Friday, January 30, 2009

Warm And Thankful

This is me.
This is me in the hallway.
This is me in the hallway wearing my new thrifted sweater.
This is me in the hallway wearing my new thrifted sweater and the scarf that I thrifted for my husband.
I stole it from him.
I was cold.

The sweater was $2, but it was a 50% off sale day, so I snatched it up for $1. (What you can't see is the perfect scalloped edging on the hem.) After seeing 'the sweater I've been looking for forever' on the rack, I jogged over to my mother to show her my treasure. She was chatting with another thrifter.

"Mom, look at this great sweater I found!" I said.
"Wow, that is nice." she replied.
The fellow thrifted smiled, then beamed really, and said, "I just donated that sweater last week!"
How often do you get a chance to thank the donator of your new favorite thrifted item?
I never had.
But I did.

(That's Charlotte running by in the corner. She never slows down, not even for pictures.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

10 Minutes To Smelling Minty Fresh

The time had come for me to make our own deodorant. Skin sensitivities and questionable ingredients in anti-perspirant/deodorant had alarm bells ringing in my mind for quite some time. I've tried many different brands - even "natural" ones and found only disappointment in ingredients and performance.

After a quick search on the net, I found this post. My husband and I have given it a go for almost 2 weeks and could not be more satisfied. It takes 10 minutes to make, smells fantastic and works wonderfully! Even my dear H has told me that he is really happy with it. Here's the recipe:

2 Tbsp cocoa butter
3 Tbsp shea butter
3 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp liquid glycerin (optional)
2 vitamin E oil capsules (puncture and squeeze out the oil)
15 drops of Essential Oil (I used peppermint)

Melt all ingredients (except essential oil) in a pan on low/med heat. Stir. Remove from heat. Add essential oil, pour into smallish jar. (I used two leftover baby food jars.) Cool in the refrigerator for a half hour or so. Scoop out a pea-size amount, rub it in and your done!

With the cocoa butter and peppermint combination, the mixture smells like irresistable chocolate mint. However, I do not smell like a cookie when I wear it. Only slightly pepperminty. I'm definitely on the road to making more everyday products... stay tuned.

On a tangent... Last year, I received a gift subscription to Cottage Living. (Cute style from folks who live in small spaces.) In December, I received a letter informing me that Cottage Living was no more. I then had a visible frown. But not to fear, the letter continued, you'll be receiving Sunset magazine instead! Waaaait, a second, I remember seeing that magazine on my elderly neighbors coffee table for years. Isn't that for old people??

I received my first issue and found it wasn't sooo bad. It wasn't my ideal magazine, but it didn't look that old. Then I received this yesterday -
My subscription info was apparently sold to Coastal Living magazine...who are offering me the Senior Citizen Special! I always believed that my first hint at being old would be the application from AARP...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Barbasol Beware

There's a new shaving cream in town. It's homemade. Razor burn is now a distant memory...

My dear H suffers from razor burn (even with a beard, he still shaves his neck) and so I set out to find a fix. I wanted a sulfate-free, great smelling, razor-burn-reducing and cost effective recipe. I stumbled upon this site and with a few adjustments to their recipe, I gave it a go.

Here's my recipe:
4 oz. Dr. Bronner's eucalyptus castile soap - grated
4 oz. water
Combine grated soap and water, let sit overnight. It will look like small curd cottage cheese in the a.m.

1 oz of cocoa butter
1 tblsp of shea butter
2 oz liquid glycerin
Heat on low until everything is melted. Remove from heat. Add the soap mixture and blend until creamy. (At first,I thought that I did this part all wrong because it turned out "soupy" but it firmed up nicely in a few hours.)

Add 20-25 drops of peppermint essential oil.
Mix again. Pour into jar.

H is happy to report no more razor burn. (He did say that just after shaving, he felt it stinging a bit, but that is due to the eucalyptus being an antiseptic and closing up those pores. It doesn't last long.) A little bit goes a long way and the jar should last us, oh, probably the rest of the year. It's very thick and leaves your skin waaaaay soft. Love it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

You've Got Something In Your Hair

It's time for a shop update: The beloved Pride and Prejudice pair, Lizzy and Darcy, are now appearing in my shop on bobby pins.
So are Jane and Bingley because they're just so sweet.

Twilight fans are not left out with Edward and Bella bobby pins too. Perfect for holding back stray locks...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Showers and Flowers

My thrifting hibernation was unintentional, so... Who couldn't use a little pick me up on a rainy day? Looking ahead to spring, I thrifted a floral sheet, pillowcase and wooden handled purse. (I'm also being hopeful in moving away from a diaper bag and back to a real live purse!) A snappy $3 canvas bag is just what the weatherman ordered ;)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Music To My Wrists

My latest creation is this sheet music bangle.

I received a custom request to put the music of Clair de Lune in bracelet form. Happily, I complied.

A Twilight fan knows that Edward and Bella both name this song, by Debussy, as a favorite. Even if you're not a Twilight fan, the idea of wearing a favorite song might seem very appealing.

I am always open to custom requests - just as long as I don't have to sing the song. We already have enough stray cats in the neighborhood...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Permission To Eat A Fudgsicle

(image courtesy of

We recently acquired this book in our ongoing pursuit of bettering our health. Mr.Zinczenko has authored a series of these books - including eating out guidelines. This book doesn't make your feel bad about what you eat, just how to choose wisely between brands and why. Easy to read, easy to use, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy, especially if you want to drop 5 or 10 lbs without changing the type of food you eat.

If you're going to eat a sugar cereal, isn't it good to know if Reese's Puffs has double the sugar and calories of Honeycomb cereal? (It does. One cup of Reese's Puffs also has 20% more sugar than one peanut butter cup.)

What are some of the worst foods? Say hello to Twix. It's off the charts for sugars and saturated fats. It's the equivalent to eating 11 strips of bacon. (Yes, you'd actually come out ahead by eating 10 strips of bacon - uh, ew.)

#1 worst food: Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie - over 1000 calories, 64 g of fat, it's darn near a salt lick in a pie crust. It's the equivalent of eating 23 strips of bacon. Geez, maybe I should just eat 2 Twix bars and enjoy a sugar coma instead.

One of the most perfect foods? An apple. Great for an afternoon snack: it increases energy, great for your heart, has soluble fiber and helps control your cholesterol. No wonder Snow White was tempted.

Throw a red bell pepper in your salad and you'll receive 3x the vitamin C in an orange. Plus it's chock full of vitamin A - which is good for your eyes. Who really wants to be on friendly terms with the words "macular degeneration" anyway?

If you enjoy beef, this book tells you the best protein-to-fat ratios in different cuts. Go for flank steak over lean ground or top loin over a porterhouse. The calories will come from either protein or fat, may as well choose protein. You may even see a few pounds drop off. I've seen results from increasing protein intake...

Since I have to watch my sugar levels, I've increased my protein substantially - and without trying - lost 5 lbs. My body was holding on to all the carb sugars because it didn't have what it needed most (protein for muscle building).

Page after page shows pictures of your favorite foods from the grocery store. Some good, some deceiving. My beloved Stoneyfield Farms yogurt got low marks due to unnecessary sugar overloading.

Snack foods, canned foods, frozen foods... they're all covered (Chewy Chips Ahoy over Oreo's). It's a handy guide to eating better with low effort. Sort of a no-thinking diet.

And yes, there is freedom in your fudgsicle craving... only 100 calories and only 2 1/2 g of fat. Permission granted ;)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Time Well Spent

What is this, you ask? It is a promotion code. This little phrase saved me $14.99 plus additional tax and shipping fees on a $50 online purchase. I neared the end of my purchase process when the site asked me if I had a "source code"? No, I didn't. So, I found one - in less than 30 seconds. If you buy anything online, you might want to get a source code for yourself.

I went to google and typed in "source code" and the name of the store. Click, click, click. Done. It was well worth my time. If you look at it in terms of an hourly wage, I would be saving / making about $1800 an hour! (Dream on.)

When making your online purchase, near the end of checkout, usually you'll find a little square box asking you if you have a promotion code (also known as a source code or coupon). Now's the time to have a magic phrase. Open a secondary window. Do your search. Enter the code and voila! instant discount.

I have a few direct links for you to bookmark: here, here and here.

Happy saving!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chili Con Crockpot

Crockpots rule. Throw your ingredients together in the early part of the day... then eat dinner when you can no longer resist the aroma!

We don't eat a lot of meat - especially beef, so this one's a vegetarian recipe. Of coure, meat may always be substituted. I would quote the source of this recipe if I could remember it. We've been eating it for several years now and I have made my own variations. Here's our winter staple meal for hearty, healthy and easy. Please remain calm while reading the ingredients...

Crockpot Tofu Chili

1 lb. package Trader Joe's firm tofu - drained and mashed well with a fork
1 can Trader Joe's sweet corn - drained
2 - 15 oz cans of Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes - drained
2 - 15 oz cans of S & W low sodium kidney beans - rinsed and drained
1 can Trader Joe's organic pumpkin
1 small can of organic tomato paste
1/2 cup of low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 of an onion - diced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Mix ingredients in crockpot. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low, all day.

At first, I was not excited about the tofu part - very skeptical actually. But even my dear H says that you cannot taste the tofu. Not at all. You can see it, but no taste. Same with the pumpkin. They add protein , nutrition and thickening power. You'll feel full, but not bloated after your meal. Perfect! Again, I prefer non-spicy food, so I don't add any peppers, but you may want to spice it up a bit. My dear H likes spicy, but seems satisfied with just the chili powder and cumin.

We serve it with whole grain bread covered in olive oil (a la Dr. Oz) and rosemary seasoning. Yum!

Monday, January 12, 2009


My daughter is currently obesessed with owls. She likes saying "owl" and pointing to owls. (We're not alone.) Nearly every book she owns has an owl lurking in it somewhere. And she knows the exact page for each owl - in this book, and this one and this one too.

This morning, she kept drumming the word into my brain until I just had to create one. Out came the Michael Miller fabrics and some wool felt. She knew immediately. My daughter pointed to my machine and said, "Sew!" Yup, mommy's gonna sew you an owl. So she began to say "owl" more frequently - if that's possible.

When it was finished, she hugged her little owl and said, "Mama owl." Almost makes me want to sew about 15 more owls. Almost.

Edit: I still can't decide whether or not this is a scary-robotic-looking owl...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snug As A Bug In A Rug

Meet my mom. Mom, this is everyone. Everyone, this is mom.

Does mom look snuggly warm? She's wearing her Christmas present from me. Yeah, it's another one of those, "I had a vision..." things. My mother has not been warm since she was in the womb. She's always curled up with a blanket, sweater, long pants, socks, slippers, ear muffs, well...ok, maybe not the slippers ;) Anyway, I felt that she needed the ability to be mobile while keeping warm under a blanket.

I made a pattern for a shawl-blanket-type-wrap out of holiday wrapping paper (use what you have, right?) and bought an armful of raspberry anti-pill fleece. The fleece is double thick for extra coziness and I added pockets both on the inside and outside. It's never inside out! She can keep her hands on the inside pockets for extra warmth or tuck them in the outside pockets like a jacket. The pockets are big enough to hold a remote (in case she gets to touch it,) a pen and a smallish sudoku book.
In telling my sister-in-law about my mom's present, she replied, "Oh, like that thing on TV. The Snuggie!" The what?? I don't watch a lot of TV. So, I checked it out online. Yes, it exists, but the wrap that I made for my mother seems to suit her better. It doesn't surprise me that just as I've come up with something, someone else has already put the wheels in motion. This happens frequently.

Guess it's a good thing I don't want to make a bazillion of them and market it on TV, huh?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas With Jane

(photo courtesy of
Sometimes Christmas feels like an exit that I just missed on the freeway. Whoops, there is went! Ours was a wonderful holiday, but it passed too quickly. I hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas.

For Christmas, my dear H gave me this newer version of Sense and Sensibility on dvd by the BBC. (Say that three times fast!) Recommended by a friend, it's an excellent movie version of Jane Austen's first published novel.

I was still skeptical upon hearing about another version of Sense and Sensibility after seeing Emma Thompson's version from 1995. But for Jane junkies, like myself, refusing an opportunity to watch/read more Jane Austen is incomprehensible. So I watched it. I was pleasantly surprised. The BBC version is truer to the book. And while Emma Thompson's portrayal of Elinor when she finds gushing relief from Edward's revelation that he is unmarried and no longer engaged, has to be one of my top 10 favorite movies scenes, I do highly recommend the 2008 version.

Since I've had requests, and I'm always looking for a way to celebrate Jane, Sense and Sensibility text bangles are now added to the lineup in my shop.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Forest Gnome Party: Dressing the Part 3

The gnome-y details of Charlotte's 2nd birthday party continue... she wore a sweet little red polka dot dress to match the gnomish mushrooms. But, nothing I owned felt woodsy enough. So, on the morning of her party (because obviously I had nothing else to do) I decided to make a skirt.

I had never sewn a skirt before... and I didn't have a pattern. But, I had some wood-grain-type fabric and red polka dots too. So I measured myself, laid the tape measure down and cut near the numbers. First I cut one side, then folded it over to match the shape. (Can you believe with this haphazard method, it actually fit?!) After two simple side seams, a 1/2 elastic casing for the waistband, red vintage bias tape trim at the hem and a deer applique zig-zagged on, Mama had a skirt.
(Don't believe that those are my deer drawing skills, I traced a deer from Charlotte's pajamas.) Please forgive the post-party, wrinkly-skirt, washed-out red, mirror photo.


Charlotte transitioned from gnome hat to her first tiara. (Thanks, Grandma!) The tiara ended up winning the battle of the headpieces that day. She insisted on wearing it to the grocery store...

Red shoes were worn all around :)
My dear H wore his standard beard... because, according to this book's Kissing Song, "A kiss just isn't a kiss without a beard!"
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