Saturday, October 18, 2008

R,I.P Tyson Peace

I don't usually discuss sad things, but today I feel like I need to do a bit of writing to let my sadness go. A few days ago I discovered that a good friend in high school passed away (Facebook is good for some things, not just wasting time). I had kept in contact with Tyson up until I went away to college, but I really hadn't spoken to him for a while. He was a nice guy, though, with a beautiful family.

I just thought that since I can't go to the funeral today that I'd send some memories out into the blogosphere as a dedication to my old friend...

*Remember when we went to the 3rd Halloween Horror Nights at Universal? I was a freshman that year... we partied at the huge McDonalds by Universal... ate candy until we were wired and were some of the first people at the gates when they opened them.

Remember running with the hoard of people towards a haunted house -- the People Under the Stairs? Remember Darryl tripping and falling end over end in an almost comical way before jumping back up and continuing to run?

Remember when Universal still had the cool Bates Motel and Psycho house that they'd use as a haunted house? Remember a pneumatic "Mother" jumping out at you and scaring you so badly that you reached out, stole the wig and took off running? Hysterical. Freaking hysterical. Seriously.

Remember when, completely bored from waiting in line 40 minutes, you stomped on a ketchup packet and it exploded all over everyone? Remember going to Dennys at like 2 am when it closed and stuffing ourselves silly? I still remember HHN 3 as one of the best nights ever -- it was a night full of fun and abandon, doing dangerous stunts (like passing candy between cars speeding down I-4 at 5 pm in the afternoon) because we were young and stupid but never crossing the line.

*Remember my birthday party where you helped my dad with our ac? Seriously, I couldn't even tell you what an air handler WAS at the age of 14.

*Remember going to midnight mass on December 24th/25th one year so we could see the church dressed up in Christmas decor, with hundreds of candles and listen to it in Latin? Do you remember driving back on Alafaya Trail when there was literally *nothing* between Mitchell Hammock and my community (Stillwater) but Publix and a gas station? Do you remember your transmission going?

In the age before cell phones, do you remember having to walk to that *one* gas station with no lights and very little traffic? Do you remember me freaking out completely because I was worried my parents would ground me for being home later than I told them I would be?

*Do you remember playing Nintendo's Street Fighter for hours on end?

Well, Tyson, I remember them.

Rest in Peace, Tyson Peace.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Donation Update!

Thanks to all the generous shoppers at the Southern Women's Show who purchased our items, we collected almost $70 to give to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Beginning with that show, we will continue to donate 5% of every sale to one of two charities (St. Jude's being the second one). I augmented it with a few extra dollars of my own to make the total a clean $100 to help the hungry in our area. While both Heidi and I donate regularly in our personal lives, we are trying to find ways to give *more* to charity, hence the 5% of every sale.

Please keep that in mind and think of us whenever baby needs arise!

November and December will be devoted solely to the Second Harvest Food Bank because of the Thanksgiving and holiday season. If you would like your donation to go to St. Jude's, please note that in your orders! Take care all and don't forget the CONTEST!!!



I'm headed off to bed. I finished the work that disappeared earlier, plus the entire Burp Cloths page... yuck. I hate HTML...

I still have to update the Onesie, Blankets and Holidays pages... but those will just wait until the weekend!!! Check out the site, it's getting better every day! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When, oh when, will I learn?

The answer is, quite obviously, never.

A little known fact -- I used to review items on a site called Epinions for money... Top Reviewer, Advisor, the whole shebang. I'd spend hours tweaking reviews and getting them just right in the Epinions editor... then I'd push the button and watch them magically disappear, never to return. It was a glitch that popped up with the Epinions' system and many writers had taken to writing their reviews in Word or Notepad to avoid potential deletions.

I, of course, lost a few reviews that way. Eventually I started writing in Word, but inevitably I'd forget one day and, inevitably, I'd lose that review.

Now, of course, I've written the *entire* Made By Moms website using basic HTML written in Notepad. Every single page is written by me, which is why it's taken so long to get it up and running. It takes a long time to write code, but this old dog doesn't feel like learning how to use our server's fancy website creator so she does it the hard way. That hasn't really bothered me until today.

Why today? Well, I decided it was time to clean up a few pages. I fixed the Bibs page, adding new inventory and deleting stuff we sold at the Southern Women's Show, then I moved on to Gift Sets, where we have around 15 new sets to add. I literally worked on the Gift Sets page for 2 hours... but did I write it into Notepad first? Oh no, I used the HTML editor IPower's control panel... After I was done, I hit "Save" and it takes me back to the log in screen.

My stuff was lost to the ether forever. Apparently I had taken so long to write the darned html that IPower logged me out... two hours of work and all I had to show was a migraine. Great.

Now I'm staying up late tonight to redo the work... it's a kind of punishment. Anyway, take care all and remember to always save your work periodically... I probably never will.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Ok, before I went on vacation I promised you all a contest. Well, I'm now delivering!!!

I'm posting this a few days ahead of telling everyone on Etsy so you can get your votes in first...

Here's the deal... I'm a huge Gator fan -- I graduated from the University of Florida in 2001 -- and I am psyched about our domination of LSU this past weekend. While I'm not exactly looking past Kentucky, because they are 4-2 losing to the Tide and SC (Spurrier has always owned the Wildcats, sorry, Kentucky), the game against Georgia is going to be huge... not as big as if Florida hadn't lost their minds against Ole Miss and Georgia was still undefeated (though their loss to one of the powerhouses in the country can be excused far more easily than Florida's funk against the Rebs), but it still has huge national championship/BCS bowl implications for the two teams.

So, what does that have to do with the contest? Well, it *is* the contest, in a certain sense. Here's the deal:

*You comment on this post, and this post only, by October 31st (the game is November 1st) and tell me A) who do you think is going to win and B) the total points scored between both teams.

*After the game on the 1st, I'll check this post... In order to win you must be the person who not only picked the correct winner but also came the closest to the actual point total. For instance, let's say Florida wins and the final score is 21 - 10... Whoever picked Florida to win with a the closest to the point total of 31 wins.

*In the event of a tie, the person who posted FIRST will be picked as the winner.

*I will list the contest as an Etsy purchase and the winner should "purchase" it within a few days. I will ship the prize to you as soon as I get the winner's information.

**Please note: This contest is only open to residents of the CONTINENTAL United States. Sorry :(**

So, what do you win? You win a fantastic burp cloth and bib combination in a beautiful blue toile fabric. The fabric has a whitish cream background with blue babies and is a super soft quilter's flannel. The burp cloth has a reinforced cloth diaper on the inside and the softest white minky on the back, while the bib has white minky and a button closure. The picture I have up is of the burp cloth and I will be adding a picture of the bib in about a week -- the picture below is of the burp cloth so you can see the style and quality of the fabric. This fabric is great for a boy or a girl, it really is unisex.

I will pay for the shipping to you, so no worries. I also have additional pieces you can add to this set, such as a small snuggle blanket and extra burp cloths that you (and only you) can purchase at a discount.

Good luck and Go Gators!!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, this prize is worth $12.50 plus shipping... so it'll be worth around $18!! Even if you don't have kids, this would make a great baby shower gift!!! :)

Holy schnikes!

Ok, so seriously, does work ever end? I took yesterday off in an effort to spend more time with my son and detox after the Southern Women's Show in Orlando thinking that my work load wasn't truly that heavy. Ha!

I have to start work on two custom orders, quite a few people have been emailing us after the Women's Show, my husband just asked me to write his business plan *and* it's time for my fall cleaning of the house! Whew!!!

Anyway, the Southern Women's Show was fantastic. There were so many great vendors there (I got my anniversary present from a jewelry designer) and great people just shopping. It was fantastic to hear all the praise for the quality and attractiveness of our products -- they kept asking us who the designer was... Um, it's US! While Heidi and I aren't exactly in our college years anymore, we're still fairly young and people seemed surprised to think that our products actually came from people as young as we are. That was definitely a confidence booster. We've struggled a little on Etsy because there are so many great people selling the same things, but we're starting to carve out a great niche in the Central Florida area catering to the local community. We sold such an amazing amount that we were worried we wouldn't have enough stock for Sunday (thankfully Sunday was slow, lol). I, Jen, want to thank each and every single person who stopped by and talked to us -- you made our show spectacular and we hope to talk to you all soon. We also want to thank everyone who purchased from us -- because of you we are able to donate $70 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orlando. We drew the winner for the raffle (a $25 gift certificate), and I'll be notifying them later on today through email (yay for Titusville!).

We do want to plug three great vendors whom we dealt with over the four day show -- Bucket & Co, Resident Chef and Cherish Bound. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have such friendly and supportive people around us, we were truly lucky to be placed with such wonderful people.

The first is Bucket & Co located at 1804 N. Goldenrod Road in Orlando, FL. The owner is a truly wonderful lady (with a great daughter) who sells soybean wax candles and country Christmas items at great prices. I bought two candles -- Pumpkin Vanilla and Lemon Icebox Cookie that are simply to-die-for. Seriously, especially the lemon one.... it makes me hungry every time I open it to smell it! If you're in the Orlando area, check them out by calling 407-277-8377 and getting directions to their store.

The second is the wonderful creator of Resident Chef foods. Though I can probably thank them for adding another inch around my waistline, I've never eaten such fantastic food that is make-at-home. The best part is that she's not a part of a huge conglomerate marketing food with a bunch of crap and preservatives in them... she's the creator of every recipe! They're reasonably priced, completely delicious and a whiz to make (Heidi just made the potato soup last night and her husband ate three full bowls)... and you can have them shipped to you... yum. What did I buy? Heck, what didn't I buy?! By far the best dip was the BLT dip, though it was closely followed by the Chili Cheese and Bacon dip, so I bought both of those. I also bought the Parmesan Italian and the Simply Salsa (it's worlds better than jarred salsa). In the dessert cheeseball category, I chose the White Chocolate Cranberry but that was a tough decision. It barely beat out the White Chocolate Peppermint (which would be great on cupcakes... mmm) and Butter Pecan.... I'm still probably going to order the White Chocolate Peppermint now that I'm thinking about it. I also purchased the Potato Soup because it seriously rocks. Check out The Resident Chef for prices and ordering information and remember you're supporting a another home-based, handmade business!

We also fell in love with Cherish Bound and Tara Brown -- she was a lot of fun. She introduced us to the wonderful ways her company creates memory books for their clients -- kind of a digital version of scrapbooking with more orientation on the storytelling aspect versus straight pictures. I purchased a book that I'll be using for my father, to thank him for all the wonderful ways he's influenced and cared for me throughout the years. I'll probably end up purchasing a book for my husband to document our son's journey through the turbulent times of toddlerhood. She was great and her company seems fantastic -- you should contact her if you're interested in hosting a party or becoming a consultant. Yes, it's one of *those* companies but they're reasonable as far as their prices go. I purchased a hard cover, 24 page book for around $50 including tax... which isn't bad for a large company. I'll let you all know how easy setting up the book is and what the final product looks like when I'm done.

In all, we talked to some amazing people, purchased fun things and ate delicious food (no thanks to the Orange County Convention Center). We made some money (enough so that it wasn't a complete bust) and spread the word about our company. I can't think of any way the four days at the Southern Women's Show could have gone any better.

Take care,


Monday, October 13, 2008

Nothing Like Vegas, Baby!

While I have a few minutes this morning, I thought I'd fill you all in on Vegas. I'm from New York and I know they call NYC the "City that Never Sleeps," but I truly think that moniker is more appropriate to Las Vegas. I've never seen a city where there's just as much traffic at 4:30 am as 5 pm, the bars have no closing time and are jumping at 4 am and the stores stay open until 1 or 2 in the morning... it's amazing. The lights, the people -- it's like Disney for adults and we enjoyed every minute of it. The drivers are insane (though I think that's usual with a tourist-oriented town) and the locals are a pretty cool lot. We went downtown a lot to escape the $10 minimum bet at the casinos on the strip ($3 blackjack, baby) and most of the people there are locals, so we had a blast. I thought it was pretty busy but many people told me Vegas is suffering as much as the rest of the nation right now in terms of capacity.

On the first day there we went hiking at Red Rock Canyon -- it was beautiful in this very alien sort of way. Having lived in Florida for almost 20 years I'm used to green foliage, water and tons of bugs... hiking in the desert is, essentially, the polar opposite. It was really beautiful. I did realize one thing while hiking -- while people may make fun, dry heat is SO much better than humidity. My curly hair never frizzed out, once, and 90 degrees in dry heat feels almost cool to a Floridian. When we hiked it hit 94 degrees and I barely broke a sweat... it was AWESOME. It's amazing how fast the weather can change over there, as well... It went from a high of 94 to 78 in a matter of days... and a few days after we left the high was only 59... that's a 35 degree in a matter of a week. I complain when Orlando swings twenty degrees, so maybe I shouldn't be complaining anymore (lol).

We also ate... a lot. I think I gained five pounds even though I walked a couple of miles daily. Let's talk surprises and disappointments...

Surprise: Bellagio buffet is amazingly good. It's around $27 a person but it comes with prime rib, buffalo, duck, lobster, crab legs, lamb... it seriously was worth every penny of the $27 price tag. The desserts were out of this world and the random dishes were delicious (especially the creamy pea and prosciutto pasta... yum YUM). The decor was nice and the waiters were attentive. The coffee was awesome (note: the price includes a regular-type of drink).

Disappointment: The Wynn buffet was nowhere near as good as the Bellagio buffet and cost $33 a person. They sported prime rib and crab legs but the selection wasn't anywhere near as extensive and the food nowhere near as good. I'm sure they're a good buffet, but they aren't worth anywhere near the $33 asking price (which I believe goes more to keeping the decor updated and modern than to the food). The decor was amazing, but I don't go to a buffet to look at the pretty decor... I'd put this buffet in the range of $23 - $25 (tops) as far as quality-to-value goes.

Surprise: Paris' breakfast buffet hits a grand slam. At $14 a person, this buffet might seem expensive until you look at the restaurants on the strip and realize that everywhere from Mandalay Bay to Planet Hollywood is charging around $10 for breakfast. You can still get good deals at the Dennys by Bill's Gamblin Hall, but it's Dennys for pete's sake. Anyway, amazingly good (which is a relief seeing as the line was off the hook to get in). The coffee was fantastic and they had a huge selection of food. Their eggs were even delicious (usually buffet eggs don't equal delicious). They had biscuits and gravy, carved ham, custom omeletts, pancakes, belgium waffles and custom crepes (and that is only the tip of the iceberg!). Those custom crepes were to die for! I had a problem walking out of there, I think they needed to roll me out.

Disappointment: Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay. Since we were celebrating my birthday in Vegas, I got to choose one ridiculously expensive place to dine as my birthday present. This was the one I chose over Alize, Aureole, Robechaun and the slew of other high-class restaurants. What a flop! We spent $240 on the meal (two appetizers, two entrees, two glasses of wine and one dessert, plus tip) and it was ok. I mean, it was good... but nothing better than can be found in Orlando for less. I think there is so much culinary competition in Las Vegas that chefs feel the need to go way, way, way outside the box to satisfy. As an appetizer, my husband got the onion soup, which was a creamier version than we're used to, and that was very good, if very heavy. I got the Ahi Tuna Tartare, which was a major flop. The tuna was uber-fresh and cooked perfectly (ie: not at all, really), but it sat on this bed of overpoweringly strong sauce. It killed the taste of the tuna instead of enhancing it and ruined the dish. The same would be said of my slow roasted salmon, which was only two pieces of ridiculously good salmon warmed slowly without cooking it (amazing!) that sat on this too-herby slaw. All I could taste was herb and it killed the salmon. The presentation was amazing but the portions small and mine came with nothing except the obnoxious slaw (which the salmon sat on). I'm not griping about the portion size, I'm griping about the inability to properly season food. My husband enjoyed his but it wasn't anything special. The desserts were truly amazing, as we got a great black cherry mousse for my birthday along with a Grand Marnier souffle. Holy gods, the souffle was good but I don't think it was worth the $18 price tag attached to it as I've gotten similar souffles at french restaurants in Orlando and St. Augustine. They also presented us with a little dessert mini platter at the end, which was delicious. The service was top-notch, attentive but not overbearing. The wine recommendations were excellent and the decor was very pretty -- classic, elegant and refined. Was it good? Sure. Was it worth the hype and the $120/person price? Not really. Please note: the menu online is not the current menu we received.

Surpise: Burger Bar was, holy cow, the best burger I've ever eaten. The Kobe beef melts in your mouth, they can actually cook the burger medium-rare and medium and the sweet potato fries were DELICIOUS. The service was fun. Yum. One of the best meals here (though don't be surprised to pay $50 for two people to eat burgers and fries with coffee and water).

Disappointment: Ghostbar was nice, but boring. There really isn't anything to separate this "ultra-lounge" from the dozens of others in Vegas. Yes, there are pretty views. Yes, there is a very small glass floor that allows you to see the full 55 floors below. Yes, it is funny to watch drunk people try to push each other on to the glass floor like it'll break... But really, what's to separate this from Mix? Nothing much. Not worth the price of admission unless you want to go to *one* ultra-lounge and this is it. NB: I am married, so I wasn't looking to mix and mingle... maybe this would be nice to mingle and hook up but keep in mind that all tables are reserved for bottle service and unless you're willing to shell out $150 for a bottle of Captain Morgan's, you won't be sitting here.

Surprise: Moon and Playboy Club were really neat. Playboy Club was a nice ultra-lounge that had a few low-minimum video poker booths overlooking the club... minimums at table games are $50, so it's nice to watch. Pretty views from the other tower in the Palms.... at least Hef hires good looking women who actually have bodies instead of sickly stick chicks. Moon actually played good dance music (!!!!!), had a sizeable dance floor and a fairly open top floor with a retractable roof. Very fun!

Anyway, those are some quick captions of our trip to Vegas! We had a blast and even got some work in while we partied... Up next: Southern Women's Show :).

Take care all!


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Ok, loyal readers... I have so much to fill you in on!!!! It's certainly been a whirlwind few weeks with the Vegas vacation backing into the Southern Women's Show in Orlando. Tomorrow during Aidan's nap I'll be on to tell you guys all about both... but here are some pointers to keep you eagerly awaiting more (laugh) :):

*We lost money in Vegas, but I knew it wouldn't be my week when I threw away 2 2 before the flop in a no limit cash game and the flop comes 2 2 8. Yeah, would have won the $400 jackpot in addition to the hand. I hate poker.

*We ate in some great places in Vegas, won't say the thumbs up or down until tomorrow! ;)

*We did very well at the Southern Women's Show and met some great people -- especially those from Cherish Bound, Resident Chef and The Bucket Co.... and I can't wait to plug them, their products and stuff tomorrow.

*We also met some rude people, so I'll be griping about the Orange County Convention Center staff and operations in general...

Stay tuned for an action-packed, no-holds-barred blogaganza tomorrow!!!

Take care :) -- Jen