Being a crafts fair vendor (minus the vendor fee!)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yesterday was my second time being a crafts vendor at the church I attend. It was hosted by MOPS, which I was a part of for a year or so. This year, my friend Alice and I shared a table (and the best part was, there was no vendor fee so no pressure to break even…purely for fun!). I didn't make that many new items since I had a lot of inventory in stock. Alice had some amazing notecards and prints that she packaged so professionally and beautifully…and illustrated all herself. I'm glad our table had an assortment of different items and looked full. Unfortunately, many vendors (including ourselves) noticed that shoppers were not buying much in general. Oh well, it was a fun, learning experience that allowed me to feel like a crafter ;). 

Our red polka-dotted table cover  is from Daiso for $1.50. It really added some cheer and color!


My side of the table: the usual chalkboard frames, teacup candles, hair accessories…and new this year, owl die cuts ready to be assembled on mason jars for party favors. These are my etsy shop bestsellers, but no one took the bait yesterday…although lots of shoppers stopped just to look at the little critters.

     
 Alice's print on the right was inspired by T.S Elliot's poem "The Wasteland." I vaguely remember it from HS or college, and might need to re-read it to fully appreciate the depth of meaning in her artwork.

Unscented and Gardenia-scented soy wax candles.

Hair clips and earrings for little and big girls alike.

My favorite is the socks notecard above right. It has 6 pairs of J. Crew-looking prints with one missing…hence the print, "Missing you."

Notecard packs and screen-printed tote bags.


Our table before the shopping began. The succulent in the teacup was from another vendor who potted the most adorable little plants. It added a nice touch to our table, dontcha think :)? There were 24 tables in total but I didn't have time to take shots of all the goodies. It was so nice that a couple of my friends came to show support. I think half my sales were from friends I invited…tee hee.

Valentine's Day and a new year of firsts

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The momentum and energy of this new year has been good and I've done a lot of new things that have scared me in the past or seemed too hard. Here are just some of those new things.

1) Purchased a new Prius. I was driving a Honda Odyssey and wondered time and again why I needed such a big, gas-guzzling car for just Audrey and myself. Letting go of the car (now I just need to sell it!) is symbolic of letting go my past life and hopes. Now this car feels like it's more for me and appropriate for this season in life. Audrey even named him (yes, she said our car is a boy) Rocco, which is a pet rock on Sesame Street. I find this to be the perfect name bc of this special verse God has given me on important dates: Psalm 62:2 "He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." So now Audrey and I drive the Rock!

2) Not really a fear, but being okay and actually excited about Valentine's day, pink hearts and all. My sister and I hosted a clothing swap a couple wknds ago and I decided to use what I had on hand to make it a V-day theme. Washi tape flags on striped paper straws and heart punch-outs taped on toothpicks for cheese cubes and saucy meatballs.

3) I'm including the following bc I felt like it shows I let go of my need for perfectionism. I would normally stress about coming up with a unique, completely homemade craft but  I instead made something super easy for Audrey's Vday party. I found a free printable here and already had washi tape and clear cello bags at home. I bought some microwaveable popcorn, heart sprinkles, filled up the bags and called it a day. 

4) Valentine's day this year was more fun than when I was married! I shot a gun for the first time and hung out with some amazing ladies who are truly God-sent. Why does the 14th have to exclusively be about romantic love? It can be love for friends and family too! These little critters below are filled with homemade granola for special friends.

You would never guess from this picture that I was such poor shot. Well, my first bullet hit the target's adam apple ;). Holding a gun, loading the bullets, and pulling the trigger really scared me bc I kept on thinking of all the things that could go wrong and that the shooting range would somehow appear in the news the next day. Morbid I know.


Yay, out of 20 shots I managed to get 1 in the shaded area. Look at how accurate the other girls were! All in all, I'm happy I went and experienced a new challenge with fun, encouraging friends.

Entryway makeover: drab to fab

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Friday, February 7, 2014

For nearly 3 decades, my parents have kept their entryway in the house exactly the same, with the exception of swapping out one shoe bench for another (exciting, I know). They finally gave me free reign to make the entrance more inviting and functional. Yay! The only caveat being the new pieces had to match the style of the living room, which was also visible from the front door.

WORSE: I found this lovely shoe bench from World Market (the slip cover was custom made to fit my mom's grandma taste ;). I personally loved the dual functions, but my dad complained that it was too tall for him to change his shoes on. Here it is shown in all its glory after being moved out of the entryway. The orders were to sell it (it's still on sale at a very reasonable price on Craiglist…any takers?).

LESS WORSE: Just for kicks, we moved some furniture from the living room into the entryway in front of the curved staircase where the bench previously resided. The proportions were all wrong (chairs were bulky and jutted out so much that the walkway in front felt claustrophobic). The mood seemed too serious and formal. The flowers and vase were much too small.  But everyone did like the new arrangement more than the awkward shoe bench here. There was more vertical dimension since the chairs had high backs. Off to Home Goods to shop we went in search of new chairs and a small table.

BETTER: Score, we found some more modern, less stuffy chairs at Home Goods that were decently priced. My mom and I couldn't decide on a middle table so purchased two. Here is the first one: simple, nothing special.

STILL BETTER: We went with this iron table table that was more visually interesting and unique. Both the height and dimensions were appropriate for the space.

BEST: There was a round area rug sitting sadly on the floor right when anyone entered the front door. I put it under the table, added a frame that was in the guest room, and made the table feel less empty. The fresh flowers have since wilted and been replaced with some pink fabric tulips. Both Miss Audrey and my dad love sitting here to put on/remove their shoes. I like to put my purse and jacket here so I don't forget them on my way out. What do you think?

Library organization in an elementary school classroom

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Monday, January 27, 2014

January is Get Organized (GO) month and even though there is only 1 wk left (how did that happen?!), I thought I'd shared a mini-project I helped a dear friend with over the summer before school started. M has been an elementary school teacher for over TEN years and has a built a robust library for her kids to enjoy. However, her collection had grown so large that the books were getting out of control and the kids were unable to find what they wanted. We probably had 500-700 books to sort through and I thought the project would take MUCH longer than it actually did. After just 2 sessions of about 3 hours each, we had a new reading corner for the kids. And Miss Audrey left with about 50 "new" books to add to our collection at home…score! Oh, and the best part was that we spent $0 on shelving and bins bc we just re-purposed what was already available.

As usual, I wish I took more "before" photos. Here are just a few to give you an idea of what we started out with.

BEFORE: cracked bins overflowing with books of all subjects and genres with no relation to each other. Shown here is about a fourth of what M had accumulated over the years. I don't blame her for feeling overwhelmed.


DURING: we first emptied out each and every single bin and tossed ones that were clearly falling apart and no longer usable. Along the way, we found lots of crayons, pencils and little notes students had scribbled on. 

Slowly but surely, we started putting books in piles that were alike: weather, holidays, cultures, special people (firemen, MLK, etc), animals, science, health and nutrition, series books (like Disney or Sesame Street). It helped that M knew within seconds which books were too easy and not age-appropriate as well. Guess who got to be the lucky recipient of these and duplicate books :)? Books that were tattered and old went to the public library (sorry, but it felt better than tossing them!). We did throw away a good number that were missing pages or covers.


The initial round of sorting was as basic as hardcover vs. softcover!

Because the animal pile grew to be quite extensive, we further broke it down by land, sea animals, insects, reptiles, etc. M used label names that mirrored her curriculum subjects.


Shown below are lovely buckets that housed books that made sense together. We had to refine the categories over and over bc some piles were too small while others were exploding out of the bins. We combined and separated to our hearts' delight until the post-its really made sense for M. I had her do the bulk of naming and just brainstormed with her bc I didn't want it to be my system. It had to be intuitive to her when I left.


 Rows upon rows of organized literature!


Our main obstacle was not having tiered shelving readily available. M didn't want to spend any money so we made do with what we could find in the empty classroom next door. Bins were also placed strategically next to each other. All the animal bins, for example, were grouped together on the shelves.

AFTER: a library that allowed the students to visually identify quickly what subject matter they wanted to read. I told M that maintenance is key and that she would do well to enlist different students each day or week to make sure all the right books were in the right bins (and of course, it would be a reward for someone to be chosen as the class "librarian" :). After I left, M took the time to color code each bin. The climate bin, for example, would have a dark blue sticker and all the books housed in that bin would each get a blue sticker dot. The culture books could be red and the vegetation books green. If she ran out of colors, she could do multiple dots.


AFTER: an uncluttered reading area. The display shelf below could house special books from that week's lesson.


MAKE IT PRETTY: If M really wanted to, she could have invested in new clear bins that were all the same size for easy stacking on shelves. A label maker could have made the post-its "pretty" and chrome shelving or matching bookshelves would have been icing on the cake. But a free, functional library maintained by the students was priceless! And I'm happy to report that half a year later, she's still pleased with the system that we put into place in just 2 short sessions (one of which Audrey was present for :).



QUICK TIPS:
  • Don't be afraid to refine and re-do your category names, whether it's for books or file folders. Be flexible and relax…it's only a post-it or label sticker.
  • Don't be afraid to toss or donate what no longer fits. One man's junk is another man's...
  • Come up with names that make sense to you intuitively, not what you think the names should be (bugs vs. insects, car stuff vs. automobile insurance).
  • Have a maintenance plan in place. Figure out how you'll return things to their rightful "homes" (color coding or number system). If there is more than one person sharing the space, how can you enlist helpers?
  • Have fun and be excited with your new space and system!!

Classroom Minnie Mouse Party for Audrey's 4th birthday--one month and one day ago!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Audrey's 4th birthday was 1 month and 1 day ago today (Dec. 14). I haven't even posted parties of her pony/farm party from last year since I was on my blogging hiatus. So I consider this post a jump start….ha! Even before Audrey turned one, I promised myself I would only throw her birthday parties every other year (and for the big years like 5 and 10, etc). I'm proud to say that I stuck to my promise. And the best part is that she didn't even really notice because now that she's in pre-school, she had 17 classmates and 2 teachers celebrating with her. But a classroom party didn't mean I skipped out on the opportunity to craft!

Audrey picked (surprise) Minnie Mouse for her party theme. Here are the party bags for the girls and boys. Contents of the girl bags: Minnie markers, coloring sheets rolled up into a scroll, stickers, Minnie ring, handmade hair clip, and Minnie (or Mickey) Mouse chocolate covered pretzels. All in all, each bag cost a whopping $1.50 or less. Some of A's classmates gave out full-sized stuffed animals! Oh well, my bags were made with love and time :).


The boy bags had all the same items except for the hair clips. I couldn't find any Disney erasers so just settled for some dino ones I found at Target. 




 I decided to make hair clips bc I already had some snap clips on hand (my mom bought me way too many from Asia). I ordered some Minnie shaped rhinestones from eBay (30 pieces for $3!).

I wanted the goody bags (i.e., junk bags) to be cost effective as possible. I googled some coloring pages online and printed them half size so I could print both Minnie and Mickey on one page. Sticking them directly into the goody bag made them crumply bc they were too wide so I just scrolled them up and tied with some scrap ribbon. I'm sure there was an element of surprise as the eager little hands untied the scrolls…right, right?


Markers I got from Michaels and Toys R Us.

Hairclips for the girls and dinos for the boys. If I knew how to sew I would have considered (key word) making little bow ties for the boys.

Minnie and Mickey plastic rings (could be used as cupcake toppers) I again purchased from eBay for $7 for 2 dozen.

Little cellophane bags from Michael's (these were on clearance and I had some additional coupons :)

Stickers are like kid currency!

Labels and cupcake toppers I made from Disney scrapbook paper and toothpicks. Also downloaded a free Disney font for the stickers.

Some paper accessories: plates, napkins (from Daiso), cupcake wrappers and banner (that I forgot to use).

Minnie and Mickey sugar cookies I made with rainbow pareils on the ears.

Per the birthday girl's request: strawberry cupcakes and cream cheese frosting. My first time piping frosting…and I need more practice.

My little mouseling as the guest of honor about to blow out her candle, which she actually blew out for the first time ever in her life!

So cute how everyone sang "God's blessings to you" at the end of happy birthday.

Love her teachers and her school!

On her actual birthday the next morning opening the only gift she wanted--a Doc McStuffins doctor kit.

 Mama Panda Bear and Baby Panda Bear celebrating with family at her favorite restaurant--Honda Ya (this girl has high standards when it comes to her shrimp tempura).
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