Sunday, April 17, 2016

Stylish, Handmade, One-of-a-Kind Fashion: Natticakez Crafts on the Blog Today!

I love going to fairs and festivals and checking out all the handmade items. I never ceased to be amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of the artists I meet at these events. I'm especially intrigued by people who combine two of my favorite things, fashion and the handmade, and Natalie Davis of Natticakez Crafts is currently reigning supreme on my list of awesome  fashionistas with her handcrafted necklaces!

 A self-professed 'girl of many hats', Natalie considers herself foremost to be a sister, daughter, aunt and friend and a self-proclaimed 'purple-nista,' - a serious lover of all thing purple! She is also a music and movie lover; traveler; poet and of course, artist. 
Though she has lived in major metropolitan cities like Miami and Toronto, she has made Greenville her home for the past seven years.  "I have loved my life here," says Natalie. "It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but since I’ve been out and about in the community and networking with so many amazing people, it’s really helped me come out of my shy shell."

"Natticakez Crafts was not always Natticakez 'Crafts'," she states. "It started as a nickname given to me by a close friend. Years later, I was that friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter and student that looooved handmade gift giving.  I would make cards, baskets, books, personalized cd’s, and picture frames for gift-giving. Then I starting making diaper cakes filled with gifts and supplies for baby showersFrom there, it led to a few towel cakes and candy cakes that were given as gifts and centerpieces."

"Crafting started for me when I was a young girl. My grandmother has always been that motivational cheerleader in my corner, encouraging me, and over the years my creativity has taken different forms. However, it always tells my story of pain, joy, accomplishments, successes and failures. When I’m creating a new item, it helps me escape the rest of the world. For me, art is the only way to run away without leaving home sometimes."

Natalie shares my passion for the handmade and disdain for mass-produced goods. "In my opinion, handmade work has abundantly more value than anything made in China or manufactured somewhere. It’s my passion, creating something that I would give to my own loved ones or would wear for myself. It’s also the smile on the recipients face when I share with them something that is a part of who I am."

Natalie also enjoys blending old and new in the creation of her designs. "I am very, very particular about what I use. I carefully select the t-shirts and neckties I find in resale shops, and I also frequent retail stores such as Jo-Ann’s Fabrics and Michael’s for specific materials."

Natalie's creations are so unique, I had to pry a little to find out more about her creative process! "My ideas come from any and everything. For example, I love the colors and patterns of neckties and seeing what kind of combinations I can create by bringing them together. I take ideas from jewelry I already have; watching television; the newest trends; and always adding the Natticakez twist to each and every piece! I like to challenge myself to see how I can outdo the last piece I made!"

 "Fashion and coordinating my accessories has been a part of who I am since forever, maybe as far back as my adolescence years. Back in the early 90’s, I used to wear coordinating scrunchies in my hair that matched whatever colors were in my outfit. I was also the first girl in my high school to wear those black and white high top Fila sneakers! Even though I didn't always have the newest styles, I thought creative. I bought tons of gold and silver jewelry (and still do!) but I wanted an alternative accessory that would be unique."

 I can totally relate to Natalie's love of being different and standing out from the crowd while still maintaining a sense of style. "I went online and discovered a whole world of fabric accessories, then let my mind and creativity take over." she states. "Handmade, one-of-a-kind items will allow you to be fashionable while also being unique!"

With one of Natalie's necklaces, you are guaranteed to have something no one else has, and there is no right or wrong way to style them. The designs are suitable for a variety of occasions -  going out for the evening; and afternoon cook out; drinks with the girls; or to the office with a nice pant or skirt suit. 

"It’s about stepping out of the box of mainstream accessories while not even realizing that your also creating the 'Girl, where’d you get that necklace' WOW factor!"

Natalie, who is 'mother' to a 6-year-old Maltese Shih Tzu named Precious, works full-time as Sales Manager for the Hyatt Place in Greenville. "I absolutely love my job," she says, "It allows me to meet and work with people every day. Not only that, I look back at my growth within the company over the last 5 years, from a Gallery Host to Sales Coordinator and now Sales Manager. I’m pretty proud of myself."

 She sees Natticakez Crafts continuing to grow as well and hopes to share her craft and passion with more of the world. "I would love to see my products go worldwide one day. Once I get my website fully up and running, I hope to reach and share my work with more people."

Most of Natalie's designs range between $30-$40 dollars, are hand-stitched, one-of-a-kind works of art, well worth every penny. You can connect with Natalie via Facebook to inquire about any of the designs pictured and/or see new pieces. She is also happy to take custom orders! And if you are in Upstate South Carolina, look for Natalie vending at local fairs and festivals! 

 I'm excited about having one of her gorgeous pieces for summer wear, and have my eye on that purple necklace with the white just do your friendly blogger a favor and stay away from that piece, heh heh! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Load Everyone Up In the Car and Go?

No, gas isn't free and no, we shouldn't jump into the car willy-nilly and waste resources/increase pollution on whims. And I don't. If I can walk somewhere instead of drive, I generally do just that, because I'm not a gym person at all, but I do believe in the value of exercise. My goal is a lifestyle where I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to be doing in a day, and the calorie-to-energy ratio that the activities will require, and I can eat accordingly. For example, on Sundays, I could easily get by without eating at all, heh heh...but I digress. This post is to celebrate five reasons why it's good for the soul sometimes to just load everyone up in the car and...go!

1. Spontaneous new experiences.

 I once read that we spend hours, days, maybe even months pondering big decisions, like where to go to college, when to marry, should we take a certain job, etc., but it's the little, quick decisions that have the greatest impact on our lives, like should I go out with my friends this Friday night or stay home?
When I saw this flier on the message board at Daily Groceries, I was intrigued. So I decided, then and there, even though we were just returning from a mini-break and car taxes are due at the end of this month, that I would somehow scrape together the means to go. So I did. Gas money and a picnic lunch, and we were on the way!

For more information about the amazing things that Maria at Field to Cup Project is doing, visit here!

2. Your child/children need glimpses into your childhood.

My parents were the original day trippers. I can remember many picnic lunches in unusual places, seeing the sights that growing up in a rural community offers. Covered bridges were a main attraction, so it was a delight to come across this gem yesterday, and be able to tell my son the stories of visiting covered bridges with my parents years ago. Jumping in the car and heading out to places you visited as a child, or similar places, can afford you the chance to share stories from your own childhood and connect with your children.
My son loves hearing me talk about growing up in the '80s and often says he wishes he was growing up in the '80s, because it seemed like my childhood was more fun. What was different? The '80s were a simpler time, without so much focus on television and technology. I heard my son's words, and I listened, and I make sure to keep his childhood simple as I remember my own being. This is connection. This is what we learn.

This particular covered bridge in Watkinsville, Georgia, was originally built in 1897 and moved to this location near a grist mill in 1924. The grist mill has not been functional since the early 1940s. 

3. Meet new people. Make new friends. Connect and share ideas with like-minded folks.

Sometimes it's difficult to bloom where we are planted. Often, we find we struggle to connect with others around us because we haven't much in common with them beyond working together or living in the same neighborhoods.
Venturing out can afford us the chance to meet new people, make new friend and make connections with like-minded folks who share our passions and interests so that we can bring this inspiration home to help us bloom.

Little Rose Nature School has a truly amazing vision and I can't wait to hear more about what they are doing there. Learn more here!

4. A chance to explore new woods.

I often say I've raised my son in the forest, because we are blessed to live beside a wonderful, protected woods right in the heart of town. All manner of wildlife visit us here, including - and unfortunately for the outside cats we once had - coyotes. Sometimes, deep on a trail, it's easy to forget that there are cars and buildings not so far away.

It's a wonderful thing, however, to visit a new woods, to go off the beaten path somewhere deep in, to wade in cool water and hop along river rocks.

I couldn't resist getting in on the action myself! But nature is as good for the adult soul as it is the child. I read a disturbing report recently that stated prisoners get more time outside than elementary aged school children. I can't imagine that! I am so glad this is not true for my child or the children around us, but it hurts my soul to think it is true for some. I'm starting a book soon called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. You can see why I was so excited to meet and connect with Little Rose Nature School!

5. Taking pause in a different place. (Or, sipping tea/coffee in a different place!)

If you know me personally, then you know I love coffee and tea. And I love coffee shops, trying new flavors and varieties when we travel. I always tuck away a few dollars on every little trip for stops by local coffee shops we may come across. It' also great when we can sip coffee or tea in beautiful areas of a home or yard. It's a break time, a relaxing moment, time to sit and process all we are doing and have yet to do.

More importantly, however, it's a time to be in the moment, in the now, enjoying the scents and sights around us that a new place offers. A pause. We enjoy this often on our own patio; but it's great to be in a new place, taking a pause.

My parents used to load us up in the car without any real destination in mind at all, but I remember these excursions fondly. They were simple and generally free, save for gas money and picnic lunches. Good times don't have to cost a fortune! As a parent, I strive now to live on less and less, giving my son experiences instead of things, indulging that simple '80s lifestyle that he thrives on. I am always looking for ways to enrich our lives that afford adventure without involving expense, something my own parents seemed to have mastered as they loaded us up in second-hand cars without air conditioning to show us the world, or at least the world around us.

It's one of those simpler-times-parenting-skills that seems to be falling by the wayside, along with family dinners and hand-me-down clothing.

Let's not let that happen.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

On Slow Living, and What Do We Do With All That Time We Save Not Darning Socks?

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday! As so many people I know were on Spring Breaks from school and work during this time, I'll preface this post by saying ours didn't go exactly as planned...

After a fun-filled time in Atlanta and Athens, we returned home with big plans for next few days, only to be stricken with a severe case of food poisoning. One of our precious days free from work and school was spent alternating between beds, couches, and bathrooms; the other weakly recovering from the day before; the third trying to catch up on everything missed during the previous two days. The saving grace was that it poured rain most of the time, which meant the bulk of our plans - working and planting in the yard - couldn't be done anyway.

Yesterday evening, I spent some time reflecting on just that, time. It passes so quickly, I wonder if it feels that way to people who stay at home full-time verses those of us who work full-time and cherish 'days off'. It is hard to believe it is already Saturday, and that in just a few short, sweet hours, the regular grind of work and school will resume.

Here, walls and counters and dishtowels get dirtied by hands caked with mud, paint, or dough. Laundry piles up. Hallways need sweeping. Animals need tending. Clothes need mending. Rooms need tidying and weekly foods need baking. Life is anything but slow, and yet somehow the term 'slow living' has come to symbolize much of what is important to me and my son during this phase of our lives. This idea of going back to a simpler time. Last night, as I darned several pair of socks, I imagined how many people would shake their heads and ask, "Why waste time doing that, socks are cheap!"

But there is a high cost to cheap things, and of course, why spend any amount of money unnecessarily?

 What I'm most keen to know, however, is what valuable things are we doing with the time we might save by not darning socks, or hanging out clothes, or making homemade/handmade things?

I'm interested in your thoughts on this for future posts and would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment here on the blog or message me directly!!!