It’s been a while, and there’s been some big changes!!

A peek inside my summer ramblings, self-discovery, and commitment to shopping small this holiday season…

Hi everyone!! Reintroducing myself for all of the new friends here over the past few months as I’ve taken a break from writing to enjoy summer with my kiddos.

I’m Katie, and I’m a mom by life, elementary literacy specialist by trade, and an Usborne Books & More book lady, crafter, and creator by choice.

My content ebs and flows with the season and lately I’ve been into crafting and sensory play, but I also always like to share authentic literacy (and sometimes math) tips for preschool and early elementary aged kiddos because it fits with the ages and stages I’m currently in with my own kiddos, and the age range I work with at school.

I hoping to get back on here, this blog, more this fall…just looking for inspiration that I find worth writing about, and that’s been hard lately as life has been on full speed ahead with not much time for reflection or thinking! You may know me on a day to day basis as the face behind @bruisesbowsandbooks on Instagram.

You might know that this summer I spent a bunch of time soul searching and finding my identity amidst the season of motherhood. I wrote a post about my choice to join Usborne Books & More earlier this summer, so I’ll spare the details on that here, and you can just click the link to that post if you want to hear more. But while I was launching a new business, I was also recommitting to exercise, which is something that has been a huge goal of mine post baby number three, but something I could just never actually commit to consistently. I also spent lots of time this summer exploring upcycled craft ideas using cardboard and materials from the yard…mostly as a way to stop annoying my husband with endless boxes of craft supplies being delivered to the house, but also in an effort to use things that created less waste and just made more sense in terms of practicality and ease.

I have big hopes and dreams this year for this space (and I also consider the start of a new school year a time to reflect and reset, a lot like New Year’s resolutions in January). I want to get back on here and write more, and I’m looking to rediscover my mom-life inspiration and my literacy tips and tricks inspiration. I will admit, crafting was a good and mindless distraction for the summer, and I think you’ll still see some of that. Perhaps I’ll even do a summer craft post to put all of the things we did this summer in one place.

Most importantly, I’m on here now to talk a little bit about small business, and why I will plead with you to shop small as we launch head first into the upcoming holiday season. I guess I never really related to or connected with the idea of shopping small intimately – yes I did it here and there with vendors and shops I liked, but Amazon still played a large role in our day to day supplies. I think launching my own small business with UBAM allowed me to see the inside efforts that most (all?) small shop owners go through just to stay afloat. Most of any money I’ve made with UBAM so far has gone back into maintaining the business and helping with content creation on the Instagram side of things. I’m not even close to a place where I’m generating substantial income from my business. And perhaps that’s a long term goal of mine, but I know there are many small shop owners who need to make that happen now, and can’t just aim for it to happen sometime in the future.

SO, holiday shopping starts now for many people (I know some of you probably think that’s crazy!). And I’m taking some time to urge you to take a look around instagram, etsy, and just your local downtown before beelining straight to the ease of corporate America. Amazon, Target (love you!), and other large brands and companies will still be there when you can’t find what you need locally, but I do believe shifting our attention to small shops first could make a huge difference and go a long way for lots of our peers!

Some instagram/etsy/direct sales shops I’ve shopped from recently that would be great to check out for holiday gifts for little ones:

Livethescottcottage (Instagram and Etsy): Hand painted pasta kits and loose parts pieces ideal for sensory play. I love that Morgan comes out with seasonal and holiday sets, and basic sets too. A perfect place for both options, and my kids have enjoyed her sets for sensory play and crafting time and time again.

Littleoctoberhouse (Instagram and Etsy): Similar (but different!) to Morgan, Emily’s shop specializes in resin letters and seasonal resin sets perfect for sensory/small world play, decor and crafting, and homeschool activities. She had the cutest Halloween drop that will go in the kids boo baskets and make the perfect additions to our haunted neighborhood small world we’ll be creating together over the next few weeks And right now she has great sight word bundles for little learners!

Lilyandriver (Instagram, Etsy, etc.): Looking for gross motor equipment for the playroom? Or maybe just high quality and aesthetically pleasing pieces so that the playroom doesn’t look like an explosion of a space? Lily & River is perfect for you! Check out their little playsets, climbers, and activity toys for everything you might need for the perfect playroom. We have the Little Creator Table Set and I’m dying to add the Little Climber and Little Rocker to our space.

Young, Wild & Friedman (Instagram, .com): Cutest small shop by a mama in Texas who has been making themed play doh kits for all to enjoy. She makes jars, mini kits, and full kits. We’ve used the mini kits as party favors, and we consistently bring the boys dinosaur kit and bug kit on vacation with us because it’s packaged in the easiest plastic container for travel. The boys make the greatest small worlds out of bugs and dinos using their kits.

Cardboardfolk (Instagram, new book coming soon!): All my upcycle and cardboard craft-spiration comes from Kathryn and her amazing talents. She helped me brainstorm the dragon wings from this summer, and is always so thoughtful in offering her thoughts, comments, and feedback. The work she does with cardboard is amazing. I’d have entire playroom made of her toys and gadgets if I could, and she’s coming out with a great new book filled with endless ideas. Pre-order it now and show her some support!

Shop LTK: Like To Know It, a popular third party vendor for social media content creators to earn commision off of direct links without paid brand collaborations, is a great fit for helping friends out who share their style, lifestyle, toys, etc. on social media. My caution here is to avoid big influencers with big followings, and aim more to find accounts you know or who are local to you. Those big name influencers are usually past the point of making legitimate connections, and are more into the money-making, scam side of the business. By keeping it to people you know or find locally, you ensure that you’re supporting genuine accounts. Check out @unchartedyears and @living_like_lindsay‘s LTK page if you’re interested and local to the area!

Fox & Kit: A baby, toddler, and children’s boutique in Cape Cod that I adore. The absolute cutest clothes and baby/toddler/children supplies, as well as high quality toy, activity, and loose parts selection. Not local? Great news! She’s on instagram and has her own business site, and ships to you too! I order all the time because of course I’m only local occasionally.

Jen Morrissey Photography and Jennifer Langdon Photography: One is a close friend, and one has shot for us since her first time with us at our wedding. Both are CT-based photographers who are amazing at what they create! If you’re looking for wedding, newborn, lifestyle, family, holiday, or business photos, check them out! They both have such unique and candid style, and will travel to any reasonably local destination of your choice!

Usborne Books & More (me!): A great direct sales company that has allowed me to foray into the world of my own small business while sharing my love of literacy, children’s books, and children’s activities with my world. With a unicorn of a company (ask me what I mean by that!), I’ve been able to get massive amounts of great books, puzzles, games, and activities into the hands of many lucky children, with clients reaping huge benefits and rewards for themselves and the littles in their life just from having a party. I would love to throw you a virtual book party for your family and friends as a way to give you a jump start on your holiday shopping for FREE! September and October is a perfect time, and you know where to find me!

I also have friends, family members, or acquaintances with their hand in their own direct sales small business with Beach Body, Epicure, ColorStreet, Beauty Counter, Monat, Stella and Dot, and Pampered Chef (holy comeback!!) that would be worth checking out too, depending on what you’re in the market for! If you need any recommendations, let me know and I’m happy to help or make referrals!

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