Following the dream...running a business as a stay at home mom, navigating the fashion industry, sharing resources, promoting like minded people and businesses

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A handmade Christmas, heartfelt memories

I was so excited to close up shop 4 days before Christmas this year and make presents for my family.  Finally I would have time for those side projects that swim in my head while I am working on orders. 

My list was short and sweet:
A bathrobe for my daughter Marlise, with pockets of course.
A Hot pink faux fur and black and white damask blanket for my sister Alicia

But once I finished these I added in 2 dolls for Alicia and Marlise and 2 faux fur bone chew toys for Sam and Chloe who would be joining us for the holidays.  Sam is my parent's golden lab and Chloe is my brother's Maltese.

I have never enjoyed gift giving so much!  Here are a few pics to share the love with you!

Straight for the pockets.  Now that she's two the first question I get every time she gets dressed is "does it have pockets".  If it doesn't have pockets she invents them.
Alicia's blanket turned out so nice I almost wanted to keep it.  I guess I can make my own though. ;) Look at that smile!  She loved it!
That's Marlise and a sneak peek at Sunshine, kangacoo's first doll.

Marlise and Chloe.  Marlise got a kiss for the bone chew toy.  I don't mind letting her take the credit.  I'm not big on dog kisses.
Sam loved her bone too!  She pranced around the living room with it in her mouth shaking her head around like a ferocious beast, far from the sweet girl she is but we enjoyed the show.

Making presents this year was such an enjoyable memory for me and knowing my gifts will be cherished for a lifetime makes my heart sing.   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Traditions: Swedish Christmas

I am sure you have a tradition that you celebrate every year, one that warms your heart for months to come, one that really kicks off the holiday season for you.  For me that tradition in Santa Lucia, a Swedish Christmas celebration. 

I was the first Santa Lucia in my family; being the oldest granddaughter in my family gave me the privilege.  I was dressed in a white gown and red sash and a wreath with lit candles (yes lit and I was only about 6 lol) was placed on my head.  I then paraded around the living room full of my family and extended family serving them cookies to the Santa Lucia song.

I wish I had a picture to insert of me here but instead here is a picture of my niece who was Santa Lucia this year along with my great aunt who organizes this every year with my grandmother. 

Over the years we have added the other children to the procession. 
Little Star boys...this is my nephew Evan.

And light girls...this is my niece Lia

This year my little Marlise got to be a light girl for the first time.  In a few years she will get to be Santa Lucia.  Here she is:

This is such a special tradition for my family and we have such a good time eating and laughing and spending time together.  I feel so fortunate to come from a family with strong traditions.  Thank you Grandma and Auntie Margaret!

Here is the history of Santa Lucia, sad but true. 
St. Lucia is an Italian saint who has been "adopted" by the Swedes. (She gave her dowry to the poor. Her fiancee denounced her for this. She was blinded and burned. The flames didn't touch her so she was stabbed in the heart. The red sash represents the wound. It is said that she appeared during a famine in Sweden in the middle ages carrying food to the farmers across Lake Vännern.)

She is associated with the idea of light. In the middle ages, December 13 fell on the shortest day of the year. (In Sweden, the sun is not up very long in winter. In some places it doesn't come up at all.) This holiday celebrates the fact that the days will now get longer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey takes round one...

I am one of those people that has to have the holiday perfect down to the finest detail including handmade place cards with different thankful quotes inside each one.  It had been years since I had hosted a major holiday and I was thrilled!  It all started off so perfect.  The house was clean and decorated, the turkey was roasting, sides were prepped and our 24 guests had just arrived with hugs and thankful hearts. 

Quickly quiet, clean and Hallmark went to loud, messy and chaos.  But that's what makes a holiday a holiday.  The women filed into the kitchen with wine in one hand and cooking utensils in the other and the men filed outside with the kids or plopped on the couch to catch the game. 

Everything was going to plan until that turkey had to act up.  It was time for a basting but the stubborn bird had not produced any juice in 3 hours!  Had I not thawed it enough?  Was the oven not working?  The temp was not even 130 yet!  My sister in law calmed me and told me to just give it time.  We added some broth to the bottom of the pan and turned up the oven.  Next check in an hour. 

The hour passed quickly as we munched on egg rolls and made some sides.  Then we called in the men to pull out the bird.  But that bird had plans of it's own and did a swan dive breast first out of the pan and into the back of the oven.  In a panic my brother in law and husband tried to get the bird out of the back of the oven and back into the pan.  During the process my husband burned his thumb to a crisp and the meat thermometer broke on the floor.

The turkey was salvaged but the house was starting to quickly fill with smoke.  As my sister in law sopped the juice from the bottom of the hot oven I ran around opening every door and window in the house.  My guest politely smiled like nothing was wrong but even through the thick smoke I could see the underlying look of sympathy in their eyes.  One guest actually left.  My sister in law tried to calm me again and offered a glass of wine and my other sister in law commented that she shouldn't give me wine because it would make me "more emotional".  The straw that broke the camel's back as they say.  My eyes welled up, my lip quivered, my sister in law offered a hug and Niagara falls came forth.

Then in my smoke filled kitchen next to my undercooked turkey the true holiday moment emerged.  My family and friends formed a procession line of hugs and kind words that the holiday is about being together not about the food.  I accepted the white lies, wiped away my tears, and had that other glass of wine.

In the end dinner turned out great.  The turkey may have taken round one but the joke was on him at the dinner table.  We all sat at the table and passed food, gave toasts and shared our quotes on the hand made place cards.  We listened to the kids tell what they were thankful for.  The Hallmark beginning of the evening had come full circle to wrap up the night. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Charity, who gives?

It's that time of year again.  The time of year where pleas for donations meet you at every store front, fill up your email inbox, and ooze from your front step mailbox.  In this time of tight purse strings should you give and does it really make a difference?  A touchy question I know but one that should be talked about.

I will admit I have always been a minimal giver to a few foundations.  Never more than $20-$100 at a time but I have chosen ones that I continually give to.  I see it like a like a savings account, if I keep plunking away at it I may have something big to enjoy later.  It takes faith though.  With so many people giving towards so many causes will "a cure" ever really be found?

I have always given to breast cancer research.  I have participated in 3 60 mile Susan G Koman Walks and raised over $2000 each time.  I was inspired to do this by my grandmother who survived breast cancer in her thirties.  She recently just survived it again called me this week just a few days after her second mastectomy to say that the procedure this time was so much less intrusive, that the pain was so much less, and that the technology used to detect it was able to catch it soon enough for her not to have to go through radiation or chemo.  She said she felt the walks I did helped to contribute to this.  My eyes teared and my heart swelled.  Not because I felt I could really take credit for this but because I knew that if we all keep giving together we can make a big difference in people's lives.

So please continue to give in faith.  Give to whatever charity means the most to you. 

In honor of breast cancer awareness month I urge you to give to breast cancer research.  If you donate to Images for a Cure this month (only two days left) you can get a free photoshoot.  Perfect for those holiday cards!  If you are in so cal book with Nicole from If not you can book with a participating photographer in your area. Check the details here:
Tis the season to give.  XOXO Katie

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Cereal Fairy

Today I had the opportunity to revisit the corporate world and my old Boss and while it was great to say hello it really reminded me of how I am living the dream now.  My dream.  While I am not making as much money as I used to (yet), and I certainly don't have an office to leave my work at, I am doing it all my way.  I am exercising my creative outlets and I am staying home to raise my daughter; two luxuries I don't take for granted.

Things look pretty different in my new life.  I went from suits and high rises to sweats and suburbs.  Breaktime consists of well...NEVER.  And while I run a business I keep tabs on a toddler with one eye.  Multitasking to the max doesn't always work out.  For example, last month I was trying to get some fabric cut while Marlise played in the tupperware cupboard.  I was 10 feet away and could hear her but had my back turned.  Then a loud noise that could only be...
I turned around to hide my smile and composed myself.  Then I faced her with my sternest mommy face and said, "you clean this up before I come back or you are in trouble!"  Back to finish cutting; I had to clean the floors anyway.  A few minutes later I am done and back in the kitchen to check on her progress.  I walk in and gasp, "What are you doing?!?!"  "Eating blueberries, Mommy." she replied with a smile.
A day at the office could never trump this.  Living the dream!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grand Opening of Fabulous Baby/Momma Boutique!!!

Is this not what we all have been waiting for?  A boutique with fashionable momma clothes and boutique baby items all in one place?  Getting all you need and only unbuckling and bukling in the baby one time?  What a dream!!!!!!

Not to mention it is owned by one of the most amazing women I have met!  Mother of eight and always a smile on her face!  Susan Swafford

I am so excited to announce the Grand Opening of Baby Vie!  Baby Vie Grand Opening Party on Friday Sept. 10, 2010 from 3:00-5:00!  Come enjoy Batter's Up cupcakes, face painting, balloons, Alex's Lemonade Stand, champagne, raffles and new to the line up, a Cake specially made for us by Tiffany Vargas' aunt Mary! Don't miss the fun!

Baby Vie Baby and Maternity Boutique (in Civil Disobedience Btq.) in 4S Commons

10550 Craftsman Way #184
San Diego, CA 92127

kangacoo products will be coming soon to Baby Vie!

More info about the store and grand opening:

As many of you know, Baby Vie opened in 4S Ranch on September 1, 2010! We've partnered with Civil Disobedience Btq., a boutique featuring women's clothing and accessories, to offer women of all ages and stages a fun and fashionable shopping experience. We've both added dozens of new fall styles in babies, toddlers, women's and maternity clothing and accessories.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! In honor of our good friend TIffany Vargas and all the other children battling this devastating disease, Baby Vie is donating a portion of our profits in September to Alex's Lemonade Stand, a foundation dedicated to raising money to fight childhood cancer.

Please join us for our GRAND OPENING *Family Happy Hour* on September 10th featuring balloons, face painting, Batter's Up cupcakes, a special cake made by TIffany's aunt Mary, champagne, raffles, special discounts, and an Alex's Lemonade Stand...100% of ALL proceeds from the lemonade stand will go to fight childhood cancer through ALSF.

With Peace, Love and Appreciation,

Susan Kramer-Swafford, Baby VIe Owner

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School Photography Special by an AMAZING Professional!!!

50% OFF Back to School Photography Special for
Elementary Age to Seniors!!!
Why spend all that money on school pictures that are terrible?  Take your kids to Nicole for great pictures you'll cherish forever and your children won't hate you for later!  For example:

Take advantage of this deal offered by Nicole Benitez Photography!

This fall is shaping up to be a busy one and with the kids headed back to school I thought it was a perfect time to offer a Back to School special before the holidays are upon us. I'll make sure we have hair and makeup artists {for the seniors and sweet sixteen's} and styling for every session. As much as I miss the lazy days of summer,it is going to be a fun fall!

Back to School details: Kids and Senior Stylized Sessions at a 50% discount!!
{Session fee, prints and digital images 50% off}

Email me if you would like the nitty gritty details and to book your session.

Sessions must take place before Sept. 30th. 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bring on the cold weather and bring out the Outerwear!

So I can't believe summer has come to an end.  I think I missed it because I have been hiding away in my garage sewing outerwear for Japan. I can tell you sewing faux fur and minky in 100 degree weather is not fun!  But the growing orders for my outerwear line is exhilerating!  Check out my spread on one of my Japan client's sites.

I have recently had the privilage to work with some amazing photographers to share my new fall and winter lines with you.  I will be highlighting them all very soon.  In the meantime enjoy a couple pictures from my new outerwear line complimens of Nicole Benitez and Anne Pearson

Thursday, June 24, 2010

10 Places Kids Eat Free!

This is too good not to share! Since they only eat 3 bites on their plate half the time anyway it would be nice not to pay right?


Friday, June 18, 2010

Surfacing for air! Fashion Friday

I have been so behind in blogging!  and cleaning the house and getting a pedicure and....but no complaints here.  it's because I was enjoying vaca with the family and creating kangacoo outerwear 2010!

Here's one of my favorite pics from our vacation.  We went to the wild animal park in San Diego and this is my little girl in kangacoo of course.  She looks like a little aborigine with her barely there ponytail.  It makes me giggle.

And in honor of Fashion Friday here is a sneak peek at an outerwear 2010 design.  For more go to

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Can we thank WW1 for the mini skirt?

In honor of Memorial Day I am dedicating this post to how war changed fashion.  In times of war women's roles had to change requiring their clothing to adapt to their new roles.  Women took over work in the fields; enter stage left:  blue jeans.

With a shortage of money and fabric women were required to mend and make do.  Magazines featured articles on how to turn a pair of mans pants into a woman's skirt or how to make underwear from a wedding dress.  This is a trend we still hold on to.  Just google "reconstructed clothing tutorials".

Ever tie a scarf on your head?  This is another fashion trend that took off during war times when women had to work in the factories.  Long hair was a hazard around machinery.

So, can we thank WW1 for the mini skirt?  Well in many ways we can.  During World War I, thanks again to factory work, long skirts were a hazard.  So up came the hemline!  Well it wasn't that drastic, the skirts only came up to mid calve, but since then the skirt started it's gradual ascend up the leg.

So this weekend as you remember those that committed or commit their lives to keeping our country the land of the free and the home of the brave, pay a little tribute to the women.  It is the women that have and still hold down the fort while men are at war and by adapting to their new roles have paved the way for the fashion trends you appreciate today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Handmade Humpday: Fabulous Finds!!!

There is a lot I love about having a handmade business but lately what I love most about it is my new online community of people that make things for children.  Etsykids!  The talent out there is amazing!  Be sure to go to their web page and check out the summer shopping guide!  But just in case you don't click the link above here are a few fabulous finds from the Etsykids crew.

Talk about amazing and I want one of each!  These chairs and stools are awesome!!!  (Awesome in a yo yo gabba way if you know what I am saying.) 
Here are a few of my favorite stools.  Be sure to visit the link to see the chairs too!

These dolls are to die for!  Sure to be any little girl's favorite!

About MissBakerStitches:
I am a full-time Art Director for a national magazine. So I sit behind a computer all day long. I love that I can come home and sew. It is just another creative outlet for me that is stress-free. Another reason I love it is that I started sewing for my 18-month-old daughter before she was born. I got so many compliments on her dolls and clothing. One child can only use so much stuff. So now I can enjoy sewing for other people’s children and make some spending money doing what I love.

I am crazy about zebra and if you are too check out this shop!  Here are just a few of her wonders.  (She does a lot more than zebra so be sure to click her link.)
About DitsyBitsy:
My favorite thing about having a handmade business is that I am able to create unique items for my customers. Things that are not available in stores or anywhere else. It always makes me happy when they tell me that they love my work.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fabric Part Deux: LA's fabric district

LA Fashion District:   glitz, glamour, the place to be!!! 

Well one out of three isn't bad. 
(disclaimer, these pics are from google.  I had an 18month in tow so I didn't bring my camera...stay tuned for pics of my finds later in this post.)

While the fabric district in LA is not the prettiest place to visit you can find great fabric at great prices!!  For example...designer cotton for $5-6/yd, minky for $7-8/yd, Tulle for 50cents/ get the picture.  They have what you need at prices you crave!

A few tips when you go:
1a.  Wear comfy shoes, there is noone to impress here. 
1b.  Look like you know what you are doing or you will get the "tourist price"
2.  Stores specialize in certain things, and there are several that specialize in the same thing
3.  That said, do not buy at the first store you find.  Go to each one and barter.
4.  That said, No doesn't mean no.  Just start to walk away and see.  If you are being reasonable they will    give you the price you want.
5.  The more you buy the cheaper it is.
6.  They ship, and it still saves you a lot of money!
7.  Bringing your impatient toddler is not reccommended.  LOL

I have been going to the fabric district for 2 years now and it doesn't lose it's charm.  I love my vendors.  I love wading through fabric and hoping the rolls don't fall over and bury me.  I love how every vendor tries to sell you something you don't need because it's how you learn.  I love the hot dog carts that I never eat from.  And I love my finds!

This trip was for my minky and faux furs for winter outerwear 2010.  And for velvet for fall/winter clothing 2010.  Here is a sneak peek.

If you sew the fabric district should be on your to do list.  You will be glad you went.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fashion Friday!: All about fabric!

This week on a chat board a fellow seller asked if designer fabrics are worth the extra cost (to the seller and the purchaser).  It was a timely question because it was one I have been contemplating.  Just finishing my first dress collection I used all designer, Michael Miller, cottons. 

On the upside:  The prints are beautiful and unique, and the cotton is a heavier weight and feel nicer than most cottons found at the local fabric stores.  They also seem to shrink and wrinkle less.  You may want to consider the longevity of your product when selecting fabric. People buy products (and return to buy products) that last. And the designer cottons do.  Here are some of my selections for Spring/Summer 2010.

On the downside:  They cost twice as much as other cotton fabrics.  They are a little thick.
You can learn more about Micheal Miller Fabrics by following their blog

Now that I am looking to Fall/Winter 2010 and Spring/Summer 2011 I am exploring other fabrics. 

Stretch knits:  here are some awesome ones by Patty Young for Michael Miller click here to learn more

Cotton blends and stretch velour.  I want some knits that don't wrinkle and have a little stretch.  I found this vendor in Los Angeles.  You have to buy in bulk but they have a great selection!

Seersucker, this is a nice lightweight cotton for summer and you can get it very cheap.  Lots of seersucker available on  
Here is a darling little dress by sewsweetboutique:

and of course my faux furs for my outerwear collection.  Here are some from last year:

There is a lot of fabric out there, get outside the box and your local fabric store and explore and experiment.  Be sure to read up on fabrics before you buy.  Some require special cleaning, some shrink (a lot) like stretch knits, and some wrinkle like crazy.  Make samples in a few fabrics throw them all in the wash and see which hold up the best.  You want clothes that are easy to wear and easy to wash.

Happy fabric hunting!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Handmade Humpday:What to wear with that dress?

So today is now deemed Handmade Humpday! 
It is a weekly special that will inform you and inspire you!  Handmade ain't what it used to be...wait until you see the talent that lies in your own backyard (or at your finger tips)!! 

A few facts about Handmade items:
The quality is high because each item is made with care and pride.
The item is unique, won't find this at _____ fill in the blank with your favorite retail chain.
The item is reasonably priced.  Really!  I'll prove it to you!

In this post I will highlight some great items from my online Etsykids handmade community that coordinate with my dresses in my Etsy shop.   In addition I have asked the artist what they love most about running a handmade business.  Be sure to stop by their Etsy shops using the links provided to see all the great things they create! 

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

If you are still waiting on your daughters hair to grow in you will relate to why I love these clips.  Perfect for short hair and they don't slip.  Not to mention they are dah-ling and you get 5 for under $7! These would go great with any of my kangacoo dresses! Actually if you visit her shop you will find a clip or bow to match anything in your little one's closet!

I love the pink ones here with my Black Floral Suri Dress
These clips are made by Sunshineshoppe: My favorite thing about having a handmade business is creating new, fashionable products. I love designing new clip sets and love hearing feedback from my customers. I have many moms send me pictures of their little girls wearing my clips. It is awesome to think that something I created is bringing joy to another family across the country!

For a little girl sometimes the best accessory is a great toy.  Here are some little dolls I have fallen in love with!  I know you will too!
These dolls and many others you have to check out at her site are by peanutbutterbandit: What is your favorite thing about having a handmade business? I love the creativity and freedom it gives me. I'm the boss so I can take my designs in any direction I choose

Next up is not really an accessory to wear with my dresses (unless you call a little brother an accessory) but these onsies with ties are so cute and coordinate so well with my Marli dress I had to share!  Did I mention they are a steal at $7 each?

Goes so well with kangacoo's Zebra Marli Dress

Goes great with kangacoo's Leopard Marli Dress

These onsies are by Bellasweetboutique:  I feel my shop gives children's clothes that special handmade touch you just can't buy at the department store. I try to keep my prices reasonable, so that everyone can afford my clothes.

Speaking of my Leopard Marli is a splurge that would go great with it!  A girl needs her sparkles!  Be sure to check Dara43's shop for more colors and styles.

These shoes are by dara43:  I was a court reporter for 25 years and had too many back and neck problems, so at least with my home-based business I can work at home and it's less stress on my neck and back, although it's much more time-consuming. I have teen-age boys and a very supportive husband. I run this business solely by myself and have no help, so I have to be very disciplined. I work over 15 hours a day 7 days a week and my family has put up with me, so that's been a true blessing. I often tend to put my customer's needs before myself, and I have to start to find a balance and a happy medium, which I hope to in the near future.

That's it for this week folks.  Hope I've inspired you to buy handmade next time you shop!