Fridays are for Favorites

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Today’s post is dedicated to my most favorite person in the entire world: my daughter, who happens to be celebrating her FIRST birthday today! We are having a circus-themed party at a local kids gym, where the little ones can run around like wild banshees for a couple hours – under the supervision of professionals (aka: not us!).

So, today I am sharing some of Cecilia’s favorite things:

BOOKS!

Photo from Good Reads

Photo from Good Reads

Cecilia loves books. She loves eating them, reading them, using them as protection against kisses. I blame it on the fact that she is surrounded by readers. Sometimes when I need to take a moment to myself – you know, to do something luxurious like bathe – I will put her in her crib with a book and she will sit there and point at the pictures and talk to the book in her adorable baby babble. I was just looking up cute baby books and saw Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. I’ve seen this book before but now I feel like I need to get it for her.

Jennifer Petro-Roy shares a collection of good books for one-year olds on Good Life Books, so if you happen to have one on your Christmas list – check it out!

VINTAGE DOLLS!

Photo from Polly's Vintage Bears

Photo from Polly’s Vintage Bears

So, I used to be totally creeped out by dolls. Especially when they would stare at you from afar. Then we took a trip to the Lodi Street Faire in October, and Cecilia’s crazy grandpa bought a vintage doll for her. Of course, this turned out to be one of her favorite toys, and she took this naked doll with her everywhere – striking fear in everyone who saw it. Unfortunately, Cecilia now believes that she can poke any little baby she sees in the eye, like her four-month-old cousin.

You can find beautiful vintage dolls and bears over at Polly’s Vintage Bears on Etsy.

WALKING!

Photo from Friendly Toys

Photo from Friendly Toys

Of all the things Cecilia loves, walking is her all-time ultimate favorite. I fear for the days she starts sleepwalking because she loves it so much. I fondly remember the days I would get super bored just sitting and cuddling all day, because that girl did not want to get put down – ever. Now, I can barely hold her for a few minutes before she’s screaming and wiggling away from me. As much as I would just love to cuddle with her all day, I enjoy watching her grow and develop into her own little person – walking and bossing me around.

I found this super cute walking toy from Friendly Toys on Etsy. All of the toys are eco-friendly, organic and safe for the mouths of our favorite little ones.

I sure hope you enjoyed this little look into Cecilia’s life. If you have a little one, what are his or her favorite things? Share with us in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Look for more little one inspiration on my Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Bev Feldman from Linkouture

yo momma monday

Meet Bev Feldman, 31, from Cambridge, MA who is the newest mama I know, and the jewelry designer behind Linkouture – the modern chainmaille jewelry company that she started in 2010. She welcomed her first baby, Eve Lily Feldman, on the 17th of this month.

This interview was completed before Bev had her baby. You can read more about her sweet baby girl here. Her Etsy shop is currently in Vacation mode until the end of January for some mama/baby bonding.

Bev was first introduced the jewelry making business in the third grade, when she and her friends made and “sold” safety pin beaded bracelets to their classmates as part of a project for school. Then in the seventh grade, Bev participated in her very first craft fair – where she sold daisy chain necklaces and bracelets. It wasn’t until she discovered chainmaille on Etsy that she got serious about her craft.

“I discovered Etsy and went on a bit of a pearl-buying binge before I discovered chainmaille. I was instantly drawn to the look of it and decided to try it out myself. Before I knew it I was hooked and decided I wanted to open my own Etsy shop.”

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

With a background in both education and human services, Bev worked with Cambridge children and families who dealt with autism – organizing playgroups, doing outreach and general family support. Before she decided to take her business full-time, she traveled around South America for five months with her husband.

Bev initially started her blog as something she was supposed to do for her business and write a whole lot in the beginning, as she was more focused on the blog she shared with her husband – Flight of the Feldmans – where they chronicled their five month journey in South America.

“When I got back in June of 2012 I decided to focus more on my personal blog, and in the process realized I actually really liked blogging.”

Naturally, Bev’s pregnancy altered her work, especially in the first trimester and by the second trimester, she was feeling more like herself again. Once she hit the third trimester, it more affected the physical aspects of her work – like lugging around heavy tents at the local craft fairs she attended.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“I’ll admit, the first trimester was tough. I was exhausted, nauseated when I wasn’t eating, and it totally messed with my emotions. I really didn’t feel very motivated and wondered how I would ever work on my business… Also, I realized it wouldn’t be realistic for me to do holidays shows since I am due right at the start of the holiday season. Thankfully I am able to sell my jewelry at the Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery–amazingly things worked out really well and I’m lucky to be part of such an awesome handmade group!”

Bev has always loved going to craft shows and knew that was something she needed to participate in to really get her business rolling. Like anyone who is just starting out, Bev was nervous about applying and says she has been rejected from a couple of shows. However, she has also been surprised by the shows she did accepted into.

“It is a lot harder than I thought it would be (both getting accepted and actually participating in them), but it was well worth it in regards to exposing my work to more people and connecting to the handmade community in the Boston area.”

Depending on what’s going on that week, the amount of jewelry Bev makes per week varies. If she has a craft show one week, she will focus on creating new pieces and restocking her inventory – meaning she will average about 30 pieces per week. Other weeks, she will focus more on blogging and less on creating jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“Some days I am more focused on blogging, other days it is preparing for a show and making jewelry. Each day is so different it is hard to say what a normal day is for me! The one thing that is consistent is how shockingly fast each day goes by.”

Bev’s workspace also doubles as their kitchen table, which she says drives her husband a little crazy, especially when she is making jewelry! The large size and brightness of her kitchen makes it a good space to work, although she would love to have a little studio of her own, one day. She says her inspiration for designs can either come from wandering around a bead shop for a while and looking at all the different beads, and sometimes an idea might just pop in her head.

“Other times I will pull out a bunch of supplies and just see what I come up with.”

Jewelry wasn’t the only thing Bev started as a child – she also got into knitting in the fourth grade, when she was home sick for a day. Her mom got her some knitting needles and yarn, and taught her the basics. She didn’t pick it up again until she was sophomore in College and saw some people doing it, then she got a book and retaught herself. Now, she will do it as a social activity but says she never got into it the way she did with jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“It’s one of those activities I’ll do for awhile and get bored with and not touch again for a year or two. Unfortunately as a result I have several started projects and way too much yarn!”

She also took woodworking when she was in middle school and loved it, and would like to take a class again. Another hobby she has wanted to try for years is glassblowing.

For Bev, the best thing about running her own business is learning new skills that she probably wouldn’t use otherwise, and making her own schedule. The scariest part is identifying herself as both a jewelry artist and a blogger.

“I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself and surprised myself with what I am capable of doing…for the longest time I felt like a fraud and was going to get called out on it.”

She recently started a series of interviews with a variety of makers because she wanted to support other handmade businesses, something she knows needs to be done as a small business owner herself. She was inspired to start this because she is always amazed at what other people are doing and wanted a platform for sharing what she found with a broader audience.

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Photo from Bev Feldman

“I definitely learn a lot from the people I interview–I think they offer great advice, which is actually applicable to more than just other makers.”

Looking into the future, Bev dreams of putting a book together for children and parents. Through her, she hopes that people will find inspiration to start businesses of their own.

“When I tell people what I do, I often get “That’s so cool! I would love to do something like that.” Just a couple years ago I would have never imagined I would be working for myself. I hope to inspire people to see that anyone can do it.”

You can find out more about Bev and Linkouture by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you have an idea for Yo Momma Monday, let me know by posting in the comments or using the hashtag #yomommamonday in your posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram. Visit my Pinterest to find more awesome mama inspiration!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdaysFrom now until Christmas, I will be sharing some thrifty ways to make your own Christmas gifts for your family and friends. If you aren’t feeling very crafty right now, you can also find handmade shops that sell these cute little handmade gifts. You will be supporting small, handmade businesses and you won’t have to dig up all your crafting supplies that have been in your closet since you tried to make all your Christmas gifts last year! I will be making or purchasing each of these gifts for my peeps (depending on time and willingness to craft)…so I fully support all of them!

Photo from Scarves Dot Net

Photo from Scarves Dot Net

How to Make a Camera Strap from a Scarf from Scarves Dot Net – Remember when I wrote about the most awesome and amazing Stacie Grissom for my Meet the Maker series? Well, she shared this awesome tutorial on Scarves Dot Net. All you need is a silk scarf  (you can find one at a secondhand store for cheap), some leather ( or pleather, whatever you want for the accent), key rings and some basic sewing skills. Don’t have the time and/or patience to make one? Check out the cute scarf camera straps at Paisley Maze for under $20!

Photo from Mary Highstreet

Photo from Mary Highstreet

Breyer Horse Bookend from Mary Highstreet – There is not a full tutorial listed on this site, but from the looks of it, she got some reclaimed wood bookends and cut the breyer horse in half to attach to the wood. You can find bookends at any thrift store, or you can find some scrap wood and connect them to make your bookends. Breyer horse toys can also be found at thrift stores, or for cheap at a craft store. If you don’t like the color of the horse (or wood, for that matter)…get creative and paint them! You can also find a whole mess of bookends (and not just horse ones) for $20 at Parchment and Pallet on Etsy.

Photo from belle appetit

Photo from belle appetit

DIY coffee mugs from belle appetit – This is an easy craft that can be done a million ways, for a million different people. You just need a mug (preferably a solid color one…you can find these at a thrift store, too), a sharpie and an oven. You can also get personalized coffee mugs for $8 each at Monroe Mom of 2 on Etsy…which would make it less than $20 for two!

And here is the perfect match for your handmade mugs!

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Win a Numi Tea Blending Kit from A Beautiful Mess – Emma and Elsie, the lovely ladies from A Beautiful Mess, teamed up with Numi, an organic tea company, to offer a free Numi Tea Blending Kit to 10 lucky winners! The Giveaway is open until Nov 29 and you just need to click on the above photo or the A Beautiful Mess link to enter!

If you have any awesome DIY Christmas gifts, or if you happen to sell any of the above-mentioned gifts…please let me know. I would be happy to share! You can either post in the comments or find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. I am also looking for small/handmade businesses that are offering a sale on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or all of the above! If you are having one, or if you know of a shop that is, let me know so I can feature you or your favorite shop!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Weekly Wishes #2

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Last week I started a new weekly series called Weekly Wishes that I found on a pretty amazing site, The Nectar Collective. It’s a weekly link-up where participants write a post (such as this) and link it up to the post Melyssa writes on Nectar Collective, then you leave a motivating comment on the person’s post who linked up directly before you.

In doing so, I actually found Andrea Lui, who runs a handmade jewelry shop on Etsy called Oh! Jewelicious. Her work is beautiful and while I’m not much of a jewelry person, I can see myself wearing her stuff! I especially love the sparrow earrings. It’s hard for me to wear necklaces or anything that dangles because Cecilia has quite the grip and I wouldn’t want it to break. Look how cute these sparrows are…there is also a necklace to match!

Image belongs to Andrea Lui

Image belongs to Andrea Lui

I shared my weekly wishes for my business, creative, fitness and home wishes last week, and

Last week’s wishes:

Business wish – Create buttons for both my Sweet Mariposa shop and my blog. Read through Ch. 9 in The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin.

Creative wish – Finally finish these cheese graters! I’m going to share the tutorial on my Linkouture when I’m done!

Fitness wish 15 minutes of exercise + 15 minutes of yoga each day

Home wish – Start canning all my vegetables from the garden

How I did:

I did end up creating my buttons for Sweet Mariposa, but have decided against making buttons for my blog at this time. I don’t think they are really necessary right now, and I have some projects in the works for this blog and may create a few buttons then. After looking through loads of different tutorials – only to be unsuccessful at all of them – I took the easy route and just copied the code from a button I got from another site and entered my information. Simple, eh? You can see the button on my sidebar – hooray!

I’m also through Ch. 10 in The Handmade Marketplace so I’m pretty sure I will finish the book this week (there’s 12 chapters). I’m going to jot down some of the information I got from the book and see how much of it I can incorporate in my own work. I will be writing a review in the near future.

I also finished the cheese graters, and I sent my tutorial over to the wonderful Bev at Linkouture, so it should be up soon! It was a big challenge of mine to get these done, so I’m relieved I finally did it! You can also find them at my Etsy shop. I can do different colors and styles if you fancy one.

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I was able to squeeze in a couple bodyweight workouts through Fitness Blender, and I treated myself to a couple restorative yoga sessions at night, but I find it really hard to stay on my fitness goals. So I’m really focusing on what food I’m putting into my body and getting exercise when I can – which isn’t hard with how mobile my little one is now! We’re always walking and exploring so that certainly helps. I lost a few pounds in the last week so it’s working!

And finally, I put all those crazy peppers to good use and made some homemade hot sauce! I used a recipe I found on Pinterest and I’m still having trouble finding the original website. I’ll share the recipe this week but here’s a photo for now! I also made homemade apple butter with that recipe I shared last week that I got from My Baking Addiction and it was amazing! I put it on my toast this morning and topped it with banana. I could have eaten the whole jar but figured I better save some for tomorrow. I will share my experience with making both later this week.

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Now moving on to this week!

Business: Get together with Heather to go over her Press Release (very exciting stuff!) and get her into some awesome author communities! After becoming an Oh My Handmade member, I am true believer in how important it is to be a part of a community. They help you go over ideas, and will support your work and everything you are doing any chance they get. We need to get all of her bases covered so we can continue networking and promoting all of her wonderful work.

Creative: See that three tiered basket in the picture? (hint: it’s #7) I want to restore that this week. I’m going to hang it in our pantry an use it to hold all of our bread and snacks. I just can’t decide if I want to paint it all one color or use multiple colors. Let me know your thoughts! Last week, I also started to work on a serving tray that I was upcycling into a chalkboard cheese tray. I’ve since changed my mind and decided to use it as a prop for photos. I just need to make a few little fixes and I’ll be done…so I wanted to finally finish it this week!

thrifty finds

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Fitness: I’m going to continue working on my goal of getting a 15 minute workout along with a 15 minute yoga session in every day. It’s challenging but I feel so good after I’m done that I want to continue working on it. It’s also such a lovely feeling to not have to cringe every time you try on an old pair of pants. I’m also making it a goal to get rid of the white sugar and flour in the house, and find good, healthy replacements for sugar.

Home: Well, it’s time to switch out the garden. I’m going to work on moving all of the old stuff out, cleaning up the garden area, and starting planting new veggies. I’m going to look up what will be good to plant right now and look into planting some succulents and flowers. Of course, I will be sharing my journey with you along the way! Although my garden had its ups and downs this season, I learned a lot – and I was able to make so much from it! Hoping to get a pressure canner soon *fingers crossed* so I can more and more good stuff!

What are your weekly wishes? Write about them and link up to the Nectar Collective. You can also share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Here’s to having another lovely and productive week!

Yo Momma Monday: Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Meet Gretchen Fleener, 34, from Mound, Minnesota. She is an Industrial Designer, Web Designer and face painter. She runs her own business, Junk Mail Gems, where she sells fun items that she makes out of junk mail. She is also an awesome momma to her two sons, who are three and five. Gretchen took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about how she manages everything, and what she wants her sons to learn from her business.

Gretchen got into junk mail art when she was making magnets from junk mail to preserve patterns that she liked in a functional way. She heard over and over again that she could sell her magnets, but it wasn’t until her sister urged her to start selling online. And that is where Junk Mail Gems was born, six years ago.

“She and I came up with the Junk Mail Gems name because the magnets looked like little gems.  I had a lot of fun designing the logo, then website, and coming up with more things to make out of junk mail to fill my store!”

Although  it may not be for everyone, Gretchen says that being the boss is the best part of running her own business. She loves that she can work when it fits in her life, rather than having to wait for work to be over to enjoy life. A life-long multitasker, she can be found packing items during a commercial break.

As for most small business owners, finances are a worry of hers. Fortunately, she has an incredibly supportive husband whose stable job covers the important bills, allowing her to work from home. He fits her business schedule into his and will come home early to watch the boys if she needs to go to a face painting job or a client meeting.

“He never talks down about my businesses or makes me feel less important because I don’t work 9-5 in an office anymore.”

Before she had her sons, doing anything creative or artistic gave her the most fulfillment. Now, she gets the most fulfillment from using her artistic skills (and revenue earned through them) on her boys.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“My kids blow my mind with the things they create already at age 3 and 5 and it’s so cool to see that part of me in them.”

As you might imagine, her boys love crafting with her, and her five-year-old has even caught the bug for turning junk into something he can use and play with! To help cultivate her boys’ creativity, Gretchen labeled a Rubbermaid bin “the project box” and throws odds and ends that the boys can use for their crafts. She also keeps all the kid-friendly crafting supplies at their level so they can create on their own.

“I love coming up with projects to do with them, but my favorite thing is to let them loose and see what they come up with on their own. One of my 5 year old’s most used Christmas gifts is his collection of brightly colored masking tape rolls that my sister gave him.  He is constantly rescuing things form our recycle bin and turning them into things…rocket ships, monster trucks, and houses for his stuffed dogs!”

Not only do her boys love crafting with her, they also love going to yard sales and thrift stores, too! Gretchen says that she talks to them about not wasting things or money, which has also taught them to be patient when they find brand new toys in a store, as they will probably end up at a yard sale or thrift store in a matter of time.

Much like her children, Gretchen loved going to yard sales as a kid and quickly became a big collector. Her collection is now limited to what she can use to decorate her house, and what her family can actually use. I feel your pain, girl. Her vintage finds came in handy last year when she redesigned her kitchen and decorated it with her scores from the 50’s. After facing the normal collector problem of acquiring more than she could use, she set up an Etsy shop.

“This gives me the thrill of the hunt, without the worry of collecting too much.  I love to imagine people looking through my site and getting as excited about finding the perfect thing for their kitchen as I do for mine!”

Gretchen says that she finds inspiration from everywhere – like an oil slick on the street or an old brick building. She also finds inspiration from surrounding herself by other creative people.

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

“I take TONS of photos and am always collecting inspiration for art, graphic, design or craft projects!”

As an Industrial Designer, Gretchen likes to stay current and is always looking into current and future trends. However, when it comes to her personal style, her love for the ’50s does not stop at kitchen utensils. She also leads a life that is deemed old-fashioned by many people today.

“..Staying home with my kids, canning stuff from my garden, baking cookies, making things by hand and cooking a family dinner each night!”

While Gretchen has always considered herself a motivated person, she says that she is now motivated by different things – like getting her work done early so she can spend more time with her family.

“I know that if I get overtired or overworked, I won’t be as good of a parent or spouse, and my family come first.  So in a way, getting in a little “me” time or letting the laundry sit there one more day  can be better for the family and everyone’s mood!  “

Gretchen credits her ability to get everything done to multitasking and creating lists, just like she used to make fun of her mom for doing years ago. Along with that, she stays super organized, and will rework how shes does something if she feels she’s not doing it efficiently enough – often finding a tool or an app that will help.

“But the one thing I don’t compromise on is sleep.  I just can’t function well on any less than 8 hours a night, and when I get enough sleep, being super productive comes much easier during the day!”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Although Gretchen says that she doesn’t really feel like her work is “work,” she does like to get outside and go fishing, biking and gardening. Living on a lake doesn’t hurt, either. She also likes to paint and work on something creative that is related to her businesses. One craft that she would like to practice more is knitting.

“I’ve done a little, but I love to crochet and really like how much faster it goes!  I’d love to learn how to make my own soaps or candles.  And I’d really love to learn Henna.  It seems right up my alley and would be a great addition to my face painting offerings!”

Gretchen also runs as a series of “Momtreprenuer” Interviews on her blog, as she says that she is always encouraged by hearing how other moms run their businesses and homes.

“So, I thought others might enjoy them too!  It’s also one small way that I can help support fellow moms by spreading the word about their businesses.”

She hopes that her Junk Mail Gems business gives people a new way to look at “junk.” She shares tutorials on her site for various recycling projects, so that people can get new ideas for their own projects.

“I hope to inspire them to find a way to do what they love and maybe even make a little money doing it!  I am always so happy to hear from people who were inspired to try a project I’ve shared too.”

Since Gretchen’s sons will be in school full-time pretty soon, she plans on adding more jobs to her line of work (as if she doesn’t have enough already) like freelance retail fixture design and body painting. She also wants to expand the merchandise section of her online face painting store and seek out more retailers for Junk Mail Gems.

“Right now I have no desire to go back to the corporate gig, but have a huge list of things I’d like to do to grow all of my businesses”

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

Image belongs to Gretchen Fleener

If you are feeling inspired by Gretchen like I am, you can connect with her through Junk Mail Gems and ID Mommy and can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest. If you know someone who would be a good fit for Yo Momma Monday (your beautiful self included), post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find more Yo Momma Monday inspiration on my Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

This week has been very special. Instead of spending hours scouring Pinterest and Etsy for something lovely to write about, I found it all in my very own life. Not that I mind my creepily close relationship with both websites, it is kind of an amazing feeling to not have to search very far, or very long, for inspiration. Here are some of my favorite things that has happened in the last week or so.

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Cards! From CocoPress – I entered Emmaline’s Instagram giveaway, and I won this pack of cards! They are so super cute that I don’t really want to send them anywhere, but that would be just plain greedy. I’ve actually read about crafty pen pals, so if I get into something like that, these would be perfect! I will post Emmaline’s story on my Meet the Maker series soon, so stay tuned to read more about this wonderful printmaker!

Image belongs to The Petit Cadeau

Image belongs to Alison Butler

Why I Buy Handmade from The Petit Cadeau – Allison wrote about why she buys handmade and the slow gifting movement on her blog. “It’s about making a conscious choice for gifts. It’s about making gifts with love or purchasing something made with care by hand. It’s an energy” You can read more buy clicking on the link or image above. You can also join the movement with @thepetitcadeau on Twitter, just use the hashtag #whatimgifting. I’m also writing about the lovely Allison for my “Yo Momma Monday” series and you will get to read her story soon!

Image belongs to Interweave

Image belongs to Interweave

Knitting contest from Interweave – I have actually formed a good relationship with Tiffany from Interweave through this blog, and she let me know about this contest! Interweave is offering a prize package to knitters who share the story behind their first knitting projects. I remember my first knitting project – I was trying to make one of those rasta beanies, and it got super stretched out so now it’s pretty ridiculous. I still have the beanie! I will share my story in the contest and will also share it on my blog. It’s going on now through Nov 8th. If you win, you get to choose up to 5 items for your prize package. Score!

Image belongs to Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Image belongs to Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – This is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing, and let me tell you – it sounds awesome! The cookie swap is hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, both blogs that I love. Participants must have a blog that is at least two months old and must have at least two food-related posts in the last two months. There is a $4 entry fee, which goes directly to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and the deadline to enter is Nov. 4th.

I have been taking little steps to integrating food more into my blog, and this is just more motivation to keep me going that route. And I get to try cookies from other food bloggers? Done.

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Weekly Wishes on the Nectar Collective – And last but definitely not least, I found this little goodie when I was doing some research on another wonderful person I am writing about, Lix Hewett. Melyssa, who runs the Nectar Collective and Weekly Wishes, posts her goals and/or challenges for the week every Monday. She then invites others to join her through a linkup.  I do this on my own every week in my journal, but it sure would be nice to share and get inspired by others.

I have found that the more I involve myself with others in the crafting community, the easier inspiration comes to me. If you see anything here that speaks to you, share your thoughts in the comments below. You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more of this goodness. Have anything you want to share? Simply use the hashtag #fridayfavorites or tag me in the post! Happy Friday to all!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

As hard as it may be to swallow, I have accepted that my little baby girl, who I swore I just gave birth to last month, is going to be one in less than two months. It has also recently occurred to me that a birthday party is probably in order. And I would be the one to plan it. I’m still getting used to this whole parenting thing. We have decided to hold it at a bowling alley, since it’s not like she can do a whole lot right now anyways. That, and bowling is a lot of fun.

Since this will officially be the first time I plan a child’s birthday, I thought I would share my experience with you. And maybe even get some advice. First thing is first: we need invitations. Sticking to the homemade theme, I have found some lovely invitations on Etsy and wanted to share them. Keep in mind…these can be used for anything, not just first birthdays.

Image belongs to bee's KNEES design shop

Image belongs to bee’s KNEES design shop

Circus themed birthday invites from bee’s KNEES design shop – I was already planning on going with a “life’s a circus” theme, since I feel like my life is literally a circus. So this invitation would be perfect! This shop is owned by Misty Chaote, who designs everything by hand. No clip art is used, and she emails you the digital version within 24-48 hours of receiving payment.

Image belongs to Longfellow Designs

Image belongs to Longfellow Designs

Baby firsts birthday invitation from Longfellow Designs – I like the chalkboard look to this (of course) and I also like that it lists all the baby firsts. Although, I fear that it will just say “I like to eat paper and destroy the house” on there. This shop is owned by Lisa Longfellow, who is a graphic designer and painter, and makes everything by hand.

Image belongs to oodles and doodles

Image belongs to oodles and doodles

Polka Dots Owl Girl’s Birthday Party Package from oodles and doodles – After going to the party store for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday (you know who you are, friend), the idea of purchasing a party package and not having to frantically search Party Crazyland or whatever it’s called for decorations that may or may not match sounds pretty amazing. I know that I could probably make all of her decorations at home, but as a student, mom and business owner, I would rather support someone else who is running their own business…and can do all that for me. And Cecilia’s baby shower theme was owls, so this would be a good fit. This shop is owned by Bridget, who started it after she had trouble finding what she wanted for her son’s first birthday. Good idea, Bridget. Good idea.

Image belongs to Pink Dahlia Paper

Image belongs to Pink Dahlia Paper

Girl birthday invitation from Pink Dahlia Paper – I love how simple and clean this design is. And I love cupcakes. Everything in this shop is made by hand, and it’s all made to order. You will get your first proof within 48 hours and there are some additional charges for design changes.

So which one was your favorite? I still haven’t decided. Please keep small and handmade shops in mind when planning a party, or anything else, for that matter. The market is so open that you could literally find something for any event. The price is not really that different, it’s made just for you, and you don’t have to write the same information on every single card. But most of all, you are supporting someone and their business. You get to know the person you are purchasing from, and you know that your money is going to someone’s family, not to some large corporation.

Do you have an awesome print shop in mind that specializes in birthday invitations like this? Please let me know! You can post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #handmadebirthday. Find more first birthday inspiration on my Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I love books. Big, old books that have that  old book smell to them. Any time I’m at a flea market, swap meet, thrift store or yard sale, I always go for the books. Not just any ol paperback, but the old books, with the hard covers. I always image a million things I can do with them, but they usually end up on the bookshelf, rarely touched. In fact, the only hard cover books I read are generally cookbooks. I was cruising Pinterest the other day, and found some pretty neat crafts you can do to reuse books, and I thought I would share!

The first three I found through Saved by Love Creations. She shared over 50 different tutorials, and I picked a few of my favorite. Her site is also a really good resource if you want to find creative ways to reuse discarded items.

Photo belongs to The Gilded Bee

Photo belongs to The Gilded Bee

Vintage book cover postcards from The Gilded Bee – Sasha used old book covers to create postcards and shared her process on her blog. As a crafter and collector, she also has an Etsy shop where she sells floral arrangements made out of paper. How neat!

Image belongs to Hello, ReFabulous

Image belongs to Hello, ReFabulous

Make your own paperback wallet from Hello, ReFabulous – I got this tutorial from another awesome site, Craftster. Since Craftster is a wonderful crafting community, it’s always good to click on the contributor’s website link. More likely than not, that person will share other awesome tutorials, and it’s good to see the crafter behind the craft! Don’t you think? I digress. Connie shares a step-by-step tutorial on her blog, complete with photos of her process. As a mother of nine, I have no idea how she has time to craft since I can barely find time with one baby, but I’m grateful that she does!

Image belongs to Ruffles and Stuff

Image belongs to Ruffles and Stuff

Book Art from Ruffles and Stuff – Disney (the creator of the blog and tutorial, not the cartoon giant) got her inspiration for this project from an Etsy store, Collage-O-Rama, and decided to make her own book art. We all see items we love on Etsy, but when you are strapped for cash, sometimes you just need to make your own. Collage-O-Rama is definitely worth checking out. So much rad stuff on there! Ruffles and Stuff is also good to check out, even if you don’t want to make book art. She has so many tutorials, they have categories: Ladies, Kids and Home.

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Book Page Fabric from Design*Sponge – Everyone knows how much I love this site. This happens to be just one of the very, very many tutorials that Contributor Brenna from paper & ink shares with us. You can visit her page for more awesome tutorials, and if you are into paper crafting, some very beautiful eye candy.

Image belongs to Rook No. 17

Image belongs to Rook No. 17

Upcycled Book Journal from Rook. No. 17 – Jenn not only shares a step-by-step tutorial, including the amount of time it will take (which is good when time is always of the essence), but also the specific names of all the tools she uses. She spent about $5.50 per journal, which is awesome. This would be the perfect way to jot down all of my creative/crafty ideas and document my creative business journey. Wonderful!

I hope this inspires you to either make something from your vintage hard-cover books, or to go out and get some books and get to work! If you happen to find first-edition books, always make sure to check online for the worth. A collector may love you forever if you post the book online for them to purchase. And if you do go for cookbooks, make sure you don’t want the recipes, or jot them down to save somewhere!

Have a fun book craft idea you want to share? Post in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #bookcrafts. You can always get more thrifty inspiration on my Pinterest! Stay thrifty, my friends.

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

The best part about writing my Fridays are for Favorites series is the freedom to write about anything that I want, really. I know I already have that freedom since it’s my own blog and I create all the content, but I have set specific topics for each day, to help keep me on track. Monday, I write about moms. Tuesdays, health. Wednesdays, business-related. Thursday, thriftiness. Friday, favorite stuff. That can seriously be anything. I have found that I mostly write about new Etsy stores that I find and love.

With all the talk that has been going on about Etsy’s new policies, I thought this would be a great time to voice my own opinion. Although I am a seller on Etsy, I use it more to find other makers and to purchase handmade items. A little while back, I noticed that there were a few sellers who appeared to have mass-produced items in their shop, marked as “handmade.” Not cool, man. Not cool. There was no way of knowing for sure since only one owner was listed on the “about” page, but they all looked exactly the same and they were also sold at a price that was so low, it would not make sense if it was made by hand. It wouldn’t even cover the supplies.

So, I do agree with Etsy pushing its sellers to be more transparent. Being a blogger, I do a lot of research into each shop I look at, and I will tell you right now that I will be more willing to purchase from a shop that has one employee versus 100 employees. Each case is different, of course. But that is my overall feeling. So with this in mind…

I have found two completely awesome ways to get involved with the handmade community, and I am so excited to talk about them! I’m not ditching Etsy, I’m finding people who I want to purchase from and then visiting their Etsy shop, if that makes sense.

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Oh My! Handmade Goodness – This site started at as a multi-author blog and evolved into a gathering space for creative entrepreneurs. Jessika, who runs the site now, offers community and marketplace memberships, advertising opportunities and community matchmaking. If you are not into any of that, you can also find tutorials, prints and printables there, too. I just signed up for the community membership last night and I already love it. It’s on a sliding scale of $7-20 per month, depending on what you can afford. My budget isn’t so hot right now, but I knew this would help get me to where I need to be with my blog and business right now. As a member, I have access to countless forum discussions where I can seek opinions, advice and collaboration. I could not ask for anything better.

Now, while I was in said forum at Oh My! Handmade Goodness, I found out about IAMTHELAB.

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

IAMTHELAB was created with one mission in mind – to promote the handmade community. He offers a wealth of information in helping you form what he calls “the handmade trifecta,” your blog, shop and social media. I have the blogging part sort of down, but I am always looking for help with my shop and social media. So this was the perfect place for me. He shares examples of the handmade trifecta, and will explain how the person is dong it. And who is the first person I find on there? Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle, whose story I am sharing next week! See, I knew this would be a perfect fit. I also found a Handmade Directory where bloggers and makers can hang out and hopefully work together. And not in that overwhelming, pushing way that I have seen so many times before.

I hope this has helped you get in touch with some new faces and resources. If you know of any other awesome places to find creative businesses like this, please let us know. You can post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #creativentrepreneurs. And if you are looking for more inspiration, you can always visit my Pinterest!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

I just got into baking last year when I was entering my “nesting” phase (which hasn’t left yet, so I think it’s more than a phase now, it’s an eternal state of being). It quickly became an addiction for me, and I find myself at more baking and cooking stores than clothing stores, now. Sometimes, I don’t even go in there to buy anything, I just love to look. I especially love going to the Baker’s Boutique in Stockton, they serve you cupcakes that are made in the back!

Since I love baking so much now, I also happen to love anything that goes with baking. I’ve seen some cute baking inspired clothing and prints all over Pinterest and Etsy, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Image belongs to KatchACanvas

Culinary Inspired Canvas Tote from KatchACanvas – When we first had Cecilia, we had what I’m pretty sure was the world’s largest diaper bag. Then we downsized to a large backpack (not much of a downsize, to be honest). Now, I normally just carry a couple diapers, some wipes and her formula in my purse. Since she is getting more into her toys and loves having them with her, I’m thinking this tote would be perfect. And the best part – the shop is run by preschool teachers from the Philippines. France, one of the owners, lives in San Diego now and continues teaching in America. They donate one book to a needy child in Philippines for every tote that is purchased. This one goes for $12, which is not bad at all.

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Image belongs to Caustic Threads

Ladies Kitchen Mixer T-Shirt from Caustic Threads – Erica Voges, the wonderful lady behind this shop, drew up the design herself and then screen printed it on the shirt. She makes every item as the order comes in, so it’s made fresh, just for you. Voges is a mama in New Mexico, who wanted to screen print for a long time, and finally got started in 2010. The shirts are all dyed by her and she screen prints everything by hand.

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Image belongs to Eat Say Love

Pyrex art print from eat.say.love. – Ashley, who is the owner and designer at eat.say.love, is a graphic designer in Boston, MA. She individually prints each print on archival paper and ships them off herself. There are a lot of other cute prints like this in her shop, such as “Fork It, Let’s Get Takeout,” a conversation that has been shared many times in this house. And if you follow her on Instagram under @eatsaylove, you can get exclusive deals and giveaways!

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Image belongs to Pretty Things For You

Baking is Happiness Large Digital Vintage Image from Pretty Things For You – This Etsy shop is full of digital vintage images that can be purchased for a really good price. This print is only $2 and is available for immediate download. You can use the images on all of your crafting projects. The image can be sold as a finished project, or if it was digitally layered and flattened. It cannot, however, be sold as is. That’s just not cool.

Image belongs to Little Ink

Image belongs to Little Ink

Made with Love Wooden Stamp from Little Ink – Suzie, who runs this online store, mixes her love of natural fibers and material with her love of bold colors to come up with her designs. This stamp is $30 and measures 32mm x 25 mm. It’s mounted with a beautiful black wooden handle and also comes in a cloth pouch. You can use this design for all of your homemade goodies, and any clothing you make by hand. That would be so cute!

One of my favorite things about blogging is finding hidden treasures like these. I want each and every one of these items, and will work on purchasing all of them when I can. Like I’ve said before, I promise to never share anything with you that I wouldn’t get for myself. Do you know of any cute baking-related items? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #favoritefridays. Follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorites!