2018 word of the year & a manifesto

I want to spend 2018 feeling good in my own skin. www.theginghamstudio.com
2018 manifesto

If we were to sit down to coffee, preferably at a café in Paris, and you asked me what I wanted out of 2018, I would tell you that I want to feel like myself. Now, to be honest, I didn’t completely lose myself and 2017 was a good year. I really pushed myself and got out of my comfort zone. Now I want to get back to doing things that bring me pleasure and make me comfortable in my own skin.


The gingham studio show booth designed by Orangebox Celebrations. Holiday on the Hill, December 2017 www.theginghamstudio.com
the gingham studio show booth at Holiday on the Hill


After months of sewing, preparing and collaborating with Orangebox Celebrations {thanks, mom!}, I participated in 2 holiday shows. Being the introvert that I am, and having spent every waking moment consumed with these events, I was spent. I did learn so much about myself and my business and what I want in the future. The holidays came and I just wanted to hibernate. Since then I’ve been spending a lot of time resting, thinking, reading, dreaming, planning, being a mom, wife and creating space to breathe again.


grey gingham bags from the gingham studio - www.theginghamstudio.com
grey gingham bags with “bien dans sa peau” green embroidery


When I started thinking about what I wanted for 2018, all I could think about was finding the freedom to feel like me and have the confidence of having my insides and outsides match. The French call this bien dans sa peau, being comfortable in one’s own skin. Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, explains it this way,“For all her attention to what she wears and what she eats, a French woman is most defined by ease in being herself and the attractiveness of taking her pleasures”.


my art journal, 2018 bien dans sa peau manifesto www.theginghamstudio.com
make art for fun


2018 bien dans sa peau manifesto


create margin daily, monthly, yearly

create margin in my business to allow for growth and creativity

grow my business slowly and consistently

practice art making for future goals

make art for fun

automate daily tasks and shop online to decrease decision fatigue

batch tasks to be more effective, single tasking

faites simple {keep it simple}, always

nurture relationships with family and friends, have fun and laugh

connect with other makers in real life and online

encourage creativity in others and myself

observe joie de vivre {joy of everyday life}

listen to my body: what food, movement, rest does it need?

dress my body in clothes that I love and fit my body, personality, and lifestyle

drink more water and herbal tea

let go of extreme expectations, comparison and negative talk

spend time alone when I need it

stay hopeful in my faith: prayer, read scripture, journal

say no, and give myself space to make decisions

be mindful of what and how much I read and watch

only make goals for 3 months at a time, pay attention to the seasons


This may look like a long list, but these things are always on my mind so just writing them down helps me to feel more focused. Bien dans sa peau is about how I care for, nourish and clothe my body, mind and soul. Its about continuing that Paris state of mind, and joie de vivre {joy of everyday life}. Sarah Mae shared what her mother said about the French in her book Longing for Paris, “…the people seem so free, unencumbered by what others thought. They just lived and enjoyed life and food and conversation.” 

Do you have a word for 2018? Goals? Have you ever written a manifesto? I would love to hear what you are planning for the new year. Leave me a comment below.

à bientôt,



{If you want to read more on this topic, I shared some books that are a must for any francophile in this blog post.}







longing for Paris

longing for Paris www.theginghamstudio.com
longing for Paris

Dear friend,

It feels good to transition through la rentrée, and to be settling in to September. We are getting into daily routines and we have spent many weekends at cross country meets. In a few days we will be adding a new member to our family. My daughter has loved dogs since she was a baby, and has asked for one since she was old enough to talk. After many years of saying no, dog sitting, and our kids begging, we are ready to say yes. I will share some photos on Instagram {but I promise that my feed won’t be all photos of the dog!}. Make sure to check out the end of this post for a sweet photo.

www.theginghamstudio.com {bien fait zippered bag}
bien fait zippered bag

New zippered bags will be listed in the shop. These bags are so fun and functional. Use them for pencils, art supplies, makeup, jewelry, or even as a small purse to carry essentials. Just like the library tote bags there are great for multiple uses. And they can be personalized with a monogram or small french phrase.

zippered Paris bag {the gingham studio on etsy} www.theginghamstudio.com
personalizing can be added to bag or with a different fabric patch

Some of you might be wondering why I’m embroidering french phrases on some of the bags. I’m a francophile {someone who loves all things french}, and have been for most of my life. When I was a little girl my parents couldn’t afford to get an American Girl doll, so I received a french doll named Françoise. As a preteen, I took my first french class and fell in love with the language. In high school, I took four years of French and knew that I wanted to continue learning.

www.theginghamstudio.com {bien fait zippered bag} the gingham studio on etsy
bien fait {well done}

The summer before my senior year, I traveled to Paris with our French teacher and four other girls in our class. I worked to save up the money for the entire trip, plus spending money. When I look back, I can’t believe I was able to accomplish such a thing at 16, but I’m so glad I did. This trip meant so much to me and 22 years later, I’m still learning from that experience. I truly believe that travel is one of the greatest teachers in life.

eiffel tower zippered bag {www.theginghamstudio.com} the gingham studio on etsy
the eiffel tower fabric is a favorite

Heading to college, I had plans to teach French and Art, my two favorite things in life. Quickly I realized that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. Now that I’m married to a man who has the gift of teaching and has been doing that for 21 years, I see that I wouldn’t have made it in that profession. Burned out and frustrated, I changed my goals. I graduated with a degree in Retail and Consumer Science. I truly loved working in stores and learned so much about merchandise, consumers, and myself during that time.

c'est magnifique {that's wonderful} zippered bag on etsy {the gingham studio} www.theginghamstudio.com
c’est magnifique {that’s wonderful}

I knew that after having kids I would stay home with them. The years when my kids were really little {they are 20 months apart}, were really hard years. I dealt with a lot of postpartum depression, moving several times, and just generally lost a part of who I was. At one time when I was really struggling, I remembered my trip to Paris. I remembered that young girl who did whatever it took to experience her dreams. I questioned why God had given me this dream of Paris, and yet I lived in a very small town in middle Tennessee, with my small kids and a husband who worked so hard to provide for us. I loved my life and I loved Paris. But how do I find contentment and live my dreams in my current reality?

www.theginghamstudio.com {zippered bags on etsy at the gingham studio
zippered bags make great gifts

It wasn’t easy to reconcile but I knew it would be the best way for me to live authentically. At the time, I believe God gave me the idea to create a journal. I labeled lines where I journaled with “sightseeing”, “landmarks”, “souvenirs”, or used french words in place of english. I printed it out and used it daily to make connections between my everyday life and my dreams. I wish I still had a copy, but the gist of it was that I would look at each day as a day in Paris, traveling through the city, noticing the beauty, appreciating the sights and sounds of daily life.

zippered bag c'est magnifique-the gingham studio for etsy {www.theginghamstudio.com}
coloring for adults {genius}

Through the years I have adapted this way of thinking, to fit my life in different seasons. Other than art and creativity, there is no other form of communication that speaks to me as much as the French language. Through learning another language I understood grammar better, and could express myself with phrases that don’t have an english equivalent. I know that not everyone loves the language or even the french culture like I do, but it is one way that I can communicate who I am, how I see the world, and live my dreams.

www.theginghamstudio.com {eiffel tower fabric with gingham lining} the gingham studio on etsy
classic navy gingham lining

My desire is to share my love of this language and culture with you. I’m not an expert and if you asked me to say something in french, you would get a very southern accent with it. I’m out of practice and would love to relearn how to speak and write in French more consistently. In the meantime, I’m going to share what I know and encourage you to live your life in a way that expresses who you are. I will be sharing more phrases and on bags and through blog posts. If you have any questions about a phrase or would like to know more about a specific one, leave me a comment or send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

we are getting a dog {memphis} www.theginghamstudio.com
his name is Memphis

À Bientôt,

{see you soon}


P.S. Did you know that animals sound different in different languages {you can read here too}? The opinions are split on this subject and I would love to know your thoughts. Leave me a comment. {For the record, I believe they do, my husband doesn’t.}

francophiles and bibliophiles

francophiles and bibliophiles, letters from the studio, www.theginghamstudio.com
francophile {lover of all things french}
bibliophile {lover of all things bookish}

Hello September! I am ready for some cooler weather, leaves falling, and all things pumpkin. Autumn truly is my favorite season. School is back in, work has begun, and we are returning to normal life {la rentrée}. I have been working on some fun things in the studio. New products and personalization will be added to the shop, throughout the month.

library tote bag can be personalized available on Etsy www.theginghamstudio.com
what would your bag say?

I grew up in a house of bibliophiles {everyone loves to read and collect books}. My parent’s home is lined with bookshelves full of books. Books have had a major impact in my life, beginning with illustrated story books and the Little Golden Books to Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and The Babysitters Club books. I still recall stories, books and plays that I read in high school and college. When I had children the one thing that we did everyday {usually multiple times a day} was read. Even when they were babies, I made it part of our daily routine to read before naps and bedtime. Now that my kids are older, they are avid readers and visiting our local library is essential.

francophile {à la bibliothèque} library bag www.theginghamstudio.com
à la bibliothèque {to the library}

These bags are so simple yet can be used for a multitude of things. I love that I have a bag for library books that can be thrown in the car in case I need something to read. The bags featured here can be used to hold many other things as well {art supplies, small toys for littles, snacks for a walk, or even a small laptop for working at the coffee shop}. Some fabrics are new and some are vintage. They can be personalized to reflect you and your interests, a 1 to 3 letter monogram or a french phrase. Details can be found in the gingham studio shop.

les livres {books} tote bag available on Etsy www.theginghamstudio.com
francophile book bag

I like to read actual books, I have several books on my kindle app but I find it hard to read because it gives me the feeling that I am always on a device, although it is still reading. When I open up the pages of a {hold in your hand} book, it causes my brain to work differently than if I were looking at a screen. Library books are free, returnable, and you have a deadline to finish them. But there are some books that are worth buying so you can read and reread them. I’ve shared some of my favorite francophile books below.

***Ginny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Longing For Paris

by Sarah Mae

This book is for anyone who has a dream and it isn’t represented by your reality. I wish I had this book years ago when I was happy with my life but longed to be in Paris. I will share that story another time. This book is a Christian book, and it is a good reminder of where our dreams come from.

Lessons from Madame Chic

by Jennifer L. Scott

The author gives a detailed portrayal of living with a Parisian family while studying in Paris. This is a great book for francophiles or people who want to learn the ins and outs of how the french live daily. Its a fun but practical book. If you enjoy it then I would suggest reading the two additional books by the same author, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish your Poise with Madame Chic.

The Paris Key

by Juliet Blackwell

This novel situated in Paris during modern times. Its got a little mystery and a little love story, but lots of french {Paris} culture. This is a fun and engaging book. The author wrote another book Letters from Paris, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet.

French Women Don’t Get Fat

by Mireille Guillano

I read this one a few years ago, as well as the second book, French Women for all Seasons. I loved them both. If you consider yourself a francophile and you haven’t read these, I would highly recommend them both. She has a few more that I haven’t read yet, but they look interesting. I still refer to this book as I aim for creating the life I want to live.

Come to the shop to see the new products. I will be adding new items every week in September. If you are a francophile or bibliophile I would love to hear about your stories and what you love the most! Leave me a comment.


tuesday {joie de vivre}

tuesday joie do vivre -the gingham studio
enjoying everyday life

Joie de vivre {joy of living}

Every week it comes. I don’t dread Mondays until I’m in the midst of the stress, exasperated. Expectations, to do lists, housework, parenting. I end the day worn out. Yesterday was one of those days. I worked with no breaks, I ate chocolate cake for dinner, I didn’t put my computer away until way past my bedtime. I woke up with a terrible headache and a sore back. Why do I do this to myself? Please tell me I’m not the only one. This morning I took some time to stretch, fixed myself some eggs and tried to process why I let pressure to perform get the best of me. Tuesday gives me a fresh perspective. I accept my humanness and decide that it isn’t worth all the striving. Tuesday I aim to enjoy my life. Whether I have laundry, grocery shopping, or many errands to run, I am going to find pleasure in the ordinary.

tuesday-the gingham studio
Tuesday holds the everyday

Tuesday was the day I took my kids to the library when they were little. It was a ritual that we looked forward to every week. We would check out stacks of books, videos, make crafts and color pages. Now years later they still enjoy going to the library. My son gathers as any books as his bag can hold. And while we no longer go for the snacks and crafts it still is an enjoyable experience for all of us.

“Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. That is the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out the joy in the present, the now.”

-Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 {Msg}

I need this reminder to take care of myself and make the most of the gift of life that I am given. It truly is a gift. It reminds me of other fun Tuesday activities. A trip to the museum, strolling in the quiet, contemplating the thoughts of the artists as they painted. So much history and personality wrapped up in one painting or sketch. What about my own art?  I remember that I should take my own sketchbook and art supplies with me when I leave the house. I need to make time to spend a few minutes sketching, going to the park or downtown to capture what is around me on paper.

joie de vivre-the gingham studio
Tuesday café visit

I dream of being in a Paris café watching the people passing on the streets. I live far from Paris and am currently in the suburbs of middle Tennessee. I love where I live and want to be present in my own surroundings. On a warm sunny Tuesday last week I found myself at a local coffee shop and enjoyed a special café au lait while I sketched a new cityscape. What brings you joy? When was the last time you visited a museum or went to the park to sketch? If you only have a few minutes then just close your eyes and breathe, do yoga for ten minutes, draw a picture of where you wish you were, or say a little prayer of thanks.

the tuesday {mardi} bag-the gingham studio
the tuesday {mardi} bag is perfect for trips the library

Joy comes from our ability to appreciate the ordinary moments of life. Joie de vivre is a Paris state of mind. How can you stop striving and find joy?


*the tuesday {mardi} bag is coming soon to the gingham studio etsy shop

Don’t forget to sign up your email address. I will notify you when the tuesday {mardi} bag will be available for purchase.