April 16, 2015

Do You Really Need More Than This?

This quote.
It has been sitting with me for a while.

Slow Gifting

Even though the original purpose of this text has nothing to do with gift-giving, it really speaks to it, don't you think?  I keep returning to this book.

I have started an ongoing process of decluttering our home, inspired by Tania at Manusmade and have just been thinking about all the material objects that we have, keep and gift.

What purpose do they serve?
How can we gift thoughtfully, but also in a more mindful and practical way so as not to clutter the lives of others?

Then. This article from The Art of Simple came my way about minimizing kids toys.  I shared it on my Facebook page and got a great response from many of you. A family travelling the world and living out of backpacks (with just a few toys).  So powerful.
How much do we really need to spark imagination, creativity and joy in gift-giving?

I have written about these #slowgifting topics before, like MORE, 3 Simple Tips to take the Stress out of Gifting, and other posts in this category, but I, like everyone, need regular reminders and inspiration.

I'm planning to give more experience gifts this year. I'm sending pretty packages by mail.  I'm giving books that can be read and donated, or passed along afterwards.
Or for children, homemade gifts that can spark imagination and be played with for a shorter period of time, then easily disposed of, or passed along, if necessary.

Does this quote speak to you as well?
I'd love to hear from you.


Book Source: Sabbath by Wayne Muller.

April 09, 2015

Handmade Marathon: Violet's Buds

Editor's Note:  I recently participated in a snail mail "swap" with Melanie of Violet's Buds.  I sent her a Petit Mail card for her daughter, and she sent me this beautiful purple hair clip for NJ. We LOVE getting surprises in the mail! Let's meet Melanie and learn a little more about her business.

Purple Handmade Hair Clip



(+) Tell us about your business

My shop Violet's Buds is full of handmade accessories for all ages. The majority of the fabrics used in my pieces are either remnants, or are upcycled from clothing & linens. Beads, pendants, & buttons in Violet's Buds accessories come from old & sometimes broken costume jewelry, old clothing, or scouted out at flea markets. I re-purpose the materials into one of a kind pieces. This allows me to reduce waste, and give new life to otherwise forgotten items.

In addition, I write a blog that includes crafts, tutorials, recipes, and features other handmade and indie shops weekly.

(+) How did you get started?

When my daughter was 6 months old I decided to try making her some cute hair accessories. It quickly became an addiction, and I began making clips and headbands for my nieces and friends. After encouragement from friends and family, I opened Violet's Buds in March of 2011. I started by selling headbands and clips for young girls, and have expanded to include hair accessories for all ages, fabric jewelry, photo props, newborn crowns, and holiday ornaments. I also make custom maternity sashes and wedding accessories upon request. I just started a new line of hoop art decor that uses the same fabrics and flowers as the hair accessories.



Embroidery


(+) The gal behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your Saturday mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc.

I'm Melanie, and I am a happily married stay at home mom with an energetic preschooler. My husband Scott is crafty as well and owns the shop GipsonWands. We like to spend the weekends having family time, and each do our own crafty projects when our daughter has "quiet playtime."
In addition to making hair accessories and hoop art, I enjoy photography, reading, and blogging. I am passionate about animal rescue and have been a foster family for dogs in the past.


(+) What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?

I greatly enjoy the creative process and the therapeutic outlet that crafting gives me. I've always been drawn to art, photography and crafts. I am inspired by the fabrics I receive, my daughter and her style, nature, and by brainstorming with other crafters. Recently I've attended monthly craft dates with Cody from Lu & Ed, and Kelly from Kiser Krafts. Being around other talented people is very motivating and really gets my creativity flowing. 



Handmade Hair Clip


(+) What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?

Balancing work and personal life is a constant challenge for me. One of my main goals is to become better organized, both in business and my personal life, and stick to a schedule to prevent burnout. I believe if I can become more organized that it will improve my business.


(+) What is the best gift you have ever given or received?

One of my favorite gifts that I've received was from my dad. For my wedding he gave me a portrait that he had painted of me when I was a child.

The best gift that I have given recently was this set of handmade Harry Potter peg people from Landon's Toy Box. My husband is a big Harry Potter fan and the peg people were a big hit.
Handmade Hair Clip


(+) How do you celebrate special occasions?

For the most part, our celebrations are fairly low key. We do try to have a fun party with friends & family for my daughter's birthday. Its easy to get inspired by Pinterest birthday party ideas!


(+) What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)

It's not often that I make time for only myself! I do enjoy having a cup of coffee and reading a good book, sometimes while soaking in a hot bath.


You can find more Violet's Buds here: 


Shop (+) Blog (+) Facebook (+) Twitter (+) Pinterest


p.s. this is a beautiful photo that Melanie took of her daughter learning + exploring with her Petit Mail story card "Oliver Explores Art".  Thanks Melanie!



Educational Story Card


April 02, 2015

Creative Easter Basket Fillers

For the past few years, I've been sharing some creative inspiration for filling your child's Easter basket.  The contents grow with NJ, who is now 4.  

This year I'm keeping things simple with some stickers, a few treats, and a little DIY play set for dramatic play! 

Easter Treat Toppers

Doctor Dramatic Play

(+) Free Printable BUNNY TAILS bag topper from Frog Prince Paperie.  I filled the clear treat bags with colourful mini marshmallows.

(+) A DIY play prescription pad from the blog testy yet trying, and Plush Pals Clinic fabric bandaids for pretend play.  


You can find more inspiration for Easter basket fillers on my Hop! Hop! Hop! Pinterest board. 

Happy Easter!
Alison



March 26, 2015

Things I'm Gifting vol. 4

If you follow me on Instagram, I've been sharing glimpses at gift wrap + pretty packages.
I hope that this inspires you to create some beautifully wrapped gifts of your own!



Gold Pen Gift Wrap

Beautiful Gift Wrap


(+) Gifts wrapped in plain white paper (a beautiful blank canvas)
(+) Making my own gift wrap with a gold pen + doodle lines
(+) A handmade gift tag with washi tape, a wooden star painted with gold, an "open me" tag (via omiyage) and a simple grey ribbon. 


Yours in Thoughtful Gifting,

Alison

March 17, 2015

Children's Pen Pal Exchange + Letter Writing Kits


A while ago, when interviewing me for a blog post about my Petit Mail products, Zina at Let's Lasso The Moon asked me if I had a pen pal as a child. It got me thinking...

Children's Pen Pal

I loved having a pen pal and I love snail mail.  The idea of providing a pen pal match-up for children seemed like a perfect fit.  So I teamed up with Kaitlyn of isavirtue paper co. to create this limited edition children's pen pal exchange + letter writing kit.  Deadline to sign up is MARCH 31!

Pen Pal Exchange


Here's How It Works:

With each purchase, your child will receive a beautiful letter-writing kit and will be matched with a pen pal from somewhere else in the world. Open to International pen pals & we will try to match-up similar ages. 
There are only 20 18 kits available, so this really is a special project of CONNECTION.  
The Pen Pal Exchange will encourage children to practice their writing, and more importantly, to develop a love of sending and receiving mail and to learn a little bit about another place in the world. 


Each Letter-Writing Kit includes the following:
(+) 3 envelopes: 2 kraft with mint embossed fox, 1 teal with gold embossed fox
(+) 3 sheets of plain lined writing paper: teal fox in lower right hand corner
(+) 1 gold pencil: "THIS IS A TEXT MSG"
(+) 1 postage stamp to mail a letter to your pen pal's destination.
(+) A Pen Pal "tips sheet" with ideas of what to include/share in your pen pal letters.
(+) A hand-written note sharing the name, age, and location of your pen pal match!


Letter Writing Kit


You can sign-up for one of the 20 pen pal exchange spaces here:


Don't forget, the deadline to sign up is March 31!

Pen Pal for Kids



This project wouldn't be possible without my amazing partnership with isavirtue who designed and created the stationery for the pen pal exchange.  Hooray for Connection!

 photo isavirtue-Full-Logo1_zpsrxfqzjgh.jpg




If you love this idea, but your child is too young for a pen pal exchange, you might want to consider a  Petit Mail story card subscription, perfect for ages 3 - early reader.


Creative Mama on Urban Parent St. John's

Something I hear a lot.
"oh you're so creative.  I'm not......I wish I was".

This is mostly targeted toward the things I do with my 4 year old daughter NJ.

The truth is, most of the time I don't FEEL very creative. I have amazingly good intentions.  I WANT to do creative activities with her all the time.  I have Pinterest boards filled with inspiration of things we can do together.  It is just the actual ACT of DOING that becomes a problem.

Slowly I'm learning and figuring out (let's be honest, we'll never have it all figured out) to make creativity work for me, and for her.

Creating With Kids

For me, it has all been coming down to two things, plan & prepare.

1. Plan
(+) Figure out a few things that you would like to create with your child.

(+) Keep it simple, simple, simple (save ideas on a Pinterest Board like my Family Time inspiration or bookmark them to remind you later)

(+) Think outside the box.  Creativity doesn't have to involve glue and paint. It can be building a fort together (engineering anyone?), baking cookies, or making a nature collage.

(+) Start with things that feel like they are in your comfort zone!

Read the full post, and learn more about the creative projects I'm preparing for this month, visit the Urban Parent St. John's blog! 

March 07, 2015

{from the blog archive} The Celebration is More Important Than the Gift

Editor's Note: If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I have been sharing glimpses into preparations for creating some new birthday traditions.  I'll share those soon, but in the meantime, this post from The Petit Cadeau archive is still really meaningful to me (and hopefully to you too)


Happy Birthday cake topper by Hana at Hello Plum Studio


This post has been sitting in my brain for a while.  Waiting for the right time to share with you. The value of celebrations and traditions as part gifting has been gaining more and more importance for me lately. 

As a child, I do not remember the specific gifts I received for birthdays and holidays.  Of course, a few stand out, especially if there was something that I really wanted that year, but for the most part the material gifts did not mark the occasion. 

Do you know what moments really stand out from my childhood?  The traditions.

Special Valentine's Day cookies that were only made once a year  
Easter chocolate hunts with hand-written notes in special Easter Bunny writing (I wish I still had some of those) 
Table set in the same way each year for specific celebrations

It was special.  It was important. It was family.  

If you're feeling monumentally stressed out about trying to "do it all", just stop.  Gather a few ideas below for simple celebrations and traditions.  Pick what works best for you, or create your own tradition. 


(+) I've recently finished Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home where she writes about her tradition of celebrating holiday breakfasts.
(+) Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom has compiled two video shorts about Birthday Traditions.  I love these, they are a must-watch!
Birthday Traditions Part 1  //  Birthday Traditions Part 2
(+) Create a yarn trail leading to little gifts
(+) Do it Yourself Birthday crowns like this, or this

Honor moments in the same way every year.  That's the perfect gift