Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A delicate balance

As a budding entrepreneur and as a mom to a 2 year old son, I am constantly trying to find balance between working on my business and being an attentive mother. I love my son and we do keep busy - playing outside, walking to the park, coloring, playing (eating?) with playdoh and building kugelbahns (marble tracks!) but I also take time for myself throughout the day - time to blog, time to sew, time to list, time to promote. And sometimes this time spent is at my son's expense. He gets restless and comes and tugs on my hand, asking me to build yet another kugelbahn or make a tower of blocks. I know his playing by himself helps build his imagination and independence so it's not like I feel guilty about typing this post as he sits in my laundry basket, hording all the pillows and blankets in the room, while watching Little Einsteins. I feel guilty when I look at the clock and half the day is done and our only interaction has been at breakfast and we've been lost in our own worlds since.

This morning I stumbled upon an amazing blog post - 94 Ways to Keep Kids Busy for the Work at Home Parent. There are home business productivity tips (for parents and kids), - like making chore charts and planning play dates- summer activity tips, links to find local kid activities but my favorite section is the craft project links. Craftforkids.com - AMAZING! I am now going to add making Plastic Cup Bug Lanterns to my list of things to do with my son. And I think I'll take on another suggestion from the article and make a "craft corner" for him so while I sew, he can create his own masterpieces and I don't have to worry about feeling that I am neglecting him. And when he gets a little older I'm breaking out a chore chart!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've been featured -

in a great blog! Check it out -
And don't forget to use your discount code when shopping at my store! :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Featured New Etsy Artist - bethjt

Once again, I have found another military spouse to feature on Fray Baby! Beth Thompson, the amazingly talented artist behind the Etsy shop bethjt, is an Army spouse of 12 years. She, along with her husband, have a son who is 4 years and a daughter who is 16 months. Besides art, Beth loves to read, travel, photograph anything and everything, and she's a shopaholic. She also loves hunting sea glass and said,"I think its fascinating how nature has taken our careless litter and turned them into beautiful gems of every shape and color." Here is our interview:

Wow! I noticed that you do commissioned portraits and paintings, that is incredible! How long have you been drawing and painting?
I have been drawing since I was 2 and was able to draw recognizable things right away, so my dad really encouraged me to keep it up. I started drawing portraits for people when I decided to stay home with my first child. My children are a great inspiration to me and I have drawn each of them countless times. Although I have drawn every type of person and pet, my favorites are dogs and babies. Something about drawing softness is very calming. (The picture to the right is called "April Blossoms, it is a limited edition giclee print 18"x24" from Beth's graphite and watercolor original. Limited edition of 200 worldwide.)

And what about jewelry making? I notice you have some very delicate and artistic pieces in your shop.
Creating jewelry is also something I've done since I was in grade school, but didn't get really serious about it until my daughter was born. Now it's a downright obsession and I want to learn and try everything I can about it. Of course I don't have time to do that, but I get creative time in when I can late at night and my one day a week (really a half day) off from being mommy.

I see in your profile that Breast Cancer is an important issue for you and that you are donating 25% of the proceeds from any of your items that are pink, or any items that you make with awareness ribbons, to breast cancer awareness and research centers. Can you tell me more about that?
Discovering Etsy has really pushed me to start creating pieces that aren't just for me.The Breast Cancer interest has really come to a peak this past year when my best friend got it at age 29. She really has gone through hell and it seems so unfair. Then another good friend's mom got it and is also fighting it. Now it seems every time I turn around someone else I love or they love has been affected. So the donations I am putting together are just something small a little person like me can do to feel a little less helpless.

And finally, what is your favorite item in your shop?
My favorite item in my shop right now is "Look what I got, Mama" because my son was the model for it, and he and his sister mean more to me than anything.

Thank you for the wonderful interview Beth! Bethjt is an Etsy shop full of talent and grace and I encourage you all to stop by and take a look. You really need to see her shop to get a full appreciation of her talents.

The following are 2 more items from Beth's shop - dandelion miniature art magnets and a pineapple giclee on canvas.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Seeing Red

Another one of my items made it in a Treasury! Wow - it sure looks pretty with all those other red items! Take a look! My item is the red polka dot pouch in the middle. Check out my shop it you want it for yourself! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's for dinner?

Here is one of my favorite recipes ever. I've made it so many times and for so many different people and they always end up asking for the recipe. It's sure to become one of your favorites as well!

Chicken (or Beef) Enchilada Casserole

1 pound chicken breast OR ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning (you will only use 1/2 packet)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 jar of salsa or taco sauce - hot, medium or mild, it's your choice!
12 small corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or mexican blend, again, it's your choice!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook chicken (or beef) on stovetop. Shred cooked chicken or cut into chunks and put back into the pan. Add chopped onion to pan and saute. Add 1/2 of the taco seasoning packet along with the recommended amount of water. Cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
Cut corn tortillas into chunks (I use the pizza slicer and slice, slice, slice!).
In seperate bowl, mix cream of chicken, sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of salsa (or taco sauce).
Now get ready to layer!
In a large casserole dish (I use a round 2.5 liter corning ware dish), pour 1/2 cup salsa, add 1/2 tortilla pieces, 1/2 the meat mixture, 1/2 the soup mixture and 1 cup of cheese followed by the rest of the tortilla pieces, meat, soup mixture and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubble all around the edges.

For a spicier dish, add jalapenos on top of each cheese layer. I add a can of fiesta corn to my meat mixture to sneak in an extra vegetable.

Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips (if desired).

Now you know what's for dinner! Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Happy Earth Day everyone! In celebration of Earth Day, I am encouraging you to stop using those plastic bags at the grocery store and use one of my totes! Once you get in the habit of using a market tote, it becomes second nature and you start to feel a little guilty bringing home all those plastic bags that take a bazillion years to break down in our landfills.

If you aren't yet ready for a market tote, use it for your book club books, your bible studies, trips to the library, daycare bag, carry-all, everyday tote...any way you want!

Buy any tote in my store and get 1/2 price shipping! Just enter 1/2 SHIP when you check out and wait for the updated invoice before you pay.

Happy Earth Day everyone! Now go plant a tree, or something.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

YAY! I'm in a Treasury!

My adorable (and recently blogged about) "I've Got Sunshine!" bib and burp set is featured in the Spotlight on Homefront treasury! Check out all the other great Homefront shop and sellers.

Fun with fabrics

I took a small break from working on my totes to hunt through my fabric bin and found some fun flannels for baby bibs and burp cloth sets. I think the sunshines are adorable, and a perfect gender neutral baby gift. And the apples and cherries fabric is so soft and sweet for a little girl. I have just enough of the fruity fabric left to make 1 more set and possibly a tag blanket. I have a list a mile long of all the sets, blankets and bags I have planned, I just need to start measuring and cutting. But the set I'm going to make next is a "Whale of a Tale" bib and burp set for little boys - it is adorable and bright - blues and greens - with fun whales all over a super soft flannel fabric. I can't wait to see how it is going to turn out.

The Apples & Cherries and I've Got Sunshine sets are listed in my Etsy store.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh to be a Hooker

This morning I attended a beginner's crochet (hook, crochet, hooker, get it?) class. I was so excited and pumped to start making magnificent creations, starting with the granny square dish cloth we were going to make. Wow, crocheting is an art and sadly, in 1 morning, I did not master it. I learned how to make a chain, how to turn, how to single crochet and how to double crochet and I caught some of the lingo. After struggling with my soft acrylic baby yarn, the instructor gave me a ball of cotton yarn and I certainly saw a difference in how my chains and loops were forming. My technique isn't the best and I kept trying to "thread" my yarn through my fingers like the instructor showed me, and not move my hands and hook so much, but my fingers kept wanting to do things their way. I finally got in the groove and the end result? An approximate 1 1/2" by 3" sample piece with not-so-even rows or chains but counting was too difficult of a task to take on while I was busy trying to figure out which loop my hook should go through and how much tension to allow. Anyway, my little scrap is not too bad if I do say so myself, but it certainly is not a dishcloth (or a wash cloth, or much of a cloth at all actually). My 3 hour long lesson was a lot of fun but in that 3 hours I learned that the crochet world is HUGE and slightly overwhelming. I am going to keep on practicing and eventually, hopefully, make something I can be really proud of. But in the meantime I think I'll stick to my fabrics and sewing machine to create actual usable items. Crochet will be my escape for those times the sewing machine is acting up and I'd rather scrub a toilet than press and cut more fabric. :) To all you crocheters out there, what an amazing craft you have. Please leave a comment below so I can admire your work. And I am keeping my scrap and hopefully one day in the future, when I'm admiring an amazing blanket I crocheted, I remember my first little scrap and marvel at how far I have come.

The following pictures are creations of Etsy hookers and are what I hope to create someday. :)

Adorable flower pal - from HomeMadeZen

Dennis the Dinosaur - by WigglySee

Keep on Truckin' - by Moosethreads

Cute, no?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Featured Etsians - CrazyTimesCandles

While browsing on Etsy yesterday I stumbled upon CrazyTimesCandles, a wonderful shop out of my home state of Wisconsin!

CrazyTimesCandles is a husband and wife team out of Appleton, Wisconsin, who enjoy working together and creating together. They started their business in 2002 with candle making and in December of 2006 they turned their little business into a full time job and expanded their product line to include soaps, lotions, scrubs, sprays, lip balms and wax melts (tarts). Some of their scents include: butterscotch, blueberry, grandma's kitchen, holiday wish, island fresh, sweet pea and very vanilla. Their candle selections are insane! You can order votives, chunk pillar candles, rustic pillar candles, candles in wine glasses, candles in honeypots and pie candles - yes, candles shaped, and scented, like pies! Mmmm, an apple pie candle, wouldn't that make your house smell amazing?

Along with their great selection of products, and candles, they offer a soap of the month club. You can sign up for 3 to 12 months and they pick the soap selection based on the season - spring you get light and floral or fruity and in fall you'll get a spicier scented soap. If you are adverse to certain scents you can put in that request and they will pick accordingly. All the soaps are packaged in clear packaging, to showcase the colors, and a label on the back, to let you know what you are sudsing up with!

So many amazing products and so many yummy scents. And what did I end up ordering from CrazyTimes? Well, I ordered cupcakes!

Yes, that yummy looking cupcake is actually a bath bomb and will fizz up in your tub. I got a nice little assortment (descriptions taken from CrazyTimesCandles store): "Butt Naked" - A fun fruity blend of bananas and berries. Perfect for spring and summer, "Love Spell (VS Type)" - A Victoria's Secret Type Favorite. An absolutely tantalizing fragrance composed of sweet bouquet of mandarin orange, bergamot, and tangerine enhanced by hints of fresh peaches, strawberries, and raspberries on an undertone of white musk, "Strawberries ‘n Cream" - A sweet and light blend of strawberry and creamy vanilla with a nice scent throw, "Lick Me All Over" - A truly delicious scent - smells good enough to eat. A wonderful exotic fragrance with base notes of raspberry, cantaloupe, and watermelon, middle notes of jasmine and violet, and fresh top notes of grapefruit and kumquat, and "Very Vanilla" – Very warm, sweet, high powered vanilla. A definite must try.

And how do they smell? Well, I don't know but they sound delicious! I ordered them for one of my best friends for Mother's Day so once she gets them and plop, plop, fizz, fizzes, I'll be sure to get her opinion. But in the meantime you'll have to take a look at CrazyTimes feedback and high sales numbers. They've been selling their products on Etsy since January 11, 2008, a mere 3 months, and already have close to 400 sales and 100% positive feedback!

So what to get mom for Mother's Day? Well, if you didn't find anything in my store for her, then take a look at CrazyTimesCandles and I'm sure you'll find something delicious for mom, and no calories!

For a complete list of scents click here. And for my next purchase, I'm seriously considering the breakaway melts and a warmer to go along with it. (P.S. There's a breakaway melt of the month club as well.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Giving Tree

For the past few days I have been searching for fun and unique items for a Treasury. I've never made one before and wasn't quite sure what it entailed. After deciding on a theme (I think the Treasuries with a commom theme look so sharp compared to haphazard Treasuries), and completing the hunt for items, the rest of the process consists of waiting! Waiting and watching, and hoping and praying (okay, slight exaggeration, but man those Treasuries stay full!). The Treasury has to drop below 333 or 222 (Treasury West) before you can snag a spot. I waited, I watched, I snagged! I got a spot and featured a Treasury that I am really proud of. Not that any of the items on the list are mine, but they represent my taste and what I like and I'm getting really great comments on it. With Earth Day right around the corner, I present to you my "The Giving Tree" Treasury (in Treasury West) -

Check it out here and feel free to click and leave a comment. It will be displayed for the next 2 days.

Featured Etsian - ReannaLily Designs

Jen, the creative mind behind ReannaLily Designs, is another military spouse just like me! She has a degree in Apparel Design from LSU and she currently lives in South Korea. She is a designer and a seamstress and has the best variety of apparel, for women and little girls (check out one of my favorites, the Wild Apron Pants Outfit - to the right - for girls), purses, aprons and blankets. I wanted to know more about Jen, her products and how where she lives inspires her.

You have such a great variety of items in your shop - what is one of your favorites? The best sellers are the Army Cube Purses made from recycled uniforms. Many of my clients provide me with their husband's uniforms for the project. Some clients choose a bag ready-made and opt to customize the name-tape portion with crazy words or hot pink embroidery thread. I do really like the purses.

Do you remember the first quilt you ever made and what was it? I made my first quilt when I was 17. It was a horrible disaster of yellow gingham and purple plaid triangles; set on point no less. I gave it as a gift to my, ahem, boyfriend who was headed off to LSU. (That turned out well, we've been married for 12 years now.) I had no concept of a seam allowance and the quilt unraveled into shreds within a couple years. He did, later duct tape that mangled up mess over his dorm-room window for room darkening... so it wasn't a total loss. Quilts are truly the gift that keeps on giving, right?

Where do you live now and does it bring inspiration to what you create? I currently live in South Korea. My town is the 3rd largest in the country, with 4 million people. Its absolutely wonderful here. We have seasons, culture, holidays and we're treated like celebrities when we're out in town. I know Korea gets a bad rap, but I've found it to be great. Korea is the leader in textile production- meaning truckloads of fabric is printed here- so its a virtual heaven for me. It has been quite an experience here and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to spread their wings.As far as my inspiration for creation- I've had the opportunity to live on an Army post for the first time and most of my clients are also my neighbors. They encouraged me to start selling my Army Cube purse as well as many other of my items. As many military spouses know, "Its not the town/assignment; its the people."

Thanks for a great interview Jen! You can find out more info about ReannaLily Designs at http://reannalilydesigns.com/. I leave you with pictures of 2 more of my favorite items in Jen's shop- aprons! and this announcement - ReannaLily is having a special Earth Day sales promotion at her store - free shipping! Click on the link to get there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What? Free Shipping?

If you want free shipping at my Etsy shop, you have to visit this blog to see what my special promo code is. :) TODAY ONLY!!

Knitting Totes!

I had a fellow Etsian tell me that she loved my shop, especially my totes, and asked me if I could make a knitting tote. I had ordered some tall canvas bags awhile ago and was wondering how I was going to use them in my shop. I wanted to make something fun and funky and with her question, my canvas bags had a purpose! So I began cutting and measuring some of my new home decor fabrics and made different size pockets, had the fun task of sewing those into interior of the canvas bags and then I made beautiful and perfectly fitted sleeves for the tote to fit the exterior of the tote. Slide tote in, line it up, seam up the edges and it's finished! It was a little time consuming but after I figured out all the measurements and pocket placement the rest fell into place.
I lined the pockets with fusible interfacing for added strength and durability. I made the knitting needle pocket in a way that there is no bottom seam on the pocket so your needles, or anything else, can never poke through the bottom. And of course these totes can be used in other ways besides as knitting totes - use it as your market tote, bible study tote, book club tote, diaper tote...you get the idea.
The measurements are 16" tall, 13 1/2" wide at the opening (10" wide at the base) and 3 1/2" deep. The tall pocket is 4" wide by 13 1/2" tall and the smaller pocket is 6" by 7".

Find these knitting totes, along with other totes and cute baby accessories at my Etsy shop - FrayBabyBibsandMore!

Ribbons Zoo Knitting Tote

FREDRIKA meterware (from IKEA Regensnerg) Knitting Tote

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trying to get more green, perhaps a nice shade of lime

Earth Day is April 22, 8 short days way. Earth Day is meant to bring awareness of and appreciation to the Earth's environment. For a detailed history lesson on Earth Day, head over to wikipedia.com. In the meantime, keep reading and get inspired to do something "green" for yourself, your home or your neighborhood.

Living in Germany definitely made me more "green", or at least more "green aware". We try to be green and are taking baby steps - buying natural cleaners, drinking organic milk and eating organic or all natural foods when we can, and recycling. In Germany, it is required by law to recycle - and it is amazing how many items we (or maybe just Americans?) go through in a day, a week, a month, that are recyclable. Our gray refuse container is picked up only twice a month. Garbage, picked up only TWO TIMES A MONTH! Could you imagine? Well now I can and would you believe that our garbage container is rarely more than half full? We have a blue container for paper products, which get picked up once a month and that is always overflowing with broken down cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls. And twice a month the huge yellow bags that hold all things plastic or aluminum is picked up. We typically have 6-8 bags full at each pick up. My point is, I thought I was an environmentally conscious person while we were in living Hawaii because I put out all my allowed recyclable items every week to get picked up. Small peanuts comparatively.

And the sky!! I noticed it yesterday - a slightly chilly and partly sunny day - but looking up in the sky everything was so bright and crisp and clear. No smog, no haze, no dingy gray or yellow, clear blue sky. It was almost shocking. I always thought that Hawaii had the brightest, bluest skies compared to anywhere I had every been and I chalked that up to being an island, surrounded by the endless blue ocean and the sun that is almost always shining. Well Germany is no island and certainly not a tropical paradise but that bright blue paints our sky here and I'm chalking that up to the envirmentally friendly habits of the people living here.

Everywhere you go in Bavaria (and perhaps all of Germany), you see people walking. Daily walks to the market, walks to the cafe, or walks just for the sake of walking. Young and old alike and many times ,older couples holding hands and chatting. Nordic walkers are everywhere with their walking sticks, cruising the streets in groups while chatting at the same time. Many just have little gas efficient scooters that go no more than 30kpm. On holidays you see huge groups of people walking along sidewalks and bike trails. It is family time and enjoyable for them, and it works off some of that huge holiday feast! Why don't we have traditions like that in America? Afternoon walks after eating all the ham and potatoes we can stomach? It is really neat to witness and a little inspiring.

This Earth Day, I plan on bringing a little green into my life, literally. I am going to buy some houseplants to clean up the air indoors and I am going to search for some plants and flowers to spruce things up outside. I'll post pictures of new additions and you can be the judge to see how much of a "green" thumb I actually have. I encourage you to make a change in your life in honor of Earth Day and try to make it stick. Start recycling - baby steps if you have to - start with the coke cans or the daily newspapers and build up from there. Plant that tree in your yard you've always wanted or go to PATT Foundation to plant a tree anywhere in the world. Make the next set of sheets or towels you purchase organic. Participate in a local clean up, or clean up your own yard. Decide to walk to the store or ride your bike. Whatever it is, make the change, and you, and the environment, just might be better off. And your planet will love you for it. If you need a little help thinking of something "green" to do, or just want more information and guidance on environmentally friendly products or how to live a more "green" life, check out National Geographics "The Green Guide" - it is an amazing web site chock full of great articles, tips, tools, blogs and even buying guides

While looking at all the fabric scraps on my sewing room floor, I got inspired. In honor of Earth Day I decided to do something crafty with something I would normally recycle and scraps I would normally throw away. I introduce to you my decoupage container! It is just a plastic wipes container that I cleaned out and decoupaged strips of scrap fabric onto. It turned out so cool and I'm either going to use it to hold my paintbrushes or my scissors, I haven't decided yet. I'll put some pebbles in the bottom it doesn't make it tip over, and viola! An adorably decorated recycled container!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Featured New Etsian - CojoCreations!

April, the creative mind behind CojoCreations, is a military spouse just like me! Her husband is currently stationed in Hawai and that is where she shares her home with him , their 2 children and their springler spaniel, Jack. She creates beautiful and one of a kind necklaces, earring, laynards, eyeglass chains and wine charms. I especially like her Mother of Pearl necklaces - they are gorgeous and I wanted to know what inspired her creations.

What brought you to designing jewelry? I have always loved being creative. One day about 4 years ago I had a day off from work so I decided to give jewelry a go and that is when it all began. :) I LOVE IT!! For me it is very relaxing to sit and create new items. I can do it for HOURS.

What are your inspirations? Nature has alot to do with inspiring me. I love the colors and smells of the world. Right now I live in Hawaii so the beautiful blues and teal colors of the ocean, the awesome sunsets, the bright greens and the different colors and texture of the sands, the georgeous brightly colored flowers....this is what inspires me.

(Photographs from Hawaii courtesy of April)

Where do you do your creating? As for ideas, they pop up all the time. I try to write them down if I am not home so that I will not forget. I don't have a craft room so my creations are made in the dining room. One day I hope to have a wonderful room that is all mine.

What is your favorite piece in your shop? Right now my favorite piece is SUNSET ON THE BEACH. I love working with shells.

April's favorite piece from CojoCreations - the Sunset on the Beach Mother of Pearl Pendant Necklace - just click on the pictures to go directly to the listings in her shop!

My favorite piece from CojoCreations - the Abalone Mother of Pearl Pendant Necklace

Stop by CojoCreations on Etsy for wonderful pieces of jewelry for yourself and gorgeous gifts for all occasions. Give someone a little piece of Hawaii - Mother's Day is just around the corner. Happy shopping and thanks April for a great interview.

Why I love other Etsy sellers

The Etsy community is full of supportive sellers - I just had a seller list 2, no make that 3! of my items in his shop. He was running a promo to match other's sellers items to items in his shop as suggested gift ideas. He creates beautiful hand made cards (both of these cards come from his shop) and tags and he gets a good amount of views on his items.

Here are the links to these 3 gorgeous cards - look for my item in the listing!




And here is the direct link to his Etsy shop - UniqueGrabs - so you can check it out and do some shopping.


My new favorite fabric!

I ventured out to IKEA the other day with Luke. I went prepared with a pouch bag full of snacks for him to hunt through so I could attempt to browse in peace. It worked for the most part, a few little snaffus with trying to open snacks himself but nothing we couldn't handle. I headed directly to the fabric section and started my search. There were a lot of new fabrics by the IKEA designers and as I tried to convert euros to dollars in my head, translate the signs and figure out how to get my fabric cut, Luke happily munched on some mini M&Ms. I left with 4 meters of fabric and managed to create a tote out of 2 of my new finds that very day. Here is my new pride and joy.

It's priced a little higher than my other totes because the fabric is a heavier weight and a little more expensive. But wow - it sure has been looked at a lot in my store - it is my highest viewed item!
And here is a picture of what will become a future tote or two. (It's the fabric on top - don't mind the mess.) Exciting, no? I can't wait to see what it will look like as a tote bag.