Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rave - Super Cute Wristlet

On this dreary Thursday morning, I thought I'd brighten things up with a quick rave about one of my most recent Etsy purchases, this adorable little keyring/wristlet thingie by FancyFerris. It's the perfect size for my keys, credit cards, business cards and cash; and the wrist strap is comfy and the perfect length. The ingenious elastic sides make this the perfect expandable wallet. It's not quite wide enough for my iPhone, but it doesn't matter. It's still the only thing I need to take with me for a quick trip to the store. And it was a life-saver at the State Fair a few weeks ago.

I'm big on "compartmentalizing" my handbag. Instead of a junk-drawer situation, my bag contains three handmade zipper pouches - one for snacks (I'm a mom after all); one for emergency stuff like eye drops, kleenex, lip balm and hand sanitizer; and another for the gym. Yes, it's a big bag. Here's one of my faves from AbbaDabba Bags:

Some of my other go-to sewing geniuses include My Beautiful Girl and Pyong Bricole.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Parking FAIL

Sheesh. Where's this kid when you need him?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yummy Marshmallow Pops You Can Make at Home!

Looking for some sweet, family-friendly fun for Halloween? These ingenious marshmallow pops are the perfect "mommy and me" kitchen activity. Check out The Mama Dramalogues for the how-to!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Artisan Feature - bijouxbead

This week's featured artisan is Darlene of bijouxbead. A fellow mom, Twitter buddy and incredibly talented Canadian jewelry artist, Darlene creates stunning beaded necklaces. I experienced the beauty of Darlene's work firsthand last Christmas and was truly amazed at the intricacy and precision of her work. Many thanks to Darlene for participating in this interview!

Tell me a little bit about you and what you do.
I am a jewelry artist from Toronto Canada. My work is represented by several galleries, and I have a small shop on Etsy.

What 3 phrases best describe your work?
Distinctive Wearable Art

What inspires you?
Canada and its inimitability

What drives you to create what you do?
The charitable work that I am able to do through Bijouxbead is the #1 reason I enjoy creating.

What makes your work unique?
My work is highly detailed and very distinctive. The entire necklace collection is multi-stranded and one of a kind featuring glass metal and stone, the bracelet collection features semi precious stone and handmade silver clasps, and the earrings are designed to compliment the bracelet collection.

What role does your work play in your life? What role would you like it to play?
Achieving balance is my ultimate goal, isn’t it everyone’s?

How do you see your work and/or your business evolving in the next five years?
I am not sure where this business will take me; I have been very fortunate up until now, and I’m still on a huge learning curve.

Where can we find you on the web?

Are you an artist or craftsperson? Would you like to be featured here? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment here with a link to your shop, and I'll be in touch about future opportunities.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Great Gift Idea: Sundae in a Bag!

Some particularly lovely friends of mine took me to brunch for my birthday recently. One such lovely friend gave me a particularly ingenious gift. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for creative gifts for friends that don't require me to know the recipient's clothing size or which books she's already read.

This gift is quick to put together, relatively inexpensive and positively oozing with charm. A fun (but cheaper) take on the ever-popular gift basket concept, this clever gift is basically a sundae in a bag. Here's what you need:

1. Cute gift bag
2. Cute bowl(s) - one for each member of the family
3. Big bottle of chocolate syrup
4. Fancy sprinkles
5. Little jar of maraschino cherries

VoilĂ ! In a pinch, you can grab everything at Target on the way to the party. If you're feeling crafty and have some time, use enamel paints to personalize the ice cream dish for an extra-special touch. Who wouldn't be delighted?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless (kinda) Wed. - Eye of the Tiger

Here's a little Wednesday present from my 4-yr-old. Make sure your volume's on.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Artisan Feature - NeverEver

This week's featured artisan is Emma of NeverEver. A costume maker by day, Emma creates adorable children's clothing and toys for sale in her Etsy shop.

Tell me a little bit about you and what you do.
My name is Emma, and I live in Sydney, Australia. I am a costume maker for 3 days of the week and for the rest I run my baby and children's label, NeverEver.

What 3 phrases best describe your work?
Cute, handmade, fun!

What inspires you?
Different things every day. Gorgeous children on the street, vintage children's books, lovely fabrics, seeing a beautiful garden or an artwork, going to bookshops and craft stores. Even browsing Etsy gets me inspired to get up and do something!

What drives you to create what you do?
I like seeing children wearing cute, well made, and thoughtful clothing. I really dislike all the branding that children's clothing gets slapped on it, and I like to see natural fibres and clever fastenings.

What makes your work unique?
My use of applique as a decorative technique makes my bibs and onesies quite particular, but I think it is my choice of fabrics that really makes my work stand out. I love a fun print and bright colours. Also, the retro feel to my patterns make my items a little different to your usual.

What role does your work play in your life? What role would you like it to play?
My work takes up a LOT of my life! I find that I have to make sure that I schedule time out to watch a movie or do a jigsaw puzzle, or else I would happily keep sewing and working online! I would love it if I could work regular hours and be able to switch off at night, but I often find myself working until late into the evening!

How do you see your work and/or your business evolving in the next five years?
Ideally, I would like NeverEver to be stocked in some more stores around the world, so this would mean giving up my part-time job and focussing all my energy on creating new designs and finding great fabrics and trims. I would love to be successful enough to have my own studio that is seperate from my sunroom at home!

Where can we find you on the web?
Facebook Fan Page
MadeIt (an Australian site)

Are you an artist or craftsperson? Would you like to be featured here? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment here with a link to your shop, and I'll be in touch about future opportunities.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Five Things I Love About My Big Kid

Thanks for your patience during my long and unannounced hiatus. Normally I do a "Dear Kid" post every weekend recapping the week's events in a letter to my daughter. Since I've been away for over a month, consider this post both an explanation of my absence and my usual love letter to the girlie girl.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that my husband and I have been trying for a second baby for about two years. The first year, we just didn't have any luck and, frankly, weren't too terribly concerned about it. Life was good, we were busy, our toddler was a handful... we figured things would work themselves out later. Starting about a year ago, though, things got a little more complicated. I miscarried first in September, at about six weeks, and then again in November, at about seven weeks. We started getting worried and sought medical intervention, but there wasn't anything obviously wrong with me. "Keep trying," said our doctors. So we did. In March, I miscarried again at six weeks.

When I got pregnant for a fourth time in August, something felt different. I told myself, "This is it." I was in great shape, had been training for a half-marathon, had been eating well, felt emotionally healthy again... and our early lab work confirmed that all was well. Unlike previous pregnancies where hormone levels had been questionable or symptoms mild, this time I immediately began to look and feel (very) pregnant. But at eight weeks, we went in for an ultrasound and, although there was a perfect little teeny-tiny-almost-person right in front of our eyes, they couldn't find a heartbeat. I was devastated.

I did what you do in these situations. Cried, yelled, withdrew... and then eventually, quite recently, emerged from my cocoon and started coping. Because, really, what choice do you have?

As a side note, despite what you may think (after all, I'm a blogger and Twitter addict), it's an odd feeling to be so open about such a personal issue. It just doesn't come naturally. I'm perfectly happy to share with you my struggles as a mom, my shortcomings as a wife and/or friend, my inability to dance or odd fashion choices... But tell you I'm sad? It's not something I do. So why be so public about such a private thing? Because I'm trying to teach myself that it's OK to feel things - right there out in the open where somebody else might see. And that asking people for and allowing people to help, whether it's emotional support or babysitting or dinner or WHATEVER, is normal and expected in this situation. There's no reason to be a superhero. So... there. I've said it. I'm sad. I'm OK, but I'm sad. Not because I'm weak or needy or crazy, but because something sad happened to me. Now - on to the good stuff.

There is nothing like trying and failing at having a baby to make you appreciate the one you already have. She's not a baby anymore, though, as she'll be the first to tell you. She just turned four and, dare I say, though she's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (wouldn't life be boring if she were?), she's a pretty cool kid. Over the last few weeks, in between lamenting my circumstance and feeling like a pathetic invalid, I found myself celebrating my "big kid" in ways that seemed new and unfamiliar. So I wanted to take just a moment to share with you five things I dearly love about my big girl.

1. She makes me laugh. Hysterically. Even when she's being awful, she's funny. And the fact that she gets so much pleasure out of making us laugh makes it even more satisfying. My husband and I believe in laughter as a way of life. We're loud, we love to top each other, and we have the most ridiculous senses of humor. Until now, our daughter has largely been left out of the loop. But lately she can hold her own, bringing her own brand of wit to the table, and we're absolutely eating it up. That's our girl!

2. She makes me stop and smell the roses. Not because I want to, but because she's SLOW. And now that she's too big for a stroller, there's no getting around the limitations of her short legs and ever-wandering gaze. Because she's slow and all over the place, she forces me into a more relaxed pace. And since I've pretty much been in a hurry since the day I was born, that's a pretty odd feeling. A good one.

3. She's not me. And she's not Daddy. In fact, she's so fiercely "herself" that it's infuriating at times. But finally realizing that she's going to be a completely separate creature from me, who will be who she is largely despite what I do as her mom, has been a very liberating experience. We're still finding our way, as I suspect we will be... well, forever. But I'm so glad to have figured out that I'm "guiding" her, not "making" her.

4. She brings music to my life. This child sings from the moment she gets up in the morning until she falls asleep at night. Mostly theme songs, little riffs she makes up, songs from "Rock Band," just whatever is in her head. Because I spend so much time with her, her music has become the soundtrack to our lives. To anyone else, it's noise. To me, though, it's this comforting, sweet, reassuring background music that lets me know she's happy, she's safe, and that everything's as it should be.

5. She's an eternal optimist. Despite a tendency to be rather dramatic (which includes pouting, sulking and the occasional "I don't have to!"), she generally expects good things out of life. She wakes up every morning with a smile on her face and a plan for the day ("Mom! Today's the day of our big talent show!"). She has no reason to expect that her plans will be in any way derailed or that something might happen to make her cry. She's always looking forward - to her next day of preschool, to Christmas, to her next birthday, to the day she can finally "be a TV star!" There's something about being around that kind of optimism that makes you hopeful. Like there's no reason to expect anything but the best. In her own special way, she reminds me that there's no reason not to celebrate today and look forward with optimism toward tomorrow. And which of us couldn't use a little more of that in our lives?