2.28.2011

The Cold that Almost Did Me In

My optimism last Monday was totally misplaced. It is Monday again, right?   I got the worst cold I've ever had IN MY LIFE (courtesy of my cute little son). It was like a sneaky ninja that round house kicked me in the face over and over again. Usually I bounce back quickly from colds but this one just wouldn't give up.  Wednesday through Sunday were a blur of tissues, coughing, voice loss and restlessness.  The only thing I attempted to do all week was make it to my midwife appointment.  I was scheduled to have my gestational diabetes test.  I've had to reschedule it a few times and since I had a baby sitter lined up I decided to go ahead and do it.  This resulted in me violently vomiting up the sugar drink (all over myself) you have to drink for the test.  Thus adding insult to injury.  I could also tell how hard it was not to pee in my pants every time I coughed, but you don't really want that much personal information do you?  Young girls need to know the truth about what really happens to women during and after pregnancy.  It would be the best form of birth control ever. Needless to say, last week was long.  I am happy to report that I am finally starting to feel better.  Not great, but better.  I shall enter this week with no exceptions.  I just want to survive and disinfect my entire house.

Oh the reason for this post . . . . . the winner of my little birdie!   Drumroll please.  The winner is Derece!  Thank you so everyone who played along. It was so much fun, we will have to do it again sometime soon.

I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to talk about how wonderful my husband was (is) during my sickness.  He took very good care of me.  And, I am not an easy person to deal with when I am sick.  It is worse when I am pregnant.  I tend to be whiney. And needy.  And grumpy.  It isn't a cake walk and he did great. Now that he is sick, he has acknowledged that this is a pretty nasty cold.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Just for fun, here is a picture of my handy men.  Before Jason got sick the guys took advantage of the nice weather and did some wood working.  Aren't they cute?

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2.21.2011

Brooch Giveaway

I am feeling good this Monday morning. Despite the fact that I have cankles, a sick toddler and a messy house.  Maybe it is the weather, it is supposed to be 70 degrees today! Or perhaps it is because today is the Be Embellished!  Brooch Exchange.  Regardless, I am hopeful that today will be productive!  Now let's talk about this giveaway . . . .  .

This year I decided I want to participate in a blog exchange at some point.  All these wonderful artsy, crafty sites host exchanges where you ship out and receive handmade goodies from strangers.  It is like pen-pals with benefits.  Who doesn't love getting a package? It was just a matter of finding the right exchange.  I actually found two (more on the second one later).  The first one is hosted by the wonderfully talented Regina Lord at Creative Kismet.  Her blog is full of all kinds of inspiration and ideas.  Everyone involved mailed out 5 brooches and will receive 5 in the mail.  You can see some of the fun brooches that have been made by visiting the flickr group for the exchange.  The best part is some people are participating in a giveaway day, including me! Hop over to Creative Kismet later today (she lives in Tucson so it is a bit early there right now) to see the list of all the blogs hosting giveaways.

I am giving away this little cutie . . . .

Pink Birdie for giveaway

You could pin it on a shirt, bag, a baby or a bulletin board (that is where I have mine).  I have several other pins in my shop like this little fella (just incase you don't win and really want one : ) ).  I also have tiny birds, which I adore.  I love baby, tiny things.

To be entered to win you need to leave a comment on this blog post (not on facebook link).  You don't have to have an account to leave a comment.  Comments will close at midnight eastern time on the 22nd and a winner will be chosen using random.org.

This little pink birdie can't wait to fly away to its new home!

PS.  Here are the other brooches I made for the exchange, incase you were curious.

Brooch Exchange

Once I get my package of brooches in the mail, I'll share my cuteness. I love sharing, giving and getting (oh, you know you love the getting part too)

Happy Monday, this week is going to be awesome . . . . I can feel it!

2.19.2011

Breweries, Babies and the Crazy Hot Scale

This week has been a flurry of activity. I can't even process the fact that is it Saturday.  There has been work, impromptu parties, reunions with old friends, projects and Valentine's. I've been trying to set down and write a post all week but I can't seem to focus.  There is nothing more than a bunch of random thoughts rambling around in the empty expanse that used to hold my brain.  I have all sorts of fun projects in the works, an easy headband tutorial and some new paintings for the shop.  But, I just can't seem to get those things on paper (post) at the close of a silly week. So instead, here is a collection of thoughts (mostly about parenthood, because that is kind of my life right now) from the week.

1. Greenville, SC is beyond cool.  That city is amazing.  It is small but full of all kinds of awesomeness. Last weekend Jason and I took a little overnight trip alone while Henry partied with the grandparents (who live in SC).  It was the perfect breath of fresh air for us before baby number 2 arrives in May.  Before I had a child I didn't fully appreciate the luxury of sleeping in and having a long conversation over dinner. Also, what in the world did I do with my free time before parenthood? I think I must have wasted a lot of it. Here are some Greenville photos . . .

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 The Blue Ridge Brewing Co was amazing.  I have dreams about their steak and homemade ketchup (not together, ketchup on steak is the 8th deadly sin).

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One of the best cups of coffee ever at one of the coolest coffee houses I've been in. And, I have been in a lot.

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Hanging out in a coffee house with Jason made me feel like I was in college again.  It was a nice throw back.

I don't have photos (because Jason asked me to put the camera away, he isn't really a fan) but we went to a ton of cool shops.  The city has a great indie vibe.  There are hardly any chain stores downtown.  Not a Starbucks in sight.  We also ate breakfast at this Greek American dinner called "Stax Omega".  It was unbelievably yummy (and cheap).  And, we hit up a huge flea market on the way back to get Henry.  It was nice, but we were both jonesin' for some Henry cuddles by the time we were done.

2.  Toddlers are adorable to counter balance their mood swings and suborness. I think it is something along the lines of the crazy/hot scale from the How I Met Your Mother.



For example  . . . . sweetly saying "mommy" while hugging you balances when he gets into the pantry and pours rice all over the floor.  Most the time, Henry stays in the cute zone. Occasionally we cross the Mendoza Diagonal.  Everyone has their bad days.   Here is proof that my kid is cute.  Disclaimer:  This video is long (too lazy to edit). And yes, that is snot pouring from his nose.  Jason took this while momma was out with some friends.  I guess he has just gotten so use to snot this winter he didn't even think to wipe it.


3.  I am the worst pregnant women ever.  I just loath the process.  Don't worry, I love the baby. I want to like pregnancy. I want to glow.  But, for the most part I just want to punch people in the face.  When I am pregnant it is like a case of the body snatchers.  I look like Jaime, but I don't feel like her. Since I am not planning on do this again (knock on wood), I have tried to have a good attitude. It just isn't happening.  In my attempt to be more positive, I tried to make a list of things I like about pregnancy. I liked. . . well, only two things. Tiny baby kicks (I am not totally cold hearted) and napping without guilt.  That's it. I don't even get to enjoy the luxury of chocolate cake without condemnation.  I have gained a decent amount this pregnancy and I am trying to not resemble the broad side of a barn by the time this kid is born.  This means I have to pay attention to my junk food intake . . . boo.  Here is my belly at 29 weeks.

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This concludes a highlight of a few of the random things rolling around in my brain.

PS.  I just saw this post and had to share.  It is about the idea that the first 90% of a project is the easiest, it is the last 10% that kills you.  I don't even want to list all the projects that we have gotten to the 90% point and not finished.  Actually, I was almost finished with this post (90%) and decided to look at my blog feeds instead of finishing it when I found this post.  Stupid 10%.  Today, I am going to finish something. 100%.

2.14.2011

Henry's Homemade Valentines

I had visions of posting this before we left town for a little mini-vacation this past weekend, but that didn't happen.  So here I am on Valentine's morning typing like a mofo before I have to leave for work.  When it came time for Valentine Cards for Henry's preschool (he goes to a 2 day a week PDO), I knew I didn't want to go the store bought route.  I know this surprises no one.  Not only did I not want to depend on Target for the cards, I also wanted to find someway of making cards that Henry could help with.  Seeing that Henry still poops in his pants, he can't really do a lot of crafting.  After lots of brain storming, I came up with these (sorry for the crappie photos, this was taken before coffee this morning):

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I let Henry finger paint two big sheets of white paper.  He LOVES to finger paint.  I can't wait until warm weather so I can turn him loose outside with his paints and then hose him off afterwards.  Speaking of paints . . . hands down crayola has been the best I have found.  They have great color and wash off very, very easily. I have even tried making homemade paints. Once again, probably not surprised.  The homemade paint just didn't have the same color pop.  Which is why I didn't share it with you, it wasn't worth the post.  Anyway, I let him paint and paint and paint.  After 45 minutes I had to pry the paint brush out of his hands because it was nap time.  Here are cute baby painting photos (I can't help but post these).

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Once the painting were dry (while Henry was napping) I cut the sheet down into 8 pieces. I pre-folded the paper so I had cut lines before I let Henry paint. This way I could make sure he painted a little on each card.  Once I had them cut, I signed them "heart Henry."  I attached the painted sheets to construction paper with a ribbon (no glue + no tape = easy).  Then on the back I wrote the kiddies names.  Nothing fancy, but I love that he helped me make them.  I also love that they are original, just like my boy!

If you were wondering, I am filling my little felt envelopes with yummy chocolates to give to his teachers and few other special folks.  Oh, I do love Valentine's Day!  Jason and I did our big romantic night out this weekend (more on that later) so tonight will be a family celebration.  Hope everyone has a day filled with love!

2.10.2011

Open for Business

After baby number 2 arrives (in May), I will be a full-time stay at home mommy, not a SAHM. I have no idea why, but that acronym annoys me. I think it reminds me of a sham, and being a stay at mom is most definitely not a sham. Anyway, with my looming departure from the world of employment, I thought it would be a great time to get serious about launching a handmade store. Yes, money is an obvious reason. Duh. I have been slowly cutting back my hours at work and cutting our monthly expenses. We will miss my income but I don't think it is going to be a huge shock. The main reason I wanted to start my little business is that I think I will need something to keep me busy while at home all the time. Wait, let me re-word that . . . . I am going to need an outlet to express myself. I think I shall be busy enough chasing around my two little boys. After months of talking and planning, Barks Emporium has launched!
This store is a mis-mash of things I love.  When researching handmade businesses over and over again I read that it was important to not be too diverse.  I think I broke this rule.  I kind of have art/crafty ADD.  I just can't focus on one medium.  So, for now I am offering a little bit of everything.  It is random, like me.  Here is a little bit of what you can find in the store . . .

Handmade Lovelies

I have several other little projects in the works that will be making their way to the store soon.  If something catches you eye but isn't exactly what you are looking for let me know.  I am open to custom orders.  Please become a fan of Barks Emporium on Facebook.  On March 1st I am going to send a special discount code to everyone that has joined the page. And of course, you are invited to share with your friends (oh would you please?).

Image credit here. 

Alright, I am off to attempt to make homemade Valentine's with my 19 month old. Wish me luck, I am going to need it.

P.S. We have snow! Just a couple inches but it is still lovely.

P.P.S. If you want to show Barks Blog some linkey love, I just figured out how to create a blog button to share. To say my html knowledge is sub-par might be an understatement, but you've got to start somewhere. No pressure. I think I am just proud I made it. You know, it's the little victories.



Barks Blog


2.07.2011

Cupcakes and Football

My two favorite things about the super bowl are parties and food.  That being said, last night we partied  alone.  We could have spent some time with friends but we decided to be homebodies. Jason has been out of town for work and since we just haven't had a lot of time together,  we thought a super bowl party at home was just the thing we needed.  Don't worry, just because we didn't head out of the house doesn't mean that we didn't partake in "party" food.  Oh no, we ate junk food because the super bowl gives you a junk food pass.  I wish I could have gotten a photo of all of us setting on the sofa in our pjs watching the super bowl.  It was the perfect evening.  Especially in light of the fact that Jason is heading out of town, again, this week.  In honor of our reclusiveness, I thought I would share my new favorite cupcake recipe.  Warning: These are delicious and insanely easy.  On the upside, you can easily half the recipe and only make 6 cupcakes.   When there are 3 people in your house, 6 is better than 12.  We would eat all 12.  Anyway, on to the recipe.

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I used a Nigella Lawson recipe, you view it here.  It is probably the weirdest cake recipe I have ever seen.  You put it together in a food processor, you don't cream your butter and you estimate the milk.  Estimating and baking are two words that are usually not associated with one another.  I think initially I tried it just because it was so odd.  Okay, odd and easy.  This recipe delivered a yummy simple white cupcake. I've made it a couple of times and it has been yummy every time.

I don't use her frosting recipe.  It has calls for uncooked egg whites, since I am knocked up and have a toddler, I try not to use uncooked eggs.  Also, I love a good buttercream frosting.  Really, I just love most things with butter.  After trying a bunch of frosting recipes, I have decided that my favorite is the Magnolia Bakery butter cream.  The best part is, it's easy to make!  To confirm that it is delicious, here is Henry licking the mixers.

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It was his first time.  I don't know about you but this is one of my favorite childhood memories.  My mom always let me lick the mixers and sometimes the bowl.  In the picture below you will see that I have my entire head in the bowl. I love sharing things like this with Henry.  For me, it is a small way in which I keep her memory alive.  Maybe I shouldn't worry so much about raw eggs?  Because now that I am thinking about it, I ate a lot of cake and cookie batter as a kid.  Anyway, please go make and eat a cupcake. You will be glad you did.

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You might look like this after eating all that sugar (or maybe he was laughing at the Black Eyed Peas). He is blurry because he was moving all over the place.

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Super bowl thoughts:

I know Christina Aguilera hasn't had a hit in a while but I would think she could have bought better hair extensions.  Honestly, we were so focused on her hair that we didn't even notice that she messed up the words.  This might make us bad Americans.

Favorite commercial . . . .  I really liked the long, serious Chrysler ad.  I know, not funny. I just thought it was nice nod to a very depressed city.  I did also enjoy Joan Rivers showing up in the Go Daddy Ad.  I just watched an amazing documentary on her life (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) and I have a new found respect for her.  Her stand up is funny (and vulgar), who knew?

I've never been a fan of the Black Eyed Peas and their half time show reminded me why I don't like them.  I think they spent more time on their light up outfits then they did practicing.  I am pretty sure that Fergie's cover of "Sweet Child of Mine" could be considered blasphemy.

As for the actual game, I really watched it this year.  At parties I never watch the game but last night I watched the entire game.  And I liked it.  Football is kind of entertaining.  I know, surprising.

Hope you all enjoyed the game or at least some junk food!

PS. I totally ate a cup cake for breakfast.  I just felt the need to confess this.  I've take Jim Gaffigan to heart . . . muffins are for people who don't want to admit to eating cake for breakfast.   I made sure Henry didn't see me eat it.  Toddlers can make you keenly aware of your bad eating habits.

2.05.2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent (how and why)

UPDATE:  I haven't bought laundry detergent in three years!  I love this stuff and it has saves me so much money.  Also, our local walmart carries all the ingredients needed for his soap.  I know walmart is the devil, but the devil sells stuff cheap.  I don't go often but when I do I stock up on soap supplies.  Happy cleaning friends.

Do you ever have those weeks where you just can't seem to get anything to go your way?  That has been my week.  Everything I have attempted to get done has just kind of sucked.  Alot of this has to do with the fact that I was flying solo this week.  Jason was out of town for work (he is home now!).  (By the way, this is the second time I have written this post.  Blogger and I got into a fight . . . and I lost.)  Sigh.  I hope no one else is having such an unproductive week as I am. Anyway, on to laundry soap.

First let me say, there are probably a 101 posts out there about how to make laundry detergent. Seriously, just google it and you will find bunches.  That being said, I thought I would share a little about my experience and history with laundry detergent. How's that for an attention grabbing topic?   First and foremost I would like address a question that is likely to be at the forefront of your mind.  "Why in the heck would you want to make laundry detergent?"
Why Make Laundry Detergent:
1.  MONEY.  This alone should be motivation for you to at least give it a try.  It was saves you loads (pun intended) of money.   I'll break down the ingredient cost below. Cheap. Cheap.
2.  Better for you.  Anytime you make something at home it gives you control over what you and your family are exposed to.  There is a lot of yucky stuff in laundry detergent.  This lets you get natural laundry detergent without the big price tag.
3.  Better for the environment.  Just think of all the packaging that comes with laundry detergent.  You can bypass that if you make you own.  Less trash means happier landfills.  Also, you aren't putting all those chemicals that are in detergent down your drain.


For about 6 months before Henry was born, I exclusively made my own laundry detergent.  Then, two things happened.  First my grocery store stopped carrying the ingredients I needed.   All recipes are basically the same. They all call for washing soda, borax and a bar of laundry soap.  I had never been able to find washing soda but I had simply substituted baking soda instead. Then all of a sudden our local grocery store stopped carrying the bar laundry soap that I had been using.  I tried a few other alternatives but they just didn't seem to have the same cleaning power.  The other reason why I stopped making my own detergent was the very reason I probably should have continued . . .  I had a baby.   Making your own liquid. laundry detergent can be a bit messy and requires a little time.  With the adjustment of having our new little bundle of responsibility, it was just too easy to buy the "ready-made" commercial brands.  Recently, however, after reading "Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things" (Caution: anyone reading this book should take it with a grain of salt or you will never touch anything plastic ever again) I decided to give it another go.  I was doing a little web surfing and looking at ordering the stuff for soap online when I learned a secret from my dear husband . . .

They sell ALL of the ingredients at our local Ace Hardware!  Yes, that is where my husband works.  And no, I didn't think to ask him if they had Fels Naptha.  I didn't think he would know what it was.  I just happened to be meeting him for lunch when I over heard a customer mention washing soda.  When I asked Jason about it, his response was "Ace sells all the old school stuff you can't find anywhere else." All this time, it was right under my nose (and he totally knew what Fels Naptha was)   Now, before a jump into how I make my powdered detergent, I want to share with you a link to make liquid detergent.  This is an excellent liquid detergent tutorial, if you want to give liquid a try.

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Ingredients:

Borax (not to be confused with boraxo or boric acid).  This is widely available anywhere you get laundry detergent.  This will make A LOT of detergent and is a great household cleaner. Cost: $4.00

Washing Soda (not baking soda).  The only place in our town that sells it (that I know of) is Ace Hardware.  I have read that people can get it at the grocery store, but I have been unable to find it at any in our town. This also makes many batches of detergent. Cost: $3.75

Laundry Soap.  You can use any kind of bar soap you would like.  I have found that standard bar soap doesn't clean quite as well. Between my husband and kid (who can at times be one in the same),  we have some dirty laundry. A brand that work great is Zote soap.  It is a soap from Mexico that you can usually find anywhere that sells Hispanic groceries.  Our Save-a-lot carries it (it is a little cheaper than Fels Naptha).  Cost for Fels Naptha: $2.75.

The Method:

Grate your laundry soap bar.  Add grated soap into a container with 1 1/2 cups washing soda and 1 1/4 Borax.  Stir or shake (if you have a lid) until combined.   It will take 2 -3 tablespoons per load of laundry.  This is what it will look like:

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I have read where people process it in their food processor to make it a smooth mixture, but I don't see the need.  It would look pretty but it would not clean any better.  My scoop is a 1/4 cup.  It is a little more than standard recipes recommend but I always wash big loads of laundry and the extra powder helps make them clean, clean, clean.  If you want to get fancy, you can add a little essential oil for fragrance.  I don't because I like the smell of Fels Naptha and I don't like a lot of fragrance in my laundry soap.   If you do add oil and have a baby make sure to do some research.  Some essential oils and babies don't mix well.  This soap is gentle enough for kiddos.  For newborns I would recommend making a batch using a very mild bar soap like Dr. Bronner's baby soap (you can get this at most health food stores).

One last laundry tip . . . . use vinegar in place of fabric softener.  Seriously.  Your clothes won't smell like vinegar.  I promise.  I stumbled upon this when I was desperately searching for a way to get the sent of diesel out of a pair of Jason's jeans (not to confused with diesel jeans). It worked like a charm.

PS.  When I sat down to work on this post, I decided that it would be best if I didn't look at the pictures from last weekend.  You see last weekend was amazing.  It was sunny and in the mid-60s.  We spent the entire weekend outside soaking up the sun.   But, it was a cruel joke.  It tricked you into thinking that spring had sprung.  Not even close. This weather has been cold, gray and rainy.   The winter weather is even more awful after getting a taste of spring.  When I started downloading photos I just couldn't resist looking at our sunny photos.  Oh to be warm!  I thought I would share my favorite.  Here is little Henry climbing between the shelves of the changing table daddy is building for baby.  More on the changing table once it is finished.  Have a great weekend and if you live somewhere sunny and warm, please get outside and enjoy it for us!

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