Yo Momma Monday: Alison Butler

yo momma monday

IMG_0509Meet Alison Butler, 31, from Newfoundland, Canada. She is a beautiful mama who recently launched her shop The Petit Cadeau, which is centered around celebrating and creating traditions. She creates handmade heirloom celebration countdown calendars for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and other special occasions. She loves to create and support handmade, and is usually happiest with a cup of tea and a book.

Alison cultivated her love for creating thoughtful gifts since she was a child and made homemade gifts or cards for her family, something that she says was fostered and encouraged by her mom. She took creative extra-curricular classes, such as art, pottery and cartooning but never took art in high school, something she still regrets.

“As an adult, it’s my “escape” – I love to make things, it calms my mind and body.”

As a mother to a  2 1/2 year old who works a full-time job aside from creating, she admits that she is constantly trying to find a balance, and that nothing ever really feels normal. (I second that notion). She usually spends a few hours each night creating and blogging, after her daughter falls asleep and tries  not to schedule anything on the weekend so her family can enjoy each other.

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Alison credits motherhood for her inspiration to create things for children and to give more thought about the way she does things – like keeping celebrations simple and thoughtful. Most importantly, being a mom has taught her to slow down.

“Everywhere I look, I see parents trying to do everything bigger and better. It seems to stress most people out.,” she says. “Why is it really necessary?  It’s not. My message is always – they won’t remember the gift (most of the time) It’s the memories and experiences that are important.  I want my daughter to remember feeling special.”

It was this idea that prompted her thoughtful gifting manifesto, a beautifully and thoughtfully written post about why she buys handmade, and/or from local businesses. Never a last-minute shopper, she keeps a birthday book and starts planning and preparing well in advance, thinking about what that person would really love.

She also started Thoughtful Celebrations, a monthly e-mail newsletter that focuses on just that – planning thoughtful celebrations. Recipients are privy to recipes and tips for throwing parties and different handmade shops to support. They also get special coupons and previews to new projects she’s working on.

celebration-bags-2

“I think I have a lot of internal drive to keep working at something I love, even when some days don’t involve anything creative and lot’s of the time I feel completely exhausted.  I’m building something that makes me happy and joyful.”

After a Twitter chat with Oh My Handmade – the amazing handmade community that she belongs to – she wanted to do something fun to promote handmade busineeses. Since she also happened to be training for the NYC 2012 Marathon, and decided to name her series The Handmade Marathon. She selected 26 handmade business participants, one for each mile of a marathon. The marathon was subsequently cancelled, but since the series became so popular, she decided to keep it going.

“I feature one handmade business per month, and changed my interview questions to reflect the direction my blog is heading.”

Alison gets a lot of her inspiration from beautiful magazines and all of her favorite blogs. She reads Oh My Handmade daily and also loves Susannah Conway and Alisa Burke. One of her favorite shops is Herriott Grace – a father and daughter team who started selling gorgeous hand-carved wooden objects online five years ago – and Alison is a proud owner for the cloud cookie cutter!

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

The personal touch is Alison’s favorite thing about the handmade community and she loves being able to connect with others through Oh My Handmade and share her interests and passions with like-minded people.

“There is a real THRIVING supportive community around handmade.  It’s wonderful to be a part of that.”

As an only child, Alison says that she embraces quiet and enjoys sitting in coffee shops to sip and read. She unwinds at local yoga classes and is excited about a new studio she just found and she and her husband recently took a chocolate making class. FUN! She also loves to craft in her downtime and loves learning new trades. One craft she hasn’t learned but would love to try is letterpress.

“I haven’t found anywhere locally where I could learn, but it just looks so beautiful and interesting. Knitting is also high up on my “must-learn” list,” she says.  “I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years – most recently bookbinding/making, wool felting and art journaling.  I’ll try almost anything once!”

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Alison says that her favorite thing about running her own business is interacting with new people and collaborating on projects and posts – and she has some great ones in the works in late 2013 and early 2014! She hopes that her blog will inspire people to make small, thoughtful changes. She wants people to feel inspired to make a gift when they might feel like they don’t have the talent and she wants people to start simple family traditions that will last a lifetime.

“Inspired to think about where the money goes and instead of buying five plastic toys, invest in one beautiful  toy – something that’s quality, made by hand.  Most importantly, I want you to feel like my blog is for you, because it is!”

As a mom, Alison works slower on her projects than she did in the past. She’s constantly planning new ideas for the shop and has  several in the works right now and she says she is learning to embrace the newer, slower pace of finishing projects or getting things completed.

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Image belongs to Alison Butler

“My hope for the future is to be able to incorporate creativity more into my everyday life.  I want to continue to slow down, listen, be present and enjoy my family to the fullest.”

You can find more about Alison, her thoughtful gifting manifesto through The Petit Cadeau blog and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you know of an awesome mama who would be a perfect fit for this series, please leave a comment or share the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Meet some more amazing mamas on my Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I’ve been collecting plastic bags FOREVER. I always used them as my trash bags in my room and then later when I felt capable enough to have a pet or two, I used the bags to clean up after my animals. In fact, I had so many bags that one time when I moved, my friend told me that I could only pack one huge bag full of smaller plastic bags. The others would have to go. I hated that idea, but Pinterest wasn’t around back then, so I had no idea what to do with them.

I still have a bag full of small plastic bags that I use as our trash can liners, or for lunches when my boyfriend forgets his lunch chest at work. Now that big bag is getting overloaded with plastic bags, so I need to think of some more ways to use the bags that will last longer than a trash can liner or lunch bag would. Here are some ideas:

Image belongs to Etsy

Image belongs to Etsy

Fusing plastic bag tutorial from Etsy Labs – I guess I’m WAY behind the times because I just discovered that Etsy had a “lab,” and it hasn’t been updated since 2007. Damn. There are still a lot of great tutorials on there, like how to turn jeans into a skirt, and how to make envelopes. Now, they have a blog on their main page and share some tutorials on there, as well as recipes and profiles on some of their shop owners. I’m still going to check out those tutorials on Etsy Labs though.

Image belongs to Blog A La Cart

Image belongs to Blog A La Cart

Plastic Bag Bags tutorial from Blog A La Cart – This tutorial from Ashley Weeks Cart shows how to turn your plastic bags into yarn to use for crocheting a bag. Now, you need about 80-100 plastic bags so this might take me a little while to accomplish, but maybe we can have a huge plastic bag party and everyone can bring all of their unwanted/unused plastic bags and we can crochet. I started to count how many tutorials Ashley shares on her blog, and then I lost count. So go check it out – you will fall in love with the design, and all of the beautiful pictures.

Image belongs to Jana Trent

Image belongs to Jana Trent

Recycled Plastic Bag Weaving tutorial from Weave Zine – When I first saw this picture on Pinterest, I didn’t think that all of that “yarn” was really plastic bags, but it’s true! Jana Trent shares her step-by-step tutorial for weaving plastic bags on Weave Zine. The tutorial includes photos, which always helps me. Once you get the weaving down, I suppose you can really make anything you want. She used hers for a pillow case, but I’ve seen mats and more.

Image belongs to Mami Made It

Image belongs to Mami Made It

Plastic Bag Flowerpot tutorial from Mami Made It – This tutorial is both in German and English, so if you don’t know German already, you get a little lesson as well! Petra crocheted plastic bags and turned them into a flower pot, which is pretty sweet. All you need are 7-8 plastic bags, which I totally have. It will be perfect for the winter, when my garden is no longer but I still want to keep my herbs going. And I can crochet some extras to give as gifts. Now, I just need to learn how to crochet.

Have any plastic bag crafts to share, or did you use one of these tutorials to make something? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #plasticbagcrafts. Follow my Pinterest for more plastic bag craft inspirations. I’m also open to any ideas you want to see on Thrifty Thursdays so feel free to share those as well!