February 23, 2011

{dolls, dolls, dolls!}

I know Ella June is only 8.5 months old, but she already has a best friend. Her name is Alivia Rae (we call her Ali) and her mom and I are best friends too! In fact we've been best friends since we were in the 2nd grade, almost 20 years! Ali's mom and I grew up dreaming of being in each other's weddings, and raising our kids as best friends, so when we both got engaged (4 weeks apart) and got married (4 weeks apart) AND were pregnant at the same time (had our babies 6 months apart) it was like a dream come true! Ella and Ali were destined to be best buddies. Really though, they have no choice.

Ali turned one recently and this is the special little gift that came from Ella (made by me). It's a handmade doll. I can just picture the girls now playing pretend with their dolls. Growing up remembering how special it is to have a best friend.
I made Ali's doll with pigtails, just like how her momma likes to fix her hair. She also has vintage lace and brown ball trim at the waist, green stockings with ric rac trim, and the sweetest two hearts on the chest (representing Ali and Ella) with an embroidered detail. Not pictured I also sewed down the sweetest little bow in her hair. It really put the doll over the top in cuteness and girlie factors. 

These photos were taken before I put two eyes and the tiniest red mouth on her (and of course the bow in her hair) to finish her off. She turned out so darling, and I can't wait to make Ella one of her own. <3

February 22, 2011

{free download: owl cupcake toppers}

Recently I shared about designing a suite of invitations and decorations for a friends baby shower, with the theme being owls. I thought I'd share how everything turned out with you. I'm not by any means a graphic designer, but I've been having a ton of fun lately designing invitations for friends. In fact this is my 4th! 

The invitation is sized to fit the Costco postcard when printed (4x6). The postcards are a great heavy card stock and are glossed. They really look beautiful and are a great option for inexpensive invite printing. Plus, you can put additional information on the back side (think clothing sizes, or registry information) and you always have the option to put them in envelopes if you don't want to send them out on their own as postcards (which I think is a darling idea). 

Here is the invite:
The details have been changed so don't think about crashing the party. :)

The water bottle labels. I printed these out on full sheet sticky paper and cut them out. They stick right on a standard sized water bottle. 

The cupcake toppers!

As promised, you can join in on the owl goodness and download the Owl Cupcake Toppers for free by clicking HERE. If anyone is interested in purchasing the invites, water bottle labels, and cupcake toppers customized with your child's info please feel free to send me an email and we may be able to work something out. Otherwise enjoy your download, and get to baking some cupcakes!

February 21, 2011

{project: car play mat}

I have been SOOOOO looking forward to sharing this project with all of you. I couldn't share it until after this last Saturday as it was a gift for a very special little boy, and I didn't want his Mom to see what I had been working so hard on for him.

Because it was a true labor of love I didn't take pictures along every step of the way, I did however take a lot of pictures, and I think you'll be able to navigate you way through how I made it. I free handed all of my buildings, trees, and the layout of the whole thing.

The great thing about this project is that you can put whatever you want on yours, and tailor it to your child's interests. If I were making one for Ella (which I will in the future) I'd do more female centered places, like the nail salon, and a cupcake shop. But for the birthday boy I stuck to police station and grocery store. :)

The basic idea is that it is a car play mat. Just so you get a feel for how big it is it's about 2ft by 2ft, just small enough to fold up and stick inside the diaper bag for a easy all-in-one toy on the go. It is complete with roads, stop signs, yield signs, a pond, grocery store, car wash, gas station, park (with slide and swings), a car lot, trees, flowers, grass, sand, and a neighborhood of houses.

The front is cotton, while the buildings and such are made of felt, and the back is soft flannel. The finished project was edged in coordinating seam binding. Everything was sewing down to ensure that it stays nice and secure, and will help to keep it around and in good condition to play with for a very long time.

Here are some photos of the process:
All of the completed buildings above, no roads. 

The neighborhood houses, and the beginnings of the park. The yellow piece is the slide, and two blue rectangles will be the swing set. 

The pond. This is my FAVORITE part of the project, and the part that I feel really makes it uniquely my design. I made the pond a zippered pocket so that you can stash matchbox cars in there. Now you'll never be without a car, and you wont lose them when you're done playing. GENIUS!!! :)

This is a close up of the grocery store, mail box, stoplight, and the flags for the car lot. 

Here is a view of the whole mat with the roads added. I used black felt for the roads, and hand embroidered the yellow dashed line. The white road markings are zigzag stitches done on my sewing machine. You can also see here that I used quilt batting (warm and natural I think?) in between the top and the back. You can also see here that the flannel I used on the back was a blue car print with various road signs. 

A close up of the grocery store, pond, car lot, a neighborhood house, and the park. There is also a stop sign and a yield sign in there as well. 

The neighborhood. Two houses and the park.

At the top of this photo you'll see the gas station (complete with a shoe lace as the gas hose), the police station, and the car wash. I used clear buttons as bubbles, and cut strips that move for the car wash scrubbers. 

Silly me, I didn't take a picture of the complete finished project so you could see it backed and with the light blue binding. Oh, well, I think you get the feel. 

Overall the project took me approx. 15-18 hours to complete. Yes, it was quite an investment of time for a 1st birthday present, but the quality is good and the birthday boy is sure to get years and years of enjoyment from it (I hope). I also hope that he keeps it as a keepsake. Handmade things like this always get me nostalgic.

 I can't wait to start another one of these. Now that I have one under my belt I think the next few I do will be less trial and error, and less time consuming. Nevertheless, it was worth every hour I put into it. I'd love to make a few up to put in the shop, but I'm not sure that the time it takes would justify a reasonable price. What do you think? Maybe I'll put one up and see how it does? Oh, and if anyone has questions about the project or the process ask away! I'd be more than happy to answer them.

February 20, 2011

{engagement photos}

I had planned to do this post on Valentines Day, believe me, after this you'll really be feeling the "love". :)

Here's a fun fact about me: in college I majored in Communications, and minored in Fine Art Photography. Yep, that's right the ooooold school way of taking pictures. Remember film? Digital was definitely the standard by 2003, but when I started college I decided to take the art seriously. I spent many a late night in the university's basement darkroom processing film, dodging and burning prints. One day I'll have to show you some of those photos...

Now I'm strictly digital in regards to my photography. I don't have a big bad expensive digital (I use a Nikon d60), but it works for blogging, snapping photos of Junebug, and the occasional random photo sesh.

Recently my best friends little sister got engaged, and I was asked to take a few photos of them to remember their engagement with. Of course I obliged, and here are a few of what came of it. They chose the location, the cutest old wooden bridge.

We had a lot of fun doing the photos, and this just proves that you don't need a big fancy camera to shoot some decent photos (i may have a minor in photography, but i'm no professional (and don't claim to be) plus, photoshop works wonders!).

February 18, 2011

{find a friend friday - link up!}

I've had a great week despite the fact that Ella was sick for most of it.  I hope you all had a great week too. You know the one thing that would make it better? Some new friends! Alissa over at Rags To Stitches Boutique and I decided to start a weekly linky party, and this week I'm being featured! Read below for some ramblings by me, and be sure to join the party. 

There are no rules, I just want to meet new people. But as you stop by I hope you like what you see and you'll follow me too! Leave me a comment and I'll follow you back!

Now go make some new friends!!

  "Find a Friend Friday" - Welcome to Week 3!

What inspires you?
Most of my inspiration comes from perusing designer fabrics, vintage children's patterns, Anthropologie (my favorite!), and my little girl Ella June. Everything that I make is inspired by my own personal tastes, and somewhere along the way that resonates with others who like them too!

What made you start your business?
When you have a seamstress as a mother it's safe to say you grew up sewing and crafting, and that I did! I had been blogging about my sewing and crafting for sometime, but when I found out I was pregnant with Ella, my sewing/crafting really kicked into high gear. It wasn't long until people were offering to pay me to make gifts and items for them and that's how I started selling my goods. 

What do you love most about what you do?
First off, I love that running my Etsy shop and blog gives me an outlet for my creative side, and a small break from the every day life of being a SAHM. Second, I love when people choose to buy things from me for their children; to me that's a huge compliment. 

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Strawberry. Mmmm, yum!

What's your favorite color?
It's a tie between Green and Pink! 

Wanna join in the fun? Here are the rules!
1. Follow Rags to Stitches and Abstract Grace
2. Meet some new friends
3. Leave a comment if you want us to follow you back!

Have fun!!

February 16, 2011

{baby shower, from far away}

During the short 6 months that I was in Southern California I had the immense pleasure of joining a MOPS group. It's a moms group for Mothers of Preschoolers (children 4 and under), and let me tell you it was a LIFESAVER! 

I met a group of amazing women and we had a great time once a week leaving our little ones in childcare while we listened to a speaker, did crafts, ate brunch and sipped coffee (mostly decaf). Although all of us had kids there were a few special ladies expecting little ones during the time I was there. 

I offered to help design a suite of decorations for a baby shower honoring one of the ladies. I'm sad that I had to move before the shower happens, but I know that i'll get pictures of how everything turn out, and i'll be sure to share them!

This included the invites (they turned out soooo cute!), cupcake toppers and water bottle labels for the shower. I'm going to do a full post soon so you can see how everything turned out and i'm thinking of doing a free download of the cupcake toppers as well, but until then here's a sneak peak the party goodies. Oh, and the theme is everyones favorite, Owls!

February 15, 2011

{sew busy}

This picture says it all. And let me be quite frank, filling all my recent Etsy orders in a 900 sqft apartment, with a now crawling 8 month old is quite the task! None the less, i'm thankful for the business, and am slowly finding a rhythm to my sewing and filling orders in this new {and uber tiny} environment. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have this room back!

February 14, 2011

{valentines day 2011}

I've got a lot to love around here: a beautiful daughter, a handsome husband, and a dang cute (but very lazy) cat.  Hope everyone has a great Valentines Day!

This Valentines template is from Florabella Designs. Check out their Facebook page HERE for lots of great (and FREE!) templates and photographer actions. 

February 13, 2011

{the paxton project, adoption fundraising raffle!}

I'm so excited to introduce you to the Miller family and let them tell you a little bit about their story, they're on a journey to adopt (again!) and need help from the blogging community. Read on for info on the family, and how you can support the cause (and get some great stuff in the process).

The Miller Family
The day they picked up Tysen
Here's their story in their own words:

"When I was 18, I had the chance to go to India on a mission trip.  The first thing that hit me upon my arrival was all the children there.  Not just children in general, but children who were homeless and living on the streets.  One encounter I had was with a little boy who had no arms and no legs.  According to my host, this little one had his arms and legs cut off by a "pimp" type individual.  Having the boy this way would manipulate compassion into people to give the little boy money for food to live.  His pimp however, would give the little boy just enough to eat and keep the rest of the money for himself.  As I picked this little boy up, my heart was broken and horrified at this situation.

 When I started dating my now husband Andy (15 years ago), I told him that it was in my heart to adopt all of my children.  I wanted to be a part of giving children who had no home, the opportunity to have a mommy and a daddy, and not have to live a life like the little boy in India.

 Since then it has always been our aim to adopt.  We always said our first child will be adopted and then we can proceed from there.  After Tysen, we felt God challange us if we would adopt all our children - we have gladly proceeded with a big YES!  We are passionate about this and we believe we will be a voice for others to encourage, challange, and inspire them to adopt.  

 In 2006, we adopted our son Tysen from South Korea.  The last 5 years have been life changing as he has changed our life forever.  The adoption process took 18 months at times it became exhausting.  The cost of it being $20,000 in itself stretched our faith in God well beyond what we had imagined, but in the end, after fund raisers, friends selling items on EBay, offerings, stock donations, etc...God provided every penny.

 About 5 months ago, we found ourselves in the ER at 1 am in the morning.  Tysen had a 106.7 degree temperature, which to my understanding is close to brain damage and even death.  By the grace of God we made it through the night as the doctors restored Ty's temp to normal.  The next day, I found out that I had just had a miscarriage.  It was a very exhausting and emotional fall season.

 We haven't aimed to prevent having our own children, but the miscarage and not getting pregnant was not the main reason for adoption - It is who we are and what we long passionately to do.   
 About a month ago, we had really been praying about pursuing a second adoption.  In the midst of this, Tysen began to appeal to us saying he wanted a sister that looked like him.  He said he wanted to take a van and go to Korea and get about 10 kids who needed a family and bring them back home to live with us.  After much family conversation, we applied again for adoption and received our acceptance package in early January 2011. 

 Things were going well until last week, when our agent (who is a wonderful lady that helped us with Ty's adoption), emailed me saying, “I wanted to mention that South Korea now requires you to have almost all the $30,000 for the adoption fees, in your bank account showing you can afford it.”  For Tysen, we had been allowed to gradually pay and raise the funds over an 18 month period.  But now we are targeting in on an April 30th target date of raising the $30,000.  Basically about 3 months.  This would not seem like such a desperate thing, but one additional piece of information from our agent is that Korea is looking to close their adoption program @ the end of 2011 (unless you are already in process), and that our agency is taking limited applicants.  Currently, we are one of those applicants.  But we need to keep our adoption moving forward and we look too passionately, with the hand of God do everything we can to raise this $30,000 and bring our little baby home.

 You may ask any questions you want.  We are an open book for the world.  Thanks again for your heart towards our lives and this adoption.  We are eternally grateful. Much Love - Andy, Rachel & Tysen Miller"

After hearing that they wanted to adopt again Alissa, from the blog/Etsy store Rags To Stitches Boutique decided to put a call out to the blogging community for help. Alissa has generously put together a raffle to raise money for the Miller's adoption. More about that to come!

 The Miller's have decided that whether they are blessed with a boy or a girl, they want to name their little one Paxton, and so The Paxton Project was born!

Along with my own contribution of items from my Etsy store to the raffle, I designed a button for The Miller Family and the cause. Here it is:


Do you want to get involved? Here's How:
Here are a couple sneak peaks of some I've heard are already involved in donating to the raffle, there's more to be added, and LOTS of great stuff to bid on:

The raffle will be held from Monday, February 28 - Friday, March 4, 2011

This is where you all come in, dear friends.
If you'd like to participate - first of all, let me say a huge thank you. Please contact Alissa at ragstostitchesboutique@gmail.com and she will send you all the details for how to get involved.

Prayer Support - I truly believe God has His hand on this whole event, but any and all prayer support that God will provide for this family through this raffle would be so amazing.

Spread the word - Please email the link to this post to all your family and friends letting them know about this event, blog about this upcoming event, tweet about it, facebook about it, and I'd love it if you'd add The Paxton Project button on your blog (you can grab the button on the side of my blog page).

Ready to donate? - Alissa has added a "Donate Now" button to the upper right corner of her blog. If you feel led and want to donate money to help this family, please feel free to do so by clicking on the "Donate Now" button. Your financial support is so appreciated.

February 11, 2011

{baby mush, i mean food}

Ella is 8 months old! Wow, time really does fly. We waited until she was 6 months old to introduce any solids, but as soon as we did it seemed like she changed overnight from a tiny infant into a big girl baby (whatever that means) :)

I make all of Ella's food myself. I'm a little strict in the "it must be organic and freshly prepared" attitude. I mean, i'm not that strict, she does eat Earth's Best Organic jarred food from time to time, and i'm sure in a few years you'll see her with a Happy Meal every now and then, but I really want to stress the importance of eating healthy to her as a child and exposing her to different foods. I didn't have that growing up, and I think that overall being able to choose healthy choices on my own as an adult suffered.
yep, that's pureed peas, tofu, and pears, yum! 

The pros (besides being insanely healthy and preservative free) are that it's CHEAP! Buying organic veggies and fruits at the store (we shop at Trader Joe's) and cooking, pureeing, and freezing yourself really saves us money. I can get a few months worth of food for her on the budget for a few weeks of buying jarred food. The downside I suppose is that it's a little time consuming. I usually plan a few nights every month or so to make a few batches. It's not so bad, I promise. And it's EASY!

If you're thinking about making your own baby food, I suggest picking up the book Super Baby Food. It's the handbook for making your own, and every other piece of information you'd need to know about feeding an infant through toddlerhood. I highly recommend it!

February 10, 2011

{where the boys are}

My "Little Mr. Mustache Bib" was featured in another Etsy Treasury. It's a great mix of items for boys, and is titled "Where the Boys Are". Check it out!
Top row, last item on the right. :)

Here's a picture that a customer sent in with her son wearing the 
"Little Mr. Mustache Bib". He's adorable in it!

{red velvet!}

Doesn't this look yummy? Well, it was. :) Nothing beats a red velvet gourmet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. It was d.i.v.i.n.e. and EXPENSIVE(!) but oh so worth it. Just thought I'd share this sweet treat to get you through the rest of your week, and remind everyone that Monday is Valentines day!!

February 9, 2011

{moving, moving}

Proof I have a reason for not showing my face around here for a while...
I feel like it's been a whhhhiiiilllleee since I last blogged. It's been too long, but for good reason. We've moved, again. We moved to southern CA only 6 months ago from northern CA, and after certain events happened, we've moved back. In fact we decided to leave, found a new place to live, packed our condo, rented a truck, drove 400+ miles, and moved into our new place in only 3 weeks. Yep, it was a quick decision, and I have to say, it was sad leaving new friends, especially this one, but it feels so good to be "home". Everyone knows moving is a pain, so please forgive me for my lack of blogging. 
But there's good news! I'm back! Yay!