do you know that get to truly live out their dreams? I am living mine every day, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my wonderful friends, family, and customers for all of their support in making this big dream of mine into such a huge reality! 

Little Ladybug Shop

Online shop / Instagram / Facebook

Hi! I'm Jacqueline Ortiz - an area #TeacherMom with a passion for creating curriculum, sharing teacher inspiration, and decorating it along the way. I began my digital online store “The Little Ladybug Shop, LLC” for teachers to shop for classroom needs making their life a little less stressful! You can find lessons and ideas for upper elementary ranging from ELA, Science, Social Studies and so much more!

Jill Allison Designs

Instagram / Facebook

Jill Allison Designs offers antique, vintage, reclaimed, repurposed, salvaged finds! Hunting or "junking" for treasures that can be used as is, restored, or repurposed is a slight obsession for me, and I am excited to bring many of my unique finds here to you! I want you to have something in your home that nobody else has! In addition to furniture and home decor, I also offer jewelry and cowhide handbags.

I do not have a brick and mortar store but travel to numerous pop-up markets around the country. I love being on the road and meeting all of the wonderful customers along the way. Hope to see you out on the road!


Thank you to all these amazing ladies for sharing their passions. If you have any shops you love or want me to feature YOU, send me an email. This post was a favorite to do - these moms are so inspiring. They remind each of us we can do HARD THINGS even behind that #MomLife!


25 MORE Blog Post Ideas

I'm feeling the blogging excitement all over again. After a rough start to our fall, I had to really take a minute to take it all in - the good and the ugly. Now that we are on a routine again, I can get back to my outlet - this little baby blog of mine.

Pinterest has been my go-to for blogging resources and has led readers to Always A New Day. One of my most popular pins is the post I did on 25 Blog Post Ideas - for ANY type of blogger. I really shouldn't even say just bloggers but anyone who loves words! In my writing journey, I have made so many new friends who share their stories and help get their words out into the universe. It is these amazing women who give me the courage to share and who show me the power behind your story.

In my quest to get back at it, I made a list of topics that fit my niche and my heart. Here are 25 MORE blog post (or writing) ideas.

  1. Your favorite way to deal with stress/anxiety.
  2. A story of grief - of the journey, the stages, and the recovery.
  3. A day in the life - in my case, a day in the life of an anxious mama.
  4. Expand on an old post. Hey, see how I did that?? 
  5. Your favorite small shops - best way to love on some hardworking mamas!
  6. Birthday party ideas - for your kids or why not for you, too?
  7. A recent proud moment or small victory you've had.
  8. Write a microblog - just a small snippet of your day or your feelings/thoughts.
  9. A bucket list - for the fall or one you have for yourself.
  10. A children's chore list - what things do your children do to assist at home?
  11. Share what your dream job is.
  12. Share about any mom struggles - open your heart or make us laugh!
  13. Tell a story just using your Instagram pictures.
  14. Write about your journey with social media - favorite apps or blogging/writing tools. 
  15. Write about some must-haves for your everyday wardrobe.
  16. Share your favorite make-up or skin care items.
  17. Share a favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas recipe - stay tuned for mine!
  18. Take us on a home tour and give details on your favorite home goods/stores.
  19. Write about marriage - the joys, the hardships, and your wisdom.
  20. Write a letter to yourself pre-kids.
  21. Share your favorite blogs/writers.
  22. Share your current reading list.
  23. Write about the importance of unplugging.
  24. Share something you've been quiet about - and need to get the words out!
  25. Make and share a favorite music playlist
I hope these new 25 ideas give you a push to write more of your story. And if there's anything you'd like to see here, let me know. Writing will forever be my outlet, and I want to write anything for the busy mom - where she sees herself, where she can laugh for a bit, and where she can remember just how beautiful her story is.


An Open Forum: Sharing Your Story After Hurricane Harvey

I've received such love after sharing this post. Special thanks to BetterHelp for reaching out and sending information about their services. They are offering 3 months of free online counseling for the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Licensed therapists are ready to help. You can sign up HERE.

And, if you are in need of a counselor for any reason, click HERE to learn more information - even if you do not qualify for the Harvey assistance. Thank you BetterHelp -  I hope just one person reads this and takes a step forward in their health. 

After Hurricane Harvey did his dirty work on my hometown, all the world fell away a bit. Dear friends had flooded homes; school was closed until further notice. Life came to a screeching halt. My family was blessed to walk away unscathed - we had our homes - so I feel guilt in even talking about my anxiety after the storm. In fact, I tried for weeks to put my feelings into words, and I couldn't get the picture to come out. My words were jumbled and jumped from one idea to the next. When I felt the energy to write it out, they came out quickly so forgive me if they sound a mess.

Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash

A week ago, I wrote a piece called "After The Hurricane." I even applied to have the piece appear on a writers' website. I learned today that it was not accepted. Oh, hey there, anxiety. Here you come again just when I was feeling a breeze of relief. And when I think about it, I'm betting that ebb and flow of relief to "what the hell do I do next?" is only one small part of what hurricane Harvey did to so many. I have anxiety over the storm? Pfft. Get over yourself, lady. You have a home. You aren't battling FEMA. And, your house has four walls. GET OVER IT.

This is where I wish I could handpick all the perfect words to make others understand what living with anxiety is like. My kids and I huddled into a closet after multiple tornado warnings. Pure anxiety. I see pictures of friends' parents who flooded. I feel guilty and now have anxiety for having anxiety. My youngest no longer wants to sleep in her room because there are too many windows - what if another tornado comes? Anxiety for wronging my child in some way. My friend's youngest is devastated and misses her home. You guessed it. Guilt. Anxiety. Repeat.

Words have been swirling. Guilt has been settling in. Fatigue has taken over. And I am not talking about myself - these words describe half of Houston. Anxiety has made me tired but imagine those who spend hours finding a new place to live or on the phone trying to find monetary relief. Think of those who struggle after a life-changing event and try every single day to keep going. They are back to square one after Harvey, I can promise you that.

I know this post is jumbled. I know I don't have the eloquence to make others understand what Harvey did to Texas. I also know that hanging onto worried thoughts makes you physically tired. For me, this post is a small part of release. Writing is how I release anxiety. But, I am small in the midst of this aftermath. I can only share my story.

If you were a victim of Harvey and want the world to understand what your life is like now, I'd love to hear from you. We are not done hurting - the sadness and anxiety remain. I'd love to open my small little corner to you.

To share your story or those of your loved ones, please email me at Release your thoughts and handpick your own words.

Know your story makes sense. I hope by sharing it, you can feel lighter, too.
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