The Perfect Present: Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule

Did you ever get a present from a friend and the instant you opened it you thought, “This person knows me so well”?  It’s almost as if the thought they put into the gift matters more than the actual present.  The idea that they know exactly what you like and what you are interested in, and knew that that gift would be exactly perfect for you, touches your heart and you can’t help but be so thankful for the present, but also for having such a wonderful friend.  I was lucky enough to receive a present like that last month for my birthday.

Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Blake Soule

A friend of mine sent me Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule, and if you haven’t seen it yet, take the time to check out her website and glance at a few of the projects.  They’re not only adorable (I can picture most, if not all of them, finding a home in my house), but they are inspiring.  Amanda encourages working together with your family and children while creating these beautiful pieces, as well as using vintage, repurposed, and recycled items.  In her words, “Today, I’m drawn to repurposing for so many reasons: It allows me to live a more financially pared-down and simple life in which it’s possible to work a little bit less and live a little bit more.  It allows me to connect to the past and preserve a more traditional way of life.  It allows me to place value on the work of the hands and the value of human time, energy, art, and craft.  It allows me an aesthetic and a quality of materials that are increasingly harder to find in today’s quick and disposable products.  It allows me to lessen my family’s impact on the very earth we are so blessed to live upon.  Marrying such values as these with my craft is such a joy for me.  Not only do I feel the peace and solace in making things, but I also feel good about being able to reflect my lifestyle choices and values in my crafts.”

Handmade Home has inspired me on two fronts. As a mom of two little ones, fitting time into our schedule for crafting is difficult.  Amanda’s encouragement of incorporating your children into your projects as often as possible, makes finding this time to create seem much more doable…and enjoyable.  I love being with my babies, and together, we are creating tangible pieces of art, but more importantly, memories that all of us will share forever.  Also, I have such a sense of excitement for repurposing all that I can.  I am now on the hunt (with kiddos in tow) every weekend at garage sales, tag sales, second-hand stores, etc.  Everything I see, I instantly am thinking “How could I use that in my next project?”  Amanda has really sparked this new life into my creativity, like a challenge.  Sure, I could head to my local craft store and buy all the supplies I would need for a project, but isn’t there something more exciting and more rewarding about hunting down the perfect piece of vintage fabric, or finding a treasure at a tag sale that was once special to someone else and now turns into a family heirloom of my own?  The call to reusing and recycling makes your final product more meaningful, more affordable, and more earth friendly.  My first weekend after receiving Handmade Home, the babies and I went to our first tag sale.  We came home with two beautiful pieces of vintage fabric.  I think they were at one time table clothes.  Even more special than the fabrics themselves, they are bordered by beautiful lace, in perfect condition, that I can’t wait to incorporate into my next project, and we spent a total of $0.10!

I know you’ve seen these fabric scrap note cards from me before.  (I originally spotted them on Moda Bake Shop)  Last week, I made another batch, and this time they seemed even more special.  Everything in them, from the fabric to the paper embellishment is scrap.  If you look closely, you can maybe see some old ribbons…pieces that were too short to really tie or wrap something in, but I held onto in the hopes of one day fitting them into a project.  The Moda fabric is leftover from a jelly roll…pieces that didn’t fit into the bigger project I originally intended them for, but were still usable, again for some project down the road.  You can even see what was once a yellow dress of mine, that two babies later wasn’t the most flattering piece in my wardrobe, but I couldn’t bring myself to toss.  The paper embellishment was made, again, using scraps.  (I find it even harder to reuse my paper scraps, so was even more proud of myself that I was able to squeeze them in here.)

So, as the card reads, thank you!  Thank you to my dear friend for picking the perfect present.  And thank you Amanda Blake Soule, for opening this new door to energy and excitement in my crafting.

If you’d like more from Amanda, you can read her first book, The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections, or her blog, SouleMama.

Enjoy!

Nikki, In Stitches

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