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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Dreidels

A co-worker found these in a Martha Stewart magazine for me and of course the Monkey (a marshmallow lover) couldn't WAIT until I made them. I decided to make a big batch for his Hanukkah party at school this week.

They are basically a Hershey's Kiss stuck on a marshmallow, with a pretzel handle, all dipped in chocolate.

The boys loved helping me count out the Hershey's Kisses and they were actually quite proficient at unwrapping them too (except when they discovered if they licked the kiss, I'd make them eat it instead of putting it on the marshmallow, everything went downhill).

I used some melted chocolate to stick the Kisses to the marshmallows:

After those were cooled, I used a knife to cut a slit in the top of the marshmallow and inserted a thin pretzel stick:
I melted chocolate (I cheated and used the candy melts, which are so much easier to work with than real chocolate), and dipped the dreidels in:

I left those in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or longer, I think one kid had a temper tantrum, and another needed a snack), and then melted white chocolate candy melts. I put the melted white chocolate in a zip-loc bag and cut off the tip to pipe on the Hebrew letters.

In retrospect, I should have let the candy melts cool a little so the chocolate wasn't so runny (or used real white chocolate which may have been a little thicker), because my letters were far from perfect. But when you're feeding them to 3 and 4 year-olds, not-quite-perfect is just fine.

The kids (and my husband) devoured them and I've already been asked to make another batch even though Hanukkah is over on Friday night. I'm thinking I need to work on a Christmas-y version.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Too much HGTV

I must have watched too much HGTV tonight. I watched (well, listened) to a few hours of design shows while working in my studio tonight. And now at almost 2:30 in the morning, I'm planning a complete move of the studio.

We have a vacant bedroom upstairs, adjacent to a large loft that is technically the office, but really a JUNK haven (I hate it). I decided tonight to figure out if I could move my studio to the extra bedroom, and organize the loft to an actual office and shipping center.

All of that movement would require that we clean and completely organize our basement (1100 square feet of disorganization), which is beyond overwhelming. But that needs to be done, so maybe all this is a good thing.

The funny part is that I have absolutely NO idea when I'd have the TIME for any of this. Or money to add the stuff in the studio that I want, like additional shelving, paint, etc.

Maybe I need to submit this to an HGTV show and they'll come and make it over for me. Yah, it's late, I need to go to bed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boulder

I'm SO bad about blogging, but I've been thinking often about it, and how I really want to keep it up, so I've made a goal to blog at LEAST once a week until the end of the year. I need to remember all the things in my life that aren't related to my work. Should keep it interesting.

Hubby and I both graduated from University of Colorado, and absolutely LOVED living in Boulder. When you're not a college student though, the housing prices are outrageous. We'd love to live there again, but need to make A LOT more money in order to do that!

So, we decided on a beautiful late summer day, it was an ideal time to venture up there with the kiddos in tow.

We just spent a few hours there, and played on Pearl Street (in the fountains). Small Fry was reluctant at first, but hubby showed him how fun it was, and he soon warmed up to the idea and played with the Monkey for quite a while.


Of course for us, no trip to Boulder is complete without a trip to Hapa Sushi (even though they have two other locations MUCH closer to us, but this one holds so, so many memories). We ate our standard fare, and the boys got peanut butter & jelly sushi (with a strawberry topped whip-cream pile in the center). Small Fry was loving learning to use his chopsticks. He then finished off a few California rolls and Philly rolls. The kid really DOES eat anything.


(I tried to take better photos but of course didn't have my good flash, so the photos aren't so great).

After lunch we met up with our neighbors, who one of their dogs and her two puppies with them. We all walked around and stopped off at my favorite candy store (I got a Flake, one of the only places I can get them in the US), and the boys each got a "Bubble Gum" flavored candy stick. I must have been in one good mood to let them have that!

Small Fry loved his, and even managed to enjoy it with the puppy sitting on his lap.

About 15 minutes into our 1 hour+ drive home, both boys were completely fast asleep. Pretty sure that means they had a good time too.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small Fry the Chatterbox


Between me and the Monkey, it's hard to get a word in edgewise in this house. The Monkey actually was a late-talker (you wouldn't know it now!), and we took him to speech therapy at 22-months. They said he was mildly delayed, but it wasn't anything that warranted any worry or further therapy. Something happened around 25 months though, and it was like he grew 10 years overnight. Now, he has the MOST amazing vocabulary and regularly surprises hubby and me with the unbelievable words that come out of his mouth. And the things he knows. It's just amazing.

But this post is about Small Fry. Small Fry knows his stuff. He knows what he wants and how to get it. He knows a good deal of signs, that he's been using since about 10 or 11 months old. Although his favorite word is "THAT!" to request just about anything or everything, he is coming up with new words every day. He's definitely ahead of where the Monkey was at this point. (Not that I'm comparing, but it's the only reference point I have).

And I must add that I'm a super proud mom that both of my boys are voracious readers? I love their love of books, their desire to be read to, their desire to look at every page in a book again, and again. I often find the Monkey fast asleep in bed surrounded by a pile of books. And now the Monkey wants to know what everything says, what each individual word says. Although he reads from right to left, but we'll work on that. At least he knows all his letters and numbers and can speak some Spanish.

But back to Small Fry.

I thought it would be neat to make a list of what words he says now. The list changes, but today I just heard "DADDY! HOME!" and was loving the two-word phrase...a milestone of the speech world. I'm enjoying the changes and growth I'm seeing in him, as I think getting older suits him. He was a cranky baby, I think because he knew the wonderful things that await him with each passing day and each milestone.

So...Small Fry's list of words (at 18-months old, and mind you, these are said in Small Fry speak, so not necessarily as clear as each syllable, but his mom and dad know what he's saying)...
- Mama
- Dada
- Brother
- Kitty
- Doggie
- Hot Dog
- Hot
- Cheese
- Elmo
- Apple
- Peach
- Plum
- Grape
- Blueberry
- Hammer
- Handy Manny
- Done
- Down
- Up
- Cookie
- Home
- Eye
- Poop (an essential to every kiddo's vocabulary)
- Hi
- Bye
- Bubbe (what we call my mother-in-law)
- Off
- On
- Help
- Happy Birthday
- E-I-E-I-O (he tries REALLY hard to sing this when the Monkey is singing)

(He also LOVES to "RAWR" like a dinosaur or monster on every occasion, and he's happy to SCREAM to let you know he's not happy.)

That's a pretty good indication of what we do on a daily basis...EAT. Small Fry sure does love to eat. Cheese and fruit, lol!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Silence.

Yup, just as seems to be the norm, I have neglected my blog. Life just seems so busy, and with Facebook, Twitter, and three message boards, I feel like I complain enough about my life.

Ah, but tonight, I was editing photos for my Etsy shop after I helped hubby put the boys to bed. I was sitting on our couch downstairs, listening to the white noise of the fan and totally falling asleep (if you know me, 7:30 is no where near a bed time for me...think more like 3 am).

I LOVE the silence that occurs right as the boys fall asleep for the night. It's like a wave of calm peacefulness, stillness, and order comes over the house. It's as if the house, too, is settling in for the night. Getting a rest from the chaos, screaming, crying, throwing, noise of the day.

I used to not understand why my sister (who had a son in 2001, five years before my first was born), why she didn't watch much tv. I get it now. The silence that falls on this house each night sometime between 7:30 and 9:30 is much better than any noise I could imagine.

Of course, don't get me wrong. I love the kids with all of my heart. But like all humans, I need a break from them too. I relish in the silence for a few hours before catching a few episodes of whatever I've recorded on my Tivo, working in my studio until the wee hours (the norm is starting to become closer to 3 am these days).

And I love when I'm done in the studio and can creep up the stairs and quietly visit each of my boys to give them a good night kiss and watch for a few moments as they are still, peaceful, dreaming, and quiet. I soak in that peacefulness because I know all too well that all too soon, as the sun creeps over the eastern horizon, the noise returns, the house awakens, and the silence is gone for another day.

I'm off to edit more photos. And while I'm at it, I think I'll eat a snack. Because I really love to eat when I don't have to worry that someone will be clawing at my heals, crying and whining for whatever I am eating!

Win a Diaper Bag and lots of MamaMade goodies!

As the summer is starting to wind down (in my mind at least, as the Monkey has only 2 weeks of summer pre-school left), I've decided now is a great time for a giveaway!

You can win a beautiful MamaMade diaper bag, full of wonderful MamaMade goodies (over a $150 value!!), just by making a purchase of $20 or more from my Etsy shop between July 18th and July 31st.

Even if you're not in need of a diaper bag, this bag would make a great tote, or a fantastic gift for any mom-to-be!

The winning package will include:

- MamaMade Diaper Bag: 4 external pockets (2 are perfect for bottles), 5 internal pockets. Long handles allow you to wear the bag over your shoulder. 100% cotton fabrics, completely machine washable! Very durable. Bag measures 14" wide x 14" tall x 6" deep - great for cloth diapers too!


- Rubber Ducky Minkee Baby Blanket: This adorable blanket has a super soft, yellow Minkee on one side and a 100% cotton "Just Ducky" flannel on the other side. Measures 30 x 36", a perfect size for baby. Machine washable, great as a crib blanket (my Small Fry curls up with one like this every night!)


- Flannel Burp Cloth Set: This set of adorable pale blue flannel burp cloths is perfect for cleaning up any mess. They are double sided flannel, top stitched for durability. Each burp cloth measures approximately (9" x 17")


- Custom Sock Monkey Shirt or Onesie: You pick - girl monkey or regular sock monkey, and pick the shirt size (newborn-18 months onesie, or t-shirt - I'll discuss the best size/style with the winner).



- MamaMade Reusable Sandwich Bags: You'll get 2 Sandwich size bags and 1 snack size bag in prints that coordinate with the diaper bag (photo below is a sample, the winning bags will be different prints).

Read on for all of the details:

How to Enter:
- Make a purchase of $20 or more (before tax and shipping) from my Etsy shop any time between July 18th at 12:01 am MST to July 31st at 11:59 MST. For every $20 (before tax and shipping) you spend, you get ONE entry to win the diaper bag and goodies!

(One entry for every $20 spent (before tax and shipping) means that if you buy $40 of items from my shop, you get TWO entries, and so on!)

Drawing:
- I will draw a random name from all qualified entrants by using Random.org's random number generator. Name will be announced on my blog on August 1st, 2009, and winner will be notified via email (make sure your email is correct with your Etsy account!)

Other stuff:
- I'm sorry, but purchases made outside of the contest dates do not apply.
- $20 must be purchased in the same transaction.
- Any unpaid orders will not be eligible for the drawing, so please make sure to submit your PayPal payment upon check out.

Thank you and good luck!!

Head on over to my Etsy shop to fill up your shopping cart!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I love mail day!

I knew I had good mail coming today! Check out what I got from Fat Quarter Shop today:

Most of it will become sandwich and snack bags, but it will become other stuff too. I had a great idea from a loyal customer when she asked me to make some water-proof water bottle holders for her Sigg bottle. The bottles are great, but I know condensation can make everything else get wet, and a waterproof holder would be ideal!


From the left: Bot Town (the first four pieces, I have more coordinates), and then a great new zoo print in two colorways.


From the left: A fun and funky print from Moda, some great dots, three colorways of a fantastic tree print, and my favorite - blueberries and strawberries, on light green and cream


A few cowboy prints, I can't wait to work with these!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Things Happen for a Reason...

PHEW! May was one of the busiest months of my whole life. Thanks to a completely unexpected shout-out in an "Etsy Finds" email/blog post on Earth Day, I was beyond swamped with orders. Earth Day was definitely a lot more like Christmas this year, and totally busy, but wonderful. Things are starting to get back to normal, and I have started to even take a night off every now and then (I generally sew in my studio from 8 pm - 2 am every night).

Funny thing...the DAY before Earth Day, I got this strange urge to move things around in my studio. I have this beautiful, and LARGE Sylvia cutting table, and I knew I could reconfigure it so that I could open out the table the whole way (It has two drop sides, and I only had one side up).

What I thought (ha!) would be a quick project, turned into 8 hours of complete reorganization and a fantastic and completely productive new set-up. Little did I know that 24 hours later, I would be on my way to making over 600 new sandwich bags, and finally have the perfect set up for such a mass-production? Kind of cool how things worked out that way.

Thought I'd post some before and after pics. The before pictures were taken in January 2009, so just less than 4 months before I decided to do a switch-a-roo. Oh yah, and I added new lighting - it's like a whole new world!

View from the entrance - BEFORE:

View from the Entrance - AFTER:

Fabric Storage/Cutting area: BEFORE

Fabric storage area/Ironing area: AFTER

View of Ironing Area: BEFORE

View of Cutting Area: AFTER

New shelving to hold the rapidly multiplying fabric stash:

View from the sewing machine: (My space is optimized, and there is a much better flow/path through the area)

And a few last photos...that moving around was good, because I need LOTS of floor space when I'm packing orders:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I restocked!

A quick note, my shop is restocked on snack and sandwich bags. I don't know when I'll be able to restock again, so get your order in before they all disappear!

http://mamamade.etsy.com

And the Winner is...

The winner of MamaMade's Earth Day give away is...


From Random.org's Random Number Generator...

Comment #22 - Amber!

Congrats Amber! I'll be leaving a comment on your blog, but please email me at MamaMade@LNSDesigns.net with your mailing address so I can send you your bags!

Thank you to EVERYONE who left a comment for me during this giveaway! I am so excited to see the variety of ways that everyone is trying to live a simpler, greener life. Thanks to a great Etsy article that showed my sandwich bags, I sold out the shop a few times today. I'll be listing lots of pre-order bags tonight, so if you didn't win this bag, consider checking out some new listings.

Thank you again!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day Giveaway - Win a Reusable Sandwich Bag!

***This contest is now closed, but I still have bags available in my shop!***
Over the past year or so I've seem to become hyper aware of what I'm throwing away. Every time I take out the garbage (or make hubby do it), I think what is in there that I could have saved, reused, or gone another route to avoid throwing it away in the first place.

One big change we made is to completely eliminate paper towels from our house. That was a change, but our dish towels love the use they're getting! We switched over to more eco-friendly cleaning products and detergents (like Crunchy Clean Detergent) and even stopped using dryer sheets (thanks to Fuzzy Wuzzy Dryer Balls!)

I also started to realize I was using LOTS of plastic zip-top baggies. With a 3-year-old in pre-school and a 1-year-old with a big appetite, I am packing lunch and toting snacks on a daily basis. I'd reuse the plastic bags filled with cheerios as much as I could, but I figured there was a better way. So I checked out my studio and realized that the seemingly simple combination of a cute cotton print, a waterproof lining and some velcro would make the perfect reusable sandwich bag!

After a few trial and error bags (those that I could barely get open, lol!), I made the perfect bag, in two sizes too! The bags are completely reusable, waterproof (so put in a handful of grapes, carrots, celery or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich), AND they're machine washable.

When the bag gets too dirty, just toss it in the washer (and dryer if you need it right away)!

As Earth Day approaches, I know we all start to become more aware of ways to preserve our majestic planet, and I want to hear your ideas! I'd love to know what you currently do or would like to do to be more Earth friendly! Leave a comment with your ideas and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a sandwich bag set (like the bag pictured above!). One lucky winner will get a Sandwich size (6.5" x 6.5") AND a snack size (6.5" x 4") in my new favorite batik print - Recycle.

------------------------------
How to Enter:
1) Leave a comment on this post between now and April 22nd at 11:59 pm MST. Tell me the ways you have become more Earth friendly, or things you'd like to change. One comment per day/per person please! If you leave an anonymous comment, be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner!

2) Blog about this contest to win another entry - just leave a comment with the blog link.

3) Mention this giveaway on a message board to win yet another entry! Just let me know which message board in your comment.

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I will randomly select one comment as the winner for the giveaway and post the winner on my blog on April 23rd. Good luck!! :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Monkey has a Girlfriend!

After several requests for a girly version of my classic Sock Monkey tee, I designed this sweet little lady.
Of course, her bow can be any color, and she even has sparkly genuine Swarovski crystal "earrings".

20" of Snow - Day One

This was the snow at about 10 am on Friday, April 16th. Many more inches to come.
That was the final total (pictures of that coming soon). 20". In April. I am a very happy woman. I love snow, and knowing that it will be close to 80 degrees in just a few days, I savored every moment of my snow days.

Hubby worked Friday (the first day of the snow), and took my SUV to work, so the kids and I were stuck at home. We stayed busy...

The kids played with every toy they had, napped, ate lunch (and some dinner), and I baked. I made challah and chocolate chip cookies...drool.

Since I always use a warm oven top as a place to rise my bread, I figured I'd actually use the oven while the bread was rising, hence the cookies.

My all-time favorite book on baking, with a fantastic recipe for challah. Williams Sonoma, "Baking"

For those that don't know, challah is a traditional Jewish bread, with a wonderful sweet flavor. It can be topped with poppy or sesame seeds, and is almost always braided (at the Jewish New Year, it comes in a round loaf to symbolize the circular nature of the New Year). The ingredients are basic: yeast, sugar, water, eggs, flour and butter:
I bake bread by hand. I refuse to ever own a bread machine. I love the process (as is a common thread in my life). (I will admit I LOVE my stand mixer though, and it has wonderful bread kneading abilities).

I always proof my yeast. Let me tell you, I never skip this step. I've learned that the hard way.

Yeast

Water at 100 degrees F

A little sugar sprinkled on the yeast, add the warm water and it looks like this.

Wait 5 minutes

The yeast should look like this: (if it doesn't, start over with new yeast)

Measure and add ingredients - and a good time to tell you how much I LOVE my kitchen scale. Measuring flour on a scale is really the only way to do it. It's a million times easier than counting out 5 cups of flour. (I also use the scale for brown sugar, sugar, butter, and more).

Once the bread was ready for rising #1...

It was time to make the cookies:

Pretty sure chocolate chips are the BEST part of the cookie:

Tempting not to eat the dough

While the batches of cookies were baking, I took a quick peak at the bread - almost half way there!

Three dozen cookies made, time to finish up the bread:

The bread is put on a floured surface (see my pastry scraper? Another favorite/essential tool). I cut it into four pieces and roll each piece into a long strand. I then place all the strands together into a...

...braid!

It rises for another hour (or less), and then gets an egg wash. A quick trip to the oven, and...

And of course a sink full of dishes...but those would have to wait until Saturday.