Friday, November 18, 2011

A Sweet Lil' Giveaway

Over the past week, I've had to force myself to put down the needle and thread and do normal, ordinary things like... feed my son lunch, unload the dishwasher because there are no clean plates left, get dressed, LEAVE THE HOUSE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And I am a total (proud!) nerd for saying this, but it's because those felt food projects are just too fun. And easy. And I don't even care that Finn and I leave the house with so much felt fuzz and thread clippings stuck to our clothes that it looks like we have a Persian cat! I also got such a fun response from everyone on my personal Facebook page regarding Tuesday's post that I contacted Sweet Emma Jean about her patterns. And she's agreed to do VVM's first ever giveaway. I couldn't be more proud and excited!

So, now on to the best part-- the free loot! Katie is giving away a package of three patterns; the winner gets to choose from the following patterns:

Fruit Salad & Fresh Fruit Tart
Pizza Party!
Taco Dinner
Fajita Dinner
Yummy Pie Assortment
Ice Cream Set
Thanksgiving Dinner
Deluxe Lunch Set
French Toast Breakfast
Tea Party Cookie Assortment
Summer Cookout Set

Don't be afraid to enter for the drawing because you think you can't sew or don't have time. Honestly, if you're out here reading blogs and messing around on Facebook, take a click over to YouTube to see some easy tutorials on how to blanket stitch and whip stitch. And if you're also daunted by the materials needed for these kind of projects, I've got even better news -- it's very minimal and the fanciest thing you'll have to buy is a pack of $2.99 embroidery needles. Sweet Emma Jean also offers felt bundles that are specifically for each pattern if you want to make it even easier. So here's whatcha gots to do:
  1. "Follow" this blog! Click on "follow" in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Already following me? I'll automatically put your name in the drawing.
  2. "Like" Sweet Emma Jean on Facebook by clicking here.
And to get your name thrown in the lottery a few extra times, you can take these additional steps:
  1. Mention VVM in your own blog and comment back to this post with your new posting.
  2. Go to Sweet Emma Jean's website and comment back to this post on what your favorite item is.
It's that easy! This is open through Monday, November 21st! Katie will email the patterns the winner chooses as PDF files.

I also asked Katie of Sweet Emma Jean to tell me a little about herself. After all, in the bloggie world, it's so easy to forget your manners when you don't actually meet someone face-to-face:

Vintage Violet Mama: Why did you start crafting?
Sweet Emma Jean: I've always been "crafty." When I was little I would make all my own dollhouse stuff - furniture  accessories, food, etc. Then when I had my baby I got a little bored (she was a blessing and napped a ton!) so I started making her some felt baby shoes and then the ball just kept rolling from there.

VVM: Have you always been a sewer?
SEJ: I learned to sew on the machine from my mom, who was/is a quilter. I self-taught myself to hand sew the baby shoes and felt food in my shop.

VVM: Why felt?
SEJ: Felt is awesome to work with. So many beautiful colors and it's so forgiving. There's no front or back, no bias, no hemming necessary. You just cut and sew (or glue).

VVM: Advice for aspiring crafters...
SEJ: Advice - hmm... push yourself. Things you think are too hard probably aren't. Like my felt food. It looks hard to make but it's easy. I taught myself some of the stitches by looking at videos on YouTube! Anyone can do it. And it doesn't take much time. Oh, and don't use cheap materials. You're going to spend the time to make these things, so won't it be a shame if they fall apart or look cruddy after a few years because you skimped on materials?

VVM: Anything else about yourself that lead you to where you are today?
SEJ: I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-1/2 year old, and I've got another due this spring. I'm an architect but now apply my skills toward making shoes and designing patterns rather than buildings (my background is hugely helpful!). Oh, how much happier I am doing this rather than designing buildings?!?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Multitasking: Sewing and Baking at the Same Time

I have recently thrown myself into a new project (Sigh... yes, my earlier dress project never got finished.). I have decided that I will be hand-making as many Christmas gifts as I can, starting with my son. And being as he's only 18 months old, I am still able to pull off this kind of gift-giving. He has recently started to mimic a lot more than usual, to "role play." As usual, I am drawn to the times of the past, when toys were more of a craft, more well made. Toys were made with more time and care as they were usually made from hand. They reflected a family's culture and tradition and even their habits, and they also reflected what was going on in the world of invention. If you're really interested in the best toys of the last century, Time magazine has compiled a list. Take a look and I'm sure you'll see many of your favorites -- and realize how old some of them were even when you started to play with them!

With that, I have decided to make my son three different sets of play food, all made from felt. Food and cooking is a big part of our family routine, and are a way that we interact with each other. I scoured the web, and settled on three patterns from Sweet Emma Jean on Etsy. I decided to jump in with both feet and bought three patterns: "Summer Cookout," "Tea Party Cookies," and the "French Toast Breakfast." She has so much more, too-- Thanksgiving dinner, pizza, sandwiches, ice cream, pie! I just might have to go back for seconds. Here is what I have accomplished in the last four days:

The chips have tinfoil in them to give them the crinkled look.

Close up of the cute little pickles and tomato slice.

This is only a fraction of the cookies! I am tucking a few into my niece's birthday gift, too.

Additionally, I have plans for my husband's Christmas gift but can't post too much in case he reads this. Even though not every family or every child has the time to commit to all homemade gifts this season, give it a shot.  Widen your idea realm and realize that not all homemade gifts are sewn or glued (in case you're not a craftsy person) -- did you used to weld or wood work? What about home-baked gifts (I would, hands down, agree that this might ultimately be the best gift.)? Impress yourself! What are you going to make?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making New Bloggie Friends (and give-aways!)

As I keep lamenting about, I have been spending a lot of time at home. And where does a majority of that time pass? Why, in front of my laptop of course! (Aside from a stint of Play Dough-making yesterday that has resulted in me having pink and purple tie-dyed hands...) I've recently been invited to Pinterest, and feel like my eyes have been opened to a bigger realm of like-minded people, mamas, ideas, beauty and even humor that previously felt too overwhelming to digest. Pinterest sure does make all the chaos of that seem a bit more organized.

With that, I came across a cool site via Pinterest called Easily Dunn. I was checking out a tutorial she had listed about how to repurpose an old, too-small, too-short sweater. I actually tried it with a white cotton long-sleeved t-shirt I had that was very soft and thin but I felt like it made me look droopy... so I made it into a sort of cotton cardigan. Love it. I can't wait to embellish it!

With that, she is offering a give-away today! It's for a handmade bracelet made of Caribbean blue glass beads that are simple yet bright and eye-catching. Check out how to register for the give-away here! The bracelet is made by Sunshine Bliss Studio on Etsy, and coincidentally their jewelry is right up my ally -- it's bright, natural, bodied and unique. Kind of like me, right?! My favorite pieces have copper, which I have a weakness for...

Here's zee beauty up for grabs!!

I'll shall be updating more frequently now, sharing my new bloggie friends and forcing myself to tear away from Pinterest for a few minutes to share the knowledge!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vintage [froo-gal-i-tee]

These days, I am growing ever more efficient within my household now that I'm spending so much time here! I thought it would a good opportunity to share some of my reusable and sustainable practices, and to make a finer point about the intent of my blog. My kind of vintage is cheap, affordable. This goes hand-in-glove with being thrifty in the rest of my life, as much as I can. Even if it might only mean saving a few Abe Lincolns here and there, the sense of good-hearted frugality makes me just feel all warm and fuzzy. I also like knowing I'm not being wasteful, and I also like realizing there are other options out there:
  1. Turning lights off when you leave the room! Did you know that the peak burn time for a light bulb after being turned on is reached after just four seconds? The science fiction myth that leaving lights on burns less energy than turning them off and back on is untrue, according to Dr. Leo Stocco from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Colombia (as heard on "Quirks & Quarks").  They do not, in fact, have an energy spike every time they are flipped back on after being off. It's best to turn the lights off if you're not in a room. Thanks, Grandma, for always making us turn off every single light in the basement, in which the light switch was located in the very back room. This meant running screaming through the entire length of the basement with my cousin Brad, completely certain we were being chased by a poltergeist. So... basically I'm saying you were right, Grandma.
  2. Using unfolded "single-ply" cloth diapers in lieu of disposable paper towels and/or cheese cloth in the kitchen. These were, of course, never used for their first intended purpose! I use them to strain fried bacon, wontons, and even to strain and press the moisture out of pumpkin puree! They wash out fine but just be sure not to throw the bacon soaked ones in with your favorite silk scarf. ;)
  3. Cloth napkins. We rarely use or purchase paper towels or napkins because of these (and because of #2). I think we have three to four sets of napkins which are circulated between the laundry and the kitchen. Even if you have a large family, these are completely feasible and affordable.
  4. Reusable grocery bags. I'm sure everyone has a few of things stashed here and there. We have nearly twenty of them that range from the $1 Safeway bags to canvas promotional bags to netted "beach toy" bags to Chico reusable bags. I make a conscious effort to clean these out every time and put them back in my car. Yes, I've heard the 'ol excuse But I need the plastic ones for my little trash cans! Really? Do you need 5,281 of them? I admit I sometimes end up getting a plastic bag here and there, but we can probably count the amount of plastic bags in our house on one hand.
  5. Washing out Ziploc bags. I just. Can't. Throw. Them. Away! I'm not at the same level as my Grandma, who washes out and reuses even plastic bread bags. I gently wash out and air dry Ziploc bags until they are at the point of no longer sealing. Why? -- Why not
  6. Bountiful Baskets! I know I mentioned this two weeks ago, but we just got our second basket and I'm still thoroughly impressed. Now, I know we are just a little family of three, but these baskets are lasting us over two weeks. Not everything in them is ripe at once, so their lifespan is a lot longer than what you get in the grocery store. They're also pretty affordable -- only $15. 

Now, I am no "No Impact Man" (even though what he's doing is pretty flippin' cool) and I know I could do more. I feel like the small gestures that have become habits for me add up to a little bit of extra good space on this planet. Plus, who can beat extra warmth and fuzzies. ;)