Friday, December 11, 2009

Pirate Ship Cake with Instructions!

My now four-year-old son is seriously into pirates. Besides various Berenstein Bear books, pirate-themed books are the only ones I'm allowed to read to him... so needless to say, we have many in our house. Naturally, he requested a pirate-themed birthday party and, naturally, I was insane enough to offer to make him a pirate ship birthday cake.

Nevermind that I've only made one other cake before -- Rocket (from Disney's Little Einsteins) -- and I had guidance on making that one from a helpful website (that I've since lost the link for)... nevermind that I've never taken a cake decorating class in my life... Nevermind all that. My son wants a pirate-themed birthday party and gosh darn it, I was going to be the one to make him his cake.


Of course, it being me... I couldn't take the easy way out by simply buying a mold and frosting it... oh no, I had to be elaborate. I searched high and low for instructions on putting together a cool cake but detailed instructions were few and far between... in fact, I was kind of dissatisfied with a lot of the instructions online. So, I looked up recipes, watched a ton of Ace of Cakes (lol) and winged it... praying to high heaven that it resembled a pirate ship more so than a massive blob. I must say, it didn't come out half bad. Anyway, on to the instructions!! Warning: These instructions are llooooonnnggggg.... if you just want to see pictures of the completed cake, skip down to the end :)

First things first, what will I need?

Well, it really depends on how elaborate you want your cake to be. I used:

*The largest Wilton Oval pan (16.5" x 12 3/8")
*An 11 x 15" sheet pan

**NOTE: This yielded a massive amount of cake, so only use these sizes if you're expecting a large turnout... I'd wager you could go with the 13" x 9 7/8" oval pan and a 9 x 13" sheet pan, honestly.

*A large cookie sheet that you can use as a base for the ship (make sure it's big enough to fit the cake and an island!!)
*Melting chocolate and molds -- gems, gold bars, pirate coins, a treasure chest mold, etc -- plus food dust to color your finished chocolate products
*Piping tips and bags (a lot, unless you like to clean often!) -- you'll need at least a flat tip for the planks and a small round tip for the detailing/royal icing work
*All the ingredients for your various recipes, especially food coloring!
*Decorations for the ship: Whoppers, Tootsie Rolls, Pirates, Sails, Pretzels, etc

Make the chocolate!

Chocolate lends itself well to cool applications and since there are a variety of inexpensive molds out there, it's much easier than dealing with fondant or gum paste (not edible!).... plus it's better tasting ;). Just go out and buy some melting chocolate and some molds... melt the chocolate (either in the microwave or a double boiler) and pour into the molds. Stick in the freezer to harden, then pop out when done. If you're making a treasure chest, using royal icing to make the box fit together.

Dust the chocolate pieces with some sort of non-toxic sparkle dust or glaze (gold, silver, emerald, sapphire and ruby).

I'd definitely do this a few days before I make the cake!

Make the cake!

Honestly, the world's BEST CAKE RECIPE is one I found on Cooking For Engineers . The directions are clear and concise, it's super simple to make and ABSOLUTELY delicious. I do make *one tiny* alteration to it, and that's to substitute COFFEE for most of the water. You can substitute coffee for water in any baking recipe in a 1:1 ratio... the coffee will deepen the chocolate flavor and make it very intense. *Delicious*

Anyway, this yields about 5.5 c of batter -- follow the instructions on your baking pans to determine how many batches of batter you'll need. I needed four to make the super-sized oval and rectangle.

While the cake is baking, start the poured sugar base!

Sugar work can be an exceptionally long and tedious process that can be messed up easily if you try to rush it. Again, it was my first time making poured sugar, so I wasn't sure how much I'd really need. I ended up making a lot (of course) and using an entire 5 lb bag of sugar -- it yielded a HUGE base that was about 1/3" thick. Too big! I definitely think you could cut it down by a half and still make enough (especially if you're using a smaller base pan than I was). Anyway, here is what I did:


Cold Water
Sugar -- 2 x H2O
Glucose (OR Light Corn Syrup... which is what I used because I couldn't find Glucose) -- 1/2 x H2O or a little less
A small amount of Cream of Tartar (though this isn't, strictly, necessary as I COMPLETELY forgot it and the sugar turned out awesome)

Anyway, it's a pretty easy process... If you use 8 oz of Water, use 16 oz Sugar and 4 oz Glucose.

1. Combine Water and sugar in a medium/large pot depending on how large your recipe is
2. Heat over LOW, stirring often, until sugar is completely dissolved
3. Wash down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water, several times now and often during the cooking process
4. As the syrup comes to a simmer, skim off any top scum that you see. Do not rush this process. It could take an hour or even more to reach a simmer stage. Be patient.
5. Put in a good candy thermometer (make sure it has a "HARD CRACK" indicator)
6. Increase heat to HIGH and add glucose/corn syrup and tartar (ha!)... skim again and wash down sides
7. Cook until the thermometer reaches 280 degrees, then add your coloring
8. Cook until you reach the hard crack stage (around 310 degrees F), lowering the heat as you get close

9. Spray the sheet pan with Pam (or oil it up) and pour the molten sugar into the pan --
CAUTION!!!!! Molten sugar will stick to EVERYTHING, so be VERY, VERY, VERY careful! This WILL give you horrendous burns!

10. If you want to mold the sugar into waves (as I did), give it a few minutes to rest (not too long, though, because once the sugar hardens you will not be able to mold it)... then use your fingers to carefully make a rolling wave shape by molding it up and around your finger.

While the cakes are still resting, make the royal icing!

Royal icing is baker's edible glue. Note: This recipes includes UNCOOKED, RAW egg whites!!! If you are UNCOMFORTABLE with using raw egg whites, buy pre-pasteurized eggs or heat them gently yourself.... or, just don't let anyone eat the royal icing.


3 egg whites (separate them from the yolks using your hands or the two egg shell halves as strainers... save the yolks for another purpose!)
1 t vanilla
4 c sifted powdered sugar (confectioners)
1 t lemon extract (you can OMIT this if you'd like... I like the vanilla/lemon combination... you can also OMIT the vanilla if you'd like a stronger lemon flavor)

1. Mix the egg whites and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer (stand mixers are your saving grace) on HIGH until they are frothy.
2. Add the 4 c sugar and 1 t lemon extract slowly, mixing together on low/medium low
3. Beat on HIGH until stiff peaks form (around 5-ish minutes? I never pay attention)
4. Separate the royal icing depending on the number of colors you're using (I had three -- brown, green and white) and blend in the food coloring either by hand or in the mixer.

REMEMBER!! Royal icing *is* like glue and it will dry like a ROCK quickly. If you are not going to use it right away, stash it in sealed plastic bags until ready to use.

What to do with your royal icing? Make stuff!!!

Get wax paper and lay it out in a sheet. Take decorator's bags fitted with a round tip and make various shapes -- the anchor, wheel, webbing, posts for the railing, white rope that goes around the posts (make little, wide u shapes). Making an island? Don't forget little stalks of green that you can sink into the island for grass. ALSO, make extras! If you're like me, you WILL break some of the pieces as they can be quite fragile consider they are fairly thin. I broke three anchors! Hint! Save some white royal icing for attaching the ropes to the rail posts after you sink the rail posts into the cake.

Set the icing pieces aside on a safe table while you work on the rest of the cake.

ALSO NOTE: This can be accomplished a few days before it's needed, so don't feel compelled to make it the day before (when you're also making the sugar base and the cake!)

Make the Buttercream Frosing!!

My son is a PEANUT BUTTER FANATIC, so we knew what we'd be making for the frosting... a Peanut Butter Buttercream! I followed this recipe on RecipeZaar and I could hardly stop eating it. It was heavenly! Remember to color it with food coloring! I needed brown, black and yellow!

Do you want filling? Make it!

Remember what I said about elaborate? Yeah, my cake was filled with a rich chocolate ganache. I used this recipe from AllRecipes and it came out flawless.

Carve it and Decorate!!!

Here are some suggestions for the carving and decorating...

**Use a pirate ship toy as a guide for your carving. You don't need any specialty tools, just a few serrated knives in varying sizes (from large to small). I used the Imaginext Pirate Ship toy and a Pirates of the Caribbean toy as my carving/decorating guides. Here's what I did:
**I put the oval cake on a piece of cardboard and cut out the bottom of the ship... it tapered to a sharper point in the front, was slim through the middle and had a squared off back end. **I used the rectangle cake as height... I used one layer of the cake on the front (carving it to the same dimensions as the oval below it) and two layers of cake on the back (each layer hanging slightly off the one below it)... if you are using a filling with your cake, don't forget to use it between the cake layers!

**After you're done carving (SAVE THE SCRAPS), apply a thin coat of buttercream to the entire ship... this is your crumb coat and will ensure no chocolate carving crumbs end up on the final piece.

**Refrigerate your cake a little bit to let the buttercream harden up.... while you're doing that, make an island out of some of the leftover carving scraps on the cooled sugar base. Frost it with
buttercream and cover it with crushed graham crackers (to simulate sand). Vacuum up the random crumbs before they can stick to the sugar! Top with the chocolate treasure chest and a variety of the colored chocolate 'gems' and the green royal icing grass.

**After your cake has refrigerated for a while, bust out your flat piping tip and pipe "wooden planks" all over your ship with the brown buttercream. Decorate it some more by adding windows along the back (outlined in black, filled in with yellow), black portholes for the cannons, or other decorations along the ship.

**Take the tootsie rolls and mold them into a cannon shape, stick three in along each side... use the black frosting to accentuate the cannon's center.

**Let the cake's frosting harden overnight in the fridge.

**In the morning, move the cake to its base .... should be easy with the cardboard (I didn't use cardboard and it definitely made my life harder)... and finish decorating it. Add the rails and rope (piping little dots of white to attach the ropes to the rails).. use pretzels as both the prow and the masts. Set whoppers on the deck as cannonballs... adhere the anchor and the wheel into their places with royal icing. Set the sails on the masts (I just found some free pirate pictures and fonts and made the sails out of paper) and add the webbing, pirates, etc.

**Fix any issues you had with moving it (notice I used some really quickly whipped up whipped cream icing to fix the cracks in the base!).... and move the cake to its final location!!


It's a *lot* of work (I'm not going to lie), but it yields some pretty cool results... not the least of which is the ego-boo you receive when people realize that yes, Virginia, you really did make this all by yourself!

So, what do you guys think?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wow... it has been forever!!!

So, I was checking around and it's been forever since I last made a post! Holy cow!!

Well, so where shall we begin? First,

I'm pregnant with my second child (hence the reason why I haven't really been as active as I'd like to be) so I've been taking a hiatus from sewing and crafting. I just entered my seventh month (last trimester, woo hoo) so I'm getting super-excited about bringing home our new little girl... yes, I did say girl!

I took about a month and decided to create Baby Bird's room from scratch and I found this super-awesome fabric from BabyBirdDesign who is a true, top-notch Etsy seller. Her little red birds design can be printed on a super-soft organic sateen and absolutely rocks! It's a great mixture of fresh modern and classic cuteness. For those who have boys in their future (or just don't know), she has a ton of other unique designs (my other favorite is the sheep... how cute are they??!!).

So, what do you think about the stuff for Baby Bird's room?

After Baby Bird's room got finished, I was hard-pressed to get ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas and my son's 4th birthday (holy COW!!??)... I carved a pretty cool pirate cake and decorated it... I'll be including one picture now, but I'm thinking tomorrow I might update with instructions... so check back!!

Also, I'm listing a few items in my shop to help clear out some excess inventory since we weren't able to do any shows this year and it's looking weak for the early part of next year... They will be grab bag sales -- meaning HUGE discounts.... so if you want a cute burp cloth, bib or blanket at ridiculously cheap prices... check our items out!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Triathlon update and... LOOK... a new sink!

Ok, two things today....

First is that, unfortunately, my triathlon training is put on hold (what is up with things happening to me at the last second?)... Why? Well, I've been having some knee pain and after applying heat and resting it for a while, I decided to go to the doc when it wasn't getting any better. The doc fiddles around with my knee, makes a lot of "Mmm, hmm... uh huh" noises and then says I need to get an MRI done by an Orthopedist.


He thinks I have a torn meniscus (cartilage inside your knee) and might need arthroscopic knee surgery.

Oh hurrah. Can you imagine knee surgery with a three-year-old? Good god have mercy. However, seeing as I'd like to run again (heck, I'd go run right now in 95 degree heat) without massive knee pain... I'll go through with it. Jeez, the joys of getting old.

Well, that was a downer... BUT, I do have good news... I GOT A NEW SINK!

Why on earth is that good? Well, I HATED (loathed, detested, etc) my old sink. It was cheap white porcelain that I had to scrub with clorox every few days because it stained so bad. Let me give you an example of how cheap it was -- I was washing a large glass mixing bowl when it slipped out of my hands and fell into the sink divider... I cringed, expecting to pick up broken glass, when I discovered that it wasn't my BOWL that cracked... it was the freaking sink. The sink's bottom wasn't flat, it was rounded, so you couldn't place any glass cups without them falling over (and breaking).... oh, and it was small... and we had an awful faucet that leaked constantly and was just Ugly.


Finally, we have a new one. A nice one. A fancy-schmancy one... and I am thrilled! It's black (no more staining), it's only a single bowl (so it's huge) and the bottom is flat!! Oh happy days! Plus we got a new faucet with a pull-down nozzle... Oh, I can fill my large pot with water without slopping it all over myself. I can stopper up the drain and even let pans soak in soapy water, like people intended to happen when they first thought up the concept of a sink!!! I'm in heaven!

Ok, so I realize you don't care... but I had to tell someone! :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Triathlon Training... Day 1

Alrighty ladies and gentlemen, I'm starting my training slowly... I want to see where I am with all three events separately before I see the time together. Heck, I just want to make sure I can actually *do* everything!

I already know I can run. My best 5K time is 24 minutes but I won't get close to that in the tri... I'm just hoping for a 10 minute mile average (since running comes last), meaning my time would be 37 minutes for the 3.7 mile leg. According to last year's results, that'll put me in 11th place (for the run).

This morning I tried the bike portion and managed to do 11.7 miles in 45 minutes -- not too bad when you consider that I haven't been on a bike since my freshman year in college (11 years ago). That puts me in the 27th spot (did I mention it was out of 33?), which isn't terribly bad.

The bad news? I was stoked to try running after biking and I really believe that I could run the full 3.7 miles without stopping... BUT about 10 minutes in, my knee gave out.


I have an appointment to go see the doctor tomorrow to see what's wrong... I hope it's nothing that will sideline me for a large amount of time! I'll keep you updated! :)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ok, you are going to laugh...

I have finally decided that I am clinically insane.

This revelation probably does not come as a surprise to those who know me, but this turn of events should surprise even my husband. I have set up so much on my plate that Im not sure I can get it done... heres where you come in: I need you to keep me on task.

So, what have I lined up on my plate that seems so daunting? Here goes:

*I am redoing a guest bedroom... this entails:

*Priming and painting the entire room (including stripes on one wall)
*Setting up all the new furniture and moving the old furniture out
*Sewing the curtains, quilt, pillows and various other items in the room

We are going to DragonCon in September, so I have a few costumes Id like to get done before then... They include:

*Padme Amidalas Corset Gown... I need to make the mermaid skirt out of both silk and burnout velvet and bead the necklace by hand.
*Two Starfleet uniforms... I need to find a place that does custom fabric printing in an inexpensive manner, sew the uniforms and find the pants and boots for both a man and a womans outfit
*Finish my Silhouette costume... I have all the parts, now I need to dye and alter them... oh, and find a wig.

Yeah, did I mention that Im also thinking about training for a triathlon (also in September)? Holy cow.

So, heres what Im going to do... Every few days Im going to post pictures, updates, and information and I need all my friends and watchers to give me encouragement and props to keep going. Trust me, there will be tons of pictures to share... especially of the costumes... So, stay tuned... This blog is SURE to become MEGA-active over the next few months.

Take care all and happy reading,


Monday, June 8, 2009


Ok, talk about craziness!!!

First things first -- I didn't realize that I would be sick so often once my son went to preschool!!! I think I've been sick more times in the past six months than I have in the past five years. I even came down with the nastiest case of the flu and it took me two full weeks to get over it.

Of course, everything had to happen in April and May, one of the busiest times of the year for our custom memory blankets! Ridiculous.

I just wanted to pop on and let everyone know that yes, we are still operating and yes, we'll be around for a while. Because of all the various personal issues (between illnesses and funerals... which I've been to three since February), we've taken a hiatus on doing local craft shows and, as such, we have a ton of leftover items from last year. The husband has issued a decree that no new items will be made until I've cleared out last year's stuff... SO....


Yup, sale time... and a great sale, too. I'm starting off with burp cloths, though I'll be adding bibs and blankets later on this week. The sale is as follows:

*Grab Bags -- Buy three burp cloths for $9 (retail price $16.50)
*Free shipping on orders over $40
*All orders over $100 will receive a free gift (valued at no less than $20)

Oh, and check out a few of our custom tshirt memory quilts that we did for graduating seniors!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Operation Princess Project Fire Sale Info

Hey all! :)

Yesterday I promised some updates on XL106.7's fire sale of prom/special occasion dresses and here's the information.

Date: April 4th
Time: 10 am - 1 pm (volunteers should get there at 9 am)
Place: Maitland Forum Building
2600 Lake Lucien DriveSuite 115
Maitland FL 32751 (on first floor, left side of building)

What is it: Essentially, the morning show will be offering the leftover prom dresses (there are some really awesome finds here, ladies) for a $5 CASH donation. You cannot try them on, but think of the resale possibilities -- most of these dresses would sell for way more than $5 on Ebay. Heck, there are even some vintage finds in there for you vintage sellers on Etsy.

More information can be found on their website -- XL 106.7 Operation Princess Project

I'll be there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 9 am... I hope to see some of you guys there :)


PS: I just received a new custom order and I can't wait to post pictures :) :) :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What a great Saturday :)

Hey all, I'm back (yeah, yeah, woo hoo, I know ;) )...

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about the volunteer work I did today -- I had a blast! I helped out XL 106.7's morning show -- Johnny and Jayde (which I have listened to since it was Doc and Johnny... wayyyy back in the day) -- and their 2nd annual Operation Princess Project. It's an event, started last year, where people donate their good condition prom/special occasion dresses and young ladies are invited (from all over Central Florida) to come, try on dresses and choose one for free... Prom is such an essential part of the full high school experience (though, heaven knows, I primarily disliked my high school experiences) and this type of charity event helps many ladies that, otherwise, wouldn't be able to afford to go.

I got there at 8 am today -- the actual event was from 10 am until 1 pm -- and was pretty surprised to see a line had been forming since around 6:30 am... Amazing! That said, it was pretty crazy -- literally hundreds of teenage girls showed up to try on dresses (some of them *I* seriously wanted) and the vast majority of them left thrilled. It was really great to see the looks on their faces when they got to leave with *the* perfect dress. Completely rewarding :).

I was also really impressed with the entire morning show team -- they were all fantastic.

I also wanted to mention that, if you're in the Orlando area... they had a ton of dresses left over (really, really nice dresses) and next Saturday (April 4th) they will be allowing people to come in and purchase the dresses for a $5 donation to their Baby DJ fund (their Christmas fund that purchases gifts and distributes them to needy children throughout Central Florida). You won't be able to try on the dresses, but getting great condition special occasion dresses for $5 each cannot be beat! I'll be there volunteering next week, so come on by and check them out.

I'll update it with more information, or you can check out their website -- XL 106.7.

Take care all and have a great day :)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Has it really been that long?

Wow, that's all I can say... it's really been a whirlwind month or so. Between my aunt's passing, my son getting sick and our vacation, I completely forgot about this blog.

Anyway, our vacation was awesome! We went skiing up in Beech Mountain, NC -- Aidan's first time seeing snow (and boy, did it ever snow). I'll write more about it later, when I don't have an anxious toddler hanging on my back.

Take care all! :)


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Holy cowtastic!

Ok, first, Happy Valentine's Day to everyone :)...

Second... my son is SICK AGAIN! I cannot believe this, it's starting to get ridiculous. My son has had a grand total of two colds in his entire three years of existence... then we start sending him to a part-time preschool and his immune system freaks out. It's not like he's never been exposed to germs -- I take him out, to play groups, to Chuck E Cheese, etc, all the time!!

In the past month he's had:

*A really nasty cold (which he kindly gifted to me)
*An ear infection, that he got on the tail end of the nasty cold
*A nasty stomach virus (which he received from the husband and is still suffering some side effects from)

and, now, ANOTHER ear infection.

I'll have to give good ol'doc a call on Monday to straighten this out -- maybe I'll have to keep him out of school and quiet for a week to build up his immune system. Keeping him out of school won't be hard, it's the quiet part that I'll have some trouble with.

Anyway, I won't be around for a while... I've got to battle with the child, wish me luck!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I have a serious problem with books...

It's one of the reasons why I don't read that often, or really I should say that I don't read new books that often... I can't stop reading. I don't think I read books so much as devour them. I'm a fast reader but I completely involve myself to the point that I cannot hear what else is going on in the room around me (drives the husband INSANE) and I literally can't put it down. I can be reading a book, look up and see that it's 5 am with no problems at all.

Anyway, after my aunt passed away I needed something to take my mind off of everything, so I decided to start a new series -- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I'm a HUGE (understatement) fan of the Harry Potter series, so I figured that Twilight would be able to hold my attention. Then again, I wasn't really planning on reading the series until I stood in Target and saw the book was $8 on sale.


So, four days later I'm done with all four books (yes, even Breaking Dawn ... I told you I was fast) and I have some thoughts on them.

First, I love the series. Yes, yes, I know... it's very teeny-bopper-ish, but it was captivating and fun. I can absolutely understand where people (ahem... Stephen King) are coming from when they say she's not a great writer. Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter), started off a little weak but (in the course of her writing) developed into a fascinating writer with a very involved storyline (quite a few extra characters). She managed to weave in mythology, theology and science without batting an eyelash and she made it work.

Stephenie Meyer did not (cannot?) do that with her series. They are very simply written -- told exclusively from the protaganist's point-of-view -- and cover only a few essential characters. The rest aren't really woven into the tapestry of the book and they seem like place holders or a means-to-an-end instead of flesh-and-blood characters (kind of like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet, as Meyer likes to draw on Shakespearean references, except she treats all characters this way except the main Cullen clan, Bella and Jacob... even Bella's father doesn't necessarily seem as fleshed out as he could be).

NOW, that being said, that woman can sure as heck write a captivating story. It's a story that literally had my teeth clenched together during the final scenes of Breaking Dawn. Her straightforward, teen-finding-herself-while-falling-in-love-with-a-vampire story is truly addictive and I found I simply couldn't put it down. Yes, it's definitely written for a younger audience and yes, it is written for women (my husband is a huge Potter fan but he wouldn't be interested in this), but it's romantic and fun.

I'll also say that I simply don't see what certain people are saying about this book -- by that I mean that it's a negative influence on girls. I can see *certain* points... but most are simply ludicrous. I consider myself a feminist and if you can find fault here, you'll find fault with every Disney movie ever made. Yes, Bella isn't a strong female protagonist (neither are Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine... etc... etc...). Many times she made me want to bang my head into the wall, but she's a teenage girl filled with doubt and coddling a low self-esteem. *Most* teenage girls are like that. I can see how many teenagers envision themselves in the character of Bella Swan (definitely more so than I can, as with age comes wisdom). Yes, she does rely on people saving her a bit too much in the first three books, but I feel she redeems herself in Breaking Dawn -- the final book was truly about Bella coming into her own, so to say... gaining wisdom, intelligence and self-esteem in the process.

I can't see, however, how people can interpret Bella and Edward's relationship as 'abusive.' Yes, Edward is overprotective... he's a vampire, folks, and doesn't want to see Bella hurt. He will do anything, including leave her, to make sure she's never hurt again. Overly romanticized portrayal of men? Of *course*, it's a fairy tale (like Meyer aludes to quite a bit throughout the series). It's the same kind of portrayal as the classic "knight in shining armor" or "prince charming." Should girls take this to mean that their future mate be a KiSA? They might for a while, but reality will set it. If girls start setting higher goals, though, for their future mates... is that a bad thing? We may not expect them to write piano concertos for us, but we can still expect them to open doors and show chivalry (it is *not* anti-feminist to expect a man to open a door... it's simple manners, folks). It's not male chauvinist, it's chivalry.

Can you see which one (Edward vs. Jacob) I like better?

I think that many critics need to realize the audience this was written for. They need to think back to their teenage years, without the veil of older wisdom, and see the girls there. They need to look at the series as a whole -- Bella, starting off weak, impotent, fearful, powerless, who gains strength, power, wisdom and pride. Does it set a bad precedent -- that a girl will be devastated without a man? Think back -- we are all devastated when romantic relationships end and it's especially potent in high school. Nobody should think they they have to live without "a man" (as in, someone), but there's nothing wrong with feeling grief, sadness and overpowering anguish when the 'love of your life' is gone.

I also disagree with one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, calling her out publically. If he doesn't like the writing, that's fine, but don't broadcast it to the masses. I understand he has a point, but it's still rude. I can even understand if he was writing a review of something, but he was at a random press event. Plus, there's something about writers criticizing other writers (like a lawyer talking smack about the lawyer down the road... seems... unprofessional) that bothers me. Meyer didn't read vampire stuff, but I like the way she recrafted vampires instead of sticking to the tried-and-true, formulaic vampires from older books. I love Ann Rice, but we don't need "Interview of a Vampire" to be the be-all, end-all depiction of vampires.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I give the series 4.5 stars and a thumbs up. It's easy reading (as it's not too involved, neither the storyline nor the writing) but a fascinating and entertaining story. If you're a woman, you should pick it up. I think you'll like it ;).


PS: As far as how readers should be... well, that all depends on the 'adultness' of the child. There are strong sexual overtones, but they are all done off camera, and the sensual scenes are well written without being graphic. I couldn't have read it if it talked like a normal romance (read: brain garbage) novel. If your child is younger, say eight or so, I'd recommend talking with them about the book -- asking them their opinions on the characters, the events, and so on. It's a good way to open a dialogue into the things they think Bella could have done better in the first few books.

PPS: Hey, Stephenie Meyer... if you're reading this, please hurry Midnight Sun. ;)

PPPS: WHAT? You've stopped writing Midnight Sun, indefinitely??? NNOOoOOoOOOoOOOooOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's ridiculously unfair. Yes, yes, I know what happened is wrong and ridiculously unfair to you, Meyer, and I feel horrible that it happened.... it sucks and I hope you get some sort of reprisal... but your fans love you -- they didn't mean for the first part of the rough draft to be released. I'll admit, I read it on your website and it was AWESOME. It's killing me inside knowing that I'll never be able to read the rest.

Please try to write it for your fans. Please?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You know what's not an enjoyable alarm clock?

I just thought I'd start off the blog post with my wonderful alarm clock this morning -- the sound of my husband throwing up at 6 am. Yeah, that's not a great way to wake up on a Sunday. He's got some sort of stomach virus and he's been laid up all day today, poor guy.

We need some sort of well wishes our way -- I don't think my household has seen the sunny side of "healthy" in a month.

Speaking of months... February is starting off with a bang. I think I've had as many items sold in these past few days as I've sold in the past six months (including Christmas). Absolutely amazing!!

Oh, and my items? I put our Valentine's Day blanket up on Etsy and Art Fire this morning. I think it's awesome -- a large minky blanket with red applique hearts. It can be personalized with whatever saying you so choose -- let me know what you think about it.

I'll be adding a whole schmeal of stuff in the next few days -- burp cloths, bibs, blankets... awesome stuff, so check back often :)

WOO HOO, A battle is won but the fight rages on!

Ok, so we won a small part in the fight amending the CPSIA. The CPSC has delayed implementation of the CPSIA for one year pending further review of exemptions and potential changes.

Don't think that this is over yet, though, campers. We still need to fight for common sense changes to this law -- allowing small businesses to use their supplier's testing certificates, for example -- and one of the best ways is to support Senator Jim DeMint's new bill he's introducing to the Senate. You can read about it here.

In a nutshell, it:

** delays the CPSIA for six months so everyone can get their ducks in a row
** allows businesses to use component testing from their suppliers in leu of final product testing
** exempts yard sales, resellers and second-hand stores
** forces the CPSC to give all small businesses clear guidance on how to completely comply with the legislation

As you can see, it eliminates virtually all of the complaints small businesses had against the CPSIA without actually weakening the requirements. Handmade items will still be 100% safe because they are using suppliers who test while big manufacturers still must adhere to the strict lead testing laws. I can't see ONE flaw in this and I urge EVERYONE to PLEASE contact your Representatives, especially your Senators, and ask them to support DeMint's bill.

Here is a copy of my letter to Senator Bill Nelson:

I am writing to ask you to please support Senator DeMint's upcoming bill amending the CPSIA. His bill includes common-sense solutions to many problems small businesses like my own are facing without weakening the overall intent of the bill.

In a nutshell, it accomplishes the following objectives:

*Delays implementation for six months while all the issues are worked out
*Allows small businesses to use their suppliers lead testing certificates in leu of testing.
*Exempts second-hand stores and resellers
*Prevents retroactive enforcement of the act, allowing us to sell off the old stock instead of dumping it in the trash
*Forces the CPSC to give small businesses a "compliance guide" which spells out what the government requires of them

As you can see, that provides relief and certainty to small businesses faced with extinction from the CPSIA. It allows the Goodwill to still serve the needy population without fear of reprisals. It allows handmade artisans to use their suppliers certificates (almost every single supplier of mine already tests), which eliminates the costly duplicative testing and it gives us a set of guidelines to follow so we can actually obey the intent of the law.

All of this is done without weakening the effects of the law on the most egregious offenders. They will still be forced to test while small businesses are allowed to continue to provide safe, high-quality alternatives to mass-produced junk.

Please, please support Jim DeMint's legislation. It's, perhaps, the most common sense piece of legislation to come out of Capital Hill in a long time.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Jennifer Vetere
Made By Moms

If you want, use that as a form letter... copy and paste it to your Senators. We're not out of the clear yet, but at least it appears there's one Senator who understands!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Huge Liquidation Sale... CPSIA

Hey all! I'm starting my huge liquidation sale today. It sort of depresses me but it doesn't look like anything will be done before February 10th, so I might as well start selling off stuff now.

Everything I have will be thrown up online in the coming days. The savings on certain items (only certain items) will be 50% or more -- even on my popular Take-Me-Too blankets.

I reserve the right, if there are changes to the CPSIA, to pull these prices... so if you see something you like at a price you like, buy it quickly before I change my mind ;).


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA Blog In -- What it means to you!

I've spoken a couple of times about the CPSIA and its effects on my business... but I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about how the CPSIA affects everyone. Not just me, not just you, but virtually anyone who lives in the United States. Take a second and become informed -- write your representatives and tell them you are worried about the impacts. Without Americans standing up and demanding change nothing will happen and you *will* be affected.

So, what is it?

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was approved by Congress and signed into law in September of 2008. It states that, on February 10th, all children's items sold (all items intended for children under 12 years of age) must meet "acceptable" levels of lead -- 600 ppm. In August, that number will drop to 300 ppm. As it is retroactive, it applies to everything that HAS been made and everything that will be made.

Ok, but I don't make anything for children... so I'm not affected, right? Well... no... Let's take a second and see who IS affected by this legislation:

Do you purchase handmade items?

If you purchase handmade items, or items created by a small-scale manufacturer, you will see your options completely disappear come the 10th. Why? As the testing for lead is placed solely on the shoulders of the manufacturer (regardless of whether a supplier has already tested for lead), the costs for small-scale businesses will be astronomical. No handmade artisan can afford the testing (which runs $75 per component of the final product). As they cannot afford to test, as the law dictates, they will be forced to shut their doors. You will no longer be able to find handmade items on Etsy, Ebay, Art Fire or in your local craft fairs for children unless they are in direct violation of the law, which carries severe penalties.

Do you visit libraries?

It's not just handmade that's being affected -- as the law covers *anything* that's made for children it includes books. Libraries loan children's books, so they are liable for the mandatory testing as well. No library would be able to afford the cost of testing every book in their children's library so they will be faced with tough choices. They can either ban children from the library, test all children's books or thoroughly eliminate their children's section. As libraries will not be able to afford the testing the most logical consequence is that you'll see children's sections disappear.

Perhaps your child will appreciate War and Peace instead of the Berenstein Bears.

Do you shop in second-hand stores?

Do you, out of choice or necessity, visit the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or one of the countless other second-hand stores for your shopping needs? If so, you might just be affected. Second-hand stores, while under no strict obligation to test, still must be sure that the items they're selling for children are free of lead. They are just as liable as the original manufacturer if they sell something lead-tainted -- including vintage children's clothing.

Again, like the libraries, second-hand stores are faced with few good options. They can stop accepting donations of children's items, they can test or they accept the possibility that they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the words of the CPSC's former spokeswoman, they don't have to test... but they have to be sure the stuff they're selling is free of lead. Many second-hand stores will stop carrying children's items to avoid facing this kind of liability.

Do you support charities like Project Linus (a charity that accepts handmade blankets to give to sick children in hospitals)?

As the CPSIA applies to all things traded, loaned, sold or given away, logic would dictate that as it affect libraries, it will, too, affect charities. Perhaps we can all give some great made-in-China blankets to sick children instead of lovingly-handmade quilts.


In the end, the CPSIA affects you if: you've ever borrowed a children's book from a library, ever visited a children's story time hour at the library, plan on borrowing a children's book from the library, bought anything from a second-hand store, will buy anything from a second-hand store, appreciate handmade items, purchase organic (since many makers of organic items are handmade, small businesses), care about the economy (this will shut the doors of thousands of small businesses) or, essentially, live in the United States and are a parent/aunt/godparent/grandparent/etc of a child.

Please, please take the time to demand Congress and the CPSC amend the law. Ending lead in children's products is GREAT, but the law is poorly written and overly broad. It casts too wide of a net to catch the fish (essentially, cheaply made crap from overseas) and will destroy businesses where many of the owners are work-at-home mothers.

Take care everyone!

My husband is defective, can I return him? and other musings...

Some musings from the desk...

*I'm finally over the "big sick" !! Yay :)... What started way back on the 18th has finally reached its conclusion and everyone in the Made By Moms' household is finally better. Goodness, that took forever!

*Something happens to me in September -- I stop exercising... I'm not sure why, it could be the busy nature of the following three months (all three of our birthdays, our anniversary, my parents' anniversary, and three major holidays), or it could be the cold... but I stop running. Well, I started running this week and I feel AMAZING! I ran a personal best in the 5k -- 28 minutes -- and went 2.25 miles today in 20 minutes (before I stopped to go and lift weights). Holy cow, I forgot how good this feels!!!

*I'm running my first "official" 5 k at 9 am on Valentine's day. Wish me luck! I have a goal of making it in 25 minutes... I have my finger's crossed.

*My husband is, indeed, defective. I've wondered about it for years now but this morning I got official confirmation. I think a part of his brain is missing somewhere (he probably forgot it) because he is *so* oblivious. What did he do this time?

Well... we'll start by explaining that he's an eye doctor -- that's how we met (I know, sweet right? lol). I wanted to get a pair of prescription sunglasses and the frame rep gave me a great price on a pair of Brinkley sunglasses so I decided to get polarized lenses. To make a long story short, the lab who did my polarization screwed it up and it makes me nauseous. I need my husband to take the glasses back with him to work so the optician can send them back to the lab to fix their mistake.

Sounds easy, right?

Not with my husband. I repeatedly remind him, only to find the sunglass case left on the kitchen counter each morning. I even put the sunglass case next to his keys, but it's been two full weeks and he hasn't brought them in. Last night I got the ingenious idea to actually stick his wallet INSIDE the sunglass case (it was sticking out slightly) and put his keys underneath the case.

What does my defective husband do? He takes the wallet OUT of the sunglass case, closes it, removes his keys from underneath and LEAVES IT ON THE COUNTER. Seriously, he's defective.

*We're getting closer and closer to February 10th, when I'll have to close my doors. It's making me a bit sad, but I'm getting frustrated at the attitude on the Etsy boards. What started out as a "let's band together and help each other out" has become a finger-pointing, venomous diatribe where people are starting to call others out for closing their doors/staying open.

Look, that type of attitude will get us nowhere. We need to support one another and stop labeling. Calm down, everyone.

If you're not familiar with the CPSIA, I'm going to be doing a piece on it later where I answer the most frequently asked questions to the best of my ability.

*My son is becoming a big boy. He started his second week of preschool and hasn't cried ONCE this week!! It's amazing to see the changes in him in just a few days. Plus, he's made me three necklaces in three days... so my jewelry collection is expanding at an unheard-of rate ;) I'll post some pictures of my beautiful creations tomorrow -- he's a budding designer :). I truly, truly love the preschool I found for him. It's five days a week, three hours a day -- that's perfect for my son's temperment. He couldn't deal with the day on, day off routine of most part-time preschools, so I'm pleased. His teachers are wonderful and they have a child-to-teacher ratio of 7-to-1, which is world's better than those daycares-disguised-as-preschools with a 15-to-1 ratio. Can you imagine having to take care of 15 three-year-olds? Holy cow, one is enough... 15 is a free-for-all. Plus, it's a Montessori and I love how he's learning by doing... he's having fun, refining his gross motor skills and learning to add by the simple process of playing with blocks. I *heart* Montessori :).

Anyway, not only is he going to preschool, but he's finally pooping on the potty! Oh my, you wouldn't know the struggle we've had over that. He's three years old and has been going number 1 on the potty for around4 months, but the number 2 has remained elusive. I've ignored him going poop in his underwear for 4 months (when I ditched all the daytime diapers)... it's so nice not to have to clean up poopy pants for once. *sigh*

Well, that's about it from my desk... my son has had enough of entertaining himself, so now it's time for his nap. I look forward to talking with everyone again, soon :)


Monday, January 26, 2009

Yay, our interview is on the air!

I'm so excited, I can barely concentrate (it's either the excitement, the throbbing headache or the fact that I still am not 100%)!!

The interview with Carrie from Natural Moms' Talk Radio Show is up on her website.

Please, please read and listen -- I hope I did everyone justice. I was starting to come down with my cold when she called (and I was away from my notes), so please don't be too brutal :).

Here it is!

Enjoy! :)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I have a bad case of the sick...

Yay... I have officially come down with a bad case of the sick -- right when my son gets to go to Montessori for the first week.


I just wanted to let everyone know that I was interviewed for the radio show last night over the phone and Carrie said it should be up on Monday. I'll provide the link so everyone can listen in. Until then, I bid you adieu until I feel better.

Take care all


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Check out our new bib!

We're running a huge CPSIA special on an item in our store -- one of our new, Messy Baby bibs. It's 100% organic, made from Harmony Art fabric and flannel, and it's being offered for the low, low price of $642.00. You read that right -- how can I offer this stuff for such an inexpensive price, well, let's just say it's an unbelievable deal I'm crazy to offer!

So get yours now, it's sure to fly out of my Etsy store!

Check it out here!

We are on a TALK RADIO SHOW !!! Listen in, please!!

Hey everyone, exciting news! We are going to be featured on an internet talk radio show -- Natural Moms' Talk Radio -- on Monday afternoon at 2 pm. Please take the time to listen in -- go here to to find out how. Carrie, the host, is based in Atlanta and we'll be doing the show via phone.

A little about the show: it's a show targeted towards moms looking to green their environment and simply mother the more natural way (homeschooling, cooking healthier meals, etc). It's hosted by Carrie who is a recently-divorced work-at-home mother of four living in Atlanta. She has a blog and website for the Natural Moms Talk Radio show, so you should definitely go and check them out.

She graciously bumped us up to Monday, as our topic is crucially important, even though she usually has a 12 week lead time. Hopefully, through this effort, we will be able to provoke a lot of ordinary moms and consumers into action. The more attention we attract, the better it will be for us in the end.

Anyway, if you're an artisan, small business or grandma who is impact by this, please leave a comment about how it will affect you... I might just bring it up on air! Take care and have a great day


Friday, January 16, 2009

The video that made my day!

This is a great video that showcases how absurd the supporters of the CPSIA truly, truly are. It's great when people try to get out of answering a question they KNOW is going to make them look bad. This is a seven minute interview with Julie Vallese about the CPSIA's impact on second-hand stores.

First, she talks about how "mommy blogs" are among the reasons there are a lot of "misinformation" out there (those darned mommy blogs!). Then, when she's asked (directly) about what second-hand stores will have to do, she dances around to avoid answering the question. The interviewer finally nails her when she asks what Julie thinks she should do if she were the owner of a second-hand store.

For those who don't want to watch... she said that second-hand stores don't have to test but have to be sure that the products they're selling are free of lead. How to do that? Oh... well... um.... you could call the manufacturer and ask them (yeah, because Mattel knew there was lead in their toys!)... um.... you could... look at it and make an informed decision (direct quote... I'm still trying to figure out if there is a way to look at an item and tell if there is less than 600 ppm of lead in said item)... or they could.... TEST!


Great job, there, Julie! So... basically you've just clearly stated that the "misinformation" that's floating around is actually.... correct!!! The only way a second-hand store could possibly be "sure" that there isn't any lead in their items is to TEST, while it's not required it IS implied as they face the same consequences as large-scale manufacturers who do not test for lead.

Thanks for the laugh, dear, you made my day!!!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

We were featured!

Check out My Charmed Life for a feature on the CPSIA and how it will impact businesses like ours! Please comment and drum up support for changes. Thanks to Sara for featuring us and doing a great job on promoting awareness!

Made my day ! :)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm not giving up,but...

There's a loaded "but" ...

I'm not shutting down until the bitter end (if nothing gets changed), but I am no longer making new items as I'm not sure I'll be able to sell, trade or donate the finished items. At least I can sell the fabric on Ebay -- the finished products, not so much.

I guess you could say I'm in a holding pattern until the CPSIA is amended. I have contacted WFTV and WESH to see if I could drum up interest, we'll see. Mel Martinez sent me back a nice canned form letter, while Bill Nelson and Tom Feeney decided not to answer at all.

I will say this: if it hasn't been amended by February 3rd, I will be having a massive, massive sale. Below fabric cost kind of sale.


One more thing before I go to bed...

We're now less than a month away from the CPSIA... more and more, people are starting to figure out how it will impact them. Just a few things I've been reading:

*This will affect everything given away and all hand-me-downs. You want your grandma to knit you a sweater? Tough luck.

*This will affect thrift stores. While they won't be held responsible for testing, if one of their items is contaminated with lead they are responsible for that. That means all Salvation Army and Goodwill stores take their lives in their hands when dealing with children's items.

*This will affect libraries, as their books need to be tested or destroyed.

*This will affect craft fairs as no one can sell anything that hasn't been tested for lead for children under the age of 12... In state, out of state, out of country, it doesn't matter.

*This will affect the environment. Think about it... I have five boxes of items sitting in my home right now that I cannot give away, sell or trade. I can't give them to the Goodwill, I can't give them as gifts, I can't trade them for other goods -- where are they going to end up? The trash. It's retroactive, so all those toys you see on the shelves? Come February 10th, if they haven't been tested, they'll be pulled and destroyed. Yay for filling landfills with toys that are more than likely safe!

Above all, this will affect you. Not only will you be unable to purchase handmade items (thus supporting individual crafters and artisans), prices will rise as the cost of testing is factored in. Even mid-sized companies will be driven out of business by the cost of compliance. Don't think it's that bad? Let's analyze a bib:

1 test for fabric (front) = $75
1 test for fabric (back) = $75
1 test for snap closure = $75
1 test for thread = $75

Total per style of bib: $300.


1 test for fabric x 4 fabrics on the front = $300
1 test for fabric (back) = $75
1 test for fabric label = $75
1 test for ribbon tag = $75
1 test for thread = $75

Total per Take-Me-Too blanket style: $600

Let's analyze that a little closer...

*One blanket costs $15, meaning that I'd have to sell 40 blankets in one style just to break even with the cost of compliance. Not counting materials cost, not counting labor, 40 blankets simply to recoup the cost of testing. If I change one thing, I will have to get that new blanket tested as well. Honestly, I don't think I've made 40 blankets in one style... ever.

*One bib costs $7, translating into 43 bibs to break even. Of one fabric style. If I throw in fabric costs, you're looking at more like 55 bibs to break even. That's if I don't want to actually be compensated for my time.

It *might* work if I was set on carrying one style of blanket and one style of bib (and just sold those for years)... but that's not why people chose handmade. They don't want the same thing everyone else has (if they did, they'd buy Gerber!!!), they want funky, unique, different.

Ah well... someone cheer me up... I'm starting to get depressed!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

**Bangs head into wall ** Great, my Senator hates handmade....

Ok, folks, the deadline for the CPSIA is drawing closer and I'm not sure if I should be expanding advertising online right now. I'm really starting to wonder if the feds care about small businesses (well, I already knew they didn't... as small business owners get screwed often on taxation issues).

I wrote my senators and congressman (woman), not really expecting a response... and certainly not expecting the response I actually received. Here it is:

""Thank you for contacting me regarding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

On November 1, 2007, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced the CPSC Reform Act (H.R. 4040). Besides increasing funding for the CPSC, this bill strengthens civil penalties for violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act, outlaws children's products containing lead, and makes it illegal for retailers to sell recalled products. Additionally, H.R. 4040 requires the commission to enforce whistleblower protections for employees of manufacturers, importers and CPSC workers. This measure was passed by the House of Representatives on December 19, 2007, without opposition. On July 31, 2008, the Senate passed H.R. 4040 with my full support by a vote 89 to 3. On August 14, 2008, the President signed this bill into law.

I am committed to providing the Consumer Produced Safety Commission with the tools and resources it needs to carry out its vital mission. As we proceed in the 111th Congress, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind regarding any additional legislation involving the CPSC.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to""

So, essentially, he took a full paragraph explaining the CPSIA to me and then told me to go jump off a bridge. I'm pretty sure I made it clear in my four paragraph essay that I understood the CPSIA I'm trying to figure out if he bothered to actually read my letter (like I read the CPSIA).

Ah well, if my Senator is typical of the federal government's reaction... then we're all in trouble.


**Who is slightly depressed now... I'm wondering this one thing... Am I correct to think it doesn't apply to in-state sales, only state-to-state?

Whew -- They're *done*

Ok, first, before I say anything else about my awesome organics that I'm about to showcase, I wanted to say one thing: Go Gators! It's truly a great time to be a Florida Gator -- especially with Tebow coming back next year (along with... maybe.... crosses fingers.... Harvin and Spikes?). Let's go for three out of four, boys!!! Just in case you didn't really know how much I love the Gators, here I am kissing a "bull gator" out in front of our 'new' (at least to me) football complex. Gator Nation at the top again, baby, and life couldn't be better!!!

Ok... now for those of you who aren't either a) a Gator fan or b) into college football, I am progressing well on our organic line. I've decided to name our line The Sun and Moon Collection, as the blue Harmony Art print is titled Moon and the Fields of Honey print is bright and sunny enough to pose as the sun. The only things I have left to work on are the lounge pants that will be made out of the same materials and the toy blocks. Let's take a look, shall we?

First up is our It's Sunny To Be Organic Bib (or just Sunny, if you'd like), sized in a large and closed with a pearl snap. It's made out of extremely soft and absorbant organic, beige fleece (back) and the Harmony Art Fields of Honey print on the front. It's sewn together with 100% natural, un-dyed cotton thread. With bold orange on a cheery, yellow background, this bib is sure to brighten everyone's day. I will be putting these on both Etsy and Art Fire within the next few days and they'll be priced at $12.00.

Next up is Sunny's sibling -- When Baby Loses His Diaper, There'll Be a Full Moon Organic Bib (or just Full Moon), is also sized in large (which, by the way is 8" x 12" and fits children up to toddler-hood) and closed with the same pearl snap. It's also backed with the super-soft fleece and sewn together twice for added durability (all of our bibs are). This will also be priced at $12.00 on our websites. Our bibs are prewashed with Seventh Generation natural, perfume-free detergent and tumble-dried without the use of a softener or dryer sheet.

No purchase is complete without one of our burp cloths. I had to tweak our burp cloths to eliminate the use of commercial cloth diapers but it doesn't mean these are substandard -- actually, I think they're better!! On the front side you have your choice of either our Sun or Moon motif while the back is a heavy-weight, organic flannel. Instead of a cloth diaper inside, we filled it with 100% all-natural, unbleached cotton batting and added an additional 4" strip down the center for hard-core babies. Our burp cloths are stitched three times -- we serge the inside -- for added durability. These have also been prewashed in Seventh Generation detergent. These will be priced at $14.00 each, or 2 for $25.00.

We're also offering the two fabrics in our small snuggle blanket line, which we've recently named Take-Me-Too. The front is a four-block arrangement with one block of sherpa, one block of fleece and two blocks of either the Moon flannel or Sun sateen prints. We back the blankets with a super-soft and thick organic flannel and stitch it twice with 100% natural, un-dyed cotton thread. Instead of using a traditional ribbon as a tag, we sewed together a tag out of the Harmony Art prints. They are wonderfullly soft, terrifically durable and super snuggly, and they're priced at $30.00.

Oh, don't forget our onesies!! We took the sun and moon theme one step farther by designing onesies that fit perfectly. Choose from either a crescent moon or a sun, and we'll applique it on to a onesie for you. We start with 100% organic onesies by Bella (retail $12.00), take the organic Harmony Art prints and sew them on with all-natural cotton thread. No glue or adhesives were used, in keeping with the organic theme. This means that the edges of your applique will fray a bit, but that's supposed to be part of the charm! Our onesies retail for $18.00 -- you can also choose our Earth applique, made entirely out of recycled felt.

What's that, you say? You'd like to package this up and send it as a gift? If you purchase multiple organic items, you're entitled to a discount!!!

Buy two items, save 5%.
Buy three items, save 10%
Buy four items, save 15%
Buy five or more items, save 20%.

Simply contact us for a custom listing and mention you saw our promotion in our blog to receive your savings!

So, what do you think? Good, bad?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Organics will soon be here!

Hello everyone! I am SO EXCITED!! Why, you ask?

Well, my organic fabrics arrived a few days ago and they rock (well, with one exception). The Harmony Art prints are as soft as they are beautiful and they wash extremely well. The organic is thick and as soft as the fleece, which is fantastic. The fleece isn't as thick as I thought it would be -- it's not like the blizzard or anti-pill fleece you find in stores, but it's still a great fabric. The sherpa, though, is a whole 'nother beast. I can honestly say I hate it, hate it, hate it.

Oh, don't get me wrong... It's thick, soft and super snuggly, but it's a bear to work with. First, I wash it (in Seventh Generation 100% natural, perfume free soap with no fabric softener) and it shrinks an ungodly amount -- I lost something like 20% of the original amount. I ordered one yard, which was 54" x 36" and I *might* have been left with a width of 40" when the washing and drying (tumble dry low) was done. I was ok with that, but that stuff is monstrous to sew. Talk about distortion -- I thought minky was bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to the sherpa.

Want to see what I'm talking about? Look at that serious distortion -- I'm meticulous about cutting out my squares exactly, I pin things in place to keep them from shifting, I sew slowly and I'm just careful, overall, to ensure things are in place. Sewing cotton is easy-peasy, I don't even pin that... but minky stretches, so you've got to be careful if you're not using stabilizer or interfacing (which I don't). Ugh. I'm seriously rethinking the sherpa now because it's major effort to sew and I'm afraid it'll shrink *again* when someone washes it (hint: iron!). I'll post more pictures of these blankets once I put the flannel on the back -- they really are going to rock when they're done... I can't believe how soft all my materials are :).

Anyway, you should see the bibs! They're amazing and the burp cloths (filled with 100% natural cotton batting!!) are going to be fantastic. All I have to do is put the snaps on the bibs and they're done -- the snaps will be the *only* thing on the bib that isn't either organic or natural. My cotton thread is Gutermann's 100% natural cotton thread and the fabrics are certified organic.

Also, I'll be away from my computer until Saturday -- we're going up to Gainesville to hang out with college friends for the BCS National Championship game. Go Gators! :) :) :)