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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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! 

How I Saved Hundreds of Dollars This Spring (And My Sanity) By Opting Out

I have taken my first child to a lot of activities in her 4.5 years. Sing-alongs, playgroups, toddler hikes, gymnastics, park meet-ups, ballet. She’s never voiced disinterest in these activities, but she’d spend most of the time … in her head. That is the best way to describe it. Sort of in a world of her own. Which was fine with me (usually sometimes). At least I told myself that she was getting introductions to new activities and new people and that was the whole point! Right? Maybe? I don’t know!

fabric kids crown

But this past December, during my 4 year-old’s second semester of ballet, I decided we needed to step away from the activities. I remember the exact moment. It was like any other week of ballet that had come before… After a few bites of snack and a few turns with the waiting room toys, my 1.5 year-old got bored and wanted to join the ballet class her older sister was in. So there I was, wrestling my toddler who was DYING to be a part of the dance class — sweating, apologizing, shushing, cursing inwardly. All while my 4 year-old was pretending to nap while everyone else danced. Yes. I remember thinking, “This is insane. And we’re done with this.” It wasn’t just ballet. Everything we had signed up for was in the way of the the private activities my eldest was engaged in in her mind.

I thought, “What if we took a semester off and just let her find HER THING? Let her explore the world in her own way and on her own terms. Let her lead the activity and be the director of her own fun.”

The answer: Honeybees.

bee blog

She has been researching honeybees for months. We’ve been reading books about honeybees. She watches videos on YouTube — beekeeping, how bees make honey, where beeswax comes from, why are honeybees dying, how do people harvest honey, how to care for bees.

She’s been asking about honeybees…

Do honeybees poop and pee like me? Does it come out of their bottom or their stinger or somewhere else? And what does it look like? Is it brown like my poopy? Or a beautiful color? And where do they poop? On a flower pillow or in the hive? I don’t know!

Then we look it up! We answer all her questions about bees and she’s *so* into it! She tells her dad about bees when he tucks her in at night. She has a running tally of all the equipment we’ll need for the honeybee colonies she is certain we are going to be keeping in our backyard. Um…

For the record, bees poo and pee at the same time-like birds. It comes out of a hole in their bottoms close to their stinger. It is mustard-like and they leave the hive to poo on flowers. In part to rid themselves of waste but also to let other bees know that they’ve visited that flower. So thoughtful!

Being a ballet school drop-out is working out for her. I’m so proud of my honeybee researcher! And I’ve loved being her research assistant!

Ballet Class Dropout Turned Honeybee Researcher
Self-directed play of a honeybee researcher


PS. Do you have a little one with a big imagination too? Fuel that imagination with one of our fabric crowns. Our crowns are double-sided, so basically two crowns in one! And I find that the different patterns spark different play! With the crown on one side, my little one is a pirate princess. On the other, you guessed it, the queen honeybee! 🙂 Shop kids fabric crowns HERE!

Say Hello To Carly S: Crafter, Friends-Watcher, and Future Etsy Shop Owner!

It’s the first Monday of the month. Hello, April! So that means it is time for the another installment pen&thimble playdate! We’ll meet here to “chat with” a fellow mom and connect over our similarities. Because we are #UnitedInMotherhood. Let’s say hello to Carly!


Name: Carly S

Region: Midwest

Kids: 1 year, Theodore and 2.5 year old, Penelope

What do you do? 

I spend way too much time cooking food and then way too much time cleaning it off the floor, daydream about opening my own Etsy shop, obsessively create lists, fill online shopping carts with things I’ll never buy, rewatch episodes of Friends and quote the whole thing, hide in the pantry eating chocolate, research whatever topic I have developed an unhealthy fascination with.

What is your hope for your children? 

I hope they are happy and healthy and have unswerving faith in the Lord. I hope they see the good in people. I hope they are brave, strong, and independent.

What is your biggest fear for your children?

I am afraid of letting them down. I am afraid that they will let the world invade their sense of self and lose their individuality.

What is your favorite activity to do with your kids/family? 

Anything. Cheesy – yes. But honestly I love any activity that is all of us together.

What is your biggest challenge being a mom? What makes your life easier? 

My husband is currently deployed and I am doing a whole lot of this alone right now. I know it’s a temporary thing for me but man do I have a lot of respect for single parents. I also think smart phones and the internet really make being a mom tricky. They do provide many amazing things but there is so much room for judgement. Things that make life easier: Norwex cleaning products, my Black and Decker dustbuster aka my BFF, lavender essential oil, COFFEE, my two hours a week to myself thanks to an amazing babysitter, and all the magnetic note pads that cover my fridge!

Self-care: What do you do to relax/decompress? Why does it help you? 

I am focusing on self-care this year. This is an area I really struggle with. I am trying to make time to do something just for me every day. There will always be more chores, more laundry, more things to clean. But I am happier and a better mom when I have the chance to be a better me first.  I do love 8pm when the house is quiet and calm and I can choose what to do with my evening – something creative, something to pamper myself, a really early bedtime 🙂


What, if anything, do you wish people knew about you? 

Friendships are hard for me. I grew up as a Navy brat and now as an Army wife we never stay put long which makes it difficult to keep up with friends. I have to really try to stay in touch with people and make an effort to contact people regularly. My mom and husband are pretty much the only people I speak with daily and I’m kind of ok with that.

How did you become a pen&thimble customer?

Ummm I’m pretty sure I fell into an Instagram hole and clicked my way to the lovely pen&thimble page 🙂

What is your favorite pen&thimble product & why? 

I started off with a teething toy kit and it kicked my booty into crafty gear! I owe Gillian a lot of gratitude for helping me regain my crafty side after having my youngest. Being creative is a big part of my identity and setting aside time every day to do so makes me feel like a whole person and not just a giant tissue for my kids to wipe their hands and face on 😉

Follow my silly little family if you’d like 🙂 Click here to hang with Carly on Instagram!

PS. I sold out of the teething toy kits, but I’m working on putting more patterns together. In the meantime, check out my kids coloring crafts HERE!

pen&thimble playdate: A New Meet-The-Moms Spotlight

Heyyyyyyy guyyyyys!! I’m so excited to be introducing pen&thimble playdate!! On the first Monday of every month, I will be sharing a mom bio with you! Will it be yours? Maybe! This will be a place where we can meet you and other friends of pen&thimble and share our parenting hope/fears, self-care ideas, and more! We may have different backgrounds, but we can relate to each other in so many ways–starting with being moms!

Let’s support each other. Celebrate each other. Laugh with each other. Moms coming together. That is what this is all about. I promised the first  round of moms that I would go first to get this party started! So here it goes! But the fun mom intros start next month!


Name: Gillian F

Region: Northeast, USA

Kids: 2 girls, ages 4.5 and 2.

What I Do: WAHM – children’s accessories maker

If you’ve followed me on Instagram or Facebook at all, you probably know me as the painfully punny maker of baby bibs, kids’ lunch accessories, and kids’ crowns. But my kids just call me “mama” or repeat snack requests to get my attention. When I’m not making things (bibs, placemats, snacks all day, dinner no one eats), I’m usually cleaning up a mess, trying to reclaim my rhythm at family dance parties, or drinking La Croix water. Yes, I am that mom. I just love those bubbles!

My biggest hope for my girls is to know their worth beyond looks and academic success. I want them to know the worth of creativity and kindness even if there isn’t much social currency in these things.

My biggest challenge is balancing my handmade business and caring for my family. And one of my related struggles is being okay with the fact that I don’t think screen time is as evil as everyone says. Am I allowed to admit that? I like screen time. There I’ve said it.

My self-care takes the form of sewing/stitching, but it is very separate from my business. When I need to decompress, I turn to quilting or embroidery. It is super relaxing because it is just for me! I’ve been feeling spread thin lately and being able to stitch through my worries or piece together a quilt block from scraps of fabric gives me a sense of control and coming-together I so desperately need right now. Also, downing a row of peeps helps too!


What do you do for self-care? Do you want to join our meet-and-greet? I want to hear from you! Join my email list here to be part of the next Q&A group!! Can’t wait to hear from you!