Friday, February 26, 2010

Winter Complaints (and a new product line)

I used to be a winter person – the cold crisp air, the big comfy sweaters, thick wooly socks, and boots.  The move to Texas kind of ruined winter for me. I don't really have an excuse to lavish myself with winter's creature comforts anymore. 

Texas weather is such a tease – especially in February. The daffodils are up and at 'em, but don't let those cheery yellow blooms fool ya.  It's sunny and 60 today, but tomorrow it’s gonna be 40 and rainy, the day after that it'll be 35 and windy. Oh, and then it’s back to sunny and 60 again. Now before you start calling me a whiner, hear me out. Enjoying [surviving] winter is largely dependent upon dressing appropriately, right? Well, it’s nearly impossible to dress for a Texas winter. You never know what the weather’s going to do. On the news here they give Bus Stop Reports for the morning and the afternoon. That’s because it can be 65 degrees at 8:00 AM and then fall into the 30s by 3:00 PM. I’ve actually watched the temperature drop 40 degrees in as many minutes. That’s crazy! How do you prepare for weather like that?

You can’t. Even if you could figure out how to dress yourself, you’re screwed because none of the stores around here sell winter clothes. (Unless of course you happen to be thinking about your winter wardrobe in August…when it's 100 degrees outside.) This is especially true for children. Don’t try to find a long sleeve shirt or a jacket for your kiddo after December. Come January, it’s all about summer.

This winter has been a particularly tough one for us Texans. We had snow…TWICE! One storm dropped nearly 12” on us. Somehow snow always makes the cold more tolerable to me. The snow days were fun. But the rest of winter, well it's been awful. Again, especially for the kids. We haven’t had the sunny-60s this year. And since no one has proper cold-weather clothing to wear, that means no one’s been playing outside to play. And what happens when everybody stays inside all winter? You got it…viruses. Everybody’s sick.

I was sick for the first 38 days of 2010. (Except for the 72 hours preceding my birthday – when I decided to over celebrate and give myself a hangover that lasted for 2 days. No, I still haven't forgotten about that.) I had the flu…I had a cold…I got a sinus infection. And just when I was on the mend...there was a bout of strep. Fun times. Well, the good part about spending all that time on the sofa feeling like crap is that I got a lot of research done. So, meet the new kids on the Teddy Started It block:

The Honey Bee Well antiviral line. I’ll be introducing them into the shop over the next few days. I'm really excited about them.  Family and friends have been test-driving them and the results are looking good.  We're well at last...and planning to stay that way.  Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm done complaining about the weather.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back To Work (The Brain Damage)

So, The Man decided to check out my blog the other night. (He does this from time to time – primarily to point out my typos. Thanks, honey.) “THIS is what you write about?!?”, he exclaimed. Seriously. What did he expect? The Man’s been married to me for…uh…well geeze, so long I’ve run out of fingers and I’m almost out of toes upon which to count. He knows I’m not an all work and no play kinda gal. He shouldn’t act so shocked.

The fact of the matter is that I’ve been working very hard lately – which is probably why the blog entries have been a little, well, shall we say, frivolous? Developing new products for my shop is hard work. We’re talking serious brain damage. There’s actual math involved! Formulas and conversions…stuff that makes my head HURT. Just buying my supplies takes an enormous amount of effort – finding the best price for the purest, most therapeutic ingredients…ugh! Just the thought of it!

Therapeutic essential oils can be crazy expensive. Committing to a new ingredient can be a significant investment. Example: German Chamomile. It’s one of my favorites. It’s cobalt blue in color and it smells a little funny in my opinion. The color can be a problem – like when it’s combined with oils that are amber or brown and turns the whole mix the color of old guacamole. (Nice visual, eh?) The smell can be a problem too because we’re conditioned to believe that everything needs to smell like flowers or freshly cut grass. But the stuff works miracles. It’s the serious magic in my Once Bitten bite soothing cream -- and if you’ve used this stuff, you know what I mean by serious magic. (And if you haven’t tried it yet and don’t enjoy those itchy red spots the mosquitoes leave behind, well go get you some…right here.) One drop…one SINGLE DROP of German Chamomile costs $.53. Drops probably don’t mean much to y’all so let’s do some conversions. After all, who doesn’t just love conversions? 1 drop = .05ml. In other words, there are 20 drops in a milliliter. And there are 5 milliliters in a teaspoon. That means there are 100 drops in a teaspoon. Now do the math that counts. That’s right…a teaspoon of therapeutic grade German Chamomile costs $53!!! And that’s wholesale.

So on top of the general chemistry involved, I have to ask myself the questions: Is the formula going to be prohibitively expense? Will customers be able to appreciate the therapeutic effects if the smell or the color is a little unexpected? Can I afford to invest in quality ingredients if a product bombs?  I haven’t found a chart or a calculator to help me out with these answers. Is it any wonder the blog gets a little silly when I'm in product development? So The Man should just back off a little, don’t ya think? And really, he’s a fine one for pointing fingers. Just look what he did to my Chickenpants while I was at work the other day!

Tell me, what do you do when the thinking part of the job makes your head hurt?  

Oh yeah, and look for a couple new products coming SOON!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because I'm A Winner

That’s right, people. I WON! I won Chickenpants #285. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well good for her. She won. She’s a winner. That’s just great. But what a waste. She’s not going to know what to do with that Chickenpants. Now I’d know what to do with that Chickenpants.”

It’s OK. I forgive you for not being all that happy for me. I understand. Really. You see, I’ve been there. Several years ago, a lifelong friend of The Man (and former college roommate of ours), won BIG in the lottery. Like, set-you-up-for-the-rest-of-your-life big. When you think about something like this happening to someone you know, you just assume that you’d be really happy for them. Well I’m hear to tell you, it’s surprising how really not-so-thrilling it can be when a friend hits the jackpot. You start thinking weird stuff, like: “Wow, if I call them to say congratulations, they’re just going to think that I want something from them.”; or, “Do you realize our kids will never be friends with their kids, because their kids are going to be rich and have all these incredible experiences and our kids are just going to be…well…normal kids.”; or worse, “They’re not going to know what to do with all those winnings – not like we would."

It was very uncomfortable for a while. But I’m happy to say that’s all water under the bridge. Our weirdness has mellowed with time, and their winnings have changed them very little. We enjoy visiting with them when we’re back home. Their kids are great and our kids love playing with them. It’s all good. And it’ll be good with you and me too. You’ll see. My Chickenpants windfall wont change me a bit, and you don’t have to feel weird about congratulating me. I promise. So go ahead, be happy for me.

Oh, and if you'd like your own Chickenpants, I'm sure Claire would love to help you out. Check her out at AbsolutelySmall. They're hip, they're cool, they're in pants. They're Chickenpants! (And they actually come from Cool, CA - how could they not be cool?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Chickenpants (I hope, I hope)

Today I’m wishing a Happy Etsyversary to AbsolutelySmall – creator of Chickenpants. Of course, I’m very happy that she’s celebrating her 3rd anniversary as an Etsy seller. But mainly I’m doing this for selfish reasons. She’s got a giveaway on her blog and I have EVERY intention of winning. So I’m wracking up a few extra entry points by blogging about it. So pop on over to her blog or her shop or her fan page to say Happy Etsyversary, but don’t bother entering the contest, because Chickenpants #285 is mine, all MINE!!!

What will I do with Chickenpants #285 when I win him? Will I take him to Paris?  Will I feed him donuts?  Will I sign him up with a temporary agency? You’ll have to wait and see!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Picture May Be Worth 1000 Words, But This Ain't No Wordless Wednesday

This is Buddy Boy.  He's got a beautiful smile.  This is not it.  This is his "picture smile".  Every picture I have of him, he's got this smile on his face.

Unless, of course, he's got this smile on his face.
Buddy Boy has amazing hair. Beautiful strawberry blond ringlets that never tangle and never frizz. The Man insists I keep Buddy Boy's hair cut super short. I'm rebelling. I figure it's my one and only chance to do with that hair what I will, so I'm growing it out. We're in the awkward stage right now.  I call it the "Pom Pom" stage.

I work Sunday & Monday nights, so The Man gets to give the kiddos their first baths of the week.  As you can see, there was some serious fun had with temporary tattoos after bathtime this week.  Buddy Boy thinks his Terps tattoos look great. 

Today was picture day at Buddy Boy's school.  I am so proud.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Pancakes Are Meant To Be Done

I hate pancakes. And I really hate bananas. But I love my chocolate chip banana pancakes. Especially when they’re heart-shaped and covered with sparkly red icing and whipped cream. Now that’s how pancakes are meant to be. G’head, you know you want to try them for yourself.

Start with your standard pancake mix prepared per the instructions on the box. The following quantities are for a recipe using 1 cup of mix.  Add:
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of wheat germ – you know, to make that processed pancake mix a little healthier.
  • ¼ cup of milk - to moisten up the wheat germ
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 smashed banana – the riper the better
Mix it all up and you’re ready to pour! To make the hearts, just pour the batter out in a V-shape. Gravity should do the rest. If your heart’s not quite pointy enough on the bottom, pull the point downwards with the back of a spoon. Trust me, this will make a perfect heart. Not a wonky one like the one you see here. This was my first attempt. The kiddos grabbed and gobbled up all the pretty ones. Kids! They’re always snatching up the good stuff and leaving me with nothing but rejects to photograph. Who do they think I make this stuff for…them?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Bold Black Number

I read lots of blogs…on a semi-regular basis…because I’m a semi-regular kinda gal. I love reading blogs, but I have difficulty doing things on a consistent basis. So I’ll go days and days without reading any, and then I’ll frantically read like 279 posts in one evening. I thought purchasing my oh-so-sleek, that-color-blue-looks-amazing-in-your-lap netbook would help. Well, it’s made things even worse. Actually, it’s Google Reader that’s made things worse. Now that I’m set up on Reader, it lets me know just how behind in my reading I really am. The bold black number intimidates me. It's bold.  It's black.  It's there to remind me what hasn't been done.  Sure, sure.  It calls itself "new items" - it's passive aggressive that way.  If you know Reader, you know the number I’m talking about -- the unread number. The number of posts that other people managed to complete while I was doing whatever it is I do with my time. (Geeze Louise, I’d like to know what I do with my time!) I don’t dare miss a post.  There might be some great new idea to try, or some beautiful item I need, or a giveaway I’ll never manage to win, or most importantly, something that will give me a good belly laugh and make me forget about just how behind I am on…well…everything.

So, now it’s Monday morning. I went to bed way too late last night (because I was reading 279 blog posts), and for some reason I’ve been awake since 3:55 this morning. My son’s school is closed due to a broken water main and I have to work until 10:00 tonight. Oh, and did I mention it’s pouring down rain? I’m pretty sure today is going to suck for me. But I’m going to try to make someone else’s Monday a little less sucky by handing out an award. This blogger wasn’t On My List when I was passing out the Kreativ Blogger award a week or so ago, but her blog is always tops on my must read list. So here you go, WendiWinn -- an award just for you. For making me laugh.

No rules.  No suggestions.  I trust you'll know what to do with it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Picking a Winner - The Hear Sick Pendant Give Away

Is it "give away" or "giveaway"...? I always struggle with that one. But then, I struggle with a lot of things -- like getting things done in a timely fashion. And how to keep the kiddos entertained while I’m getting things done in an UNtimely fashion. Well today I decided to enlist their efforts in picking a winner for my Heart Sick Pendant giveaway…er…give away…whatever.
Buddy Boy carefully numbered all the entries.

Then he and Ladybug wadded all the entries up into tiny balls.

We placed them in our “pudding bowl” (that’s right, we don’t use this bowl for anything but making pudding. I don’t know why.)

Then we pulled out a winner! OK, you’re probably thinking, “What, one kid gets to pull the winner and the other kids gets what – the first loser? That sucks.” And you’re right. That would totally suck. So, because I can’t stand sibling rivalry and go to great lengths to avoid it at any cost, we have TWO winners!
Congratulations, JerzyCat99 and SarahL!

I've still got a couple of these in the shop, so if you didn't win and still want one, you know where to go.