Things that run, reveal, inspire by Hayley Strandberg

Things that run, reveal, and inspire

By Hayley Strandberg @ www.chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com

One of the things I like most about running is that it doesn’t require a lot of things.  All you really need is a pair of running shoes. It is the best sport for minimalists.

Once you start running regularly, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the stuff, and once you start training for a marathon, it’s even easier to start buying extras – fancy watches, socks, bras, etc. I’ve certainly made my share of unnecessary trips to local sporting goods stores.

When I was getting suited up to run the ING NYC marathon earlier this month, I made the bold decision to leave the deluxe water belt that I had trained with at home. I had started to feel that the belt was weighing me down. At first, I loved the belt because it stayed secure just above my hips and made me feel like a serious runner. But a month before the race, I found myself fidgeting with the belt a lot, wanting to take it off but anxious to lose easy access to water. Though it had been giving me problems, the belt was a kind of security blanket that I didn’t want to let go of.

In a pair of sunglasses, running shoes and a Mod Mom Furniture t-shirt I ran the best race of my life, finishing the 26.2 in 3:57. I didn’t need the belt at all and received all of the water and Gatorade I needed from the thousands of volunteers and spectators that came out to support and help. I received even more than I imagined from smiling Brooklyn five-year-olds and affectionate Manhattan canines.

“Go Hayley, Go Traci!” the crowds cheered directly to me and my friend, who wisely decided we should put our names on our shirts. The first 13 miles didn’t even feel like a marathon, we discussed after. The energy of the spectators seemed to magically propel us toward the finish (at least for a while - at mile 25 we breathlessly watched Mario Lopez blow past us). I had never felt so close to strangers or so much part of a city as I did that day.

In the photo above, Traci and I proudly sport our finisher’s medals. For the next day, I was reluctant to take the medal off. I had worked so hard, and it made my achievement concrete. I also love that it’s something that connects Traci and I with the 48,000 runners that raced that day.

I’m not sure where the medal is now. But a few weeks after the race, my finish still feels sweet. I took off the medal and have spent the past few weeks living a life that feels strange and unfamiliar because I’m no longer training for a big race. But it also feels nice, light and full of possibility.

Since the marathon, I’ve gone to a few concerts, tried new restaurants and recipes, and got caught up with The Good Wife. I’ve been dreaming of getting a dog and learning how to play the guitar. I started writing a novel. Last Sunday, I sat down with a Sunday New York Times for two hours.

Sometimes, opening up new possibilities means making space – moving things around, leaving things at home, and putting things away.

Other times, opening up new possibilities means creating space — bringing things together, making things at home, and putting on a tool belt.

Kiersten Parsons Hathcock, Los Angeles-based owner of Mod Mom Furniture, constructs possibility for a living. Her beautiful, contemporary toy boxes invite wonder. They are playful, functional, sophisticated and innovative.

A self-taught designer and carpenter, Kiersten created a thriving business from her garage. With fierce determination and inspiring imagination, she’s carved out a life and a product that are, quite literally, full of possibility. In New York, I proudly wore a MMF shirt across the finish line and am convinced its Mod Mom magic helped me dig deep into my potential to get there.

I’ve been reading a lot of minimalist blogs recently that have made me skeptical of the things that surround me. “You don’t need things” the bloggers say.

It’s true – there are few things in life that we really need and it can be liberating to get rid of things we don’t need. But like Kiersten’s furniture, things are beautiful products of the human hand and spirit.  Literature’s most famous castaway Robinson Crusoe naturally took to making things. It was making pottery that helped Crusoe survive in solitude for 28 years; there’s something primal about the creating things.

Things, in turn, seem to reveal something essential about us. Perhaps the things that create the most problems are those that don’t seem reveal something about us, those things that have become estranged from those who have created them or those who most need them.

I’ve put my running shoes away for a few weeks, but they will come out of the closet soon. My feet are starting to wonder where they will run next.

*****  Read more from Hayley at http://chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com/ *****


NYC Marathon AND Twilight AND Baby Bot's Me Wee Tree, Oh My!!

So much of life is a mystery but there are three things of which I'm sure:  I will always be in awe of my sister's amazing athletic ability and mental toughness, Edward Cullen is the hottest, sparkle-y teen vampire EVER, and Baby Bot in Canada is headed up by two of the most creative people I've ever met.

My sister, Traci McMullen, and Hayley Strandberg, before the NYC Marathon!  Traci printed these AWESOME t-shirts (and one for me, too, so I can wear it when I eat Cheetos on the couch). They ran an insanely fast time of 3:57:46!  I'm so proud of both of them!!

Um...how can you not think he's cute.  Here we are when he used to work for me as an assistant in 2009. We were discussing the rising cost of lumber.  For more of me and my asssistant, go to

The creative geniuses (Renee and Michael) over at www.babybot.com put together this KILLER app for iPhone, iPad, and Android!  You can win amazing prizes from top notch modern baby brands like Oeuf, Wean Green, Bugaboo, Dwell Studio and Mod Mom!

Hurry!!  Go to http://www.babybot.com/meweetree and plant a tree!!  OR if you're too excited to even read about how it works, go straight to...

App on APPLE;


Can you find the Mod Mom Owyn Toy Box??


A Big THANK YOU to Veterans and Service Men and Women - Veteran's Day 2011

Happy Veteran's Day! And a big thank you to veterans, soldiers, and all those amazing military families who miss their loved ones on a daily basis.

I've been thinking a lot about my family members who served today and wanted to honor them in some small way . My mom was kind enough to share some of what she knows about my grandparents so I've included it below. Thanks Mom!

(Juanita Pennington, 1945)

My grandmother, Juanita Pennington was member of the WAVES (Women's Navy) and worked in D.C. during WWII. (Photo above was taken in D.C.) One of her jobs was to decode Japanese messages. She was put on a train with other WAVES. Juanita had no idea where she was going or where she ended up due to the black-out curtains hanging in the train windows. She got off the train at a secret location and worked on the messages. The women would be brought back to their bases the next day.
My grandfather, Lawrence Pennington was a paratrooper during WWII. He was in Africa fighting Rommel (German) as well as parachuting into Europe where he was one of the first paratroopers to drop over the Ziegfreid line when Americans invaded Europe. Most of the men were killed as they parachuted, but he landed safely and hid under a snow-covered tree. He was discovered and held as a prisoner for nine months. The Russian army liberated him and when he came back home to the US he was sent to the Biltmore House Estate in North Carolina to recuperate due to his poor health.

(Clifford Parsons with my dad, Barry Parsons)

My grandpa, Clifford Parsons, was in the Army Engineers division who was responsible for building the roads and bridges before the rest of the troops advanced. He fought in Europe and was ordered to invade Normandy. A week before the invasion, his units' orders were changed or he would have been one of the first men there.

(Charles Hathcock)

Scott's grandfather, Charles Hathcock, also served during WWII. Charles came from a family of six siblings; he was the youngest of four brothers. At one point during WWII, all of the Hathcock brothers were serving in the war. Charles was recruited much later in the war and served in Austria Germany in two main roles. His first role was as a Military Police(MP) officer watching over German war prisoners. His second role gave him the opportunity to explore the German countryside as part of the communications reconstruction team. Charles helped hang telephone lines and open back up communications between German villages. He never had to fire a single shot in either role but instead left the war with an appreciation for the German Austrian people and their countryside.

My grandpa, Calvin Deeter, served in the Navy aboard the The USS Conklin DE439. There's a wonderful website dedicated to those who served on the Conklin: http://www.ussconklin.org/index.htm.


Want to build your portfolio and learn the ropes of running a design business?

Are you studying design and need real life experience? 
Mod Mom Furniture wants you!

Mod Mom Furniture is looking for an unpaid intern, roughly 10+ hours per week starting immediately.  You'll get hands on experience with both the design side of the company as well as the operations side.  Learn what it takes to run a design firm and build your portfolio!
Design intern duties include but are not limited to:
- Assist Design in the conception and execution of new collections
- Assist in daily communication between manufacturer, retailers, press, clients and vendors
- Research necessary materials through local vendors and retailers
- If you have Sketch Up and/or CAD skills, put them to good use while helping design items that can be used in your portfolio.

Ideal Candidate should have:
-Knowledge of basic design principles
-Knowledge of Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint and Word
-A very professional demeanor

Internship is located in Los Angeles.  Schedule is flexible. 

If interested, please contact Kiersten at Kiersten@modmomfurniture.com.