Friday, January 30, 2009

CPSIA

I don’t know how many of you are familiarly with this, but recently congress passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) trying to fix the problem of toys containing lead and phthalates.

While this law was intended to protect children, it could have negative effects over a broad spectrum; like handmade toys, libraries, bookstores, school or office supplies . . . There were even early concerns about how this law could possibly affect thrift stores. Although I would like to, I’m not even going to try to give you a brief summary because frankly the law is way too broad and confusing. With that said, I do hope you take the time to check out some of the resource links below or click on the Save Handmade on the left.

Go here for more information:
Etsy CPSIA Resources PDF

Or here
New England Quilter: CPSIA Blog-In

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shelf Life

Last month I started going through my cabinets and writing the expiration date on the front of everything. At the same time I went through and threw out all the stuff that was way past due. The stuff that was a little past or that was coming up, I decided to put on the lowest shelf so that I could see it and know that I needed to make plans to use it.

Now that I have all the stuff in my kitchen cabinets and pantry marked, after I come home from the super market I just have my Sharpie in hand and write the date on it before I put it away. It doesn’t take that much time, and it helps with making sure that I put the newer stuff in back so that I use the older stuff first. It is saving me on being wasteful, which I just can’t stand.

If I see something that is going to be expiring next month when I am putting the groceries away, I go ahead and pull it down to the lower shelf to use. It’s that simple! I actually ended up throwing out about a grocery bag full of stuff. A lot more than I expected and it killed me.

I have also done this on things that aren’t food. It’s hard to remember sometimes that things like toothpaste and deodorant expire, but they do. I hate looking on the packages for the small print that they use for the expiration date, especially if I have to look at the five different tubes of toothpaste in my drawer. Marking over the counter medicines would be a good idea to. I’m usually pretty diligent about checking that, but I might have to work my Sharpie magic in the medicine drawer next.

I am so excited about starting this, because I know that it will cute down on waste and save me the time of checking to make sure that I am using my groceries and toiletries in the most efficient way.


Please let me know if you do something like this too, or if you have any other ideas. Or if you are thinking about starting something like this!

Also, here are some helpful sites about understand the product date terminology or

Real Simple: Surprising Expiration Dates

WebMd: Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?

Consumer Reports: The dating game

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Drawer Redo

Here is one of the first steps I have taken in my resolution to simplify my life. I’ve decided to start small, so I organized my kitchen junk drawer. I found an organization tray at Wal-Mart for around $6.00 and decided to give it a go. I thought about doing it the Make-Do-IY way, but after about a minute of self debate I realized it just wasn’t worth the time. Instead of spending time figuring out how to make it just the perfect size, picking the right materials to repurpose, I could be on to bigger and better things. And so I am!

Anyway, here is my newly organized junk drawer. I didn’t take a before shot, because I think we all know what a disorganized drawer looks like. The reason why I picked this organizer instead of using the cheaper 3 for $1 baskets is because this one has little pictures in each section of what goes there. Everything in it’s place, and a place for everything. Perfect!

Now, what to do about my utensil drawer . . .

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Win a stroller!

Here is another giveaway! I would say this is the last one, but seriously I don’t know if I could live up to that. I Never Grew Up is giving away a Bumbleride Indie Twin Stroller. You have until January 30, so go enter!

Perfectly Pink Berry Bowls

I have been meaning to share this for a while. It’s another great find from my personal shopper. When she was planning her trip to the “Worlds Longest Yard Sale” I gave her a really long shopping wish list, which included pink Pyrex of course. Because you know I need it for my vintage dream kitchen. The one that my husband will never let me have . . . the one with the pink lemonade Big Chill Refrigerator and matching stove and dishwasher . . . oh a girl can dream. Anyway, though she wasn’t able to find any pink Pyrex in my price range she did find these two sweet bowls!

After a little research I see that they are Hazel Atlas Crinoline berry/cereal bowls! They are too cute!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Monkey Hooded Towel Giveaway

I’m so excited. Samantha, at Green Akers Creations, has a craft blog and is starting up an Etsy store! To start things off she is offering the cutest Monkey Hooded Bath Towel. Samantha says that “the finished towel size is 30” x 54" - perfect size for any child {or child-at-heart}.” That’s me!!!

One thing you guys should have realized about me by now is that I love seeing what other crafters are doing! Well, I have to say that Samantha is very talented and makes some of the cutest baby quilts I have ever seen! You will be missing out if you love crafts and don’t bookmark her site people! I’m just saying! By the way if you go to her blog and leave a comment, let her know that you heard it here! She didn’t say that it would get me extra points, but it never hurts!

Superhero Cape from Plum Pear Apple

I’ve found another great giveaway at the little window shoppe for the cutest kiddies capes made by Plum Pear Apple. Who wouldn’t want to be a super hero? I think I saw the giveaway first at Frill Fluff and Trucks. So go here if you would like to enter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Simplify

Merriam- Webster defines simplify as “to make simple or simpler, to reduce to basic essentials, to diminish in scope or complexity”

I have been thinking about this for a while, well since New Years actually. I have been putting off making my resolution this year, or putting off writing about it. I have been working out what exactly this means to me, and if I set this as my goal what will the results be. Simply put; what do I want out of this?

This actually started before Christmas. Maybe it started with the down fall of the economy, I don’t know, but I really felt it resonate in my heart at Christmas. I really wanted a simpler Christmas. I didn’t want to have to go to the Mall, wasting gas and time trying to find the right present for everyone. And then having to wrap or bag everything. I am starting to learn that my time is precious and simply that is just not how I want to spend it. I would rather spend it with the people I love. Even if I’m making presents at home, it feels like I am getting better use of my time and that the presents will be more appreciated.

I also think that our expectations are too high. That’s the reason that people feel more depressed during the Holidays. We expect to receive gifts, and we expect to be able to give a certain amount of gifts. I think it starts to make Christmas feel a little hollow. I started thinking about what kind of memories did I want to start for my families. What would our Christmas traditions be? I realized that compared to my husband’s family, my side didn’t really have that many traditions. One thing that did stick out was the Christmases that my Mother had as a child. My mother was one of eleven children, born at the tail end of the depression in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. To say that sometimes there wasn’t enough to go around would be an understatement. But, they still had Christmas.

Each Christmas there would be a hand cut tree strung with popcorn or paper chains and hung with homemade ornaments. Everyone would hang their socks on the fireplace to find them filled Christmas morn with some candy, oranges, and a toothbrush. There were corn husk dolls and new feed sack dresses! And hand made sling shots made from bicycle tires and mountain laurel! I can’t imagine that the thrill of Christmas was lost on them, that they weren’t grateful for their gifts and with the time spent together was any less special.

That’s what I want to give my family, not time lost shopping or worrying about the perfect presents, but time together. Time is a gift in and of itself. That’s the tradition that I want to keep.
So this past Christmas I wanted to share that feeling with the rest of my family, my now growing extended family. I decided to make everyone Appalachian Christmas Stockings. I was a little worried that the sentiment would be lost. With my side of the family, I think my presents were . . . well it was appreciated but it really wasn’t different. I guess they, having been raised like me, find a gift like that to be ‘normal.’ My husband’s side of the family was a little confused when they first were handed the socks I think, but as they started to pull the brown packages of nuts and cookies out I think they started to understand. At least I hope so.

During New Years I realized that I didn’t want to just stop at Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great if my whole life was like that? Cutting back on the things that just take up extra time, scaling down my expectations that will only eventually lead to disappointment anyway? Well, why not. Resolutions are usually made at the first of the year and then after a couple of months they seem to fall by the wayside. What kind of resolutions could I possibly make that would give me the results that I was looking for, that I wouldn’t expect too much from, and disappoint myself with failure? Then I started to ask myself what I really wanted anyway.

“To reduce to basic essentials.” I want to de-clutter. My office, my bedroom, my old clothes. Basically the whole house. I want to return to the basics on bills, spending, the kitchen cabinets, how I cook, the to-do list . . . everything. But to put it more simply, I want more time. Time to enjoy life, to spend with my family, or to just be. I want to not take my time for granitite. I want to spend the next year thinking hard about what I want the basics in my life to be, and spend more time concentrating on those things.

“Diminish in scope.” How can I diminish anything with such a large list? Well the beauty of this plan is that if I accomplish one of these I have succeeded. My life will become easier for it. If I can cut back, then I will have more time. That means that I haven’t failed my resolution. I have diminished the scope of my expectations. See the beauty in this plan?

I remember a long time ago watching a program on Oprah about an author who had decided to rearrange her life. She was going to cut out all the things that she felt that she spend too much time doing. Some of her ideas seemed real extreme at the time, but I guess they worked because here many years later I still remember it. She got rid of all her formal wear, and instead bought two dresses, one black one dark blue. That way she cut out the time spent on wondering what she was going to wear, because she only had two options. She also stopped making her bed. Her reasoning, she was airing it out. (I have been using that reasoning since!) I tried to find the author and I think I did, Elaine St. James who wrote Keep It Simple. While I probably wouldn’t restrict myself to two dresses, her ideas behind it aren’t bad ones.

So my resolution for 2009 is to cut out excess, to make life simpler, to diminish my scope of expectations, to reduce to basic essentials, or simply put simplify.

I think 2009 is going to be a good year!

Appalachian Christmas Stockings

I really wanted to share this idea, well, at Christmas but I didn’t want to give it away.

This year I decided to simplify and give everyone in the family the same present. I thought I would bring back the idea of Christmases past ands give everyone an Appalachian Christmas Stocking.

Originally I wanted to use all Christmas socks, but I was unable to find any for the guys so I bought them regular dress socks instead. First, I rolled up one of the socks and stuffed it into the toe of the other.

Inside I included the following:
A gift card (different cards for different people)
Sample size Wet Wipe
Homemade cookies wrapped in shrink wrap and tied with a bow
Tiny brown paper bag filled with cashews
Tangerines
Candy
Popcorn balls wrapped in shrink wrap, in a very tiny brown paper back that was tied with a bow
I am pretty happy with the way that they turned out. I did customize the stockings for my sister by putting in some cake decorating gadgets. I was so pleased that I might try doing this again next year.

My favorite gift in the stocking is the popcorn balls. I recommend you trying these. They are super easy, but a really big mess. I decided to make the popcorn by popping it in the microwave inside a brown paper bag. It was a lot easier than I thought. I think I used 1/4th cup kernels at a time. I think it took about 2.5 minutes for each bag to pop, but every microwave is different. I also reused the same brown paper bag for the whole thing. And buying a bag of kernels is cheaper than getting the microwave kind, and a lot less greasy.

Another helpful hint is having a XXL clear bowl to mix everything in. Mine was not quite big enough. And make sure that you have all the un-popped kernels out. It’s easier to shake them to the bottom of the bag and then scope out the popped corn, but that won’t get all of them. That's why it's good to have a clear bowl.
I added in dried cranberries, mixed raisins, and unsalted peanuts. I highly recommend either adding cranberries or cherries. It makes these over the top!
My last tip is to not worry about putting butter on your hands and making these into balls. That just makes a bigger mess. If you let the mix dry for a bit you can easily pull off pieces and wrap them into shrink wrap. If you are giving away or storing the whole thing just put it into a zip lock bag. That way you just pull off pieces when you (or the lucky recipient) is eating it. Much better. Enjoy!



Note: After having this up for a while, I will repost with a December 2008 date.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New in 2009

I wanted to have a new look for the New Year! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. What you like or what you don't like; color choice, text size, is it easy to read, . . . anything! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Year End Review

Or Year in Review.

All in all 2008 turned out to better than I expected for crafting. Looking back I see that I actually finished a lot more projects than I realized. I hope 2009 turns out to be even better. Happy crafting and happy new year!
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I want it!

Vintage Pearl is sponsoring another great giveaway with Priddy Creations Custom Designs. First place receives a Camera Lens Cozy Sac and Removable Camera Strap Slipcover, and second place gets a pair of freshwater pearl drop earrings! How great it that! So go here and enter.