Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday Sales Highlights

I wasn't overly impressed by this week's sales. The only thing giving me that "get up and get it" feeling, is the release of Toy Story 3! I can't wait to go get our copy. There is also a release tomorrow of "Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales," sure to be a must for your Cars fan.

It looks like Target and Walmart are competitively prived for the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy pack at just under $25, but Target also offers a combo pack that includes a Buzz Lightyear toy for $32 (and if you have a Target RedCard, you automatically get 5% off all purchases, this is a change to their previous rewards program).

more later...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

National Candy Corn Day...A Fat Free Food!??!

Today is National Candy Corn Day! What an awesome food to celebrate! This holiday is now on my list, right behind Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th).

With these fun holidays, I like to look up the origin and do a little research. Which gives me a thought, maybe my daughter doesn't ask "why" just because she is three, maybe its in her genes. Oh goodness, please pray for me. Ok, back to candy corn!

My go to site for information is Wikipedia. I love this site. Here is their summary on the origin of candy corn:

Candy corn is a confection in the United States and Canada, popular primarily in autumn around Halloween. Candy corn was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Company; the three colors of the candy mimic the appearance of kernels of corn.[1] Each piece is approximately 3 times the size of a whole kernel from a ripe or dried ear. Candy corn is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup, artificial coloring and binders.[2] A serving size of 22 pieces contains 140 calories and no fat.[1]Candy corn pieces are traditionally cast in three colors: a broad yellow end, a tapered orange center, and a pointed white tip. A popular variation called "Indian corn" features a chocolate brown wide end, orange center and pointed white tip. In recent years confectioners have introduced additional color variations suited to other holidays, including Christmas and Easter.[1]

My thoughts were, "Wow, over 130 years old!" and "I had no idea there was such a science behind the candy corn."

If candy corn is not your candy, don't despair. I was excited to find an entire list of other holidays celebrating candy at the National Confectioner's Association website. (If I ever have to apply for a job again, I just may have to look into this company...seriously, who new the confectioners had an association?) They also have a few fun facts about candy corn on their site and I have posted them below for your convenience!

  • October 30th is National Candy Corn Day
  • One serving of candy corn contains only about 140 calories
  • Candy Corn is not just for Halloween anymore. Candy makers have made Reindeer Corn for Christmas, Cupid Corn for Valentine’s Day and Bunny Corn for Easter
  • More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces—enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end.

It's time for me to go grab another handful of candy corn behind the kids' back, and restock the candy jar.

Happy National Candy Corn Day!

(And Happy Halloween!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday Sales Highlights (A Day Late)

This week's Sunday Sales Highlights are a day late, apologies!

Please let us know if you have found some other notable sales items. Together, we can all save money by not buying unneccessary items without a sale. :)

Here are this week's highlights:

1. Toys R Us (TRU)- 40% off all Halloween. If you aren't ready, hurry out so you can get what you want! Do you have a Star Wars fan? If so, they have all of their Star Wars stuff on sale. They have several car related toys on sale for $10.00 off, including Mack the Truck that stores Cars cars ($19.99 instead of $29.99) and Cars cars ($3.00 instead of $4.00+). They have many other good sales on Legos, Imaginarium, Disney Princesses, Polly Pocket and more...don't forget to check out this ad! There is a coupon on the back page of the ad for $5.00 off Pampers or Babies R Us diapers...more good news, they usually let you use their coupon and a manufacturers coupon, which makes their brandname diapers like Pampers MUCH cheaper than your warehouse stores.

2. Joann's still has Halloween decorations marked 60% off. Their Midnight Madness sale is over and the next flyer should start on Halloween. If you sign up on their web site, they will send you flyers by mail and email.

3. Target has a sale on "Treat Size Candy" for $2.49. If you are going to be there anyway, this is probably as good of a deal as any, but check out my note on Publix below before you stock up at Target. Halloween costumes, makeup, and accessories are 15% off along with most of their other Halloween inventory. Their "Weekly WOW" is the Halloween Storage tote for $4.30, which is a great price for these. The Wii Fit is on sale for $77 and labeled as their "lowest price ever." A year ago, this set was over $120. Sex and the City 2 will be released on Tuesday and Target boasts that they are the only one with 50 minutes of bonus content, $22.99 for Delux DVD, $24.99 for Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy set. Random that caught my eye, a Thomas the Train Trackmaster Set labeled as "only at Target" that glows in the dark and is on sale for $35.00.
The other "Weekly WOW" specials:
TomTom XXL 530S GPS $119
Women's Suff Slippers $5.00
Toddler girls' sparkly shoes $9.00
Ruffle front tunic for women $16.00
Duvet cover by Fieldcrest (queen or king) $7
Digiorno $4.50

4. At Publix today, they had many assorted bags of candy and chocolate on BOGO. Their sales seem to change on Thursdays, so head over there!

Well, happy shopping and hope you have a great week

Sunday Sales Circular Highlights

Ok, so I am a day behind after the craft show yesterday, which was great by the way!

I will post on the Sunday Circular Highlights tomorrow!

Hope you have had a great week

Monday, October 18, 2010

Made for Mondays: Mommy, my baby is cold!

THE PATTERN: McCalls Crafts M4338, Pants G and Top F

THE MATERIALS: less than a half a yard of flannel that let me down when I washed it so I couldn’t use it for the shop; a couple inches of velcro; a few inches of elastic, thread

TIME ELAPSED: About 45 minutes, with a three year old “helper"

As part of my series "Sewing My Way Through the Fabric Store," I am accepting challenges from you all on sewing projects, as well as sharing some of my personal sewing adventures!

This week's post is a challenge from my little girl, who provides inspiration for many of the things I sew. This story is from a couple Saturday mornings ago.

That morning started with quite a to do list of preparation activities for the weeks ahead. The hubs had taken our little boy to the hardware store, so our daughter and I were milling around the house. I had a million things I needed to sew to get ready for the start of the HappyLittleMonkey Craft Show Tour 2010 and the little guy's birthday party, but I was trying to be present with her and her “boy baby.” We had recently made him a swaddling blanket and today she said he needed a burp cloth. Burp cloths, I can do! We dug through the remnants and a few minutes later, we had a suitable burp cloth. Ok, that was fun.

Then came the title plea, "Mommy, my baby is cold." already has a swaddling blanket. So, that won't work. What else??? I considered telling her to go get an outfit out of her stash of store bought baby clothes, but this was "boy baby," so clearly a dress wasn't going to work.

So, what to do? It was off to the pattern stash. Found an outfit that could double as pajamas. Perfect! Next, found some flannel I had purchased for the shop, but didn't use. Check, check.

Ok, now, deep breath, collect the rest of the supplies and mentally prepare to sew with a three year old assistant.

Inhale, exhale, and...

We laid out all of the pieces and cut them out. (Details: McCall’s Crafts pattern, M4338. We cut out Pants G and Top F, without the collar.)

For sewing the pants, we followed the directions pretty closely. The only difference I did was to serge the ends of the fabric before hemming them instead of doing a little roll. Since everyone doesn’t have a serger, most patterns instruct you to fold 1/4 inch or so and then the next 1/2 inch and hem. Its just more time consuming and with my three-year old Assistant, time is in short supply.

I really liked the pants directions. On people pants, most of the time the pattern directs you to sew the front and back seams, and then creating a pocket for the elastic at the top. Doll clothes are small and can be a little harder to work with. This pattern directed you to only sew the front seam then sew the elastic pocket, insert the elastic, and then sew the back seam. So easy! I even placed the elastic in the pocket, sewed, and then pulled the elastic to the desired length (about 5 inches of elastic, relaxed).

The shirt was really easy too, especially without the collar. I put velcro up the whole back so that she will eventually be able to get baby dressed by herself.

Here is the final outfit.

Best was the big hug followed by "Mommy, thank you so much." Ok, so totally worth it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Sales Circular Highlights

I used to LOVE to shop, and not just shopping, I loved the thrill of the bargain hunt and knowing where to find the best deals and anything I may possibly need at the last minute. It's not that I don't anymore, its just that time isn't as available as it used to be and its hard to relax while shopping with little monkeys in tow. It seems that my shopping mission has switched from "hunting" (ie. walk around and hunt for the best deal) to just get out and "kill."

Sundays have become my day to hunt. I get the newspaper a survey all of the circulars, from my couch, with a cup of coffee. Its not the same, but this way I can streamline my list of shopping goals for the week and it is much less frustrating. Also, I still get to find the best bargains. I love the thrill of saving money! Afterall, its ours.

My main haunts are Target, Toys R Us, Joanns, and Michaels. I'm a Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy regular too, but they email out sales info and don't have circulars. (I highly recommend signing up for their emails. I almost NEVER pay full price at any of these stores) check out other circulars, but am not as familiar with their sales, so I won't write much about them.

So, I thought I would start to share my "Sunday Sales Circular Highlights" in case you are in the market for the same things as me.

Here are this week's highlights:

1. Toys R Us (TRU)- This time of year, they really seem to encourage me to get my Christmas shopping done early, and I take advantage. This week, it is a buy 2, get the 3rd free on a lot of Fisher Price items (Imaginext, Little People, Geotrax, Laugh& Learn, TRIO, and more). We LOVE Fisher Price toys for their sturdiness, funtionality, and overall cuteness. Lego Construction Sets are also Buy 1, get one 50% off. Also, be sure to sign up for TRU emails as they typically send out one day sales notifications.

2. Joann's has Halloween decorations marked 60% off. They always mark their holiday decor down quickly and typically well before the holiday actually arrives. Also, today starts their Moonlight Madness sale and there are lots of sales that are even better than their typical sales. They almost never put their coupons on their website, but sign up for their emails and they send some out. There are two 50% off a single item coupons on the circular in today's paper and they usually have some flyers in the store the first day of a sale (they go quick though).

3. Michaels has 50% off Halloween decor, and they have a pretty big Halloween section. For you paper crafters, there is also a coupon in the circular for 20% off you entire Martha Stewart Crafts purchase. Their coupons are in their online flyer.

4. Target is also starting to have some really great sales on toys to encourage you to stock up for the holidays and with their "Lowest Prices of the Season" promises, I generally feel confident that they aren't going to mark them down again before Christmas. Also, they have switched their credit card rewards to be 5% off every purchase instead of sending 10% coupons when you reach certain point levels. I have hated their return policies, but with their RedCard, returns are so easy because they can basically look up your purchase and do the return without a receipt. They can do this with other credit cards too, but I like having everything in one place. They also send coupons in the mail.

5. Not in the paper, but Old Navy is having some great sales for their Sweet 16. Through the 21st, when you use a Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic card, you get a free children's item with the purchase of every adult item. I don't know about you, but this was just the excuse I needed to stock up on some Mommy uniforms! Lately, I find that I rarely go shopping for myself, so this was a great sale to stumble upon.

Well, happy shopping and hope you have a great week

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can you make me a purse?

The PATERN: New Look #6574

The MATERIALS: 2 yards of heavy cotton, 2 yards of mediumweight fusible interfacing, thread, lots of pins

A new friend recently asked me to sew a purse for her and with minor apprehension, I agreed. We met for coffee and she handed over the goods- two yards of fabric and the pattern.

The pattern is adorable and also pretty simple to make. The most labor intensive part has been dicephering what the pattern maker meant by “mediumweight fusible” interfacing, since Joann’s doesn’t carry a product that exactly matches that description, followed only by making sure that the pattern and print on the fabric lined up properly so that when I sewed it together the print matches up properly. This last part may not be something you worry about, but I can be a little "detail oriented" and I hate when the pattern doesn't line up properly. I don't sew with many plaids for this reason.

Whenever I can, I roughly cut my patterns out with a rotary cutter, pin them to fabric, and then do a better job cutting both the fabric and pattern. I use rulers for straight edges because it makes the final product come out better.

With this post, I didn't start taking pictures at the very beginning. As I worked on this purse, I had a realization. I need these new challenges. I love making my blankets, but occassionally I need a new challenge and to test myself. So, I started taking pictures and decided to make a habit of trying more new things!

With all of the pattern pieces cut out, I headed to my "sewing room." First, I line

d up the fabric and the interfacing and ironed it. Then, began sewing.

The directions on this pattern were pretty good. I didn't have any major problems with them while sewing the top and side seams. Then came putting the bottom of the purse on. I was not looking forward to this part. "Dread" is actually the word that comes to mind. I read ahead through the directions to get an idea of what it wanted me to do. Then, I did a mental "argh." It calls for bias tape. I HATE bias tape.

Insert creativity.

I decided to do a French Seam instead of using bias tape. It is prettier and theoretically can be easier. So, from here out, I don't follow the pattern directions.

Resume affixing the bottom. The pattern has these little triangles on it which provide places to match up pieces later. These make putting things together very easy, but with the things I sew a lot of, I have stopped cutting out the triangles because it takes too long with the rotary cutter. I shouldn't have skipped this step with this pattern. I had to get the pieces back out and mark where they should have been. (In the picture you can see where I cut the triangles on the top pieces, but not on the bottom.) WIth pieces matched, I started pinning. I pinned it to death putting pins every inch or so. This helped.

To make a French seam, you start with wrong sides together (instead of right sides). With the pins in place, I made a 1/4 inch seam around the bottom. It wasn't the prettiest, since there is a lot of fabric at the corners, but this is going to be hidden in a minute, so its ok.

After sewing the first seam around the bottom, I trimmed off the excess and then turned the purse inside out. Then made another seam around the bottom which encloses the rough edges and hides them. The inside of the purse is black, so I couldn't get a good picture of the French Seam. (Here is a simple tutorial from Sew Mama Sew on seams)

Then all I had to do was turn it back to right-side out, and it was done! Finished product picture is above.

If I make more of these, I think I will redesign it a little to make the bottom a little easier. It wasn't that hard though to make it as the pattern designed. When I make another, I will take more pictures and document better to convey the steps to you.

Also, a little more about this fabric. We used thick cotton, from the Home Decor section. Danielle (the challenger) actually introduced me to this fabric about a year ago with her great clothing line called Pollyanna's. It is 100% cotton, and although most of it is labeled "Dry Clean Only" she started washing it. And with each wash it gets more character and charm. It also gets softer. Thank you, Danielle, for bringing this fabric to my life.


This concludes my first post of the "Sewing My Way Through the Fabric Store" extension of my blogging. I will continue to take on new sewing challenges. The number of patterns available is endless. At least once a month, depending on the availability of people who want me to try to make something for them, I will make a new pattern. Then, I will post about the experience and the product, offering tips on that pattern and potential hazards.

So, bring on the next challenger. Email me ( if you are interested in offering a sewing challenge. The challenger will choose a pattern, the fabric and needed materials, and I will sew it up for free.

Next challenger, my daughter with, "Mommy, my baby is cold."

Comment from the Challenger:
From the "challenger,"....I LOVE my purse and gets scads of compliments daily. It is the perfect size for all of my stuff and wears so well. Everyone should have one of these! Thank you are AWESOME. There are plenty of amazingly beautiful home decor fabrics to pick from to "fit" your style too!

I interrupt this blog!

Several people have asked me for custom items and special orders since I shared that I can sew, and it is flattering. Then there is my little girl, who inspires new sewing adventures all the time. She usually starts with a problem and then says, "Mommy, puhleeeaze!" How can I say no? After all, she probably won't think that I hang the moon forever. These occassions have helped me to take a break from the normal, appreciate sewing, try new things, and challenge myself.

A few new products have even ended up in the shop this way, like the Classic bib (thanks, Heather) and the custom pillowcase (thanks, Michelle).

So, I am going to start sharing some of my sewing adventures in a series I am calling “Sewing my way through the fabric store.” It will mostly feature different patterns and my attempt to follow them. Generally, I view patterns like view recipes, they are guides for inspiration. I don’t know that I have ever followed every step to the letter, but between the guidelines is where creativity lives!

I hope to have at least a monthly challenge, where a friend picks out the pattern and fabric and asks me to create it. Inbetween, I will share patterns that I choose. Each pattern will include information on the pattern and materials required, my comments on the pattern directions (which sometimes can be greatly lacking in detail or overcomplicated), and pictures.

Like collecting fabric, I also like to collect patterns! So I have built up quite a stash. Whenever there is a sale on them, you can bet that I have at least stopped by and scoped out the available choices and added a few to my pattern library.

My first post is "Can you make me a purse?" It's coming up next

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Christmas in October?

I can't believe it is already October, nor can I believe that I am already getting ready for Christmas! Besides starting to plot our own holiday adventures, this year, I purchased 40+ yards of fabric from designer Michael Miller and created my own Choose Your Own Fabric Christmas Collection. I have made the samples, ordered shirts, and appliqued! I had appliqued a little before, but with some guidance from the geniuses at my local sewing machine store and practice, they are coming out great. This adventure has taken me into some new territory and I am excited about the journey.

The majority of my online store has been of one- (or two-)of-a-kind blanket sets. I have gone to the fabric store, picked out the material one bolt at a time, touching and thoughtfully choosing each pattern, then purchasing only a few yards of each. The next steps of the process are generally that I bring the fabric home, cut it, construct it, fold it up, take pictures of it, and post it to the store. People can then browse the store, choose, and I ship within 24 hours. I believe in fast and great customer service.

This Christmas collection is so much different. For example, I purchased over forty yards of designer fabric at one time. For a fabric collector, this is fun! It is super soft, with great colors, and its high quality. I really want to create. Customers get to pair these fabrics together and create outfits especially for their little one. I am so looking forward to putting these together.
With this collection, for the first time I am also offering clothes, well, besides the custom little boy butt covers that are currently in the shop.

I LOVE ruffle-bottomed pants and have been making them for my daughter and a friend's daughter for over a year now. They have now been tested on the kids and persevered. I am ready to offer them to you. From this collection, I think the best pairing is a flannel leg and cotton ruffle, however, any pairing will work. These pants will be great for Christmas morning, travelling, nighttime parades, and so much more. They are so soft and cozy, that you may have a hard time getting them off of your little girl.

I didn't leave out the boys. I am happy to make your little guy pants out of the trees or dotted fabrics, or I also have created a cargo-type flannel lounge pant for him. Choose red or green flannel, or add in some of the Michael Miller fabrics. He will look adorable!

The collection also includes blankets, of course! Choose a Swaddler Blanket (40" x 40", single layer) or Everything Blanket (36" x 36", double-layered). Choose one of the flannel fabrics for the Swaddler. For the Everything Blanket, choose two flannels, or one flannel and one cotton. Accessories like burp clothes and bibs are also available.

This collection also includes appliqued shirts and onesies. Choose from long or short sleeved shirts or onesies. Although some of the pictures feature the appliques on Hanes shirts, I am now using a higher quality shirt.
I think this collection is different than others because you get to choose what fabrics you put together! You get to choose especially for your little one. So, design away!

I will have the samples available on the Craft Show Tour 2010, see the schedule on the right side of the blog.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask at

More pictures are available on Facebook and if you haven't "liked" the shop there, please do to be the first to receive information on promotions and new releases.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Dream Day

Do you ever have one of those moments where you wish you were being followed by a photographer?

Have you ever had one of those times when the moment turns out better than expected and you wish someone was following you to document it?

To backtrack, when I traded in my state government issued business cards for my full-time Mommy card, I had a very clear picture of what this new job would be like. It would be full of my two, sweet, loving, and always obedient children listening to me and following me around. Each day would be chock full of perfectly planned activities like fingerpainting, playdates with themed meals, pudding painting, singing songs, learning letters, lunches with girlfriends, and sitting around in living rooms sipping coffee and talking about our families. Yep, I was going to live the dream! Was I delusional?

Yes, totally.

In my defense, I went back to work full-time when baby girl was six months old. About a month later, we found out we were pregnant with baby boy. So I had ten months to develop this dream. Come to find out, there wasn’t this other organized building of mommies. No one was organizing these perfectly planned playdates and coffees. And you wouldn’t believe the mess you make in your house when you are actually in it 24 hours a day.

Occassionally, I know I am doing this Mommy thing right. There are some dream-like moments and when we are lucky enough, they carry us on through until naptime. These are the moments when I wish there was an outsider, a professional photographer, following me and my monkeys and perfectly documenting the sweet looks, the discoveries, and total fun we are having. Then, I could keep those moments for so much longer.

Friday was as close to the “dream” as I think I can get on any given normal day. I dropped our daughter off at school and then shoved off to meet some girls for coffee. We sat and chatted about normal things, our three cute blond-haired boys in tow, without any major obstructions. Nice. Then we checked out a new local boutique in town. Also, nice. We chatted a little more and then headed to our next errands. My morning was slightly interrupted by running into another Mommy who was so stylishly dressed, made up, and ready to meet the world. I was instantly reminded of my pulled back hair, lack of make up, shorts, t-shirt, and messy kid. Yes, I was envious, but I digress from the dream. I quickly pulled myself out of it, hit a few more little shops and then made my way back to school.

There was more fun to be had this afternoon. One of my daughter’s classmates had invited us to a picnic lunch. It was going to be at a “greenspace." A what? Yes, I was a total skeptic.

You mean, no slide, no swings, no fence? What will we do? One Mommy suggested we bring a soccerball. Ok, soccerball, great idea. I diligently packed lunches, a blanket, and the ball. After school, we headed out to this "greenspace." It was a huge, slightly overgrown field with a gorgeous patch of old oaks with picnic tables underneath. I started to feel some calm, a weird feeling these days.

Then the girls started off, running towards the trees, through the long grass, sometimes holding hands, sometimes racing. They kicked up little field bugs and frolicked. From the moment we got to that field, the rest of the afternoon was fairly picturesque. We played in the trees, engaged in hide and seek, ran back and forth for red light/green light, and a held a classic game of chase. Under the disguise of “leading the children,” I even ran around in the field, arms spread out like an airplane. So free. The afternoon was completed when one Mommy brought out scarfs and the kids danced, flew, and just soaked up the sun.

They were kids, simply playing, in a field.

I wished I had thought of it.

I wished there was a breeze so we could skip naps and stay out there all afternoon.

I wished I could capture all of the simple moments between Mommies and their little monkeys.

Aww, pure fun.

As we marched back to the parking lot, the kids all red in the face, sweaty, yet still taking in the day, I knew we had done this one right. The kids loved it, and the Mommies did too.

As one of the Mommies said, “We shall plan other picnics and random acts of fun.”


With that day, I learned a little more about simple, in a very good way.

Thank you ladies, for a great morning. There will be more "random acts of fun!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"You hurt my feelings"

Today's topic, Mommy guilt! Goodness, gracious, it can come from EVERYWHERE. Sometimes it is just plain guilt, unrelated to Mommyhood. These days though, I can gamble on it being related to being "Mom." Why does guilt get to win?

My current biting sources:
1. The stack of baby books that I need to fill out. They are just so daunting and now there are two sets.
2. The pile of thank you notes sitting here on my desk that I wrote, but never mailed from baby girls' third birthday party. It was in June. Now I feel like it is too late to send. I did send emails to everyone. I'm sorry for my lack of formality.
3. My desire to fit some time for myself in during the day. C'mon, just a daily shower without having to schedule it in!

Guilt, three. Mommy, none.

Hmm...maybe I can take care of some of these:
1. I resolve to start them one page at a time.
2. I'm so sorry for every thank you note I have missed. We dearly appreciate your friendship and that you have showered my children with presents. They love them. Promise. I will be better.
3. I'm not going to feel guilty about this anymore!

Guilt, half. Mommy, 2.5 (I will still worry about the thank you notes some)

This brings me to today, when my daughter even blatantly tried to lay it on me. About a month ago, she started school. She has just recently realized that her brother and I don't sit on the couch and cry between drop off and pick up. She has just started to miss us. Before school started, I regularly had a sitter come in one morning a week so I could take care of errands that required brainpower, go to the fabric store, and make appointments. When she started school, I cut back and opted for more date nights instead of a morning sitter. This week, I needed her. I scheduled an eye appointment, dentist appointment, and had a handful of errands that were "no kids required" for this morning. When I broke the news to my daughter that her favorite babysitter was coming over this morning, she replied "I have a fever." I said, "No you don't. Tell Mommy the truth." Then she rolled over and said, "You hurt my feelings," rolled back over and pouted. Really? Was she trying to guilt me into staying home? Yes, she was. She even gave me the eyes. I held back my laughter, remember, I mentioned that I "needed" a sitter, I was really over it this morning. This attempt didn't phase me at all.

Guilt, none. Mom, one.

Later, I started contemplating my stinker of a daughter. Should I have felt guilty? Probably not. I know she is having fun at home playing hide and seek; airplanes; and shi-bo-bos (a game the sitter made up). Was this just her way of saying she needs more Mommy-time? Ok, I will make an effort to be more available. Guilt, still none. Mommy, still one.

When I stop and think about it, there are guilt potentials at every big decision, and I can't even catalog all of the little opportunities that can keep me up at night. We haven't really started thinking about where she will go for kindergarten, but its only two years away. The decision on preschool was so monumental that when I went to hand over the deposit, I was let down by the anti-climatic, "thank you." I'm not sure what I expected, but some balloons, confetti, and a "Congratulations on your decision! We can't wait to help your daughter in her first steps toward Harvard!" would have been a good start. Big decisions are hard for me, but I digress.

So, here is to not giving guilt more points than it needs. Cheers! And to going to cook something healthy for dinner so I don't feel guilty about the fast food I gave my kids yesterday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations= CrAzY Mommy

Why is it that when we become Mommies we all of a sudden expect that we will have changed the way we work? I don't even think it is conscious. We have kids and then think that we are going to be the poster of perfection. Forget that the house was never ready for the spontaneous guest before, now it will be. Forget that you never made dinner before, now you will be able to easily do so EVERYDAY. Forget that you and the hubs weren't the couple who would coo at each other, now that you have created another person, you think you should be. Do we have to be ready to look up the number for the local looney bin before we are aware of all of this? Am I the only one?

This simple example, my friends, is what inspired me to post today. Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I FORGOT! I know, the horror. I didn't remember until I had time to think, which was after the kids went to bed. It is one of my favorite random holidays. I even put it on all of our calendars so that we don't forget AND it is the right after another big day in our house, our Anniversary (yes, six years)! Before I had kids, I may have remembered this holiday because I would have gotten to work and looked at my calendar or someone else would have "Arghed" me in the hallway (that sounds kindof dirty!). However, now, when I am taking care of two small kids, a husband, a house, my parents were in town, a kid got hurt who had to go to Urgent Care for a x-ray (he's fine), celebrated our anniversary AND tried to pack 'fun' into the weekend which is always too short, I expect that I am going to remember to look at the calendar on a Sunday to be reminded that it was Talk Like a Pirate Day. And then, that I didn't remember when I wanted to and the kids were already in bed, I was angry at myself. Really!?! So angry in fact, that it's the day after, and this is why I am writing. ARGH!

I know a lot of amazing Mommies, very inspiring people who get up every day, take care of their kids/husband/pets/house/the world and no one is giving them that "atta girl" or Superwoman cape they deserve. Seeing these women work helps to keep me going. One of these Moms told me her secret was to "simplify." I really don't think I know the meaning of that word, but I am trying to make my expectations a little more realistic.

I would wear my cape, but it probably has boogers or graham cracker handprints on it, so it's in the never-ending laundry pile. Instead, I am off to get groceries, make a few appointments, do the dishes, plan a second birthday party, clean the laundry, pick up the playroom, pick up a kid from school, make lunch and then tuck kids in bed for naps.

Picture of my pirates last year:

Also, a shout out to my parents! Thank you for coming to town and watching our little pirates so we could go out and enjoy our anniversary. Always great to have you here! <3

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is it easy to be Green?

Lately I feel as if messages about being "green" are all over. From bringing your own bags into the grocery store to billboards about picking up your dog's business, there are hints and tips everywhere. Throughout grade-school, I was a Girl Scout, and still "Leave it better than you found it" plays over and over in my head.

I want to believe that there are very few people who do not care about the environment. Really, at a minimum, it's not hard to sort out the recyclables and turn off the water while you brush your teeth. So, as we are bombarded with these messages, I have been thinking a lot about our family's "green-ness" lately. Are we green? We make an effort, but is that enough?

These questions were rolling around in my head, then I ended up in a conversation with a friend about it yesterday, then I saw the billboard again! I know that we do what we can. I feel like we try to be conscious about it but have to accept some of our own limitations. For example, I would feel so guilty every time we emptied the diaper can. However, I can't even keep up with our normal laundry. Sorry Momma Earth on that one.

We have some very green friends who are inspiring- cloth diapering, composting, gardening people. You just know they are "green." They make me want to do more. Is it weird that we peg some people as "green" but don't call others "wasters?" As I ponder it, I'm not sure that I can peg anyone I know as downright wasteful, which is great! I just can't help but wonder are there some easy things that we aren't doing?

Some simple things we do:

1. I try to use cups or reusable water bottles instead of paper or plastic. For example, I generally make my own coffee and use my own to go mugs. We rarely use juice boxes for the kids.

2. I try to use reusable containers, like Tupperware and Pyrex, for leftovers, picnics and school lunches.

3. If the kids can play with it, I let them. Our kids have too many toys and I feel like they can't be imaginative enough with so many of them. It is amazing what they can do with a cardboard box, paper-towel roll, or old container. At our house, boxes instantly become playhouses or cars. Paper towel rolls make great "logs" in the dump truck or pirate spyglasses. Old wipey containers have become jewelry boxes and a place to store Memory cards (the game). Save your paper towel and toilet paper rolls and check out this post by Little Speckled Frog called "Help! I have created a monster!"

4. Recycling. I do my best to sort and recycle. If I do forget my reusable bags, I ask for paper, and then stand it up next to the garbage can at home to collect paper products.

5. Reusable Grocery Bags. This is such a no brainer! They are actually so much easier than the store bags. Genius! I am working on being better at taking reusable bags with me to other places.

So, I'm looking for new and simpler ways to add more green to our lives. I know this sounds cheesy, but if we all try a little then it should help a lot, right? (See, I told you the messages are everywhere!)

Here are some cute resources:

Little Green Footprints:
A great site I recently found that promotes "real living." After all, everyone can be some shade of green. A beautiful site!

Little Speckled Frog:
LSF is a great resource for greener living and she blogs about her family's adventures. Her "Friends of the Frog" posts also share many green and mommy-driven companies

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where did HappyLittleMonkey come from?

The HappyLittleMonkey formed from my need to support my addiction, fabric, and a need for something "else." I think the HLM has mostly fed my addiction, but that is beside the point. I LOVE fabric and think I always have. As a kid, I didn't carry around some little blanket, instead I dragged around a comforter. So my addiction plus my need to find something for "me" while I am staying home with my kids equated to a need for an outlet. And to me it seemed like forever that I milled over this concept in my head and then, almost overnight, I had a concept, a name, and a store.

HappyLittleMonkey has focused mostly on baby blankets. The majority of my inventory is Swaddling Blanket Sets that you can ACTUALLY use to swaddle a baby. The big store ones always seem to shrink up into rectangles and don't even start as large enough to even wrap around a kid. Besides, the gifts I loved the most were the ones people chose especially for us. Something I wouldn't have thought to buy for myself. The boutique style gifts that Moms want to keep in their purse to show off to their friends. I wanted to make things that people will love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So, I have been searching for it. I have been wanting to blog, and I keep dabbling here and dabbling there to find something that will fit. Finally, today, I have it! I will talk about our adventures in parenting and crafting. Maybe even a little of how things we parents use and try out can be better! And yes, I will apologize in advance, because there will be plenty of butchering of our language.

Truth be told, I thought I would be a lawyer or a teacher (sortof a lawyer, just of a defined group of people), so the thought of giving things "trials" is pretty natural to me. I never thought I would be sewing for fun AND for other people. I have had a machine for as long as I can remember, and would dabble with things along the way, but it wasn't until my own child was born that I felt that I HAD to sew. Not in a bad way, it was like something I needed to do. My mother always sewed for us- holiday outfits and especially Halloween costumes. Oh, the costumes! They were beautiful and treasured. My daughter's first Halloween, she needed to be a ladybug. Oh, the pictures I was going to take! I just couldn't find a costume that in any way, shape, or form did the ladybug its proper due. So, I busted my old machine out of its case and fired it up. Amazing! The costume came out how I pictured it, also amazing. Then, in true "first-time Mom over the top" form, I decided at the last minute that the hubs and I needed costumes too. By last minute, I mean Halloween day. So I made him go the costume store to find something. He got me a bumble bee and he was the Bug Catcher. It truly was cute. I digress.

Now I was back sewing and having that machine all fired up just brought back so many memories of the great things my mom would make. The machine even made the room smell like when Mom would sew. It was great.

A couple of months later, I had just gone back to work, put my baby girl in daycare, and we found out that baby #2 was on his way! Hmmm. Now, I am one of those weird people who actually like working, dare I say love working, but I always thought that when I had kids I would stay home with them. So, after baby boy arrived, we made the move to Stay At Home Mommy. Unbelievably to me, it wasn't one fun thing after another to be home. Seriously, I was not expecting to even occassionally be ready to run out of the back door! (Come to find out this is pretty normal!) I needed some "me" time and was able to find some in sewing. So, like any good workaholic would do, I went out and bought a bunch of fabric and began sewing what I knew about- baby stuff!

My Mother-in-Law makes blankets for each of her grandchildren. She calls them "Night Nights" and they are treasured by each kid. These blankets are amazing! You can swaddle with them, lay them on the floor for playtime, and later they become best friends for bigger kids.

My second wave of inspiration comes from repeatedly being let down by store bought blankets that shrank up to some shape other than a square, were never big enough to swaddle in the first place, and were just plain baby-ish. I LOVED having one-of-a-kind and handmade items for my babies. People noticed those (and hopefully not my dark-circles) and I loved that they worked.

Being a Mom is work, quite a job that can never be explained until you do it. And if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by great Moms, hopefully you are also learning from them.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. There, I have started.