Meet Elena Sullivan, Founder of the Crafty Blog,`a casarella

Elena Sullivan, Founder of  'a casarella
Elena Sullivan, Founder of  ‘a casarella

`a casarella is one of those blogs that if you have been to, you tend to bookmark, then go back to, again and again! I, personally, noted immediately that the founder’s recipes, crafts and DIY projects are just stand-out awesome (you might have seen me tweeting them!).  When I finally was able to connect with the founder (lives in San Diego), Elena Sullivan, I was thrilled to finally take some time to ask her to share what inspires her breathtaking creations!

“I started `a casarella as a way to take that sharing to the next level and my hope is that you will leave here inspired to try something new.

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.

I’m am a stay-at-home mom to two daughters (ages 13 and nine).  Prior to having the girls I was a high school English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.  I had many other jobs before that.

Despite my current vocation, I would not necessarily designate myself a “mommy-blogger” (though I’m sure others might).  In the beginning I thought of myself as a story-teller.  That has changed as the years have gone by.  Posts about crafts and recipes clearly resonated with my readers so I have definitely taken things in that direction.  Despite that, I’d like to think that my “voice” still shines through in the form of small stories related to the projects I do.

Sleepover cake (oh, yes it is!)!
Sleepover Cake (oh, yes it is!)!

How you first got involved in with blogging?

I started `a casarella in January of 2012 as a New Year’s resolution.  After years of reading blogs, I finally decided to start my own (with a little prompting from my sister-in-law).  Like most resolutions, I expected it to last a week, maybe a month.  Two years later it’s still going strong.

What do you find most challenging about blogging and do you have any tips for others who might be interested in doing the same?

I think my number one struggle is a common one: juggling what I call my “blog life” with my “real life.”  There is so much more to blogging that just writing the posts: in my case I have to complete the project or recipe, photograph the result, write the post, promote it via social media, and so much more.  Given that my blog is not yet a consistent form of income, it often takes a backseat to other things in my life (which can be frustrating).  If I could just learn to live without sleep none of this would be a problem!

My number one tip to other bloggers is to be true to yourself.  I tend to break a lot of the “rules” that other people outline for bloggers.  For example, I don’t always blog consistently.  In part that’s due to the juggling issues outlined above but it’s also because I have made a conscious decision not to write a lot of what I call “filler posts”.  At the beginning I felt pressure to post on a regular schedule.   This was the advice I’d gotten from other, “bigger”  bloggers so I assumed it must be right.  The result was disappointing: my blog was riddled with posts that I didn’t feel passionately about.  It didn’t feel like me and I don’t think those posts did much to increase or retain readers.  Now I write when I have something to write about and given the steady increase in my readership I think my audience approves.

Wedding Kit in a Mason Jar
Wedding Kit in a Mason Jar

What contributions do want to be known for in the blogging community?

It is really hard to stand out in the blogging community.  There are so many talented people that it’s easy to get lost.  This is why it has been important for me to come up with original ideas (as opposed to simply doing projects inspired by Pinterest, etc.).  At this point I have a number of original projects under my belt.  It’s always fun when someone emails me to say that they’re familiar with my work.

Have you found anything interesting or unexpected about blogging?

I love the sense of community that exists among bloggers.  I have “met” so many people on my blogging journey (and I put “met” in quotes because a lot of these friendships exist solely online).  It never ceases to amaze me how generous my blogger friends are and how willing people are to help out their fellow bloggers.

What do you hope to achieve from blogging?

One thing that I have already achieved is the admiration of my daughters.  They have watched me build `a casarella from the ground up and the pride that they have expressed means the world to me.  I love that I’ve been able to set this example for them.

What is your favorite location in San Diego that you consider a real bargain?

Would it be weird if I said the beach??  Throw a picnic basket and some boogie boards in the car and you have a whole day’s worth of entertainment practically for free!

If you’re looking for a store, I love to shop at GTM.  They carry overstock items from places like Costco and I often find really great deals there.

Repurposing at its Finest!
Repurposing at its Finest!

What is an interesting thing about you that people might not know?

In 1908 my great-grandparents were swept away in a Tsunami after an earthquake in Reggio Calabria, Italy. My great-grandmother survived because her floor-length hair got caught in a tree.  My great-great aunt was taken in by the Pope after that same earthquake. She lived in Vatican City for six years.

What is your favorite time and/or money-saving tip?

Always look for a coupon code when shopping online.  It surprises me how many people still don’t do this.  Before I check out online, I always do a Google search of the store name with the word “code” or “coupon code”.  Nine times out of ten I end up getting money off or free shipping on my order.

Everyone has a favorite post. Name yours and why?.

I guess my favorite would have to be “A Party Favor.” It was my first tutorial and in it I made a punch box for my neighbor’s daughter’s birthday party.  I love it not because it’s the best post I’ve ever done (and heaven knows the photography is awful) but because other people love it so much.  To date it is my most popular post with almost 100,000 page views and countless repins on Pinterest. Check out `a casarella below by clicking on the banner!

Elena Sullivan header


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