Summer 2013

It has been a very happy INSANE intense summer in our home!  It started with Zoey turning 1, shortly followed by my husband's car exploding, and then surprisingly our business took off!  We have spent the entire summer running a skirt factory out of our house.  There have been endless thrifting trips, equally endless late nights, serger lessons to my sweet hubby who is now in charge of sewing up the waistbands, trip after trip to the post office... I have seriously lost count of how many skirts we have sold, but I'm estimating around 200.  Give or take a dozen.  I wish I could hug every single person who bought one from us.  We are incredibly thankful.

Hard work pays off, and sometimes it takes years.  I had almost given up on the hope that my business would be profitable.  I've believed in it all along, I just didn't know how to show my stuff to the people who would want to buy it.  I'm super passionate about what I make, and I feel like the luckiest girl to be able to have this as my job!!!  I have been working hard to make my customers happy and Instagram is so fun because all of the mamas who buy from me send me pictures of their daughters wearing the skirts we worked so hard to make.  It is FUN!!!  My entire family enjoys it.  It's the best!  There is no shortcut to success, and if you're about to give up, don't.  Keep working, and keep working happy and hard.  I want to make a post soon and tell you guys a little bit about my story, and why this skirt shop was so important to us.  It was a huge moral victory.

So back to this summer.  It's almost over!  and this past week we decided we needed to seize the rest of it, and quick!... so we packed up and took off to the beach for a couple of days!  I always wish that we could have more time, but with the girls, and the heat, and naptimes, and meals, and all the packing, and logistics... a couple days is about all we can handle right now!  We live only a few hours away, but the last time we went was 3 years ago when Emma was 6 months old.  It was a new experience for both of our girls and they LOVED it.

Emma was a sand baby, Zoey was a water baby, and Thomas and I spent our time trading them off and letting them explore what they wished.  Zoey ate sand twice and threw it up four times.  Emma collected seaweed.  We ate ice cream for breakfast the very last day before we left for home.  We drove half an hour away to eat at Joe's Crab Shack for dinner our second night there.  We don't have one in Richmond, and we ate at one in Jacksonville on our honeymoon.  Thomas dropped his ring through the cracks on the pier and thankfully we found it!  It was a sweet place to go to again with our girls.  It's nothing super fancy, but it's meaningful to us.  Life is beautiful that way.  I love to make memories out of the ordinary.

As we prepare for a change of seasons, I am looking forward to slowing down a little.  Emma is turning 4 in November.  She is learning addition now (something she wanted to do all on her own, and the girl is GOOD!) and I'm excited to dive into another year of "homeschool preschool" with her.  There are only a couple of years before she's off to school and it's starting to sink in.  I always wanted to homeschool my babies, but her personality is big, and she needs to be in a classroom, I think.  It's best for her.  I want to soak up every day I have her home with me.  Zoey is picking up a ton of new words.  "cup!  please!  shoes!"  She is actually sleeping through the night in her crib and looking more and more grown every passing day.  We are looking forward to continuing our skirt shop on Instagram, but working at a better pace.  Tonight I worked on cleaning out the dining room and reorganizing my studio so we can actually eat the table again!

I'm sure we will sneak a few more trips in to Kings Dominion, maybe one last run through the sprinklers in the backyard, a couple more Sweet Frog dates and probably a few other summer surprises before it's all said and done with.  We can't work at this pace every summer, but this year it was a happy sacrifice to make.  I will tell you about it next time :)


Skirt Sale FAQ

It is hard to share even a little bit of information on Instagram, so I thought I'd make a little blog post to share about my skirt sale!  First of all, it will be on this Sunday night.  I will start listing the skirts right at 8 PM EST.  Some of the designs I've shared a preview of have been super popular (Minnie Mouse, Foofa, Lalaloopsy) and I want to give everybody a fair chance at snagging them for their daughters :) so if you're interested, be on you account at 8!

A tiny bit earlier in the evening I will list a few things like hair clips, owls & tooth fairy pillows.  I am super excited to share the things I've made with you!  I've been working like crazy all week.  It's really fun :) I want to answer some questions I've been asked lately:

Can I get a discount for buying two skirts?  I wish I could, but I think for the time and effort and money that I've invested in them, I think I sell these fairly cheap :) but I do appreciate people who support my business in such a generous way, and I always try to include something extra in the package when it arrives to you!

I need a (insert character here) skirt by next week!  I don't buy the shirts that I use to make these skirts new because it would be too costly, and so I have to go about sourcing it in other creative ways.  When I take my girls out shopping, we're not really sure what we're going to find.  I always try to keep my eyes open to what is popular, or what people have asked for.  If you have a request, let me know and I will add it to my list!

... but I really need that skirt for her party!  If you have a shirt that you would like turned into a skirt, we can absolutely do that.  I can take $4 off the price of the skirt for you.  Send me a message and we can work that out!

Do you have another of this skirt?  It sold but I really love it.  Each skirt is one of a kind and absolutely unique.  and chances are there could never be another identical to it.  But I could try :)

How do I purchase on Instagram?  Leave your name and email address as a comment on the photo of the item you'd like to purchase.  If you are the first to do so, I will send you an invoice.  I ask that invoices be paid within 24 hours so I can start the shipping process.  It's super easy!

What size does this fit?  I use a rib knit fabric waistband on my skirts.  It's a bit like a stretchy yoga waistband.  I really like it because it allows these skirts to fit a wide variety of sizes.  When it comes to my daughter's clothes, I love love love it when she can wear something over a number of years.  Skirts are perfect because it can start off as a longer twirly skirt, and end up as a cute skirt to wear with leggings!  I offer three different sizes of skirts, and each skirt will specify the waistband length & skirt length.

TINY: waistband is 16 inches relaxed, __ inches long, will fit babies 12 months & up :)
SMALL: waistband is 16 inches relaxed, 11 inches long, will fit 2T & up! (I'd say to size 6)
MEDIUM: waistband is 18 inches relaxed, 13 inches long, will fit 3T & up! (I'd say to size 7/8)

How do I wash this?  I wash my daughter's skirts on cold, and toss in the dryer with all her other clothes, and they wash super well.  They are just shirts, after all :)

Thank you for your interest :) My family is feeling super excited and super blessed by our adventure here.  Emma has helped me with the packages, Zoey has helped me by actually taking a few naps this week, my husband has been an amazing support by supplying me with Coke, Dr Pepper, late night serger emergencies, lots of encouragement, and on Sunday night we will be excited & ready to give one of these skirts away!


Hello to Instagram!!!

You guys.  Let me tell you what happened last week.  I had a rough week.  I was feeling pretty defeated.  We were all grumpy.  I got sick.  The girls were fussy.  It was a long weekend.  and on Sunday, I decided to list my skirts in my Etsy shop.  My Etsy shop has always been for fun, it's never been crazy busy, never really been a high volume of orders, but it's something I enjoy and I think it's important to keep a shop front open and available online so I keep it up.  I have seen some of the people I follow on Instagram do something called a "flash sale" or an "Instasale", so I thought I'd give it a try.  I posted a few images.

and there was some interest in it from some people who follow me, so I thought hey!  This may be cool!  I may sell one tonight!  I prayed for the next few hours that I would sell 5.  I think I listed around 20 something?  5 seemed out of this world to me.  At indie craft shows, I sell a LOT.  It's such a thrill to see the things I've made with love with my two hands going to all the little girls who come to my table with their mommies.  :) but online, I just don't sell 5 skirts in a day.

8:00 came, and I went to the computer and started the sale.  I think by 8:30 I sold one and we all cheered.  The girls clapped and danced, it was a good time.  and then I sold 2.  and 3.  and by Emma's bedtime we sold 5.  and then 6.  Some of my IG friends had shared about the sale to the people who follow them, and all in all I gained about 200 new followers.  Messages were coming in by the second!  and by the time it was all over the next day, I sold 18 skirts.  18 SKIRTS YOU GUYS.  18!!!

and I made a few new friends on IG!  It was SO fun.  Nothing like that has happened to me!  I had been praying for God to bless this effort and bless my business, and when He answered my prayer, He more than tripled it.  I still cannot believe it.  The next day I spent with a notebook, pen and my laptop, sorting it all out, sending out invoices, and packing everything up.  Every single person paid their invoice, and the whole process was time consuming but so easy.  I am happy that people found the clothes I make worthy enough for their girls to wear :) some are going to be presents, some are going to be birthday skirts, and some are just for everyday wear!  I think that is SO fun.  That is why I love my job.

One of the coolest things was having Emma help me package everything up (she drew smiley faces on the thank you cards!) and sending them all away in the mail this afternoon.

So I planned another sale for THIS Sunday, like a crazy woman.  People were requesting skirts and the demand is too high!  If a little girl needs a special Minnie Mouse skirt, who am I to turn her down, right?  I spent Monday and Tuesday fabric shopping and came home with over 30 pounds of fabric to cut up and start the process of making new skirts.

I hope to have 20 new skirts to sell on my Instagram on Sunday!  I have been cutting them since Monday night.  I have 7 piles of fabric: cool solids, cool stripes, cool patterns, warm solids, warm stripes, warm patterns, and main detail shirts.  It is so much fun to pick from the piles and play around with colors and patterns and CUT UP CLOTHES!  It's something you're never allowed to do, but I get to do it!!! :) I love chopping away at something old and turning it into something new and beautiful.  

and so if you're visiting from Instagram, welcome!!!  I'd love to share a couple of things with you.  I started my business in 2007 as something just for fun, but became really serious about it a few years ago.  I have accomplished some pretty cool goals that I had for myself.  My studio was featured in a printed publication.  I was a "crafter of the month" for a popular craft supply brand.  If you live in Richmond, you've probably seen my stuff around.  I'm in a few shops locally, and have been in a few shops nationally, too.  Through my Etsy shop, I've sold things all over the world.  Greece, Japan, Australia, Iran, France, Brazil, England... that's only a few!  I am proud of achieving those goals, because I'm a stay at home mom to two little loves, Emma & Zoey.  It gives me something to do!  People to talk to!  A purpose other than changing diapers!  I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but my hands cannot stop creating, and my mind cannot stop dreaming up of things to make, and in my house we are artists.  We make things.  We reconstruct, we upcycle, we paint and we create.  I love being able to provide for my family by the things that I make, but more importantly, it's such a fun journey for us all to go on.  My girls will learn so much from this.  I want to make them proud :)  So thank you SO MUCH for supporting my shop.  

ps -- see you on Sunday!  Back to work for me!


Skirt Update!

Can I talk about these skirts for a minute?  I wanted a serger for years just so I could chop up shirts and make new things out of them.  It took me two years to pull my serger out of the box because I was so intimidated by it.  I'm nearly ashamed to admit that, because once I learned how to thread it, I haven't stopped using it.  We are constantly going to the thrift store to look for new shirts to make these skirts with.  :) I have cut into hundreds of shirts to come up with the fabric combinations I need to make these.  They are lightweight, they twirl perfectly, and the waistband fits many sizes of toddlers & girls!  They are my favorite things to make (currently) and today I updated my shop with 8 new skirts :) I hope you love them as much as I do!


Summer Weeding

I am an overly ambitious (very amateur) gardener with very little time.  This equals a messy, beautiful, colorful disaster in my yard.  One of my favorite ways to celebrate summer is to visit Lowes with our girls, look at all the beautiful flowers, and then head straight to the back of the garden section where all the half dead discounted plants are.  GOLD.  Pure gold.  We load our cart up and spend a fourth of what they would cost otherwise, and then plant all that week.  Some die.  Some flourish.  Some just hang out and can't make their minds up.  It's fun.  It gets us all in the yard together.  It keeps us busy.  :) as if we needed that...

Today I was weeding along our driveway for the 39472th time.  We are not a fan of the rocks that run along both sides of the driveway, but mulch isn't in the budget or calendar for this year.  I was looking for an affordable way to keep those weeds out, and I've heard about the newspaper method, so that's what I'm doing.  It's nothing fancy, basically you just put 9 pieces of newspaper down, and then your rocks or mulch on top.  It's a neat way to recycle and use what you have on hand.  I will report back how it's working.  :) It is hard work, but worth the investment in our yard.  I love to take care of our little house.  I am a blessed woman.


the day my husband's car exploded...

Let me preface this post by saying my husband is okay, everybody is unharmed and safe and very thankful for the outcome.  and now I can continue by saying that his car just spontaneously caught on fire and exploded this morning on his way to work.  I cried, I laughed, I cried more, I got hysterical, I prayed, I hugged my husband, I paced around the house looking for something to do... "who does this happen to?!" I asked.  My husband said it happens a lot.  I have yet to know a person who this has happened to!!!

We are sentimental people.  Of course I am most thankful that my husband escaped unharmed and okay and safe, but we are going to miss that little car.  It wasn't overly showy or expensive, it had a crappy paint job, but man it was fun.  It smelled like a man car.  I drove it many times when I was pregnant because I loved the smell of tires.  We went on so many dates with the top down and radio up, wind in our hair, Switch's head out the window with his ears flying back.  I took him to the drive in movies once for his first father's day when Emma was in my tummy.  We took it to a fancy expensive hotel downtown for our anniversary one year.  It wasn't the car, it was all the memories.  and fire is a powerful thing, it just takes everything away very fast.  

Here's how I would like to remember that little red car.  Emma pretending to drive it last Easter right before Zoey was born (it was parked, obviously).  I had a post about preschool ready, but maybe I'll post that tomorrow.  Today was just a tough day on our hearts.  A scary day and a stressful day.  and a thankful day.


Emma's Necklaces

It's fun to live out old childhood hobbies again with your children.  For many years, some of the best gifts that I got were Lisa Frank craft kits.  The neon colors, the funky animals, the stationary, the stickers, the beads... I loved them.  I hoarded them.  I wanted to make sure I made the PERFECT craft with them because birthdays only come once a year, you know, and I didn't want to run out of supplies!  I decided a while ago that craft & art supplies were something we would always replenish, so she never would be held back in her creations by the fear of running out of something.  It's been a fun rule.  :)

Last summer when Zoey was a newborn, we spent a lot of time in Emma's room playing quietly while Zoey slept.  One of our favorite games to play was bead/color sorting.  I had colored plastic rings, and she sorted the correct bead color inside the rings.  It was great fine motor skill activity.  She eventually kind of outgrew it and because more interested in what the beads were made for ;) so for her birthday she got several bead kits, and some kind of passion exploded within her, because Emmabelle is my little jeweler!

Above is a picture of her bead box, all decorated in her special Lalaloopsy stickers.  Inside are all kinds of beads, including many that were mine when I was little.  Right after her birthday party she wanted to play with one of her new toys, so I asked if she wanted to make a necklace.  She beaded it herself and then gave it to me.  It's one of the best gifts ever.  and it didn't stop with me, she has gifted many people in our family with their very own necklaces, men included!  There is a girl her age who is battling cancer and she goes to my sister's church.  Emma wanted to make her and her mommy each a necklace.  It's really special to see my girl ministering with her art.  :) I love it.

(I'm wearing a necklace she made me here!)

Emma came down with a fever Saturday night and had been getting pretty sick.  She wasn't symptomatic but when her fever spiked over 103 this morning we took her to the doctor first thing.  She has strep throat and an ear infection!  She hasn't complained about her throat or her ears a bit, but I am glad that we have some medicine for her now and she will be feeling better in no time.  She took the time this afternoon to make a couple more necklaces for some special people :) it's something I just love doing with her.  I think she's the coolest ever.


Party Dresses!

For the girls, every celebration calls for a fancy dress, and I can't think of a better celebration than a newborn baby :) I made many of these dresses for the shows this spring, and I have 5 left.  They are perfect for take home outfits, photoshoots, parties, or just to feel pretty and fancy on an ordinary day.  Click on the photo to head to my shop and check them out :)

I also have pinafore dresses for older girls, age 1-4... this is one of my favorite dresses I've ever made.  I love the combination of fabrics.  This dress is the only one I have left.  It would be so precious on a birthday girl!

Party Inspiration


I just thought I'd share a little party inspiration :) The left picture will take you to my Celebrate Pinterest board (where would we be without Pinterest???  I can hardly remember life before it!) and the right picture will take you to a treasury I made on Etsy.  It's full of fun party necessities, handmade, supplies & vintage.  I love to have quick and easy party ideas in my head and a drawer full of essentials just in case I need to have a last minute celebration.  It's a good feeling to celebrate somebody :)



Can we talk about cupcakes for a minute? :) I love them.  I love how I don't have to cut cake at parties.  I love how you can eat two and not feel guilty about it because it's a cupcake!  I love how easy it is to make them look super fancy.  I love shopping for new baking cups, paper or silicone.  I love the way a dab of icing piped on top looks.  Love love love.  In my house, cupcakes make the party.

I'd like to share some of my secrets and tips.  I'm no professional, just a mom who likes playing around with it, but there are a couple of things I like to do :)
  1. I use a box mix.  Usually Funfetti.  So easy.  I use packaged icing, too.
  2. I used to wonder how to achieve that perfect little dollop of icing on top.  For years I just tried my hardest with a knife.  HA!  Then I found this.  Probably the best $10 you could spend.  Here's a tip: grab a 40% off coupon and go to Michaels and you can purchase it for even cheaper!
  3. I put pudding inside my cupcakes.  and I use that fancy decorator to do it!  Whip up a box of instant pudding, but instead of adding the 2 cups of milk, add 1 3/4.  It makes it a little bit thicker and I find that to be easier to fill the cupcakes with.  Bake your cupcakes regularly, and let them cool.  Make your pudding and then set in the fridge to thicken.  Fill your decorating tool with the pudding, and push a little bit into the middle of every cake.  When you're finished, ice your cupcakes and voila!  For Christmas this past year I made chocolate cupcakes and filled them with cheesecake pudding and topped them with vanilla icing and crushed candy canes.  It looked so fancy, but it was incredibly easy to do.
  4. Okay so #3 was my biggest secret :) but I love that with that decorating tool, you can color your icing any color you'd like!  I found some neon food coloring at the grocery store and it produces the most beautiful vibrant colors.  I also add it to muffin mixes for breakfast, because Emma thinks blue muffins are the only way to eat muffins.  That's maybe for another post though.
  5. This is a fun summer recipe: make vanilla cupcakes, bake, cool.  Make a box of Jello, but use only about half of the water the box tells you to use.  Poke holes in your cupcakes with a fork and pour the liquid Jello on top.  Refrigerate.  Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip on top.  It's the BEST for summer get-togethers!
Really, the most fun part is baking with my daughter and then sending her in the other room to "go get" something so I can sneak a lick or two out of the bowl :) oh, and then sharing the finished products with your family and friends, of course.  Do you have any neat cupcake tricks up your sleeve?  (edit: these photos are all examples of cupcakes I've made in the past few years!)

Emmabelle's Parties :)

I guess unofficially (or officially, now that I've said it!) it's PARTY WEEK here on my blog to celebrate the fact that I got the urge to start documenting my creative endeavors and adventures here again!  Since I blogged about Zoey's big owl party yesterday, maybe I can do a recap of Emma's birthday parties today.  I really have fun throwing my girls themed birthday parties.  Usually it's just our family because our house can't fit many more people than that inside.  Emma's birthday is in November and so having an outdoor party really isn't an option.

For Emma's first birthday party, we decorated everything in pandas :) Her nickname was panda and so that was just what I went with.  Of course there was nothing panda themed in the party stores so I had to do it myself.  Her cake was a bear cake mold and took 3 tubes of black icing to pipe all of the dots that became his ears, arms and legs.  She was COVERED in black icing.  The panda cake was all for her, everybody else got cupcakes :) It was so much fun decorating everything special for her.  I know that she wouldn't remember it at all, but I hope she looks back on the pictures and sees how celebrated she was :)

Emma's second birthday was Minnie Mouse themed.  We were fresh off of our Disney vacation and she was in love!  I was on bedrest for this birthday and we had to push it back a weekend and because of that some people couldn't make it.  My mom and my SIL came over to decorate and then we just celebrated in our living room so I wouldn't have to get up.  It was important to me that she still had her big celebration.  I made mouse cupcakes by cutting Oreo cookies in half, sticking tiny Oreo cookies on top of them using toothpicks, and just sticking it on the cupcake.

Finally, this past year we celebrated her third birthday with a Sweet Frog party!  Sweet Frog is a locally owned frozen yogurt buffet.  It's Emma's favorite.  She wanted to go there for her party, but instead we just brought it to us.  I decorated cupcakes like frogs and did everything up in pink and green (and blue, because that is her favorite color).  The generous people at the corporate office gave us a sleeve of the bowls they use at the restaurants so we could have them for her party!  It was the best.  We bought a bunch of different ice creams and then had a mini topping buffet.  I tried to get unusual toppings like cereals, gummy bears, nerds, etc.

Party week continues!... thank you for reading about Emma's parties.  I spend so much time creating things for other children, it is special to get to create for mine :) :) :)


Happy 1st Birthday, Zoey!

My baby turned 1 on May 24th. I knew how fast the first year passes because it went by in a flash with Emmabelle, but it's harder to believe that with your second child, it passes by even FASTER. After a kind of insane and traumatic pregnancy, adjusting to life with a baby and an almost 3 year old was easier than dealing with a toddler and being on bedrest, but it was still a big year for our family. We wanted to celebrate in a big way!
A fun thing with Zoey was to carry over some traditions that we did with Emma on her first birthday. We started by going to Build A Bear and letting Zoey pick out a stuffed animal to make. Emma picked out a gray kitty on her birthday, and Zoey looked down the row of various deflated plushies and finally decided on the blue pony at the very end :) it was fun to let Emma help fluff it, they both got to make a wish on two little red hearts, and we appropriately named her pony "Miracle" (Emma's kitty is named "Sprinkle") :) We don't do this for every birthday, but it's definitely something we will do for our next child on his or her first birthday.
We had 30 of our closest family and friends over for a big owl celebration. I made 4 dozen cupcakes, a special owl smash cake for the birthday girl, a crockpot full of chicken BBQ, a seemingly endless supply of grapes, strawberries & pineapple, and 3 tubs of ice cream. Oh, and Kool Aid squeezy drinks at Emma's request. Emma & Zoey's great-grandma gifted Zoey with a "celebration of life" present (I'm not even kidding -- a rollercoaster, a tropical island paradise water table, a swingset, a teeter totter... am I forgetting anything? oh, and a picnic table! WITH an umbrella, of course!) so we set the backyard up with all of the toys and watched the kids go wild. I played the Fresh Beat Band Pandora station and we just had the best time. None of the kids wanted to leave, and if I wasn't so tired after all of the party planning I would have kept them all to play, because it was so much fun to watch them have fun!
Never before have we had that many people over at our house, but it was a blessing. It was nice to be surrounded by people that we love, and people who love us. I was happy to watch my girls play with their little friends (there were 8 other children all under the age of 5 over!) It was a fabulous time and a memory we won't ever forget. Happy Birthday, Zoey Clementine! :)