Handmade Hive · Uncategorized

An Opportunity to Encourage…

In a previous post, I shared a blog I enjoy following called While She Naps by Abby Glassenburg. In the summer of 2014, Abby interviewed 21 women in a series called The Pattern That Changed My Life and each woman describes how her creative trajectory was changed because of a particular pattern, book or workshop, ultimately causing them to head in a new direction and how it helped form their career.

One woman in particular talks about her love for teaching others how to sew and the journey she took to finally get to that point of realization.  In one part of her interview she says, “Looking back, it amazes me what a big impact such tiny discouragements had. Fortunately, the same can be said of words of encouragement…

It’s such a simple thing, but how often do we really stop to think about the direct impact our words and actions (whether done in public or private) have to either tear someone down or build them up?  Everyday we’re given the opportunity to make a choice: choose to use our words and actions to discourage, deflate and defeat others or choose to use our words and actions to breathe life, hope, and encouragement to those around us.

I want to share with you two life-giving, life-changing opportunities to provide encouragement to someone internationally and an organization locally.

Opportunity #1:


The first person I want to introduce you to is someone my friend met while in Rwanda this past summer.  Her name is Colette. Below is an excerpt from my friend, Heather, talk of her opportunity to meet Colette:

“Colette is a Congolese woman who lives in a refugee camp in Rwanda.  A friend, who gave me one of her hand-woven carpets, introduced me to her.  When I learned that she took time to weave it by hand to earn a living for her and her 3 children and the vulnerability of being a woman trying to survive in a refugee camp, I had great compassion for her and wanted to somehow support her.  I ordered several carpets from her to give as gifts to others.  She wanted to meet me and personally deliver the carpets when I was in Rwanda this past July.

“I had no idea the impact buying these carpets had.  She talked about how it gave her hope and was life changing for her.  Making the carpets provides for the needs of her children and also gives her a sense of purpose.  She has a vision to build a business with her handmade items, along with other local craftsmen in Rwanda. In order to do this, she needs investors to provide a small amount of seed money to get started.  I’ve offered to facilitate this and help her create a business plan.  (Towards the end of this post you will find a basic business plan that includes her goals and vision for the business and the small amount of money she needs to get started. In it she describes the process of making one of her carpets, which can take anywhere from 13-15 hours.)  She has a goal to reimburse her investors.

“Finally, I have also attached her testimony.  It is a powerful story that she has freely shared and wants it to go out so that it can help others and so that God may be glorified.  May you be encouraged by the transformation of her life, the power of God, and the people, like the Bible Society of Rwanda, who have come alongside her to help her healing.”

WOW! I hope you take the time to read Colette’s business plan (Business Plan. Keza) and testimony (KEZA NGENDAHIMANA COLETHE interview)!  If you didn’t get a chance to, I would encourage you to do so.  I am so inspired by her business name – There Is Still Hope – and she provides us with an amazing example of “one who has risen above suffering, and is healing and living, as she finds meaning in faith, friendship, work and service.”

I’m excited to let you know that I have an opportunity, possibly in March, to be able to start selling Colette’s merchandise through the Handmade Hive Online Marketplace! As the time gets closer, I look forward to sharing more with you about Colette and her beautiful handcrafted products.  In the meantime, here are a few ways you can help Colette use “her hands and simple things to make everlasting and important things”:

~ Are you someone who would be interested in this type of personal financial investment–as a woman, as a business owner, a craftsman and/or someone with a love for helping someone internationally?  If not you, do you know of someone who has a heart for international business development or helping a woman in need? If so, would you be able to pass this along to them?

~ Are you someone who would be interested in connecting with Colette to help her improve her product or develop ideas for other products?  Colette is looking to network with others to develop her business.  If you, or someone you know, would like to partner with Colette to develop her business or help her practice her English, please contact Heather Evans – he.evans@rcn.com


Opportunity #2:

New Truth Home (2)

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of working on a few sewing projects with some gals who are survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation at a therapeutic residential home in the Lehigh Valley called the Truth Home. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Truth for Women website (www.truthforwomen.org) describes the Truth Home as “a therapeutic residential home offering dramatically changed lives and hope-filled futures to survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. The home offers a safe place for motivated women, who want an opportunity, to rebuild their lives. The home provides a warm, family setting for women, consisting of 8-12 months in an intensive therapeutic environment.”

Not only have I had the opportunity to work with them, but they are also working on making quilts with another volunteer who regularly visits the home. Unfortunately, most of the machines are no longer in working order.  In addition to sewing, the participants also have the opportunity to work on other creative projects like scrap-booking and painting, however, there currently is not a dedicated craft room at the Home.

Teaching the participants how to sew and giving them the ability to express their creativity is just one of the many ways that helps assist in their recovery through life skills training, life enrichment classes, job skills, mentoring, coaching and healthy lifestyle.

I am looking to purchase 3 brand new sewing machines (see listing here) for the participants to use during their stay at the Truth Home and also raise funds for the craft room.  Each machine costs $145 so I’m looking to raise at least $435.00.  Any additional funds will go towards purchasing paint (for walls), an area rug, a table, chairs, shelves, lamps and anything else that will help to create this space for them!

Here are a few ways you can participate:

~ Take a few minutes and visit www.truthforwomen.org and click on the Truth Home tab to learn more about the Truth Home.  You can also visit thevast.org to learn more about Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST) and the work that is being done in the Lehigh Valley through a coalition of volunteers to eliminate human sex trafficking through prevention efforts in awareness, action and aftercare.

~ Visit my fundraising page and make a donation of any amount – https://www.crowdrise.com/sewingmachineforthetruthhome/fundraiser/courtneydoncevic

~ Share this post with anyone you think would be interested in donating.


Thank you!






DIY · Handmade Hive · Home Decor · Uncategorized

DIY No-Sew Curtain Panels

Shower Curtain Curtains


My husband and I are selling our house.  So last Spring, we started packing up the house and painted our walls Summer Gray (which basically means they’re white).

Thank goodness that recliner and the carpet are gone

We’ve lived in this house for 11 years and before we painted, our living room walls were a dark, plum purple and I had really cool artwork and pictures hanging all over the place.

Artwork and fans are from family travels to Spain and China

In my rush to get everything packed and organized, I took down the curtains in the living room and dining room and packed them and all the pictures and artwork up.

Now the house is bare…and as a lover of color, design, pictures, artwork…I’m dying inside and I needed to come up with some kind of solution to fill my visual love bank.

Our house has 9′ high ceilings and most windows in the house have a radiator underneath, so finding curtains that fit the windows properly can be challenging and expensive.  Since we’re moving, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on buying individual panels and I also wanted something that would soften things up, while also having a subtle design that wouldn’t smack people in the face when they walked into the house.  I also needed something that was going to be easy to make/alter because my sewing machine is broken.

I wanted to first tackle the big 70″ high x 60″ wide window in our living room, since it’s the first room you walk into from our front door.

I left the curtain rod up from the previous curtains that were hanging, so from the top of the rod to the sill it’s 71″ high.  For the width, from outside of the molding (L) to outside of the molding (R), it’s 60″ wide.  However, I needed to add an inch to each side since the bracket isn’t installed on the molding and I also needed to add another 3 inches to each side for the rod return.  I wasn’t worried about having too much fullness to these curtains, so that meant that I actually needed 1 panel that was at least 68″ wide (60+1+1+3+3) or 2 individual panels that were at least 34″ wide.

With measurements in hand (71″ x 68″), I went to the store to see what I could find.  The curtain panels that I found in-store were only 68″ high (or 84″ high) so they were out and to keep this a simple, quick and inexpensive project, I did not want to have to order anything online.

I decided to walk over to the shower curtain area just to see what they had in stock and I was so excited to find this simple, subtle design and it was 72″ x 72″…Woot! Woot!  I could work with that!


So here’s how I made these no-sew curtains out of a shower curtain in less than an hour:

Tools needed: Iron, no-sew fusible web, measuring tapes, shower curtain, scissors and press cloth.


Before you go out looking for your materials, be sure to measure your windows properly.  This will save you a lot of heartache, time and money.  You definitely don’t want to have to be guessing what your measurements are while your standing in the store trying to make a purchase.  Here’s a great website with simple instructions and a diagram to show you how to do that: Curtain Works


Since this shower curtain was 72″ wide, I knew I would be able to cut it in half and only have one edge that I would need to worry about hemming.


That would give me two 36″ wide panels and would allow for me to turn my cut edge in at least 1 inch to iron on my no-sew fusible web.


I folded my cut edge and pressed it down to create a hem for the no-sew web


and following the manufacture’s directions, I turned my iron to the wool setting with no steam and used a damp press cloth to keep the no-sew web from sticking to my iron.


Once I had both panels hemmed, I went over each panel with my iron to smooth out any wrinkles


and also checked each panel for any threads that were hanging.  These two steps may seem unnecessary and time consuming, but trust me, it definitely helps to make sure you have a more finished looking end result.


One of my favorite parts about this project was that I didn’t have to worry about making a rod pocket for the curtain rod because I could just use the shower curtain hook holes.


The rod that I already had installed is a telescoping double projection rod because previously, I had sheers and a valance hanging in that room.  So all I needed to do was weave the rod in and out of the holes, making sure to follow the same pattern on both panels…and Viola!


I couldn’t be more happy with how these curtains turned out and best of all, from start to finish, I was able to complete them in less than an hour, all while my little guy was taking his afternoon nap.  They also accomplished my goal of being able create something that was simple, soft, subtle and inexpensive.


No matter what your level of expertise, this is definitely a project that you can do!




Handmade Hive · Uncategorized

A Self-Diagnosed Clicker

I’m a clicker!  You know…I view an article, blog, website, Facebook…it has links…and click, click, click.  Before I know it, I have about 10 tabs open at the top of my toolbar.

My opinion is those links were put there for a reason and since I’m obsessed with clicking…What’s a gal to do?  I’m going to find out where those links will take me.

Turns out, I’ve found some really neat websites from all that clicking.  Here are just a few of my favorites (links, of course, included) that I’d like to share with you, in no particular order.  But first, an important message:

*Full Disclosure: I have no material relationship to any brand or person mention in this post, except for anything related to the Handmade Hive brand, which is my own business.  Just my good-old-fashion opinion being shared!  Any website links, except for Handmade Hive, that I’ve shared are for reference only and are not affiliated with Handmade Hive.  They may also contain material, thoughts, opinions and further links that do not not express the views or opinions of Handmade Hive or its owner. 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here we go…

For me, there’s nothing like walking into a fabric shop and looking at and touching fabric.  I love making that personal, tactile, visual connection.  Since I can’t realistically go to a fabric shop everyday to get my fabric-love-bank filled, I’m loving this fabric website I found while I was reading a post Abby Glassenberg from, While She Naps wrote for Sew Mama Sew. It’s called Hawthorne Threads and their Hawthorne brand specializes in making digitally printed fabric in a small town in Upstate New York.

via Hawthorne Threads

Ahh…just got lost again over at their website dreaming of sewing projects…it’s so beautiful and unique! A must see for all you fabric lovers out there.  (By the way, what got me hooked to While She Naps website is a series called The Pattern That Changed My Life that features the stories of 21 women and how a “particular pattern, book or workshop changed their creative trajectories.”  So inspiring!!!)

Another blog I’ve really come to enjoy following after clicking on a FB share is a called Christina’s Adventures.  Christina and her crew are remodeling a beautiful 1902 Victorian.

via Christina’s Adventures

The designer in me loves reading about the remodel (especially the kitchen) and it’s been so much fun watching the visual transformation through Christina’s Adventures on Instagram as well.  She also shares valuable insights on Home Decor, Crafts, Recipes and lots of great DIY projects.

Unmistakable Creative is a podcast that features real life conversations/interviews on life, leadership,  with people who are unmistakably creative and have done some pretty unmistakably creative things.

via Unmistakable Creative

I visited this website and started listening to the podcast after listening to a Creative Live podcast called Profit.Power.Pursuit. hosted by Tara Gentile.  Just finished listening to Matt & Eva Webb talk about How Kids Can Have a Profound Impact on the World.  If you liked listening to that, you may also find value in this blog post called: Lessons Learned While Ministering to Young People by my friend Heather Evans.

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon Design*Sponge, but it was definitely in the process of working on my business plan for Handmade Hive.  I especially found (and still find) great wisdom and inspiration in the Life & Business section.

For natural living, my two favorite go-to sites are MamaNatural and HolisticSquid.

There are so many more nuggets I’d love to share (maybe in another post), but lastly, one thing I just recently added to my bucket list, thanks again to Abby Glassenburg’s website…attending a Makerie creative retreat.

via The Makerie

The website describes it like this – “a place of warmth, the Makerie is a creative retreat for everyone, a time to play, a place to find quiet, a setting to be inspired, a space to learn, a loving creative community, a gathering you might never forget.”  AHHH…this video…sign me up!!


How about you?  Have you stumbled upon any great websites that you’d like to share?  Please do so in the comment section below!

If you like what you’ve read, we’d love it if you used one of the share buttons below!

A Natural Alternative · Handmade Hive · Meet The Artists · Uncategorized

Meet The Artists: A Natural Alternative

Have you ever walked into a store to buy something and thought to yourself…“I wonder who made this?” I’m sure some of you make a conscience effort of doing this, but if we’re being honest, for most of us (myself included) we buy things out of ease, comfort, price-point, without ever really stopping to think about the person or the process behind that product. Mass-produced items from foreign countries line the shelves of our favorite stores and if we’re not intentional seekers and purchasers, we miss out on the beautifully unique, one-of-a-kind treasures of the local, small business community of artists right around the corner.

And that is what Handmade Hive is all about…Supporting the small business community of local artists, designers, makers, and crafters by promoting their handcrafted goods through an online marketplace.

Welcome to my first installment of a series of weekly blog posts called Meet The Artists, where you’ll get to learn more about the person and the process behind the products at Handmade Hive.


My first artist is soap-maker Hedge Sefcovic. Hedge is the owner of A Natural Alternative, is an advocate for the local, handmade community and this girl makes AMAZING products. I first met Hedge and her soaps, lip balms, lotion bars, bath fizzies, etc at Musikfest in Bethlehem PA while searching for a natural alternative (no pun intended) for bug spray for a camping trip my husband and I were going on with some friends. She recommended one of her lotion bars that proved to be a life-saver and a few years later, she was one of our most popular vendors at Handmade Hive’s Indoor Craft Market.

Let’s meet Hedge, the person behind the products:


“The question I get asked the most often is where my name came from. It’s from a recording group, Hedge & Donna and my parents weren’t normal enough to name me Donna.

I’ve been making soap professionally now for 15 years and I truly consider myself to be a soap-maker. Everything else is just icing on the cake. I live with my husband and father; both of whom are very supporting of my soap-making and help out quite a bit too.

A full rack – 3,200 bars of soap

When I’m not making soap, I love to garden, freeze and can much of our vegetables for the year from what I grow and what I get at our CSA.

Corn Salsa

I started off as a design student in Theatre and primarily considered myself a painter. When I got out of college I ended up working on some projects in a more managerial role and liked the scheduling and financial aspects of that. When I started making soap as a hobby it was a great meld of the two things…design and planning. I’ve been hooked ever since and I just follow where it leads.

In the beginning, I envisioned a brick and mortar store that was more of a place to go for all things natural: soaps, food, clothing, so I named my business A Natural Alternative so it could encompass anything I decided to do. Then the soap took off and the idea of a store didn’t seem like so much fun. I added “soaps and toiletries” onto the name, but if I was starting out now I would probably have gone a different direction with it. But I branded now so I am stuck with it! :o)”

Christkindlmarkt 2015 at SteelStacks – Bethlehem PA

“When it comes to making the products I sell, I’m mostly inspired by my customers. I keep a book of suggestions and things they ask me for each year, special orders, and things I see out in the wild that interest me. At the end of the year I go through this list and see how I can put my spin on things. Some things just become the cream of the crop and I go for it.

I’m also inspired/influenced by a boss I once had named Peter. He taught me two important lessons. First is to never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself, always being the hardest worker in the room. Second is to find some balance. He was an exceptional boss and person, but I watched him miss out on family stuff because of work. I try at having balance between work and life. I often fail, but at least I try.

At the end of the day, it’s about being able to make decisions and sticking behind those decisions. There is no one to blame but me. I wear many hats, learn things every day, and each day is different than the last. It certainly isn’t a boring way to live.”

Hedge is also inspired by the nameless, faceless people that she would most want to spend time with, like the fragrance chemists who can teach her about blending and mixing, so she can learn about why certain things work together and certain ones don’t. She wants to spend time with the farmers who grow the spearmint plants, and the distiller of the essential oils. She wants to spend time with herbalists, and molecular gastronomists, and people who can help her make her products better and help her understand why they work at all.

“The pretty art of soap is for the eyes, not the skin.” – Hedge Sefcovic

To wrap things up, I wanted to find out from Hedge what the word “handmade” means to her and her answer is very insightful –

“Doing things handmade for me means doing things by hand, in small batches. There has been a lot of technology for the small soap maker that has come out in the last 10 years. Machines to cut your bars, pots for really large batches, hydraulic bath fizzy presses, anything you can think of. I still use 6 qt crock pots and my batches are 10 bars at a time. Small keeps the quality, it keeps flexibility, and it keeps it hands on. Handmade means making it by hand, not making it by a machine that is run by a person and calling it handmade. That’s a cottage industry and that’s a different thing.

Doesn’t look like much in the crock pots, but this is the first batch of Vanilla, Fig & Berries

It also means the days are long, the weather can be cruel, and you don’t get days off like “normal” people. If there was a job in the newspaper and it said” work 40-50 hours per week minimum, and only get paid if it doesn’t rain on Saturday” would you take the job? Well, that is essentially the life I lead. So many people see me at a craft show and think how much fun it is. I work all week making things to go out on the weekend and sell them and mostly be at the whim of the weather and the promoters who marketed the event. So many variables are out of my hands and impact my chances at selling my goods. It certainly isn’t: “if you make it they will come”.

I would like to have a craft show schedule that is a little smaller than the one I have now and have more internet sales and wholesale to make up for that. I think that will let me be home a little more and take into consideration the fact I am getting older and craft shows are physically demanding.

Handcrafts are being inundated by copies. Things are being mass-produced not only overseas, but here as well. Handcrafts only have value when the customer cares. Ask questions when you are at a “craft” show. Weed out the junk and don’t feel bad about complaining to the promoter about the junk. Be heard. If you care about handcrafts, advocate for us. Every voice matters to our cause.

We are the backbone of your community and give so much to the local economy. Much of the money we spend in show fees are used as fundraising for places like historic houses and arts centers. We get many of our supplies and displays from local retailers. When you buy from us so much of your money stays in your community and in your state.”

A Natural Alternative’s Products:

You can find these  products and more at Handmade Hive – A Natural Alternative.  You can also find Hedge’s products on her own website: a-natural-alternative.com, Etsy, The Bethlehem Visitor’s Center and The Knitter’s Edge.


All images are courtesy of A Natural Alternative & Handmade Hive

Stuff mentioned in this post:
The Bethlehem Visitor’s Center – Main St, Bethlehem, PA
The Knitter’s Edge – Broad St, Bethlehem PA
Christkindlmarkt – Bethlehem PA
SteelStacks – Bethlehem PA
Etsy – A Natural Alternative

How about you? Have you used any of Hedge’s products? Do you have a favorite? Have you seen her in action at one of the shows you’ve attended? Give her a shout-out in the comment section below!

We’d also love it if you shared this post by clicking on one of the links below.

Handmade Hive · Uncategorized

An Introduction

Let’s start at the very beginning…it’s a very good place to start.  Welcome to Handmade Hive – The Blog!  Here’s an introduction to tell you a little bit about what we’re all about.

Handmade Hive is…Locally Owned and Operated!  As one of the original Queen Bees of the original Handmade Hive, Courtney is proud to be bringing Handmade Hive back to life!


(The Original Queen Bees – Kelsey, Ashley and Courtney)

From a very young age, Courtney knew she would grow up to be a designer-crafter-maker. She followed her passion for art and design all throughout middle and high school, ultimately graduating from Liberty University in 2004 with a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences – Interior Design Specialization. She has worked for a high-end interior design firm, a drapery company, a decorative home accent store, paint shop, kitchen and bath showroom and has been making her own creations and selling at various craft shows and now on the Handmade Hive website under Design Styles.

While helping to plan and organize the original Handmade Hive with the other Queen Bees, Courtney developed a renewed sense of appreciation for the small business community of local artists and the uniqueness that each individual brought to the Hive. She is proud to be bringing back Handmade Hive as online boutique and she trusts that you will enjoy the artists and their products as much as she does!

(Images from Handmade Hive’s 2013 Indoor Craft Market)

What started out as a 2-day, twice a year event back in 2012, is now a living, breathing year-round retail boutique that features and promotes home goods, accessories, art and gifts of small, local and independent artists, designers and makers through our online storefront.

Handmade Hive is…Handmade! This means that all of our vendors hand-make and hand-craft the items that you see here. We don’t and won’t sell mass-produced, factory-produced, box-store items. Each of our artists takes extreme pride in the work that they create and are so happy to share it with you. What you’ll find is unique, one of a kind and sometimes even limited-editions of products. So if you see something that you like, go ahead and get it, because it might not be here when you come back!

Handmade Hive is…Local! At Handmade Hive, we take pride in supporting the local, American-made, small-business community of independent artists, designers, makers and crafters and are thrilled to be sharing these creations with you!

(Images from Handmade Hive’s 2013 Fall Indoor Craft Market.  From top left: Puzzle Lights by Jenn, A Natural Alternative, Angel Whispers Jewelry, Zuzu’s Petals, Parrott Designs, The Crafty Penguin)

Handmade Hive is…An Online Marketplace! You’ll find that most of the items sold on our website are drop-shipped directly from each vendor and your products may be shipped from various locations and arrive in different packages and on different days, depending on if you purchase from multiple vendors. The ordering and shipping process will be seamless and you will get your packages delivered right to you door. That being said – we aren’t here to compete with other companies who offer 2 hour free shipping or 2 day free shipping. Our artists individually pack and ship their products, most of the time from their home studios, not a fulfillment warehouse.

And lastly, Handmade Hive is…Social! Please follow us on FACEBOOK and PINTEREST and INSTAGRAM!!