Handmade all the way.

Well, looks like I made it all week! Yay for being able to set a goal and complete it. I must celebrate the small victories. I remember the times it was hard for me to initiate anything. So, I am two seconds from a “high praise”. Lol.

The previous posts can be found starting here.

thank you

Thank you for allowing me to process and share with you this week. It’s been good to think more about why I wanted to start Valentine Handmade. So, the last thing I’ll share about is how it all began.

The reality is, I love to work with my hands.

I was an adult before I could own this part of my design. Of course, as I look back, I can remember creating things throughout my life. But, there is something about those light bulb moments. They change everything.

Growing up, I lived next door to my great aunt. She is a retired educator. She was a collector of items. She was a seamstress. I knew little about the art, but would see her at the machine sometimes. I even remember her making a couple of clothing items for me. I always hoped that she would. I do believe this is where the seed was planted. Nothing stirred for years though. Fast forward to marriage and children. For those that like stories, you can read more about how my husband got tired of hearing me talk about learning to sew and decided to do something about it, here.

When I started sewing, we didn’t have much money to invest in tools and fabric. I used whatever I could get my hands on. Nothing was safe at all. With each item I made for my children or my home, I learned new skills. For example:

These

blankets

became these

cloth diapers

and these

burpcloths

and these

wipes

And here we are today. I’m still making children’s items and I love it! I like making things for big people too. So, you’ll probably see a mixture of products that are made from upcycled fabrics as well as those made from new materials. But, if I’m being honest, I think my sweet spot may be upcycled items. We’ll just have to see how this thing goes. It is a good feeling to restore value to something that has been forgotten or discarded. Here is my daughter wearing a top we refashioned from her grandfather’s shirt. See what I mean?

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I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. Stick with me if you want to know what’s happening with Valentine Handmade. Thanks again for stopping by.

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Gotta be nimble, but not like Jack.

Continuing on with my journey of discovery here. If you care to start from the beginning, you can go here.

This one is simple, yet complex. Nevertheless, my desire.

be nimble

There are some things in my life that must come into proper alignment. Flat out. I don’t want the King to call and I have every kind of excuse as to why I can’t move. I mean, two- thirds of his name is “Go”, so if I’m stuck, I’m just not seeing how that’s beneficial. I’m being silly, but serious. There are times we need to be still. But if He’s calling, that’s not one of them. I want to hear well, move right away (delayed obedience is still disobedience), and not be encumbered by excuses as to why I am not in position to respond. I gotta long way to go, but I’m moving.

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It is my hope that Valentine Handmade will allow me to contribute to my family financially. It is not required, simply desired. Not desired because I feel like I’m not doing enough. I do quite a bit around these parts. Or, I’m not using my degree. I work with my family socially everyday. Lol. Or, I feel useless. I’m quite used up at days’ end, in a good way. Or, I feel like I’m losing myself. I have found more of myself in the past 11 years, than the years before. Now there are those days when I’m chasing kids and the house is a mess that I feel like I’ve already lost the game. For me, it’s simple. Whether I’m creating a garment or a curriculum, I have skills that are monetizable. Valentine Handmade is a platform that will hopefully allow me to share these things.

I love to create, and it shows! I’m sorry, I am unable to refrain from the cheese right now.

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To go to the last post in this series, click here.

Be life giving to other children.

To see previous posts in this here little series, you can go here.

Learning to receive and give is a crucial component of our humanity. Even the tiny cells in our bodies have a way of balancing this great exchange for maximum productivity.

Before we can give, we must learn to receive.

Our children have been the recipients of intentional kindness from others.

note from Louise

My heart gets so full and often overwhelmed with the love that has been shown to my family.

note from Lashauna

 

I know what it feels like for someone else to love on my children.

note from kaitlin

Intentionally engage with them. Correct them. Speak truth to them.

Abraham's not from the Kearns'

 

Pray for them, and the list goes on. It is a beautiful expression of what community should be.

Processing this topic , and searching for the above items, led me to the understanding that I really like notes. I love handwritten notes! That’s just it. Not an email. Not a text. But a written note. I remember leaving notes written on napkins to my waiters when I went out to eat. Oh, those were my favorite. They would mostly be little words of appreciation for their service and a few words of encouragement for their journey. So, I am over the moon to know that my children have started their own little collection of handwritten notes and meaningful gifts from others.

This is a gift I would like to give to other children.

Since I make clothing and toys for children, I’m thinking this would also be a wonderful avenue to incorporate this note writing love of mine. I just have not quite figured it out yet. I have some ideas brewing.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

To go to next post, click here.

Something to invite my children into.

This is part of a series where I share the motivation behind Valentine Handmade. If you missed it, the intro is here.

It is good for my children to see me pursue a thing that brings me joy using skills they have watched me build. It is part of their growing identity. They come from a line of artitisans before them on both sides. So, it’s important to me that they have opportunities to create as well as receive things created for them.

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They need plenty of opportunities to learn what brings them joy. Sewing is one form of creative expression they are exposed to. Per chance, this creative art is not a mainstay of their life’s call, they will still be able to walk away with transferable skills to any industry.

I want my children to:

  • learn the value of work and time

  • learn to care for themselves

  • learn how to do what they don’t feel like doing

  • learn to ask for what they need

  • learn to express themselves

  • learn what satisfies them

  • develop their talents and resources

  • learn to receive and to give

One more thing………..

Maybe I’ll feature something like this when I want to share bits of my story.

Tamika’s Corner –

I am thankful to have a family. I can’t say I was one of those girls that dreamed of it from a young age. I was in survival mode. Raised, primarily by my great-great aunt, as an only child I spent lots of time alone and learned the art of quiet. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned of the absence of several things I needed for growth, maturity and joy. I thank God for second chances. I am a parent that is being re-parented. There are two seasons that must run concurrently for me:

1. I must parent my children by giving sacrificially without expecting anything in return, while building a home. 2. I must continue to grow and mature, by assessing and addressing the gaps in loving community with others.

Valentine Handmade is a result of me finding something that brings me joy and pursuing it. I am thankful for the opportunity for my husband and I to share this experience with our children. They see it all, the fears, the joys and are still happy to be with me.

Thanks for stopping by!

To go to next post, click here.

Week of sharing

Happy Monday lovely people! This is going to be a special and interesting week for me. I’ll be taking each day this week, Lord willing, to share a little bit about myself and Valentine Handmade.

I must be honest, it was a bit difficult for me to take the leap on Valentine’s Day, just to say to the world, “hey, I’m here”. I so wanted to have everything figured out. I so wanted to have an online presence that was without spot or wrinkle. Lol. Not so, I still don’t have things figured out. However, I did come into this knowing it would be a journey of discovery. For me, the victory was in taking the leap. I would learn, then I would share.

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Sometimes I even find it difficult to put things into words. It’s like my spirit knows a thing exactly, but getting it to my head and out of my mouth or hands can be challenging. We’ll give it a whirl this week. If you’re interested, I hope you will stop by and hang out with me for moment. I would even love it if you asked me some questions that might further help me to process. Is there anything you would like to know about me, my family, Valentine Handmade, etc.

Ok, so there’s one thing about me you should know right off the bat, I LOVE QUESTIONS.

I love the art of asking questions. I think it is a most beautiful thing. I’m generally the one asking questions in my effort to soak people up. I like questions because they help me learn. They help others get to information they otherwise would not have without a question. Stories are fascinating, and I’m determined to get to the bottom of each one. Of course, this doesn’t happen, but the process is fun.

Oh, and I love to savor thoughts, ideas, memories, encounters, etc. Some think you can only savor food. No, no my friend.

Have you ever taken a good thought or memory and dissected it into a million pieces? If not, you should try it. I don’t know why we don’t do it for the good stuff as much. We’ll take the bad stuff and beat it to a pulp replaying it over and over in our minds. Hmmm, this must be why we are encouraged to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (you get the idea). It’s not that we live in denial about things that are “not so good”, we must not allow that to become our new basis for decision making. Gotta get back to the truth.

Either way, this week I’d like explore my “why” for Valentine Handmade. I’ll share the topics now, and take a day to expound on each one starting Tuesday.

-to create items that meet practical needs and are beautiful

-to build something to invite my children into

-to be life giving to other children

-to create a nimble lifestyle through financial freedom

 

Going back to the thought of good memories, I’ll leave you with a story I’ll call “The Gift of Liquid Gold”.

Abe birth

We brought our sweet baby boy home from the hospital after a beautiful labor and delivery experience. He has proven to be my “water baby” in every sense of the word. He was born in the water, and it is a life-line to him today. It is his place of calm and happy. Our first couple months were hard. I struggled with low milk production despite my feeble attempts to amp up my supply. In some ways I felt like a failure, not being able to give my child the very thing he desperately cried out for. I gave him what I had, but it was not enough. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if he drank formula. I tried everything I could get my hands on. His body would not keep it down, or he would cry for hours in protest. At 3 months old, my baby had finally made it back up to his birth weight. He was tiny. One day I received a call from a dear friend offering to give me her extra breast milk. She had given birth a week before I did. From what I understand, it was the first of her three pregnancies where she had a surplus of milk. Hmmmm. Coincidence? Not in the least.

abe3

My baby took the milk immediately and without hesitation. My body was less tense. I was able to sleep better. His belly was full. We had peace. The supply we were given, held us and our little baby over until I could wrap my mind around a homemade formula. Which I happened to run across during the pregnancy and decided I would read up on it because it sounded intriguing. Not that I would need to use it, I was just super curious. Ha! Turns out to be the exact formula I started making to feed our son. After the donated milk was consumed, he transitioned to the homemade formula without a hiccup. I know even the thought of homemade formula may send minds into, “Wha?” But when your little one won’t eat, you do what works. You do what’s necessary. We were truly grateful for the gift of “liquid gold” from a friend. Her sacrifice was truly priceless. Each year I remind him of how God sent a raven to feed him.

Retelling his story to him is one way we build joy.

I kicked off the first day sharing a couple of things I like. Do you like to do the asking, or do you like answering questions? Thought about any good memories lately?

Tamika

To go to next post, click here.

The birth of a young designer

Sometimes parenting can be downright hard. Other times, you laugh and smile so hard the back of your jaws hurt.

I’ve had some tough times being a parent to my oldest daughter. Not because of her behavior, but because of my lack of maturity in certain areas. One of the fastest ways I think a person can grow is by taking care of children. It’s like they are sent here to make sure every ugly thing inside of you is eradicated little by little. Lol! But first, it all has to be brought to the surface, just like impurities in metal that has been put into fire.

God knew I needed some serious growing up. So, He sent me a strong-minded, opinionated, justice-loving, sweet, giving, talkative and creative little girl. Those adjectives just skim the surface. Such a lovely gift for an introverted mom. Lol. Seriously.

There is much we could talk about concerning parent-child relationships, but today I want to share how my daughter impacts me with her creativity. She has always loved to create. Sometimes, I find inspiration in her work.

One day, I happened to walk past while she was coloring on white squares of paper. At that moment, she was using a blue marker. Her design immediately spoke to me and said, “I am a fabric design!” I thought to myself, “Why, yes you are!” I spoke none of the such to Karis. I simply suggested that she should create a design with each of the colors if she wanted to. She already had pre-cut squares of approximately the same size. She happily got to work and when it was all finished, presented me with a stack of designs.

Fast forward. A package comes in the mail and I ask Karis is she would help me open it. I handed her the package and walked away. As soon as I heard squeals and a loud “mom!”, I knew she had realized what I’d done. And just like that a fabric designer was born.

So, we got to work on creating a design with her first print. Sneak Peek.

karis fabric

Today, we will be sharing some items we made with another one of her designs.

For this print, we went with an organic cotton knit fabric. It offers a little bit of stretch, and I knew I wanted to make a cute shirt for Karis out of it.

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We went with a raglan shirt with a peplum, and I thought it would be fun to leave the edges raw and unfinished. I thought she did such a great job on this design.

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She is giving me a full ethnic vibe here with this print. I’m loving it so!

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Even though she is 9 now, she was my same silly and beautiful model at 4…………..

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5………………….

pics44 103

6……………………..

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7……………………..

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and 8………………….

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Awwwwww, singing, “Back down memory lane!”

Well, getting myself back on topic. This post would not be complete without showing you what I did with the remaining fabric.

Can’t leave little sis out.

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That’s all folks! Catcha next time!

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I hope you have enjoyed spending a little time peeking into our little creative world. Making clothing for my children is one of my greatest joys. I’m so glad I am now able to share this joy with other children through my business. There are some fun things in the works for Valentine Handmade.

So, what do you think about this budding designer I have over here? Leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you.

Shine

In addition to Valentine’s day being on the February 14th, my family celebrates another special event. It is the day we have chosen to be our youngest daughter’s “blessing day”. Well, the day kind of chose itself. I did not have a formal shower for her during pregnancy, but knew I wanted to celebrate her in a special way.

Some of my dearest friends gathered together to have a “baby blessing shower”after her birth. I asked those in attendance to bring something they felt was specific to Contessa and would contribute to her spiritual vitality.

contessa-canvas
This was one of the gifts presented to the baby

It is important to me to have other people pour into my children. It is equally important that I invest in others’ children. It really does take a village, or in our day: community. Others have wisdom and insight I don’t have, so I am grateful for those that are willing to share.

Just as our physical births are celebrated each year, we wanted to incorporate a day to celebrate the growth of our spirits. I believe we have three parts that make up our humanity:

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I think our culture gives high priority to our souls (mind, will, emotions, intellect, etc.) and our bodies, which is not a bad thing. However, I do feel we could be more intentional concerning our spirits. This celebration is exactly just that. When I say “be more intentional” I don’t mean adding more routine activity. I’m talking about noticing the uniqueness of each person’s design and attempting to create an environment where they will thrive.

The goal is that this day we specifically set aside will, over time, become another “high point” in the person’s year.

mountain-top

Just as birthday’s are highly anticipated and celebrated. What would happen if our spirits were preparing months in advance for blessing day? What would interaction with God look like at that time of the year?

Here is what we like to touch on during these “blessing” days:

  • Revisit the concept of identity beginning with the significance of their name.

  • Do a “year in review” where we recap what we have observed in them. Mountain times. Valley times. In between times.

  • We set up a strategy for the year ahead to be intentional about spiritual growth

  • We present anything special we have for the person

  • We may do some type of activity depending on what the family member likes

In no way are we master’s of this, and it is certainly not a mandate from God. There are no hard and fast rules here, and I’m certain there are plenty other creative ways to encourage spiritual growth. The way I’m wired is such that I thoroughly enjoy looking at life as a treasure hunt. Once those treasures are found, the next best things is to celebrate! This is only our second year doing this for 3 of 5 family members. For the remaining 2 it will be the first year. So, we may have years ahead of us before we see substantial growth.

This year I wanted to give Contessa a special handmade item. I was thinking about the scripture Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

I thought about how with each passing year it seems that the darkness just gets darker. In contrast, I believe the light gets brighter. One thing I will be praying in this year ahead for Contessa is that she will be light in darkness. Just as stars put forth useful energy and light into the earth, I pray that she does the same throughout her lifetime.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

Psalm 92:1-2

Sounds like the sun, moon and stars (and whatever else) have some special things going on up there! What are they saying?

I decided Ms. Contessa would receive her very own star pillow! (graphics added) I love to see her bop around the house carrying stuffed toys we’ve made.

Shine little one, shine! Not every day will be sunny and bright, but this is part of who you are.

                                                                                                                                               -mom

shine-star

And this is how I make sewing meaningful.

If you are interested in having your very own star, or to gift to someone else, you can find them here. They would also make a wonderful addition to various home decor projects.

P.S. If you like birth stories, you might want to check out this one that our photographer wrote about Contessa’s birth.

 

With Love,

Tamika