Monday, December 29, 2014


It's been a few months since I've posted here. I seem to always start trying to post more of my creative things on another, separate blog but I always seem to come back to here I have recently become re-inspired to start posting here again and following through with why I created this blog in the first place. When I started this blog about five and a half years ago, it was to start living a more healthy and natural life while creating handcrafted things. Through the craziness of life, my follow through waxes and wanes. I have started creating mandalas and "zentangling". I have finally learned what zentangling is and love that I can be creative and do meditation at the same time. I have been posting my creations at my other blog, My latest creations are below:
I am also re-inspired to change my eating. I have been working on changing what and how I eat, and it's been a challenge. With the new year starting, I am joining up the with the 100 days of real food challenge. I am also trying to work more on how to add why I write about in this blog into my professional life. I love who I work for, but I don't love working in the nursing home arena any more. I want to do something more with nutrition and creativity and now that I have my LICSW, I feel like I have more options. I feel like I need to make more changes in my personal life so that I can be more credible in my professional life. I would love to have a place where I can have a creative arts studio and a kitchen and garden where I can teach about nutrition and where food comes from. I would love to have a place where people, especially children, can come and learn how to eat healthy and learn where food comes from and what different types of foods there are and how to create healthy delicious food that they will enjoy. I also want to teach ways of being creative and how to use creativity for relaxation and meditation. Someday, if I keep trying to figure it out, I will find a way to have my passions be part of both my personal and my professional life. I'll, hopefully be writing more about my plans and what I learn. I'm sure I'll continue posting on, but I will be sure to continue to be active here and post about my mandala, zentangle, gardening, and cooking and eating healthy.
Best Wishes on living a balanced, handmade and natural life< Amy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Clean Eating

I have been wanting to change my diet for some time now. Recently, on Facebook, one of my friends ( mentioned how she went cold turkey and started. She dealt with the headaches and the detox symptoms, and she has done it. She said she feels great. I want to follow in her footsteps, but I am not going to go cold turkey. Yesterday, my first day back from vacation, I stopped at the grocery store on my way to work instead of stopping at dunkin donuts or my local muffin store. I ended up getting salad, yogurt, trail mix and things like that to take to work so that I didn't eat junk. I passed up candy and ordering out, which was a pretty big step for me. I did however go home and order take out. I had 2 good meals and 1 so not good meal. This morning, to help clear out my fridge, I made some bread with some dough that I had leftover. Again not the best, but the best part about eating it was that it didn't give me that same feeling that I usually have when I eat bread, you know, that feeling like I can't stop at just one piece and I have to eat the whole loaf. Was it good? Yes, but was is fantastically good? No. Again, I just got home from vacation and I need to go shopping. My husband has a broken foot, so I feel bad leaving him longer than my work day with the kids and I just get lazy once they go to bed. My lunch today should be interesting. I have a couple of carrot sticks, celery sticks and broccoli. Tonight will be chicken and greens and potatoes from the garden. I need to look into what I can eat on a clean diet. I want to ultimate3ly give up sugar, gluten, dairy, and caffeine. That means no more morning caffeinated coffee, no more bread, no more of many of the things I love. I am hoping that by giving up all these foods, I am going to gain some much more as is my family. If anyone has some resources to pass on, I would love you to share. I have some of my own from the past that I will share as I go along on this journey. This is definitely going to be a journey with small steps taken and I'm sure a few set backs. I know that I am of the mind set now that I want to do this, I just need to make the change and I know I will feel better. I'm hoping that I can learn enough over time to start using food and creativity in my professional career to deal with mood issues. I am hoping to do some research into how food, creativity, gardening, etch can play a role in our mood and behavior. I know that there are people out there that have done the research, and I need to read up on the research and learn more! Hope you all can join me on my journey to living a more balanced natural and creative life! Amy

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Now What!

I did it! I passed! I am now a LICSW, a licensed independent clinical social worker. I have now completed so many goals and dreams in life.  I am married to a great man, have 3 great children, a masters degree now with my LICSW (which I have wanted ever since I was in undergrad social work school), a house, a career, and so much more. It is now time to work on new goals, new dreams, new passions.

What are my passions, dreams, and goals? Where do I go from here?  I actually do like being a social worker, and maybe it's just me being overly optimistic, but I think there are so many avenues that I can go down with my social work degree and now my LICSW, I just need to figure out what!

Sometimes, I think I want to do something with health and wellness.  I'm thinking something on the idea of how food affects you: body, mind, and spirit. I would love to do something with growing food, choosing foods, cooking foods, and how it all impacts so many parts of ours lives.

I want to talk about exercise and food choices and how that can affect how we act, how we think, how we feel. I want to talk about how growing our own food is healthy not only to eat, but just being out in nature and being part of our own destiny when it comes to food choices. Destiny is not a great word, but it somewhat conveys what I want to. There is something about being outside and "playing" in dirt, taking something from seed or a small plant and being able to nourish ourselves. That being said, I need to take my own advice and make better choices.

Another thing that is a passion, is creativity and how being creative can impact us; mind. body, and spirit.  I love the idea of old fashioned hand crafts, and doing these "crafts" by hand, the way they did before there were machines.  Not that there is anything wrong with using a sewing machine, a table saw, a slow cooker for soap, but there is something satisfying about creating something that doesn't need anything special for equipment.

I love creating! I love being able to take some material and something for warmth, and create a quilt. I love, for example, that a quilt, that can start out as old clothes, old bed sheets, or very expensive material can then become something new and something comforting, something nourishing for the giver and the receiver. I love that , what basically starts out as a piece of string, can become a sweater, an afghan, a hat, something to keep you warm and comfortable, and by extension (hopefully) feeling safe.

I love being able to provide for myself and my family with out always relying on stores to provide all our food and all our clothing and bedding.  There is nothing wrong with buying things at the store, I do so more often than I would like, but it is nice to know that I can grow my own food (at least some of it) and create clothing or items to keep us warm.

I think it is a lost art, one that is hopefully returning, to know how to do simple cooking, sewing, and other fix it type things.  I have the conversation with my husband (more than he would like I'm sure) that Home Ec and Shop are two classes that should be back in the curriculum.  I think everyone should now how to do simple sewing, hemming or sewing a button on.  I think everyone should have a basic comfort level in the kitchen. I think it is important to know how to use tools.

I just heard about makerspaces and the maker movement, and am going to do more research about it. I'm hoping my next post can be more about that.  I'm thinking that maybe an area that I can get into and maybe use my social work degree and experience.  I would love to see a makerspace in Wakefield. Maybe that can be my new goal.

Amy Fratto, MSW, LICSW (I love seeing my name like this!)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Life

This is the start of a crazy week. My twins have their annual physical tomorrow, then the next day my oldest has an appointment with his autism doctor, and then I take my LICSW test on Wednesday.  Along with this I have to work at three different nursing homes this week.  As usual, I am continuing to try to figure out life.  I keep trying to living the handmade and natural life that I want to live, but for some reason, it always seems so illusive.

I just read a blog post about " Our Year Without Groceries"  and I am re-inspired to continue with this dreams and desire to live a handmade and natural life.  As always, there is a balance, but I haven't quite found the balance I want or need.  I'm not sure that I could go a year without going to a grocery store, but I would love to try it.  I need to figure out how, just north of Boston, I can afford to eat local. I have a garden, and we should be set for tomatoes and kale, but I'm not sure what else.  Farmers markets here seem to be more of the "in thing" instead of a way of life.  I love going to our local farmers market, but, unfortunately it is really an expensive way to buy food.  I would love to support my local farmers, but I need to figure out how to keep it within my budget.

Along with the food issue, I need to work on the clothing issue.  I just read a story to my children about being green.  One way I want to live a greener life, other than with eating less processed foods, is to reuse clothing.  I have been really lucky with hand me downs for my kids, but I haven't been as lucky or as good with thrift stores and hand me downs for me.  I want and need to stop buying and adding to the excessive amounts of "stuff"

Once I pass my LICSW test Wednesday, I am hoping to do more than just nursing home social work.  I am hoping to do social work with my love of handmade and natural living. I would love to work with people to teach them how to live this way, But I need to learn how to live this way too.  I will keep trying and learning and failing and getting back up and trying again.

This blog is my dream and my ultimate goal and I will continue to work at living the life I desire.  I may not always live it and I may fall really hard, but I will continue to get back up and try again.  I hope that at some point, I will be able to share this with others!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Making Changes

I'm trying to maintain the reasons behind why I started this blog. The last few years haven't been easy nor have I been following through with my beliefs on food, eating, and creating.  I am the heaviest I have even been and for some reason, I can't seem to change my bad habits, or stop eating my trigger foods.  I was talking to a friend who lost some weight and she is doing a pretty strict weight loss program.  I can't remember exactly why she is doing, but what I do remember is that the foods she  not allowed seem to be my trigger foods. I joined in a 21 days of clean eating group on a blog written by a friend over at "Journey Toward Simplicity".  I haven't been all that great doing the complete clean eating, but it has made me think about what I am doing. 

I need to start eating clean more often. My goal with this blog was exactly that.  I wanted to start making my own food, eating out less,  and eating healthy foods that are actually found in nature. My problem is, I start off doing well, but never seem to last more than a very short time. I need to really pay attention to what my body is saying and give it what it needs, not what I think it is craving.  I'm sure my body is never really craving a hot fudge sundae from my local ice cream store (though I don't think its bad once in a while). I'm sure its craving a certain nutrient or a certain emotion, but not that food that I know is not healthy.

Our garden is planted and is finally starting to look good.  We've had some bizarre weather here in MA.  Winter seemed to go on forever, and even now, the weather is cooler than I think it usually is. I am not complaining.  I am actually loving the high 70's low 80's with cool nights. I am not a gardener, so I have no idea how or if the weather is affecting  my garden.  My Red Russian Kale is coming along well and I should be able to harvest soon, and I'm looking forward to it!

I also need to get back to being creative more often, but also actually finishing a project.  I can' keep starting a project and not finishing them. I need to start following my idea of upcycling and not always buying new.  I need to start remembering what I want out of my creative life and follow through. 

 I know that these changes aren't going to happen overnight, but I just need to keep pushing forward and remember to not beat myself up when I don't follow through.  I need to just get back up, brush myself off and start again!


P.S. My LICSW test is in 2 weeks.  I need to continue studying and I need to and ill pass this exam! I am hoping that will open up more avenues for me.  I can't wait to take the test and see the words "you passed".  Wish me luck and keep me in your thought and prayers!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting Back

When I first started writing this blog, I wrote often. As time has gone by and the kids have gotten older, I seem to be backing off writing, probably due to time constraints. Not only have I backed off writing, I have also backed off reading some my favorite blogs. My goal is to get back to writing and following through with my goals for starting this blog.

I am in the process of studying for my LICSW exam. I have about 3 weeks left before I need to take the exam and when I pass, I will have my highest clinical license and be done with my Social Work exams.  I'm thinking that I won't be starting to write and read posts more often until I take my exam. I want to get my focus back on my goals so that once I pass the exam, I can start writing again.

We have started our garden.  This year, our garden doesn't seem to be starting off as well as we would like.  Our tomato plants seem to be going well, nut we seem to have lost a lot of our cucumber plants.  I did try potatoes again this year and I believe I am doing it the right way this time.  I am also trying onions and garlic this year for the very first time. I am really excited to see how things grow.  Our weather this year has been odd.  it seems like it has been cold a lot longer than normal. I'm trying not to be impatient, bit I really want to be able to go out and pick my own veggies from my own garden.

One of the things that I need to work on, is my food addiction issue.  I am slowly realizing that this is a bigger problem than I like to think about and admit to.  My focus is going to be trying to eat healthier and figure out what my food triggers are. Having a good garden in my backyard will hopefully make that easier.

I am looking forward to returning to writing once things settle done after my exam.  wish me luck, because I am going to pass the first time I take it!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Little Fiber Play

It's been a while since I posted,  but I have been busy being creative.  My latest creative fun has been playing with fabric and fibers and dyeing liquid.  I then went on to play a little with drop spindle spinning. I have been having a ton of fun playing,  I just wish I had more time to play and an actual studio to play in. This was the outcome of my latest play session.

Oh, and I've sent off my LOL application. Now the wait to find out that I can test!   Positive thoughts needed!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.  I am hoping that I can test for my LICSW sooner than later.  That would mean that I would have so many more options with in my career as a social worker.  I am trying to stay positive about remaining a nursing home social worker, at least part time, so that I can make money and then maybe do something with my love over creating and natural foods part time.

I have figured out that I do like to being a social worker, but I want to pursue a career in fiber arts and maybe even nutrition.  I know that I need to get some more education for both of these to be a career.  My 3 kids will all be in school all day in the fall, and since my husband is a teacher, I hopefully will be able to go back to work during the day starting in July.

I am hoping that when I go back to work during the day I'll have more time to work on things that are hobbies now and then maybe they will be more than hobbies.  I need to have a focus, and I need to get some more education on how to use my hobbies in a professional way, especially within my social work career.

I do know that I need to be better at following through with things in my personal life.  I  have been better at eating more naturally and less processed, but I really need to do more.  Today is the last day of winter, not that it means much in New England, but I am hoping that warmer weather is on its way with the Springtime.  I am hoping that with the warmer weather and starting our garden, I will be able to keep eating more naturally and be even less processed!

Welcome Spring!
Crocus from my garden!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Well, Hello There!

Well, Hello!

It's been a while.  I've been at the computer a lot lately, but not on my own blog, just every other blog out there, or so it seems.  I have written multiple drafts of different posts, but never seem to be able to finish them.  I'm hoping to get a new laptop or tablet or combo so that I can spend time doing different research and maybe even post a little more often.  I have started so many blogs, but I think that this one is one that I can maintain and keep going, all while combining the different aspects of my life.

I've gone a little off track with both this blog and my life.  I started writing this blog, trying to be more health conscious and living locally and naturally.  I seem to have gone away from this belief and started to eat more processed foods vs natural foods, buying things at large box style store vs local stores or even better making my own, and spending more time in front of the computer or the TV vs spending time creating or reading.

Today, I started making my own farmer's cheese and some sour dough bread.  I also started infusing some vodka (marshmallow and cranberry not that it's a healthy food).  I plan to try to make some homemade caramels too, again not a healthy food but better than processed store bought.  I will be making some yogurt over night too.  I've been growing my own sprouts lately and have tried to grow micro greens.  I just need to start the micro greens again.  My goal is to continue to make my own meals instead of eating out.  That way, I know what we are eating and we are saving money.

I want to start making my own clothes or at least up-cycling thrift store finds or hand me downs.  I Find myself sewing a lot more than doing other types of crafts.  I like being creative in general, but I really love sewing!  I really love quilting!

I hope to start posting more often.  Hopefully, my posts will consist of foods that I make and why and how I made them.  I hope to post more about the homemade things I make, bath and body items, household cleaning items.  I also hope to post more about the handcrafted things I make and how I make them.

This is a blog about balance, so it will also have some posts on how to not go crazy trying to live a natural and handmade life.  My house is definitely not a house that is free from plastic toys and they probably have too many toys.  The kids probably watch too much TV, but we are working on that (for me too).   Here, in New England, it's been a snowy and cold winter.  I am looking forward to spring and doing more outside things as a family.  I am hoping to get out to western MA to see some parts of my own state that I haven't ever really experienced.

I'm looking forward to being back on here and sharing how I have "the balance of living a handmade and natural life" with 3 small kids, a husband, a dog, and working part time.  Hopefully this will help me keep on track!