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Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Traditions

He's making a list, checking it twice. Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.  Santa Claus is coming to town!

I can hear the bells on Santa's sleigh already! He'll be here before we know it!  For the first year, Addie will really understand what's going on in the morning.  I must say, Christmas as a parent is almost more fun than Christmas as a kid.  We've had Addie's gifts from Santa tucked away for weeks just itching to hand them out early, but we're resisted!

As a kid growing up, Santa always brought us the biggest, coolest gift of all of them. It would be set up in front of the tree just waiting to be played with the minute we walked into the living room on Christmas morning. I really love how my parents did this, but apparently it's not the most common way to experience Santa. Apparently for most kids, he wraps his presents, and apparently brings them a lot more than he ever brought me! See, Santa only brought us one gift on Christmas morning.  It was always our "big gift" of the year.  For example, our trampoline was from Santa.  Our bikes growing up were from Santa.  Everything else was from our parents, wrapped under the tree for weeks.

I plan to continue this tradition with Addie.  There was just something more magical to me about getting the toys directly from the workshop. Santa even had it completely put together for me so I wouldn't have to wait to play with it.  He is so thoughtful.

Tonight, we'll be putting together a new kitchen for Addie, complete with food, dishes, cook-ware, and even an apron (made by me!).  I can't wait to see the look on her face when she comes into the living room and sees it.  I wonder if we'll even get her to open everything else!

So, does Santa visit your kids? How does he display the gifts? Wrapped in Santa wrapping paper? Or set up and ready for action?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Potty Training Success! (Parents Only!)

Warning: If you're not a parent you probably don't want to read this post, as it talks about topics most adults don't normally discuss.

As you know from my previous post, we have successfully potty trained Addie!

We started about 2 weeks ago, letting her run naked at home.  I had a few days where I knew we'd be home with no plans and Willie would be at work (he stresses about naked time) so I decided to go for it.  Why not, right? She hates being wet or dirty and always tells me with plenty of advance when she needs to poop. She knows what the potty is used for and even would occasionally ask to sit on it, we just never had any potty action on the toilet which was the only thing discouraging me.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a try for a few days and see what happens though. If the first couple of days weren't a success, we could always just put a diaper back on her and try again later.

I had everything in place.  I made a sticker chart and had a stack of sticker sheets at the ready.  3 stickers equaled 1 piece of candy or a prize, so I had plenty of rub-on tattoos and some left-over halloween candy at the ready. I had a potty seat in the living room and one in the common bathroom (we'd had so little luck with the toilet so I thought maybe this would help). I had 3 sippy cups filled with water to encourage her to drink more. We were ready to give it a try.

The first part of the day was....very discouraging to say the least.  She wouldn't drink the water.  Any of it. I think she had maybe half a sippy cup of water all day! At random intervals throughout the day I'd ask her if she was thirsty and she'd take a small sip and put it down.  Just not interested in water. She wouldn't sit on the potty, and would just stand there with pee running down her legs saying "uh oh!" when she was standing right next to the potty peeing. It was very frustrating.  I would pick her up and toss her on the potty only to have her immediately stop in transit and refuse to finish on the potty. I tried having her help me clean up the wet spot and I tried having her practice running to the potty after she peed (all the while continuing to act like it was no big deal that she just peed all over the floor because hey, accidents happen). Nothing doing.  What I needed was to get her to pee-even just a tiny drop-in her potty so she could see how exciting it was.  I began to sort of hover that afternoon so I could toss her quickly onto the potty.  Early that first evening, we finally had a teensy bit of success! I was able to grab her quickly and sit her on her potty mid-stream and she got 3 tiny drops in the potty.  Who cares.  I made a huge deal out of it, we made up a dance and she got her very first sticker for her chart! I was still pretty discouraged though, and at that point had decided we'd probably give potty training a break for a few more weeks before we tried again.

Then, as a total last minute decision, I asked Addie before bed if she wanted to try to sit on the potty and maybe earn another sticker.  A very excited Addie ran over to the potty and lo and behold...peed! Peed like she hadn't peed all day!! Very encouraging if I do say so myself.  Those few minutes changed my mind and I decided to give it another try the next day.

Monday morning, we woke up and just didn't put on a new diaper.  I made the mistake of eagerly asking her often if she wanted to use the potty-which she refused every time.  Heaven forbid she make me happy, right? She continued for the most part to just pee on the floor and ask for diapers, but she did manage to go on the potty again that night.  Again, I was encouraged and decided to give it another day.

That's sort of when things slowed down for a bit. We all ended up with a stomach bug that had us laying on the couch for 2 days. Everyone was miserable and not even caring about potty training.  Addie asked for a diaper and I put one on her just because it was easier. She stayed in a diaper the whole day, and most of Wednesday.  Needless to say, we were a bit worried about not having a diaper on her if she had a stomach bug! That was not a mess I wanted to worry about cleaning on a queasy stomach.

Thursday, though, we got right back to it, and had a bit more success.  I had decided to take the advice of a fellow mom and stop asking her if she needed to go potty. The logic behind it was that she's be more able to focus on her bodily signals if she wasn't being nagged by me all day.  We just went about our daily business all day and suddenly, I hear "Pee pee potty, momma!" as she runs to the potty and pees...completely by herself!  This happened 2 more times throughout the day.  Finally! Some success! On top of that, she got her first piece of candy!

On Saturday, something seemed to have clicked.  She woke up that morning telling me she had to potty, and continued to tell me and run to the potty all day long! 7 stickers!!! Only 2 "accidents" all day long! In less than a week, Addie was potty trained to the point that I was only changing a diaper in the morning and at nap time, and not dealing with pee on the floor.  1 week, and that included 2 sick days in a diaper.

Ever since that Saturday, Addie has gone regularly in the potty with fewer and fewer accidents.  In fact, we'd gone almost a week without an accident at all until yesterday! We've started putting her in pull ups all day now so that she's not just potty trained while naked, and we can even bring her out in public and she'll still tell us she has to go. In fact, most days this week we've had errands to run, and they've all been successful! The only time she has an issue is when she's really distracted (like yesterday) and has friends over all day. Who has time to pee when you're defending your territory and making sure another toddler doesn't walk off with your Thomas toy?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

You heard me right.  I plan to get back in the blogging saddle.

I've missed blogging.  I thought my first post back on the blog should be a bit of an update for you.  The last few months have just gone by in a blur. To be truthful, I'm kind of wondering what happened to summer?

So let's see.  You all know I started my own business last November.  Starting this past spring, it really began to take off, and this summer, I began participating as a vendor in the local crafts market.

It's been a fun ride, but a fast one. Once I started in June, it's basically all I could think about until about a month ago.  I'm now on a break, but I'm still trying to really bulk up my selections for next year which will hopefully start slowly in March and build steam until the summer.  I don't plan to do as much during the holiday season though. Surprisingly, that was the worst for me! I've been offering more and more adult selections, although if you look at my shop, I still don't have many listed. That will be changing soon! In the meantime, you can check my fan page and see some of my custom pieces, or just email me and ask if I can make something if you have an idea of what you'd like in mind!

I did also start a CUTEure Blog but wow. If you think this blog has been abandoned, just go check out that one! I'm still trying to figure out what people want from that blog. Free patterns? Crochet tips and tricks? Shop updates? Articles on how to sell on etsy vs craft shows? No idea. I have a hard time considering myself informed in any field so writing informative posts has always been hard for me! If you have any suggestions on what you'd like to see on that blog, feel free to tell me!

In my personal life, things have been going well.  We've switched Addie over to a toddler bed (which was a hard transition!) and this past week we began potty training her (which has been as easy as the toddler bed was hard).  Within a week she has almost no accidents! I will write a detailed post about how we did it this week.

We also bought a bus! So far, it hasn't been much fun .  We bought it with the intention of using it for my last couple of shows last season (the last of which would have been a ton easier if  I could have camped out there.  Unfortunately, as these things go, it has required a lot more work than we were forewarned about.  We've already put several hundred dollars and a few weeks worth of solid work into it, only to have it drive around the block once and then throw a rod in the engine! For those of you that know as much about engines as I do, that's not a good thing.  The engine is now going to require a total rebuild (we think) which could cost more than we paid for it in the first place! What a bummer.  We're going to try and just look for a re-built engine that we can put in it for now so we can enjoy the bus, and then Willie can slowly focus on re-building the one we have now for a back up.

Otherwise, there is not much going on.  I've been in a writing slump. As much as I've wanted to get on here and write a post, I just couldn't muster the motivation and time to do it. Hopefully, this time I can get more regular.  I'm still learning to manage my time and commitments with the semi-new business and family life.  I've deserted half of my friends, and poor Addie went through a few weeks of lock down due to me just forgetting that we needed a life!

I think that's about it for an update.  I mean it's a "quick-get-you-up-to-date" sort of update and not a long drawn out story about the last few months that would take a super long time to read and write, but hey, I wrote a blog post.  I'm proud of myself!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Putting Her to Work..

Well, Addie's second birthday has come and gone.  One of her gifts from us was a toddler camera.  I'm happy to say it's given her hours of entertainment!

For instance, the other day I had several items to photograph for CUTEure Creations and a very busy, hyper toddler to manage outside as well. We've been having a hard time dealing with her running away from us as soon as we're somewhere she can't run away (parking lots, busy shows, the mall, the road).  I'm still trying things out to figure out how to deal with it, so right now I just try to keep her distracted and busy when we're in those situations.

While photographing items, I started having problems with her trying to run to the ditch (next to our very busy road) so I decided to put her to work

Taking photos, of course! She had a blast, and mimicked everything I did, from kneeling for a good angle, to adjusting the products, to checking the photos on the camera to see how they looked.

It was so cute.  I think she's earned herself a job!

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's So Quiet...

I hadn't realized until last night quite how silent it's been around here.

Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about that :-/

Just let me get through Addie's birthday party this weekend.

Then there are 3 more shows left in my season.  2 the weekend of the 20th, 1 the weekend after Thanksgiving.

After that, I should be back!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Bad Post...

To be honest, lately I haven't been in a good place.

I feel sort of invisible. Even when people see me. Even when they talk to me.  I feel like my opinions and my knowledge don't matter. Like I have nothing to bring to the table. 

I feel like I'm clinging to friendships I lost years ago.  I feel like if I didn't make an effort on my end, communication with many people would be non-existent. 

I feel unimportant, and sort of lame.

I feel like it's showing in everything I do now.  In the way I approach situations. In the way I approach friends.

I feel like my stress level is way up from where it should be, and that I snap way too often.

I feel like I want to do something about it, but the harder I try, the more invisible I become. The less people notice.

Thank you to the few who do notice me, and what I have to bring to the table.

Thank you for valuing my opinions and ideas.

Thank you for noticing what I do right, instead of only what I do poorly.

Sorry it's not a happy post.  Sorry it's not poetic.

Sorry it's the first post of the month on a flat note.

It's just something I needed to get off my chest.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Now and Then - Camping with Toddlers

So sorry for the huge delay in blogging.  I really feel like I'm neglecting my dear readers that actually take the time to read!

This month has been crazy hectic with my shop.  The first half of the month was spent in a crocheting frenzy stressing out about show #3 (which was a big bust!), then I went out of town for a little over a week for my show and a trip.  That's right.  It's the time of year for the "H&C" annual camping trip on the coast!  This year, we were camping with toddlers!  The majority of the trip was spent talking about the differences from last years trip.  Last  year, Addie and Loren were just learning to stand up.  In fact, I believe they both stood unsupported for the first time during our trip!  They were just babies then.  We took 10 month pictures of the girls on that trip.

This year, we could barely get them to sit still.  Well, for part of the trip Addie had the flu (fairly mild, though. We thought it was a stomach bug until Willie caught it this week!), but while they were both active and feeling well, it was a pretty fun time.

Here's a few photos to show off our activities and what a difference a year makes with kids.

Addie and Loren in the tent last year

Addie and Loren in the RV this year
Addie and Loren playing on the beach last year

Addie and Loren playing on the beach this year

A comparison photo!
We knew during our trip that the differences were major, but until I looked back through photos from last year, I hadn't realized exactly how much had changed, or how much had stayed the same.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This Must be Why They Call Me Crazy

Have you ever noticed with your mom friends that there seems to be 3 different groups of moms?

You've got the Group One over "here" that has 2 or 3 kids already, all close in age, along with the moms that plan to have 2-3 kids within the next couple of years.  They think this is a great idea.  They think "this way, I can get all of the diapers, sleepless nights, childbirth, and pregnancy over with all at once and move onto the fun times." Before I had Addie, I was part of this group.  This group that wanted to get this part of child raising over with all at once.  It's not that they don't enjoy this part of being a mom, they just want to go through all of the stages as few times as possible. 

Group Two, on the other hand, is over there on the other side of the room.  They've each got 1 toddler running around.  This is the group for only children, right? Wrong.  Well, technically they are still the only child, but Mom plans to have more.  Eventually.  You know, once their first kid gets a little older, a little more independent, maybe even starts kindergarten.  Group One looks at these moms like they are crazy.  They think "how could you want to start completely over after so long?!" In a way, they are right.  Essentially, you are starting over with a new baby once your mind and body are out of practice.  There are the pro's to this group, though.  Your body has more time to heal, the older child can "help out", you get some one-on-one time with the new baby to bond while your oldest is at school.

Then, you've also got Group Three. This group has been there, done that, and got a post card.  They don't need to go back.  They're done.  They've got their child.  He's perfect in every way, how could they possibly try to create perfection twice? Okay, maybe that's not really what they're thinking, but for one reason or another, they only want their one child.  Group One and Group Two don't understand it, but hey, who are they to say how to live your life, right?

Before I had Addie, I was part of Group One.  I figured it would be easier, they would be closer, and I could be "done" all at once.  This seems to be the most popular group.  Maybe that's because people are having kids later in life.  Maybe it's the high-powered careers more women have. Who knows.  All I know is that this is the going thought nowadays.

After having Addie, though, I slowly found myself joining Group Two.  I just wasn't ready to do it all over again.  As the time came to start talking about "trying" again, Willie and I both found ourselves avoiding it at all costs. Neither of us were ready.  We decided to wait a few years.  We're young, after all.  What's the rush? We'll wait until we're ready and we've got more income.

Once I started sharing this idea with others from Group One, I started getting these looks.  Looks that silently say you're crazy.  Out loud they would say something like "Oh wow! I don't know if I could do it all over again in a few years. I really want my kids close in age."  Sure, I know what you're saying behind those words.  You know what though? I'm starting to believe you.

Maybe I am crazy.  Maybe all those moms in Group One actually had it right, because let me tell you.  Once you hit those terrible two's, you kind of don't want to start over.  At least I don't.

Addie isn't even one of the really bad kids, either! She just won't do time outs.  Trust me.  We've tried it all, from standing behind her to make her not move, to re-starting a timer, and even using her bedroom! It just hasn't been working.  I have her say "sorry" and talk to her about her time out when she's done.  She won't do it.  When she does say sorry, she turns around and hits/pushes/bites immediately afterward so she ends up in another time out.  I know right now some of it has to do with her molars, but come on!!  How much more of this am I expected to take?! It's just been pretty intense.  We've had some discussions lately and we're trying some new things-one of which is less working during the day and more Addie time.  So far, it seems to be helping.

Either way, the thought of another toddler right now sort of scares me. If Addie is one of the easy ones, what will I do if my next kid is one of the hard ones?!  Maybe this is why they call me crazy.  Maybe they knew all along that the reason Group Two is so unpopular is because after the terrible two's, those moms start joining Group Three without batting an eye.  I know I sure find them appealing! I mean, hey! Two parents vs. One kid.  That sounds like a fair match to me!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Discipline for the Three of Us

If you read my blog semi-regularly, you've probably deduced that I do not just show the perfect side of my life.  I feel like this is the place I want moms to be able to come and see that they are not alone in their parenting struggles.  So, here I am, about to share my newest and most frustrating parenting struggle.

Addie won't take a time out to save her life.  I tried everything to get her to realize that this is not play time.  She just continues hitting/biting/screaming/throwing as soon as she gets out, because apparently my reaction is funny.  I've tried different reactions: calm and collected, angry and yelling, sad and hurt. 

We've been battling the time out issue for a few months now, right around the time that it became necessary to teach her right and wrong.  All of my other mommy friends seem to have flown through this transition easily, giving me the advice of "If she runs out of time out, just put her back and make her stay there until her time is up."  and "All kids run out of time out at first, you have to teach her that that is not okay, even if it means you have to stand behind her the first few times and make sure she doesn't move."  The thing is, even after months of time outs, Addie still runs right out.  Nothing I have done will make her stay in time out.  Eventually, we came up with the rule that after she ran out of time out 3 times, we put her in her room with the door closed until her time out was done.  This worked really well for awhile, but it may have hurt us in the long run.  Now, Addie can reach on top of her shelves and dresser, and can open the door and come out. That means even if I put a spinny-thing on her door knob or stand on the other side holding the door closed, she can still get into things to entertain herself in her room.

When good girls stay in time out, they get special tattoo stickers as a reward! Can you be a good girl in time out?

Tonight though, after a friend seeing just how out of hand our time out situation is, I had to come up with a new plan. I mean, she recommended that I watch Nanny 911.  Things can't be so out of control that I need Nanny 911.  They just can't.  I can't be at that point, because that means I'm one of those parents that doesn't have control of her child. I can't be that mom.

Once Addie went to bed, I opened up the trusty Google.com website and typed in "toddler time outs".  A whole slew of websites came up, so I decided to go with the site I trusted in the newborn stage.  I needed something that wasn't a parenting forum, I just wanted advice this time straight from the experts.  Advice from other parents hasn't worked so far in this situation, so why turn to virtual moms, right? (no offense).

I found this article called "Time-Outs: How to Make Them Work".  It looked perfect, and you know what? It may be perfect.  The second paragraph almost made me cry tears of relief that I wasn't alone.

Because toddlers find it hard to sit still, trying to make your little one stay in a certain place for a prescribed length of time may well disintegrate into a chase scene. Here's what happens: Your child runs away from his time-out spot. You catch him, then struggle to make him stay in one place. You threaten, he laughs, delighted with this new game — or cries, frustrated by the requirement. You grab, he bolts. Meanwhile, because he has a short attention span, your toddler forgets why you wanted him to sit still in the first place. Instead of helping your child regain his self-control, you find yourself in a power struggle.

This is it! This is exactly what happens in our house! So it is normal!

According to the article, this scene means that your child is not developmentally ready for a traditional time out.  Instead, they recommend things called "positive time out," meaning you just remove them from the frustrating situation and have time to calm down together.  Things like reading a book or doing a puzzle or listening to calming music.  The main goal is to allow both of you a minute or two to calm down and stop focusing on the "bad" activity.

The article reminds you right away that time out is not a punishment, but "an opportunity for your child to learn how to cope with frustration and modify his behavior."   It stresses that this is a more positive way to discipline and teach, rather than yelling and spanking which are considered more negative attention.

I honestly don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.  It fits so well with how I've parented from the beginning.  It will take some patience and practice, but Willie and I have come up with a new game plan.

Based on what we read tonight, we are going to give up on the traditional time outs for now.  When Addie gets out of hand, we will try reading a book or going to another room for some quiet time together first.  We will both practice not yelling and raising our temper at her over typical toddler behavior, because we don't want to encourage negative attention.

In return, we have also talked and decided that we need to go back to taking a more active role in our parenting.  I think during all of our hard times during the first year, we got so excited once Addie could entertain herself that we both backed away and "took a break."  I feel awful admitting it, but often at home I just leave Addie to her toys and do my thing, be it shop work or chores around the house.  I get frustrated when she wants attention from me, and tell her to go play.  I toss out some crayons or crackers and continue what I was doing. 

Working from home-especially working on my own business-is very stressful and time consuming, and it's beginning to show.  My life feels a little out of control lately in many aspects.  It's time to get back to the basics.  I'm going to be setting times to work, and times to play.  I'm going to come up with activities to do with Addie, and we'll have some structured play time in our day again.  After all, what is the point of staying home with my daughter if I don't take the time to enjoy it?

So, I felt like I needed to lay all of this out in the open.  This is my new promise to myself, and I feel like laying it all out here on my blog will help hold myself accountable.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Well, I promised myself (and all of you), that I would learn to knit.

I got started shortly after that attempting a pattern for a rolled brim beanie.  Let's just say it was a major fail.  Not because I can't handle knitting or anything, just because I didn't have the right needle, and-quite honestly-I may have been getting ahead of myself on stitch techniques.

The pattern called for a stockinette stitch, which is where you knit one row, turn, and purl the next row.  For those of you that don't know the first thing about knit, that's when all of those little "v" stitches line up on one side.  Really, this should be simple.  I mean knitting is two stitches.  That's it.  That's all I need to learn..well, apparently that and how to count and pay attention.

My problem with the stockinette stitch was that I kept losing track of what row I was on.  Was I supposed to knit or purl? Who knows! So it got really random.  After about 15 rows I looked down and noticed that my hat was taking on a pattern that it shouldn't have. Hmm...I ripped out the rows, and then realized I didn't know how to pick the stitches back up and start from there.

I ended up giving up the hat, swearing that I would come back and work on it again after my Port Townsend show.  Well, that show was last weekend!

I did pick up the knitting needles again, I'm proud to say.  Only this time, I decided to start with a very basic knit item.  A garter stitch scarf.  I learned the process through my Stitch n Bitch book.  It's actually the first thing she suggests you make...but you know me!

So, even though I decided to go back and do this very basic pattern that I was sure I would hate by the end of it, I still chose to make some changes.  Again, you know me!!  I can't make anything as simple as it should be.  The pattern in the book called for huge ginormous needles and extra bulky yarn, neither of which I had on hand.  I'm not about to go out and buy knitting supplies until I get into it.  I didn't with crochet, and I won't with knitting!  So, I decided to go with some yarn I had left over from making some newborn cocoon bowls and size 10 needles instead.

For this scarf, I wanted something big and bulky.  I cast on 30 to make this scarf extra wide, and I am now knitting every row in a garter stitch.  I'm so proud of myself! As you can see, I've even changed colors.  Successfully.

Now the weather just needs to cool off some so I can wrap this around my neck and enjoy my hard work. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CUTEure Blog

Finally! My new blog is up and running.  Feel free to head over there and "follow." I'll love you for a super long time if you do :)



Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Do I Do it All?

Wow, it's been two weeks since my last post.  Well, so much for that goal of writing at least twice a week.  That lasted...uhh...a week?

These days, I keep finding myself thinking of that part in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  You know the part where Hermione breaks out the necklace that let's her be in multiple places at once and travel backwards in time?  I so need one of those.  Maybe then I would write more.

You see, I want to blog.  Really and truly.  I've blogged in my head so many times the last few weeks and then written on my mental checklist, remember to blog.  The only thing is, I forget what I wanted to write by the time I get a chance to really sit down and think.

I get very few "free" hours in my day.  More than some, less than others. Unfortunately, during those few "free" hours, I have so many things I want and need to get done that I've had to prioritize way more than I'd like.  I mean, really.  Addie falls asleep and Willie runs off to work and I feel like my brain is going to explode with the to-do list that pops into it at that very moment:

I've got to get as much stock pumped out as humanly possible before August 21st, but oh wait I have all of these new ideas in my head that I want to make, don't forget you really need to blog.  Oh but your etsy team blog is being neglected as well, and you still haven't made a team treasury for this month. Don't forget Mom's birthday! Weren't you going to make her some booties? Mt. Fold-Me is starting to rumble...I fear it will explode off the couch any day now, but what's that smell in the kitchen? Man, I guess I need to do the dishes.  If I'm going to do the dishes I should really give the kitchen a really thorough cleaning.  I mean, then I could go ahead and vacuum too...oh wait...I'd have to clean up all of these toys first. Where is the cat? I hope he didn't get out again. Oh boy speaking of getting out, we've got to get groceries I should probably make a list.  It looks nice out today, it would be a great day for Addie to wear that dress that I never madeScrew it. Nap time's over now anyway.

A lot of people ask me how I do it all.  You know, the blog, the pictures, the house, the kid, the cooking, the cleaning, the baking, the business, the play dates, the social life, the entertaining, the hiking trips, the marriage....

Truth is...I don't.  I don't even make a dent in it all.  Most days it's just priorities and what my mom calls the "flight of the bumblebee" when I realize company is coming over.  I take care of the priorities; my daughter, my husband, my business, and living our lives.  The rest of it I usually just hope will fall into place on it's own.  Usually it does...at least somewhat.  Just...don't surprise me with a spontaneous visit.  That would just be embarrassing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

No TV in the Bedroom!

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a TV in my bedroom.  I've always watched it at night, despite all of the studies that say you sleep better without noise and light (dare I say...duh!).

Anyway, I've always had one.  There was a really small amount of time while living with Willie before he went onto night shift where I didn't use the TV since he "couldn't sleep."  He was with me though.  I wasn't alone, so it didn't bother me.  There were also those few weeks where Addie slept in our room as a newborn and we didn't use the TV.  Otherwise though, when I'm alone, it's become a sort of security blanket.  I turn on F.R.I.E.N.D.S and snooze away to laugh tracks, jokes, and familiar voices.  I don't know what it is.  I swear I'm not obsessed with the show, it's just the only show I enjoy that doesn't have an irritating sound track on the disk that wakes me up (at least most of the time).

After awhile, Willie got used to it.  He dealt with it and learned to sleep through the noise and light.  It's actually proven beneficial for him.  Sleeping during the day with a toddler on the loose would probably be more irritating without some sort of tolerance to back ground noise.

Unfortunately,  my sleep has been erratic at best lately.  I wake up tired and sore. I toss and turn all night on my Tempur-Pedic mattress and pillows.  I've been feeling it more and more with all of the extra pressure I'm putting on myself lately.  This past Wednesday, while Willie was off of work, he asked if we could just not turn the TV on.  Apparently he's been sleeping poorly as well.  So, the TV stayed off. All night.

The next night-Thursday, Willie was back at work.  I decided to give it a try again.  Wednesday had been the best sleep I'd had in months.  It was either the Tylenol or the TV.  I was doing an experiment.  I had an amazing nights sleep!  Again!  Last night was night 4.  It's getting easier.  I actually read a bit before bed to clear my mind.  I don't wake up all night to re-start a disk when the music gets old, or turn down the TV if it's waking me up.

I'm so proud of myself! Twenty Something years old and I finally got rid of my "security blanket." I can really, truly be alone while I sleep.  I even took the DVD player out of the bedroom so I don't get tempted.  We have no cable hooked up in that room so really DVD's would be my only option, so I know I'll stick with it now!

I am just so proud of this personal growth to be able to quit a habit so ingrained in my routine so easily.  I mean, seriously, I don't remember ever not having a TV in my room, even when I lived at home.  This is really something.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Address

I got tired of having my blog address say thecruisefamily.blogspot.com, so while it's minor, I decided to change it.

My blog address is now http://www.twentysomethingangie.blogspot.com

I've already changed the code in my button accordingly, so just grab the code again on the right hand side if you've got my button on your blog!


Learing a New Craft

In college, when people would ask me my major, I always told them I was going to be a professional student. I  just can't help myself.  I need to learn new things, and as a stay-at-home mom, that's not always easy to do. 

As you know, I took matters into my own hands not too long ago to learn the art of crochet.  Now, I've taken matters into my own hands again.  Last night, I finally picked up some knitting needles.
Even more special, these knitting needles are from the same grandmother that taught me the basics of crochet! You know, the one I became sort of estranged from for years?  I saw her on my most recent trip and we got along beautifully! In fact, other than immediate family, I saw her more than anyone else this time.

I told her about borrowing needles from a friend and bringing them on my trip so I could learn...and then about how I forgot to bring yarn.  Unfortunately this was on my last day, because she said "Well, I have yarn!" Boo. I could have learned weeks ago and been a knitting master by now.

Anyway, while talking about knitting, she told me that while she's taken back up crochet since Paw Paw passed, she just can't get herself back into knitting and doesn't enjoy it anymore.  She then proceeded to take down an entire case of knitting needles and give them to me and told me to get good use out of them.

Now, I had to make myself learn!  Since then, I've just been waiting for Stitch n Bitch to be available at the library.  I didn't use her books while learning to crochet, but a friend of mine did and the things she knew right from the beginning amazed me.  She even taught me some things (after I taught her to make a slip stitch).  I just felt it would be worth it for me to check out the book while I was learning since it's so informative.

Last night, I tried my hand at knitting for the first time. It was pretty easy to cast on.  Sure, it took some practice, but after doing a couple, I started getting faster and more comfortable already! So I decided to try real knitting.  That was a bit more awkward.  I had to end up watching a video tutorial on Youtube, but I finally got it.  I spent about an hour after that undoing all of my work and re-doing it. Once I was comfortable and satisfied with how my stitches looked, I started working on rows.  I got about 4 or 5 rows in last night practicing.  It's starting to feel more normal and rythmic like crochet does.  

I'm so excited to really learn and start making things.  Since this time I have a store and a daughter to focus on, the learning process may go a little slower, but before you know it, you may see a knit hat in my store!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Who here loves garlic?!

We spent most of yesterday evening harvesting about 30 lbs of garlic with our neighbor (landlord) and get to keep two braids of garlic for ourselves! More if we end up needing it. Gardening sure is rewarding...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Personal Struggle

Tonight, I am at a crossroads.

I have no idea what to do.  In case you didn't know, we have 2 cats.

There they are.  The fat gray one is Pepper, and the small calico is Simone.  She's my baby.  I've had her in my life longer than Willie and Addison.  Heck.  I've had her in my life longer than both of them put together!  Pepper, well, he's a "rescue" but still a major part of our family. In fact, he's our "family" cat, playing with Addison, giving her love, sneaking into her room (but still acting like a tough guy). Simone, well, she just hides a lot and runs away when Addie comes into a room.  She shows up for love usually around now when the house is quiet and peaceful and nobody is awake but me.

I love them.  Honestly, though, I'm tired of them.  Pepper has bladder issues that have cost us over $1,000 since November.  He's now on prescription food for urinary crystals and has developed a nasty habit of peeing on the floor.  We were doing really well in the new place for such a long time, but when we went on our trip, he took it back up and now we can't get him to stop.

Simone is just... a bitch.  I'm sorry.  I love her to death and she's my "baby girl" but she's mean to Addie and ever since Addie was born she has also had a problem with the litter box.  I think it's retaliatory.  I've done everything I can think to do.  Addie has never intentionally been mean to her and has rarely even had a chance to be accidentally mean to her.  She can't get a chance to learn how to be nice to Simone.

These issues alone were not enough to make me question keeping my beloved cats.

Addie's allergy test results showed that she was highly allergic to cats.  At the time, we hadn't noticed any major symptoms that we could for sure blame on the cats so the allergist told us to just watch her and see because she may grow out of it. 

Weeks later, Addie is doing amazingly well.  Almost no rash. We cut out peanuts completely and we're limiting eggs and soy, watching her closely after each serving.  She's been fine.  She even had scrambled eggs, and while her mouth got a little red during breakfast, it didn't cause a rash.

Here's the crappy part.  Yesterday afternoon, Addie was hanging out in the house in her diaper (what?! It was 83 degrees in here!) and suddenly broke out in an awful, swollen, itchy rash.  It was so sad.  She kept saying "Itchy, mamma!" and scratching.  No eggs. No peanuts. No food in general other than pita chips which are totally safe for her.  Only explanation? Yep. The cats.

What now?! Sure.  They are a P.I.T.A. most days lately, but do I really want to give them away? Is it even an option at this point? Now I'm fairly certain they have been the problem all along. I'm not sure how willing I am to continue putting Addie through these rashes knowing what is causing it.

This is such a struggle for me.  On the one hand, I will feel like I am abandoning my pets if I give them away (and yeah, right, like Simone will adapt well to that).  On the other hand, am I betraying my daughter and affecting her well being by keeping animals around that I know she's allergic to?!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

CUTEure Changes

Since I have yet to officially launch and exclusively CUTEure blog, I'm going to post this update here for everyone. 

Coming up soon, there will be some small (but kinda big) changes in my shop that I wanted to point out.  First, and most importantly, I will be doing away with a good deal of the larger, boutique style hair bows I have for sale.  I will still be making them though to sell locally, and I'll even post photos on my Facebook Page.  If you happen to be a "fan" and see a bow you would like to purchase, please just let me know through a private message or a comment and I will happily list it as a custom order!  I would just like to get away from having my full inventory on etsy since they are my least popular online item (but most popular so far in person).

Things that will still be for sale in my shop right away include:

Crochet Flower Hair Clips.

Pom Pom Hair Clips.

and most of my simple girls hair clips and bows.

Another change you may have already started seeing is that I am veering away from "made-to-order" items, and focusing more on having everything in stock and ready to ship out the next day (or even same day if it's early enough).  All of my hair accessories have always been in that last category of ready-to-ship, but my crochet items have been made-to-order for the most part since I opened my shop. 

I hope to have this change completed by mid-August, but bear with me.  It takes awhile to get that many items crocheted in each size! Currently, if you see an item in my shop and it has a sentence like this one:
"These booties are available from infant size 1 to youth size 6 (3.5"-9") Just specify in a message to seller during check out what size is needed."
Or this:
"Just specify in a "message to seller" during checkout.

This hat can be made in the following sizes:

Baby - 6 to 12 months
Toddler -12 months - 3 years
Child - 3 - 10 years"

That means the item you are about to purchase is made-to-order. 

If you see a listing like this one, then the item you are about to purchase is ready to ship:
"These booties will fit a child's size 6.5-9. Due to the nature of crochet, there is some stretch. If you need a different size, please check my other shop listings. If you cannot find your size, feel free to contact me for an order."

Of course, this does not mean that I will no longer accept custom orders.  I will.  Happily.  I am just preparing for the holidays, and preparing to do more in-person selling in the future.  This will speed up the purchase process for most since it has the potential to eliminate some confusion with sizing. It will also help me keep track of what you are interested in and what I should make more of to keep everyone happy.

I hope this information helps some of you with your purchases! Thanks for checking out the post and keeping up-to-date on my CUTEure news! Happy shopping.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You're Lucky, You Know..

What is with this phrase? I must say, nothing irks me more than being told I'm "so lucky."

You're so lucky you've lost so much weight after the baby....I guess you haven't seen my food journal or my daily weigh ins that I did for months.

You're so lucky you got out of that little hometown of yours and have you're own life...You could do it, too, if you wanted to badly enough.

You're so lucky you're able to stay home with Addie every day....Read my response to that last comment.  Same applies.

You know what? I'm not lucky.  Willie and I work really, really hard for what we have.  We make a lot of sacrifices for me to be able to stay at home with Addie.  It's what we wanted and it's what's important to us.  It's not something that just fell into our laps.  It's not an opportunity that was given to me for no reason.  It's what I've wanted forever.  I never knew what I wanted to do with my life other than be a mom and be with my kids, so that's what I'm doing.  Willie works harder because of it.  We do without a lot of things...like a second car, our own home, dinners out, dates, babysitters, and so many little things. Addie practically lives in hand-me-downs.  She doesn't have a ton of toys(although she has a great imagination and love for the outdoors).

We're not lucky that we moved across country, either.  Again, it's something we wanted, and worked hard for.  We sacrificed a lot to be able to do it.  We're still sacrificing. Willie is back in school because he couldn't find a job in his field when we moved here.

Lucky is being given a house, like both my sister and cousin have experienced.  Lucky is being given cars left and right, or being given money to live on every day.  We're not lucky. We're just hard workers.

Many of our decisions were followed by overwhelming fear that almost made us turn back, but we did it.  I quit my job and we  live off of Willie's income (at least until my business takes off and I can help supplement) and it's hard most days.  We weigh each purchase like it were a major purchase.  Even better (and scarier, and harder), we do it completely alone.  We don't have our families to lean on for support.  Grandma isn't coming over to babysit for free so I can get housework done or go grocery shopping in peace.  I can't remember our last date night.

Don't get me wrong, all of it is worth it.  I love my life.  I get stressed just like anyone else, but I still love it.  I don't regret a single decision we've made in the last four years- okay, maybe I regret the decision last night to not go buy ice cream.  If I were to do it all over again, I'd probably make the same decisions.  My point, though, is to please quit telling me I'm "lucky." Luck didn't have anything to do with where we are now.  Recognize our hard work for what it is.  Hard.  Know that we stress out about money and what the future holds just as much as everyone else, but we do it because we've already weighed the pros and cons and know we can get through it.

I'm not lucky.  I'm just determined, and very, very stubborn.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Sisters Wedding

On my trip to Texas last week, I got to watch my little sister get married! It was a really sweet back yard wedding. Since it was such a small affair, she asked if I could take some pictures for her along with our uncle so she could save money on a photographer. I thought I'd share a few here. I'm so proud of her :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Green Cleaning Tip of the Day: Stinky Laundry

Are you like me when it comes to doing laundry? You know, you wake up intent on getting all of the laundry done, and then on that last load everything just falls apart and you get exhausted and just forget to put it in the dryer? Then a few days later you start wondering what that smell is in the laundry room?

What do you do in those situations? I mean, just re-washing them still leaves the clothes with a bit of a musty smell that you don't notice until you get dressed.  I've learned a trick that I think can help!

Now, when I forget that last load of clothes for more than a few hours, I re-run the machine (at least a rinse) with warm water, a splash of distilled white vinegar, and a drop or two of your favorite essential oil-I use Eucalyptus.  Works every time.

Hope this helps someone else like me!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Featured Guest Writer!

This past month, I contacted another mommy blogger on Twitter who was looking for guest writers on her blog.  I've never done a guest post before and thought it might be fun.
TFTC button

Tales From The Crib is all about stories from the front lines of motherhood.  It will include birth stories, sick stories, funny stories, learning experiences, the works.  I chose to include my birth story for all to read. You can check out all of the Tales From The Crib posts by clicking the picture above.  My story is here.

When I Said "Traveling", This Isn't What I was Talking About

As many of you know, we recently visited family in Texas for a week.  We do this pretty frequently, actually.  I think this was our third trip to Texas in two-and-a-half years.  We've also flown a couple of times to California in that time as well.  That's it.

This luggage was part of our wedding registry.  When picking it out, I had just come back from a month-long trip to Europe, in which I spent 2 weeks in Dusseldorf, Germany, and two weeks in Cabo Roig, Spain.  During that time, my old luggage went through hell and back.  I got it off the baggage carousel in Houston with a bent frame, a gimpy wheel, and writing from top to bottom (from various bus drivers and customs workers).  The luggage I brought on that trip was fairly cheap and rather small for a month-long vacation.  So, I registered for this set with all of our future travels to far-away countries in mind.

As you can probably guess, that's not really what happened.  Instead what happened was we got married, found out Willie was leaving the Air Force, got pregnant, and moved across country flat broke.  All within 6 months (give or take).

Now, all of our traveling revolves around college schedules, cheapest flying times, and holidays.  We go to two places.  Places we've seen a million times before.  Places we know like the back our our hand...or at least we used to.  The point is, it's nothing new.  It's nothing exciting.  I always swore we'd travel a lot. I wanted to see everything. Everywhere.  What happened to that?

Why am I not drinking Sangria in Spain or touring the Louvre or eating real Chinese food?

I'm nostalgic for that life.  I love the life I have, but I miss the life I almost had.  I want to take Addie with me there.  I want to take Willie, too.  Yet again, here we are, left waiting for our lives to start. Waiting for school to be over. Waiting for things to get a little easier.  A little more fun.

When I registered for these suitcases with traveling in mind, this isn't exactly what I meant, but it's what I got.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Like the End of an Era

This past week, while vacationing in Crystal Beach, Texas, my actions changed the face of my marriage forever.


Playing in the sand with Addie, holding Willie's ring on my thumb (against my better judgment) while he swam in the waves, I dropped the ring.

All of a sudden realized it was gone.  I don't even know the exact moment it dropped. I just suddenly realized it was no longer on my thumb.

It's symbolic, in a way.

We met on Crystal Beach.

Fell in love on Crystal Beach. 

Our parents were introduced on Crystal Beach.

We spent our wedding weekend on Crystal Beach.

And now....one of the rings we said our vows with is lost on Crystal Beach. 

In a way, I kind of feel like we were always supposed to lose a ring there.

It's the end of an era, in a way. I can't believe that ring only lasted two-and-a-half years. Now I have to search for the perfect ring. Again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Allery Update #3 - The Allergist

Note: If you are behind in this story, feel free to read the back posts (in this order) here, here, and here.


I'm a bit late writing this post, but life has been hectic this week.  Understandably, I hope.

Thursday was our appointment with the allergist.  We had had several phone talks with our pediatrician and the receptionist at the allergists office between getting the results on Monday and arriving at our appointment on Thursday morning.  Wednesday night I filled out five pages worth of forms to bring in to the doctor, and read all of their new patient directions-which included not using a strong smelling soap, keeping Addie in short sleeves, giving her a good beakfast, and preparing to spend 2.5-3 hours in the office between skin testing and consultation.

I barely slept Wednesday night stressing out about the testing and the results we may find.  To be honest, everything was still very mind-boggling.  Peanut allergies, egg white allergies, getting rid of our cats, epi pens...all of it was pretty jumbled in my mind.

At the appointment, we talked for a good 10-15 minutes about symptoms I've noticed, foods that she reacts to (which is hard to say since it seems so totally random), and what we've done so far.  Unfortunately (well, fortunately, but not in this instance),  Addie was clearer than we had seen her in weeks!  I say unfortunately, because the doctor couldn't see any rashes other than the small rough spot on her chin that was still healing.
Luckily, he eliminated three foods right off the bat.  According to our initial chat, we do not need to be concerned with peas, potatoes, or rice unless we start noticing symptoms. As far as I can tell, she's always eaten those with no problems (although like I've said, it's hard to tell sometimes when she's breaking out and why because she was always broken out).

He did tell us to cut out all peanut products until she is 3, and then we will re-visit that one and see if anything has changed.  Note to all parents, according to him you are supposed to wait until age 3 to introduce it at all.  I knew it was an allergen, but I thought they were all okay to introduce at 1 if you had no history of allergies.

After that, he told me he really did not see the need currently to do a skin test.  All of her symptoms appear to be skin related, so we can try diagnosing the other allergies using food challenges.  He thinks the most important food to test first is egg whites.  That means no eggs or products made with eggs.  It will be hard, but I hope it gives us a better idea at what we're looking at.  To be totally honest though, I'm a bit jaded against the idea of a food challenge now since our last food challenge left me so sure that it was onion, or garlic, or both.

That does, in some ways, make sense though.  After closer examination, most of the products we noticed a reaction with also had soy as an ingredient.  In fact, most processed foods do. Unfortunately, the allergist doesn't feel that soy is causing the rashes-at least not all of them.  Apparently, the levels for soy were so low it's unlikely they are causing any symptoms.  That and the fact that we've given Addie edamame (soy beans), and served foods with soy sauce with seemingly no reaction.

I still really feel in my gut that there is something to this soy allergy.  Maybe it's not all of it, but it has to be some of it.  After the appointment, I gave Addie some fig newtons. Now, keep in mind her skin is clearer than I have almost ever seen it, so even the slightest reaction is visible, and she did have a slight reaction to the fig newtons.  I've spoken with a few people now that cannot eat soy as an ingredient in processed foods, but do fine with soy in it's natural state-such as soy beans or soy sauce.  It just means anything is possible.

Bottom line, the allergist appointment was someone disappointing, but also a relief. I felt like I was running as fast as I could toward the edge of a cliff all week, but was pulled back at the very last second.  I left feeling somewhat deflated.  All that preparation-mentally and physically-for a 15 minute chat with a doctor that didn't feel there was an immediate need for action.

I was so looking forward to leaving there with solid answers. I wanted to be able to just stop giving Addie the foods that are making her miserable.  I wanted to be done.

Something good did come from the appointment, though.  I'm calmer.  The doctor sees no need for immediate action.  Her allergies are not severe.  Due to this sudden calmness, I've been able to channel my subconscious and really figure out how I feel about all of this.  I've got an action plan.  For now, we're limiting both foods-soy and egg white-and keeping an eye to see what causes reactions.  I'm reading all labels and familiarizing myself with the foods we eat a little more so that when we are ready to do the food challenges in a couple of weeks, there will be fewer slip ups than last time.  Once we get back from visiting family, I'll deal with the rest.  I'll start food challenges.  I'll deal with rashes and a wakeful toddler. I'll cry with her if she gets rashy enough to scratch herself bloody again, or gets hives again.  For now, though, I'm okay with all of this.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Allergy Update #2 - The Test, and the Results

Well, today was the day we've been waiting for.  If you haven't been following my tweets, then here is a little back story for you:

We finally found Addie a new pediatrician-inadvertently we chose an allergy specialist-and got an appointment for this last Thursday.  While I was there I brought up our issues with food and my thoughts on allergies.  I told her all about the rashes, showed her the one around her mouth that is clearing up, and talked about my frustrations with our old pediatrician.  She told me we could get Addie's blood drawn in the lab connected with her office before we left!  I was so relieved and so scared at the same time.

The blood draw was traumatizing for all of us even though the phlebotomist was great with Addie.  I was told we would have the results by Monday (today).  I waited all weekend with bated breath until this morning...which is where this blog picks up.

Our new pediatrician called us this morning (yes! The pediatrician herself called me! Not a nurse or receptionist!) She said she was actually still waiting on the results for the onion and garlic test since those had to be added on separately, but that she wanted to call and update me because Addie apparently has quite a list of allergies already back.

So, here it is, she is highly allergic to the following:
Peanut (what?! seriously?!)
Cats (Our cat is a special needs cat-think we can get someone to take him in?!)

She is Moderately allergic to:
Egg Whites

The following came back in the Low category:
Cod Fish
White Beans

According to the pediatrician, the allergists appointment should narrow this list down some.  She said a lot of the time when kids come back with long lists like this, it can mean a kind of "false positive".  I guess a lot of times your body can show the antibodies for these things but when you are exposed, you don't actually show symptoms.

Nevertheless, an epi-pen was prescribed to us and we were referred to the allergists office.  I called and made an appointment expecting to not have any answers in time for our upcoming trip, but they were able to get us in this week! Even better, although we'll be in the office for 2.5 hours, we'll walk out with test results!

I'll update again when I have more answers.  Right now we're still all processing this information.  It's a lot to take in considering we didn't have any known food allergies in either of our families.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What Do You Do With a Cling-On Toddler?

*Disclaimer: this is a totally random post. It probably does not make much sense, but my brain is mush today. Don't read it if you don't want to hear me vent about my week!*

I'd really love to know!  What do you do when your toddler won't let you walk two steps away? When she won't eat, or sleep, or play, or watch TV?

This past week has been insane over here!  Must be another regression of sorts.

Maybe it's her teeth. I don't know.  I honestly can't even think clearly anymore! When she's awake, 100% of my attention is devoted to her. Carrying her. Reading to her. Cuddling with her. Talking to her. Feeding her.  Yes.  Spoon feeding my 18 month old daughter. 

She's not sick. We just had her 18-month check up yesterday morning and she's totally fine.  She is teething.  She also just went through a growth spurt a week and a half ago. 

So, what do you do when your toddler turns into a cling-on? First off, you get really good at walking around stores with an extra 25 pounds trying to escape from your body.  Second, you find anything and everything to entertain them.  Today Addie got to try her hand at photography.

Not bad, right?

She's also been helping me cook.  A lot.  Spending time with her BFF (Best Friend Forever) has been a lifesaver, but now they are out of town for two whole weeks!

We're going to try some new crafts this afternoon.  I'm thinking home-made play-doh!  Anything to distract her from whatever it is that's bothering her.

We're also working on a new routine to hopefully make our days a bit easier.  So far it has definitely helped with her new strategy of fighting bed time (screaming and hollering to let me know she's angry). 

The thing is, I know there's nothing wrong with her.  Absolutely nothing.  She might be teething.  I know a lot of them have been moving under the surface recently, and I thought she cut at least one last week but it still hasn't come through!  She won't let me look in her mouth though, so I don't know what's going on in there.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.  If you read this, you're a saint!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mint-Eucalyptus Soft Scrub Trial

Ever since I wrote this post, I decided that since I posted so many "recipes" that I'd never tried, I would go through each one and blog about my review of the cleaner.

In all honesty, I have a toddler and a business and lead a very busy life, so please don't expect cleaning posts every week! haha. 

So, in spirit of trying out each of these recipes one by one, last week I gathered all of the supplies and made the mint-eucalyptus soft scrub cleaner listed in the post above.

In case you didn't read that post, or don't remember, here is what I posted about this cleaner:

Eucalyptus-Mint All Purpose Disinfecting Soft Soap for Kitchen and Bath:

Erica says,"This soap can be used for dishes, handwashing, floors, stoves, refrigerators, sinks, and hands. It's mild to the skin but effective enough to get cleaning jobs done. The eucalyptus and mint provide a disinfecting quality as well as a fresh scent; any areas washed with this soap will be undesirable to crawling insects and flies. They'll stay away for quite a while."

5 cups grated castile soap
1/2 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon borax
6 cups hot peppermint tea
1 tsp eucalyptus essential oil

Put grated soap into a 3-quart stainless steel saucepan and add hot mint tea. Simmer for fifteen minute on low heat. Add baking soda, borax, and eucalyptus oil. Store in a labeled plastic jug or squirt bottle. Shake before using.

 So, here's my story on this cleaner.  I bought all of the ingredients-which took me several days because I couldn't find castile soap anywhere! If you are as lost as I was, try looking with soaps!  I only bought 3 bars which turned out to be about 4.5 cups grated. Not bad.  Everything else was fairly easy to find, and I had most of it on-hand already.

The cleaner was fairly easy to make, and made my kitchen smell uh-mazing.  Eucalyptus and mint has always been a scent combination that I love so I knew I would love the smell.  The castile soap added it's own very clean scent to the mix and it was just lovely.

I have to start out by explaining that I honestly did not know what a soft scrub was!  The mixture seemed just as thin and water-y as my normal vinegar solution so I tried putting a small amount in a spray bottle and sprayed down all of my counter-tops. Well, I attempted to at least. I got about half way through spraying and the nozzle started clogging up and that's about when I realized my mistake.  I decided to just wipe down everything I'd already done and go from there.  This whole time I was using the solution as a normal spray solution, and realized once I was "done" that I did it totally wrong.  In case you are like me and didn't know, You have to use water with soft scrubs!!!  I had to go back over the entire kitchen rinsing off the counters, but -oh boy- was it shiny and good-smelling when I was done!

The thing that drew me most to this cleaner was the boast that ants and crawling insects do not like the smell and will stay away for awhile.  It's spring here in Northwest Washington and let's just say that ants are inevitable.  My desire to find a way to keep them out of my house without using poisons is a pretty strong desire so this cleaner really excited me.  Unfortunately, the ants I had just gotten rid of the previous week came back with a vengeance only hours after I finished cleaning. They have yet to go away.  Looks like I'll be breaking out the poison again.

Despite the ants and the misunderstanding about the uses of soft scrub, I do still like this soap.  Yesterday I tried it out again in the main bathroom and I think this will become our regular bathroom cleaner now. It was easy to use with running water right there, I felt that it got everything very clean, and -as I've mentioned before- the smell is just delicious.

Over-all, I would say this cleaner is definitely worth the effort.  It makes quite a bit, so really it is much cheaper than the cleaners you can buy in the store.  It also has multiple uses which is great. Have I mentioned the smell? 

Have you tried this cleaner yet? What were your experiences with it?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

98% Self-Taught

Posting in a Ravelry forum tonight got me thinking that maybe I should share my story on learning to crochet.  Have you taught yourself a craft? I would love to hear your stories.

For me, the journey of learning to crochet started when I was about 9 years old.  My grandmother always crocheted afghans and made booties for all of the grandchildren.  Looking back, it seems she always had a hook in her hands, and I was intrigued.

I honestly don't remember the little details on how she started teaching me, but one day when I was about 9, she gave me a set of crochet hooks and I picked out 2 skeins of yarn.  We got back to her house and she taught me how to hold the hook, tie a slip knot, and start chaining.  I chained the yarn all day long, making belts and necklaces and really long cat-toys.

I was due to come spend another day with her a couple of weeks later, so she sent me home with my yarn and hooks and my newly found skill at "crocheting".

All week long I crocheted chains, longer and longer. I attempted to make them perfect-same size, no twisting, big enough that future stitches would not be difficult.

I arrived back at my grandmothers house the following week, and she taught me the single crochet stitch.  I couldn't believe it! I was really crocheting! She showed me how to continue working more and more rows of single crochet with the promise of showing me the next stitch the next time we got together.

Sadly, shortly after that day, a series of events that I won't get into on my blog estranged me from that half of my family for many years.  I hardly saw them or spoke with them.  Holidays were tense affairs and hardly the atmosphere to ask for more instructions.  I never had another lesson or crochet-related gift from my grandmother. I regret now the years that I stayed away.  It could have been such a bonding experience for the two of us.

Eventually, I gave up learning to crochet.  This was before the time of finding everything on the internet (hard to believe, I know).  I sadly tucked my 2 partial skeins of yarn and set of crochet hooks in a box in my closet, telling myself one day I would go back to them when I had someone to teach me.  That day never happened.

Two years ago (almost to the day!), I found out I was pregnant with a little girl and grew determined to successfully crochet her a baby blanket.  I dug out the yarn and hooks I had stored so many years ago, and started practicing my stitching and looking up new stitches on the internet.  I never did manage to make her a blanket, but I know now that I had very optimistic ideas on what a beginning crocheter could accomplish.

This past October, I decided that instead of attempting a blanket, I would try and make her something smaller-a hat!  I had finally found someone with instructions I could follow and chose to create a hat for Addie based off of her video tutorials and patterns.

My first attempt was...well...a disaster.  I had yet to learn what an "increase" was and just kept putting more and more stitches in until I finally knew I must have it wrong!

I started over and followed her video tutorials-which where much easier to understand than most written instructions-and learned what I was doing wrong (Oh! So you only add an extra stitch once every 2/3/4 stitches then go back to one!).  Finally! After 15 years of chaining and single-crocheting, I had finished a project!

From there, I started slowly making more hats, with the hopes of selling them alongside my hair bows in my brand-new (at the time) etsy shop.  I made a few for friends, made a few to list, and Addie's hat collection grew and grew as well.

I thought I was doing really well with crochet when I listed the hats in my shop, but honestly, even just a few months later, I look back and think "really?!"  My style, skill, and techniques have changed so much in such a short time!

Crocheting really has become a passion for me, and I'm so thankful I'm finally getting paid back for all of my hard work.  It is truly rewarding to know that others appreciate my work and see the value and skill that must be behind each piece and make it worth the money they pay.

Have you taught yourself something? What was your journey like?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Drum Roll Please...

Well the day is finally here!  The day that my first giveaway is drawing to a close.

This morning I double checked to make sure no comments got left out of the drawing (they didn't) and went to random.org to find out who would be the lucky winner.

Random.org chose number 9 which is.....

drum roll please.....

Jenn from over at She Says!!

Congrats Jenn! Contact me on etsy for $20 worth of stuff from my shop!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Addie, Look at Your Garden Grow

Addie, have you seen your garden today?

You planted this garden.  You put the seeds in the ground and patted the dirt around them.  You help Daddy every day to water the garden.

Your work is paying off, Addie! Did you see your garden grow?

Soon we'll eat our own lettuce...
..and  strawberries..

...And maybe even corn!

Addie, look at your garden grow!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Blankie for Zoey

It's about time I posted some more crafts for those of you that love this kind of stuff!  This week I have another baby blanket pattern.  The pattern was not made by me, and I will not take credit for the original pattern, only for the changes I made.

Tara, my cousin, was talking to me before the birth of her third daughter, Zoey, and said she really wanted to find a blanket to match her room.  My reply? HAVE NO FEAR!! (no not really).

This blanket was super easy and fun to make, and was a really quick project as far as blankie's go.

Here is the pattern if you would like to try it yourself.  The original pattern was found in the January issue of Crochet Today magazine. The pattern made a much smaller blanket, so I'll type up my revised notes here.

Worsted weight yarn in any color you choose-around 800 yards
Crochet hook size J (6mm)

Foundation Row:
Ch 3,  DC in 3rd ch from hook (dc eyelet made), [ch 7, DC in 3rd ch from hook] 20 times

Row 1:
 Ch 3, turn; working back along foundation row, work shell in each DC eyelet across (21 shells)

Row 2-50:
Ch 3, turn; work shell pattern in ch 1 sp of each shell across. Fasten off.

Bottom Edging:
 Join yarn with sl st in top of last DC on last shell worked on Row 1. Ch 3; working along other edge of Foundation Row, work shell in ch sp of each DC eyelet across. Fasten off.

I had this blanket done in just a couple of days, but for the average crocheter that is not used to working on projects several hours a day, you may want to allot closer to 1-2 weeks to ensure your project is finished on time.

The beauty of this pattern is that you can completely customize it.  You can make it longer, wider, or even put a straight edge on it depending on your tastes. I made this blanket larger by adding extra stitches in the foundation row and working until I ran out of yarn.  The original pattern instructed to make 15 DC eyelets in the foundation row and work 45 rows.  I could have made this blanket much longer than I did, but to be honest, I ran out of yarn and time.

I hope to make another one while being fully prepared that while the pattern called for only 1 skein of yarn, it was a very very large skein!  I had to go in search of more yarn three or four times and finally gave up and said "this blanket is big enough for a newborn!"

In the end, it did end up being a decent size, just not as large as I had pictured in my head.  All in all, it is a great blankie for a new baby.  I hope Zoey enjoys it!

Happy Crocheting!

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