Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fun!

I made a treasury this week:

and I was featured in two treasuries this week {Thank you Lisa of Leyton Smiles and Barb of Quilted Hugs Bibs!! } {Go EtsyKids Team!}:

Keep it fun!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bloom: Teacher! Teacher! Oh, You're Talking to Me!

Last week, I had the remarkable experience of teaching a classroom full of 4 year olds at our church's Vacation Bible School Program, A.K.A. Summer Blast.

What a wonderful, challenging {and tiring} time it was!  Since this was my first 'real' teaching experience and Mondays being what they are... the first day was a little sketchy. But by Tuesday, I had my sea-legs (so to speak) and thanks in large part to Linnea and Carol, things went great.  By Friday, 14 of my little ones prayed to Jesus and told him they were sorry for the things they had done wrong, and that they wanted to do what Jesus wanted them to do. {Humbling!!!}  {Wow!}

Only God knows how much of it will stick, but at least there were seeds planted in those precious little hearts.

 But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14 NLT

Here's a video clip from our time in the worship center singing to Jesus:

I was really blessed to have all the helpers in my class that I did.  Gloria and Hannah had such dear quiet spirits about them that helped calm kids down when separation anxiety struck, Brandy just jumped right in and saw what needed to be done and did it, Grace had the awesome idea to quietly sing Jesus Loves Me when we were walking from one part of the church campus to another {It quieted those kids right down!}, Carol with her 20 years of teaching experience helped me through the logistics of classroom management, and Linnea made sure I had everything I needed.  The people you serve with, become your friends and you help each other out....

Keep on Bloomin'!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Featured Artist: Little Sapling Toys

Good morning!  

I'd like to introduce to you Nick and Kimber of Little Sapling Toys on this fine day.  They make all kids of wonderful natural wood toys including those ASL blocks, I included in a post a couple of weeks back.   If you would like to purchase anything from their Etsy shop, use the code LUVBLO10 to get a 10% discount between now and August 15th.

On Etsy
What do you make and what was/is the inspiration for your shop? We make wood teethers, blocks and developmental toys for young children. Our beginning inspirations included the thrill of entrepreneurship, beautiful design and our own young son.

What instances helped give you the confidence/motivation to pursue this as a career?  In 2005-2006, Nick and I traveled around the country remodeling bathrooms as an install crew for AmBath, LLC. While living in hotels and eating in restaurants daily, we would constantly talk about the businesses; what we would keep, change and how we would run things. This experience was the foundation for running a smart business with consumers in mind.

Organic Driving Toy
What is your vision for the future of your business?  We expect our retail growth to stay strong while we continue to develop new toy designs. We are currently scouting for locations within our beautiful city of Sheboygan, WI to set up our wood shop and have retail space available to the community.

What is your connection to the Deaf community? If none, how did you come up with the idea for your wonderful ASL blocks?  We have used basic sign language with our children and loved using the ASL alphabet as a teaching aid. Our ASL "I Love You" teether was an instant hit with our customers, we made our beautiful alphabet blocks, then Braille blocks and ASL alphabet blocks were a natural to follow.

Are you trained as an artist?  If yes, what degree(s) or certificates do you hold and where did you earn it/them? If no, how did you learn to make the items you offer in your shop?  I design the toys with no formal artistic training. I can just see the beauty and utility potential when I imagine the wood. Nick runs the shop and makes toys with a degree in Historic Preservation and Restoration Carpentry. He also worked as a cabinet maker at the time we started Little Sapling Toys. We are a brilliant team.

Personalized Camera
What is one thing you will be going out of your way to learn more about in the coming year to benefit your business?  Law (namely intellectual property and safety standards)

What steps are you taking to ensure your products follow applicable child safety laws?  We've had our toys XRF tested (by ESSCO Safety Check) and we are working on getting certified testing later this year. One of the reasons we invested in a laser engraver is so that we can label our toys in compliance with CPSIA standards.

Here are myriad of  places you can find Nick and Kimber on the web:                       

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Fun: Honorable Mention

Hi everyone!  We had a couple of surprises around here this week... First, I accidentally deleted my profile picture on my Facebook Page and now I get the white screen of death when I try to get it back... or add another one.  It left me with a big questionmark!  Oops!  Seriously, if anyone has run into this before and knows how I should hold my mouth when I click to update my photo please let me know.

Then, there was this treasury feature:

Lastly, there was the include on Believing Boldly, Summer Jo's blog in her post offering advice to brides to be.  Hooray!  There are a ton of other people's advice too, and all of it is very good advice the way I see it after  many years of dating and 9 years of marriage to my high-school sweetheart.   Pop over there and wish her a Happy Anniversary too if you have a chance.  :)

Overall, it was a wonderful week barring that Facebook thing.

Keepin' it Joyful!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bloom: Girls {Craft} Night Out!

Image Courtesy Just Dandy Creations
One of my best friends in life, Karlyn is a fellow craft junkie and mother of four wonderful children.  About five months ago the two of us started having a craft night once a month where we set up shop at one or the other's house and craft while the kids are asleep...  and yes, we stay up till ungodly hours of the morning. (I almost made it to 4 AM the last time).  That's not all we do, however... We talk about all sorts of things and bounce ideas off each other and teach each other new techniques we have learned and the list (and this sentence) could really go on and on.

She is the one who believed in me enough to suggest that I open up a shop and she is still the one who encourages me the most in this endeavor.  I am grateful to God for a friend like this and I hope all of you (especially you gals with kids) are taking the time to get out of the house (away from your kids) once in a while to connect with a really good friend you can craft with, and laugh with, and cry with, and pray for....  because it's one of those amazing things that's helping me to finally bloom.

Keepin' it Real!

P.S. Karlyn is re-starting a ministry she ran before her house was so full called Solid Stage Footlights.  (Hey, I'm not the only one blooming here!)  A former Continentals and Jeremiah People Member, she is an immensely gifted singer, dancer, choreographer and director who will be bringing a message of love (through drama, dance, christian music and secular music that's been changed up a bit)  in her next season which promises to challenge the church and reach out to unbelievers as well. She has a passion for encouraging people with the love of Christ and is a really great leader. Please forward her information to anyone ages 15-25 residing in the United States, who you think would be interested in touring with her group in the Southern California area during the summer of 2012.  Or, if you live in Southern California, you can pass her information to your youth pastor as she is in the process of booking concerts at this time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Craft: That scarf I started...

I finished that scarf I started a while ago, so I thought I'd post it for you to check out...  I'd love to read your comments since I'm thinking very, very seriously about adding a crochet section to my store in the near future.

Keep it Crafty!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Featured Artist: Jennifer Robinson of My First Jewellery on Etsy

      I love the concept for this shop because it IS nice to be able to buy something of quality for your daughter that she can pass down to the next generation and get it at a reasonable price. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoy this shop! 
On Etsy
      What do you make and what was/is the inspiration for your shop?  I make birthstone and heirloom jewellery for little girls. My 6 year old daughter Lauren gave me the idea when she saw the jewellery I was making for women and asked for her own gemstone necklace. I thought, “Why not? Little girls appreciate beautiful things too, sometimes even more so that adults.” Soon after, My First Jewellery was born.

Tell us how your creativity has woven itself into your life’s journey to make you what you are today. I have always been a crafter. I have dabbled in beading, needlework, crochet, scrapbooking and other paper crafts, drawing and sewing. I studied Interior Design in College, and designed custom closets part-time for several years. When I decided that I wanted to craft full-time, I considered many different mediums. But the very first time I picked up some sterling wire, a beautiful gemstone and some pliers, I was hooked. I knew that I had found the right medium for me, because I couldn’t get enough of it. The fact that I love sparkly things helps! After almost two years I am still as excited about jewellery making as I was on that very first day. And I’m finally using those sketching, proportion and colour theory classes that I took in school, just in a different way.

Pink Tourmaline for October
In what other areas of your life (or interests that you have) do you see your creativity shining through? Definitely writing. If I hadn’t become a jewellery designer, I may have ended up writing for a living. My favourite type of writing is poetry, and I have written dozens of poems, mostly geared to children. It’s on my To Do list to have them published some day! For now, my audience is one appreciative little girl who is learning to appreciate poetry in the same way I did when I was young.
What is your vision for the future of your business?  I want to develop a line of birthstone jewellery for girls aged 3-tween. My product line will include many core styles that I will always have available, with new designs being introduced regularly in order to keep things fresh and interesting. I want to expand into wholesale at some point, as well as showcase my work at jewellery parties which I find are a lot of fun for everyone. As much as I want my business to succeed financially, my lifestyle is of equal importance to me and I want to sell in ways that support that lifestyle. While my daughter is young, attending weekend-long craft fairs is not reasonable for me. So I hope to achieve success online, through wholesale, and parties that I can plan around our family’s schedule.

Tell us about your typical day.  I take Lauren to school in the morning and then settle down with my coffee in front of the computer. This is my time to check my three shops, catch up on Facebook and twitter, check my various e-mails and chat about business in the forums. I allow myself until 10:00, but after that, I must move away from the computer or else before I know it, half of the day is gone! The bulk of my day is spent doing a combination of the following: designing and making new jewellery, photographing, listing jewellery in my online shops, ordering supplies, packing orders, mailing orders and communicating with customers. Lunch is about 10 minutes long and is eaten at the computer, then it’s back to work. At 3:30 I pick Lauren up from school and we have some time together reading, talking and snacking. When she’s ready for some downtime, I go back to work until 6:00 when my husband comes home and starts looking around for dinner (yes, I’m the only one who cooks). I tear myself away from my craft room and make dinner for my starving family. Then there’s the usual kitchen clean-up, dog-feeding (we have a large furry family) and bathtime. While Lauren’s in the bath, I sneak back into my craft room so that I can list an item for those perusing my shop in the evening. Sometimes I can make a necklace, photograph it and list it before I hear the tub draining! Moms have to be efficient. After storytime and bedtime, I spend a little time online before my husband gives me that look. The look that says, “Are you going to be on there all night?” That’s my cue that my work day is over. And you know what? I can’t wait to get started again the next day!

Are you trained as an artist?  I hold a diploma for Interior Design from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. And though I’m not designing spaces, I find that many of the elements that I studied all those years ago come into play now. The most prominent one is colour, which factors into all types of design. Proportion is also a main element of jewellery design, as is the ability to sketch out an idea and        make it a reality. I am trained to look for inspiration in everyday things, magazines, stores, the outdoors. This comes naturally after studying design for three years. As far as designing jewellery is concerned, I am self-taught. I picked up a free booklet one day in a craft store that showed how to create a wrapped loop with wire. I tried it, and the rest is history.

Peridot for August
What is one thing you will be going out of your way to learn more about in the coming year to benefit your business?  Without a doubt it is the business side of things, namely the necessary bookkeeping and income reporting that comes with any business. While I do keep track of expenses and sales, I need to do it in such a way that will make it easy come income tax time.  It’s a necessary evil.

What steps are you taking to ensure your products follow applicable child safety laws?  My first idea for my line of jewellery for little girls included less expensive materials, namely silver plated chain, Swarovski crystals, lampwork beads and colourful enameled charms. Then I started reading up on child safety laws and quickly realized that this was not going to be possible. The chain that I was buying was from other sellers and I didn’t know what the base metal was. Having each item tested was not going to be financially feasible. So I switched gears and started buying only sterling silver chain and findings from a major wholesale company that can guarantee the material and provide me with lot numbers. The stones that I use are all genuine, natural gemstones and pearls. There is nothing in my jewellery that is harmful to children, and I’m happy now with my new direction. Instead of fun, costume jewellery, my pieces are meant to be given as gifts to flower girls, at christenings and for birthdays. They grow with the child, so it is jewellery that is kept and cherished for some time. This is a good choice in a tough economy where people are looking for things that will last.

Here are the links to My First Jewellery and Jennifer’s Facebook Page for women, which she sometimes uses to promote the pieces she makes for little girls.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick Healthy Snacks and Give-Away Winner Announced...

Congratulations to Rachel! She won the chance to pick out one free item in my shop! Stop by her Little Birdie Blog to say hello and let her know I sent you.

Now on to the snacks...

Ok so we all know that veggies and fruit are great snacks for the kids, but we all get bored with the same old thing. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks that you may not have thought of (at least for a while) to add to the lineup.  Enjoy!

Image Courtesy Heartfelt3
Bumps on a log (Peanut butter inside the celery with rasins or crasins on top)

Apple or orange slices with cinnamon sprinkled on them

Apple with peanut butter for dip

Peanut Butter or cream cheese and any kind of fresh fruit sandwich

Garlic Toast on high fiber bread

Roasted chickpeas... My kids LOVE these!

Make fruit kabobs

Dark chocolate milk (Put 2 tsp unflavored fiber powder and a very little bit of cocoa powder in a cup and add 1 cup of milk a little at a time while stirring or put it in the blender... The dextrin is sweet enough to make it like dark chocolate... you can add more cocoa as desired.)

Mexican style dark chocolate milk (add cinnamon to the recipe above)

Image Courtesy Prrint
Frozen Pea Salad (Peas frozen - do not thaw, sour cream, salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic granules and onion powder. Add chopped salted nuts to individual portions if you like. Store any extra in the freezer or it will separate... and no nuts in the freezer, unless you like them squishy later.)

Green cheese spread and crackers (with fiber in them) or celery...  I call it 'Monster Goo'

Toss chopped tomatoes and lettuce with pesto (or mild salsa) and a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar and salt to taste for a yummy salad (freeze leftover pesto in ice cube trays for future use)

Marinate a couple of sliced cucumbers and a few slices of onion in a couple of Tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, olive oil 1 tsp. honey and a little water for a couple of hours in the fridge Serve cucumbers to the kids, toss the onions (or eat them yourself ;)  This is quite refreshing on a hot summer day and also makes a stellar side dish to go with grilled burgers.

Make a healthier smoothie (Add to your blender 1 cup of plain unsweetened yogurt, 1-2 bananas, and enough fresh or frozen strawberries, raspberries or blackberries to almost fill it up and add some fiber powder. Blend. One banana should be enough sweeten the deal, but you can add the second one if your strawberries are super bland.) Serves 4-5 people.

Image Courtesy HaveArt
Chimichurri Hummus (1/2 a recipe chimichurri sauce blended with one can drained chickpeas - I haven't tried this one yet, but I did make the sauce {It's delicious!} and this was the application that immediately came to mind. Let me know how yours turns out!)

Banana Delight (Mash a banana and add plain unsweetened yogurt to taste then add some fresh berries, serve with chopped walnuts or slivered almonds on top)

Harvest a couple of home grown tomatoes or cucumbers... Serve with a sprinkling of salt and eat.

Split an avocado with someone, salt it and eat. (This is also good with a tiny splash of lemon or lime juice.)

Keep it Yummy and Healthy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who wants to win a gift certificate?

This is your last chance to win your choice of one item from my shop and here are the details. Giveaway closes at Midnight PST on Friday July 14th.

Craft: Sunny Circles Sun Catchers

The current art on my kitchen window was getting pretty faded after being up all spring, so this is what I did to replace it.  Yeah, I did it by myself without help from the kids this time because I had a pretty rough day with them and I just needed to chill a bit after bed time.  (It worked wonders, by the way...)  Tomorrow, I will let them have their way with the tissue scraps and all will be well in our house again. :)

What you need to do this yourself:

Waxed Paper
Liquid Starch
Paint brush
Paper Clips
Tissue Paper Scraps (I recycled some from a party)
Place to Dry your finished piece
Tape or Hole Punch and Ribbon

I folded one sheet each of red, yellow, white and pink tissue into rectangles about the size of a half sheet of paper and traced three different size circles onto two of them.  Then I stacked them two high so I could see the circles on top of each stack and added paperclips around the design to help hold the paper together and keep it still while I cut them out.  Squares, triangles, or just torn up scraps work well too, but I really wanted circles this time. 

Paint liquid starch on your waxed paper and add one layer of tissue circles.  Paint over them with more starch working from the center out on each tissue circle to prevent distortion of your shapes.

Add more layers of circles, overlapping them as desired until you get the look you want.  Using more layers makes a sturdier end product, which is important if you want to hang them or use them as gift tags.  (You can write on the paper with a Sharpie!)

Put a couple of heavy books around the edges to prevent curling and let it dry....

Trace various sized circles (or your favorite shape) onto the waxed paper with a sharpie and cut out. This paper cuts fast with little resistance to your scissors so it is easy to make mistakes.

Carefully remove the waxed paper from your tissue sun catcher.  If it doesn't all release, it is okay  because when you put it up to the light, you can't see the traces of waxed paper anyway.   (Unless that's the place where you wrote on it with a sharpie!)

I didn't like how mine hung with ribbon, so I ended up using some clear tape on the back to stick them directly to the window so that they laid flat.  I SO love how these turned out and would love to see pictures of your creations if you decide to make some too.

Keep it crafty!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When Life Gets Tough... Lean on the Lord

I've been going through some troubling things that I really can't share.  Thank you in advance for your prayers, they really do mean a lot to me.  What I am grasping on a deeper level is that when I am faced with difficult things is that I can take comfort in my God because of who He is... 

Image Courtesy Divine Stampings
Here's a tidbit or two:

God wants me looking at Him not what happened, or what could have happened, or what could happen in the future.  He is stronger than all of that.   He is the one who overcame the power of sin and death.  He is our protector. He is the only one who is wise, and He declares that justice is His to pronounce over those who would stand against him.  He is perfect, and He loves perfectly.  He is trust-worthy, our comforter, our ever-present help in time of need.  He is our only hope.  Yes, I will cling to that hope with white knuckles, because it's all I have.  Really, it's all any of us have.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First "Real" Featured Artist... by that I mean someone who is not me...

I have long awaited the day when I would begin featuring other remarkable artists who make great things for kids.  Hooray! Today is the day we feature one of my fellow Etsy Kids Team members,  the fabulous Rebecca of:

on Etsy

What do you make and what was/is the inspiration for your shop?  I specialize in hand dyed and stenciled onesies, but dabble in some sewing projects like pacifier clips, hair bows, look books & I SPY bean bags. I'm just starting work on a line of fabric appliqué's of my favorite onesie designs.  I think about what I like, what my kids like and go from there. I'm not a pastel & puppy dog kind of girl so my onesies are bright & designs usually un-"baby". Though the occasional animal does slip in there. Who doesn't love a baby crawling around in a little cute animal onesie?
How cute is this?!?! I love Vespa's.
Tell us how your creativity has woven itself into your life’s journey to make you what you are today.   I worked as an HR Director in NYC for over 7 years. Working until 9pm, having dinner, going to bed and then waking up to do it all over again was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I'll say this though, it helped me realize that if I really wanted something, only I could make it happen. Going from Wall Street to Stay-at-home-mom was tough. My desire to have my own projects and have an identity other than WIFE & MOM is really what fueled me to keep going with Max & Magnolia. I learned from my own mother that having your own "life" is healthy and ok. She managed to have her own activities and hobbies on top of being a wife, mom, sister & friend.  Plus, I have a husband who really understands that I need my own outlet and "me" time. I'm convinced providing that for each other is key to our great marriage. 

What is your vision for the future of your business?  Things are plugging along great lately. If I can continue to earn my own $ to support the nasty shoe-buying habit I picked up in New York, I'm happy :)  Oh, & If I could find some time to build my own website that would be wonderful.

Tell us about your typical day.  What I plan & what actually happens often don't coincide at my house.  I imagine my day is much like any mom who works from home. I aim for:
-Boys up and fed. By their father, I'm not a morning person.
Perfect road trip toy...
-Play time with mom
-Announce "Mommy has to work for a bit". They are usually pretty good at letting me check my Etsy shop, emails and Facebook for about 30 min.
-Stories and train tracks re-built.
-Naps for boys. During their naps is usually when I fill any non-sewing orders that have come in that day.
-Afternoon play date or trip to park
-Cartoons while I attempt to make dinner
-Dinner with Dad
-Family time
-Bed time for boys- usually around 7:30 or 8
-Sewing time . Any sewing can't happen until after the kiddos go to bed, or if Daddy takes them on a bike ride. My machine is in the family room where they play and if I'm in the room they selfishly insist that I be doing something with them.
-Catch up on my taped TV shows
-Bed time for my by 10:30

Are you trained as an artist?  If yes, what degree(s) or certificates do you hold and where did you earn it/them? If no, how did you learn to make the items you offer in your shop?  Nope. Mostly I’m a self-taught girl dying, stenciling & sewing away. Although I have to say my mother is a great quilter and sewer. She attempted several times in my youth to teach me. I was too impatient to absorb most of it.

In what other areas of your life (or interests that you have) do you see your creativity shining through?   I do have a small garden, but I don't enjoy taking care of it. So I guess that doesn't count.  Hmmm... probably in my GNO's. I have a fun group of friends and we try to get together at least once a month for a craft night. Projects are selected by the hostess and we sit around and craft, gab & eat.  I also like to make things for my boys. Dad's dress shirts or sweaters have become shorts or vests & some fabric from a friend became a Teepee.

What is one thing you will be going out of your way to learn more about in the coming year to benefit your business?  Definitely website design. I'm spending time researching how I want my page to look & work.

What steps are you taking to ensure your products follow applicable child safety laws?  Thankfully a lot of this is just good common sense. People want to know what your product is made of & how to care for it, and babies should not be chewing on things that are small enough for them to choke on.  I put all that in my ETSY listings and on the tags I put on each item.   Google search & fellow shop owners were great resources as well.

Where can we find you?        

Monday, July 11, 2011

Live: Healthy Food Series Starts Now...

Every Monday for the next several weeks, I'll be posting something about healthy food.  Some will be recipes etc, but today I want to start off with a video.  I will warn you it is a long video, but it is WELL worth watching.  This video is a lecture (in no way a boring lecture) by Pediactric Endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco called Sugar: The Bitter Truth.  He trains future pediatricians and what he has to say about sugars of all kinds is very important (and often goes unsaid!) for the health and well being of grown-ups and kids everywhere.

We have removed as many sugars as possible from our family's diet with an exception for a small amount of sugar in a high-fiber bread and some whole-fruits and veggies.  We occasionally add a fiber supplement to our diet and did not go with the whole raw thing. Coupled with a little excercise, my husband and I are seeing pounds fly off our bodies and our clothes fitting much better.  We try to keep sweet treats reserved only for an occasional birthday or holiday and our taste for what needs to be sweetened has diminished quite a bit and so has our kids'.  My 4-year old son recently commented on how sweet peanut butter is... without any jelly or honey. We only buy the kind without added sugar.  We weren't very over-weight to begin with, but the benefits of what he says are quick (within reason) and substantial.  So, please watch the video.

I'd love to hear your comments...

Keep it Healthy!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Surprise! Recent Treasury Features for Love in Bloom Boutique

My shop was recently featured in the following two treasuries!  Special thanks to Little Owl's Nest and  Hi Mamma  for the beautiful T's.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bloom: Lessons in Grace...

I had the honor and privelege of being chosen to team interpret the Independence Day celebration at my church on the 3rd of July.  It was a challenge, because I have recently re-entered the Deaf world after about 5 years.  I was involved in the Deaf Community in San Diego before I had my kids, but when I got pregnant with the first one, I slowly and steadily started losing my ability to understand signers and produce understandible signs to the point that I just had to step away because I couldn't communicate at all and it was very embarassing. 

Image Courtesy: Little Sapling Toys
Anyway, as I look back on this experience, there are a couple of things that stand out that I wanted to share with you all:      
     1)  God's grace is sufficient for me (and you).  This is a pretty elementary concept, if you have spent any time in a good church, but I was reminded again of it because I was so nervous and though I prepared thouroughly and did try very hard, there are definately signs I was a little unsure about and things I had glossed earlier that didn't flow off my hands quite the way I had planned.  But in the end, I received several compliments from people in the community and I knew that what I had done was enough.  In years past, I would have been stressed out about it after the fact, but I was able to have peace about it because I understand that God turned my effort into something that honored Him and really, that was my goal to begin with.
     2) Nothing any of us do will ever truely be perfect, because we aren't perfect... none of us(!)  We can be really, really, really good at something, even really, really good at many things, but until we can walk on water of our own accord and have it hold us up... all we can do is to do our best and forget the rest. (Thank you P90X man, whatever your name is). 
I hope this will be a comfort to someone out there who struggles with perfectionism... because I know it can be pretty demanding and devaluing.  But there is one who is perfect and He wants to clothe us with His perfection and hold us close like a dady holds his precious child.  Will we let him?

Keep it thought-provoking!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Foundation row single crochet...

     One of my best friends, Karly of Just Dandy Creations, taught me how to crochet a few stitches a couple of months ago, and I instantly fell in love with crocheting.  It is such a soothing and quick (depending on what you are making) craft that I try to get a few stitches in every day.  There is, however one thing in crochet that I loathe... the process of making a row of any type of stitch onto a chained row using the traditional method because it is painstakingly SLOW! Because of this, I never tried to crochet a scarf or start a blanket or any real clothing.  
     One day at nap time, I was looking on You Tube for some different things to add to my crochet repertoire and I found a video on doing the foundation row single crochet.  I won't name names, but the video was enough to get me in trouble, and not enough to do anything meaningful with. I followed the instructions exactly (at least, I think I did) and it unraveled completely.  I was pretty bummed, because I had gotten my hopes up that I might actually want to make a scarf one day. 
Beginnings of a sweet girlie scarf...
     You can imagine my delight when I stumbled onto this awesome tutorial and video on Future Girl's blog.  It is such an easy to follow video tutorial, that I decided to share it with you even though it is a couple of years old.  This method is nice for lots of reasons, but my favorite reason is that it is SO much faster than trying to get the hook into a flimsy little chain without it twisting up like crazy because you are actually making the chain row and the first single crochet row at the same time.  When you get to the end of your row, you have a much more substantial portion of your piece done and it is much easier to work with.  Anyway, here's the picture of the scarf I started using this technique... (Shh! Don't tell my daughter... It's for her!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Let's Get this Party Started! AND Featured Artist... (Ok, it's me... but I wanted to tell my story too)

Image Courtesy: The Felted Kitten
I was thinking about how we could get this blog a little more exposure, since I'm going to really work at it now.  So, I thought we should play a game:  You get a point for doing each of the things listed below and putting the links to show it in your comment to this post, up to a total of 10 Points... Winner gets a free item of their choice from my shop.

    1) Follow this blog if you aren't already doing so, one point to you if you are already
    2) Blog, Tweet, Facebook or use other social   media to spread the word about this giveaway with a link to this post...
     3) Add my badge to your blog or other website
     4) 'Like' my Facebook page and post a comment there with the name of your favorite item currently in my shop
      5) 'Follow' me on Twitter and post a comment there with a link to your favorite item currently in my shop

Just like in school, you have to show your work... So don't forget to comment on this post with the links to what you did.  Whoever has the most points by Midnight PST on Friday, July 15th wins.  If there is a tie, the winner will be chosen by

Good Luck!
Image Courtesy: Love in Bloom Boutique

Hey, so here is the interview I did with myself.  Maybe it's a little schitzo... but oh well!  Mostly, I wanted to tell a little of my story and give people something to check out while they are thinking they may want to be featured on this blog.

     What do you make and what was/is the inspiration for your shop?  I make boutique style hair bows and ribbon flowers and am dabbling in other areas soon (I hope) to be introduced to Love in Bloom Boutique.  I started making accessories, because I had a hard time finding things that weren’t too grown-up or filled with too many other colors to go with my daughter’s school uniforms. I have since ventured into many other colors and love making sweet adornments for girls of all ages.

Tell us how your creativity has woven itself into your life’s journey to make you what you are today. (What instances helped give you the confidence/motivation to pursue this as a career?)  I have always loved playing with color in it’s various forms, from art projects to clothing and makeup choices to light… I love playing with it!  I always wanted to do something creative but just didn't pursue it for lots of reasons.  Anyway, I kept trying to figure out what creative thing I could do for the first five years I was a stay at home mom and finally happened upon this.  I kept getting compliments on what I was making, so I started a little business and here I am.

What is your vision for the future of your business?  Right now I’m just trying to make it through the stage of life where all of my kids aren’t in school yet, so for the short term I’d like to make a couple more good wholesale contacts do a few small shows, and pick up my sales on Etsy and I’d like to branch out by making more types of items (because I like to mix things up a bit). In the more distant future, I'd also one day open up a brick and mortar shop with all kinds of wonderful handmade items.

Tell us about your typical day.  There is always something different happening for me just due to having young children. But in general, I check and briefly respond to any e-mails and convo’s in the morning, work on my blog or making things at nap time and spend three or four nights per week working on designs after the kids go to bed.

Are you trained as an artist?  If yes, what degree(s) or certificates do you hold and where did you earn it/them? If no, how did you learn to make the items you offer in your shop?  I am not trained as an artist. Oh, how I would have changed that if I could re-live my college years!  It’s laughable how little formal art education I have, but I have learned that anything you want to do can pretty much be found in a free tutorial on YouTube or elsewhere on the web.  That being said, I have experimented quite a bit and significantly altered what I learned about making bows (and tutus) with much better results than just following a tutorial verbatim.

 In what other areas of your life (or interests that you have) do you see your creativity shining through? (Gardening, music, performing arts, writing, creative ‘foreign’ language expression etc.)   I love pretty things of all types, so I have a little cottage garden I scratch around in.  I think it’s fun to decide how to mix colors as well as forms, scents and tastes outdoors and often solicit my kids for their ideas.  I also wrote a children’s book that maybe I’ll pluck up enough courage one day to try and have published, but for now I enjoy it with my kids.  I love to cook delicious and healthy things to eat too.  But most of all, I love the beauty and richness of American Sign Language, Deaf culture and the Deaf themselves.  I am regularly involved with interpreting music at the church I belong to and will be starting back to school this fall and working toward the goal of completing the Interpreting Training Program at a local junior college one class at a time.

What is one thing you will be going out of your way to learn more about in the coming year to benefit your business? I’ll be working on managing the work-life balance better for sure.  Long nights in the basement may be fun and productive for the time, but cost much in what I can give my kids the next day.  If any of you have any helpful tips on this, let me know.   ;)

What steps are you taking to ensure your products follow applicable child safety laws? Safety has always been something I have taken seriously.  Because of this, all my items are made from a combination of items that either don’t require lead testing or are certified to comply with lead regulations.  I test items to see if they meet choking hazard regulations and label items for age appropriate use with the idea that parents should be informed enough to make great choices about small parts for their littlest ones.

Where can we find you?                                                                                                                                                                       Http://  
And of course, here on Live Love Bloom Craft!

Keep it crafty!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!!

 Picture by: Jubilee Imagery 
When I was growing up, we celebrated the 4th of July in my Grandparent's small town in Northern California.  We hand cranked our own vanilla ice-cream on the front porch of the old brick house and waited impatiently for the ice-cream and of course, the fireworks.

The fire-chief lived a couple of houses over, and a bunch of families would get together at his place each bringing a bunch of fireworks and something yummy to share. We'd eat and laugh and write our names in the air with our sparklers.  When it was really good and dark, we'd sit on our lawn-chairs cuddling under our blankets while the firemen would take turns setting off the 'big ones'.  I miss the simplicity of those days, when you didn't have to go to a huge public showing of fireworks to enjoy them in person.  I get the fact that there were tons of accidents and things, but the idea that my kids will never get the thrill of being able to write their names against a dark sky makes me a little sad.

That being said, fireworks are themselves, not the 4th of July, nor is the ice-cream, the barbecue or the potato salad.  It's about remembering the people who saw fit to not allow one man to rule over everyone in this land according to whatever whim struck his fancy.  These men, loved their God and tried to put his principles to work in governing the people.  They stood up for what they believed in enough to fight for the right to be free.  So many others have followed in their footsteps, and today I want to honor their efforts by reminding us all of something Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." So let's sing the songs of freedom with our kids, and teach them about the people who have gone before us, and honor our soldiers, and respect our flag, and honor our God, so that when it is their turn to be in charge, they will have an understanding of the great cost of freedom and will take it upon themselves to maintain it for future generations.

Happy Birthday, America... and many more!


I've been pretty sporadic about posting to my blog, but I'm ready to start getting serious about it now so I came up with a plan.  Here's a sneak peak at what's to come:

Modays - Live
Tuesdays - Love
Wednesdays - Bloom
Thursdays - Craft
Fridays - Surprise!

I will be going back to school in the fall, so this may change as needed to accommodate my crazy good life.

Keep it crafty!
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