Thursday, November 29, 2012

Handmade Holidays: Tiny Humans!

Guys, we are ROLLING through these Handmade Holidays topics! Hopefully you're getting all sorts of inspired. Today Diana is here with adorable and eco-friendly gifts for the kids in your life. You can read more about being green (and vegan!) over on her blog. In the meantime, behold the cuteness:

----------

hey everybody!
my name is dianapantz & i am here today to share a few of my *favorite* eco- // green // responsible kids gift ideas. i live in minneapolis with my cute man-friend, blake & our 11-month old rescue pup, daphne!
we ride our bikes [even in the winter!], eat a lot of vegan cupcakes & hang out at the library.


we have also worked with kids out entire lives [25 years, combined!!]. we have played with a lot of awesome toys & quite a few lame ones.
today, i want to share seven of the coolest toys for the holiday season. no batteries. no gender roles. no toxic plastic & chemicals. just some good ol' imagination & awesomeness!! all while supporting small, handmade shops. 

1) toy : tobbles stacking toy [found in the museum of modern art gift store]
age : 2 & up
price : $25.00
find it : here
fun fact : this purchase [and every purchase from the gift store] helps support the museum of modern art!]


2) toy : 1920's flapper paper doll set
age : 4 & up
price : $15.00
find it : here


3) toy : wooden toy transportation memory game
age : 2-6
price : $26.00
find it : here
fun fact : little sapling toys plants a tree for EACH toy sold!! 
also, games like this are great for recall, pre-reading skills, concentration, reasoning and fine motor skills.


4) toy : wooden bowling set [with penguins!]
age : 18mo & up
price : $27.00
find it : here
fun fact : smiling tree toys donates money from every purchase for childrens education programs!
also, all toys are finished with homemade beeswax [i love that!]


5) toy : boy cloth doll
age : all ages
price : $33.00
find it : here
fun fact : dolls are the best toys ever! i think every boy & girl on the planet deserve a sweet doll of their own.
also, cleo & poppy can take a picture of YOUR child & make a doll that looks the same!


6) toy : felt fox mask & tail play set [this is my FAVE!]
age : 2 & up
price : $30.00
find it : here
fun fact : the tail is stuffed with repurposed plastic bags! [what a great way to repurpose!]


7) toy : hand-drawn color sorting toy
age : birth & up
price : $34.95
find it : here
fun fact : this set is loosely based on the shambhala buddhist toy set! 
this toy is great for matching, sorting and sensory skills.


there you have it!
fun, right?!
people are so incredibly talented. i love it.

tell us : what kids // toy shops do you love?
and feel free to stop over on my blog & say hey!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Handmade Holidays: For Foodies

It's time for another installment of Handmade Holidays! We're making our way through topics to cover everyone on your list, and today the lovely Meg is here with some delicious food gifts! You can read more about Meg's culinary and DIY adventures on her blog. If you weren't already hungry, you will be after you feast your eyeballs on these goodies:

----------

I love Paige's idea to do a series all about homemade gifts. Over the past few years my family has changed our gift giving approach at the holidays significantly. Now the important things are just being together and helping each other enjoy the holiday spirit. For about two or three years now, I just get my dad a fresh wreath. Fresh evergreen has always been one of his favorite things at Christmas, that and Kenny G's Christmas album.

I'm planning on a few different handmade gifts this year and I want to share with you the ones that I’ll be crafting in the kitchen, my favorite room of the house.

Holiday Spiced Granola - for a coworker, teacher, friend

With more people eating healthier and on the yogurt for breakfast craze, homemade granola should be a great hit. I'll be packaging mine in a quart size mason jar. Mason jars make a beautiful and inexpensive gift giving vessel. You should be able to get the quart size ones for about $1 a jar. I find them at Ace Hardware and Shaw's grocery store near me.


Holiday Spiced Granola Ingredients:
2 cups Oats (store brand in a large container is great – regular or quick cooking is fine)
1 1/2 tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice - or make your own (1 tbsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground clove, 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts (or any type you want)
1/2 – 1 cup each of mix-ins (I’m using cranberries and yogurt covered raisins for a holiday color)
 
Preheat the oven to 375. Mix oats, spices, syrup, and nuts in a large bowel until all the oats are coated, add more syrup if needed, but you shouldn’t have syrup pooling in the bottom of the bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out oats in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Let cool, add mix-ins, and package.

Herb Infused Salts - for that person who loves to cook

I got this idea from Food Network magazine as something to do with the loads of basil I harvested this year. And I figure if it works with basil, it should work with other herbs as well.


Herb Infused Salt Ingredients:
1/2 cup fine sea salt
1/2 cup herb (I've made this with basil and rosemary so far, if using fresh rosemary it won’t grind up well in the first go around, but after it’s toasted you’re good to go)

Preheat oven to 225. Pulse salt and herbs in a food processor until combined. Spread in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway. After baking grind smooth in the food processor one more time and package. I used quilted small mason jars for mine.

Cookie Dough - for a neighbor or hostess (gift must stay frozen so best when bringing straight to someone's house)

Christmas cookies are a quintessential hostess or neighbor gift. It's a lovely gesture but it's possible the recipient may feel obligated to eat them all before they go bad. (I do not have this problem if you want to bring cookies to my house!) Or maybe they have children and they don't want them indulging too much or too often. To combat these issues and still offer a perfect Christmas gift, I suggest gifting frozen cookie dough, ready to be baked so your friend or neighbor can prepare as many or as few as they would like. Maybe they can even save some to bake for Santa. Prepare your favorite dropped cookie recipe. Mine is the chocolate chip cookies from The Joy of Cooking cookbook. Scoop out the dough with spoons or a mini ice cream scoop and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then freeze for about an hour. Then package the dough in freezer containers. You can order pint containers online which should be perfect! Don't forget baking instructions! 375 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes. And there is no need to defrost these treats!

----------

Are you a fan of gifting food during the holidays? What's your favorite recipe? Feel free to drop us a link in the comments!



Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Decor Sneak Peak

I realized something this weekend. After Hubsey and I got home from our Thanksgiving travels, I dug out the Christmas decorations, ready to bedazzle the house with holiday cheer. Make it festive! Sing some Christmas carols! Wheee!

Except that the stuff we used in the condo is suuuuuper lame in a bigger house. Definitely not enough stuff to go around. Before we moved, we really only decorated one room and the tree carried most of the load. This time we have a dining room, a kitchen, and a family room that people hang out in, and while going for a Santa's Workshop look might be overkill, some festivity in all of the main living areas would be good.

Sheet music garland still going strong after 3 years.

Oh yeah, and a porch! I keep forgetting about the porch. Aside from getting the tree up, I did manage to stick some stuff on the front of the house.


We inherited those giant planters from the previous owners, and I seem to have developed a knack for killing things that grow in them. And then the pumpkins I put in there for Halloween got devoured by squirrels (rude), so apparently something non-plant is what I need.

Hello, little gold reindeer! Don't you look comfy on your bed of moss!


My new friends were 50% off at Michaels this weekend, making them $5 each.

We also scored a wreath my mom didn't want, but it was too thick to fit between the storm door and the regular door. I guess the previous owners had the same problem, because there was already a nail in the siding next to our house number. Boo ya.


So outside there's some fun, but the interior is still pretty naked. I rounded up a few things at IKEA, among other places, and plan to get everything ready in the next couple of days. I'll show you the tree then, too, but in the meantime here's a preview:


Yes, more pine cones. But these have glitter!


I'm excited.

Have you started decorating for the holidays? Do you have a theme to stick to, or is it a free-for-all? What's your favorite seasonal item?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Business Saturday!

In the midst of Black Friday madness this weekend, don't forget about the little guys. And I don't mean kids, I'm talkin' about indie businesses! Today is Small Business Saturday! Yessssssss. Both of my shops, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia are honoring the occasion with the coupon code HOLIDAYS25, good for 25% off your entire purchase.

Personalized Santa Gift Bag, $10

Custom Letter Necklace, $16

Coral and Turquoise Earrings, $18

If you haven't done much of your shopping with smaller companies and businesses yet, today is the day to give it a shot. Not only are my shops part of the movement, but so are those fabulous ladies hanging out in the sidebar. Go take a peek at their shops (and blogs!) for tons of cute ideas. Tell them I sent you.

Happy shopping this weekend! I'll be back on Monday with another gift guide.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Decor

We're not hosting Thanksgiving this year, which might be a shock since we bought a dining room table that seats 150 people, but I'm soooo not ready to tackle a turkey. I never bake anything so until there's a good to way to cook one on the stove or in the toaster oven (my BFF), I'm out. We'll do Christmas. That being said, I did look up some decor ideas on Pinterest anyway. These are things I would do if I had to fancy up my house this week.

First, I have quite the hoard of candles, so pairing them with assorted shrubbery (real or fake) would be an easy centerpiece. This combination would work well with a container like we see here, or just by itself on a table runner:


One of my favorite tricks is to bust out some seasonal fruits/nuts/plants and use them in a group. Apples are particularly good because you can just snack on them at the end of the day:


Pressed leaves in a picture frame are another easy option. I like these with the double-sided glass, but they would look great on contrasting scrapbook paper, too:


Finally, I'm still not used to having any outdoor space to play with (ask me how many times I've forgotten to close the garage door), but buying mums and pumpkins at the grocery store is something even I can handle:



Are you hosting the Big T-Day? How are you getting your house ready? Anybody cooking a main dish that's not turkey? One year somebody in my husband's family made a tur-duck-in. Chicken, inside a duck, inside a turkey. I wasn't there for it yet, but they STILL talk about it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Handmade Holidays: Etsy Love

Happy Monday, everybody! It's time for the second installment of Handmade Holidays, and today Kristen is here with a roundup of fabulous Etsy shops for you to peruse as you get those gift lists started. You can read more about handmade awesomeness on Kristen's blog, and be sure to check out her Etsy shop, where the code NOSTALGIA will get you 15% off your order.

----------

Hello to all of Paige's lovely readers!  I hope you were inspired by Nancy's amazing ideas to consider handmade for the holidays this year.  However, I know that not everyone has time to make their own gifts or perhaps has the necessary skills in order to complete the gift item they're hoping to give.  For example, I am not a knitter, so I may somehow have to twist Nancy's arm to make me one of those drool-worthy herringbone cowls.  But I digress....

For those of us who can't knit or sew or make neat-o things out of wood or metal, you are still able to gift fabulous handmade products this holiday season.  I love browsing handmade shops.  It is absolutely incredible the amount of original and one-of-a-kind stuff you can find.  Etsy is now my go-to place for gift items, and I can usually find just what I'm looking for.  I treat my Favorites as a wish list- things I want to go back to and purchase, all the while hoping that little "sold" doesn't pop up underneath.

I put together a list of fabulous shops for you to check out- a little something for anyone you might be shopping for.



5. ajalor
10. delica

Amazing, right?  And that's just a tiny bit of the crazy goodness you can find when you start searching.

Remember, when you shop handmade,
you are not only finding a unique gift, you are supporting a unique person.

Happy hunting!



Friday, November 16, 2012

Pinterest Picks

So I've kind of dropped the ball on this Pinterest thing for the last couple of weeks, but that's over. Pinterest knows I would never abandon it forever. We're virtual BFFs.

Normally I dig a bright white kitchen but these glossy black cabinets are pretty dramatic, especially all way to the ceiling:

uploaded from Elle Decor

I'm terrible at any kind of baking, but Hubsey knows his way around an oven. (In fact, he's the only one who's ever used our Kitchenaid mixer.) I don't know that he's ever made cupcakes, but I bet these chocolate coconut ones will make him give it the ol' college try:


I love the pops of color in this bedroom. Plus, if you think about the fact that this is a double bed, that headboard is huuuuge and awesome:


Have some Sharpies hangin' around the house? Here are 24 crafts you can make with them:


And finally, some brilliant person turned a closet into a book nook. I'd be a little sad at losing the storage, but I'd gain some right back because my books wouldn't be all over the place:


So what are you up to this weekend? My mom and sister are coming to town for our annual Christmas shopping trip and we're getting our crawl space filled in with concrete (yay, radon!). Well, that's happening right this second, actually, so it's not really a weekend thing but it felt too big not to mention. Full-sized cement truck in the driveway and everything.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New York... Again!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram might know that the Hubster and I took a spontaneous jaunt to New York City a few days ago. He had to go for work, so we thought we'd take advantage of the paid-for hotel room and make it a trip for both of us. The same thing happened in March, but this trip was much more relaxing because I was in town for more than 36 hours.

We shopped, we feasted, we went to museums... And then I did more of those things solo on Monday. I was walking Hubsey to his office that morning when I stumbled upon the holy grail. (Not literally, but wouldn't that have been funny?) I wandered right into the welcoming arms of ABC Home, which is basically a department store for your house. Six floors--six floors--of furniture, and bedding, and accessories, and lights. It was heaven.






I only spent about an hour there because as awesome as it was, I got bummed out that I couldn't take any of the furniture with me on the plane. Plus, the prices were very New York. A vintage chalkboard for $200? An old school chair for $525!? It was still a nice treat for my eyeballs, though.

After that I went to the Met, which is still the only blatant tourist-y thing I've done in the city. Did you know there's an Egyptian temple in there?

My picture was blurry, this one is official.

Pretty badass, right?

In terms of food, we always eat well in New York. Our favorites this time were Shake Shack (again), and Craftbar, which to me was the best food we had the whole time. We went to Eataly again, and I feel a little bad about this, but the marketplace is better than the actual food. There! I said it. I feel like I'm betraying the Food Network, though.

Anyway, it was a great trip and I can't wait to go back. I'll leave you with a picture of my favorite building, which we stayed near again:


What were you up to this weekend? And earlier this week? I didn't bring my computer with me, so I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on. Have you been to New York? What do you like to do while you're there?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Handmade Holidays: Do It Yourself

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Today marks the beginning of the Handmade Holidays series! Over the next several weeks I'll have a handful of guest bloggers popping in to share some awesome handmade gift ideas. Nancy is here today with some examples of great gifts she's made personally. You can read more about her DIY adventures on her blog, and be sure to check out her cute Etsy shop. Nancy, the floor is yours!

----------

I'm a firm believer that no matter how you evaluate yourself on the crafty or creative scale, a handmade gift always reads as more meaningful to recipients.  Handmade gifts require an extra amount of thought, time, and sometimes even money (depending on your resourcefulness or intrest in materials). I've always enjoyed making handmade gifts for friends and family year round, but for the holidays it seems intimidating and like a lot of work.  It doesn't have to be!  Work on gifts here and there throughout the year, pick just a few people who will receive them each year, or supplement something store bought with something small that you made for each person on your list.

I've created a gift guide of many items that I've made for those on my list in the last few years that I'd like to share with you today.  Feel free to replicate, alter, or be inspired to create something of your own!  Click the links to find out more about each project including where I sourced the patterns.

Handmade Gift Ideas:
1. Herringbone Cowl- If you've got a knack for knitting or crocheting, stitching up a hat, cowl, scarf, or mittens can be a lovely gift for adults and kids alike.  This pattern shown is by The Purl Bee, and makes for quite a lovely quick knit.
2. Kid's Reversible Cape- This is one of those things that works for boys and girls (the link also shows a girl's version).  What kid doesn't love a cape?  Or dressing up?
3. Beaded Wrap Bracelet- I'm no jeweler.  But, there are so many great tutorials out there, like this one, why not try your hand at a simple project like this one?  It's quick and relatively painless.
4. Knit, Crocheted, or Sewn Stuffed Toy-  I LOVE making stuffies.  These are a great gift idea for a boy or girl of any age!  And with so many designs out there, you can really find something specific to what each kid's interests.  I've even made a stuffed Hulk toy before!
5. Little Boy Ties- Every little boy should have a man tie.  And when they're this easy, quick, and cheap to make, every little boy should have a homemade man tie.
6. Reversible Skirt & Newsboy Hat- Clothes for Christmas?  Yea, well the kids may wish for toys, but these two patterns are just way too cute not to gift anyway!
7.  Doodle Bag- Have a coloring aficionado or an art buff?  I love this bag for kids of all ages.  Again, this could be a unisex gift.  It makes for a great way to keep coloring supplies organized for the car, travel, school, play dates, or just at home.  My niece loves hers:)

Handmade Gift Wrap: 
1. Card Stock Gift Box Tutorial- I'm one of those people who thinks, if you don't have it, make it!  One year I found myself in short supply of boxes, and large supply of cute card stock so to work I got.  It really does look cuter than anything you'd get at a store.  The bonus is that you don't have to actually wrap the box, so it looks neat, and is reusable. 
2. Stuffed Heart Gift Tags- I love adding fancy gift tags to presents. It really makes your gift pop, and people notice!  

I hope you've been inspired by this list! Why not commit to making at least one gift this year for the holidays?


Friday, November 9, 2012

Livin' the Dream

I know I just wrote about my shops the other day, but tomorrow marks a big milestone and I couldn't let it sneak by without saying something.

Can ya guess what it is?

Happy One Year of Self-Employment Anniversary to me!


This is kind of a surreal day for me. I still get a little awkward and flattered whenever somebody buys my items, and I'm honestly kind of shocked that people are still interested enough in what I'm doing for this to keep happening. Thanks to everybody who's purchased from either shop, who buys at craft shows, who reads this blog, who has ever Pinned or Tweeted one of my items... You guys are just as much a part of this as I am, and I'm so grateful that you chose to support me.

To my friends who help at shows, to my family who talk me up and hand out business cards, and to my husband for being the best partner in every sense of the word: I wouldn't be here without you either. Thank you for your many ways of helping me.

I get to wake up everyday and do whatever I want. It's been a lot of work and there have been trade-offs (and stress), but the main takeaway is still the fact that I'm in charge of my own path when a few years ago I thought I never would be. This is far and away the best professional decision I have ever made. Really, the only thing that could top this would be... hell, I don't even know. Planting a tree that grows diamonds.

Diamonds?!?

So now that I've gotten all smoochy and made myself misty-eyed, I wanna give you one piece of advice, and it's probably the most business-y thing I'll ever say: Diversify your revenue stream. Have more than one way to make money. You know what they say about not putting all of your eggs in one basket, and it's so true with a business. I have two Etsy shops, I sell at craft shows, and I do a few wholesale orders a year (though I really could be better about that one). If you have a bad month in one area, you can usually make up for it in another.

I don't really know how to end a post like this. Do you have any questions about running a business? Looking for any tips? I would be more than happy to share or give the best advice I can, since I got a lot from others when I was first starting out. Do you have any info of your own to share with the class? Drop us a note in the comments.

Happy Friday! And seriously, you guys are so awesome.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shop Update: Sparkles and Sales Goals

October wasn't a super month for business, so I'm pressing the metaphorical reset button. I've spent this week regrouping and adding more stuff to both shops--and I don't know if there was some magical fairy dust sprinkled on me or what, but things are already picking up. As of Monday I reached my yearly sales goal for Oh Nostalgia (and then sold two more things yesterday--holler!), and now I'm only 10 sales away from doing the same thing in Little White Chapel.

So while I'm doing all of this shop-related stuff, I thought I'd go ahead and give out my holiday coupon code early. HOLIDAYS25 gets you 25% off in either shop. And if you're buying a gift, I can make the box look extra pretty for ya. Just drop me a note at checkout.

In terms of the new goodies, there's this antique gold ring. I find it distractingly awesome. Not just because the filigree is gorgeous, but I'm dorking out about the Gryffindor colors.

Vintage Gold Ring, $75

On the sleeker side of the coin, here are some sterling silver chandelier earrings with pear-shaped crystals:

Chandelier Earrings, $27

And I've had the idea of doing choose-your-letter bridal party necklaces for a few months, and I'm finally getting to it.  So far I only have them in silver, but might carry brass, too, if people are into it:

Personalized Bridesmaid Necklace, $14

Also, this is my new picture-taking setup! It finally occurred to me to put white foam board in the sun room. Duh, Paige. You have a natural light box attached to the house.

Is anybody else coming out of a slow phase? What do you work on when that happens? Have you been adding things to your shop? How are you gearing up for the holidays? If you have a coupon code you want to share, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What I Wore: eShakti

Have you heard of eShakti? I hadn't until recently, but lemme tell ya, because of them it's all cupcakes and sprinkles over here right now.


If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I'm tall. Not WNBA tall, but I'm 5'9 1/2", which is mighty big when a lot of stores don't carry long lengths. Things are too short, they don't fit my shoulders (which are impressively linebacker-esque), the waist sits up near my boobs... It can get ugly. But what I liked right away about eShakti is that each item is made to order in your exact size and measurements.

Let that sink in for a second. You not only choose your size, but you also put in your height (finally!). And if you want more customization you can change the sleeve style, the length of the skirt, and add more in-depth measurements.


The dress I ordered is right here, and if you click through you'll see that it's normally sleeveless. But since it's a knit and I plan to wear it this winter, I wanted my arms covered, so boom! I added that. And then I was afraid the regular length would be weird on my tall self, so I changed that up too. I ordered an XS/2, and I think it fits true to size. It's comfortable, it's a pretty purple-gray color, and it's warm. They hit it out of the park.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the price yet. Don't worry, I'm not leading you astray. This dress is $69. For reals.

So basically I have a new favorite store. And I'm going to give you all of their links so you can look around and fall in love with them, too. Here's the website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Has anybody shopped with eShakti before? What'd you buy? Is anybody else as stoked as I am that you can put in your height? I swear I hear music.

This was a sponsored post. I was gifted the dress in exchange for a product review, but all opinions expressed are my own. If you are interested in setting up your own product review, please email me.