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! 

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

Setting Tone: For All Children. Always.

Hi, all. I want to share my post-election concerns as they pertain to our children. And to explicitly set the tone for my business in this post-election climate. This post is “political,” albeit measured. Some of you may not agree. Some of you may be tired of reading about post-election aggression and post-election opinions. Some of you may come to my blog posts and my other social media posts for an escape from this very type of discourse. But here we are. This is your heads up. If you came for light and fluffy this isn’t exactly it.

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As a concerned American and mom, I’m so disappointed to see the way hate and aggression is presenting in our children and schools post-election. I’ve been reading heart-breaking stories from all over the US in the weeks since. But came across a report this morning that has brought it all together with numbers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has surveyed 10,000 educators across the US since the election. They found:

  • Over 25% of the surveyed teachers said they have seen specific acts of bigotry since the election–threats of violence, graffiti targeting minority groups, and property damage.
  • 80% of the educators surveyed reported heightened anxiety levels from students who come from targeted groups–immigrants, Muslims, and students of color.
  • 90% of educators surveyed said the election has had a negative, likely long-lasting, impact on their students.

These numbers are interesting to say the least. An equally compelling addition to these data, are some of the comments shared with the SPLC as part of this survey:

“Kids did a ‘mock’ election where they got to vote for president and two of 32 kids voted for Trump (this was all before the actual election). One of the students who voted for Trump expressed that he felt kids were judging him for his choice and the teacher defended his position and right to have his own vote. He then said to the class, ‘I just want him to win so he can get rid of all the Mexicans.’ He himself is an immigrant from Bosnia.”— ELEMENTARY TEACHER, COLORADO
“The day after the election, white students in my school walked down the halls harassing their students of color. One student went around asking, ‘Are you legal?’ to each student he passed. Another student told his black classmate to ‘Go back to Haiti because this is our country now.’” — MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT TEACHER, MASSACHUSETTS
“’You voted for Trump. I hate you,’ said one third-grader to another.” —ELEMENTARY TEACHER, WASHINGTON
“Words that I have not heard in the past — racist, bigot, pussy, slut — are now used by my fourth-graders.” — ELEMENTARY TEACHER, MINNESOTA
“This is my 21st year of teaching. This is the first time I’ve had a student call another student the ‘n’ word. This incident occurred the day after a conference with the offender’s mother. During the conference, the mother made her support of Trump known and expressed her hope that ‘the blacks’ would soon ‘know their place again.’” — ELEMENTARY TEACHER, GEORGIA

The SPLC reports that over 1/2 of educators surveyed are hesitant to discuss the election in the classroom, because emotions are so high. And some reported principals discouraging discussing the election in the classroom.

How do we help our children and educators? The answer does not appear to be “wait and see if it dies down,” because it isn’t.

The SPLC suggests educators should:
•Set The Tone
•Take Care Of The Wounded (targeted and affected persons)
•Double Down on Anti-Bullying Strategies
•Encourage Courage
•Be Ready For Crisis

I think these are actions to take outside of school too. I have been particularly “encouraging courage” in my 4 year-old. Coincidentally, we borrowed Little Red by Bethan Woollvin from our library the Wednesday following the election. Little Red is a reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale, featuring an unflappable Little Red. This book has helped us to talk about fear and courage, looking for clues that something isn’t quite right, and making plans.

[As a heads up, Little Red is a little bit dark for a picture book and I would have previously hesitated borrowing it given the nature of my oldest child. But I honestly didn’t look that closely at the book before checking it out and it now seems appropriate to make room for light and dark narrative, at least in this safe way.]

Taking advice from the SPLC, I want to set the tone for my business and social media spaces. Short and simple: We are here to support and encourage ALL children. Always. This stance of equity and inclusion is behind every piece I make and every post I post, regardless of whether it is explicit or not.

Read more about the SPLC survey here. There is a lot more I didn’t share, like the comments from educators who have found no change/no lasting-change in their classrooms or schools post-election: https://www.splcenter.org/20161128/trump-effect-impact-2016-presidential-election-our-nations-schools

Donate to the SPLC here: https://donate.splcenter.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=463

Fall Back To Work

After a hectic move and a good deal of poison ivy — hello there country life! — pen&thimble is back open with ready to ship crowns, bibs, teething toys, and placemats. (All CPSC compliant because handmade should be made with love, quality, and safety in mind.)

Want to see our new digs? Still a work in progress, but the new studio has a great view, a hanging plant, toys for the girls!

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Want to see more? Check out the video from the live studio tour on our Facebook page. Or pics and daily behind the scenes on the My Story feature of Instagram.

And if you are looking for a stylish drool-stopper for your baby or toddler, shop our new fall organic cotton prints on Etsy: www.penandthimble.com

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So excited the shop is back open! So excited to show you the new ideas I’ve been working on! Stay tuned!