my etsy gift shop, with lots of goodies for new babies and mommas

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Lots of exciting things going on around here! Christmas is coming - every year it's a battle to hold out until after Thanksgiving to pull out all the Christmas decorations and cover the house with glad tidings and cheer. And lots and lots of garland. My favorite decorations are the sentimental ones. It wouldn't be Christmas without Santa and Mrs. Claus, who were made by my sweet Granny. Mrs. Claus had a pretty big scare this year - apparently ceramic figures don't mix well with a two-kiddo house. Cam knocked her head clean off. Fortunately, neither of the children seemed too horrified by the event, and I just glued her back together. Granny wouldn't have minded at all.

Gotta love big, wired ribbon. This year I mashed it in with some garlands to try to take some emphasis away from the giant TV above the mantle. Does it work?
Sigh. No, I didn't think so.
Here are our built-ins, with little Christmas-y bits tucked in here and there.
I traded out the pears that live in this bowl for some shiny ornaments.
My Gordman's clearance candle holders, that this fall were pumpkin stands, are now Santa stages. Or maybe they just had the Santa-lympics, and these are the winners' podiums. What do you think Santa's national anthem would be?
Penny has been waiting all year to get out the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish ornament. She loves, loves, loves it. When we put away the decorations last year, she mourned over the loss of this thing.

Visions of sugarplums dancing in her head? No. . . I know that look. Something far more diabolical is going on in there.

In other news, my blog just got a make-over! Shalon, of Pretty Lovely Design, hooked me up with a whole bee-themed scheme! I love it - my name and my momma's name both mean "bee," so it's a very meaningful logo for me. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DIY Lightbox

Hello all! They're both napping, so I wanted to share a quick project I did a few days ago.

(Mostly, though, I want to avoid housework.)

I had some brand-new white onesies sitting around and decided I had better do something with them quick - before Mr. Man got too big to wear them!

Now, I've had a much harder time doing clothes for him than I did for P, because Mr. Man's daddy wouldn't be happy with me if I sewed flowers and bows and ribbons and unicorns and stuff on his shirts like I want to. What do boys do for embellishment?!?

So I settled for my favorite quote from a children's book. I found a font I liked at, typed it up and got the size and layout how I wanted, and printed it out on a sheet of typing paper.

Now, here's the lightbox part. I put the paper inside the onesie, put the onesie on a glass table, and put a lamp under the table, so it would shine thought and I could see the letters clearly. Then I just grabbed my fabric paint, a tiny, stiff brush, and traced. The whole thing just took a few minutes.

See how dark it is outside? No, I'm not crafting after-hours. That's before the sun rises. My children wake up ridiculously early.

The font is Mandingo.

He's looking at his sister in this picture. I think he likes her.

Now I'm working on a Halloween top for P. I'll post it soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mmmm, Comfort Food

Big, emotional day for me. Lots of highs and lows. Among the highs: finding my brother-in-law's birthday present that I had hidden (a little too well) in a frenzy of cleaning before a party. Happy birthday, Steven - a month late. Among the lows: trying to get a faulty product issue resolved and having to face off with a bully over the phone. Reminded me of teaching high school - the kids who just come at you with such a negative attitude that you can only wonder what made them feel so insecure. It's a little more jarring coming from a grown man, though. I keep reminding myself that everyone's fighting his own battle, but I still wish this guy had acted like a decent human being. Sigh.

So, a day full of big smiles and more tears than necessary calls for comfort food. Comfort food wrapped in piecrust, served in a ramekin. Ramekins are awesome! Have you ever been served anything in a ramekin that wasn't heavenly? No, me neither.

We tried this recipe last week and loved it. It's another Real Simple magazine "Fake It, Don't Make It" recipe, this one from September of '04. Now, I must reveal why I have these random old recipes lying around. Whenever I see a recipe I like, I tear it out, hole-punch it with one of my numerous hole-punches (why do I believe I can't live with fewer than 3 three hole-punches?), and slide it into a notebook that I keep with my cookbooks. Then, when D and I are meal-planning for the upcoming week and nothing is really sounding good, we bust out the notebook of sounds-good-we'll-try-it-someday recipes. After we try one, it goes in the trash if it's not a hit, or gets copied onto a notecard if we'd like to see it again, and stored in my notecard box, which is my go-to recipe storage place. Wow, that sounds like a high-maintenance system! But it's really not. Well, maybe it is. But it works for high-maintenance me. Now on to the deliciousness.

Individual Chicken Potpies

8-ounce bag frozen mixed veggies (we used a Steamfresh - it was great)
2 refrigerated piecrusts
10 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup (who decided that 10 3/4 ounces should be a standard amount of anything?)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey (get a rotisserie chicken from Wal-Mart and shred the beast - the white meat is around 2 cups)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Defrost the veggies in microwave for about 3 minutes. Cut two piecrusts into quarters, for a total of 8 pieces. Coat the inside of four ramekins with vegetable cooking spray, line the bottom of each with a quarter of crust, mold it to fit. In a large bowl, stir together the milk and soup; add the veggies, chicken, garlic salt, and pepper; mix. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins (we had some leftover mix), and top each with a piecrust quarter. Pinch the edges together, folding the extra up on top. Channel your grandmother while you cut vents in the top (because nothing's more grandmotherly than cutting vents in the top of piecrust - it's a fact). Place on a baking sheet and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Bon appetit!

Speaking of bon appetit, if you like cooking, or French things, you've probably already seen Julie and Julia. But if you haven't, check it out. While we're on the subject of movies, you should avoid The Ugly Truth. I wanted there to be anything redeeming about that movie, but there wasn't. Alas.

Now go eat some piecrust!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yep, It's a Slipcover

When we moved into our new house, I decided that instead of reds and greens as accent colors in our living room, I wanted to go with blues and yellows. Great! On a budget of approximately $27. Not so good. Especially since our loveseat is a nice, mossy green color. (I bought this piece of furniture seven months pregnant. Do not buy furniture when you are that pregnant! You will not make good choices!) This loveseat is comfy, but it definitely wasn't fitting in with the new turquoise and teal accents that were making their way into the living room. I've always had the idea that I could sew slipcovers for furniture, so I decided to try it out.

Now, I was concerned, because I have also always had the idea that I could cut hair, until one horrible evening a few years ago when I tried my hand at my sister's hair. With Motown blaring on the stereo, I slowly watched in fear as I hacked her poor hair to death. (Have you ever been in a wreck? It was like that - a slow-motion I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-right-now-make-it-stop kind of experience.) I was assured by the hairdresser that we both went to at the time that I did not, in fact, have the gift of haircutting. And that I was to never try that again.

There is an e-book at that's super-helpful if you just need some motivation to get started. No patterns, exactly, but lots of information and encouragement. Here's part of the intro:

"I want women to make their homes beautiful and encourage them in the process to not live by
fear, but believe THEY can do it. Don’t be afraid to cut fabric. Don’t be afraid to just begin somewhere and on some piece of furniture that you do not love right now. Just go for it."

Yes! Yes, I will buy 10 yards of fabric, drape it all over a piece of furniture, and cut and pin and pin and cut and sew and welt and sew until I am ready to break up with my sewing machine. And that's serious. My sewing machine and I have been on solid terms for about 18 years now.

Here's the basic process:
1. Go to I.O.Metro Home and buy lots of upholstery fabric. (No, I'm still not a paid advertiser. Just a devoted customer.)
2. Wrong-side out, lay it over the sofa in the general area it'll end up covering.
3. Tuck and cut and pin where you'll sew the seams.

4. If you're doing welting (which I totally recommend), you have to pin it in while you're adjusting.
5. Drag the whole thing to your sewing machine and sew, sew, sew wherever you've pinned.

6. Put it back on the sofa, adjust and re-sew if needed, and pin on the skirt. Then sew, sew, sew the skirt on.

That's it!

I won't get into all the details. If you have the feeling that you could do it, you probably can. I will share some things that I'll do differently the next time:

* Be sure to get a fabric with no stretch at all. It's a beast to work with that much fabric to begin with, and if it has any give, it'll stretch out of shape while you're sewing it.
* Leave lots more fabric to tuck than you think you'll need.
* Because there's so much fabric, next time I'll set up my sewing machine on a big table instead of the desk. I spent as much time wrestling the fabric to stay put as I did sewing.
* Next time, I'll definitely hand-baste while the thing's still on the sofa instead of just pinning.
* I'll do a more decorative skirt next time, too. For this one I just did box pleats on the corners and in the middle front, and that looks a little plain to me now.

So now we have a loveseat that's a nice, neutral mushroom color. It looks lovely with the turquoise and teal accents, and when the inevitable kid-messes happen on it, I can just whip it off and clean it up. Overall, I think it's a totally do-able project, and something that I'm kind of excited to do again. Maybe our slipper chairs could use a face-lift. . .

Friday, September 10, 2010


Gotta share this new recipe that we tried last night. It's rare that there's something that's a win with everyone in the family - and this got rave reviews from all of us! It's modified from a Real Simple recipe from 2006. And it's a "Fake It, Don't Make It" recipe. I like those. :)


box of Jiffy pizza dough mix*
flour for work surface
1 cup ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
one package ground turkey sausage*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 14ish ounce jar pasta sauce (we love the Classico Florentine Spinach and Cheese)

* The original recipe calls for a one-pound bag of refrigerated pizza dough, which we couldn't find, so we used Jiffy. It also wanted us to use 4 ounces of roughly chopped salami. I do not eat salami. So we used the turkey sausage.

1. Heat oven to 400.
2. Mix the Jiffy mix with 1/2 cup hot tap water. Cover 5 minutes and let rise.
3. Brown the turkey sausage and drain.
4. Divide pizza dough into four equal portions, and roll each one into a circle (about 7 inches), and put dough on baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
5. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and turkey sausage.
6. Spoon cheese mixture onto pizza dough rounds. Get a little water on edges of dough, then fold in half and press edges to seal. (We ended up with way more filling than would fit into the calzones. Don't know what I did wrong. But it's fine if you have someone in your family who will nibble on the leftover filling while you cook.)
7. Brush the top of each calzone with the oil.
8. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with warm pizza sauce on the side.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Sale

Head over to melshortshops! I've finally gotten around to sewing up some new covers out of fabrics that I've fallen in love with, but have just been sitting around my house for a while. I'm so pumped to finally have them in my shop, I'm throwing myself a Labor Day party! Well, it's more like a sale on all my new stuff. . . But that's like a party, right? Anyway, it's just for Monday, so check it out!

Thanks for putting up with my shameless self-promotion! To reward you, here's a picture of the adorable-ness that lives in my house:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Watch Out, Pre-School

I don't know if pre-school is ready for this one.
But she has a first-day-of-school outfit ready to go!
I whipped it up today during naps - the kids were merciful and agreed to nap at the same time today. Sometimes they're so generous!

She was completely excited about trying it on and putting a fashion show on for Daddy, but when I pulled out the camera, she got evasive. But you get the idea.

I'm excited about it because this opens up a whole new world for me:
Etsy shops with patterns and fabric! Woohoo!

Here's the shop that has the circle top pattern:

The awesome thing is that it's totally inexpensive, and it's a file that gets sent to you almost immediately, so if you're like me and want to start a project just as soon as you get an idea, it's great. You don't have to run to Hobby Lobby for a pattern. (Though you can't beat 99 cent Simplicity and McCalls weeks at Hobby Lobby. I always look out for those and stock up.) Also, the circle top pattern that I got was an 11-page booklet with very detailed instructions and a color photo to go with each step. Awesome!

And here's my new favorite place to drool over fabric:

Such beautiful stuff. And I'm so limited in local fabric shops - I'm totally excited to have stumbled on this one.

The pants are from Simplicity pattern 4203. But there are a ton of pants patterns out there, and they're all the same. I picked this one because it has little walking slits in the sides of the hem. And because I already had it. :)

So P is going to hit the pre-school scene looking precious, and I've gotten one more thing knocked off my to-do list! Yeah!

A few weeks ago, my sis told me about this site about a fictional couple, Gary and Elaine, who live in catalog houses. It's HI-larious, and it's made me laugh as I try to decorate a new house on a very limited budget:

It helps me remember that catalogs are good to look at. . . not so good to live in.

Happy crafting!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Playrooms and Panic Attacks

Oh my goodness. This room could not get any messier. The challenge of a designated playroom is having the room be completely overtaken by all the stuff to play with. So stressful. You can see this room from just about everywhere else in the house, so it's gotta at least not make me have a panic attack when I look at it. That's my absolute minimum standard of organization for my house: if it's panic attack-inducing, it's gotta go.

When it's at the point where you can't even walk though the room, much less have space to play, somethin's gotta change. I had already gotten rid of all the toys the kids don't play with, so I didn't need to purge - I just needed a better system.

Order must be restored.

Here's my solution: five giant Rubbermaid boxes that each have a selection of toys in them. I've left out the stuff the kids play with every day - P's kitchen supplies, Mr. Man's walker-thing - and of course, some books, because reading is fundamental, people, but other than that, everything's boxed up. The original idea was to designate one box per day, so on Monday, get out the Monday box, but I don't know if I'm going to follow that. We might just get out one box and play with it until we feel like putting it away and getting out something new.

This way, all the toys are still accessible - I didn't want to put them in closets and forget about them, because they're all things that the kids still like, but now we can actually see and play with what's out, instead of tripping over everything and being overwhelmed by all the stuff.

I still think it's a little messy to have all those boxes stacked up, but it sure beats having the contents all over the floor!

Guess who's happy to have some clear floor space to play in? This guy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

And I'm Back!

I'm back on Etsy! My shop was closed for waaaaaaaay too long while I was busy having a baby (yeah, it takes a long time) and moving to a new house. I miss having the shop open so much more than I thought I would. I love sewing things, for sure, but I wasn't anticipating how much I would miss the collaborations with clients. Just love the creative process, I guess. :) I'm only putting a few things up on the shop right now - some of my best sellers from last year. But I'm so pumped about some of the new things I'm going to be listing in the (hopefully near!) future: name pennants, wall letters, personalized pillowcases. . . and I'm also looking into the exciting world of scrapbook page kits! (Do I sound too amped? Because I can't really overemphasize how much I've been looking forward to this. . .)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Finally - here it is! Mr. Man's room. Back in September, I posted some "sneak peek" pictures of the room ideas, and promised an art installation covering the window. . .

The little guy on the right was my inspiration for the room - I got this totally 70's owl card for my first birthday (it wasn't even retro at the time!), and my mom, who never throws anything away, passed him along to me in a giant portfolio documenting every little piece of my childhood. (She was a scrapbooker before there was even a name for it.)

(I found the alphabet print in the middle of the picture at the cutest shop on Etsy. Perfect for this room!)

Then we chose this orange for the walls, after collecting lots of paint chips and spending weeks narrowing them down, with different strips taped up all over the walls. (When you're thinking about committing to a paint color, it's super-important to see it on the walls it's going to live on in all different lights. The Nester has a post here that is much more thorough and eloquent on the subject of choosing paint.)
Here's my post where I talk about why we did the scallops 3/4 the way up the walls. I'll give you the short version of the post: scallops were easier than painting the whole room.

So this window was the big challenge.
It got even stickier when I realized that I really wanted to put the crib right in front of the window - that that was the best place in the room for it. We got a curtain rod at Hobby Lobby (with the 40% off coupon, of course) and climate-control curtains from Target. The curtains are fantastic - they really do keep out a lot of the cold, and they block all the light. A bonus for middle-of-the-day naps. So the regular rectangle-shaped part of the window was taken care of. The half-circle part of the window was a bigger challenge. Why not just hang the curtain rod at the ceiling and cover the whole thing? Check out the tops of the walls - they angle in near the top, so a curtain rod as wide as the window couldn't fit at the very top - it would still reveal the top four inches of that blasted half-circle!

We ended up getting a big sheet of foam core board at Lowe's and slicing the half-circle pattern with a steak knife. I bought two cheap plastic tablecloths in the most neutral pattern I could find and glued them on the front and back. Up close, it looks like straw. Who makes these tablecloths? Why straw? That's not appetizing!

I used a quilt pattern that has adorable applique owls, and just made them out of scrapbook paper instead of fabric. Then I embellished them, because that's what I do. And it won't be very long before I can't use things like glitter in the decor of my son's room. So I'm getting it in while I still can.

I cut out branches and leaves, arranged them across the tablecloth-covered board, and glued everything on. I tried to arrange them according to which owl I thought would get along best with whom. Yeah, I even overthink craft projects. But the owls don't have names. That would just be silly.

We were lucky - once we got the thing done and popped up into the window, it stayed there. Which is a good thing, because I had no idea how in the world I was going to secure it. And it's too big to fall into the crib and suffocate the baby. I've thought about every possible scenario of my decor going rogue - I think we're safe.

That's right, boys. I've got my eye on you.
So after the bright walls, my goal was to keep everything else as neutral as possible - brown and cream bedding, simple accessories. . .
What's that you say? With the curtains open, it looks like this bedroom is located approximately one block from the sun? Exactly.
I love this lamp. It has a very 70's vibe, and the color is fantastic! The inside of the shade is the same lime green as the lamp base. I found it on sale at I.O.Metro Home - the best place in Northwest Arkansas for random, awesome furniture finds. I wanted to get things for Mr. Man's room that will work in different contexts - I didn't want to end up with two rooms full of nursery-only stuff that I'd have to replace once the kids were older. I think this lamp would be great in a living room, and I think this brown-on-brown chair and ottoman will probably live in my bedroom one day.

More decorating with not-necessarily-little-kid stuff. This print is actually from an old calendar - that's a great place to look for cheap wall art. When calendars go on sale after the beginning of the year, I keep an eye out for pictures or illustrations that speak to me. They're great if you just need one piece, or do a collection of 6 in matching frames - a big visual impact for very little money. Like this collection from Crate & Barrel:

You could buy these six prints for $369. Or you could do the same thing with calendar pages for, like, $90.

But I digress. Back to the owls.
He's my favorite. Don't tell the others.

That's the room! And it only took me seven months to finish it! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Baskets

So Easter is almost upon us and I'm gearing up for a week full of fun with the kiddos. One of my favorite bloggers, Becky Higgins, introduced a new blog just started by three creative sisters, called eighteen25. They have the cutest idea for a kids-craft where you make baskets out of yarn - head over and check it out if you have toddlers who love to play in watery glue. And that's every toddler I know.

I'm having a blast putting the kids' baskets together.
I thought it would be hard to do a basket for a 3-month-old, since he can't eat anything and he's limited in what he can play with, but we found some great blocks and a sweet stuffed giraffe who plays a song and waves his head around. . .
The highlight of P's basket is a microphone that we found. Because what that girl really needs is voice amplification.

I adore Pottery Barn. Sometimes I play-shop their online store and just dream of how beautiful my house would be if I could afford whatever I wanted from there. But I know that I wouldn't really be happy with doing that - that part of the fun of decorating is in finding things that I love for a price that I'm happy about. I was reminded of that while I was play-shopping their Easter goodies. That crinkled-shredded-Easter-paper-basket-filler? (Yeah, that's the official name.) It's 29 cents per bag at Target. And Pottery Barn has it for $8. Seriously, PB? That's just silly.
But they're still great for inspiration.
I'd love to use the paper filler in these three trifle bowls I have, and stack eggs in them, like little paper nests. Perfect Spring table centerpiece!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pancake Fridays

Family rituals have been on my mind lately. Not too long ago, P and I started celebrating Pancake Friday, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now P wakes up asking if it's Pancake Friday, and when it is, oh boy, that girl gets into it. She loves to measure ingredients and tell me when the pancakes are ready to flip, and I love eating pancakes. :) (We make a half-batch, by the way. We don't take down a whole batch of pancakes by ourselves. But I wouldn't put it past us.)

I think the thing she likes the most is that it's something different that I make a big deal about, that it's deliberate time for the two of us. (Lately, Mr. Man has been joining us if he's awake. I let him smell all the ingredients, like I did when P was that age. She liked it. He just looks like he's angry that I'm not letting him eat any of this. I think he'd take down a porterhouse steak if I'd let him.) This one little ritual has made me realize that I haven't been deliberate about making special rituals for our family.

It's not just everyday rituals - I've realized that I haven't done holidays as big as I could have. The kids are so young, my excuse is that they wouldn't remember and it wouldn't matter to them. But starting with Easter, I'm going to start making deliberate family rituals - for holidays and special weekly or monthly routines.

And wouldn't you know it - here's a post from Tsh at SimpleMom about the same thing I've been thinking! I love her Friday dinner routine - sounds like a great start to the weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Staging

So, remember how I just figured out what to do with this corner of the living room? Well, we decided to try to sell the house, which meant the desk had to go. I've been watching a lot of the HGTV sell-your-house shows - one of the biggest rules is to designate one purpose to each room, and only have stuff in that room that supports that purpose. (I totally get it - how much time did I spend telling my high school students that they should only have sentences in their paragraphs that support the theme of that paragraph? Ugh - sometimes I'm really glad I'm not teaching anymore.) So goodbye, living room/playroom/office; hello, living room. Only seating. And that blasted TV.
I found the chairs on sale at I'd never ordered furniture from them before, and I was very happy with all of it - the chairs only took four days to get here, and they look lovely and were easy to put together, and you can't beat $2.95 shipping for two big chairs.

And remember how I just re-did the mantel? That all had to go - too cluttery. Just sconces now. (I found them at Gordman's for $8 apiece!)

And remember how I just painted Mr. Man's room orange? Yeah, not the smartest move in terms of resale. Our agent came out to look at the house yesterday, and he said the paint shouldn't be a deal breaker as long as we keep the furniture in there. Or maybe we'll find a buyer who wants to decorate in Cheetos-orange. Who knows. (But the owls did get a thumbs-up - I'm still going to post pictures of the whole room - I promise.)

My little girl walked through the room and just said, "Mom-Mom sings me a song and it makes me happy." Totally out of the blue - I was not singing at the time. One of the greatest thing about having kids is that they're required to love your singing voice, no matter how off-key and horrible it is. And one of the greatest things about almost-three-year-olds is that they always say just what they're thinking, and usually it's funny stuff.

Here she is with Uncle Steve and "Anna-manda."

How did this guy get so big? What happened to newborn Mr. Man?

Any advice from people who have sold their homes recently?
Has anyone sold a home recently? :)