• Laura

Happy Harvest!

Embracing DIY more than ever before following furlough/lay-off


Every year as the summer heat starts to slowly drop a few degrees, schools go back into session, and inevitably every retailer in the universe starts preparing to roll out their marketing campaign for holiday-themed everything. The pop-up Halloween shops start sprouting out of nowhere, the pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrow men start lining the grocery store entrances, the photographers are advertising their fall/holiday “mini-sessions,” and the coffee shops are excitedly announcing their latest pumpkin-spiced feature item. There are even a few brave establishments that think it’s ok to start sneaking out a few Christmas related items very discreetly because they just can’t help themselves. Don’t act like that hidden Santa wasn’t intentionally placed there to catch my child’s eyes and start begging for toys when we haven't even picked out this year's Halloween costume!


Don’t get me started on the craft stores. Historically, walking into these places would have sent me into panic mode. I’d usually walk in for a quick item like a picture frame, play-dough, or maybe a little activity book for my boys, trying not to stare at the million aisles of opportunity to be creative, knowing that I just didn’t have the time to take on discovering what could be done with the items lining the shelves.


I envied the moms that had a scrapbook for every milestone, made their kids' costumes and seemed to have all kinds of domestic secret creative crafting talents that they could call a hobby. I wanted to do those things, but as a career mom in hospitality, working for a hotel that never closes its doors, I was barely getting the basics of life accomplished, much less a gingerbread-house made.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually pride myself on my creativity, and in many ways, my artistic thought process has helped me succeed. I’ve just never been a maker. I’m an idea person, with very specific opinions and design ideas on how things should be or what I need for a specific space, event, project, outfit, or activity. It’s probably also a patience issue, I want things done quickly, and correctly and I haven't wanted to suffer through the process of trying to figure out how, getting the materials, assembly, the mistakes.


My parents are makers. My dad's hobby ever since I can remember has been woodworking and building custom furniture pieces. He does beautiful work and taught my brother and I the basics growing up. My mom was the craft person that always engaged me in these projects. She sewed every Halloween costume I had, painted, made wreaths, and still does county cross stitch (the list goes on with her). I always enjoyed doing these things with her, but I’m sure she’d agree my attention span didn’t last long during the execution part.


I’m 100% an Etsy gal. I've decided anything you can come up within your head as something you’d like to gift someone, decorate with, or monogram can be found on Etsy. Someone OUT THERE, makes it, for a reasonable price too. Why would I spend the time doing it myself when I could pay to have the subject matter expert customize it how I want and ship it to me?


And then I was laid off.


Suddenly the funds for my impromptu Etsy purchases were no longer there. I had time on my hands, and children looking up at me like “what are we doing today mom?” I had to start homeschooling at one point, with so many other parents as the pandemic shut our communities down, had a summer upon me, and then yes... a plethora of holidays to barrel through and prepare for ahead.


So I got my Pinterest boards set up, and began the search for approachable projects I could tackle without having a meltdown. Off to the craft store I went, coupons in hand.


In the Parenting Redefined blog, I mention some of the activities I’ve been doing with my boys. I’m honestly pretty proud of some of the cute things we’ve made, and it’s brought us closer. The googly eyeballs are still a hit, and my 2-year-old will eagerly accept any finger paint challenge. We celebrated Easter, Earth Day, Fathers Day, and the 4th of July by learning and doing our little crafts. We line our pantry doors with their works of art and they love looking up at their “showcase” and mailing certain pieces off to family members to show sentiments of love.


Most recently though I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Rob and Howard Iske from Orange & Field, the lifestyle brand that we are featuring this week as one of our furloughed Innovators. They have basically changed my life, well mom life, with their website and YouTube videos showing a combination of new and classic projects that I can comfortably take on without feeling overwhelmed. My boys love the videos, and always respond back “hi friends” on cue, and look forward to seeing Chef Charlotte help or teach the kid-friendly activities. We simply load their shows on our TV and let them roll, and the boys pick out which project they want to do next. Most of the ideas are using materials you either have in your house, a starter craft kit or can be found after a quick run to the grocery store. Simplistic...totally speaking my language.


With Halloween approaching, we picked out a few of the projects we wanted to take on and had the best time together “making.” Since the projects are all so simple, I don’t have to worry as much about their attention spans or frustration levels spoiling the moment. We enjoy the time together, celebrate the finished product, and then can move on smoothly to the next part of our day.


We took on their easy pumpkin bags, the ghost lollipops, and then my 4-year-old and I did our own version of the pumpkin button art. We also plan to make the “witches brew” drink for Halloween night to share with the other kids that we are hosting.


Here is our experience with each of these fun crafts:

PUMPKIN BAGS:

  • These turned out to be great little home decor pumpkin pieces that I've now scattered around the house, love how the paper bag gives them an organic textured effect

  • Great way to incorporate household items into a quick, easy, and CUTE project for the kids

  • My husband handled the spray paint aspect in the yard with the boys, and then the next day we set these up to be completed during a playdate with their cousins. Simple, quick, and then the cousins had a fun takeaway to bring home

  • The instructions on the video show to fill these bags with candy. I opted not to do the candy and stuffed ours with orange crinkle stuffing paper


GHOST LOLLIPOPS:

  • A classic project that for some reason I never did as a child, so these were fun and EASY to do with my son

  • Requires such basic materials that most likely you have at home, other than maybe the actual lollipops

  • My son saw this video and insisted we make them ASAP, so we ran out to the grocery store, purchased the lollipops, and then had a lovely afternoon of batch making these while we “chit chatted” about life

  • We used both blow pops and tootsie pops, as I’m not a fan of tootsie pops and wanted an alternative. I learned that the tootsie pops do take shape a bit better since the wrapper doesn’t bunch on the top

  • We made a TON of these that I then scattered around my house as fun Halloween decor with the thought on Halloween night we could do a “ghost lollipop” hunt with the cousins

However, I'm noticing my husband has been facilitating his own ghost lollipop hunt as each day they seem to go missing!


PUMPKIN BUTTON ART:

  • We are SO proud of how this one turned out! My son and I did this together while my 2-year-old napped and it was such a great exercise in teamwork. One to glue, one to places the buttons. And you have to decide together which color/size for each button you use for every move.

  • The instructions on the video show doing this on cardstock. I found a cheap piece of whitewashed pallet board at the craft store and decided to use that as our background and then turn it into a seasonal decor piece.

  • The most precious part about this project was that as we finished gluing the buttons he had me hold it up, and then said: “mom, on the bottom we need to write HAPPY HARVEST!” He’s four years old people, but how clever and how sweet.


It feels good to know that I’ve somewhat conquered the DIY life that I dismissed before, however, I can feel confident that I have appropriate resources for my skill and patience level like with what Orange & Field provides. It’s all in one location and I can easily scroll through by category to find ideas that appeal to me.


I’m sure I'll still be Etsying again soon, or at least for specialty items I genuinely can’t tackle alone. Also exciting Innovator news, we have two more rock star MAKERS that have turned their creative side hustle crafting hobbies into businesses that we’ll be featuring in the coming weeks with specialty unique products that they offer. Stay tuned for WHO these fabulous girl bosses are and get excited to SHOP because I’m sure you are going to want to start getting your custom orders the moment you see their work.


In the meantime, I’ll be over here cautiously navigating my new DIY life, taking one holiday at a time, and one glue gun glob at as we go.


Happy Halloween to all, we hope you get creative, stay safe, and have fun!