Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sea Urchins

I saw this image on one of my searches for "sea party" stuff and saved the image in my inspiration folder. I thought it was such a fun way to play up both a color scheme and the water theme. I already have a few clear containers for party displays. I looked online for the squishy textured toys , but found that most of them are sold as learning tools for the developmentally delayed. As such, these specialized tools go for $5-$10 each depending on size, making this a very pricey display. This next picture shows two lucky finds for the party. I stumbled on the four plastic clam shell bowls at Goodwill and happily paid fifty cents for each. Then, check out the sea urchins I found at Walgreens. Who would have guessed Walgreens toy area would have exactly what I was looking for in exactly the colors I wanted?
Well, not EXACTLY what I was looking for! The Walgreens toys have EYES! But notice that price tag. The day I saw them there was a sign nearby that said buy two get one free! $4 for 3? For that price I can carefully display them so that party guests look at them....not the other way around!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

W.O.W. Wednesday: Closet Clean Up!

So, I have this list of topics that I want to blog about, mostly things that I want to be sure to tell Lydia some day, but I am so scatterbrained that I doubt i will ever remember them all. The list is in my head so sometimes I forget the list by the time I want to write a post. I was reminded that I wanted to talk about closet purging this week because Jordan Ferney over at Oh Happy Day published her list of tips.

Speaking of closets, here is Lydia trying on shoes that spilled out of mine!
Anyway, I buy a lot of thrift store clothing and my ability to sew means I buy things even if they have just a little "potential". Also, my weight fluctuates routinely (I'm working on it!) so I tend to have similar items in several sizes. Finally, I line in a house designed and built by my talented husband (translation: tiny closets!). So my clothing storage often overflows. Exacerbating the situation, I wake up an hour before hubby needs to and 2 hours before sunrise (translation:I get dressed in the dark!).

Lydia dressing one of her dolls

So, this fall I did a major purge of my closet. I didn't start with what cloths fit or didn't fit. I started by asking myself who I want to be? I have so many different colors, patterns, and styles that I am drawn to that my closet looked schizophrenic! So, I pulled out every item of clothing and first decided if it fit, or would ever fit in the conceivable future. Slightly small and slightly big stuff went to storage until size changes require they come out again. Maternity stuff went into deeper storage. What was left had to look the way I want to be viewed. I am learning to go at this the same way I think about clothing for Lydia. I am tried to have a related color pallet and a slightly vintage, artsy, upscale look. So i got rid of anything that didn't fit those categories. Then I tried to decide what created the BEST looking outfit for that one piece. I went ahead and put items together on a hanger, so that 5-7 great outfits were hanging up and ready to go. Some pieces doubled up, so I made a mental note of what worked and decided that as items were worn and washed, I could rotate the pairings. Tops tend to get dirtier than bottoms, so as one piece went to the wash, I paired up the next item that made a great outfit.

Eventually, I got down to a few pieces that I just couldn't make a "great outfit" out of. Usually those are my iffy items that I don't want to get rid of, but can't seem to wear. Suddenly I understood why I wasn't wearing them. Nothing "went" with them. So I either needed to buy something that did work, or get rid of it.

Lydia and Aunt Jen putting together an outfit

My fall purge has lasted me until now, just by layering more sweaters or jackets on the original outfits. I feel like I need to sort out some new outfits for summer and at the same time weed out a few fashion missteps before the fall. I suppose it never ends! Here are a few additional tips from Jordan and her readers: In order to keep an item, Jordan suggests you answer YES to both questions "Do I love it?" and "Do I wear it". I would add "do I have equally good items to wear with it?" Jordan suggests matching hangers. I get the concept, but get of rid of one thing that works and then having to PAY for a replacement is not my style. How about, she who does the laundry decides who gets which hangers? If all the old junky ones end up on my husband's side of the closet, am I to blame? Jordan suggests having staples that can be paired with seasonal trends. One of her readers commented with the tip of just once hang all your cloths hangers backwards and then turn the hangers around the correct way after you wear and wash items. After a period of time, items not worn are easily identified and tossed. If all else fails, either stop shopping (not likely) or convince your husband to build an addition to your house and supervise the amount of closet space in the new areas. (add to the future blog post list a post showing progress on the addition to my house!) PS. Can I just say that Cathe Holden (the crafty gal behind Just Something I Made) must be one of the nicest people ever. First of all, she is sending me a big old bag of swag (you send me one and I will pretty much like you too!) Second, Cathe peeked at my blog ( I think because I linked to her in my post about the big win) and saw that I misunderstood a few minor items that I will not be getting. She immediately sent me the nicest e-mail clarifying and making sure I wouldn't be disappointed. So SWEET! And while I am gushing, can I tell you all how weird it was to realize that I was probably looking at her blog while she was looking at mine! The Internet is a surreal place sometimes!

Monday, March 28, 2011


So, last week I made my Wednesday post all about entering contests and finding free stuff on blogs. I mentioned a giveaway on Just Something I Made that had barely been announced and wasn't even taking entries until the end of the week. I waited until this weekend and was #877 out of 1041 entries and right now, this key chain (which is a part of my winnings) pretty much sums up how I am feeling. I am one of 3 lucky ladies to win a bag full of crafting swag!!! Cathe Holden, the generous genius behind Just Something I Made, plans a scrap booking retreat each year for a dozen people. This year she made a point to get 15 swag bags and give away the extras on her website. She spent 5 blog posts, spread out over the entire week, tantalizing readers with the particulars of the swag. You can read full reviews and find links to the wonderful sponsors here, here, here, here, and here. Let's start with the bag for all the swag. Not just ANY bag. An AMAZING Extra Large Lands End canvas tote bag. SCORE! But wait, there's more. Here are all of the things that will be inside my bad.

I get one of these fun retro spiral bound journals!

I get a corner punch, 4 fun edge scissors, and some new kind of craft knife all from X-Acto.

I get 3 different colors of stick on pearls and one of these blinged out swirls from Want 2 Scrap.

I get a package of vintage ephemera. I am not sure if I get exactly what is shown here. I am betting not, since ephemera is by its nature unique. I am probably the most excited about opening this package up. I LOVE old stuff!
Each bag has one of these adorable WOOD tags and a custom Cathe Holden ruler made by the same company.Very cute!

I get one magazine from the stack shown above.
I get each item pictured above. I don't have a CLUE what they do but I am willing to find out!
I get one of these contraptions. Something about not spilling your drink when you are crafting and having a place to throw your scraps. How many times do you think I will throw my scraps IN my drink?!?
I get one bottle of chalkboard paint.
I get a few bottles of EXTREME glitter.
I get one of the magazines pictured above.
Another bag, this one is the eco friendly grocery variety.
A Modge Podge sampler kit? Who knew there was more than ONE kind? Sign me up!
A 12x12 album.
Some Super Magnets, that are extremely strong, and apparently NOT for children! I think they have super sticky sticker sides.
A pair of travel slippers.
A felt flower embellishment.
This punch matches these little clear plastic buttons, so that you can layer them to have the look of really fancy buttons. I don't think you can use them on fabric, but I think they sound neat.

I get one of the paper packs in the above pictures.
And finally, one MORE bag!

I am tired just WRITING about all the loot. I can't imagine hauling it in from the mail!!!!

Thanks Cathe and I hope you all had a Happy, Happy Monday! I sure did!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

W.O.W. Free Stuff!

I am still amazed by how much free stuff I am finding in the blogosphere! I feel like there are also a lot of gimmicks and scams, but I have several favorite mommy blogs and art blogs that I trust, so when they talk about a give away, I get really excited. In December, I saw something mentioned on a blog (sorry, I can't seem to remember which one) about getting 50 free Shutterfly Christmas Cards if you are a blogger. I imagined you had to have a big blog with a big following, but I clicked the link and entered my info and pretty soon I was designing my card and ordering 50 copies of it. I was in shock up until the moment I entered my code and saw the price move from around $200 down to just shipping charges. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!!! My card became a New Years card because I was a little late getting the info, but I am SO happy with the outcome and SO happy to spread good thoughts about Shutterfly to anyone I know.

I think that is part of the plan. Advertisers used to sponsor whole TV shows, then we got commercials. Now with the advent of DVR's and Netflix and streaming TV over the Internet, it is too easy to skip commercials, so some companies are letting bloggers advertise for them and usually that comes with some swag to give away. I am sure some are better than others. I tend to only look at blogs that I enjoy from a mommy, artist, crafty girl stand point and if they have a giveaway, that is great. But that also means that I am looking at big blogs with huge followings so more competition for a single item give away. Sometimes, I get a good tip about a national campaign that includes large quantities of something small and free, like the Christmas Cards.

Today, I saw a link for a free paint sample and starter kit from Valspar. They are giving away 1,000 kits a day while supplies last. I just saw it on a big design blog, so I bet a LOT of people are trying it today. You have to "like" Valspar on facebook, that seems to be a recurring strategy, since FB will show all your FB friends that you like that company, and then you follow the links until you put in your address.
A friend of mine just won a toy kitchen from our kids mom. She seems to be mostly about the free loot, so if you are interested, check her out. I may plan on checking on on Mondays, as she seems to do a wrap up of LOTS of giveaways and then other people write in with ones they have found. Too much for me to process right now, but good to know about. I suppose you could google the right combination of words like "free" and "blog" and eventually find some good stuff, but i feel like you would also run into a lot of scams that way and I just don't have the time right now to deal with it.
For now I will be sticking with trusted websites and my favorite blogs. Design Mom often has give aways and Just Something I Made is teasing readers right now with a drawing that doesn't open until Friday. What about you? Any great websites that also offer some great swag to readers? I would LOVE to hear your "words of wisdom" on free stuff.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break

Spring Break ended today with an alarm that seemed WAY too early this morning. Lydia said it was still night time when we went to my car at 6:20 am. We have been enjoying the later lighter evenings and I suppose now it is time to get used to darker mornings. Thankfully warm weather seems like it is going to stick around for a while, and the idea that we are now in the 4th quarter of the school year always makes me giddy!

Speaking of giddy, here are some pictures of Liddy being giddy over our break. She got to spend a lot of time with my mom. They went to the zoo. I took her to the library and then to play at the park nearby.
I can't believe it was cold enough to need her jacket. I think that was just for one day. Speaking of which. Lydia is STILL wearing the coat I made for her when she was 1. I hate to have to retire it soon. Finally, here is one more spring break picture. We did get a little rain early in the week and now EVERYTHING is blooming. I would say "April showers" but we seem to be a month ahead of schedule right now. Oh well. Spring has sprung and I don't intend on going back to cold weather any time soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Lydia celebrated St. Patrick's Day at daycare with her friends. They hunted leprechaun's and apparently JUST missed one, because when they got up from their naps the milk was green (so was the toilet water!) and their were gold coin chocolate candies for everyone. There were only 3 kids at daycare today. One has no hair, but the other two are redheads. Don't they look cute in their leprechaun hats!
While Lydia was playing, I did a lot of computer work. When I took a break, and I took MANY, I worked on the image for the Lydia's birthday invitation. I found this GREAT image on The Graphics Fairy website. If you aren't familiar, she posts tons of high quality copy write free images AND she indexes them so they are easy to search through. I liked the basic idea, but just couldn't leave well enough alone. Partly I like having a reason to practice my photo shop skills. Mostly, once you know you can customize things, it is hard to accept the few items that don't make you really happy. Also, I really hate those algae eater fish that were in the bottom left corner. AND I really like octopuses and seahorses, so in came the changes. You wouldn't believe how much I have obsessed over tiny details and I am still not convinced it is completely finished. The new elements still pop out a bit too much, but you get the idea.

I still have to work out the wording. I like to rhyme, so I was thinking something like...
"Join us on a voyage
as we travel under the sea,
to celebrate that Lydia
will soon be turning 3."
Hmmmmm. Still a work in progress. Ideas or suggestions about the image or the words are welcomed as long as they stay clear of anything too Disney!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

W.O. W. Wednessday: Eating Better

I have struggled with what I eat (and how much I weigh as a result of what I eat) for a LONG time now. I have learned a lot, but still have trouble putting it all into practice.
Being responsible for what another human being eats really ups the stakes of my own personal food issues. Recently I have found 2 new tools that I hope will help. One is an app for my new android phone, my fitness pal. Like anything it works if you use it and I still have my moments when I choose not to use it, but it is an easy way to look up and track calories. The other is a website all about healthy eating. The website was started by the dad of a design blogger that I follow so, while it provides solid information, it is really well laid out and has pretty pictures. Since finding the Word of Wisdom website, I am trying to get more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It's all the same stuff I have always heard to eat more of, but usually the focus has been on eating fruits and vegetables because they are lower in calories. I am beginning to get a more complete images of the complex nature of nutrients in our food and the even more complex nature of the food industry and the reasons they promote the foods that they do. It's important stuff, seeing as I have such a sweet mouth to feed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oriental Trading Order and Party Progress

Remember the clown doll from the thrift store? She is getting a swanky new mermaid outfit for Lydia's party.
Fortunately, her green blue pants were a good mermaid clothing color and her upturned toes already looked like a mermaid tail. Unfortunately, she has those weird shoulders that need to be disguised.
So she now has a shirt and a skirt and less visible weird shoulders, but her tail looks too much like 2 legs sewn together in a column.
So, I am in the process of adding ribbons and pearls to create a little texture and
add some shape to that tail. It's something to mess around with for a while.I also ordered some decorations from Oriental Trading Company. Apparently, they had a less than successful VBS series with a sea theme. Bad for business, good for bargain hunting me!
I got a ton of these streamers. I am not crazy about the pictures hanging from them, but they can be cut off easy enough.

Same idea with these photo snow globes. OTC sells several different styles with different pictures that you can color. I think they charge more for the photo ones. The ones with the "Jesus Loves Me" inserts were on super sale. Since I plan on ditching the insert and cutting pictures of Lydia to go inside them anyway, it doesn't really matter to me.
I got a few batches of shells and starfish to scatter around on tables.

A few final touches. I needed about $10 more in merchandise to get enough for free shipping AND a $10 discount (crazy, huh?) So, I splurged on the $10 treasure chest cooler, because I thought it was cool!
Finally, you can never have too many paper lanterns. I got white ones to look like bubbles and then a ton of blue streamers. I am sure I will regret this when I am hanging everything up, but for now, I am really excited about how everything is coming together.