Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Simple Crocheted Bookmark

I want to share a pattern with you. This is one of my favorites and it is simple to make. It is the pattern for my simple bookmarks. Now, when I was making them last December my two boys really wanted to give them to their teachers. So, that was our teacher gift for the year. 

Simple Crochet Bookmark
Ch 36. Sc in 2nd ch from hk. *Sc in next 19 ch. Ch 2. Turn. Sc in 4th st from hk. Sc across (20 st). Ch 2. Repeat from *. Fasten off and weave in ends. 

Now, something that I am still trying to decide on is whether or not to put starch on them to make them more flat. As they do tend to curl. So, I guess that it is up to you whether or not you do this last step.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Feature: PrettyHandCraft

For the Friday Feature, this week we have Irina from PrettyHandCraft.
Tell us about yourself and your shop. What do you sell?

Hi, I'm Irina, owner of PrettyHandCraft.
I always loved knitting, so when I was pregnant with my child, I started knitting for him. Then, I made a baby blanket for one of my friends. Then some more, sold them on ebay, so I suppose, it all started with knitted baby blankets :) I set up this shop with my child in mind - all the revenue goes into his saving account, which only he can access when he's 18 :) So, I still have a few years here, as Alex is only 4 at the moment.

Now, I'm trying to sew, because I found another passion - fabric! I love all different prints and designs. So in my shop there some items which I sewn as well, not just knitted stuff :) Mainly, its different folders, drawstring bags and needle cases.

I honestly cannot live without creating something, for me its like a therapy after a long day at work, or being a housewife and mother. I just need to make something :) Some things will bother me for days, my but I will find a solution how to make this or that (I remember, I got stuck with lace border for one blanket, I had three or four different designs, and eventually, I chose one :), but I will make things right, because I am my toughest critic. I remember one phrase from my university years "when you make things for somebody else, they should better, than you would make for yourself". That is true, I do believe in Customer Service, and the fact that your customer is your boss.

How do you keep everything organized? Do you have a workspace?
I wish I had my own craft room, where I could put a desk for my sewing machine and comfy chair by the window for me to knit. At the moment, its only a dream, and I have to be organized, and put everything away (at the moment, in the big wardrobe) at the end of the day.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
The most difficult part is to find time for craft, as I feel guilty not spending all of my time with Alex. I try to find compromise, sing along, involve him into dialogues while knitting or sewing. I let him cut some paper templates, so it is still time together. And the reward is, every item I sell is going towards his account, so hopefully, he will appreciate it in the future.

Thanks, Irina!
For more information, you can visit Irina at the following sites:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Feature: Amanda Moussa

 This week's feature is Amanda Moussa.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm an illustrator, designer and postgraduate student; and I'm married, with a 16-month-old daughter. In the little spaces of life between those things, I like wasting time in libraries and parks, sketching on trains, ‘experimental’ cooking (borderline poisoning), and, in theory, I’m a big fan of plays and poetry readings, but in practice I can’t even remember the last time I went! I guess that’s become a casualty of a busy life.

Tell us about your shop. What do you sell?

I sell illustrated and customized cards, prints and decor items. At the moment, my little specialty is my illustrated ‘letter’ bookends, which can be customized with any design, but I am also working on a larger range of pop-up cards, wrapping paper, and nursery rhyme-themed bookends.

When did you start creating? Why?
I’ve been drawing for most of my life, including in some of my earliest memories, so I can’t really imagine not doing it. I do it because I can’t not do it. But I only began making products to sell last year. Initially they were intended purely as presents for family members, but I had a few follow-up requests from other people, and it grew from there.

What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
I think it’s somewhere in between. A self-financing hobby, and sometimes a supplemental income, depending on how productive I’ve been! It’s still very much in its infancy, so at the moment I am working on streamlining my production so that I can spend less time fulfilling orders and more time developing new designs. My goal is to build up a much larger range of products, and realize more of the ideas floating around in my head. As my daughter gets older, I hope to invest much more time and energy into the print illustration side, but for now, streamlining and growing my product range is the goal.

How do you balance your business with your family?
With difficulty sometimes! Since I'm studying too, I need to make a lot of decisions about what to prioritize and when. My daughter sometimes likes to watch me draw, but otherwise, I don't work when she's awake. I don't think I’d be a very good mother if I took that attention away from her. But I'm lucky that she has quite reliable nap times at the moment - I try to have everything constantly ready to go, so that I can grab any spare moment to do a bit more. After my husband gets home from work, we have some family time, and then if I have not been very productive during the day I do an hour or two of work later in the evening, after my daughter's bedtime. My husband often looks after her on Saturdays, so I can get a good chunk done, and then Sunday is family time. It’s a bit fraught at times, but I like that ‘fast-paced’ feeling of fitting a lot in.

How do you keep everything organized? Do you have a workspace?
I have a shelf! I would absolutely love a studio, but at the moment my materials migrate around the house with me. I do have individual boxes for supplies, work-in-progress projects, and finished pieces, which keeps my head somewhat organised, but no permanent workspace.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
Not having 28 hours in the day. I used to need long stretches of time to ‘warm up’ and get myself in the right head-space to work, but I've had to accept that I will now not often get those uninterrupted chunks of time. I need to be ready to snatch five minutes here and there. I'm constantly amazed at how much you can actually get done in 5 minutes if you don't procrastinate. I was the queen of procrastination, so its been a tough lesson to learn. I think the other difficulty is trying to avoid burn-out and giving yourself a chance to recharge. You can’t always be on standby without getting drained, so I have to occasionally draw a line and say ‘no more today.’ That’s hard to do when there are five different projects vying for attention, but sometimes it’s the most productive thing, in the long run, that you can do.

What has been the most rewarding?
Being paid for my artwork is a very validating feeling, and it’s especially nice to be paid for something I enjoy doing. I like knowing that I am doing something else alongside being a mother and a wife. I want to be a good example for my daughter, and that includes being someone with my own identity, ambitions and interests. And, although I don't get a lot of relaxation time, I enjoy the feeling of being busy. Most of the time, anyway.

Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
Learn how to make the most of small chunks of time! I try to keep several small goals in mind - finish shading a figure, paint a base coat on a bookend, make notes on one chapter, etc - so that when I have a free moment, I don't waste time deciding what to do next, and I don't get overwhelmed by the entirety of what needs doing. I just focus on those little goals, and eventually they have added up to the big goals without me even noticing.

Thanks, Amanda!

If you would like to see more of her designs, you can find Amanda at the following websites:



Etsy Shop:


Monday, August 12, 2013

Cooking from the Heart

This year has been a rough year for us.  Sadly, I lost both of my beloved grandmothers only a few months apart from each other.  Growing up and as an adult I was very close to both of my grandmothers.

Grandma Piccininni was famous throughout our family for her delicious food and scrumptious cakes and desserts.  When used to joke when we were kids that we would need bigger clothes to go home in after we slept over he house.  This summer I have started the wonderful process of sorting through her recipes into a cookbook.  While entering the recipes into Tastebook I realized I did not have any pictures for these recipes.  Then I had the brilliant idea that Gooba and I would start making Grandma P's recipes and photograph them for our cookbook.

Our first experiment was a Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake.  I must admit I teared up several times making this cake, thinking of my grandmother and how she would have absolutely loved cooking and baking with Gooba, or even knowing we were sharing her recipe and love for food and cooking together.

We even invited our neighbor over for coffee and cake!