I’m so excited to finally be able to share what I’ve been working on the last couple months. I’ve gone back and forth about what all I want to offer in my shop for a long time now. Shipping is much more costly and difficult than it was when in the US so I’ve wanted to sell things that were digital. I had thought about selling my old art digitally but have been unsure about just putting my art out there like that. And then it just suddenly hit me one evening that I could sell custom invitations. They would fit in with the vibe of my shop with being both personalised and mostly centered around babies/children (even though any of it can be for other purposes). Plus with each invitation being so custom it wouldn’t be as easy to just resell them.
I love painting with watercolors and so enjoyed some quiet evenings while the kids were asleep painting different animals, vines, banners, backgrounds, etc. I used the animals for my ornaments as a starting off point since if someone is buying the ornament they may also be helping with a baby shower! So, they can coordinate!! And then I made a couple others that might be popular baby shower themes. I want to continue to add more in the future but started with 6 different options. And 2 of those options I have made in a blue/pink version.
For the process I played around and painted on watercolor paper until I got things I liked. Then I scanned the paper and brought it into photoshop elements. Since I painted different pictures on the same page I isolated them and saved them separately so I could move them around and work with them individually. It was fun to play with them.
I continued to work with them until I got them just right. (A fun fact: For the information I put on each invitation, I used first and last names from different friends and family and also places and numbers that mean things to me.) At first, I had planned on only offering invitations but then I thought it would be fun to offer coordinating items to go with each one. So, I made a matching thank you note and also a shower activity called “Wishes for Baby”.
It’s funny, before I moved here I was involved with hosting SO many showers. I was/am in that stage of life where everyone in my friend circle is having more and more babies and so I was always helping to host them. For the last few I did I was usually the one designing the invitations so it’s really pretty natural for me to be doing this now. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me sooner. Part of hosting showers was figuring out games/activities to do and so I thought I had seen most of what is out there. I noticed this “Wishes for Baby” activity when doing some research for this and couldn’t believe I hadn’t come across it before. It’s so sweet. It’s a little form that each guest fills out with hopes for the baby. The parents can then keep them and look back at them as the child grows. There are things like “I hope you learn…”, “I hope you get your Mom’s/Dad’s…”, “I hope you try…”, etc. So, I made one of these cards to match each invitation. In the future I may add some other things as well. Let me know if you have any requests!!
After creating them digitally I then printed them out to see if they looked good in real life. There were a couple that I made changes too once I saw them printed. When I used to sell my prints I used archival quality Epson paper that was so thick and lovely and textured. It really made the ink colors so deep and gorgeous. I don’t have that here but figured the watercolor paper I used to paint on would give a similar look. So, I cut it out of my spiral since it was a standard A4 size and it worked great. I highly recommend it as a cheaper way to make your invitations LOOK super professional and expensive. Also, with the designs being watercolored it really makes them look like they are painted on and not printed.
I also bought a corner craft punch so that I could make the corners rounded. They looked good with normal corners but once I rounded them it really elevated the look.
Most people on Etsy who sell similar items just show a mock up that is just digital but I wanted to take pictures of mine to show the real thing. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to use as a backdrop and was also waiting on some good natural light to take the photos. On the day that I cut the paper and corners I had them laid out on my couch. When I was done I looked down at them all and realised that I could use a couch cushion as the backdrop! Ha. It is a light gray and has lots of texture which is what I was wanting to contrast with the white paper. Once I get an idea in my head I’m not usually great at waiting and want to do it right away. So, I told Ken I was going to walk down to the park at the end of our street and pick some flowers. I grabbed one of the kid’s Easter baskets and some scissors and cut different wild flowers, purple leaves off of a tree, plus some grasses and twigs. It was probably after 7 pm and the sun stays up here during the summer hours really late but it was cloudy which was making it get darker than it could be. So with my sunlight running out I put an old blanket on the ground out behind our house, put a cushion on top of that and then played around with putting the prints on it and surrounding it with groupings of flowers and leaves. Afterwards I could hardly stand up again since I had been bending over for so long. My back actually hurt for a couple days after that…apparently I need to do some back exercises. It was great to have that stage complete though.
I also needed some other close ups of each piece and realized the blackout curtains in my bedroom would work for that with them also being gray and having a slight texture. So I put our ironing board next to the window, laid the curtain on it and then took turns taking pictures of each print. So funny that my sofa and curtains became the backdrop. But the price was right!
The next step was figuring out how to format it for people to be able to download it and print it. It took me a while to figure out how to do that and then do it 48 times for the ones that are instant downloads (which are the thank you notes and activity since they aren’t custom). I made it so for each of them you can have the option to print yourself with 2 on a page sized for both letter size which is the standard 8.5×11 inches that Americans use or A4 which Europeans use. I also uploaded a jpeg of the print’s actual size in case people need it that way.
For the invitations, you will tell me what you want it to say and I’ll email you your own custom invitation! I also think a perfect gift idea is to give the mother-to-be one of my baby’s first Christmas ornaments to match as a sweet way to remember the baby shower.
Well, so that was a bit about the process from first idea to final product. I hope you’ll keep me in mind the next time you are needing some printable invitations!!!
Today I want to show you what I’ve been working on the last 2 months. On Monday I will share a post I wrote that goes into detail about why I made them and the process I went through from beginning until now. So please come back for that!
But first, here are the printable invitations I have created and am selling in my shop. They feature watercolored animals and designs which give it a custom, high-end look without the custom, high-end price! To start with I have 6 different themes with 2 of those having a blue/pink color option. I used my animal ornaments as my initial inspiration so they can coordinate. The thought is that you can use the printables to host your baby shower and also give a coordinating ornament as a personalized gift to remember the day.
And to make it even easier on you when hosting the shower I made additional items that match. First, there are thank you notes which could also be given to the mom-to-be so she can send them out after the shower. Second, there is also a shower activity called “Wishes for Baby” where each guest fills out the form to share their hopes and wishes for the little baby. I thought it was such a sweet keepsake for the family to look back on in the coming years.
The great thing about being digital downloads is that YOU have control. You can print them from your own home printer or go to a local copy shop/printer or even use an online printer. You can get the look just the way you want it at a price you can afford. Online printers that offer custom invitations cost around $3 per invitation which would add up very quickly. With these you can print out as many as you need!! I printed these on watercolor paper that I got on sale. It was spiral bound but I just cut it out and used it since it was A4 size (the normal printing size in the UK). The pictures really don’t do them justice, they look and feel so nice. The weight of the paper and the texture really makes them look expensive and professional.
And to celebrate their new release I am putting them all on sale for 25% off until the end of August. No need for a coupon code, I changed the prices in my shop! So, please think of me the next time you need to host a shower/party. Hopefully in the future I can make even more options. Let me know if you have any requests.
After our night in Casorate Sempione, near Milan, we took 2 trains down to Rome. I’ll share more about the process of train travelling in another post. We spent the most nights in Rome so this will be the longest post and has a ton of pictures. So I apologize for it being long.
Since we spent 4 nights in Rome the best deal for us ended up being to stay in an apartment. I had preferred us to take a van taxi to the apartment so it’d be quick and we wouldn’t get lost but Ken convinced me to try taking a bus. It made the process take longer and was a bit more confusing and we definitely got turned around for a few minutes after the bus stop but we managed to find it in the end. (I think it is worth paying a bit more for the taxi for the speed and convenience. Just make sure you get an official white taxi so you don’t get scammed. But there are apps to help you figure out which bus you need for which stops if you want to use them.) There was a man waiting there for us and he showed us around, answered questions, gave us the keys, etc. After that we explored the area a bit and got the kids some gelato.
We have a dear friend and honorary member of the family, Candace, who was living in Spain and was moving back to Texas a couple weeks later and she had a few extra days to do some travelling before she left. So spontaneously a couple days before our trip we started talking about her coming to Italy too. She ended up flying down and spending the days in Rome with us and it was such a joy to have her. Not only do we just really like her and were happy to see her again before she left this side of the world but it was so awesome having someone else to help with the kids in such a big, busy city. So, you’ll be seeing pictures of her down below with us. Having another adult with us, who is easy to travel with had so many advantages. We had an equal adult to child ratio, a couple of the evenings when my feet were killing me she was able to walk with Ken and help get some food for us to eat, take pictures of us at places so we actually got some pictures of all of us together, and since she is fluent in Spanish could help translate the Italian. Now, I have to say that not just anyone could have joined us and lightened the burden. Some people if they are a different temperament or not as independent or familiar with traveling can make things more stressful. Thankfully she is someone who makes things easier instead of more complicated.
Okay, so the next day we woke up, ate breakfast in the apartment and walked over to the Vatican. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for that to be the first thing we did but we were in town for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as our full days. It is closed on Sunday and would be even busier on Saturday, so Friday became the choice. I had researched so much about what was the best way to do this and was hoping that what I had read would work out because I was going against a lot of advice. You will read that the lines to the Vatican museums are really long and you need to pre-book them and then you might get lucky and be able to go out “the wrong” door to take the short path to St. Peter’s but it seemed that was something that was monitored more now and was unlikely to happen. I had read that if you went to the museums in the afternoon there was no need for a pre-booked pass (which saves a little money and you don’t have to be there at a specified time) and so we did it in the reverse order of many. We started our day at St. Peter’s and got in line immediately for the dome. We paid the extra to take the elevator up to skip the first steps and it was worth the money in my opinion knowing that we’d be walking all day and wanted to save our feet as much as possible, especially with little kids. Since we got there early there really was no line which was perfect and as we left close to noon the line was huge. So, we really did great in that way. The climb was challenging but not nearly as bad as people made it sound and although it does get small it wasn’t as claustrophobic as people had said either. The kids did great and the view was amazing. Thankfully we were there in the spring when it wasn’t too hot. I can see how if you were doing that when it was really hot it would be harder, especially with even bigger crowds. And as I had been warned in other readings, just pass by all the people out front who try to offer guided tours and promise skipping the lines.
We borrowed this carrier from a friend and it was worth its weight in gold on the trip. This isn’t Disney World which is stroller friendly. We did see people pushing them around but with the cobble stones, the steps everywhere, and not being to just leave it if you’re going up to the dome, etc it just didn’t make sense to use one. It would have been very difficult for William to climb the steps all the way to the top and even harder for him to come down them since it is steep. He actually just climbed the 246 steps up the Wallace Monument in Stirling the other day but it took forever to come down with him since he was nervous about falling.
The two big kids each have a little kid digital camera that they’ve had a few years and it was great for them to have them on the trip. I knew that this would be our longest un-kid friendly day but had gotten good advice to let the kids take pictures of things to make the museums more interesting for them. It seemed to work well.
After we left St. Peter’s we had to walk around the walls of the vatican to get to the entrance to the museums. And we stumbled upon this little pizza place. It didn’t have a name that I could find outside so I can’t easily recommend it but it had signs about Rick Steve’s liking it so maybe it’s mentioned in one of his books. The pizza was good and cheap. It was also a nice, fast way to eat so we could continue on our way to the museums.
There was a mirror on the wall behind us which allowed Ken to get this fun picture below.
I was nervous whether or not I had made the right decision about not pre-booking the museum since paying a few more Euros would be worth it if it saves you an hour or more of waiting in line when you have 3 kids and will be walking for hours through the museums. But I’m glad we didn’t because we were able to walk right in and get tickets. I had read that it wasn’t as busy in the afternoon and that proved to be true – although don’t get me wrong, it was really busy!
The whole place was packed with people and it makes you a bit like cattle going through. We knew that we’d have so much to see before getting to the sistine chapel so we mostly did a walk by of everything. We didn’t spend long looking at any one particular thing. If so we would have used up all our energy on that and never made it out. I was overwhelmed by how much was there and it really felt like I was visiting a hoarder who happens to have a big place to put it all. I’m glad all those pieces of art are saved somewhere but it was just SO much.
We were of course excited about seeing the Sistine Chapel but there were so many amazing ceilings in there that were just as magnificent.
Pretty much every floor was covered in gorgeous mosaics. You really could spend so much time there looking at every detail and still miss something.
There was an Egyptian section which was cool and seemed a bit random with the other items. The kids enjoyed it a lot.
Towards the end you can either cut out the last chunk of the museum and go straight to the Sistine Chapel or continue on. We almost skipped it because it had already been long and we were tired but I had heard so many people say the Raphael rooms were amazing so I hated to miss it. So, we went the long way and part of that includes going through a modern art section. By that point I was so zombie like that I totally walked right past some paintings by Salvador Dali. If Candace hadn’t called me back I would never have noticed them.
There is also a section that has art from Matisse which was nice.
You are not allowed to take any photos in the Sistine Chapel. It’s kind of an unexpected reason why if you’d like to read about it. There are workers who yell, “no photos”, and “no talking” which breaks up the atmosphere of trying to take it all in. It was really great to see and pretty amazing to be in this room that I have learned about for so long. Of course not getting to see it until the very end made it difficult since I was really worn out by that point. And it is hard to look up at it for long since it hurts your neck. But it is totally worth seeing and a masterpiece.
I would definitely recommend going to both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. They are truly amazing places to see and hold so much history. The kids did really, really well considering how much walking we did. There were some tapestries that showed babies being slaughtered from the story of Moses I believe and even though I had heard there was art like that I was expecting it to be paintings and my daughter saw it before I did and was pretty upset by it. So, we walked past that part really quickly and I had her look at the tapestries on the other side. We also tried to point out different animals or cool things we saw and ask the kids about things they saw and just try to keep it interesting for them. The cameras proved to be really helpful in keeping them engaged and giving them some sense of control over what they were doing. The pictures on those little cameras aren’t very good but it was really more about the process than the product.
On the way back to the apartment we got some gelato at the one place we always got it in Rome and it was the best we had in Italy. And then later that night we went out for dinner at Bernini Ristorante recommended by the man who let us into the apartment. It was right on the Piazza Navona which I think inflated it’s prices a bit but the waiter we had was so nice and ended up giving us appetizers for free and dessert as well!
The next day was Saturday and it was our day to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Mouth of Truth. It was the group of things that was farthest from where we stayed. It took probably around 45 minutes to walk there.
The first thing on our route was the Bocca della Verita or Mouth of Truth. It’s believed to be part of a fountain or a drain cover but legend says that if you tell a lie while your hand is in it it’ll bite your hand off. Thankfully we all left with our hands attached.
It surprised me but it’s actually on the wall of a covered porch of an old church. They have the front of the porch lined with a metal fence or wall. It wasn’t how I imagined it to be. So, because we got there in the morning there was a big crowd and we probably waited half an hour. Of course one of the kids had to use the bathroom and I don’t remember if we ever did find a place or if we made them wait. We checked and the church didn’t have a toilet. Anyway, I’m sure if we came at another time it might not have been so long but this kept us from backtracking. To help keep the line moving they tell people to only take one photo per person. So, our time up at the mouth felt very rushed and short but it was fun none the less.
On our way to the Palatine Hill we walked through Circus Maximus which is where they used to have chariot races. It was windy but a great place for the kids to be able to run. One of them did end up falling and skinning something in the rocks but they survived. It is nice how everything is relatively close together.
This was when we were approaching the Palatine Hill which is next to Circus Maximus. We chose to start with that first and then do the Roman Forum and end with the Colosseum because I had read that there can be long lines at the Colosseum but not at the Palatine Hill. It also lets you travel down hill and when you get to the exit of the Roman Forum you are near the entrance of the Colosseum which is very convenient. I definitely always tried to be as strategic as possible with our walking.
We actually bought the tickets and then asked where we could eat lunch. There was nothing that close but we found a little pizza place that would have been ok but the kids weren’t behaving and we were sitting outside and we were unprepared with how chilly it would be. I really couldn’t wait to be done with lunch.
This kind of looks like all the kids need to go to the bathroom. ha.
We really missed a lot of what the history of the place was but again, there was so much to see and you could spend a really long time at each of the 3 locations. We enjoyed just walking around. Candace had downloaded some free audio tours from Rick Steves but we kind of forgot about them and it would have been difficult for us to all listen to it without bothering others. I’ve heard they are really good though.
This was the spot where we got out of the Roman Forum area and walked to the Colosseum.
The flat part down below is where the floor would have been and everything down below it is where the animals were kept. They could raise them up through the floor. I wish we could have done one of the tours that takes you down there but they were all sold out by the time we looked into it. But really by the time we got there we were really tired from all the walking we had already done and so it was ok to not be listening to a tour guide and just to wander around. It is still an amazing place to see. After seeing it so much in pictures it is pretty unreal to be standing in it.
One of the items we bought as a souvenir is a book that has pictures of what sites around Rome look like today and then there is an overlay that then shows how it would have looked originally. It isn’t cheap (around 18 euros I think at the Colosseum gift shop, although we saw it other places too) but it was great for the children to look at and understand what they were seeing.
The next day was Sunday and so we thought it’d be cool to see how they do church in Rome. We found Rome Baptist Church online and their morning service is in English. They are an international church so all throughout the week they have classes and services in different languages. It was nice to go there and the people were very friendly and kind. It also worked well because it was near the other section of town we still needed to see.
I had found the name of a cheaper restaurant in a Lonely Planet guide that was close to the church and the Pantheon and so we ate there. We made it in right before the big lunch rush. It was a nice meal and cheaper than a lot of places we saw.
The first thing that hit us when we first turned a corner and came up to the Pantheon is just how taken aback you are with it’s huge size. We just hadn’t imagined it to be that big.
We stopped at the store Bartolucci and bought a couple little wooden items. It was a fun shop to see and the kids really enjoyed taking these pictures. Our youngest loves Pinnochio so he kept yelling out his name every time he’d see one.
We went to the Trevi Fountain and I hadn’t realised that it was in such a small area. I expected it to be on a big piazza but it was so crowded with people. We had to push our way to it. We gave the kids and Candace coins to throw in insuring that one day they’ll be back.
The Spanish Steps were closed off. There was a big marathon through Rome that morning and so it looked to be because of that. So our stop there was brief. Candace and I tried to drink from the fountain at the front of the picture as others were doing. It was harder than it looked.
The last thing we did which took forever was to look for the cat sanctuary. The problem was that it is in a different place than I was remembering. And we asked every local we could find including guards as we walked and none of them had any clue what we were talking about. I knew I wasn’t crazy and so finally we found an English bookstore and I looked it up in a guide and we found it. It’s located at the site where it is believed that Julius Caesar was killed. I thought you could go down in the ruins but you have to just watch from the side.
Thankfully Candace’s phone worked really well for maps so she could lead the way. We were going to get sim cards there but the ones we use in the UK had a pretty cheap plan for using them in another country so we just did that.
There was a part where you could go down into where they care for the cats. It was fun to see them but it also smelled.
This is the famous last picture before that cat attacked him. I wasn’t even watching him (Ken took this photo) but apparently he was being gentle, he just ended up with a cat in a bad mood. I was really nervous that he’d get infected or some disease. All I had on me was some hand sanitizer and even though I’m sure it stung I put some on his cuts (I think the cat bit and scratched him) to help kill anything. It ended up healing quickly and there was never any infection. It was comforting to know that all the cats have vaccines and are well cared for.
It was kind of a game of where’s Waldo looking for all the cats hiding amongst the ruins.
This is the gelato place we ate at every day. There was always a line and had lots of locals so you know it was good. The gelato is made there and you got 2 scoops for 2 euros and they would either dip it in chocolate which would harden or they would put whipped cream on it for no extra charge. Such a good deal!
Gelato was the main thing that made not having extra clothes difficult. After the first couple days I made sure to bring wet wipes with us since the tiny napkins you get don’t do much and don’t get the sticky off of fingers. Giving the big kids spoons helped them eat their cones with less mess.
Finally, here is the apartment we stayed in. It was so nice! I was confused when we first got there because it looked different than it did online and had a different name but after looking back at the listing I realized they had repainted and redecorated it. I found it on the site Friendly Rentals which after looking at countless places for days/weeks I couldn’t believe I had found a place that wasn’t priced too badly and didn’t have extra hidden fees etc like so many other places. The apartment was huge and in a good location. I wanted something in the Piazza Navona area so we’d be close to all the sites and it worked out well.
The last morning we woke, ate breakfast, and cleaned and packed. We walked down to a nearby bus stop and took a bus back to the train station. Wow, that bus got packed. It was laughable how tightly squeezed we were in there. I thought the doors wouldn’t be able to close but whoever designed it was very smart. I finally understood why some buses are notorious for pick pocketing. It would be so easy in a crammed situation like that.
That was a lot of info but I wanted to get it all down in one spot. The posts about Florence and Venice won’t be that long.
Rome is a great city and much easier to get around in that I had expected. I had also heard from many about pick pockets so I was really paranoid the whole trip. But we never had any troubles of any kind. Just like any big city if you are careful with your belongings and aware of your surroundings you should be fine.
The city is so full of history you could continue to go back and see new things. I highly recommend going if you ever have the chance. It was great being able to share the city with our kids and they still talk about the things we saw and did.
While we are living in Scotland and so close to everything on this side of the world we want to take advantage of cheaper flights and shorter travel times as our bank account will allow. In April, we went on a 10 day trip to Italy while the kids had a two week break from school. I wanted us to visit Rome, Florence, and Venice to see some of the big sites. We found really cheap tickets in and out of Milan on Easy Jet which wasn’t ideal but we made it work. After all the planning was done I might have done things a little different since the money saved on the plane tickets might have been spent on the extra train travel to and from the airport but, oh well, you live and learn. And what we did worked fine so it was ok.
While researching for the trip I read for countless hours on Fodors forums and other sites to see what others have done and what they recommend. So I have wanted to write down things that worked for us so it can help others as well.
We flew in and out of the Milan Malpensa airport. I didn’t realise until after I started looking for places to stay that Milan has a few airports and Malpensa is actually about 30 miles from the city. There is a train you can take from the airport to the central station in the middle of Milan. If Milan is ever having any type of expo or big event then the cost of their hotels goes way up for those days. They also tend to be higher during the week when business people commute there for work.
I didn’t want our trip to be stressful and push the kids too hard, so I thought it’d be best to sleep one day at the beginning and end of our trip in Milan because our flight was landing around 4 pm in Milan. We had already driven an hour and a half to the airport in Edinburgh and you have to get there early and then it was a 2 hour flight so even though none of those things is that long when you start to add it all up it would have been too much for us to then take a 30 minute train to Milan and then a 3 hour train to Rome. It seemed better to just spend the first night there and take our time. We thought it’d be great if we got to see The Last Supper which is in Milan but found out too late that tickets sell out for it months in advance. Or at least the cheap ones do. You can pay a lot for a multi hour tour for Milan that includes The Last Supper but we didn’t want to do that. They only allow you to see it for 15 minutes anyway so we didn’t fret too much that it wasn’t going to work out. But if that is something you really want to do, get tickets as quick as you can. I think you can start getting them about 3 months before the date.
Once I figured out that we really weren’t going to be spending any time in Milan and I couldn’t find anything we could afford that would fit 5 of us near the train station I started looking closer to the airport. I found a B&B on booking.com that had wonderful reviews called Il Terrazzo and was 5 miles from the airport. It has an apartment at the top that had beds for all 5 of us. For having to “waste” the first and last day of our trip on an extra place this place couldn’t have been any better. To show up tired in a foreign country where the first language isn’t English and to have someone waiting outside specifically for you in a van ready to take you to your home is such a luxury. Mario is so so kind and helpful and couldn’t be more accommodating. Before we got there he helped us figure out the best train station/route to take to save money and time to get from Casorate Sempione to Rome. He also took us to the near by train station (Gallarate) the next day and also picked us up from it when we returned at the end of our trip. He was so accommodating and answered all our questions. The apartment was great because it was roomy and clean and had everything we could need. There was a good sized balcony and so the kids could enjoy the warmth outside but still be close. They watched some cartoons in Italian and played with the few toys they brought. We were pretty worn out from the travel there so instead of eating out Ken walked down the road and ordered us a pizza. It was huge and good but know that if you ask for pepperoni they will put bell peppers on it. When we came back at the end of the trip Mario ordered the pizza for us and had it delivered and his wife gave us a cake as well!
Each morning they would bring us breakfast to our place at the time we wanted/needed and it was the traditional Italian breakfast which was rolls, croissants, fruit, yogurt, different things to put on the breads, juice, tea, coffee, etc. It was perfect.
So, if you need to stay near Milan I cannot recommend Il Terrazzo enough. Also, because we booked two times for the two different nights Mario gave us a discount which was great.
Oh and with the picture below, it was so cute. Our oldest son asked Ken why the sink was so low. Ha!
These pictures aren’t the best. It was getting darker outside when I took most of them. There are better photos on some of the booking sites but this gives an idea of the place.
I’m going to share posts from the three cities we spent our time at (Rome, Florence, and Venice) and also a separate one with public transport information. Overall it was a wonderful trip and we are so glad we went. Italy is beautiful and the people are so warm and kind, especially if you have 3 children!
The ornaments are now in the shop! You can find them here.
Also, I decided to add a cursive font to the options this year since I had a couple of requests last year. So now there are four font options.
And for the bunny this year there are four options for the tail. You can choose white, pink, blue, or gray. The pink and blue are a little different as well. They are a bit speckled. You can see all four options in the photo below.
Thank you for your patience as I’ve been setting up shop here in Scotland!
I’ve been working hard to get my ornaments close to ready so that when they are purchased I can get them shipped quickly. It has taken me longer than I would like or had planned but I am finally ready to open.
I’ll be listing four types of ornaments on Monday, November 2. I’ve made about 50 of each kind and when they are gone they are gone. Normally, I would keep making more but it has been difficult to find supplies in my new homeland so I can’t just run out and purchase more supplies when they start to run low and I would like to enjoy my holidays this year instead of furiously sewing the whole time. Hopefully, this amount will be enough to help most people get what they want.
Pricing has been a subject I’ve continued to put off thinking about since now I am buying supplies in pounds instead of dollars. That means if I am buying everything in pounds and then selling them for the same price I have in dollars that I am not making as much. I hate to penalize my loyal customers who mostly are from North America though just because I moved. And thankfully, although shipping will be a bit higher for Americans (although less for everyone else) it isn’t prohibitively higher. I need to be fair to myself though. I mean I’m not in this just to be doing favors for people, this is a business. But I want to compromise. So, I will be raising my cost a tiny bit to $22 from $20 try to offset supply costs. I think of these little ornaments as heirloom gifts, items that can be cherished and passed down but I don’t want the prices to be unattainable for most people. A lot of other ornaments can cost twice as much but I’m not prepared to charge that at this time.
It has felt really good to be sewing lately. I hadn’t done it in so long. When I moved I reluctantly thought I would probably wait a year to sell ornaments because of the logistics of it. But I have gotten so many wonderful emails from past customers asking me to make more so I figured out how to make it happen. Thank you all for your support!
One aspect of these ornaments that many customers have commented on is that because they are soft they can let their little ones hold them or help put them on the tree. I love that and since I have three young kids of my own I can appreciate it. We’ve had to put all our non-breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree for the last 8 years or so. Every time one of the kids gets to the age where they know better than to yank the ornaments off or try to eat them I have had another child. I look forward to the day when that is no longer an issue!
And don’t forget, if you are sending it straight to someone as a gift let me know. I can leave off the money amounts on the invoice and include a gift note from you. Just tell me what you want the note to say!
So, please come back on Monday to start purchasing your ornament(s). Remember, they don’t have to be for baby’s first Christmas. They can say anything…an inside joke, a name, a family name and year, it’s really up to your imagination. I also have people ask if they can do one from a different year and that is also no problem – no judgements here about back dating first christmas ornaments! That first year is a doozy.
I’ve got a special video for you today. It’s probably not at all what you’d expect but I wanted to share something very dear to our hearts…our washing machine. The washing machine in our house plays a lovely, happy tune every time it is done washing to let you know it’s finished. It just makes us so happy to hear it and makes you feel glad to do laundry. Ha, never thought I’d say that. All washing machines should play this tune.
We just learned last week that children in the primary grades (that’s the equivalent of Kinder through 6th grade) don’t get grades. That was a surprise. I can see positives and negatives with this.
Our baby is turning 3 on Sunday. Everyone already thinks he’s 3 or 4 because he’s so tall. We’re doing a small party at our house with just us and our neighbors. He’s been obsessed with Mickey Mouse since before we moved so that’ll be the theme. We got him a radio controlled car that can go in water or land which will be great for our weather and rocky yard. We also got a pirate Playmobil set and this blue horse. It is like the Rody horse but it comes with a pump and is cheaper. The reviews for it were just as good. I figured it’d be a good way for William to burn off energy in the house when it’s yucky outside. We’ve also received a lot of cards from family that we’re waiting to open on his birthday. I’ve been so impressed with how on the ball they’ve been. We are generally pretty terrible about getting cards out on time and being over here isn’t helping.
Here’s a random picture from a few weeks ago when the kids wanted to go camping out in our front yard. Also, they don’t say yard here, they say garden.
We are hopefully getting a car this week. We’ve survived fine without one but it’ll be nice to have one for exploring the country or running errands in surrounding towns. We keep running into issues with figuring out costs though with insurance or the yearly tax they charge based on the type of car/engine it is. Finding anyone to give us a loan is another story.
We’re getting a new boiler in the house today – well, work has started on it. A plumber came last week. We thought it would be to get the radiators unstuck and to make the noise in the pipes stop but he told us that the boiler was leaking gases so he turned it off and unplugged it. It’s amazing how not having hot water in the pipes of the house really makes it feel a lot colder. Thankfully, we have an electric heater in the living room where we spend most of our time and then are warm under our blankets in bed. Also, we have 2 showers that are electric so the water is heated for them right at the shower and a dishwasher which heats the water as well. So, it’s only been a minor inconvenience. We’re so thankful nothing bad happened to us with the leaking gas. Yikes.
I am planning on doing a food post at some point to show how a lot of the food here comes in tiny packages. We joke sometimes that it is food for hobbits. Although generally it seems that is the case more with processed foods than if you are buying meat or fruit or vegetables. When you buy fruit snacks you get 5 packs to a box at the most. When you buy microwaveable popcorn you get 3 packs to a box at most. When you have 3 kids or a group coming over it makes you have to order a lot more.
I made my computer be in British mode to make some things more convenient but spell check changes my words to British spellings when I don’t want it to. If I’m talking to an American then I want American spelling. Also, the calendars (called a diary) here go from Monday to Sunday which throws me off at times.
One more picture. The highland games happened a couple of weekends ago and it rained the whole day and was really cold. We tried to adventure out into it since it only happens once a year but after a couple of hours the kids were miserable. Actually, they were before then but we could no longer handle it anymore. This picture is from our walk back home. All the pipe bands were parading down to the event. I felt so bad for everyone competing that day. They were such troopers. We enjoyed our two youngest screaming pretty much the entire walk home. But we picked up some meat pies at the butcher on the way home and put warm, dry clothes on and had a nice hot lunch in front of our electric fireplace. Hopefully next year the weather will be nice for it.
Well, just some random thoughts and updates.
I almost forgot! I have been cutting my fabric for my ornaments and have just been waiting for the string to come in to start sewing and it just came through the door! I also just got the bags for my ornaments yesterday. It’s fun to be getting in all the supplies. I still need to order tags and business cards but haven’t decided on a printer yet. And then mailing supplies but that shouldn’t be difficult. Hope you are all having a nice week!
*Update down below on how we like them.
I have been keeping an eye on a new booster seat for the kids. It’s called the Mifold. Instead of pushing the kids up so that the belts sit on them correctly this pulls the belts down to them. It is still in preproduction and for pre-sale on Indiegogo. I finally pulled the trigger and bought two for my big kids so that I could get the 20% discount.
I’m super excited that it takes up so much less space than a traditional booster seat since fitting 3 kids in the back of a car is a challenge. We are currently car shopping and trying to figure out all these European cars over here. There are some larger cars that easily fit 3 car seats across the back seat but some of those cars are huge and the roads around here are so narrow at times. I really want a car I can park easily and zip around without fear. Also, bigger cars are more expensive so having a smaller car could save some money. We hope to travel a lot since we’re across the Atlantic now and having these will make taking the boosters along with us for rental cars and taxis much easier. We can just fold them up and stick them in the suitcases. Then we’ll only have one car seat to deal with.
I’m laughing at this post cause it sounds like I’m a commercial for them or that I’m affiliated in some way (which I’m totally not!). I’ve never seen one in person so I can’t vouch for them. But I’m hoping they work as well as they say which will be a great help to us in our situation. The only downside so far is that they won’t be shipping until March so we still have a while to wait. But since we’ve gone this long without a car and this long with borrowing booster and car seats we can hopefully hold out a bit longer. I’d been holding off on buying booster seats and a car seat until we got a car so I knew they could fit across but with these I’ll just focus on getting a car seat that isn’t too wide. Oh, I just thought of one more downside and that is the kids will be lower and not able to see out the window as easily. But they’ll grow and it’s probably safer that way anyway.
We didn’t bring any of our boosters or car seat with us since they have to be EU approved and none of the US ones are. Well, probably the simple boosters would have worked but they were really wide. We actually gave them all to Disney when we left (since we flew here straight from Disney World) and they were happy since they said sometimes someone needs a taxi and doesn’t have a seat. We were glad they found some use since we thought they might otherwise get tossed in a dumpster which would be sad.
Anyway, I just thought I’d post about it in case anyone else is in a similar situation and would find it useful and hadn’t heard of them yet. Crossing fingers it works as easily and as well as they say. Here in the UK you have to keep you kids in a booster seat until they are 12 now so I’m sure the kids will appreciate a seat like this more as they get older as well.
This doesn’t apply to us but it mentions carpooling and I can see how having this tucked in your car for when you have an extra child every once in a while would be very helpful. You wouldn’t have to lug around another seat all the time, taking up space in the back seat or trunk. It’d be great for grandparents as well for that reason.
Update: March 6, 2017
We’ve been using 2 Mifold seats for about 7 months now? I forget when we actually got them because we ended up having to wait about a year for them to arrive…which was a bit insane and way past the original date but I guess that is part of buying something from a crowdfunding place where production times can be unpredictable. Anyway, we were really excited to finally get them.
The are tiny and you can easily fit 3 in a row.
They would be nice as a back up for when having extra kids in your car occasionally because they’d be easy to stow away when not in use.
Because of the size they also travel great. We took them to the US with us when we visited family and friends last fall and it was great slipping them in our suitcase without adding a lot of bulk or weight to them.
They are not as simple/fast to put on as advertised.
They are really difficult to take off at times. The two arms on them that extend, lock so that they slide out farther without pressing a button BUT they don’t lock for sliding back in. It looks like this was done for the convenience of putting them away without having to push a button but we feel it is a major design flaw because as the kids are sitting on seats with the belts on the belts end up pulling the arms all the way in. Once the arms are pushed in it is really hard for the kids to get the belt out of the hook that is in the arm. It would work so much better if the arm locked both directions so it would stay the width you need it to. The button to release the arm is under the seat so it is difficult for the child to pull the button while sitting on it to release the arm again. We have had many a time when our two kids (ages 6 and 9) were crying out of frustration or refusing to use the seats correctly because they were a pain to use. We can buckle them and unbuckle them to help but it seems silly to have a seat that makes a 9 year old unable to use himself easily. It is also difficult to reach the child in the middle over the other children to help them.
So, I actually just bought 2 cheap foam booster seats off of amazon the other day that don’t have arms (since that is what makes booster seats so wide usually) and the kids are much happier. We will still keep our Mifold seats to use when travelling or if we have another child join us who needs one. But for everyday use it just got too frustrating and I worried about their safety since they weren’t always buckling correctly to avoid getting stuck in them.
Some people asked what the picture from the last post was from. We got the kids out of the house one Saturday while we were borrowing a car for a couple of weeks. Ken had heard of an annual event down the road called the Soldiers of Killiecrankie. It commemorates the Battle of Killiecrankie that happened on July 27, 1689. It was a nice to do a touristy thing after mostly just working on getting settled in and was a fun way to teach the kids some of the history of where we live now.
The event reminded us a bit of a renaissance fair. There were battle reenactments, a tour of the battlefield, a living history camp, a jester, and story-teller, etc. It wasn’t very big which was excellent for us with younger children. It was just enough for us to fill a few hours of the day but not wear us out.
It lasted for two days and at night they had a ceilidh. It’s pronounced “cailey” and is a traditional dance where they do different square dances with someone calling out the moves and a band playing along. We didn’t come back for that but look forward to showing the kids a ceilidh at some point.
On the website it said that everyone pays to get in but when we got there they just charged Ken and I which was nice. It was all set up in the field and so when it rained a few times we got a bit wet but thankfully it wasn’t too bad and Ken did end up running home to grab our umbrellas that we forgot which helped as well.
We started out by watching the soldiers and horses demonstrate a bit of how they fought. There was also a group that fired a cannon a few times which made all the kids jump. Poor little William’s eyes got so big each time.
We also watched a slap stick show for the kids and then were front and center to see and hear all about how they punished and tortured people. Thankfully by that time the kids were eating some meat pies and not paying too close attention to what was being explained because it was pretty gruesome. I definitely thought that if I had been tortured like the ways they described I would have admitted to being a witch in no time.
The jester was making balloon swords and giving them out which was nice. William’s started to deflate mid way through but he handled it ok. They did end up all picking out some swords and a couple of shields to take home. Since we sold so many of their toys we had told them that when we got here they could pick out some new ones. So that was what they wanted. They sold cheaper, home-made ones but these are made (the wooden ones the big kids are holding in the top picture) really nicely and apparently are a scaled down version of the real thing. They can totally reenact Braveheart now. William preferred a cheap plastic one with a sheath.
They also had a tent where you could be dressed in highland clothing. At first it was just going to be Ken and Josiah since Audrey got shy and didn’t want to do it and I was wrangling William. But then we got her to change her mind and then the women doing the dressing said I should as well. We didn’t do William but he is little and showed no interest anyway.
William was happy to chew on grass while we got dressed (love those shoes in the background).
They also had face painting.
I laughed when I saw the archery targets. This cost extra money to do so we didn’t do it.
We had a great time and would recommend it to others. I think probably a lot of the people working it are volunteers or at least do things like this as a side job but they were all very nice and did their best to make it a fun time.