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Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014

Renegade Craft Fair took place in Chicago again the weekend before last. I think I first had a booth in the show for my stationery shop back in 2006, and it was a huge part of my business for years. Even after no longer exhibiting, Brandon and I have been back just about every year (we bring the kids with), and its interesting to see how it has changed and grown. Here are some of my favorites from the 2014 Chicago show!

• Wire art and prints by Tammy Smith
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Tammi Smith

• Awesome cards by The Detroit Card Co.
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: The Detroit Card Co.

• Handmade paper flowers by Moon Flora
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Moon Flora

• Wooden toys by A Summer Afternoon
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: A Summer Afternoon

• Brass and crystal jewelry by Lindsay Lewis
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Lindsay Lewis

• Sweet little bowls by Toast Ceramics
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Toast Ceramics

• Cute wooden art by Jodi Lynn Doodles
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Jodi Lynn Doodles

• Plush monsters by Mr. Sogs Creatures
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Mr. Sogs Creatures

• New paintings by Dolan Geiman
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Dolan Geiman

• Colorful felt faux-taxidermy by Horrible Adorables
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Horrible Adorables

• Bizarre collage mash-ups by Unusual Cards
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Unusual Cards

• Geometric brass jewelry by Son of a Sailor
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Son of a Sailor

• Customizable shoes by Mohop
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Mohop

• Pillows and tea towels by Yao Cheng
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Yao Cheng

• Lovely prints by The Bungaloo
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: The Bungaloo

• Dioramas by Red Belly
Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago 2014: Red Belly

Up to the Highest Heights

We do plenty of open-ended art projects around here. “Here are some watercolors; let’s paint!” Or “I brought home a big package of pipe cleaners. What should we make?” But the kids, Eleanor especially, really like having a project with step-by-step instructions to follow. I think they feel good about having made something themselves by following directions, so they love kits.

Kiwi Crate Craft Kit

I was given the opportunity to test out Kiwi Crate, a monthly subscription service, and I let E choose which craft we should try. They have different themes each month, like gardening, dinosaurs, and space, and Eleanor picked Fun with Flight because she wanted to make kites. Once she knew I’d ordered it, she asked “is it here yet?” every day until it arrived.

Eleanor and August

Each kit comes with all of the materials you need to make two or three projects (depending on which theme you choose), along with Kiwi Crate’s explore! magazine. Their monthly subscriptions start at $16.95/month with free shipping, and they also sell supplies like pipe cleaners, felt, and pom-poms, or party favors like capes, wands, and wings.

Making a Kiwi Crate Kite

Making a Kiwi Crate Kite

After finishing up her first kite, she and August both made rockets that launch with a rubber band. Kiwi Crate offers a “no fight” option with extra materials, so E and A were each able to make a happy-face kite and a grumpy one, and two different rockets. The both got the bonus paper flyers that were included and their own copies of the explore! magazine, too.

Making Kiwi Crate Rocket Ships

Kiwi Crate is offering a discount for my readers right now. Join their Time Traveler Series with projects to fall back in time! The promotional code excludes sibling add-ons, but you can save 25% on your first month subscription with code LOVELY25.

Making Kiwi Crate Rocket Ships

So cute. I love a good craft project that comes to my door, with all the guess-work and supply-shopping taken care of. And the kids loved making everything!

What We’re Reading Right Now

Our family likes books, you might say. I started working in an independent bookstore in 1998, and met Brandon when he was hired a year later (and we both stayed on until 2004 — the same year we were married). The kids have tons of books in their rooms, and we installed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to hold (most of) our collection in the front parlor of our Victorian after having made a library of our second floor landing in our first house. Yeah, we kinda like reading.

Brandon switched over to digital books a few years before I did, and now we both read like a mix of traditional and e-books. I use an iPad or sometimes my iPhone, and Brandon reads a Kindle. We were recently introduced to Oyster, which has been described as “Netflix for books,” and it’s pretty awesome. It works on both of our operating systems (and Android, too), and there are several display settings to choose from, letting you customize the look. You get unlimited access to over half a million books for $9.95 a month, and they have everything from classics to new releases (with new titles being added all the time). The best part is that the app makes it easy to find new books through their collections by genre, and it even learns what you like and makes recommendations based on your tastes and activity.

Oyster is offering a 30-day free trial right now and you can browse their popular titles to find some good new books, but I thought it would be fun to put together a reading list with picks from both Brandon and me. Summer’s winding down, but I’m still sort of in that light and fun frame of mind when choosing what to read right now, so my list reflects that. I’m guessing by Brandon’s list that he’s in the ‘end of the world apocalypse’ frame of mind, but you know, to each their own.

Our Oyster Books Reading List

Summer Reads

If you’re still looking for something quick and easy to pick up, these are some good options.

Guilty Pleasures

I re-read a couple of these recently, and oh man. They are ridiculous, in the best way.

My To-Read List

We all have that list of books that we’ve been meaning to get to, right? These are a few of mine.

Brandon’s Picks

Brandon assures me that A Confederacy of Dunces comes together in the end, but I only made it halfway before I gave up on it in favor of something else. (I’m sure I’m wrong and in the minority here, seeing as it’s a Pullitzer Prize winner and all.)

Oyster is offering a free 30-day trial for my readers, so you can try it out for yourself. I have a bunch of other titles that I’m eager to read (I narrowed it down to just three here!), but I’d love a few suggestions too. I’ll add them to my reading list!

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