march featured crafter — laura fisher — prayer monkey

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Hello All!

So we’re cutting it a little close, but this month’s featured crafter is Laura Fisher of Prayer Monkey! Laura is a masterful tamer of wire -bending, twisting, and turning it every which way into beautiful jewelry and home decor. Many a customer stares in awe at her work, wondering how she coaxes the tiny, delicate wire into such intricate patterns. All decide she must be a patient woman. Patient she is, and wonderfully kind too. It comes as no surprise that Laura is also a skilled gardener, with a degree in landscape design. She’s doing some pretty awesome things with her green thumb, but we won’t give it away. If you’d like to learn more about this intriguing woman, read on, friends, read on…

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Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m Laura and my company is called PrayerMonkey. I live on the south side of Richmond with my husband, two dogs, and four cats. In addition to having my own crafty business, we have an urban farm called Citygarden on the reclaimed vacant lots situated next to our house. Most of what we grow is for our own consumption but we do provide hard to find veggies and herbs for a few Richmond restaurants. Generally, we barter our goods for such things as delicious loaves of bread. I also recently joined the Richmond Craft Mafia. I’m pretty excited about that.

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How did you get started?

I started crocheting with yarn when I was 8 and had broken my arm right before summer break. They needed a way to keep me occupied, so a babysitter taught me how to crochet. Much later on, after suffering a knee injury that pretty much ended my horticultural career, I decided to start crocheting with wire to see if I could make a living that way.

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Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in many places. I like fiddling with traditional crochet patterns and seeing how they translate into wire crochet. I think my degree in landscape design helps me with symmetry and color. Planning a layout for a garden bed isn’t too different for me than planning a layout for a necklace.

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What’s your studio playlist?

Hmmm…My musical taste is all over the place and so is my playlist. Gary Numan, Sparks, Thee Oh Sees, Grinderman, Baxter Dury, Dan Deacon, Magazine, Buke and Gase…

Where is your studio?

I work out of my home. I usually do my crocheting in the living room. I have a good seat with lots of light in there. It also allows me to watch old movies while I am crocheting. I do have a studio proper in a spare bedroom where I put my pieces together and handle all the other aspects of the business. My dining room table is my photography studio.

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How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?

If I’m in a creative rut, I try to take my mind off it by going to the gym and just blanking out or taking a nap which is sort of my way of meditating. Having the garden outside is great because I can pull weeds or plant a plant. Anything to divert my attention from the task at hand, even for a little while, makes all the difference.

You have a time machine. What place in time would you choose?

Europe during the world wars would be kind of cool. Seeing how people lived during that type of war time. How they coped with it. Also, maybe 1970’s NYC during the advent of punk rock.

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What artists influence your work – who are your creative idols?

Ruth Asawa and Blanka Sperkova are both amazing wire artists. Saffron Johns is a woman in Bulgaria that makes the cutest wire crochet jewelry that never fails to make me smile.

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Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?

Why, yes there is! When I was a gardener for the city of Richmond, I found a statue of a monkey in a fez, reading a book, in a tree in one of the parks I took care of. I took it back to the shop with me and one of the guys asked me if the statue was one of those prayer monkeys. I wasn’t quite sure what a prayer monkey was supposed to be but I liked the name.

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What’s your favorite local haunt?

I’m not sure I really have a favorite haunt. There is a dive bar down the street from me called The Forest that my friend and I meet at once in a while for “Tots and Bloodys”. We eat tater tots and drink big girl Bloody Marys and blow off steam. The waitresses call you “Hon” there.

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What advice to do you have for other crafty businessfolk?

I could offer so many different nuggets…I guess one of the important things is to be serious about your business if it is a business. If you are being crafty as a hobby, that is one thing but remember, once you take it into the professional realm, many things change. You really do have to step up your game in every way possible; a good product, clean pictures, and a tight image.

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Well that’s all she wrote! If you’d like to see more of Laura’s work and all the amazing things she can do, peruse her Etsy shop, and become a Facebook fan. She is working on a pretty nifty blog too!

february featured crafter – lindsay mays of silent orchid studio

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Hey there, friends! This month’s featured crafter is another one of our very first at the shop, Lindsay Mays, of Silent Orchid Studio. We are particularly proud of this talented woman as she was recently featured in Art Doll Quarterly Magazine. Lindsay’s meticulously detailed plush toys are truly works of art. Her playful and nostalgic interpretations of sideshow freaks, cult classic and folkloric figures never fail to conjure smiles and curious admiration. In fact, Lindsay’s work has earned quite the following at Kitsch, particularly during the holidays -we can’t seem to keep her Krampus ornaments on the shelves! We’re so glad Lindsay chose to share her work with us, and it’s about time we learned some more fun facts about this quirky gal. Check out our interview with her as well as some links to keep up with her awesome work!

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How did you get started?

My mom taught me to sew when I was little. In 2007 I started making plush toys for fun, robots and monsters and other things I couldn’t find in stores. I posted them in my online gallery and people started asking for their own. A couple of years later I made it my full time business.

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Where do you find inspiration?

Old movies (especially horror and sci-fi films,) illustrations from vintage children’s books, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. Sometimes just wandering around flea markets or thrift shops and finding weird vintage nick knacks and pretty old fabrics will spark something.

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What’s your studio playlist?

Right now I’m listening to Amanda Palmer, Siouxsie Sioux, Pinataland, and Nouvelle Vague. I also love the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.

Where is your studio?

I work out of my apartment in the Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk…not far from Kitsch :) My place is tiny, so my studio is also my living room. But I have enough room for my desk, sewing machine, and my craft supply stash. A lot of my work is spread out on the floor.

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Favorite blog/movie/TV show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind.

Mystery Science Theater 3000. It always helps to clear my head and put me in a good mood. For inspiration, I love Tumblr. It’s kind of addictive and I always find something cool and interesting.

You have a time machine. Where are you going?

Shouldn’t that be “when?”

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What artists influence your work – who are your creative idols?

Wayne White (painter, sculptor, puppeteer, animator) is one of my idols. He does everything and has so much creative energy, I would love to be able to work like he does. Mister Finch, a fiber artist who makes amazing soft sculpture animals from antique textiles. Mary Blair, who did concept art for Disney and illustrated children’s books.

Describe yourself in 5 words.

quiet, geeky, goth, maker, collector

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Describe your work in 5 words.

Soft and cute, but weird.

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What’s your favorite local haunt?

The Naro Theater and Naro Video. I’m a movie geek, so Naro Video is my Mecca. And sitting in the theater’s balcony watching a film (new or old) is one of my favorite things.

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Lindsay and her fiance, Justin

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Art Doll Quarterly Magazine Feature

Well that’s all folks! If you can’t get enough of Lindsay’s work, follow her on Tumblr and Facebook, or peruse her Etsy shop.

why take a class at kitsch?!

There are a million reasons to take a class at Kitsch and we just thought we’d name a few. Peruse this delightful list (in no particular order), get inspired, and register for a class today

You can reunite with your kid self for some good old-fashioned arts and crafts.

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Sometimes it’s nice to forget about your worries and focus on creating something beautiful for a while.

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Whether you’re new to the area, or just looking to expand your friend horizons, classes are a great way to meet other creative people -and creative people are nice.

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It feels pretty darn good to say, “I made that.”

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Classes are an opportunity to surprise and challenge yourself.

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Craft is art and art is therapy.

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Kid-friendly classes are an enriching way to get a break from your little ones and for your little ones to get a break from you.

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Craft classes are for girls AND boys!

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For all you menfolk, craft classes are an unconventional way to meet some women or bond with the woman in your life.

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You can finally complete that project you found on Pinterest.

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Because a communal crafting session can lead to amazing new ideas.

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So are you ready to sign up for a class? We hope so! We post our schedule all over the place, including our blog, Facebook page, and flyers scattered through out the neighborhood. Stop by the shop or call 757-961-9855 to register today! Gift cards for classes make great gifts too!

january featured crafter – richard dooling – wood turner

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Well hello there, friends! We hope your 2014 has gotten off to an excellent start. Once again, Kitsch is getting a bit of a makeover and is looking mighty fine. In the midst of beautifying the shop and replenishing our very depleted post-holiday inventory, we took some time to learn more about talented wood turner, Richard Dooling. This charming and funny fellow is responsible for the beautiful, hand-turned, hardwood bud vases and bottle toppers we just recently began selling. The graceful curves of Richard’s pieces are a testament to this man’s mastery over and respect for organic materials. His bold color choices and often playful shapes make these eye-catching pieces the perfect addition to Kitsch’s crafty arsenal. If you’d like to know more about this craftsman, take a moment to admire Richard’s work and read the lovely little interview we had with him.

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Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in natural forms and that’s part of what originally brought me to working with wood. I also find inspiration in the work of other artists and artisans. The Internet is an amazing resource for ideas and techniques.

What’s your studio playlist?

Jazz, classical, rock – you name it. I listen to a lot of NPR including Jae Sinnett, Paul Shugrue and This American Life. I have hearing protection on so much that often it’s just silent and I’m good with that.

Where is your studio?

I have a small shop overlooking the water. The view is great! It’s about the size of a one-car garage so it’s tight but it works.

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How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?

Just go into the shop and do something – anything.

When I headed a business art department and one of the artists was having a hard time with a project I used to say, “Do what you know and then see where you are.” Sometimes the rut is simple inertia so I just get moving.

There’s always something that needs to be done in the shop and I usually come up with other ideas once I’m out there. I often just put a piece of wood in the lathe and start turning. Sometimes having no predetermined direction can reveal new and unexpected avenues.

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Favorite blog/movie/tv show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind?

I don’t go to a particular book but rather typically choose either philosophy, science or escapist fiction to re-charge.

You have a time machine. Where are you going?

Forward!

What’s your dream project – if you had all the time and materials in the world?

I would like to build all the furniture in a house of my own design.

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What artists influence your work – who are your creative idols?

There are so many great woodworkers that I can’t say I have any particular idols. Maybe it’s more like I have too many idols. I am especially drawn to contemporary design as well as the Arts and Crafts movement.

My first interests were in drawing and painting and those influences are the foundation for what I consider to be aesthetically pleasing.

Describe yourself in 5 words.

My wife offered up: smart, funny, tenacious, detailed, engaging

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Describe your work in 5 words.

Meticulous, whimsical, organic, textural, tactile

Tell us something funny that happened recently.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum . . .

How do you find balance?

That’s what the shop does for me. I’m not a happy camper when I go too long with no shop time.

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Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?

I’m in the process of getting my site up but the name is 7 SIDEWALKS. It’s a reference to an idea I have about making a living from multiple sources rather than one main job. The number 7 is meaningful in many contexts and it feels inclusive to me.

What’s your typical day?

Atypical.

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We’re handing you plane tickets to anywhere. Where are you going?

Paris, France. There’s an awful lot of art I haven’t seen and a lot of food to be eaten. Something that struck me when I visited Paris is that it is a city of neighborhoods. It exists on a human scale with no massive skyscrapers dwarfing everything else.

What’s your favorite local haunt?

My wife and I like going out with friends to try new restaurants. Good food, good wine and good conversation makes a great evening. We have a few places we go to occasionally but we don’t go anywhere exclusively.

december featured crafter – ashley grove of fairview place

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This month’s featured crafter is the multi-talented Ashley Grove of Fairview Place. This little lady’s charmingly detailed felt food look good enough to eat and her brooches add a touch of bohemian class to any outfit. Ashley also has a keen eye for crafty treasures, particularly paper ephemera, which she fashions into unique greeting cards. Kitsch’s craft supply section is filled with many of her fabulous finds. Not only is Ashley a talented crafter, she’s an amazing graphic designer and community activist. She was instrumental in the planning of Better Block and even designed the awesome map guides for both events. We are happy to know Ashley and to sell her creations in our shop. Get to know Ashley and read this mini interview!

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Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! Thrift stores, estate sales, a walk in a new area of town, blogs, talking with other creatives, children, my failed (and successful) art attempts, cemeteries, traveling, vintage books, magazines, maps and anything printed. I am an absolute pack rat, so I hoard all kinds of treasures even if I don’t need them at the moment. Weeks, months or years later, I find them and am completely inspired all over again.

 What’s your studio playlist?

Anything from Jay-Z to the Beach Boys, Against Me! to The Black Keys. I have also recently started all the Cheers episodes (thanks, Netflix), which is absolutely amazing.

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Where is your studio?

My boyfriend was gracious enough to give me the guest bedroom of our new home use as my studio (even though he’s the one who works from home). I haven’t quite finished decorating yet, but just love spending time in here. I can finally nerd out with all my labeled storage boxes and color-coordinated felt. I have a proper place to store my “in-progress” and “finished” works, along with tons of space for all my packaging – you’d be surprised how much room the felt food containers take up!

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 How do you get yourself out of a creative rut or clear your mind?

A call to my momma, a run, an episode of Cheers, a few minutes on www.ohhappyday.com, a flip through my look book (a binder full of images I’ve been collecting since high school, i.e. Pinterest before Pinterest), a long drive or a delicious beer.

 Share a recipe – bonus points if there’s a story behind it.

My grandma’s coleslaw. It’s been at every meal since I can remember and people who loathe coleslaw just love it. 1 head of cabbage, 1 green pepper, three celery stalks, 1 white onion, 2 cups sugar, ½ cup vinegar. Put all the veggies in the food processor. Stir in sugar and vinegar and let sit (at least) overnight. Season with salt and pepper. You’re welcome.

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What’s your dream project – if you had all the time and materials in the world?

I’d buy a big old house and remodel the entire thing. I’d fill it with textiles and treasures from all around the world, then pile in all my closest friends and family for a jamming house party.

What artists influence your work – who are your creative idols?

Honestly, some of my dearest friends. Shawn Barkdull, Emily Gansel, Krissi Xenakis and Adrienne Grove are some of the most talented, supportive and inspirational souls I’ve ever met. In the category of souls I have not met, Charlie Harper, David Carson, Ellen Lupton and Annie Leibovitz fit the bill.

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Describe yourself in 5 words.

Driven, thoughtful, resourceful, patient, clever

Describe your work in 5 words.

Quirky, whimsical, playful, nostalgic, charming

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Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?

I was home a few years back and helping my mom clean out my grandmother’s house after we moved her to a nursing home. It was a difficult time, as she was a huge part of my life and inspiring in so many ways (afterall, she’s the one who taught me to sew). As we were going through her things I found myself in love with it all. The retro knitted scarves, the beautiful Fostoria dishes, the scary handmade clowns, the timeless Mickey Mouse watch, and the boxes and boxes of vintage craft supplies, I knew all this goodness was the essence of my grandmother…and the love and appreciation of all things – new, old, handmade and scary – she instilled in me, inspired me to name the shop after her. Fairview Place is the name of the street she lived on.

We’re handing you plane tickets to anywhere. Where are you going?

Machu Picchu. Can I have my tickets, please?

What’s your favorite local haunt?

The DAV Thrift Store on Virginia Beach Blvd. Nice book selection, great clothing finds and they always play terrific music!

Social Media Stuff:

Blog: http://fairviewpl.blogspot.com/

Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/fairviewpl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FairviewPl

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/fairviewpl/

Gift Buying for Everyone!

These gift guides are always so hard to do – We love everything that graces our shelves for different reasons, and with 140+ great makers, crafters, and artists bringing us new and unique items, it’s virtually impossible to narrow it down. So, here’s just a small fraction of our favorite things for the varied people on our gifting list. You really can find something for anyone!

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Locals spread far and wide(a reminder of home)

Anchor Hook by Willway Forge
Monkey’s fist knots by The Perch Shop
Virginia Pillow from Dreamfly
Kitsch sticker ;)
Magnetic Virginia from That’s What She Said Art
Norfolk Signage Alphabet cards from Sarah Erickson
Hello from Norfolk cards from Paper Freckles
Norfolk Print from Maple and Belmont
Norfolk Tote from Twittering Bird
Norfolk necklace from Jonathan Plante
Virginia necklace from a.scarletaudio

The audiophile:
Local music from Logan Vath and the Green Boys(we have a few other great local acts to check out as well!)
LP and wooden box by Angie Van Dyke
Santa card and La Lune print from Horse and Hare
Vintage book notebook from Dragonfly Papers
Cigar box lamp from Gregg Damantibohemian

The Bohemian

Wolf print from Butterpop Studio
Deer card from Holly Camp Cards
Crocheted jar vase/candleholder from By T.Alyse
Moon shrine from Tracy Delisle
Brooch from Fairview Place
Recycled leather bag from Tree Fairfax
Bead and wood necklace from She Make
Recycled suede headband from Sophia’s Lament
“Arabie” perfume from Modern Atelier
Leather and chain earrings from Ashton Keeley
China and crocheted wire ring from PrayerMonkey
Hanging airplant from Glass Gardens
Cactus in recycled mug from Fines Herbs
Wooden elephant from Angie Van Dykemodernguy

The Modern Man

Infinity Scarf by Itsy’s Designs
Beer Holster from Joab Ryan
Red Rooster Roasters Funky Chicken coffee
Red Nun Ale soap from NoFo Soap
Let Curiosity Kill Me koozy by Karen Freidt
Belt buckle and bottle opener from Willway Forge
Buck Christmas card from Paper Freckles
“Beer is Proof” quote button from Artlife
Silver and security envelope cufflinks from Ugly Kittie Redeux
Bowtie from Anykind

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A Hint of Goth
Zombie dog clip from Poochtags
Feather, bone and bullet necklace from Creeper Designs
Siamese twins doll and Krampus ornament from Silent Orchid Studios
Krampus Christmas card from Horse and Hare
Poe mini shrine from Tracy Delisle
Dog ring bowl from Maja Bality
Silver wing ring from My Precious Studio
Octopus tentacle necklace from Ey Glass
Skull earrings from Mermaid Out of Water
Black flower necklace from a.scarlet
Monstacozy from Shlii
Bow earrings by Salvaged Love

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The Hippie

Hula Hoop from Hoopwright
Fractal pocket mirror from Kelly Dietrich Designs
Jaques Cousteau quote print from Robyn Banxx
Flower pin from Fines Herbs
Feather shirt from Impressed
Patchouli soap from Roses Ridge Farm
Slouchy beanie from By T.Alyse
Peace, flowers, feather and bullet casing necklace from Creeper Designs
Mushroom snack bag from Zerlina Crafts
O’Helyeah natural chocolate chip granola bar
Crocheted earrings from Hearthside Farm
Wise Tattoos, stickers and headband from Silver Tree Creations
Trivet and coasters from Fiesta Fibers
Wooden mushrooms from Bees Knees Studio

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The Creative Kid

Felt hotdog set from Fairview Place
US map placemat from Marley Ungaro
Kid sized apron from The Plaid Hedgehog
Crocheted doll from The Kauffeshop
Norfolk tshirt from Twittering Bird
Leopard Hat from Krispyworks
Find it puzzle from Crochet it Baby
Crayon roll from Little Oneders
Teepee tooth fairy pillow from The Bird and the Elephant
Yokai shoulder bag from Tyffylyn Seams
Dreamcatcher from Jessica Vann

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The Hostess:

Hand balm from Roses Ridge Farm
Glass flower by Joshua Solomon
Fabric napkins from Itsy’s Designs
Handrolled beeswax candles from Willow Creek Apiaries
Handturned bottle stoppers from Richard Dooling
Spearmint and lavender tea from Seven Oaks Lavender Farm
Bowl by Rick Nickel
Block printed tea towel from Horse and Hare
Salvaged wood vase from Steve Alperin
Soy candle from Lilac Ave
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The  New Parent:

Minky and cotton blanket from Itsy’s Designs
Teething necklace from Baby Love
Bib from Little Snuggly Bug
Wetbag, fingerless mittens, legwarmers and bow tie from Little Oneders
Diaper pad/wallet from Krispyworks
Rainbow Shelf from
Senor Huevos rattle from Happy Felties
Snuggly gnome from The Burbs
Bandana bib and Teether by The Bird and the Elephant
Hand dyed muslin swaddlers and burp cloths from the Ninja, the Superhero and the Princess