Thrifty Thursdays

Today I woke up and realized that I did not write all week. I knew something felt a little funny. It’s a continuous process to get in a routine, and I’m trying again to write at least once a day. So, I’m starting fresh and sharing some cool things I found just surfing my Facebook news feed. All the times I’ve threatened canceling my account, I continue to keep it open because with every negative post I see, there is an explosion of inspiration. I’ve learned to just stay on my page and visit the pages I like than to get caught up in the drama of Facebook. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, today’s Thrifty Thursday post is a little mix of craft, food and skincare. There’s something for everyone!

Photo from The Paper Mama

Photo from The Paper Mama

First, can we all agree that this Macrame Plant Hanger from The Paper Mama is equally as cute as the planter? It only cost Chelsey $5 to make the plant hanger, and she shared her whole tutorial on Better Homes & Gardens. You can also find a tutorial for her planter in her e-book, which I purchased last year, and am totally in love with.

Image from Greatist

Image from Greatist

I love when Greatist posts stuff like 400+ Cheap and Healthy Recipes, because it challenges the preconception that eating healthy has to be expensive. As long as you have some fruit, veggies, protein and grain…you can make some pretty healthy stuff. They have it broken down it the basic categories – breakfast, lunch, dinner, soup and more. I’ve been getting pretty bored of my normal everyday eats, so I love finding new recipes to test.

Photo from Offbeat and Inspired

Photo from Offbeat and Inspired

I always save tutorials and recipes for sugar/salt scrubs, but I have yet to actually make one. What’s up with that? So I’m saving this DIY Citrus Salt Scrub recipe from Offbeat + Inspired in hopes that I’ll actually use it. I got some essential oils for the candle kit that I was obsessed with getting but still haven’t made anything. With it already feeling like the middle of summer outside and spending my days watching my daughter float around in our inflatable pool, my skin has been angry with me. So this might just give it the love it needs.

Photo from Love & Olive Oil

Photo from Love & Olive Oil

And what is more perfect in the summer heat than ice cream?! Especially this Dark Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream recipe from Love & Olive Oil. You will need an ice cream maker to make this, so if you have one already…then check out this recipe. I pretty much love anything with dark chocolate and strawberries in it, so I need to buy an ice cream maker to make this. Not very thrifty, but hey…

IMG_2252And finally, check out this children’s china cabinet I got from the Sacramento Antique Faire on Sunday! It was marked down from $50 to $30 and it just needs a little love before it’s perfect! Cecilia already has a bunch of kitchen trinkets to fill it up with so she can work on her masterpiece while I’m in the kitchen.

Do you have a thrifty tutorial, recipe or purchase you want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

 

Etsy Craft Party 2014

Last year, I attended my first Etsy Craft Party at Hello XOXO. Although I didn’t really get a chance to do any crafting (getting there late means the tables are full), but I did have a lot of fun eating the food, goofing off in the photo booth and meeting a whole lot of people from Sacramento.

So, when I got the chance to organize one this year, I jumped at it! So, this year I’m organizing my first Etsy Craft Party at Sew Katie Jean in Lincoln, CA. If you live in the area and want to attend, it’s on June 6 from 6-9 pm and you can click on the Eventbrite link to RSVP to the party. If we get 25 RSVPs by May 9, we get Etsy credit to get supplies for the party!

logoThis year’s theme is Recapture: Bringing new meaning to your photographs and I’m already thinking of all the ways we can add artistic touches to our photos – embroidery, paint, decoupage, photo transfers and more. I’m also going to load up on old frames that we can paint to our liking.

I’m already piling up the inspiration on Pinterest, like this oldie but goodie tutorial from A Beautiful Mess: How to transfer a photo to fabric and other creative ways to use photographs.

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

So as if it’s not apparent enough…I simply cannot wait for this party!

Are you hosting an Etsy Craft Party? Do you want to, or do you want to know where to find one? Check out Etsy for more info. Share the link to your party/blog in the comments so we can inspire each other and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest to get more details and updates on the party!

Yo Momma Monday: Maiden Jane

yo momma monday

Meet Jane, 51, a quiltin’ mama of four from Cleveland, OH. She sells her quilts, pillows, totes and repurposed items in her Etsy shop and posts tutorials on her blog – Maiden Jane. I found her blog while searching for upcycled apron ideas, and I instantly fell in love with her story.

Before she was gifted one by her husband before the birth of their first one, Jane had never used a sewing machine. She did, however, love to create things and sewed by hand when she was a little girl. Although her mom never sewed “not even a button,” she supported Jane’s hobby buy purchasing her craft kits.

“So I am largely self-taught. My mother-in-law helped me in the early days and I also attended classes at the Sewing Expos that came through town.”

For Jane, most her inspiration comes from her daily life. If she has a need that she feels is not being met by the products on the market, she will try to create a solution.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“That’s how my Oversized Tote came about. My husband and I tried all different ways of carrying all our supplies to the beach – plus the kids! We decided big bags would be the answer.”

She is also inspired by stuff that other people might be considered junk.

“I am a little sad when I go to a garage sale or the thrift shop to see all the stuff that we – first, buy, then, pitch. I hope that I don’t accumulate so much in my own life that will later be sitting on shelves.”

Her customers are also a source of inspiration, as they will ask her to make certain items that may end up spawning an entire line!

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

As a small business owner and mom working from home, Jane does not have a set schedule. She does, however, set goals for how much time she wants to spend on certain tasks. She will take breaks for housework and when her kids come home, and she sets aside specific days for her errands.

“…This year I am trying to be working by 7:30. So that means checking email early and then getting started working on sewing. I rarely work for more than two hours straight without doing something else…

I can fritter away a lot of time on social media, so I am trying to confine that to morning,
lunch, and evening. But it’s an important part of my business. So much of my work is custom and then the product ships out right away, so that means I have to photograph it within a day or two of being done.

When Jane and her husband built an addition to their home, they added a master bedroom. The designer wanted to add a glamorous bathroom or a walk-in closet, but it was Jane’s husband who offered up the idea of a craft room/office. And Jane couldn’t be happier with the decision.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

“One of the best things I have is a mobile table. It is on wheels so I can move it around the room or out of the way. The height of the table can also be changed. Side flaps on the table change the table size
to make it narrow. So the entire table can slide under the counters. We also have several mobile file
cabinets – which gives us storage and extra seating for when the kids are working in here.

Jane bought an entire Singer sewing book set at a closeout sale years ago, and she still refers to them often. She also likes Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book, The Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing and the Vogue Sewing Reference Book. For newer books, she likes A Bag for All Reasons by Lisa Lam and In Stitches by Amy Butler.

Jane says she has made and enjoyed a few patterns by Burda, and after she made some totes from Jennifer Paganelli’s fabrics – they all sold out!

“I get a little frustrated with the traditional pattern makers. It seems they have forgotten how to write a pattern for beginners.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Not only does Jane share her love of sewing and quilting on her blog, she also shares tips on practical living. Since she and her husband are both engineers, they thrive on order and solving problems that arise in their growing family. They are constantly changing and organizing things to adapt to their evolving lifestyle – like simply storing plastic grocery bags in an old milk jug with holes cut on the top and sides.

“Do you know, we still use that jug after 20+ years? My husband jokes that it saved our marriage! Since I am practical in nature and some of my products were borne of the idea of being practical, yet pretty, I used it as a basis for developing my brand.”

Jane gets tremendous satisfaction from working with her hands and making as much as she can. She started sewing for herself and her kids and would make gifts for people when she could. She created t-shirt blankets for her nieces and nephews as High School graduation gifts, and after encouragement from a friend, she opened an Etsy shop. Soon after that, she started a website and her business has continued to grow in the last five years.

“I almost feel selfish because I enjoy it so much…I love doing it for the creativity but I am motivated by the financial gain.”

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Even though her kids and husband help out when it’s needed – doing chores, make pickups and drop-offs, help with laundry and set the table – she remains an one-woman operation. Her oldest daughter, who has modeled on her website before, is now off to College so her other daughter, Annie, has taken over modeling. She also has her own Etsy shop called Pink in Mind.

Jane’s work and has been featured in quite a few websites, such as Craft Gawker, Craft Gossip, Totally Tutorials and All Free Sewing. She says that it has been a mixture of her submitting her work to different sites, and getting sought out by different bloggers.

“I was thrilled to have a few projects featured on Craft Gawker because that forced me to improve my photography. But I’m clearly not “there” yet because I continue to get rejected! I haven’t made it into a magazine or book yet, but that might change soon!”

Jane is inspired and motivated by piano music, and since her oldest son is a jazz pianist, her house if full of music! She loves both classical jazz and New Age – like Jamie Cullum and George Winston. She will also listen to musicals and soundtracks while she sews.

Photo from Maiden Jane

Photo from Maiden Jane

Since Jane sells patterns for some of her quilts, she wanted her customers to be able to share their creations that they made with her pattern. So, she added a board on her Pinterest for all of her customer creations. If a customer puts their work on their own blog, she can also add that to her Pinterest board.

“If my customers send me a photo, I put it on my blog and then pin it. Then I have a reference board for other customers to see finished blankets.”

When I asked her what her advice was for new moms who are also starting their own businesses, she had this to say:

“First, enjoy your time with your babies. When they are young and on schedules, you can use nap time and evenings. That’s when I sewed a lot. Then again, I was only sewing for fun at that point. It was a wonderful outlet for me. I see so many amazing business women and bloggers and wonder how they do it all with young kids.

In my opinion, it gets harder when the kids get older. When my kids hit the teen years, my life turned into chaos. Suddenly, I was running kids to practices. No longer was the evening my own as the kids were staying up later. So my point is, life goes by so quickly.

Here I am, starting a business in my late forties. When I went to college for engineering, I realized that I didn’t really love it by my junior year. But I also decided that I would have many careers in my life. So I was open to whatever path my life would take. If you are starting a business at home, go for it. Dive in. You’ll learn as you go. It’s so easy to start an Etsy shop. But find what works best for your family.”

Customer Creation from Jane's pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Customer Creation from Jane’s pattern. Photo from Maiden Jane.

Jane hopes to continue to grow her business and says that she always has new ideas for products if she has some time to design them, and she has also been percolating with products she could have made with a small manufacturing house or collective.

“I only have two hands and although I love to create with them – and I always will – I can’t see how to grow my business without additional help. I love collaborating with other makers and have some new bag fabrics in the works. Usually my mind is overflowing with ideas.”

If you would like to find out more about Maiden Jane, visit her here. If you or somebody you know would make a perfect feature for this series, share a link in the comments and on social media or e-mail me with the information!

Craft Inspiration: Paper Mache

IMG_1833As a student of both Journalism and Graphic Design, magazines are my cup of tea. I devour all of the articles, and I am always intrigued by print design. Unfortunately, some smaller magazines have fallen victim to the advent of digital production, and even some of my favorite magazine stands have closed. But there are a few that have stuck around, and of course…as a mom….my life is full of baby magazines right now.

But, then there lies that problem after you’re done reading them…what to do? You can’t just toss them. Totally not good for the environment, and what if you need to refer back to them in the future? So you keep them around. And they stack up and stack up. And soon enough, your entire room is surrounded by stacks of magazines. Oh, is that just me?

My love for crafting has made this a simple fix. It’s time for some paper mache, y’all! I’m working on a project for a future article, and I thought I would share some inspiration for the project. I have a lot of ideas running around my head, and since this is something that will stick around my house – I want to make sure I love it and it will make sense.

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

I am not a fan of taxidermy. I think it’s sort of neat in photos, but when I come face to face with a buck staring at me through it’s dead eyes, I can’t hang (no pun intended). But paper mache taxidermy – that’s something I can get down with! The full tutorial along with photos can be found at Stars for Streetlights.

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

For this project, Ashley from Lil Blue Boo did not use any template, she just crumbled up newspaper into balls and shaped it to make the unicorn. Obviously, there was more involved, but that’s how she got the basic form. It took her about four hours to complete it, and the unicorn had to dry overnight. Ashley hung it up in her daughter’s playroom, and I’m thinking Cecilia’s room would be quite fancy with one.

Photo from A Little Artsy

Photo from A Little Artsy

Let’s say you want to paint your animal head, which I think I would do. Isabel, who runs Bel & Beau contributed this tutorial to A Little Artsy. She used an animal mask from a craft store as a guide for her animal head, and then hung it up in her son’s room.

Since there are a lot of babies who will be gracing our lives with their presence in the next couple months, I think this would be the perfect gift for a nursery. I’m definitely making one for Cecilia’s room, just need to figure out what animal to make after we get her room all figured out.

Do you have any fun paper mache tutorials to share, or did you make an animal head with one of these tutorials? Share the link in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Google + and Twitter! Find more animal mache inspiration on Pinterest!

My Creative Business Journey: Inspiration

My Creative Business Journey

My boyfriend’s favorite thing to say is “Pinterest ruined my life.” And I guess there is some truth to that. I have ruined a lot of meals, made him wait hours for some meals and have had to make emergency/expensive trips to the craft store, all in the name of Pinterest.

But I see it more as this magical world online, that you can totally make your own. Since it’s all user-based, we make up what Pinterest is. Tired of looking at someone’s board? You can simply unfollow that one board and you will never have to see it again.

Your experience with Pinterest is completely up to you, and for me – I like to use it as inspiration and motivation for my creative business, along with inspiration for home decor, design, crafts, and recipes. It has also opened my eyes to so many sites and so many people that I would have never found searching by Google alone. More than anything, it has brought organization to my scattered mind.

Now that I am in the midst of my blog redesign and I am focusing more on what I want for my business, I am revisiting so many pins that I completely forgot about, and exploring more. I wanted to share a few links that have really helped me and brought clarity to an often cloudy business path:

How to grow your social media networks, from Fat Mum Slim

Etsy: What I’ve Learned and Tips for Success, from On Sutton Place

Running a Successful Online Business | Balancing Work and Motherhood, from Le Papier Blog

How to craft for a living, from A Subtle Revelry

A Comprehensive Guide to Working from Home, from Lovely/Healthy

There are so, so, so many awesome articles about working from home, and where to take your work. At the point that I’m at, these have been the most inspiring. As I continue down my path, I will have more to share. And, for continual inspiration, motivation and swift kick in the patoot, here’s where I go:

Design*Sponge’s Biz Ladies column

Oh My! Handmade Goodness‘s blog. You don’t need to be a member to read all of these amazing articles by different creative businesses owners and bloggers, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Create & Thrive is perfect for budding business owners and it has tips on pretty much every aspect of running your business

Smart Creative Women – This is a web TV show that shares stories of creative boss ladies. You can find so much good stuff here, it’s not even funny.

Handmade Success – Here, all the advice is categorized. That’s how much advice they share. They have to categorize it.

What are your favorite articles and/or sites to visit when you need a little inspiration for your creative business? Share the link in the comments and on your social media sites. Let’s all learn together!

Psssst! The beautiful vintage typewriter illustration that I used for my design is from Marish on Creative Market – a wonderful site for bloggers and businesses.

Yo Momma Monday: Karen LePage

yo momma mondayMeet Karen LePage, 42, a sewin’ mama from Michigan. I met her through Oh My! Handmade and I instantly swooned over all of her work. She not only sews up a storm, but she also creates patterns, sells custom-made garments and shares tutorials on her website at One Girl Circus! Oh, and she also co-wrote a sewing book for boys, appropriately named Sewing for Boys.

Before she started working for herself, she sang at weddings, sold cars, managed a coffee shop, taught German and worked in Strategic Planning. To say she is well-rounded would be an understatement.

Karen started a blog after she read and loved blogs from other people. Initially, it started as a means for documenting her children’s special moments.

“I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not very consistent with it, however, because I was never a child who could keep a journal beyond “dear diary” for more than a few weeks.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

After her mother bought a sewing machine when Karen was five, she started experimenting and made every project in the booklet that came with the machine. From there, she spent several years making wardrobes for all of her dolls. As a kid, she started watching Sewing with Nancy when it came on PBS, a show she still watches to this day.

I always say Nancy Zieman taught me to sew…I still watch it.  I still love it.”

Karen still remembers her first sewing project – a drawstring bag – and she says there have been plenty of disasters along the way. When she first got started, she would wear her disasters; now, she tucks them away until she’s ready to try again. Her latest creation was a Japanese double-gauze newborn outfit that was in a box for six years because she couldn’t stand to look at it.

“I’m so happy I could rescue it!”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

As a mom, Karen says that her children not only inspire her work, but also keep her balanced and admits that if she didn’t have her kids, she would probably just work all the time.

“I love making things, and having humans relying on me for comfort, food, and shelter ensures that I nourish myself with their companionship while meeting their needs, too.”

The creativity bug has definitely hit both of her kids, as her son likes to design the garments she makes for him, and her daughter is a quilter. Her son also shops at thrift and vintage stores, so he has become quite the master at button replacing, and he already has an eye for what can be fixed, and what cannot. Her daughter will often work up a patchwork when she’s in the sewing space.

“She has an amazing eye for color and pattern.”

Karen describes her workspace as chaotic yet comforting. While she is always moving things around in there, she still keeps an open space for her kids to visit while she’s working. She does like to take some time tidying up in between projects.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“But as soon as I have a clean space I’m inspired to start making again – immediately.

Although there’s no such thing as a normal day, there is one consistency in her morning routine – coffee (ain’t that the truth). Her daily activities are determined by deadlines, inspiration and commitments – and she does try to get some sewing in every day.

“I start to get twitchy when I’m away from my sewing machine for too long.”

Karen says that the best and scariest thing about running her own business is that everything – from what get made to what gets published – is all her.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s wonderfully terrifying.”

She started teaching classes after someone asked her to do it, and that is one of her favorite things about what she does.

“There’s something super-satisfying about nudging my students toward sewing confidence.  I love that it’s a skill they can use forever. I love holding their hands through the tough part and saying “Look how awesome you are!” when they make it through and realize they can make something they didn’t think they could make.”

When Karen is not teaching classes and making clothes –  or thinking about new classes and new projects – she loves reading, hiking with her daughter, yoga and cooking.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Actually, strike that, I like reading cookbooks.”

And of course, she loves all forms of crafting. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t stopped, and thanks to Creative Bug and the craft section in her local bookstore, that won’t be ending anytime soon. She loves making anything from  baby clothes to formal gowns – all of it.

“If it goes on a body, someone will wear it and love it, and that’s something that makes me happy and keeps me going.  There’s always something new I want to try, whether it’s a technique or material I haven’t yet attempted; I incorporate my latest learning into each new project.”

She gets the majority of her fabric from local fabric stores and loves visiting new stores in any town she visits. When she cannot find a fabric she wants locally, she will shop online.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“I spend my dollars locally whenever possible.”

Karen loves being a part of the handmade community because she has always been just one of a handful of people she knows that love sewing. Of the four high schools she attended, she only found one friend who could sew. ONE! Now that she has a whole community of friends who also love the same kind of things, she counts it as a blessing.

“I feel so energized and inspired when working collaboratively; even when working on my own thing amongst fellow makers.  The handmade community is what has made my 30s and 40s the best years of my life.”

She currently has two patterns in the Stitch Magazine Spring issue and there will be another one in the Summer issue. She is also working on a handmade garment line and is hoping to hire some local people to help with the sewing and sales of her products.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’m also thrilled to have a steady stream of consultancy projects.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

Karen hopes to inspire people by being an advocate of all things handmade – whether its making, buying, spreading the word, or all of the above.

“I also hope I can inspire people to try something new every once in a while, and to really enjoy the process of making.”

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Karen for participating in this series! You can find her blog here, buy her stuff here and read the book she co-wrote here.

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane!

My Homemade Manifesto

homemade manifesto

When that big ol sparkly ball dropped, we rung in 2014 with our small family cuddled up on the couch. My boyfriend and I laughed at how different our New Years celebrations are than years past. Before, we spent it at a huge party or out at the bar. We waited an hour or more for a cab, and we were desperately searching for that New Years kiss. This year, we hugged our daughter tight and I had a glass of champagne and some champagne cupcakes, then pooped out at 12:01 am.

This got me thinking about how much my life has changed. When I used to eat take-out every single night, when I burned a pot of noodles attempting to make pasta and all those times I would hit up the all-hours Mexican food stand or when I went on that liquid diet. My friends are still amazed when I talk about cooking and baking, and I think everyone was in complete shock when I handed them homemade canned apple butter.

But to be honest, I’ve never been happier. Sure, there are days when I think about how easy it was to just focus and care about myself, but that’s just simply not my life anymore. It feels right that I put our little family before anyone and anything, and it feels nice to have a dinner at the dinner table every night. It’s boring, and that feels so good.

Last year, I focused a lot on living a homemade kind of life. Either making the stuff myself, or shopping locally or through indie businesses online. And this year is no different. I’m still working on living a self-sustainable life, and supporting small businesses when I can. I just want to take it a couple steps further. I want to really embrace it, and become more proactive. I want to make more connections with people who are doing the same thing, and find more creative outlets.

For me, I love making all of my food from scratch. First, I know how blessed I am to be a stay-at-home mom and I want to show my appreciation by making really good, whole food. It’s something I want to keep going when my daughter is old enough to eat with us. And I love it. I love the creative process, I love knowing that I know every single ingredient that went into our food and I love the joy I feel when my family truly enjoys their food. Not every dish is a hit, but they give me pointers and tell me what to add next time to make it perfect. Because this is all a learning process.

But, I want to take it one step further. I want to find food exchanges in my town, or heck – even create one. I want to continue finding new recipes to try, until I get to the point where I’m developing mine. I want to find friends who make their own beer and wine to have with our food (because mama still likes to unwind a little) and I want to find canning buddies.

I want to get my garden going again, and I want to go to the Farmers Markets and fruit stands when I need some produce. I’m not saying I won’t ever step into a grocery store again, but I want to minimize what I get. I want to share all of my DIY projects on here, and I want to decorate my house with other peoples labors of love, too. I want to buy all of my clothes from small businesses and secondhand stores. I want to take thrift store clothes and give them a little makeover. I want to learn how to sew.

In the end, I want to expand my homemade community. I want to share all of the things I make, and I want to know where to get everything else. I want to have a list of shops to visit for gifts, and I want people to visit my shop when they need a gift, whether it’s for them or someone else.

I want this blog to be centered around my explorations of local food and shops. Centered around the stuff I make at home and the people I meet who also make awesome stuff. Centered around my at-home yoga practice and health journey. Centered around how I am slowly learning to become domesticated and a good mama without losing myself in the process.

So, will you join me? Will you post photos and recipes of all your homemade food? Will you share your DIY projects and the sites (if any) that you got your inspiration from? Will you find a food swap and share your photos and experience? If you haven’t already started doing this, and you’re interested, then start slow. Start by making one homemade meal on a day that you are less busy, and start working on one craft per week. Follow blogs who are doing the same thing to get inspiration. I know I have a lot of posts on my blog about this very topic and I will be sharing more, so feel free to poke around.

Help build the homemade community more by using the hashtag #makestuff on all of your social media channels. Hate hashtags? Simply tag me, or link to this blog so I can see it. You can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.