Monday, February 27, 2012

Newest Member of My Crew

This past weekend, I adopted this beauty:

She's a Singer 301A, born in 1956.  She is so cute and I cannot wait to do whatever I can to get her fully operational.   This machine is solid metal, baby, and comes from a time when the Singer was the go-to for anyone wanting to make home sewing easier and more enjoyable.

Yes, I am totally geeking out on this machine.  I spent the majority of my Friday evening researching the history of this machine and sewing in general and I'm still excited about all the things I have learned.

In case you were wondering about the history of sewing too, I thought I would summarize the coolest things I learned:

- This machine is said to have "revolutionized the sewing machine of tomorrow making home sewing easier and more convenient."  Looking at this beauty compared to my newer machine with all of its bells and whistles (like a gazillion stitches and built in computer), it made me chuckle a little to think that a machine that only does a straight-stitch and weighs 16 lbs in all of its solid metal glory was revolutionary and I was just picturing the happy housewife picking out her brand new, state of the art machine.  It just made me want to put on an apron.  
- Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful machine in the 1850's, and he used the up and down stitch invented by Elias Howe. However, he had not asked Howe if he could use his patented idea so he was sued and Howe won and was paid royalties by Singer (resource).
- Home machines weren't designed and marketed until 1889, electrical machines were being used by 1905.
- Years before Singer, a frenchman, Barthelemy Thimonnier was granted a patent for a sewing machine in 1830.  It was made of wood, used a barbed needle, and was designed for embroidery but then he realized it could potentially be used for sewing.   He was able to get a contract to build more machines and make uniforms for the French army.  He was able to amass 80 machines before a mob of Parisian tailors destroyed his factory and made him flee for his life because they were worried they would be put out of work by his machines.  He fled to England with the one machine he was able to save.
- There are several other attempts to make machines and machine parts between Thimonnier and Singer that you can read more about here or here.
- Singer is also credited with being the first to offer customer payment plans and machine service with sales.

New features of the Singer 301A (This site compares the 301A with its predecessor, the Featherweight):
- Slant-needle.  Even today's traditional machines have a vertical needle shaft.  The slant-needle is supposed to make sewing easier to see and more fun.
- Modern-stream lined design.  The design of this machine is practically the same of the new ones we buy today.  The model made before this one had the traditional old machine look.
- Carrying handle.  This machine has a carrying handle and can be used in a cabinet or is portable.

I need to get her a new bobbin case and hopefully just a little oil and some more research on how she works will have her up and running in the next couple of weeks.  I am thinking she will be my go to machine for tagging and small projects.

Thank you for indulging me geek-dom.  If you appreciated learning something new on a Monday, please let me know.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Top 10 Things to do with Mardi Gras Beads

Well, since I know that I know my clients well, I am sure that you all are trying to shake off the hangover of all the partying you did for Mardi Gras.  On the contrary, perhaps you are just inhaling coffee this morning to compensate for your toddler waking up five extra times last night.  Whatever the case is, if you have a pile of beaded necklaces lying around, don't toss them out just yet.   They can provide more hours of enjoyment with your little people.

Top 10 Things to do with Mardi Gras Beads

1. Ring the Mommy
Ok, putting the necklace around your neck, or their own, is probably the first thing your kid will do and I understand its not very creative.  However, your child may not be very efficient at getting the necklace on you or themselves at first, but they will get better.   They are practicing motor skills.

2. Pouring is SO. MUCH. FUN!  
We came up with this idea at a local Pizzeria when we had a pile of beads, three kids, and requested a few plastic cups.  Put the beads in one cup and then dump them into another cup.  Yes, its that simple, but set up this activity and watch how long your kid will play.  (And feel proud that you aren't cleaning up water from all over your bathroom or kitchen)  When you add another kid, or five, you can have them work together to pour the beads into a friend's cup.

3. Beads as (Pretend) Food. 
Beads are just fun for them to play with and the kids love to use their imaginations.  Yesterday I was handed this plate of grapes to eat by my four year old.

Beads as a Tossed Salad (I took this picture about a year ago after the kids went to bed.  They had left this in the playroom.  It's totally not staged.)

4.  "Sensory" Table (aka, Water Table, Fancy Bucket or Tub) Filler
Basically, any entertaining of your tot that would require water could be done with a pile of these beaded necklaces.  Instead of putting water in the water table, put beads and reduce the mess that gets all over your kid.

5. Play Pirate
Pirates loves treasure, and what better treasure than jewels?!?  You can even hide a pile under and blanket in your house or out in the sandbox, and go on a treasure hunt.  

6.  Sorting, Counting, etc. 
Use the beads for sorting into like colors, counting how many necklaces you have, etc. 

7. Dump Truck Loads
Beads make great "dirt" that can be transported all over your house.
8. Tea Party Dress Up
We keep a few necklaces with the tea party set so they are always ready to complete the party.  Yes, a fairly traditional use, but you must get dressed up for a tea party and no one wants to waste time searching for their jewels!

9. Recycle Bottles into Learning Toys
Even harder than getting beads into a cup is getting beads into a plastic bottle.  Start with a wider mouth bottle and then progress to a smaller one.   (Note: You may have to cut the bottle apart to free the beads if the mouth is really narrow)

10. Make Music
Once you have a strand or two of beads in a bottle, put the top back on and shake them like maracas. Then put other beads on and march around your house as a parade.  It's a great stress reliever!

I am sure you will come up with lots of other ways to add some creative play with your beads.  If you do, please share!

If you don't have any beads, and just have to have some after reading this post, I have seen them at the dollar store, party store, and even Target.   Or, just wait a month for the local St. Patrick's Day Parade and get some then!

Happy playing!
- Carrie
More notes-
- We get rid of any necklaces that break.
- Beads contain small parts and you should always be aware of manufacturers warnings.
- We don't play with the necklaces that have connectors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday What's Up: Recent Custom Orders

Here are some pictures of recent orders and gifts I have sent out.  As always, if you need any help creating a custom baby gift or gift to yourself, please let me know.

Monogrammed Newborn Gown (HappyLittleMonkey)
Personalized Sunshine Applique Handmade
Swaddling Blanket (HappyLittleMonkey)
Monogrammed Market Bag as a Hostess Gift
(HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Monogrammed Designer Sock Monkey Flannel Swaddling
Blanket and Burp Cloth Set.
Also available in red or cream (HappyLittleMonkey)
Appliqued Sports Fan Handmade 
Swaddling Blanket (Custom Order)

Monogrammed Bloomers- Size 2, 6-12 months
(HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Personalized Set of Two Swaddling Blankets
(Custom Ordered for a Special Baby)
Appliqued Alligator and Initial
Four Piece Gift Set (HappyLittleMonkey)
Custom Tea and Cookies Set for a
Birthday Gift (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Set of Four Monogrammed Bloomers
(HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake for the
Hubs on Valentine's Day (Should I post about how I made this?)
These items and more can be found in my online shops, HappyLittleMonkey, creating baby gifts you will love to get and give; and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM, fun and functional gifts for bigger little kids. 

NEWSLETTER: HappyLittleMonkey now has a monthly newsletter!  The first newsletter is available here and you can subscribe here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

First NEWSLETTER for HappyLittleMonkey

The first newsletter for HappyLittleMonkey has finally been published!

If you haven't checked it out yet, please do so by clicking here.

If you have, please share it with your friends!

Thank you for all of your support.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Post at Ecological Babies

I was so excited when Jen, owner of Ecological Babies, asked me if I would do a guest post featuring a Valentine's Day craft for her blog.  Her guidelines were kid-friendly, Valentine's Day, and if possible, green.

After discussing a few ideas, this one called "Our Love Grows" was the winner.  It was fun and even a little messy, as all good projects are with kids.

You can easily adapt this project for any holiday or day.  I'm thinking about trying letters next.

Swing over to Ecological Babies for the whole post, and please go "like" her on Facebook and check out her awesome shop online featuring cloth diapers and natural parenting products.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Second Year: Lots of Fun

Today marks two years of HappyLittleMonkey being online!  This started out as (mostly) a hobby.  It was a means of supporting my ever growing addiction to fabric and sewing machines.  My original intent being to start sewing some more and to have something for "me" as I tried to occupy my busy little brain with something besides dirty diapers and bed time.  As I have swung through the jungle of balancing mom-hood, business, family, and friends, this has been a great adventure and led me to new opportunities to give back to the community, meet other awesome business owners, and even make some new great friends.

To everyone who has supported me and this little adventure, thank you!  I wouldn't be celebrating this milestone without you.

As a way of reflecting on the great things that have been offered over the past year, I begun digging through the pictures.  Here are some of the highlights of the things HappyLittleMonkey did this past year:

Created appliqued swaddling blanket and burp cloth gift sets.  

 Expanded the options for personalized gift giving to include monogrammed bloomers, bibs, burp cloths, blankets, and more.

 Started offering adorable Hair Clips and Clip Organizers online, at shows and at Rinse & Repeat Kids' Salon.

Made a LOT of Swaddling Blankets for Springtime Tallahassee, which I participated in for the first time.

Participated in craft shows and created new displays to look like trees.

Introduced the Blanket Purse to more people.

Created the "Dressed Myself" Sash for the fashionista-in-training. 

Started Offering Sports Team Swaddling Blanket Sets and Items

 Also new to the shop, Monogrammed Hooded Towel and Bath Mitt Sets.

Made about a dozen Pebbles Costumes, and one Bam Bam too!

 Began to save the world with SuperKid Capes which are fully customizable and available at MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM!

HappyLittleMonkey products became available at some amazing local stores- Rinse & Repeat Kids' Salon, The Grey Fox, and The Mommy Market.  

 Provided LOTS of Swaddling Blankets like these for sale. 

 Collected lots of blankets and materials to create isolette covers and small swaddling blankets for the local NICU.

 Helped to decorate parties or send wishes with custom items!

 Helped clients create beautiful custom gift sets that they were excited to give to friends. 

Participated in a Glam Spa Party

Shared one of my favorite creations- the felt letter board.

Worked with the Tallahassee Doula Co-Op to share some information about the role of a doula.

Posted a tutorial on No Sew Fairy Wings that is flying around Pinterest (also got addicted to Pinterest, but that's a whole different story!)

Threw LOTS of tea parties!

Opened a sibling store- MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM, A place for bigger little kids!

Phew!  It was a very busy year!

From my little jungle to yours, thank you for your feedback, kindness, and for sharing my products with your friends.  If I can help you this year, please let me know!