Santa In October? But I Just Want To Be A Burrito!

Autumn is my favorite season. I think I write that sentence in a blog post every year around this time. My reasons change a bit each year, but my love of the season is mostly about boots,  food — butternut squash, brussels sprouts, warm apple cider — and the free pass to snuggle indoors. #hyggelife

As a human person who wants nothing more than to read under a quilt by the fire without worrying about ice dams on my roof, I never want autumn to end.

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Image Credit: lillisketchtumbler.com
As a small business owner, autumn is something entirely different. It’s when THE HOLIDAYS are meant to be start. No, not Halloween or Thanksgiving. Autumn marks the beginning of Christmas and Hanukkah and gift-buying and gift-giving (my favorite part). So instead of wrapping myself like a book-loving burrito by the fire, I’m supposed to be thinking of snowmen, gift wrap, and eggnog.

And each year, I rebel against The Holidays coming so soon — even as a business person — because my human-burrito side just wants all the autumn all the time! And if I can’t have it all the time, can I just have it during autumn? Pleeeease!

This year, the answer is no. No I can’t. pen&thimble is starting The Holidays “early” this year. Which is really just “on time” with all the other shops. Holiday items have been made and photographed and are just waiting for me to finish one last bite of an apple to be listed on my Etsy shop.

This year, I’m offering a gift wrapping option too!  Bright hand-stamped (by me) stars and a gift note wrapped in twine. It’s already designed and photographed and waiting to go live as an option soon! But first I’m going to slide on my boots and crunch up some leaves and maybe start a fire in my fireplace and read a bit.

Post Update: Holiday Items have rolled into the shop. Gift wrapping option coming soon! 

Brown Astronauts and Mermaids with Natural Coils: Representation in Art

So if I’m being honest, I didn’t create kids wall art featuring children of color on purpose. I didn’t start my creative process thinking, children’s walls ought to be more multiracial. When I created these pieces, I was thinking… Here are some fun prints! Oooh this unicorn! Cute astronaut kid! Sweet mermaid!

African-American Mermaid and African American Astronaut
In our family, a little snippet of diversity occurs every time we sit down for dinner. And we encourage learning about and respecting other cultures and backgrounds beyond our shades of brown and white…

Inclusivity in baby room and kids room decor
But it wasn’t until I had kids that the purposeful inclusion of multiple races was so important to me–books, dolls, figurines. This inclusion often means buying two dollhouse families to make sure family representations can include more than one shade or ethnicity. Or more recently, I bought a car track set for my two year old and had to purchase an extra car driver, a black girl, because all of the pictures on the car track and the two car drivers that were included were white.

pen&thimble family
(This is the only picture I could find with all of us in same frame)

 

Even as a brown mom with inclusivity in my mind, it wasn’t until I was trying to come up with listing titles and tags on Etsy that I realized that I needed to make these searchable for parents like me, looking for diversity in their kids’ rooms. And then despite being of multiple races, growing up in a multiracial family, and raising my own, I had trouble coming up with the search terms I wanted. (Huge thank you to my community of awesome Facebook mamas and friends for supplying me with a great list!)
African American Mermaid with natural hair

Now that I’m in multicultural art sales, I realize that there still isn’t a lot of art with kids that look like me or my kids’ friends. Or maybe I haven’t quite found the right search terms. But I hope to change walls one framed piece at a time. And now I have a purpose. A purpose that wasn’t on purpose is now my purpose!

PS. This new art is now listed in my Etsy shop. Already mounted in a 12 inch square frame, behind glass, and ready to be hung up with a nail or command strips! (Only $80 +shipping.)

PPS. I highly recommend The Barefoot Book of Children to start conversations about diversity–skin color, foods, customs… Have you seen it yet? We love it! Look for it at your local library or bookshop!

Truth: There is No Balance in Growing a Business and A Family

My youngest is turning 2 years old in Thursday. 2 you guys! So I’ve been feeling nostalgic and flipping through photos and realizing how wonderful and challenging it’s been to grow my handmade business and my family together at home.

My studio has moved and grown with my family. My family has grown in the studio. The days I feel like I balanced mom-life and work-life well are rare. Some days I feel like I haven’t gotten any work done. Sometimes a week goes by and I can’t remember the last time I had some good quality family time. But that’s the “work-life balance.” It’s a pile in one direction or the other with the hope it all balances out in the end.

And one thing I know… No matter where my studio is, my pajamaed kids in my sewing chair makes my heart so happy! 🙂

PS. To see the handmade bibs, placemats, and kids decor I make  alongside my little shop assistants CLICK HERE!

pen&thimble handmade business

Last-Minute Mama Bear

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My daughter’s preschool had a fun forest animals party last month. They made a cake in the shape of a turtle! They each selected an animal to research and report about at school. My honeybee chose the bear. We had so much fun learning about bears!

Did you know that pandas aren’t bears?

Did you know that bears don’t really hibernate? They sleep for a better part of winter, but on warm days they leave their dens to find food.

Your. Mind. Is. Blown.

The morning of the party I had the last-minute idea to make her a bear headband. I didn’t have brown felt, but forged ahead. I said last-minute but I made the decision as they were putting on all the winter gear, so I really had 5 minutes.

So she looked like a yellow mouse, but that’s life and her favorite color!

Any other last-minute mama bears out there?