Leaps and Bounds.



My 6-year-old came home from school yesterday with an email address. 

Now, naturally, because he is in first grade, I got no explanation as to why they have one or what they will be using it for at this age (though throughout their school career, I can imagine that they would eventually be using it to email assignments to their teachers).  I'm thinking that for right now they may be using it to learn how to type, sending messages back and forth.  I am in awe that our school district is diving right into technology with such young kids.  I am both really pleased with this and also appalled at how old I am.

First of all, how cool is it that schools can now keep up with technology to where our kids will learn to type via emails instead of plucking out letters on some typing program.  They'll do this using a mobile laptop cart of Chromebooks that travel from room to room.  Additionally, last year in kindergarten, Gus was using an iPad to do reading activities.  He used an iPad before I did.  I don't think about the fact that my kids need to learn to use the same technology as I have - it seems like it's only fair that they always stay a little bit behind the grownups - but the opposite is true because those spongy little minds soak up every bit of it, almost as if apps and email and swiping and touch screens are already hard-wired into their DNA.  What still feels like a new technology to me is just what is to them- it always has been.

My husband pointed out tonight that when we were in school, the biggest technological issue was figuring out that the television and the VCR needed to be turned to channel 3.  Now teachers have to make sure that the computer is properly wired to the Smart Board.  All this advancement makes me wonder how easily I would be able to transition back into a classroom if the time comes.  I stopped teaching six years ago and we had none of the things I have mentioned in this post.  And that's only six years.  It is amazing how rapidly technology has/is changing.

For now I will do my best to keep up and will wait for the day when he surpasses me in technological knowledge, which, as this rate, will probably be relatively soon.  Then he can get frustrated with me the way I do with my own mother, who for years could not program the clock on her VCR.  In the meantime, I think I will write him an email.


Value.


Over the weekend I was set up at a craft show; the weather was humid, threatening rain in the afternoon but I knew that it was a popular event and was looking forward to the day.  As I was setting up my tent, I looked across from me and noticed that out in front of a tent selling mainly jewelry, there was a display of Tooth Fairy pillows.  A crafter's worst nightmare is to be placed directly near someone selling the exact same item.  Even worse: that item selling for a way lower price.  And so I eyeballed the garishly bright felt creations from across the aisle until I could get a closer look.  When I went to move my car I was able to read the sign: "$3.00 each or 2 for $5.00" and I swore a little to myself.



My Tooth Fairy pillows are priced at $15 - five times the cost of the ones across from me - and I can tell you exactly why: each one is a customized labor of love.  Each piece is traced onto felt and cut with scissors.  Embroidering the pocket alone takes about 15 minutes.  The washable ink marks need to be removed from all the pieces.  The pocket needs to be sewn onto the tooth with matching thread, and then tooth needs to be sewn and then stuffed and then sewn shut.  When you buy one of my teeth, you are buying a child a keepsake.

To be faced with a $3 version of what I make (albeit not customized with an initial) is a slap in the face to all makers trying to make a living with their products.  This woman could not possibly be making a profit when you take into account just the materials, not even considering time it takes to make it.  And so you say, well, it's no big deal - maybe she's just selling them for fun and isn't worried about a profit - here is the danger in that: she is dragging down the market for everyone else.  When someone is shopping a craft event, they should not come to expect Walmart prices.  The vendors there are selling things they have crafted with their own two hands.  Cashiers at McDonald's want to be paid $15 an hour to stand there and ring up your burger, while I'm producing something completely unique by hand as perfectly as I can and not making near that.  There is a weird mentality regarding the value of handmade goods.

I stand by my pricing because I know the value of my product - this is not meant to be a cheap throw-away.  And I know it's a good product because almost everyone who walked by my tent either picked one up or made some kind of comment about cute and clever they are.  I also know they are not going to be for every buyer, and that's okay.  The shopper who knows the value of the pillow will be the one to make the purchase, and they will also treasure it and know how special it is.

Are you a maker who sees something similar in your industry?  How do you deal with it?  Do you struggle with your pricing.  Buyers- do you balk at the cost of handmade goods?

Intorvert Mom.



There are days where my energy has run completely thin - to the point where I almost feel winded-  and by the end of the day I am wishing that it was just bedtime already, so the kids can go to sleep and the house can be quiet for a little bit.  So that I can actually think.  I've never been proud of wishing my kids away, for they are wonderful little balls of curious energy, but I get to the point where I just need to be alone.  I always wondered about the moms who love being with their kids every minute and thought it odd that they never needed a break, or loved spending all their time with them doing all kinds of activities.  And then I read this article on being an introverted mom and things became clear.  Another article supported the first.

I've always maintained that I am an introvert (as posted several times here before): I don't like large crowds of people, I don't like making small talk with people I don't know, and while I like to go and hang out with friends, I am often worn out afterwards.  There is so much about me that craves alone time, but I never really thought about being an introvert in relation to having kids.

Here's the thing: when you are a parent, you are always on.  Always.  Someone always needs something, someone is constantly talking to you and you constantly have to acknowledge them and talk back.  It's often very repetitive and roundabout conversations.  There is very little quiet alone time.  Even with small breaks in the day, it proves to be not enough to fully recharge, and some days there are no small breaks in the day, so energy levels dip lower and lower, compounding on itself.  I have always joked that my kids have so much energy because they are taking all of mine, and now I realize I may not be wrong.

I need time to recharge, quietly, by myself, which is why, I realize now, I sit out on the couch with the computer after everyone goes to bed, catching up on emails and anything else that requires me to put longer, more coherent thoughts together, like a blog post or a list of things to do the next day.  That is the only time of the day where I can really sit and think and not get interrupted.  And even though it's busy work and I'm not really being "quiet" the act of sitting and not talking helps slow down my mind and frees it from some of the things it's been holding onto all day, waiting to be remembered.

And for this, I will not feel guilty for happily seeing my kids off to bed and hoping they are worn out enough to go right to sleep.  A break from each other does us all good and we can start fresh in the morning.  Connecting parenting and intovertism is a huge epiphany for me, and from reading the comments on those articles, I'm not the only one.  Having more school time and a regular schedule is going to help a lot over the next coming months and I'm looking forward to seeing the progress I can make on myself.

And We're Back.



Well, everyone, here we are!  Back where we left off on June 17, almost 3 months ago.  And how time flies that I'm actually back here writing to you, still trying to figure out what to say. 
Overall we had a busy, lazy, interesting summer; it was my first summer home with the two kids now both being really, really active and busy and there were days, I admit, that I had a hard time keeping up.  So from that experience, there's actually a lot rolling around in my head from my time off that I'm either trying to decide how to put it into words or deciding if I want to put it into words at all.

Since I haven't quite figured it out yet, I thought the best place to start was where we left off, which was a list of 10 things I hoped to accomplish this summer- a list that I forgot I had even written.  It's always interesting for me to see my chosen goals at a point and then see how I fared at them.  So here we go:

1. Use the free passes the library offers to many local attractions.

Not even close.  We went to the library itself, many times, but never got around to visiting anything.  When it came down to it, traveling even just a short distance with two kids can be exhausting.

2. Get our money's worth out of the season pass we bought for the town pool.

Yes!  We went enough times to justify the pass, if not surpass the cost.  Our frequent trips plus three (yes, three) rounds of swimming lessons and Gus is now a level 3 swimmer, is comfortable in the water, and will jump into and swim in the deep end.  He also taught Greta how to doggie paddle with her face in the water, and she gained confidence for jumping into the shallow end where she can still touch.  Water success all around.

3. Have play dates with as many kid friends as possible.

While this wasn't as extensive as it could have been due to everyone vacationing at different times, we definitely did see a lot of friends over the summer, thrilling the kids, who love to have someone different to play with.

4. Read lots of books with the kids.

Fail.  We read, don't get me wrong.  But we were not reading lots of books by a long shot.  We got a lot of books from the library, and then time would fly and we'd return them, reading most but not always all of them.

5. Take the kids out to local ice cream spots.

Check!  We ended up with a few gift cards from Gus's birthday, so we managed to hit up Ben & Jerry as well as Friendly's with those.  Additionally we went to our favorite farm stand and another amazing local ice cream shop, as well as the local mini golf/ice cream combo.  This may have been the kids' favorite part.

6. Fill my Etsy shop with all the products I have made in real life.

Nope!  More about this in later posts, but the summer was a lot harder than I though it was going to be as far as free time goes and the best-laid plans got pushed to the side.  I did get some things in there and got it cleaned up and organized, but there's still a long ways to go to get it to the point I want it to be in.
 
7. Thoroughly clean out and clean my basement.


Nope.  The poor basement is still a neglected disaster and I'm hoping that being trapped in the house this coming winter will prove to be better motivation.  But let's not mention winter yet...

8. Ditto that on the kids' rooms.

Yes!  We went through Gus's toys and got rid of a ton of stuff that neither he nor Greta have touched in forever, including some things that may never have been thoroughly loved when they first got them.  We moved around some of his furniture to prevent him from cluttering up main walkways in his room, and it's just a better system overall.  Greta's room is still a work-in-progress but we did weed out a few things from her room so far as well.  Her room is also much smaller so there's not as many places to hide things.

9. Take a few driving vacations to places like Cape Cod and Maine.

This one is a no, too.  Like I said, it was an unexpected summer as far as plans and daily tasks were concerned, plus the idea of packing everyone up and then paying for a hotel and meals out just didn't thrill us, so we never really even considered pursuing the idea.  There's always next year.

10. Have Gus keep a vacation journal.


Well, we got him started, I'll give him that.  We even took it on our vacation to Florida and had him work on it there, and then it just didn't happen.  There were days where the two of them would be up early playing, they'd come down to eat, they'd go back to playing contentedly, etc. and I just didn't want to break up their active play to make him write.  I know I probably should have, and if I reminded him he would have done it, but once it was in the cabinet the journal was pretty much out of sight, out of mind.

****

Now that I'm looking back on all the things I had planned to try and do, I'm surprised at what I picked, and knowing what I know now, my list for next year would either be a) totally, completely different or b) I would list off things that I really wanted to do and thought would be very feasible.  Local ice cream we can do easily; a trip out of state not so much.

And I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want this space to become, but, of course, with time being what it is, I am still working on it, along with trying to get products ready for a string of craft shows, as well as making sure kids are ready for school, and so on.  So for now, I'm happy to be back, I'm happy that you stuck around, and I'm excited to see where we go from here.

I've missed chatting with you!  How was your summer?  Did you do all you wanted to do, or is your summer bucket list still as full as mine?  Tell me all about what's been going on in the comments below!

Summer Break.


June 17.  Today is the first official day of summer break for both of my kids.  No more school, no more sports - swimming lessons are the only activity we have planned at this point, no more rushing to the bus in the morning, no more packing lunches.  I have been looking forward to this day for the past several weeks as I have found myself busier and busier with less and less time to cram it all in.

And so, starting today, I am putting this blog officially on summer break as well.  I have been in and out over the past few months as it is, and while I have lots of ideas swirling, I haven't been able to get them out of my head and onto the computer.  So I'm going to stop worrying about it, and if I get a chance to write, I'll do it and save it to publish in the fall.

So what will I be doing on my summer break?  I have lots of things going on and a huge to-do list that I'd like to tackle.

First, I'm happy to announce that I have taken on a studio space with two local maker friends, Vanessa from Queenvanna Creations and Cyn from Riverdog Prints.  We will be sharing a space where we can work out of our houses, have clients in for meetings, and hold open houses.  While we will not have an official retail space with set hours, while we are there working, people are welcome to pop in and shop from what we have available at the time.  We're looking forward to seeing how it all comes together, as we're in the moving and organizing stage right now.  To keep up with us and see everything unfold, you can check us out on Facebook.  We will be operating under the name of Hello! Artisan Shop & Studio.



While that endeavor will take up a lot of time, I have a lot of other plans and things I would like to accomplish:

1. Use the free passes the library offers to many local attractions.

2. Get our money's worth out of the season pass we bought for the town pool.

3. Have play dates with as many kid friends as possible.

4. Read lots of books with the kids.

5. Take the kids out to local ice cream spots.

6. Fill my Etsy shop with all the products I have made in real life.

7. Thoroughly clean out and clean my basement.

8. Ditto that on the kids' rooms.

9. Take a few driving vacations to places like Cape Cod and Maine.

10. Have Gus keep a vacation journal.

I will be back here Tuesday, September 8 with a report of how all this went, hopefully a slightly updated site, new ideas, and a refreshed me.  I will be hanging around Instagram for the next few months, and I'd love for you to follow me over there.  I hope to see you there, and I hope you'll join me back here in September.

Happy Summer!

DIY: Refinish an Old Table.

If there was ever any question about how much I love the exchange shack at my dump, let me allay that with this post.  It is truly amazing to me what I have found up there, left for free for anyone to take- we have gotten bicycles, a large piano keyboard, terra cotta pots, hand weights, and lots more.  But on Tuesday, I came home with a real gem:





It was in rough shape, but it's a generally sturdy piece- and both drawers work- and I could see the potential in it.  The top was badly damaged.  I am all about loving on original wood, and especially in this tone, but it looked like someone spilled some kind of solvent on it because those white spots are stripped down to the wood, so once I really got to look it over I decided to sand it down and spray paint it.  The back piece is a drop-down, and it looked like someone had kept it near a dryer vent because it was so completely full of lint that when I hosed it down in the yard there were clods of it in the grass.




I took the antique brass hardware off and sprayed it with black chalkboard paint that I had bought for another purpose, and I took the drawers out to spray the fronts.  It was when I tipped the drawers up on end that I realized that it was likely that the table was handmade from found wood.  The drawer bottoms could have been from packaging crates.  As you can see in the photo above, the top slat is Fels-Naptha soap, and you can't see it really well but the bottom plank has a signature on it.  Very cool.


Using a sanding block to rough up the surface, I then used Krylon Covermaxx spray paint in Sunrise satin to hide all the defects.  It only took (almost) two cans, which, given the fact that I am not the most awesome spray painter, is pretty good.  I let it dry over night in the garage, and then Greta helped me put the hardware back on in the afternoon after she got home from school.  I think it turned out pretty cute:





The hardest part was getting in all those grooves on those spindle legs so I had to keep going back and doing more, but I love the bold color (it's more salmon than bright pink) and I think it's going to be a really fun piece.  Not bad for a free table and 2 cans of spray paint at $3.67 each!



Have you ever spray painted furniture before?  Anyone have a good free find lately?

10 Things I Grew Up With That My Kids Will Never Know About.



The other day while Greta was playing on the iPad, I realized that there are things in my memory that were kid staples growing up, that neither she nor Gus will ever come to know.  They are things long disappeared, unless you are able to mine them on Etsy or ebay, but they hold dearly in the recesses of my 1980s-child heart.


1. Roller skates.  Not roller blades- roller skates.  The big, clonky 4-wheeled ones with the big rubber stopper on the front.  My kids are never going to know the glory of pushing off and rolling off on a perfectly balanced shoe with training wheels.  Double that for indoor skating rinks with a Partners Skate.


2. The telephone booth, where you could make an in-state call for just ten cents.  Or call the operator for free and ask her the time...over and over again.  Besides, where does Superman change now?

3. Paste.  I couldn't even find a picture when I tried to find one, because no one took pictures of school paste back in the 80s, hanging out in dried up chunks in a little white paper cup.  But I did find this:


Bonus points if you know what this is and remember using it.


4. Winding a tape with a pencil.  My digital-age children will never know the frustration of a cassette tape that has come unwound.  A pencil was the obvious choice of tool for winding it back in, and you had to be careful not to wrinkle it or else the tape was pretty much done for.



5. Floppy disks.  This is what actually got me started on this post because Greta was using an app on the iPad, and I was thinking about how I used to play Carmen Sandiego and Jeopardy! on the computer, and the software would come with the big 5 1/4" floppy and the 3 1/2" diskette, depending on the system.  These are dinosaurs now!


6. Teenie drinks.  I actually found these under "Little Hugs" but I didn't know that was their name- we always called them Teenies.  I can't believe that my mom even let me drink such sugar-filled crap. The red was my favorite.


7. Chiclets.  When I was little, my dad would buy these for me when we went to the hardware store together, for probably $0.25 a pack or less.  I always got the fruit flavored ones and loved to crunch through the shell.


8. Bombardment: The Higher Level of Dodgeball.  Basically every man for himself, unless you are the last man standing and then you must catch the ball.  Schools today do not allow throwing anything in any form, much less approving of pegging each other with a red rubber gym ball.  I loved that game.


9. Library cards with metal.  Long before the days of barcodes and lasers were these humble cards, with a number stamped in metal attached to each card.  They also stamped books with the date so you would remember when to return them, since there were no computers to keep track.


10. Cereal box prizes.  Do you remember the days when you chose your cereal based on what the prize was inside?  And how long it would take you to eat that cereal before you could find it?  Gone are the days of a little bonus in your morning routine.

Do any of these bring back fond memories for you too?  Isn't it sad that future generators will not have such wonders??  What would you add to the list?

It's Funny How Things Change.


Hello, all!  It's been quite awhile since I've sat down to write anything here other than my monthly challenges with Paige.  I've not meant to leave everyone hanging, but I've felt like ideas and time to write them have been fleeting.  Plus, I've got a pretty big project in the works right now that's taking up some time, but there will be more on that soon enough.  For now, I've been thinking a lot about my place on the Internet and how it's changed since I first started connecting with people online.

In late 2010 and early 2011, I was home with one 18-month-old in a mid-renovation house and was going a little bit stir-crazy.  We were still relatively new to the area, and without a job to go to, there weren't many people for me to get to know, especially in the dead of winter when everyone stays closed up in their homes.  I got myself on Etsy, started the blog, and worked on building out social media accounts.  I met people who were like me, who were easy to talk to, who made cool things, and it was fun to chat about nonsense.  It still is, but now it's harder to find the time.

Right now I instead find myself with two growing children- the 18-month-old is almost six and his sister is three and a half.  Our house is still a work in progress, as we've been finishing off one last section of the basement and my husband has decided to take on painting the house this summer, but it's not the frenetic blur of renovation activity it once was.  Now we are wrapped up in more things outside of the house- birthday parties, get-togethers, dinners, playdates.  We know actual people now, and we're generally running off to one place or another, more often than not with things back to back.  In addition, we've started the kids in an activity each- Gus has been going to soccer and Greta is in gymnastics, both one day a week.  They both enjoy it, and for that I'm glad, but part of me also mourns that time at home.

Time at home, though, is now a blur of chores.  I find myself spending large chunks of time out of the house, running from location A to location B to location C, but having lag time in between and having to come up with a location B 2.0 to waste a little time.  It's exhausting being on the run so much and then trying to catch up at home.  Whole days are lost to being out and about, so then whole days are lost to returning the house to order, doing five and six loads of laundry in between clutter cleanup and bathroom duty.  It's a never-ending back-and-forth process.  And we're so lucky to have all of these things to do and the ability to do them, but part of me loves just the idea of being quiet at home and chatting on the Internet.

I'm looking forward to summer, when folks are away on vacations, when we don't have to be out to catch the bus every morning, where we might have a break from the constant motion.  I just looked at my July and August calendar and almost sighed out loud with bliss at the total emptiness of both months.  It will change, but for right now I'm reveling in what could be.

Funny enough, I also notice many friends who I met through Etsy are also online less, or in a different capacity than just hanging out and chatting.  Everyone's lives are in a different place now- moves, kids, new jobs change the amount of time we have to ourselves.  I feel a little better that it's not just me, that it's just life moving forward as it should be, though it does make me sad, for example, to read back on this blog and see names of people who I used to talk to quite frequently having moved on to other things and who have, for all intents and purposes, fallen off the Internet.  I'd like to chat them up and see how things are going but that's kind of awkward.

Then it comes down to what I want from my online time.  I still feel like I am constantly behind and like I am always playing the catch-up game, mostly because that's exactly how it is.  I can't just focus on what I need to do and get it done, and really, I can't, because my life is playing out in 30-minute intervals, and who has time to think in that short amount of time?  I'm hoping that summer will help me to slow down and give me some working time while the kids play in the yard.  I want to try and keep the connections that I've built and continue to interact with the people I've met along the way, but at the same time, I feel like my purpose with the Internet is different now, and I feel a little lost with it all.

How do you feel about the person you were when you first started putting yourself out there online?  Are you in a different place now, too?  For those who don't blog or have a presence on social media- how are you different from where you were just a few years ago?  Are there any noticeable differences?

Catalog Challenge: Crate & Barrel.

Another month has flown by, and it's time again for a Catalog Challenge! Each month, Paige from Little Nostalgia and I take on a catalog and design our dream room using only wares from that store. This month we are tackling Crate & Barrel and we decided to do an office, which I was keen on because that is one space where I generally know what type of pieces I need. But...I had a hard time with this one! I found all the basics but as far as decor goes, everything was just a little too trendy for me. So here's what I'm going with:


 desk // hobby table // chair // cabinet // short cabinet // rug // lamp // kiwi bird

Like I said, I've got all the basic pieces.  The desk is really cool because it has the shelves on the side, drawers, and the top lifts up to hide supplies.  They also offer a hobby table (say what?!?!) where the sides drop down so you can decrease its size down to the center console of shelves and then roll it out of the way.  Yes, I said roll it.  Genius.  Together, my sewing and cutting needs would be taken care of.  Add that lovely cushioned chair to the mix and I would be working happily.

Moving on from there: storage.  I have a ton of fabric and I like to keep it contained on shelves so I can see what I've got, so bookshelves and cabinets are great options.  The taller cabinet that I chose is actually white, and it would be a lovely way to store fabric, plus the doors would catch anything that would otherwise hit the floor.  I like it so much that I may need more than one.  The smaller cabinet is a lovely gray tone and would be perfect to hold my computer, printer, and packaging supplies.  Win-win.

I love the teal color of the area rug, and I think it would play nicely off the gray in the cabinet.  The desk light is a classic style, and I couldn't resist the kiwi bird, which you can stand up or sit on its bum so it's looking out at its feet. That's where I ran out of steam- the other decor items I would add to the room- a clock, some art, office supplies, etc.- were all too modern for my taste, and so I didn't really feel like I could commit to something that didn't really fit the aesthetic of the room.  They have some really fun decor items, but mostly stuff I would want to put in a living room or bedroom.  So, a minimalist workspace it is.  Maybe I would get more done that way!  And this space came in at just under $4000, which is pretty reasonable in dream-room land.

Make sure to hop on over to Little Nostalgia and see what Paige picked out- her rooms always come together so nicely!

Catalog Challenge: Restoration Hardware.

It's time for another Catalog Challenge, where Paige from Little Nostalgia and I take on one room and one catalog and come up with our dream collection. This time we wanted to go super high-end, so we decided to take a wander through Restoration Hardware to see what we could come up with for a dining room.


I have to admit that this one was hard for me!  I love Restoration Hardware and have spent much time drooling over their catalogs, but I've been trying to stretch myself and add some color to the rooms I pick out and RH is really strongly industrial now and is filled with (gorgeous) neutrals so there aren't little splashes of color like you find in most places.  However, it didn't take me long to pick out some strong contenders. 

First, I like a simple table and chairs.  I love these higher-back ones, but they had so many different complimentary styles, I could see doing a mix-and-match chair thing with this classic table.  The sideboard is everything and more with the storage underneath and the ability to display things on top of it, plus I would hang the mirror the horizontal way right over it.  I thought the settee would be a fun touch along a wall somewhere, and since it's my room, I can do what I want.  I love all of RH's lighting, and it was really hard to pick just one but I think one of these pendants would be lovely, and a row of them would be even lovelier.

As for the tableware, I chose the white square dishes which would enhance the look of any meal I prepared, and I love the riveted flatware.  I have always wanted a set of stemless wine glasses, even though I don't drink wine- I just love the look of them.  The linens have a metallic sheen to them, and the color would go nicely with the thick silver gray rug.  Then I got lost in the decor section but ultimately decided on the wooden trays, cloches, and the amazing book press, all of which would look fancy on that sideboard.

Overall, I think this collection would do well in the imaginary New York City brownstone I've picked out for myself.  The whole thing screams modern old world, and I love it all.  I honestly lost track of the tab for this one, but I know the print is $1200 so just add on from there.  Totally worth every imaginary penny.

Make sure an hop on over and see Paige and drool over what she's picked out.  I'm always impressed with the way she styles her rooms.  Looking for more?  Check out my previous rooms here.

TGIF (whoops. T): Pinterest Style.

Hey, it's Tuesday!  I totally wrote this post for last Friday, but because I am super awesome, I forgot to publish it.  So how about some lovely Pinterest picks to brighten up this gray, gray morning?  (It's super gray and on the verge of rain here- anyone have sun??)


http://www.thuglifeshirts.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/wake-me-up-sorry-shirt?pp=1

This is so me, it's almost embarrassing.  My poor husband and children get tired grumpy mom who does not like being woken from a sound sleep.  At all.  Ever.


You know those really, really good cookies that are cakey and have the icing on top that all grocery stores carry?  Yea.  Here's a copycat recipe, which we may have to make today since I'm on dessert duty for Easter.  (edited to add: I did make these, and they are really easy, but the cookie itself was missing something- more sugar or butter, I think.  I'll make them again, but I'm going to experiment.)

http://310k.biz/attic/2451-attic-photo.html

Can we just ogle??  One of my dream ideas is to finish the space over the garage, and this is just giving me all kinds of ideas.  The windows!  The triple desk!  The pendant!  The bead board!   *swoon*

http://lemonthistle.com/happy-pb-day-and-a-quick-brekkie/

I know peanut butter-banana isn't for everyone, but it is for me, and I'm really interested in it in grilled cheese form.  I actually want to try this with cashew butter, plus it's got honey and cinnamon.  Hello, breakfast!

http://camillestyles.com/uncategorized/transformed-mason-jar-herb-garden/

While I might not mount them this way (though I love the overall look), I would love to plant some herbs in Mason jars like this, just because some of them are floppy!  (Here's looking at you, dill.)  The skinny neck looks like it would add some support.  Since I want to expand the garden anyway, it may be a good time to give it a try.

Which one of this week's picks is your favorite?  Anyone else working on garden plans?  I just planted some seeds in pots with the kids- we'll see how that turns out.  

Local Finds: Connecticut Love.

One of the most fun parts about being a part of a local group is the chance to see what other people around me are making, but also getting to hear about their process of making things, and also getting to see their products at events.  There is so much talent around me, and I really love connecting with local makers.

Each month our group makes curated collections through Etsy called treasuries.  Each member is asked to make one per month, but when I get going I tend to make a few at a time.  I love looking through what's new in everyone's shops online, plus I stretch my search to other Connecticut makers.  Here's what I came up with for March:




Every item shown is care of a Connecticut maker, and I'm always in awe of all the amazing products that are out there from both the makers and the vintage collectors.  See more with live links here, here, and here.

Looking to shop local on Etsy?  It's easy.  When you go to Etsy homepage, scroll down a little and look on the right of your screen and look for the "Shop Local" link:


From there you can type in any location and have fun looking, or search a particular item locally.  It's a great way to see who's making in your community.

Want to vote for your favorite Connecticut collection this month?  Hop on over to the Nutmeg Collective's blog and scroll the top 5.  Everyone's vote is welcome!

Do you shop local on Etsy?  Have you connected with other makers?  Do you have resources for connecting with others nearby?

Thursday Thought: Let's Go to the Beach.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/203491311/beach-photograph-travel-photograph?ref=sr_gallery_35&ga_search_query=travel+quote+beach&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

This has been on my mind so much lately, particularly over the recent school vacations when everyone was posting their travel photos.  The envy and the travel itch set in - and I am not a good traveler.  I hate to be in a place I don't know, where I don't know where to go or what to visit or just how to be.  But I really have been craving warm weather and sunshine and the beach, to the point where I was researching plane tickets to both Florida - hoping maybe we could just make a quick trip to see Nana - and to Turks and Caicos - our honeymoon spot, which we loved so much.



Alas, the airlines clearly didn't want us to fly because the prices were insane, so here we sit, excited over a 45 degree day.  I still would love to get away and do nothing but sit on the beach and read and watch the kids play.  One day we'll be there.

Who else needs beach?  (or mountains, or desert, or what have you)  Who's got the travel bug?

April 2015 Photo Challenge.

If you haven't been over to the Nutmeg Collective's blog lately, I highly suggest that you do just because we have some amazing posts coming out, especially for Nutmeggers.  But today starts something that we can all do: a monthly photo challenge.


My dear friend Patti from Easton Place Designs decided we could all use a little kick of inspiration, so she developed a guide for us the month of April, and we're challenging the members of our group, as well as all our friends, to join in.  The topics are geared toward makers, but they can also be generic.  I would be thrilled if you'd join us.  Post your pics to Instagram and Twitter and tag them #nutmegdailypic so we can see what you've come up with.  This will be my first time trying to keep up with a photo challenge, so I'll be interested to see how it goes.  Wish me luck!

Want to see what gets posted?  Follow the Nutmeg Collective on Instagram and Twitter!

2015 Goals Check-in.

 

I figured it would be a good time to check in with myself and the goals that I set for the new year.  To be honest I totally forgot about most of these.  Things have just been lately, so I'm actually pretty thrilled to revisit this list.

1. Continue to grow Milo and Molly locally and online.  This has been slow growth so far on the Internet front.  I've been doing a lot of work with a local market, which is super interesting and I'm learning a lot about running a market, but then I don't have a ton of time to get actual products online.  I'm hoping to have a good stretch of time in the summer to get the Internets realigned.  Locally, my goods are in three shops with the possibility of two more, so I'm excited about that.  It's slow progress but I'm happy to be getting something done.

2. Return to the blog.  Well, we all know it's been hit or miss lately.  Sometimes I feel like I have a string of ideas and then sometimes there's nothing and I can't stretch my brain to write.  I'm okay with it for now, and I'm happy to know that you are still out there reading.  You can often find me over on the Nutmeg Collective's blog, where our weekly editorial calendar keeps me more in check.

3. Declutter.  Still working on this.  The cold, cold, cold, long winter got me kind of hermit-like, but I've got a pile going of things to move on their way and will slowly be doing that as the weather gets warmer.  I've also started thinking about the spring cleaning that really needs to happen so I'm hoping that will put me in an even better organizing mood.  I would just love to be able to have the windows open when that happens, but guess what?  Snow showers predicted for the morning yet again.

4. Exercise.  I am finally working on this.  The 20-lb. surprise has gotten me in gear, and while I'm still not on a solid routine, I have been able to carve out a slot in the day where I can get down on the elliptical and get at least 20 minutes in, and I think it's helping.  When it finally decides to get a little warmer, I'm hoping to get Casey out for walks, which will be good for both of us.  Plus, I do feel better once I've done it- it's just the doing it part that's kind of lousy.

5. Meal planning and Making My Own.  I kind of forgot that I wanted to work on this, but I have to tell you, part of helping myself get back on track when the schedule goes off the rails is to know what we're going to have for dinner.  If I know ahead of time, I start to make it earlier, giving me time to do said exercise after dinner, etc. etc.

6. Random Acts of Kindness. I actually started off really well with this- I was doing small things here and there and it felt good to do something randomly nice, but again with all my little bits of time being eaten up and becoming a hermit, I seem to have just put this out of my mind.  I'm happy to revisit it now that I'm looking at it and try to get back on the kindness train.

7. Make Things for Us.  Not a thing has been made for the kids since I wrote this.  My goal was to use some of the fabric I've bought for them and to actually make things I've promised them, so I really need to get on this.  My friend Kaci from tinymack has inspired me to try and make Greta a dress of some sort.

So there you have it.  It's amazing how much weather and other things going on can affect so much of your life when you put it out on paper like that.  Goals and objectives that were fresh in my mind at the start of the year went so badly off the rails so quickly!  I never feel pressure with goals I make, but they are obviously something important to me so I need to pay them some attention.  I'm going to add to my list, just to make myself crazier:

8. Plant a Garden.  This is always something we do to some extent.  I usually have pots of tomatoes, but I'd like to get the kids involved in planting peapods, cucumbers, carrots, and things like that.  We have the seeds and starter pots, so I'm hoping to get going on that when they're off of school this Friday.

9. Learn and Use Hootsuite.  Between Etsy, blog, and Nutmeg Collective work, I'd like to get myself organized to help promote myself better.  If anyone knows of a good tutorial post on it, please send it my way!

Finally, my overarching theme of the year is Intention - am I actively making choices throughout my day or am I being passive and letting things happen?  So far it's been both.  I think things had gotten to a sliding point, but I realized it and am now intentionally getting back on track.  It's a continual balancing act.

How has the first quarter of your year been?  Did you set goals, and if so, how are you doing on them?  I always love to root for people who are accomplishing things that are important to them.