Easter Bunny Fever.

Due to getting a bad case of the flu and having a slow recovery I totally missed getting this post of Cara’s up in time for Easter. Please read it and imagine yourself a week back in time :) -Erika

It’s Easter all over again. The one celebration I can sail through quite happily every year – although Christmas 2010 was a big one for me, being my son’s First Christmas outside of the womb.

I’m not exactly the Grinch who stole Christmas but it’s safe to say when your birthday is Christmas Eve, which mine is, you don’t enjoy Christmas so much. The fun and novelty of Christmas wears off when you’re about 9.

I get that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and I don’t take that lightly at all, I suppose, as a Christian I would prefer the focus to be on Baby Jesus rather than it being on heartburn, rubbish TV and stock piles of presents.

For Christmas we bought our son memorable and age appropriate toys. I knew he would be spoiled from a great height from all sides of our families – and he was – hence why I didn’t rush out and buy out my local mega toy super stores (plus that’s so not my style.) Everything seemed so overwhelming and once my husband and I made our decision not to splurge, we were no longer overwhelmed. Everything seemed easier.

For Easter it’s common in the UK to celebrate with a chocolate Easter Egg; usually filled with gummy sweets. With a 15 month old in tow to consider this can be tricky.

We took the route that we didn’t want to overload our son on sugary, processed chocolate and opted out of the Easter Egg thing. I’m still open to suggestion and comment on what, if anything, you would substitute for this.

Personally I’m happy to go down the route of getting him nothing, but I’m remaining open. I’m also thinking of hand-making something and once again I’m trawling through the Skip To My Lou blog for ideas.

Then I came across a treasure trove of Easter Printable’s on their website. And yes, admittedly, these Easter print-outs are for decorating a child’s table at the Easter dinner, but I thought it would be cute to make this for my son:

The beauty of this bag idea is that you can fill it with anything. You don’t have to stuff it full of treats – although treats are cool, too – but I think a bag full of jelly beans would make a little 15 month old’s tummy very sickly – especially a tummy that isn’t used to sugar. Add on top of that the fact it will probably take him about a year to eat the Easter chocolate he’s due to receive.

My ideas for the bag would be to fill it with little toys, or even pieces of dried fruit. No?

How about this:

An Egg Tree from Skip to My Lou.

I don’t have the time or sanity required for this beautiful creation, but it is an admirable homage to Easter. So, what handmade projects do you have in the pipeline for Easter?

Interview with Jessica Jones, How About Orange…

Candy

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others who are farther along than you are. People in general are surprisingly nice!” says Jessica Jones, when asked what advice she would give to others starting their own business. Jessica is a graphic designer and her fabrics and designs are hot items. She designs and lives in Evanston Ill., and loves it because there are lots of big trees and a really big lake nearby. She and her engineer husband don’t have pets, but she jokes, “[We] just have a bunch of dust bunnies that keep multiplying. They don’t have names.”

Jessica loves thunderstorms, coffee, mystery novels, Ikea, and peeling off sunburn. (Ed. She can’t be the only, right?) Her home is filled with lots of books, inspiring graphic design samples, simple furniture, green plants and because she hates being cold, a fuzzy blanket. Visit her blog How About Orange… and her Etsy store, by the same name.

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Subversive Chore Chart

Dear Reader,

Ask my children to clean something and it’s necessary to anchor yourself to the nearest door frame, lest you be blown away by the gale of whining. But put a poster board chart up on the wall with the promise of stickers for tasks finished and they knock each other over to Swiffer the family room.

In fact, I’ve discovered that stickers make manipulating children so much easier. Put a Dora the Explorer sticker on a banana and suddenly it’s super delicious. “Quick eat the brown, mushy part before Swiper swipes it! Swiper no swiping!” Put Barney on the toilet brush and they’re singing about how they love everyone while they clean the crapper.

I Did A Good Job Chore Chart

But it occurred to me the other day that while placing chores like, “Clean your room”, “Use your manners” on a sticker reward chart was all well and good. I was thinking too small. Surely, there are far better things we can train our children up to do? We need to take advantage of this Pavlovian sticker training and create The Subversive Chore Chart.

  1. Go out and buy yourself a big old sheet of poster board. Everything feels more official to a child if it’s on poster board. Remember when you used to get nervous because the teacher might write your name on the blackboard? Certain items possess magical qualities to children. Chalk, poster board, etc.
  2. Find some crayons or magic markers that haven’t dried out. Baring that, grab some eyeliner or lip pencil to write with.

    Hand Poured Marbled Crayons

  3. Make a big deal about drawing up the chart. Act as though you don’t want your children to see it. “Whatever you do DON’T come watch me make this chart!”
  4. Now get yourself some stickers. There are two ways you can go with your adhesives. The sparkly over the top character stickers that burn your eyes. Or, my personal favorite, odd scratch and sniffs. My kids are out of their minds with curiosity as to which smelly sticker I’ll put on their chart next. The scratch and sniff horse stickers perhaps? Because who can resist a horse’s ass that smells like cotton candy? Not my kids. Scratch Santa children. What does he smell like? Credit card debt and peppermint.

    Scratch and Sniff stickers from Everything Smells

  5. Now have a glass of wine and really think about what you wish your children did or said during the course of the day. Not what you think they are supposed to do – what you wish they would do. Legally. Start filling in the blanks!

If I may suggest a few:

Ask mommy, “Have you lost weight?”

Claim to be fed only organic fruit picked by vegans wearing sandals made out of rope and newspapers while in public.

When daddy asks what you did today do not say “cartoons”.

Brag about mommy’s cooking while at Grandmas house.

Challenge daddy to a floor scrubbing match. “Dad, betcha can’t scrub this floor as fast as I can!”

Fetch cold beverages for grownups.

Talk about how flipp’n awesome your mother is while at play dates.

The list is endless really. Have fun!

Love, Lotta

Interview with Patricia Valery

I’m a clothing designer who works from home. I sometimes work 18 hours a day. I have immersed myself in every aspect of apparel design from basic pattern design to CAD to good old fashioned trial and error. In addition to designing and sewing I’ve also started selling my patterns and instructional videos. I’m very proud of my new spring 2010 mini-collection. I’ve used all natural fabrics and earthy colors.

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?

I started sewing fulltime in 2004 and have been supporting myself as a designer ever since. Before this I’d never really worked in anything creative. I worked the typical college jobs like most people do. I was a bar tender and waitress. Once I started sewing I jumped in feet first and just ran with it.

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?

Right now I’m just using my own name, but I started working under another name – a silly name that I’d rather not say. That old name just doesn’t represent me any longer – I’ve outgrown it, and am even a little embarrassed. Just like everyone else, I’ve changed with age. Where I am now is so different from where I was five years ago. I used to think I needed a tough image to make it. I soon found out that the people spending all their time building a tough image spent little time actually working. So I dropped the image and began designing for me. After that it only made sense to start using my own name.

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?

I work alone. I’ve tried to bring in friends, but most people let me down. Everyone I’ve brought on board expects to play all day (send text messages, tweet, talk on the phone), but no one wants to really work. When things get really busy I work with a local seamstress. She’s a very intelligent girl with a Master’s degree in design. Her skills as a designer/sewer are amazing.

Getting my work done is no problem. When you really like what you do working uninterrupted is the perfect vacation. I know my idea of ‘having a life’ differs from most. Going out to bars and partying isn’t on my agenda. I like to study music, write, play piano and read. I wake up each morning and get to work right away. I work until I can’t work any more. I then pick up a book or play music.

Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?

I have a string of walk-in boutiques throughout the Southeast that carry my clothing. I also have a handful of online boutiques that carry my brands. I sell at shows from time to time, but not as much as I’d like. I also sell a little on etsy, but not as much as I’d like.

Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers you’d like to recommend?

Each week I send out my mailing list with a new featured Etsy seller. I’ve found so many cool sellers. I really like the work of ghostess. She’s an illustrator/artist. She doesn’t post much on Etsy, but I know she’s always creating. She actually designed the banner for my etsy shop.

What inspires and motivates you?

Everything inspires me. My eyes are always open and searching for new ideas. This new collection is inspired by a trip I took to Nashville. Right now I’ve got my eye on this cute little French Provincial neighborhood near my parents’ house. This summer I want to build a collection based on those houses.

What do you wish I had asked you?

I like when people ask if I have any advice for someone just starting out. Ironically people are often frustrated by my answer. Work, work, work. Every time I tell someone what I do for a living they reply, “Oh wow, that’s so cool. I wish I could do that.” The truth is anyone can. But you have to be willing to work. I mean, why put in eight hours each day plus driving for someone else? I’d much rather put in 14 hours for myself.

Thanks Patricia – I love the story behind renaming your shop! And if you would like to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.