Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Wishes

I have really neglected blogging this past month. I would normally feel really bad and guilty about this, but not this time. See, I realized several weeks ago that I had to let some areas go this Holiday season. This was a big thing for me as I'm a "to-do list maker", awesome time management scheduler, and the perfect example of a mom that tries to do too much. I was starting to get stressed before the Holidays even started approaching. What a huge difference this little change has made.

I've been able to fulfill all my handbag orders for Christmas delivery without much stress. I've been able to bake cookies with my kids, build a snowman, make gingerbread houses, and still have time to shop for extra special presents to give to my family. I've also gotten to just hang out with friends (long overdue) and laugh.

Now my son has a cold, but this hasn't put me over the edge because I've already carved the time out. I've already established my priorities. I've been able to enjoy what the season is truly about - spending time with loved ones and remembering the signifigance of a single baby's birth on Christmas morning.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Holiday season. My shop (& blog) will be back full force after the New Year. Thank you for helping make 2009 such a wonderful year for Camille Star. I can't wait to see what 2010 brings!

Have a blessed New Year~

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


For those of you that follow my Etsy shop, you'll notice that two of my most popular fabrics are from Joel Dewberry's Ginseng collection.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

I'll start with the bad. It's good to get these things out of the way. I'll break it to you softly ~ These fabrics are no longer being printed and are already extremely hard to come by.

The good news ~ I tried to snag every yard available of these two fabrics and have been able to get about 4 yards of each. This amounts to about 8-9 more bags from each fabric.

So rest assured, I'll be posting more of these bags. Just make sure to grab one once it's available in my shop, because once it's gone, it's gone for good.

Thanks for taking the news like a champ!

Monday, November 9, 2009

All About Fabric

If you're like me and are obsessed with fabric, you are going to love, love, love this blog that I stumbled upon last week. It's called "True Up" and has all the latest on fabric trends, designers and shops. I felt like I had found a hidden gem. I hope you do too. Or you might just hate me for feeding your fabric obsession even more!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

It has been raining the past two straight days. . . uugghhhhhhh. How do you keep busy and have fun in this kind of weather?

Anyone for a game of Bozo Buckets?
Please, please tell me you remember this game or am I really that old and outdated??

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Field Trips

I always thought that once my kids got into school, I would have so much more "me" time (I know, it sounds pretty selfish doesn't it?). Boy, was I wrong! I seem to spend more time in my car and volunteering at their schools than anything else.

It's given me an opportunity to see a side of my kids that I normally don't get to see at home. To see how they're growing, maturing, and interacting with friends. Sometimes it's nice to step out of your normal routine and look at things through a different lens.

Camille asked me to go on her class trip to the pumpkin farm last week. I couldn't pass it up. One of my earliest memories is of my mom going on a field trip with my class to the zoo.

This may not seem like a big deal, but you have to know that I'm a middle child (Jan Brady syndrome, enough said!) and my parents worked a lot when I was younger. They were young and trying to make ends meet. So when my mom volunteered after hearing me beg and whine for awhile, I couldn't wait.

Inviting my mom into this new world of mine with new friends was so exciting to me. It was very important to me that she be a part of this too. It's like when your boyfriend meets your friends for the first time and you hope everyone gets along and everything meshes together perfectly. Okay, not so good of an analogy but you get the idea!
Everything that day was perfect ~ I got to ride the bus with my mom, I didn't have to share her with my sister or brother, and we now had a special memory that we shared together.

She was in charge of me & a small group of kids ~ we had to stay close and eat lunch together. There was a boy in our group that had opened his packed lunch to find a mayonnaise and cheese sandwich and a full ear of corn on the cob. Who would pack this kind of lunch on an 85 degree day? This was just not a good combination after walking around the zoo all morning. The sandwich smelt awful and my mom had to get rid of his lunch. My mom and I could not stop laughing about the whole scene for days. We shared this moment and the day together, uninterrupted, as corny as it was. 29 years later (yikes!) and I still remember this like it was yesterday.

So when I volunteered for the pumpkin trip I could only hope that it would be as special for Camille and create a fond memory.

She didn't even want to sit with me on the bus! She was too busy sitting with a different person each way. While this normally would have made me a little said, I couldn't help but be proud of what a big girl she's become. She's come out of her shy, timid shell and is making new friends. It made my heart swell that she didn't need to rely on me or use me as a crutch.

The pumpkin farm was a mudpit. Did I mention how muddy it was?? Oh, and that it was 40 degrees. We all survived though and laughed a lot about it (that was our mayonnaise sandwich moment).

I love, love, love that she invited me into her new world and shared her new experiences with me. I wish every parent could get an opportunity to do the same. I think it means more than we realize sometimes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Favorite New Recipe

I came across a food blog last week that was like a hidden treasure ~ "My Kitchen Cafe". Lately I've been feeling like I make the same things everyday, but not any longer. Now I have much needed cooking inspiration.

I especially can't recommend this recipe for "Sweet and Sour Chicken" enough. My whole family gobbled it down which means a lot (even Camille who is going through an anti-chicken phase lately)!

So please give it a try and click "here". And if you live in a rinky dinky town like ours and can't get a decent Chinese takeout meal, you'll appreciate it that much more.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm in Love With

I had big aspirations last Winter and decided to crochet my own slippers. I'd gone through so many store bought versions only to be disappointed. They'd fall apart, rip at the seam, you name it. I got one slipper done after a lot of cuss words and restarts. All I can say is Ronald McDonald was missing his slipper and I had it. The sucker was huge. And then when I finally got the stinkin' thing right, I couldn't remember what I had done so that I could repeat it on the other slipper. Ugghhh!
I don't think I want to go through all that again. I don't have the kind of life where I can crochet in peace and quiet and count my stitches and keep track (or maybe I'm just a little craft challenged???). I'm usually multi-tasking so I need a simple repetitive pattern. I have yet to accomplish this so I'm thinking I should just surrender myself to the fact that some things should just be bought.
These are from Natalya's Studio - check out her Etsy shop here. You might fall in love with a pair yourself. Double-cushioned soles, warm and cozy yarn, and stylish designs. These are sooo much better than the mass-produced slippers at chain stores.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tomato Update

As most of you know, I started my own tomato garden this year ~ my very first ever. I can't believe how well it's done. Click here to see the Spring planting. Check 'em out now. . . We're now experiencing the fruit of our labor with a handful of tomatoes each day. The kids love picking them and I love eating them.
I seriously recommend this method for anyone that loves grape tomatoes and doesn't like to weed. All you have to do is water them daily (a gallon jug works great) and feed them with Miracle Gro for tomatoes once a week. The banana peppers and basil that were planted on the top of the buckets have done great as well. But we got attacked by Japanese beetles this Summer (can I tell you how much I hate these bugs!) so a lot of leaves got eaten. I guess I'm just grateful they didn't eat my tomatoes too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Holiday Weekend Fun

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. I know we sure did. We spent one morning raspberry picking at a local farm and had a blast. You just can't beat fresh picked fruit in season. The kids' motto was "one for me, one for the container". Jonas couldn't wait to make a smoothie either when we got home. I turned around to see this and couldn't help but snap a shot:

We also camped out in our backyard. This is so much fun if you have younger kids and don't feel like messing around with an actual campsite and holiday crowds (added bonus is that you get to use your own bathroom!). We made smores, read books by camplight, and played bingo. It was a little chilly around 3am but we made it all night. Jonas woke us all up bright and early at 6am. There is one downside to camping, the sun is a natural alarm clock!

Here's pics of Doug putting up the tent with his two little helpers. Jonas has his working goggles on, of course. And there's an audience with front row seats. Camille thought they'd be interested in the whole set-up process.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kitchen Diaries

I woke up feeling the need to bake this morning. So we baked my most favorite bread. . .Irish Soda Bread. I know it's not St. Patty's Day but who says you can only have it once a year! My mom made this bread when I was growing up, and I looked forward to it everytime (especially warm right out of the oven with a little pat of butter, yum). Try it in the morning with a hot cup of coffee and you'll be hooked! All these years later I have yet to find a better version. My hubby and kids love this bread now just as much as I do. The recipe is down below.

And to give everyone an update on the dishcloths. . .I'm LOVING them!! They are absolutely wonderful. I just toss it in my washer at the end of each night and the cloth gets washed with the next load of laundry. It's really working out great.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour (I mixed whole wheat and unbleached white flours and it turned out great. Otherwise use white flour)

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp butter

raisins (we use the 24 oz. container)

2 1/4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut butter into mixture and blend. Scald raisins in a colander under hot water (this softens and moistens them). Add raisins to mixture. Then make a hole in the middle of the batter and pour the buttermilk in. Stir until combined.

Grease a round casserole dish (like Pyrex) and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 60 minutes. This is how long it takes in my gas oven, I've heard it may take a couple of minutes longer in electric.

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camille's BIG Day!

So, all in all, Camille's first day of Kindergarten went pretty well. She marched right in there without looking back, brave as can be. I wish I could say the same. As soon as I turned the corner, the tears just started welling like a pool. I tried to hold it back because I didn't want to answer the questions that would soon follow from Jonas, my 3-yr old. He'll be starting preschool in several days, and I hope he'll view it as a positive, fun experience.

We did have an interesting experience at the end of the day though when we went to pick her up. After waiting for thirty minutes in the car pick-up lane, she was nowhere to be found and the teachers/principal weren't sure what happened. They called all the bus drivers and finally discovered she had been put on the bus due to miscommunication. We raced to the bus stop and made it just in time to get her. It was definitely scary for me (my husband was as cool as a cucumber though). It's a very difficult thing for a mother to entrust her children to someone else and then to not know where they are or what has transpired. I tried not to make a big deal of the whole thing because I didn't want Camille to read into it and react to my expressions. So she is not traumatized but has declared she is just not ready to ride the big bus everyday yet. And I'm totally fine with that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One Dish at a Time

Aren't these the cutest dishcloths ever?? I'm almost afraid to use them because I don't want to destroy their texture or bright colors, but I'm gonna give them a try. Time to toss out the old sponge!

I love to crochet and once again, with Fall drawing near, my fingers are getting the urge to create. My latest project has been these dishcloths. Not only do they save you money, but they're also easier on the environment. Plus they don't house all that nasty bacteria like a sponge does because you can throw them in the washing machine and reuse them again. My sister yells at me all the time about how sponges are dirt and filth infested. Well, Melissa, I finally decided to do something about!

So starting tomorrow we are using these to clean our dishes. I only hope they will clean my stainless steel pans. That should be a bit interesting. I'll keep you posted on how this all turns out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Camille, you have filled my last five years with so much joy. I've watched you grow right before my eyes, experiencing all your "firsts". Your first word (Da-da) to your first steps and now I want to go back so badly and do it all over again.

This Summer has breezed by and held more special "firsts", ones I want to hold on to tightly because I know they can't be relived. Your first lost tooth, your first baseball game, your first pair of rollerskates. I have to admit, I was dreading the rollerskating when Grammy gave these to you. All I could think about was the backache I'd have. You said, "I want to do it fast like the girl next door." We told you it would take practice and patience, and you persisted in asking me and Daddy every night this Summer if you could rollerskate. You've stuck with it and have gotten so good at it. We are very proud of you! And as with all "firsts", there's an "ending". You don't need us to hold your hand anymore or hold you up.
This is more evident to me as your next "first" is just around the corner. . .kindergarten. I realize this is an "end" to you being at home with me, to your infant and toddler years, and to me holding your hand. I know you'll have a great time and make lots of friends. But if you still want to hold my hand a little, it's always here.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I've finally taken pictures and posted two new Colorblocked bags in my Etsy shop. This bag combines great functionality (which we all need in a handbag!) and fantastic style with the extra nickel grommets and tie around the top. I love the way they turned out and can't wait to make more.
I'll also be adding several new Stacked bags next week. Don't worry. . . the original design is still the same, but the bag now features two straps. There's carrying handles and then a single adjustable strap so the bag can be worn in three different ways ~ by hand, shoulder, or messenger style across-the-chest. I'm very excited about this bag's versatility.
I also just ordered several new fabrics for my Fall collection. I won't spill the beans but there's great colors such as berry fuschia, tangerine, chocolate brown, and sky blue.
Have a wonderful weekend~

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shop Update

Well, we're back from vacation. I have to admit I've been a bit neglectful in adding new bags to my Etsy shop. Life has been busy lately. . .my daughter recently turned five, my hubby just had a birthday and now I'm having a yard sale this week with several friends and neighbors. I've always had the philosophy that family comes before my business and tried to stay true to that. I feel my kids will only be young once and that was the whole purpose of me staying home from work. I want to be able to enjoy the little moments and be able to have an impact on their lives on a daily basis. With that said, you may notice times when my shop or blog haven't been updated as should be. It just means my attention was focused on my family because it was needed. Don't worry, I'm always on time with delivery and communication. I know how important that is and I appreciate each and every one of my customers. You are what makes Camille Star. I believe there are seasons in our lives for a reason and this is our family decision during this season. As I get ready to send Camille to Kindergarten this Fall (yikes!!) and Jonas to preschool, I know we'll be entering a new season, one where I'll have a bit more time to devote to my passion and business.

So while I'll be working a yard sale this week, I'll still be answering messages and shipping bags. I also have new goodies to add to my shop next week. I've made some minor changes with major impact to the Stacked bag and the Colorblocked bag. Changes I think you'll love! I've also started fabric shopping (one of the fun parts of my job!!). So stay tuned!

Thanks for being great customers and supporting Camille Star.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vacation Time!!!

It's that time of year when we head out East for our family vacation. The kids get to visit Grammy, Pop-Pop, and their cousins. They also get to attend Vacation Bible School which Camille absolutely loves. I'm hoping Jonas will enjoy it just as much since this will be his first year actually participating in a class. Should be very interesting since he's my "shy guy".

We're looking forward to the beach and relaxing together. I also love to use this time to visit my favorite fabric shops in New Jersey, reflect on what's working or not with my business, and dream up new designs. So in the meantime, my Etsy shop will be closed July 10th-20th. Hopefully I'll have lots to add once we get back!

Hope you're having a wonderful Summer!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yummy Stuff

We love berries ~ blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, you name it. My kids will eat them all day long. So we were very excited to find a "pick-your-own-strawberries" farm right down the road. We have our very own strawberry patch right in our backyard, but come on, you can never have enough! :) So we set out on a Sunday and picked a bucketful. We've eaten them with every meal, made freezer jam, froze some for smoothies, and just made Berry Cream Cheese Bars. They are oh so yummy!

First, here's the recipe for freezer jam. It is soooo much better than jarred stuff from the store.
1 packet freezer jam pectin (I used Ball. You can find it in the baking aisle. There's two packets per box.)
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 cups of berries (you can use any combination of berries)

Combine pectin and sugar in a bowl. Crush berries in blender until desired consistency (some people like it chunky, I like it smooth). Blend berry mixture with pectin mixture and stir for three minutes. Then let it sit in the container for half-hour on counter. Put in freezer for later or store in refrigerator and use for up to three weeks.

I used some of our thawed jam for this Berry Cream Cheese Bars recipe.

Hope you have a great Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've been missing in action from blogging for awhile and am glad to be back. I've learned several things during the past couple of weeks.

1. Children's elbow bones dislocate very easily (especially when a 5 yr. old is challenged to pull a 3 yr. old's arm as hard as she can). Fixed after a very expensive emergency room visit.

2. Best Buy is not the "best" place to purchase a computer, and their customer service is definitely not the "best". We are now on our third laptop after the first one had a hard drive crash, and the 2nd one had video hardware issues (not to mention it was dropped by a Best Buy employee). Very interesting experience!

3. My birthday is no longer fun for me. I always look forward to it with much anticipation and then feel let down when the actual day comes. That childhood excitement and surprise is gone. I now have more fun being the "surpriser" and making my family's birthdays special. I wonder if this is how my Mom felt when we were growing up???

4. Baby teeth can fall out before you are even in kindergarten. Camille lost two baby teeth, and she's still four years old. We were getting concerned because the teeth were loose for over a month and the new ones were rapidly growing behind them (almost the same height!). One finally came out with the help of an apple, and the other required a visit to the dentist. She got a novocaine shot and didn't even cry. What a trooper!

4. I've been reminded of how much I love Summer through my children. We've been enjoying spending time together, hanging with friends, playing at parks, running through the sprinkler, picking strawberries and making jam, eating picnic lunches. Jonas and Camille are so much fun. I'm so blessed to be able to stay at home with them and do life with them everyday. I get to watch them learn new things, try different experiences and become their own individuals. It's really awesome.

Now I've finished with my last two home trunk shows and will be adding more bags to my Etsy shop this week. Thanks for being so patient and hope you're enjoying your Summer!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shop Update

I've designed a new zipper pouch and introduced it to my shop this past week. I've named it the "Knotted Pouch". It's great for all kinds of things. . . holding pens & pencils, carrying your feminine products in a discreet manner, or holding your cosmetics. It's uses really are endless.

I've decided to just carry pouches right now vs. wristlets for a couple of reasons. 1. . .the hardware became an extra overhead expense that isn't a wise business choice at this time, and 2. . . I wanted to offer my customers a pouch that expresses their individuality, keeps them organized, and helps them stay within their budgets, and 3. . . they're just so darn cute!!!

I'm finishing up orders as we speak from a home party and have another one scheduled in the upcoming week. So please bear with me as I add items to my Etsy shop at a slower pace. As much as I'd like to have a full inventory, I have to remind myself that it's all about priorities and managing my time wisely (especially since Camille has just finished preschool and is now home everyday with me and Jonas). I have to start planning lots of crafts, pool trips and day outings. :)

Hope your Summer is off to a great start!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden Time

This is so very unrelated to handbags (as is most of my posts lately it seems!), but I just had to share. We started our garden for this year ~ grape tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, basil, zucchini, and banana peppers. I'm most excited about how we planted some of it. We've seen those commercials for the upside-down Topsy Turvy planter and thought it was such a neat idea, but our frugalness kept us from buying one. Well. . . we decided to make our very own version and they turned out beautifully. Yes, they do look a little tacky, but hey, don't knock it if it works. :) Here's the recipe:

My husband cut a 1 1/2" hole in the center bottom of the bucket. We then placed the tomato plant in upside down and filled the bucket with dirt. We also planted a different vegetable on the top of the bucket (pepper and basil). After just two weeks, these plants are all double the size of the ones we planted in the actual garden. I can't believe it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jonas is now 3!!

Jonas just celebrated his third birthday. I still can't believe it! Because his birthday falls so close to Mother's Day and we had family visiting from out-of-state, it felt like his birthday lasted for three days! It started with a trip to his favorite restaurant, Red Robin. Our kids love it there. It's loud, colorful, has yummy food, and every kid gets a free balloon. Gotta love it. And to make it even better, if you sign up on their website, your kids get a free meal during the week of their birthday. How cool is that? Just click here to sign them up.

Next, we had a party with our family. As some of you know, I have a tradition of baking each of my kids a special cake for their birthday. They get to pick the theme and I do my "best" to make something extra special. Jonas and Camille had so much fun looking at cake pans and then he finally decided on Spiderman. It was a little intimidating, but with the help of my mother-in-law, we pulled it off. He absolutely loved it!

Then we celebrated his actual birthday on Monday with just us. When he woke up on Tuesday morning, he asked if it was his birthday again. I felt like I burst his bubble when I broke the news to him that he has to wait another year.
To be a kid again. . .

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our Star

Camille danced in a recital this past week and was amazing. I can't help but take a minute to be proud and share a couple of pics. This was her first BIG & REAL recital, and she embraced it. She knew the steps, the music, and was a natural on the stage. She truly soaked up every minute of it and made us so proud. Doug and I found it very difficult to watch and not get teary-eyed. It was one of those defining moments for both of us ~ one where you see your child through different eyes, recognize how much they've grown, how much of an individual person they're becoming.
A wise mother once said to me about raising children, "Be careful ~ The days are long, but the months and years are so very fast". Was she ever right!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

We have had tons of rain in Chicagoland the past two weeks. My kids looked out the window one day and couldn't believe their eyes. Jonas (our soon-to-be-3-yr.-old) says, "Mommy, look at all the roses!" The kids immediately went to picking all of the dandelions from our front yard. Kind of good for us, less we have to kill. :) But their little hands were so full and their "roses" were falling everywhere.

So they decided to use a basket for their collection.

And I was told "they need a special place to live".
We came up with something unique, a dessert dish. They love when I break out the dessert dishes because it means a yummy pudding or ice cream dessert. And of course, our "roses" only deserved the best.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Addition

I've added a new design to the Camille Star Handbag line. Drum roll please. . . .
it's the Pinched Tote.
Not quite sure if I like the name yet though. I usually don't have a problem thinking of a name to identify each style of bag, but this one was more difficult than usual. I didn't want to go with the typical "drawstring" label either. So if you have any thoughts, please share them with me.

I love this tote because it's big and billowy. It's got soft folds and tucks. It can hold my everyday stuff and the Summer extras (sunblock, water, snack). It's my new favorite, and I'm making one for myself as well. Hope you get to grab one for yourself too!!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

All Caught Up

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind around our house. Not only did I have three handbag parties within 30 days, Doug also had a huge amount of overtime as his company recently acquired several new golf courses. We were thankful for the extra work and all that comes with it, but it will be nice to slow things down a bit for April. I'm happy to say all of my orders are finished, and Doug's hours are getting a little more tolerable. It makes life a lot easier to deal with when you can actually get about 7 hours of sleep at night!

So, we are enjoying the Easter holiday weekend and looking forward to spending relaxing time with family. Camille and Jonas are ecstatic about the Easter Bunny's visit to our house tonight, and I can't wait to see their faces in the morning. They had so much fun coloring and decorating the eggs today. I love looking at things through my children's eyes sometimes. I'm reminded of the innocence, fun, and excitement of childhood.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trail Bars

I love to bake, and I'm always in search of healthy recipes so this way I don't feel like we are eating cookies and cakes everyday. I found a great bar recipe in one of my old cookbooks that I adapted to what we had in the pantry. They were a big hit at our house. I have to give the warning though ~ these bars are high in fiber and energy. If that's what you're looking for in your diet, you've hit the jackpot.

These bars are slightly crumbly and offer a great mix of salty and sweetness.

Trail Bars

3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups All Bran Complete Wheat Flakes
Handful of raisins
Approximately 3/4 cup of chocolate melted (you can use almond bark, semi-sweet or dark)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir honey and peanut butter until it's of smooth consistency (almost to a boil). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, raisins and cereal. Press into an ungreased 9x9 pan. Spread melted chocolate over top of bars and refrigerate until firm.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Positive Feedback

It truly makes my day when I receive positive feedback from a customer or someone features one of my bags on their sites. When you have your own business, there's no boss giving you an "at-a-girl", yearly performance review, or pay raise. So I love to hear from people - it makes me feel like I am doing something right (at least most of the time).

You can imagine how thrilled I was then to receive a kind "thank you" message from one of my customers along with a picture of her using her new bag at Disney.

One of my double-zipped pouches was also featured on a great blog ( this week. You can check it out here.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend with NO snow (unlike us). We're expecting 1-3 inches on Saturday night. Yuck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saving Money

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, Doug and I have decided to make it our goal for 2009 to get our "financial house" in order. You can read it about here. I can't begin to tell you the positive impact this has had on our lives. It's almost like a huge burden has been lifted, things have been simplified, and we've been reminded of what's truly important. When you look at the little things that occur on a regular day you can't help but feel blessed when you're making the right choices.

One of the areas we've addressed is our food shopping and eating out. Before kids, we use to love to go out to eat maybe even 3-4 times a week. After both working all day, we'd use the time to catch up and enjoy each other's company. Plus being newlyweds, neither of us were good cooks. Now, eating out at a "sit-down" restaurant is a luxury that's saved for special treats. I've learned to shop based on sales, clip coupons, and plan meals. It's actually a lot of fun when you're challenging yourself to stick to a specific budget and have to be creative. As a result, we've lowered our food budget by approximately $160/month. This is really exciting for us and yes, we're still eating healthy.

Another area we've addressed is saving for fun things. We always complain that we don't get to go on any exciting vacations or purchase something that involves our passion. We're tired of the pity party and have decided to tell our money where to go. This gives us something to look forward to. We're planning on a vacation to Florida in November and cannot wait. We're not going to try and scrounge for the money at the last minute or charge it, instead we've been allocating a specific amount each payperiod toward our vacation fund. And when it comes time to book everything, we'll make our decisions based on our saved amount. This concept is working really well for Doug too as he's been wanting a new motorcycle for the past six years (and I'm really tired of hearing about it!). So he's starting a Harley fund. If he had done this six years ago, he could be riding it right now instead of still dreaming about it.

I just wanted to share this with you because I've gotten a lot of help and information from friends and family. One website I've found extremely helpful is There's information about sales, coupons, freebies, advice on living frugally and within your means, and inspiration. Check it out if you get a minute. I could kick myself for not taking action years ago.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Staying Dry (and Sane)

I started pottytraining Jonas last Thursday. He turns three in May so I thought, "Hey, why not give it a try." Well, I was ready to pull my hair out the first day! I forgot how frustrating the whole process could be. To top it off, I've only had experience potty training a girl, and boys are so very different. I was about ready to give up after just one day (and three pee-stained outfits). But then I woke up on Friday with a good feeling and a little more patience. So we gave it another "go", and let me tell you, our little guy stayed dry ALL DAY! Can you believe it? He actually even told me twice when he had to go. One time he even had to hold it until we made it home. I was so shocked.

So today I was even more excited to give it another try, but the issue of pooping on the toilet was an area we hadn't yet covered. So needless to say, we took a couple steps back today. I really hope we're on track though. I have to remind myself that this whole concept could be very intimidating and scary through a toddler's eyes.

Awhile back I saw this listing in Etsy at and knew it was genius. I had no idea how soon it would be beneficial to us. What a great idea!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I'm so giddy!! I finally found a source for aluminum teeth zippers. It only took me four months (note the sarcasm?)! What makes it even sweeter is that it's local and supports a family within my very own community. What could be better? I've ordered a roll of tan for now and plan to order more in the future. I'm anticipating it might take some time for me (or should I say my husband??) to get the process downpacked. The zippers have to be cut to size, teeth need to be cut, and the stoppers need to be attached. I did make one Colorblocked bag with the new zipper and it turned out awesome. I have the itch to create more now.

Who new zippers could be so exciting????

Friday, February 27, 2009

Money Issues

I like to think we live a pretty simple life. We try not to get caught in the whole race to keep up with the "Jones's" of the world, we pay our bills on time, and we seriously put a lot of thought and research into purchasing any big items. But when it comes to budgeting, investing, and retirement stuff, we'll be the first to admit we are very unknowledgeable and naive. So, we decided to set a goal for 2009 to get our "financial house" in order. Plain and simple, we are going to learn as much as we can and try to be smart about money issues.

No sooner had we decided this, and a friend of mine introduced me to Dave Ramsey. If you've never heard of this guy before, he's a financial expert that's honest (sometimes brutally) and has remarkable ideas to help anyone in any financial situation. Whenever I hear of a good thing or a "golden" find, I just have to pass it along. I love when people share what works for them. So, his website is Check it out if you get a minute, you won't be disappointed. He explains things in such simple and easy to understand lingo that even the most ignorant and financially challenged people (like us!) can understand. He also has a television show and a radio talk show. I've been listening to the radio show this past two weeks and have gathered so many nuggets of financial wisdom.

With the economy in such turmoil, people freaking out, and businesses folding, I'm not curling up into a ball or dreading what tomorrow might bring. Instead I'm taking ownership and gaining more knowledge. I now understand certain principles, how I can change little things in our daily lives to add up, and that investing is still critical for so many reasons. It really does reduce your stress and provide you with a sense of hope and freedom.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dinner Time

I don't spend much time having fun on the computer as most of the time my use is strictly business (handbag business!), but just recently I happened across a fantastic blog. It's a blog filled with yummy, scrumptious recipes called "Dinners for a Year and Beyond". You've got to check it out if you're like me and get tired of making the same old, same old and are looking for something new to make for dinner. I tried the Divine Chicken Divan on Sunday, and my family loved it. I altered the recipe a little bit and used turkey instead of chicken and frozen mixed veggies in place of the broccoli. It was so flavorful and moist. Definitely a recipe that I've put in my collection as a "keeper".

Hope you find a meal that suits your taste!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Fabrics

I'm probably looking forward to Spring just as much as the next person, but I've recently started looking for new fabrics for my Spring collection and it's made my fever even worse. I could spend countless hours perusing fabrics and textiles, it's definitely the funnest part of my job. So I've picked up these two already and several more (that are surprises!).

Modern, fresh and vibrant.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Week

Well, another week has breezed right by. Sometimes I wonder how time could seem to go so slowly but then in reflection, it feels like it went by so quickly. My week was filled with a nasty cold that just seemed to drag on, five full days of it. Thank goodness I was the only one that caught it, at least so far (oh no, did I just jinx my family!). I also find it amazing how life must go on when you, the "Mom", aren't feeling well. When do I get to call in and use a "sick day"?

Anyway, I was pretty much back to my normal self on Saturday and just in time for our wonderful weather. We actually hit 50 degrees here in the "windy city" which is VERY unusual for us in mid-February. The kids rode their bikes in the driveway, and I actually got to go for a 2-mile walk. But see, I know Chicagoland weather and I've come to expect it's unpredicatability. I had to keep reminding myself that it was only a tease. How sad is that? But now I'm reminded how fantastic it's going to be when that warm weather does come to stay, and the grass gets a little more greener, the buds on the trees get a little bit bigger, and the sun stays out just a little longer. I'm counting the days. I think my daughter Camille is too. When getting ready for bed tonight, she said "Look Mommy, I'm wearing short-sleeves. I want to get a little fresh air tonight."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Style

At the last couple of home parties I've done, I've had several requests for a messenger style hip pouch. It seems that many people are trying to reduce their carrying loads and lighten up. There are times when they only want to carry their essentials. So I developed a new design and made some custom orders for this Hip Pouch. I also wanted to add some to my Etsy shop since I've received several messages there as well inquiring if I'll ever be making small, zipped bags. Well, here's the first one. . .

It's got a front, zippered pocket and two slip pockets inside. The pouch also closes with a zipper so all your items stay secure. The strap is 44" long so you can wear it messenger style and keep your arms and hands free to do other things. It's a wonderful thing!

P.S. Have a great Superbowl Sunday!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Most of the time I still feel like a teenager trapped inside an adult's body. I often question how mature I really am to be a mother and have such responsibility, such impact on molding others' lives. I remember when I used to do the same things my kids are doing now and it really doesn't seem all that long ago (even though it really is!). So I still feel pretty young, hip with the times, techno savvy, and all that good stuff. But then Facebook came along. I've heard about it many, many times from several of my friends. I just kept thinking "oh, I don't need that" or "someday I'll get around to joining it". I didn't want to be bothered and, to be honest, I felt intimidated by the whole thing (true age now showing).

Well, I finally bit the bullet and my good friend, Kristen, showed me how it worked and signed me up. The teenager inside of me is evident even more now! I've made contact with girlfriends from grade school and high school. It's amazing to see so many people that you just plain forget about as time passes. People that at one point had an amazing impact or influence in your life. I'm limiting myself because, as most of have already warned me, it can be addicting and a little consuming.

But it really does make my heart happy to see so many familiar faces, faces that made me a part of who I am today. You should really check it out if you haven't already.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun in the Snow

We've had some nasty, bone-chilling cold weather here in the Chicagoland area. Last night was about -19 degrees. We actually had ice and snow on the inside of some of our windows that don't get much sunlight. It's so cold that you just don't want to go anywhere. I'm so glad that we actually took advantage of the snow last week while it was still only 20 degrees. We took the kids sledding and had a blast. Their plump, little cheeks were so cold but they could care less. We were super bundled up in all our snow gear so the rest of our bodies stayed pretty warm.

We lost Jonas' favorite hat recently so he needed a substitute. He made it very clear to us that morning that he did not approve of the pink hat. "I not like it Mommy. Pink is for girls." I never thought a two year old would understand the whole gender color association thing! He ended up being a trooper about it though. Years from now when he looks back at these pictures though might be a different story.

For those of you that are in balmy climates, please send some of your warm, sun-kissed weather this way!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just Passing It Along

Just wanted to pass along some helpful information. I just learned this little tidbit about a year ago, and wish someone had told me sooner. I'm constantly burning myself in the kitchen. So it was nothing new when I burned my hand yesterday on our waffle iron. But see, I know this special trick. I immediately put honey on it and threw a bandaid over top (so the honey soaks in).

Yes, honey! I know it sounds weird, but I swear it works. I've done it many, many, many times. For some reason, the honey cools off the skin (faster than cold water), minimizes the burn, and reduces the pain significantly. It was a pretty bad burn and now I only have a small red mark as a reminder.

Just thought I'd share this in case you're just as klutzy as me around hot stuff.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another Project

While visiting in New Jersey over the holidays, I went to this great yarn store with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I had no projects in mind or specific yarns to look for. But it's just asking for trouble to take me in a yarn shop and not expect me to walk out with something. So I got this idea to make legwarmers for Camille. This was the perfect yarn ~ super soft, sock weight, and all the colors of the rainbow. So I set to work on a pattern I found online and tweaked it a bit. And ta-da. . . . .
I love the way they turned out, and they have become very useful for dance class (especially when it's only 10 degrees here!). I'm now working on a pair for Camille's cousin in New Jersey. She wanted some as well, and of course, they have to be rainbow colors. It must be a four-year old thing!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back to Work

I hope this note finds you in a happy, healthy new year! We're home from our holiday travels and settling back into our routine. I've finally sorted through all the mail, finished with the piles of laundry, and packed away the holiday decorations. My house is somewhat in order so I'm ready to start sewing again! But. . . . I've realized several important things during the past several weeks.

See, I'm wonderful at time management. It's one of my few gifts that is a blessing and a curse at the same time. I can get twice as much done in a day than the typical person. However, during my crossing-off-the-to-do-list, I lose sight of small, precious moments. Moments with my family, just hanging out, watching a movie, reading a book and not being able to put it down because it's so good, getting sucked into a challenging puzzle. The holidays helped me take stock, refresh, and look foward to some "new beginnings".

I have several "new beginnings" that I'm making a priority for 2009. Beginnings that don't include making more money, earning more success, or getting the most done in a day. Mine are much more special and will hopefully make me a better person, wife, and mother.

Happy New Year!!