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Small Business Saturday Round Up

I LOVE to shop small, especially at Christmas time! Searching for unique, and often handmade, gifts has always been one of my favorite things about gift-giving. Luckily, my DIY gifts are much nicer now than they were 25 years ago 😆 Even if a handmade gift isn’t appropriate for everyone on your list, you can still shop small by choosing locally owned businesses in your area.

For Kids:

I put together a list of some of my favorite handmade shops, some larger shops that do a lot of good, and a few other ideas for imaginative play.

As Christmas gets closer, I find my Facebook feed filled with more and more articles about how many/what toys to buy for children, and many opinion articles saying absolutely no toys. We love toys at our house, and our kids still get some for Christmas, but we try to find quality toys that require some kind of active play or imagination.

We don’t have many toys that require batteries (I would say fewer than five!) We have tons of building toys that my son and now my daughter love to create with. We have a play kitchen that I rescued from a neighbor’s curb and renovated, which is the most played with item when we have friends over. The kids love their wood train tracks, dolls and stuffed animals, art supplies, play dough, and of course, books. They have a marble run, a wood castle, a vintage (it was mine, I think that makes it vintage?) doll house, piles of costumes and dress up clothes, and bikes. And I will admit, we do have a ridiculous 24v princess carriage because why not!

Here are a few of my favorites for this Christmas (and some from birthdays and Christmases past):

Unicorn Stacking Toy from Zooble– This is even cuter in person! My daughter still loves her stacking toys even now that she’s two. This unicorn one is just too much; she’ll be so excited to find it in her stocking this year. My son took a peek at their Etsy store and found a couple play sets he’d like under the tree this year, too!

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Play Camera from WoodandMoreUK – my daughter LOVES to pretend anything rectangular is a camera, so I know she will have so much fun playing with this and making all of us say “cheese” for her.

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Recycled Crayon Name Set by Art2theExtreme – both of my littles are getting these. They both love to color and draw, and my son will be so tickled to see his name.

Cuddle + Kind – This is not technically “shopping small”, but I love when my money can do a little good for someone in the world, too. We bought the bunnies for my kids, and the glasses on the boy bunny is my favorite part I think! They are pricey for stuffed animals, but they’re hand knit, and provide meals for others, so I’m in!

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Alphabet Peg Dolls from Zooble – I put these on Bee’s list this year. They are so fun!

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Other things that my kids have and love – Some of these are likely available at locally owned toy stores, so check there first! The Land of Nod toys are not, but we love to have some quiet play options in this house too 🙂

Hape Rocketship, Carry Home Dollhouse and/or Rocketship

Le Toy Van Wood Castle, Magnatiles, K’nex

For the Adults:

Jane + Cope Leather Statement Earrings – I think I have four pairs from these fellow military wives, with several more on my wish list! They are so pretty, and so lightweight. I want every color!

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Noonday Collection by Analisa Jernigan – Analisa is so sweet, and the jewelry is stunning. I adore all the stories about the artists that create the jewelry and accessories, and hope that everyone’s purchases throughout the year help add up to a big difference in the lives of these women and their families.

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Agnes & Dora by Tiffany Lantz– Almost every clothing item I own and wear these days is made by me, or made by A&D! I love their swing tunics especially, but honestly I love it all! My nieces are getting some A&D dresses along with some auntie-made dolly and me tunics this year!

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Cheri by Kate – If you’re local to Warner, NH, you can visit Kate and her handmade goods at her holiday pop-up shop (25 E Main St in Warner) through December. She makes crocheted accessories as well as gorgeous custom clothing.

Whipping Up Fairy Tales – Kasey is the world’s fastest crocheter (I don’t think that’s official yet, but it takes me roughly 100 years to crochet something that takes her 30 minutes!). She makes amazing bow ties, bows, headbands, beanies, bun beanies, and funky jewelry. I need to order some faux druzy earrings from her (I hope she still has them!!!).

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JamesMichelleJewelry – I have a personalized gold bar necklace with both of my kids’ names on it, and get so many compliments on it! I bought it for myself before right before Bee was born. It came out exactly as I hoped!

Custom Cutting Boards by CabanyCo – I got my husband a hilarious Breaking Bad themed cutting board a few years ago. He uses it all the time!

Butcher Prints –  I  got my husband a set of prints like these a few years ago. I can’t remember where I ordered his from originally, but he got a big kick out of them!

Personalized Bangles from Frosted Willow – My sister and I both have a set of bracelets from this Etsy seller. I like how delicate they look worn separately, but usually wear mine stacked! They also look cute mixed with other bangle bracelets.

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Herb Garden Set from The Gifted Tomato – The Gifted Tomato had lots of beautiful gift sets for anyone on your list with a green thumb (my thumbs are as black as they come so don’t look at me!).

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Handcrafted Yarn Bowl from aaharrison – We bought this yarn bowl for my mother-in-law a few years ago. I had seen several others like it, but I loved the little bird!

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The Handwritten Home – Allyson creates gorgeous custom watercolors and chalkboards. She offers a range of sizes and canvases, and can create a print for just about any occasion.

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Bouchard Custom Creations – Amanda is the queen of all things monogrammed. She’s based in CA, but can ship if you’re not local.

For DIY Gifts to Give:

Made for Mermaids and Patterns for Pirates – Both companies offer a ton of free printable PDF sewing patterns for things like mermaid tail blankets, aprons, bookmarks, leggings, and many other goodies! They have lots of cute ideas for teacher gifts, gifts that kids can help make, etc. Most anything can be hand sewn, if you don’t have a sewing machine. Psst! Starting December 1, Made for Mermaids will be doing another round of 12 free patterns!!!

Thread & Grain – Cut vinyl cutouts, funky wood necklaces, and other goodies are available from Katy at Thread & Grain! She sells shirts pre-made, or you can order the vinyl to iron or heat press the shirts yourself, or you can order the digital file by itself! I have her sewing machine necklace on my list this year 🙂

Dolls and Daydreams – The CUTEST PDF patterns for dollies and stuffed animals, plus tons of clothing patterns. My kids each have several – if you’ve seen their Easter bunnies, or E’s ninja, or the elves I made them last year for the Polar Express, that’s what I used!

DIY Dollhouse turned Superhero Hideout:
One of my favorite gifts I’ve given my son is this “superhero hideout” I made for his 5th birthday. E helped design parts of the hideout so it was even more fun for him to see it all finished. There are plenty of plain wood doll houses/structures that can become something similar, or find a local carpenter! I made this one myself with a couple boards and a hand saw, so I know someone with actual wood working experience could make you something amazing.

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Take some time this weekend (and this holiday season) to support small businesses. Visit your town’s downtown area, check out local book stores and hardware stores. Swing into locally owned restaurants and coffee shops. Browse on Etsy for teacher gifts. Give gift certificates for a session with a local photographer. Gift experiences like art lessons, or passes to local museums or aquariums. See if your grocery store sells items made from locally grown ingredients.

I’m so grateful that this year I’ve had the opportunity to grow my own small business, and I owe that opportunity to all of you that have supported me along the way. Thanks for being a part of mama & little e’s story all these years.

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P.S. If you’re a small business owner, please feel free to leave a description of your business and a way for people to find you in the comments!

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Catherine, Mama Catherine, and Dolly Catherine by Made for Mermaids 


Every time Made for Mermaids releases a new pattern, I think I fall in love all over again!

Catherine is a knit top, tunic, and/or dress pattern for girls in sizes 1/2 – 14. She features several yoke options, including a square or scoop neckline. Sleeve options include short, 3/4, flounce, hi low flounce, and long sleeves. Length options include top, tunic, dress with ruffle, and dress length. We just love the gathered skirt, the sweetness of the flounce and the ruffle dress, and I especially love how quick it was to sew up!

Mama Catherine features the same yoke and sleeve options as the girl’s version. Mama Catherine length options include top, tunic, dress, and curved hem dress length. There’s no mama ruffle length, though it wouldn’t be hard to draft your own ruffle if you are dying to have that option!

Catherine

This mustard & white striped double brushed polyester from Knitpop was perfect for this Catherine (curved lined yoke, ruffle dress, hi low flounce sleeve). I paired it with Bonny leggings now that we’re finally getting some chilly weather!

(Striped DBP – Knitpop; Floral DBP – Sincerely Rylee Fabric; Burgundy flats – Target; Boots – Amazon)

The other two versions I made feature flounce hacks; you can check out the full post I did for those over here! The burgundy floral finished shorter than the actual ruffle dress pattern is intended, but it will be perfect as a tunic!

(Burgundy floral velvet – Knitpop; Green Floral – Sincerely Rylee)

Dolly Catherine

Despite the teeny tiny pieces, Dolly Catherine was still worth it. So much cuteness!

Mama Catherine

The Mama Catherine is just as stunning as the girls’ Catherine pattern! I made three different versions during testing (and have made several others since), and I just can’t bring myself to pick a favorite! This pink floral version is the curved tunic length with long sleeves. I like my tops a little longer, so I would personally wear this as top length.

Full disclosure – I really thought I would hate the flounce sleeve on the mama dress. I offered to test any option, but secretly planned to chop off the flounces as soon as pictures were done so I could just hem the sleeve.  Turns out, I actually really love it! This red Mama Catherine is curved dress length with a hi low flounce sleeve and a lined curved yoke. The red is a bamboo spandex blend from Knitpop. I used a red stretch lace that I scored on Amazon lined with a beige colored double brushed polyester from my stash. The lace yoke is definitely my favorite part!

As always, I love to see just how versatile different pieces can be. I had fun pairing this Mama Catherine curved length dress with other Made for Mermaids/Patterns for Pirates pieces, plus a few ready-to-wear items and accessories for these 12 easy looks. Check out my full styling post here

Grab your copy of Mama Catherine, Catherine, Dolly Catherine, or you can grab the limited time bundle while it’s available!

Happy sewing 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links*

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Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Projects

Although I’m itching to get to December and celebrate all things Christmas, I still love the  warmth and comfort Thanksgiving brings. We usually dive head first into Christmas crafts, but I decided to pull in a few more fall themed projects this year.

The first project my kids and I tackled are these fun DIY napkins. I love how wild the little turkeys turned out!

Materials –

  • cloth napkins (we used cheap ones from WalMart; they were $1.97 for a pack of 2)
  • fabric paint
  • scrap paper or small pieces of cardboard (to put underneath the part you are painting)
  • paper plates or palettes
  • fine paintbrush(es)

I folded the napkins for both kids to give them a better sense of where to put the feathers. I made sure to put a piece of scrap paper in between the layer they were painting and the rest of the napkin to prevent bleeding through.

To make the turkey feathers, my son dipped his whole finger in paint, but I painted my daughter’s hands with a brush.

We found that the feathers came out best if we did one feather at a time.

For the bodies and heads, I painted the pinky side of their fist brown.

Once the feathers and bodies were completely dry, the kids hand painted the details on. Well, E and I painted them. Bee is not a detail kind of gal yet!

I considered adding a vinyl “grateful” to the top, but I found some flocked leaves that I wanted to set out with the place settings, so I left the text off. It was fun letting the kids create something that we’ll use when our company comes next week!

The second “project” was a fun little word search from Education.com! The former teacher in me loves to find little opportunities here and there to get a little bit of “school” in during our down time, so these word searches were perfect for my son. Education.com is offering the word search to my readers (and me) for free; when you get a chance, hop on over to their website to see what other fun, themed resources are available!

The holiday season is here! Get your family into the holiday spirit with this fun pumpkin pie word search! There’s more themed reading fun and resources at Education.com!

You can download the free word search here, and the answer key here. Enjoy!