Monday, December 29, 2008

A Foodie in Training

In many ways, my daughter is a typical toddler. She loves to touch everything, she's incredibly curious and she's a very picky eater. If we let her, I think she would live off of cheese, Joe's O's (Trader Joe's answer to Cheerios), Clementine oranges, beans and rice. 

She may resist trying new foods at the table, but she absolutely loves the felt food and shopping cart we bought for her for Christmas this year. Everything you see in her tiny shopping cart was purchased from my favorite felt food grocer, Etsian BeckyM.

Already, my little miss enjoys pointing out each fruit, veggie or pancake for me to name. And she gets a kick out of pretending to eat them. Maybe eating the real thing isn't that far off!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tiny People Big Adventures

The Etsy community is filled with artists and crafters selling beautiful and unique pretend play items that help parents preserve the magic of childhood. This post is part of my weekly writing series, "Imagination at Play". Stay tuned for more next Friday!

Once again, Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye. After wading through a sea of torn wrapping paper and stepping over shiny new toys, most parents are exhausted from the day's excitement and looking for a little quiet time. 

But what if you didn't plan ahead and buy your little ones a few "quiet toys" like coloring books, dolls or building blocks? Take a deep, cleansing breath. There's a place you can go to find a special after-Christmas gift that will transport your little one on fantastic adventures, while at the same time give yourself the gift of a little "mommy" or "daddy" time.

Etsy shop PsAndQs is well stocked with hand painted playsets that are sure to inspire grand fairytale adventures and daring journeys around the world. Shop owner Bonnie breathes life into each wooden doll and playscape, employing an artistic touch and adding a bit of love to each element.

Bonnie's playsets were originally inspired by her son. When he was younger, they'd drop by the local recycling center where they'd pick out a large piece of wood. After heading home, Bonnie would clean up the board, then paper mache a landscape onto it. Her son loved playing with his moonscape and today enjoys driving his tiny off-road vehicles on a desert landscape that Bonnie dreamed up just for him.

Like many artists, Bonnie finds inspiration in everyday objects. "The inspiration for my designs mainly come from seeing that single part and wondering, 'Hmmmm, what could that be?' And before I know it I am rummaging through my craft supplies accumulating items to create a new playset or robot."

Bonnie works as a counselor for children who are struggling in one way or another. Her tiny office is packed with her playsets for use in therapeutic play. At the end of the day, creating these tiny worlds is its own kind of therapy for Bonnie: "Coming home and making playsets helps to keep me grounded. It reminds me what childhood is all about and how wonderfully healing our imaginations can be."

Whether your little peanut loves dreaming up fairy tales or more realistic adventures to exotic locales, I encourage you to take a look in PsAndQs. You're sure to find a tiny fairy, rainbow girl grandpa or grandma designed to make your child's dreams come alive.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stasis Pods

Where do Transformers sleep? In stasis pods, of course. 

This is one of six stasis pods that I'm making for a friend, whose 4-year-old son loves Transformers. 

Three stasis pods have the Autobots logo on the front, while the other three have the Decepticons logo. Each one has some nifty buttons, and a gauge or screen for imaginative play. All of these goodies have been stitched on by hand. I lined the stasis pods with Transformers fabric and sewed on some velcro to make it easy for little hands to open and close.

I think they'll make a pretty cool Christmas gift. I hope he likes them too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Handmade Tale - Part 3

Today's post is the third (and final) installment in a fairy tale my mom wrote and illustrated for me when I was 9 years old. 

Didn't catch the beginning? You can still read the first and second installments.

The end! I hope you enjoyed this handmade tale. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Handmade Tale - Part 2

Today's post is the second installment in a fairy tale my mom wrote and illustrated for me when I was 9 years old.

Didn't catch the beginning? You can read the first installment here.

Stayed tuned for the final installment of "The Princess and the Dragon"... to be posted tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Handmade Tale - Part 1

My mom loved making special Christmas gifts for me each year. One year, she and my dad built and decorated a dollhouse. The year I turned 9 years old, she wrote, illustrated and bound a very special book just for me. It was a fairy tale called "The Princess and the Dragon", starring me as the heroine. She artfully wove in the names of my friends, family members, favorite toys, dolls and even the places I liked to hang out. 

Since it's nearly Christmas, I thought I'd share this little story over the next few days. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stay tuned for the next installment of "The Princess and the Dragon" tomorrow!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maybe It Was the Ninja Turtles

I was 10 years old when I was elected Secretary at Holy Rosary Academy. At the time, it was completely unheard of for a 5th grader to win a school-wide election. School yard politics were dominated by the much cooler 7th and 8th graders.

Somehow, though, I managed to edge out a victory over a popular 7th grade girl. Did my campaign promises of a break-time popsicle/ice cream stand propel me to victory? Maybe.

I like to think my campaign buttons (er... stickers) won over my constituents. I'm sure kids these days make their campaign goodies on the computer, but back in the '80s we still had to make everything by hand. Someone in my family had the brilliant idea to capitalize on every kid's love for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My mom and I somehow convinced my artistic older brother to draw a few for my stickers. She then made a bunch of copies, which I colored, cut out and sealed between two sheets of contact paper. 

I'd vote for whoever Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael or Leonardo supported. Wouldn't you?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Breathing Room

My first craft show has come and gone and I finally feel as though I have some breathing room. I brought my camera with me but got so excited that I forgot to take a picture of my booth. Oh, well.

The show was great. It felt so good to set up my table, chat with customers and sell so many of my fun little goodies. I'm definitely going to be ready for the next one. In fact I'm thinking about applying to be a vendor at an upcoming Indie Sacramento show. And after spending all of my free time at my sewing machine these last few weeks, it feels good to take a break and just be.

Maybe I'll read a book. Maybe I'll spend more time here on my blog... I've been so busy and tired lately that I haven't even had time for my Friday night writing project. Or maybe I'll give in to temptation and sneak a few more moments at my sewing machine.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Last Minute Prep

With only a few days left until my first craft fair, I decided to do a test run on my table set-up to make sure everything would fit. I've only got 3.5-by-4 feet of space to work with so I have to make every inch count. Fortunately, my craft table is exactly the same size as the table I'm going to be using at the craft fair, which afforded me the luxury of doing a dry run at home to see how everything will look on Friday.

The baskets were a Black Friday find at JoAnn's, which wasn't a bad experience... unless you were one of the many folks waiting in the very long line at the cutting table. Thankfully, I was just there for baskets, crayons for my Crayon Wallets, and card stock for my signs. 

All in all, I think it looks pretty awesome and will only need a few tweaks before Friday. It's wonderful to finally see all of my hard work on display. I still have a few things left to do to get ready. One of the diaper change pads for a Baby Care Set needs a snap and I have a pink monster tail to create. And of course, I'm going to see if I can squeeze a few more Crayon Wallets out before the big day.