Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My favorite Summer Drink

I know, I know. Summer is almost over. For some of you, school has already begun. I personally am in denial that school starts next week. It has been  a wonderful summer, and I have so thoroughly enjoyed having my oldest home. We are really going to miss having him home all day.

And at any rate, today in my e-mail, I received Real Simple's 40 Cool Drinks for a Hot Day. And that got me to thinking about my personal favorite summer drink. Lemon Mint Iced Tea. I have always loved this particular drink, and I will share the whys in just a moment. But, this year, thanks to a couple of different discoveries, I have been able to drink it daily, and I still love it.


You see, I am a southern girl in a lot of ways. I was born in Savannah, one of the most southern of southern places. And for most of my childhood we lived in the south, only moving mid-west when I was heading for high school. So, sweet iced tea runs in my blood I guess you could say. Add to that, my mother always had a glass of iced tea with mint sitting around when we would spend the summers at my grandparents' house, and I would frequently sneak sips. I loved the herbal tone that mint added, and we never had it at home, it grew by the front doorstep at my grandma's and it just seemed so special. Now one sip takes me back to those happy, carefree incredible days.


Now, while I love this drink, having it at home used to be too much work for me to have it frequently. (Yes, I am THAT low maintenance.) Boiling water, waiting for it to steep, then waiting for it to cool, then waiting for the mint I added to the glass to infiltrate the tea. Phew! Plus, the mint, if I didn't happen to have some growing with my herbs, would go bad in the fridge within a couple of days. What a waste of money.

But, this year, I discovered that you don't have to boil water to steep tea. I filled a huge 4 quart pitcher with tepid water and threw two family sized bags into it. I also went ahead and threw in a few sprigs of mint with the bags. Not sure why I didn't think of that before now. I let that sit while I did something else, like make dinner or tickle a deserving child. When it was the desired strength, I removed the bags but not the mint and added lemon and sugar to taste. It was then immediately ready for a tall glass of ice. Yummm.


I also learned from the great one, Martha Stewart, how to keep my mint in the fridge for a good long time. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and keep them in the crisper. I don't know why this works so well, but it kept my mint fresh for upwards of two weeks as opposed to it turning limp and black within four days with every other method I have ever tried. So thank you, Martha!

What drinks get you through the summer heat?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let Me Introduce You to...Simply Paperie

I have mentioned Simply Paperie before in a post I wrote found here about the shoes I made for owner/designer Laura Hudson and her adorable niece. But, now I need to tell you about Laura and her custom handmade paper products from the perspective of a very happy buyer.

One of my best friend's favorite things is paper goods. I knew Laura was going to be a go to person to help me come up with the perfect birthday gift for her. And I was SO right! I contacted Laura and told her that besides paper products, winter and snow were my best friends other favorite things. So I asked her to help me combine the two and create some wintery note cards made just for her. She promptly got back to me with a choice of designs, and it wasn't easy but I picked one. And when I got them, I was so giddy, I just couldn't wait to give them. I knew they would make her so happy!

And they really did. What you can't see very well in the pics is that she used a pearlized card stock, so they glitter just slightly, giving them a wintery shimmer and are just so beautiful. 

I can't begin to tell you how happy we both are with Laura and the products she makes. So the next time you are in need of some stationary, you know where to go! Thank you, Laura!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Let Me Introduce Bellaroma

From time to time, I thought I might do these little posts to introduce you to people I think you really ought to know. I know so many fabulous business women. I can't wait to share them with you! I want to make it clear that I am getting nothing in exchange for these posts. No discounts, no returned favors, no money under the table. On my honor.

Now then, the first person I must introduce you to is Diana from Bellaroma

Bellaroma is a natural line of skin care products handmade with care by this one woman show. And not only are her products all natural, they look dreamy, sound heavenly and her prices are fabulous. Seriously, Sweet orange Honeysuckle Scrub?


Plus, when you sign up for her newsletter, you get 15% off your order!

Add to all of that the rave reviews I have seen and I decided to pamper myself using birthday money and try her out. I contacted Diana and told her of my troublesome skin to see which products she recommended.   Her advice was her Calendula and Goat Milk Facial Cleanser and the Neem and Oat Facial Mask.

The result? I love both products. The cleanser has silk in it! You can tell it isn't 80% water too by the strands it produces when you pour it onto your fingers or apply it to your face.

But, the Neem and Oat mask is really incredible. Apparently, Meem oil stinks, and Diana warned me of this before I ordered. But she has done a great job of masking the smell. It's luxurious to put on, feeling like a spa treatment. But, my skin. I have dark spots from sun damage that appeared while I was pregnant with my daughter. These fade when I use the Neem mask. And my skin is so soft, I can hardly keep my hands from touching it throughout the day.

I am so low maintenance it almost registers as no maintenance. I hate washing my face especially since most products cost a lot and don't give me results, or make my face break out worse than it does on its own. At this point with these products, I might just be addicted to washing my face.

So if you are in the market for something along these lines, or a body butter, or scrub, or scrumptious lotion, I urge you to give Bellaroma a try. You will not be disappointed! Thank you, Diana!

My Very First Ever Professional Photo of My Very Own Product!!!

Can you tell I am a little bit excited? It makes me feel more professional to have an image like this under my belt.I think I take decent pictures, but these kinds of shots are all the rage.

And the best part of all is it was free. Okay, so when you factor in what went into making those shoes, not exactly free. I stayed up late, like three in the morning late, twice (don't ask), working on them to get them shipped to my client in a rush.

But, thanks to that rush, I have this shot. She generously offered to pay me extra for my trouble. I asked her about the possibility of trading the use of a photograph instead of money. She agreed. Two chics photography graciously agreed. We were all in agreement and now I have this beautiful photo to help represent my work. I feel like a savvy business woman. At least for the moment.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Before and After

Because my husband is going to school Thursday nights, I have the whole day to myself and never anything to do. Well, okay there is the whole taking care of the three children thing, but still.

This Thursday, I decided it was high time that our house begin to look like we actually cared about it. You see, with having had two babies in less than two years, we sort of let things go. My gracious neighbor told us she was going to give us a whole extra year before she began talking about us. Have I mentioned that we love our neighbors? But, this Thursday, I decided enough was enough. So off to Lowes I went, three kids in tow, to buy some paint for a little sprucing up.

Now before I show you the befores you have to promise not to laugh. Or feel superior. Seriously, we have been very busy and you know how it is. Really, you must. Okay. Here goes.


There it is. The "meh" before of our front porch/door area. Sad, I know. The faded railing, the falling apart door mat, white and dingy door, the rust stains, the oh so sorry landscape. I know, I know. Bad. Brace yourself, I am going in for a close up.



Okay, okay, enough. You get the idea. Here is the much improved "after".


Feeling a little better about myself now. That big kid on the front steps had a ton of fun helping me pick out the perfect shade of red for the door. I found it just as I was about to give in and go with the easy choice, a shade called "front door red." But then, I picked up this last card, "heirloom red", and loved it in an instant. The name helped. I love heirlooms. They give a sense of history and belonging. Not a bad thing to have covering the main portal to your home.


The star on the door was originally a sort of rusty color, so two squirts of silver spray paint helped out there. And the two holes that were under our address numbers I covered with my Distelfink.


The railing got a fresh coat of black paint. And since I knew I only needed a small amount I only bought a sample and it was just enough for the railing and the doorstep. It was so hot while I was painting this, that the paint dried as soon and I put it on, and it dried in my tray almost as quickly. Luckily, Isaac kept me company.


The bright mat was on clearance, a mere $6 and the plants were by the side door, but something had to be done about the rust stain. This spot still isn't perfect, but it IS much improved.


And finally, the landscaping got some attention too. I weeded, and planted my Mother's Day peony. And the solar garden lamp, I found in the basement. My husband won it at work while I was away and neglected to tell me. It was awesome to find it. I wouldn't have purchased it, but I think it adds a great touch.


So all total, this little makeover cost me about $30. And I can feel a little prouder pulling into the driveway. Plus, I am going to love having a red door over the long, dull, gray winter. Yay! It only took me a few years to get around to it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Am I Too Late?

Technically, this baby gift is late. Well, the baby was early, and caught me off guard. But, even had she been born on time, this gift would still be late. Better late than never right?


Speaking of which, I might be a little late to the yellow and gray trend that is so wild right now. But, again, better late than never? Either way, I think these little shoes are adorable. I hope little Vivian likes them.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Child's Verses

When I was pregnant with each of our children we spent time searching the Bible for scriptures to pray for them. It's something that my mother-in-law did for her children, and even for me, before she ever knew me. She prayed for Justin's wife even while he was a child, and I can look back and see the evidence of her prayers in my life. Have I mentioned before how blessed I am?

My young ones

My oldest, Isaac's verses all centered around the Hope of God and they are prayers for joy to fill his life. It has been so interesting to watch him grow and to see in what way the verses we chose fit into his life. They don't fit as we imagined they would, but they show that God knew what his life would be like and how he would need special prayer for hope and joy. I take so much comfort in that.

Isaac with his faithfully praying Grandma J

My Monkey Boy, Jonas' verses all centered around the Love of God. He's almost three, but he already shows a gentle heart. He has many times put his arm around his crying older brother and told him it was going be alright. And he has been a protector of his little sister from her first breath as seen here:

Em is two weeks at most here...
Choosing verses for Emeline was a little different because we didn't know who she was going to be until she was born. It was a totally new experience choosing verses when we didn't know if she would be a girl or a boy, it tends to slant the types of verses you pick. God knew, yet again, what he was doing. Had I known she was a girl, I would have picked verses that were very feminine in nature. I am sure God would have worked it out anyway, but I am glad we knew nothing when we chose her verses.

Just you wait.
Em's verses all center around the Word of God. And shortly after she was born, her father got an overwhelming sense that she is going to speak the Word boldly in her time. Now that her personality is beginning to really show itself, he could very well be right. My daughter is no meek and mild little girl. She is a strong presence already. There is a song on a cd we listen to a lot, and I can't help thinking of her when I hear the lyrics.

The chorus says, "She is strong but never silent, sure of where her strength comes from. One day, one girl army will overcome."

I so look forward to seeing these little ones grow and live the lives they were created to live. And I am thankful for the verses we can pray over them to help guide and shape them. And mostly, I am overwhelmingly grateful that God has given us these three incredible gifts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Little Something I Am Working On

So, I have been working on something, and I thought I would give you all a little peek to see if it is something I should pursue and offer in my shop. Would you like to see?

Shoe clips!


Just in case you would like to add a little GLT style to your own shoes.


They clip on and very securely I can tell you, thanks to the 8-year-old-steps-on-your-foot-test. I will be playing around with backings to ensure they are comfortable for you and easy on your shoes.


I thought these made a sensible expansion to my product line.


I am fairly certain that almost all of my embellishments will work this way. I need to try a larger flower soon. In the meantime, what do you think? Something to proceed with?


Friday, August 12, 2011

A "New" Little Place For My Stuff

I am so excited. Ever since I started sewing in earnest, I have been craving a place to store my sewing stuff. I mean, sure when we moved in one of the reasons we bought this place was the work space in the basement that was clearly a crafting area with a long built in table. It was dubbed my space, and it was serviceable to say the least.

However, over the course of having two babies, it has gotten a little, um cluttered. On top of that, it get cold especially in the winter (Michigan) which is most of the year here. And then, I do most of my sewing when the kids are in bed and since they're upstairs, I don't like being in the basement two floors from them, especially the nights when my hubby is at school or worship practice. And then when the hubby is home, doing homework, I enjoy at least working near him. So, I have actually ended up doing a lot of my sewing on the main floor of our house and that means, a lot of my stuff, including my machine, has needed temporary residence here. Not overly conducive with two very little ones.

I knew I wanted to find a cabinet, or armoire to house the machine, thread, scissors, needles, patterns, notions, fabrics that I use frequently. I have scoured Craigslist and not found what I was wanting. At least not for a price I was willing to pay. And then, this week, I found this little beauty.


Look at the detailing. Lovely, simple carving on the top drawers and the doors.


And then, slightly more ornate carving on the bottom and the legs.


Isn't it just so perfect? It is in such good condition, so sturdy. But, wait, it gets better. Look inside.


So in love. Look at those drawers. I have always loved drawers in chests. I don't know why. They all move beautifully. I can't wait to figure out what goes where. I didn't even notice the shelf above the drawers when I bought it, but I was so thrilled when I realized it was there because it was the perfect size for my jars of thread, buttons and bobbins.

And the most incredible thing was the price. It was unbelievably priced at $135. For such a beautiful, solid, incredible piece?!? And I was cheeky enough to ask for a better price.  And I got one! I can't divulge what I actually paid for it, that would be gouache. But, it is enough to know that it is home now, and it will be well cared for. As soon as I can convince Monkey Boy that it isn't for hiding in. Did I mention it's very sturdy?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm Back!

Holy smokes. A working vacation just isn't an easy thing to accomplish is it? Especially when your littlest darling develops a frighteningly high fever in the middle of the night. I did manage to make three pairs of shoes while gone, but they were two Cozettes and a remake pair of peep toes. Not something new to show.

These are my newest finished pair and I am excited about this order because it's such a special occasion they are made for. My customer is having a baby! And she ordered a pair of shoes to wear at the hospital instead of those oh so attractive hospital socks. She loved the zebra print and couldn't choose at first between her favorite colors, pink or blue. So we decided to make the shoes a reminder of the baby's birth. Can you guess what she's having?


So special and fun. And of course, I couldn't ignore the wee one, so I threw in a little baby gift...


Such a special little set. I wish them all the best and brightest in this world!


Monday, August 1, 2011


See that beautiful face? She's partly the reason I make shoes in the first place. She's my muse, my inspiration, my incredible daughter. She's my baby, probably my last one and I adore her eyes and her smile and her hair that curls when it gets damp. She amazes me daily and I love her.

 She's also the reason why I am behind on making shoes right now. On top of her having a raging 105 fever earlier this week, she has decided she doesn't need to sleep, ever. Seriously, it's 11:00 p.m. here. She's awake. She didn't nap today and she was awake all last night too. And the night before that.

She goes back and forth between grinning at me and clapping her hands, and throwing herself prostrate across the bed crying. She has to be exhausted. I know I am. I need for her to sleep, so that I can get some myself and then I can get to work without fear of messing up so badly that I have to remake another pair of shoes. Yeah, that happened.

Here's hoping we have a peaceful, sleep filled night...