Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We had 3 Christmas parties to go to this year. It's especially nice to be invited to share such a momentous occasion with friends, so I like to make a handmade hostess gift to bring with us... something just a little more special than a bottle of wine... you know, something that requires a bit more thought. This year Martha did the thinking though... Martha Stewart that is. She made bloody mary mix on her show one day a few weeks ago. It looked delicious and I thought it'd be a nice Christmas morning follow up to the Christmas Eve parties we went to. I'd love to take credit for it, but this is Martha's picture of it. I did find those exact bottles at TJ Maxx, made Martha's recipe, and printed the labels from Martha's template, so the finished product did look just like that.
I wrapped the bottle in a Christmas tea towel, stuck a pin in the bottom to secure it around the base of the bottle, and tied the tag around the neck of the bottle with a ribbon. We picked up a small bottle (not the airline size, but not full size) of Gray Goose vodka on the way to the party to give with it and had a thoughtful yummy hostess gift for under $20!
I made quite a few Christmas gifts this year, but I also let other handmade crafters/artists do some of the work. I found some great gifts for friends and family, so it's show and tell time!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Handmade soaps not only leave your skin feeling fresh and pampered, they look lovely in your soap dish... much prettier than those pea green bars!
Handmade soaps make really wonderful gifts! I received a set of "sushi" soaps packaged in a take out container for Christmas 2 years ago and absolutely loved those! But my favorite use for handmade soaps is as party favors. I had some soaps cut in the shape of cupcakes made for favors for Elle's first birthday (since all the little ones were 12 months or younger, it was more for the adults), we had clear birthday cake scented soaps with black music notes floating in the center made for the adult favors for her 2nd birthday (I had separate favors for the kiddies), and we used bath fizzy's as favors at a Welcome to the World baby shower I helped plan.
Spotted Cow Soaps is the shop for all things soap related. This Vermont crafter not only creates 100% pure and natural soaps, she has tons of products to choose from! Spend a minute browsing her shop and you'll find some limited edition soaps (the peppermint one sounds so refreshing... that's got to be my top pick!), sugar scrubs that look good enough to eat, bath fizzies, body lotions, and even some soaps with a loofah submerged in the bar. Add this shop to your Etsy favorites for the next time you need a special handmade gift for the person in your life that deserves some pampering!
Friday, December 19, 2008
that a law will go into effect on February 10, 2009 that will force Elle Belle and nearly all other handmade crafters of children and baby items to go out of business?
My understanding of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is that it requires that all products (toys, strollers, clothing, diapers, slings… ALL products) intended for children under the age of 12 be tested for lead and other harmful contaminates. Once the product is found to be free of or within the minimum allowable level of contaminates, a certificate will be issued for all future runs of that particular product, and must be included with the product at the point of sale. Every material used in the product must be individually tested and every variance in color must be tested as well. For example, an Elle Belle embroidered sling would require testing on the fabric, the thread used to sew the sling, each color of thread used in the embroidered design, the rings, and the label I sew into the seem. If the manufacturers of the materials are required to supply a certificate for their item (like the rings from Sling Rings that I use in the construction of my slings) their certificate would not be sufficient for my use in certifying Elle Belle slings… every manufacturer must obtain their own testing and certificate for the completed product. The testing is to be conducted by a 3rd party and is expensive. I’ve seen estimates from other sling makers who have determined that the cost to test and certify just one sling would be between $300 and $2,500. If the law goes into effect, on Feb 10th, every non certified children’s product will be considered hazardous material and can not be sold. Anyone found selling uncertified items will be subject to excessive fines (I’ve heard as much as 100,000) and even potentially jail time.
Sooooo, what will we do? In the hopes that the law will be revised, to take into consideration the small business before it goes into affect, you can reach out to your representatives to shed some light on the issue. If you don’t already know, here are the links to find out who they are: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml and Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
What follows is the open letter Etsy has written regarding this issue. I revised it just a bit to fit the perspective of it coming from me. You can just copy and paste it if you don’t feel like writing your own.
This is an opportunity to see what a grassroots movement can do, and to be an active participant in our government.
I am among over 200,000 artists, crafters and vintage collectors that sell their items on Etsy.com. Many of us make toys and other items for children. Made with love, care, the human touch and—often—all-natural materials, these items bring the consumer marketplace back to a personal level where customers can chat with toy makers and even create custom items for specific needs. Etsy members are part of a larger movement that seeks to creatively provide people across the globe with alternatives to mass-produced goods. Many of us will be forced to close our businesses on Feb. 10th because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. What follows is an open letter written by Etsy in hopes that something can be done to ensure that small businesses and micro enterprises are being taken into account with this legislation.
Many Etsy sellers are work-at-home-moms and dads. Among them are crafters with the skill and heart to preserve traditions of toy-making or to innovate their own methods of making children's items with a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hands-on philosophy. You can meet an Etsy toy maker and seller by watching this five minute video portrait (all of our videos are published under open Creative Commons, so please feel free to repost). Amber Dusick, aka woodmouse.etsy.com and Los Angeles-based toy-maker/work-at-home-mama, is an artist who would be impacted by this proposed legislation if it is enacted. Amber uses sustainably harvested woods, non-toxic paints and beeswax along with her wood-burning tool to create simple, natural wooden toys. Her imagery is reminiscent of a child's crayon drawing come to life in wood.
Amber, like other Etsy toy makers and sellers, is fearful that as a sole proprietor she will not be able to afford the stricter regulations of the Act; the cost of testing and certification is likely beyond her means. She told Etsy, “I'd be more than happy to have each of my toys tested, if it wasn't so cost prohibitive. It is the COST involved in testing that will shut us down, it isn't that anyone refuses to have their work tested."
The Small Business Administration defines "small business" as under 500 employees. Most of our Etsy members are either sole proprietors or maybe a family or studio of friends working together. Many craftspeople on Etsy have told us that they could be put out of business if forced to comply with the proposed legislation. This is the painful irony bound up in the CPSIA.
Our members would like to better understand how the CPSIA took into account these smaller businesses operating with fewer resources for testing and compliance. We believe Etsy artisans are pro-testing and pro-safety; the problem is the prohibitive certification costs relative to their small businesses' incomes. Our community is concerned that this legislature disregards small businesses in its attempts to regulate large corporate entities.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (the CPSIA), and on August 14, 2008, President Bush signed the Act into law. Further information on the Act is available at the CPSC website at http://www.cpsc.gov/ and helpful FAQs are located http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/faq.pdf.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Posted by Stacey - Elle Belle at 8:41 AM
Friday, December 12, 2008
come out to the most rockin' craft show in Florida, the Atomic Holiday Bazaar! Make a left when you come in the doors and Elle Belle is the last booth in the corner along the front wall. Stop by to say hello and check those little ones off your Christmas list!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I really love this idea for a cutesy thoughtful gift! My Doug says it's a little kooky... but I think that's because he is a native Floridian and didn't grow up in IL (a.k.a. the frozen tundra) like I did. He has never been awoken in the middle of the night by the pain of toes so cold they've turned white and threaten to fall off like little chunks of ice. He's never, in his sleep, wrestled with mounds of blankets to get sweaty wool socks off his feet. If he had, maybe he would appreciate the warm... but not too warm... comfort of a hot water bottle at the foot of his bed.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It's Christmas card time! I love getting Christmas cards in the mail! It's so nice to see a hand written piece of mail in the box now and again (not just that hand writing look font those tricky marketers use to get you to open their junk mail!) and it feels good to make the cut among your friends... after all, they did have to add yours to the total number of cards purchased, hunt down a pen and your address, and spend 42 cents on you. I used to take the time to write a Christmas letter every year, but now that I have this blog, a personal website, and a FaceBook page, I think a letter would be Doug, Stacey, & Elle overload. So lil sprout greetings made this photo card for us this year (and did it really quickly... in case your Christmas cards are still at the bottom of your to-do list):
To all my bloggy friends, you would make my cut... I'd totally spend 42 cents on you if I had your address! Thank you for reading my ramblings so that I'm not just out here talking to myself. I hope you'll have a fabulous holiday and an even better 2009!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
BROOKE OF THE "LIVING MY DREAM" BLOG, COME ON DOWN!
I used a random number generator thingie and it picked the comment # that matched with Brooke's comment. Congratulations Brooke, you won the Elle Belle Original Tag Blanket!
Thank you all for stopping by to leave a comment. I know there were a ton of blogs to visit and I appreciate that you took that extra effort to check out my shop! I hope you'll be back when you need something for the little ones in your life and that you'll visit my blog every now and then.
Welcome Sew Mama Sew visitors (and my usuals of course too)! I'm hoping to make it a bit easier to add some handmade goodness to your holiday, so I'm participating in the Give Away Day and giving away this Minky satin crinkle corner tag blanket. All you have to do is check out my Etsy shop and leave a comment here on my blog about your favorite Elle Belle item. I'll pick a winner at midnight tonight and post it here. Good Luck!
• Hidden crinkle material gives one corner a curious crunchy sound & feel • Built with unbeatably super soft genuine Minky and satin, they are oh so snuggly • 12 distinct ribbons compliment the fabric and add a variety of texture and color • At approximately 14x14 inches square (not including the ribbon), they’re just the right size for the diaper bag and convenient for car seat playtime
Elle Belle tag blankets are designed to sooth little ones while engaging them in tactile, auditory, and visual, exploration. They are the perfect cozy alternative to the larger crib sized comforts they know and love. Will they be jealous of your super cute handmade gift at the next shower? ©