Natural

Now that it’s Summer (and the big kiddos are out of the house and the littlest kiddo is napping…) I finally have some time to sit down for a bit of an update!

It only took me, let’s see… three months?… to finish up a wholesale order that the lovely Kate Bussey purchased to stock her wonderful little store in Charlestown.  I made some purses, car carriers, crayon rolls, and rainbow wands.  Fingers crosses that they’ll do well!

We’ve passed Mills Creek Natural Market a few times before but never stopped.  In fact, when we drove there the other day I specifically remember telling Phil that I wanted to stop sometime and walk around the area!  Kate’s house is right next to the shop and her son was kind enough to bring us into their back yard to meet their three goats.  They were so sweet, and since we’ve been thinking of getting dairy goats it was nice to see how good-natured they were.  FYI the goats come from Silk Tree Farms, which also sells soap at the store and at various local farmers’ markets.

Kate’s shop is right up my alley. It’s very similar to Tula Tinkers in that it caters to local, small-business, handmade, one-of-a-kind items.  But it has its own eclectic array of items, so much fun to poke around!  I wish I had taken some pictures, but there are a bunch of photos on their facebook page.

There were some beautiful carved, wood-burned combs and I really want to get one for Addy.  I pointed out some whimsical gnomes and little rock houses to Gwen; they would look so cute in a fairy garden!  For the life of me I can’t figure out why taking care of air plants is so hard for me, but there were some hanging sea urchins with air plants inside – so pretty!  The 3-dimensional stained glass stars were gorgeous; keeping them in mind for gifts.  Actually, I think I could find something for everyone in there!  I picked up some local honey, which always seems to be on my grocery list (if I didn’t already have a honey stick I would have been all over that).

Yes… I did say we’re thinking of getting goats.  Isn’t it enough that we keep bees?!  We’ve slowly been turning our yard into land that will be more self-sustaining and we keep thinking of ways to improve upon what we’ve already done.  This year we added raised beds to our garden, fruit trees, and bee-friendly flowers.  We’ve talked about the idea of getting chickens, but we’re not too crazy about having their poop all over the yard, so we’ll stick with getting fresh eggs from our neighbors.

I’m hoping that, eventually, we’ll be able to do most of our shopping at the farmers’ market – or through other local sources – and that I won’t have to step foot in a grocery store (is that realistic?).  Next on our list is purchasing meat in bulk from a local farm that raises grass-fed beef.  Perhaps we’ll supplement our veggies through a CSA program?

It’s always been hard for me to lose weight, but it seems like after having Adeline, it’s been harder than ever.  I tried intermittent fasting, exercising every day, cutting things from my diet, and the scale just isn’t budging.  Even if I’m not losing weight, I feel that I must be healthy, since we keep making healthy food choices.  More and more I’ve been leaning towards a paleo way of eating; not to be trendy or eat like cavemen, but because it seems natural.  Recently I read Sexy by Nature and I really appreciated some of the insights author Stefani Ruper had in her argument for the paleo “diet.”  Buying quality meats, fresh eggs, making my own full-fat yogurt and buttermilk and sour cream, growing fresh produce…  it feels so good when we’re able to make these kinds of choices for our family.  We haven’t been able to do it all at once but, little by little, we’re making a difference.

Handmade Gifts for a New Mama

My sister-in-law just gave birth to her seventh son and she pretty much has everything she needs, but I still wanted to give her something special.  I asked her what she wanted and apparently she gave away her nursing cover (maybe she thought she was done having kids??), so that was her request.

Her last cover was the typical apron-style nursing cover that, in my opinion, doesn’t offer the best coverage and tends to scream “I’m nursing a baby!”  And while nursing a baby is nothing to be ashamed of, I for one prefer a bit more subtlety and style.

While pregnant with Adeline I purchased a bamboo nursing poncho and fell in love with it.  If I had known how simple the construction was I would have made it myself!  I have the mauve color, which I think goes with lots of things, and while I don’t wear it as well as the model, it’s very versatile and stylish.

I wanted to try something similar and purchased a silky jersey/rayon blend material in a pretty light blue.  I basically followed the tutorial for this DIY Modern Nursing Shawl, adding a bit of an allowance for seams on all sides and buttons along half of one side.

Since I wanted my sis-in-law to have options, I also made an infinity scarf that can double as a nursing cover.

Another of her requests was a set of clips that can turn any blanket into a nursing cover, used later to turn a towel into a bib, whatever.  Similar to these, I turned a set of mitten clips, D-rings, and some fabric into this little contraption:

These, in addition to a fabric nursing necklace I gave her at her gender reveal party, make some fabulous gifts for nursing mamas (in my humble opinion, of course).  A great go-along resource and the only nursing book I have is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Wanting to add something just for baby, I tried my hand at some baby shoes.  A pair for her little guy, then I kept on going with a larger pair for Addy.  See the little buttons on Addy’s floral pair?  She ate two of them while I was going through my button stash.  Oops.  I know at least one made it out the other end!

I love how they turned out!  On my to-do list, another pair in leather.

To top it off a wooden teether toy:

I love making things for babies!

What’s your favorite gift to buy, make, or receive for babies?

New Wooden Pretend Play Sets

For a while now I’ve been wanting to expand my handmade items to include wooden toys.  I have made wooden birds and other wooden things, but those are mainly for decoration.  My husband uses his woodworking skills to create beautiful game boards, and even though I don’t know how to turn and drill the wood pieces myself, I love the idea of working with the material.

We love natural toys (I could spend all day drooling over Waldorf toys!), so this came as a natural progression of my crafting process.  Since I’ve been in baby mode for a while now I made some wooden teething rings with fabric ties.  I made one recently to go with a baby shower gift and it was the icing on the cake!

Bunny Ears Baby Chompers

In addition to the peg doll gnomes I made recently, I also started working on some other projects inspired by things I’d see around the crafting community.  Since my kids love mini versions of real items – especially food-related things – I decided to start there.

Scoop the Rainbow | Pail of Eggs | Blueberry Breakfast | Nest of Natural Eggs

Gwen and Josiah helped me with almost all of the items – painting, sealing, and the all-important product testing.  As soon as the sets were finished they absconded with the pieces and had a “picnic.”  Phil and I looked at each other and joked, “Kid-tested, mother-approved.”

It’s important to me that I find a local – or at least American-made, ideally small-business – resources for my supplies, and I was lucky enough to find quality wooden pieces made in New England.  I fill in the blanks, personalizing the pieces with paint, sealing them with a beeswax polish and sewing cute little bags to store the items.  I particularly fell in love with the drawstring pouch that carries the multi-colored eggs and am trying to figure out how to work it into other projects.

These items (and more!) are currently available at Tula Tinkers in Richmond, RI.  Of course I’d love to take custom orders as well. :)  For more pictures of my handmade items see Gwendylicious.  

 

Shop Local

I was so upset recently when I found out Small Circle would be closing its doors.  Their shop was ruined when the pipes above froze and burst shortly after the holidays.

When Sarah Memoli initially contacted me through Etsy and inquired as to whether or not I would be interested in placing my handmade items in their store for the grand opening two years ago I was really excited. It was wonderful getting to know her and her husband John and sharing their passion for local, small-business products. I hope they open another location!

A bunch of my things got ruined in all the water from the pipes, but we still had some leftovers to pick up.  We came home with a load of unsold things.  Shortly after that we picked up some more of our things from Whimsies; they didn’t sell as well as we had hoped and the driving distance wasn’t economical.  I was so disappointed with the whole endeavor but decided to look into a lead that Andrea at Whimsies had given me.

She told me about a new place called Tula Tinkers in Richmond.  After a few e-mails back and forth with Alyssia, the owner, Phil and I drove there today to “hawk our wares,” as I like to say.  It was so nice to meet her and browse all the interesting treasures. It’s small, but the space is really maximized and has an eclectic array of items.  Tula Tinkers features over forty local artists (yay!), they have a variety of unique, locally handmade crafts, jewelry, gifts and more.

Alyssia loved our items and took the majority of them – keep your fingers crossed that people will love them and her shop will do well!  Shortly after arriving home I got an e-mail from her that a couple things already sold!  If you’re in the area, check them out; there’s always a holiday, birthday, anniversary, some sort of special occasion or “just because” around the corner!

GwendyLicious Branches Out!

I’m so excited – I’m selling my handmade goodies at another store!  I couldn’t believe it when Andrea of Whimsies in Warren contacted me a few months back, telling me she’d love to stock my items after seeing some of them at Small Circle.  At the time I was still pregnant and I knew it would take a while to sew up a batch of items, but I slowly got working on some inventory and finally dropped them off last week.

It was so nice to meet Andrea.  She has a cute little shop just off Main Street and sells an eclectic array of handmade items.  I love that she paints and restores many of the pieces, working on furniture as customers browse.

I always get a bit nervous about what kind of impression my things will make on people – they are, after all, an extension of me!  And I do realize that people have different tastes.  But I needn’t have worried – Andrea loved everything, and I already have some other ideas in the wings.

cedar sachets, aprons, cup cozies, therapy bags

Her favorite items seemed to be the mancala boards and orange spice wheat therapy bags.  Ironically, she sold one of each the next day!

I also made a drop-off at Small Circle – some wishing wands and dancing ribbons, which seem to be a hit.  Yay!

If you’re in the area stop by and check out the goodies and the wonderful people that own the stores.

*If you don’t live in the area and would love to purchase some of my items, browse my handmade posts and take a gander at GwendyLicious, where I have pictures of many of the things I make.  Then drop me a line!