Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something Very Cool

Yikes! I've got so many things to do these days. The Man decided would should have a 4th of July party, which means we've got to get the house in order. This is a bit of a problem for me, because since I've started blogging and tweeting and working my Etsy shop, well...let's just say I've let a few things slide. I mean, there's only so many hours in the day, right? And with all these other important things, like blogging and tweeting and working my Etsy shop...OH! and playing with my kids..., well the housework has taken a back seat.

So last week I was working on recovering our porch swing. One of our resident squirrels tore it apart this spring. Argh!! She seemed to think the fluffy batting inside would make a great nest. She was wrong about that in so many ways, but that's a story for another time. Anyway, back to the swing....

I've been dying to get my sewing machine out for a while. I like to sew stuff for the house. I'm not that good at it, but I enjoy doing it. And I think it's good for me. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and sewing constantly teaches me to embrace my little imperfections. (Or at least that's what I tell myself.) Well, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Odds & Ends' blog (I sure do wish she'd blog more, hint, hint). She had a link to a tutorial on turning plastic shopping bags into fabric by fusing bags together with an iron. At last! Something to do with all those shopping bags that I can't put in my recycle bin!!! Oh happy Day! (Yes, I use 'reusable' shopping bags, but no matter how I try, I still manage to amass way too many of the plastic ones.) So...since I had the sewing machine out, I might as well have a little fun and try something new, right?

Voila! A fun little cover for my DayTimer!

I followed the tutorial that was in the Etsy Storque a while back. Of course, I didn't follow it right (I don't follow directions very well.) My 'fabric' didn't turn out as pretty and smooth as I thought it would, but I kind of like the crinkly look of mine (breath...embrace the imperfection...become ONE with the imperfection...breath.)

So here's what I didn't pick up from the tutorial:
  • The 'fabric' shrunk quite a bit - probably because I didn't have the iron set right and because I forgot to flip everything and iron the front AND the back. I'd already pretty much ironed the hell out of the front trying to get all the layers to fuse together before I remembered I was supposed to iron the back too.

  • I really should have made sure the bags were clean before I started fusing them. (There's a little extra character in places, but nothing too disgusting.)

And here are the happy surprises:

  • I wasn't sure if drawing or writing on the bags before fusing would work, but it worked just fine. I used Sharpie markers for the text and the panda's thought bubble. I drew them on a white bag and then used a clear produce bag for the top layer so the ink wouldn't come off during the fusing. Worked like a charm!

  • I also wasn't sure if I could cut out images and place them under the clear top layer. I thought it might be really obvious that I was 'cutting & pasting'. But again, this worked great.

  • I used fusible interfacing on the back of the 'fabric' to stiffen things up and give a more stable sewing surface. I also used it to extend my fabric with the red ribbon on the inside flap (to resolve the shrinkage problem). I wasn't sure if the interfacing would fuse to the bags, but it worked perfectly!

It was a really fun project, and it didn't take long at all. I'm going to do it with the kids next time -- let them cut pictures and words out of the bags, draw on them with markers, etc. I don't know what we'll do with the 'fabric', but I'm sure we'll come up with something very cool.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Number 4

In horse racing it's win, place, show. In beauty pageants, it's 2nd runner up, 1st runner up, and The Title of Miss So-n-So. Seems like 4th place never gets a prize. Well guess what! Today's the day for #4. Really. told me so.

UrbanDesign made the 4th comment on my What's Buggin' You? post. So, what was buggin' her? Insurance sales people, and the fact that the DH is doing a little better on the diet than she is. And I'll tell you what...both of those things would seriously bug me too. What doesn't bug me is her photography. Check out her Etsy Shop. She's got some amazing stuff -- no bugs, but lots and lots of beautiful botanicals and landscapes. Really beautiful work.

I had so much fun with this post. I think I'm going to make it an annual thing. Actually when I read through the list of complaints, there was only one on there I couldn't relate to at all...but that's only because I don't have a sister. I asked The Boy and he confirmed it with rolling eyes and clenched fists, "Oh yeah, Mommy, it's really annoyting (his word) when a sister wont leave you alone." And to those of you who were concerned with sounding "bitter".... Hey, embrace the bitter. Bitter is good. OK, bitter is bitter, but we all need to vent every now and then, right? Right!

Two things you don't have to feel bitter about today: bugs that bite - because you can take care of that problem with my lovely little product, and not winning my give away -- because I've got a special deal for ya. I'm offering the 2oz. bottle of Bzzz Off! insect repellent for $4 to anyone who left a comment on the What's Buggin' You? post.

And because I had so much fun with this, I'm extending the offer to anyone who leaves a comment on this post, but there's a catch. To qualify for the offer you have to follow the links to one or more of the Etsy shops I used to illustrate this blog entry, visit the shop or blog of someone who left a comment in the What's Buggin' You? post, or visit my shop (WTH! Promotion's what it's all about, right?). Then come back here and leave a comment about your favorite item or post. Hey, we spent the 1st half of the week complaining, right? Let's finish the week spreading some love (and repairing our Karma). I've made it easy for you. Here's a link list:

Blog Illustrations:
Reiter8's Shop or Reiter8's Blog (that bold n beautiful 4 pillow)
UrbanDesign's Shop or UrbanDesign's Blog (the daisy photo I'm trying to find a home for - in my home)
JewelsofLuxury (the $4 ring - check out the clockwork stuff - too cool!)
WebbySue (the cute little $4 charm)

Comment Contributors:
AnastasiaC's Shop (aka: PercivalRoad) or AnastaciaC's Blog
Eclairre's Shop or Eclairre's Blog

OK, so there you have it. Click, come back, comment, get 33.33333% off the best smelling and nicest feeling bug repellent around. (Just leave "I commented on your blog" in the buyer's note and I'll send you a refund.)

Thanks for bitchin...I mean playing with me:D

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What's Buggin' You? (Bzzz Off! Give Away)

Give away time!! 4th of July's right around the corner and it's the one night of the year when just about everybody in the country is outside getting eaten alive by the bugs. So, just in time to spare you the agony, I'm giving away a 2 oz. bottle of my Bzzz Off! natural insect repellent. I've blogged about it before, and you can read all about it in the TeddyStartedIt Etsy shop so I'm not going to go over it all again here. (Can ya tell I'm feeling a little pressed for time tonight? I'm feeling a little pressured to keep my clean track record of a Sunday night blog post going, but I've got two sofa's full of laundry to fold/put away, a sink full of dishes to do and ...well, the list goes on and on and all I want to do is put my head on the pillow.)

Anyway, here's the catch. There's always a catch, right? You gotta tell me what's been buggin' you lately. There's always something, right? Here, I'll give you a little fuel for the fire.

What's Bugging Me (Today):
  • All the nasty porn followers I'm getting on Twitter these days! *ick! (Really! Does "NastyNiecy365" really think "TeddyStartedIt" is at all interested her tweets?!?!?)
  • The way it takes me an hour to do things that used to take 15 minutes!
  • The bug in my Microsoft wireless mouse that makes it so I have to click a link 5 times before it executes!
  • People who don't scoop the poop outta their backyards (which is why my backyard is full of $h!t eating flies)!
  • Big-haired ladies on cell phones who park their Suburbans in spaces designated "Compact Car" and then get upset when their doors get dinged!
  • Big-haired ladies on cellphones who park their Suburbans in handicap spaces because they're "just running in to get a quick cup of coffee."
  • Yeah, OK, you got me -- Big-haired ladies on cell phones driving Suburbans.
OK, enough from me. It's your turn! Tell me what's bugging you. I'm going to use one of those randomizer thingies to chose a winner Wednesday night. I'll post results here sometime on Thursday. That way I can get this stuff out well before the holiday. I'm also thinking I'll run a special "blog promotion" so that those of you who respond but don't win can get a nice discount on this lovely stuff.

So, tell me, what's buggin' you?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Say Yes to Candy

I've got a little extra special love for M&Ms today.

Today was a ridiculous day. My poor kiddos! Friday is our earliest day of the week. I insist on going to an 8:30 AM yoga class, and, being all "Type A", I like to get a little cardio in before I get my relaxation on. This means we have to leave the house at 7:45. This is incredibly early for my children. But every Friday they suck it up, eat their breakfast on the road and start their day in the Kids' Club at the gym.

On top of that regularly occurring Friday morning madness, today we were under the gun to pick up a Father's Day gift. I've known for quite a while what I...I mean the kids wanted to give Daddy. Problem is, I haven't been able to find one anywhere. I even put an Alchemy request out on Etsy thinking some talented soul could make us one. No luck. So there I was, at the last minute, scrambling to find what I want.

I finally found what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it was 40 miles away. But when it comes to Daddy, you know, no distance is too far to go to get him something he'll either fail to appreciate or stumble upon before I've had a chance to wrap. (Do I sound bitter? 'Cuz I'd hate to sound bitter;p) So, after the gym, I strapped the kiddos into the car seats and we headed way down the road. I was prepared though. I had a nice cooler full of healthy snacks for our little road trip: juice, yogurt sticks, bananas, whole grain crackers, cheese. Yummy stuff!

We got to our destination, picked up our items and got into the checkout line where my kids spy the candy display. Now, as you know from previous posts, I'm not a big fan of candy, but I'm not a total tyrant either. And my kids have figured out that I'm a sucker for good manners. "Excuse me, Mommy. Please, Mommy? Please may we have some candy?" Who can resist that?! Especially when it's said in that good-little-boy-sing-song voice. Well, I melted just like a chocolate bar on a hot Texas sidewalk. They each snatched a bag of peanut M&Ms and started doing their little happy dance. We made our purchases and climbed back in the car for the long trip back home.

Of course, before we're even out of the parking lot they're begging me to open the candy. So, I'm driving, opening bags, reaching behind me, etc.

Oops! Red light! Slam on the brakes! Cries in the backseat, "M m ms, mamma, m m ms!"

Ladybug spilled her whole bag onto the floor. So there I was, reaching, twisting (that yoga was really coming in handy) picking up M&Ms while trying to keep an eye on the light. The light turned green, but I was a little slow out of the gate -- something very unusual for me. And thank goodness! A truck in the on-coming turn lane jumped the light and was clipped by the pickup on my left and hit by the pickup on my right. And there I was...still parked at the light with a handful of peanut M&Ms. Boy am I glad I said yes to those bags of candy!!

Credit where credit is due:
Today's visual M&M ~♥~ was provided by Etsy. I was a little surprised not to find more M&M stuff out there. (I mean, what's not to love? Melts in your mouth, not in your hands AND prevents automobile accidents. ) Take a minute to check out the shops: scrumdilyicious print by SarahDonnellyPhtgrph, cute little upcycled journal by MissElaineous (cute name, eh?), good enough to eat earrings by Spiffle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Special Prize

Meet "Ladybug". My problem child. Now you're probably thinking something like this: "OMG! She's so cute!", or "OMG! Look at that hair!!", or "OMG! She looks just like a doll!", or "OMG! She's so sweet!". And if you're NOT thinking something along those lines, well...I'd like to buy you a cup of coffee. Since the day this girly was born, nobody's had anything to say to me that didn't have something to do with my pirate-smiled little cutie.

Don't get me wrong. I love her to pieces. And, like the devoted mother I am, I think she's the cutest little girl that's ever graced the face of the planet. I just wish she was a little more...well...flexable. I don't mind her temper -- I've got one of those myself. I don't mind her independence -- I know that'll serve her well down the road. I LOVE that she's not a follower -- except when it comes to the way she doesn't follow my instruction. That drives me crazy!

Our biggest problem these days is food. She does alright at breakfast. She'll eat some fruit and whole grain toast. But after that...well, forget it! If it's not fried, processed or dairy it's not going in her pouty little mouth. Plain and simple! As for dinner, she wont eat anything but tater tots. This drives me insane, because I do NOT do fried. But I now have more bags of processed potato products in my freezer than I've consumed in my lifetime. Another thing I don't do is candy. But Lawd! You should see the super-sized bag of M&Ms I bought at Costco today!

I can justify the M&Ms. You see, I've decided to resort to bribery. Ladybug loves her M&Ms. She also loves Hello Kitty. I picked up these cute little hair pretties from Flirtbuttons last week. (Check her out! She can put anything on a button! Cute stuff!) I figured I could use them as some kind of "special prize" for good behavior. Feeling fully armed, I decided to put my brave new plan into action at dinner tonight.

The plan is simple -- starve the child then promise her M&Ms for taking a bite, just one bite, of something new. Tonight, I told her she could have 3 M&Ms if she ate three pieces of spaghetti. It a bit of convincing, but she did it. And, she actually said she liked it! I was shocked, and maybe just a little drunk with success. So, I decided to push it. I told her if she'd eat just ONE bite of meatball, I 'd give her a 'special prize'. Ladybug's no dumby. She wanted to know what kind of special prize. I told her I had a Hello Kitty special prize for her. Well that worked to!! Knock me over with a feather! She ate the whole thing! I gave her her prize and we were both so pleased with ourselves. I'm already scouring Etsy for more little trinkets I can use as bribes. (And yes, I'm open to suggestions.)

I know I'm starting down a slippery slope, but I'd rather have a manipulative, bargaining-negotiating kid than one with horrible eating habits. No doubt I'll eat those words later -- probably with a side of tater tots -- but for now, I'm revelling in this evening's victory. Three pieces of spaghetti & a meatball. Mama got a special prize tonight too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fun in the Sun!

That's what summer's all about, isn't it? is, unless you're "paper white" like 3/4 of my family. Actually, Daddy's skin is pretty blinding too but he doesn't have the redhead's skin that the rest of us do. "Fun in the sun" translates into "pain in the back" pretty quickly around here. And that's exactly what happened yesterday. After t-ball, we had a few buddies over for some serious splashing. And in spite of the "waterproof" spf 50 the whole family was wearing, that boy of mine ended the day looking like a steamed lobster.

It's times like these that I'm so glad I dabble in the area that I do. In my office, there's a cabinet. The second you open it, you know you've gotten into something special. Just opening the door fills the room with the most wonderful smell. That cabinet contains a little blue box. Inside the box are a bunch of little brown bottles, and inside those bottles...Mother Nature's answers to most of what ails us. It only took a few minutes to whip up an afterburn massage for my crispy boy. Here's the recipe:

1/2 ounce jojoba oil

1/2 ounce aloe vera juice

10 drops lavender essential oil

5 drops German chamomile essential oil

Stir everything together until the ingredients are blended. The oils and aloe will separate without the use of an emulsifying agent, so you'll have to stir it occasionally. Spoon a little into your palms and massage into those red shoulders, backs, noses, cheeks, etc.

Jojoba oil is a great "carrier" oil. It's absorbed easily by the skin -- which means it's very effective at transporting therapeutic ingredients, and it doesn't sit on top of your skin making you feel greasy and icky. Pure aloe juice can go bad quickly if it's not handled carefully. It's a good idea to make small recipes like this one. That way you don't have to worry about it.

This recipe is very effective -- it cools the skin, takes a lot of the red out, and prevents peeling. Even if you don't burn as badly as we redheads do, sun really does take a toll on your skin. This easy formula is very restorative. You can find all of these ingredients at your local health food store, Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmer's Market, etc. Of course, if you don't feel like investing in an arsenal of botanical ingredients (it can get a little pricey), I know someone who'd be happy to prepare a little Summer Survival Kit for you. Bet you can't guess who! ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One Lovely Blog


OK...I'm kinda speechless. This is a rare moment in history, people. I'm pretty much NEVER speechless. As a matter of fact, a "friend" of mine once said "Denise would talk to the back door of a barn if she thought it would listen to her." Now, I know I like to talk, but is it just me or was that a kinda mean thing to say?


I've received the One Lovely Blog Award and I'm oh so flattered. Dalkullan Jewelry honored me and I'm just plain floored! And again, so...flattered. And obviously a little verklempt...which is maybe why I keep repeating myself...and why there are so many "..."s in this post.'s the deal. This is a pass-it-on kind of award. When you're honored, you need to spread the ♥ in return. You're supposed to choose 15 of your favorite blogs and pass the award on to them. The trouble is, I'm new to this. I don't follow all that many blogs yet, so here's my top 12. (Which means I've got three open positions -- so if I've missed your fantastic blog, clue me in!) Here's the list - in no particular order:

  1. PKMPhoto - because his picture of the day is just such a great way to start every day. Really amazing photography.
  2. KindOverMatter - because who couldn't use a little kindness every day?
  3. AestheticOutburst - because it's just so beautiful to look at.
  4. JakRandomArt - because her pictures make me just a little homesick -- in a good way.
  5. AlyGatr - becaues every post makes me laugh out loud.
  6. PeasAndBananas - because for a minute there, I thought my husband had started a blog and was writing about my life.
  7. ShrimpSaladCircus - because the 'marketing minute' really teaches me somthing.
  8. lilithevy - because her treasuries are so f'ing beautiful ('scuse my french), and because I get to brush up on my french every time she posts:D
  9. AngryChicken - becaues she gave me something to do with the whole wheat flour in my pantry (now that it's not bread-making season in TX anymore.)
  10. CakeWrecks - because I haven't been featured here...yet;p
  11. FortyTwoRoads - because I love her art AND she posted a picture that was integral in the successful design of my daughter's halloween costume.
  12. Domesticali - because her sensibilities warm my heart.
I know some of these blogs don't "need" promoting, but I love 'em so I wanted to spread a little ♥ their way too. Even the popular kids need a hug every now and then. Right? And special ♥ to Dalkullan. Be sure to read her profile when you check out her Etsy shop. It's such a nice story and philosophy -- a real tribute to family past and future.

Now, to #s 1 - 12, don't forget to share the ♥. You've gotta give it to receive it, right?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Flowers for Teacher

Schools out for summer! So you know what I was doing all last week...working on teacher gifts. Now I'm a firm believer that gifts given to teachers should come from the kids, not the parents. Sure, I'll throw in a gift card to go along with it -- to express my appreciation. But I think the kids need to be involved with it too. So of course this means hand made gifts. This year we gave our teachers flowers and cookies. Not just any flowers and not just any cookies. Handmade scented paper flowers and some awesome homemade shortbread.

Credit where credit is due: The inspiration for these pretty little packages came from two fellow Etsians. I really owe these ladies a debt of gratitude for the hours of fun the kiddos & I had creating our version of their fantastic flowers.

Delightfuldeceits fantastic Brown Bag Flowers - what a great thing to do to an old paper bag!! Her cards are beautiful too. She really knows how to make treasure out of trash.

ChelseaVantol's (you may know her as PaperCakes on Twitter) Pretty Paper Posies. Her shop's just so much colorful fun. Check out her craft kits -- little paper parties in a box.

And then there's the chef at The Pelican Inn who (years ago) so generously shared her shortbread recipe with me -- and this was no small act of kindness. It had to be translated (from Russian, I believe), converted to US weights & measures, and scaled back to a size reasonable for family consumption. It's just the most scrumptious stuff.

So thank you, ladies, for helping me & the kiddos thank another great group of ladies. And yes, my kiddos really did most of the work on those flowers. Need proof?

Friday, June 5, 2009

What's in a Name?

Teddy Started It. I get a lot of comments about the name of my business. Well, here it is...the answer. Meet the original "Teddy". The little fellow who started it all. Only 9 weeks old and already an inspiration. Doesn't take much when you're pregnant, does it? I think you can see how he got his nickname -- and where I got my avitar. I've had a soft-spot for Teddy Grahams ever since.
So for all you shop keepers out there...what's your story? How'd you find your name?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dandelions - Flower Power

LillyShayStyle is defending the virtue of Dandelions today. And while I don't particularly want them taking over my yard, I do believe their honor is worth defending. So, in support of Lilly, and all those happy yellow flowers, here's something useful to do with dandelions.

Dandelion infusions have been used for ages to help ease muscle aches and joint pain. If you've had an extra tough workout at the gym, spent to much time hunched over doing yard work, or if picking up that 2yo 100 times a day is getting to you, try this little preparation. It's a fun project to do with the kiddos and it would be a great home made gift for an exercise buff or an arthritic grandma -- or an arthritic 'ma' like me, for that matter! Check it out.

Here's what you need:
  • a clean wide-mouthed jar (like a mason jar)
  • a good supply of dandelions (really, a roadside field is better than a yard - since the roadsides are rarely treated with bug or weed killers)
  • Olive or Canola oil (and yes, that's the olive oil and canola oil you use in your day to day cooking -- straight from the grocery, nothing fancy about it.)
  • 1 shot of vodka (optional, but adding it will definitely keep unwanted things from growing in your infusion.)
  • a scrap of cheese cloth or some other fabric suitable for straining
  • rubber band
Here's what you do:
  • Fill your jar half full with dandelion flowers - make sure the flowers are fresh. You don't want any that are turning brown or starting to go to seed. You'll be able to spot the good ones - just look for the bees. Oh yeah, and let the bee finish his job before picking the flower - it's the polite thing to do.
  • After you've picked all your flowers, fill the jar almost all the way to the top with the oil of your choice. (Adding a sprig of lavender to the mix will give your finished product a really nice aroma.)
  • Add the shot of vodka if you want to ensure no molds start to grow (which they shouldn't if your flowers aren't wet - molds don't grow in oil.)
  • Cover your jar with the scrap of cloth and secure it with the rubber band
  • Set your jar in a warm sunny spot -- outdoors or indoors
  • Now here's the hard part. Wait. Wait, and wait, and wait. About 3 weeks ought to do it. By then, the dandelions will have turned brown.
  • While you're waiting, check out LillyShayStyle's blog, and Quick5pnt0's Flikr site (That's his incredible dandelion photo. I sure hope he doesn't mind that I swiped it -- I'm Flikr-ignorant and couldn't find a way to contact him through his page -- if anyone knows how, please educate me. I feel like a thief, but the picture was just too beautiful to pass on. His pictures of the beach make me so homesick I want to cry.)
  • Strain the oil into a clean bottle. Store in a dark place or preferably in the refrigerator. Refrigerating it should give it an indefinite shelf life. Something to remember though, olive oil solidifies when it gets cold. That's why my choice would be canola oil. If you're into the whole homemade massage oil thing and you have almond or grapeseed oil hanging around the house, these are excellent options as well.
  • You're ready to go! Just massage a little into your achy parts and let those "weeds" do their work.

Enjoy! Let me know if you take on this little project. If you send me pictures, I'll post them next month -- maybe include a giveaway. Tease, tease!