Friday, June 25, 2010

Multitasking Compulsion

I know I promised a tutorial on the chalk cloth mats, but I'm going to have to save that one for next week .  Sorry guys - I have a bunch of photos that I need to process and it's just not looking good to have that done today :(

So instead, I bring you things to do while you craft ...

I am one of those people that can't watch TV without also doing something else.  It doesn't even matter what it is - could be surfing the web, reading a book during commercials, knitting, etc - yes, I know, it's a sickness.

Anyway, since I have become MUCH more productive in my crafting/sewing space I have had to limit my reading time.  For me, that's real challenge.  I LOVE books.  My husband gave me a Kindle as my gift on the birth of our daughter ... that should tell you something ;)

I know you're now wondering: 'is this another rambling story with no point?'  I promise I have a point!

I have been subscribed to a service similar to Netflix off and on since 2005.  It is an audio book club called Simply Audiobooks.  They will send you or you can download (depending on how your subscription is setup) audio books.

I LOVE IT!  I listen to books while I sew so that I don't wander off and do other things instead of accomplishing my tasks.  It's great and best of all the audiobooks don't take up more of my much needed floor space since I send them back when I'm done!  :)

Right now, I'm listening to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

I actually have this book but have never gotten around to reading it.  Here's to learning more while multitasking!

I will make one footnote:  I love my trashy romance novels ... however ... be careful who is around when you're listening to them.  Let's just stay the steamy scenes in romance novels were not meant to be read aloud ;)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Featured Handmade Toy Alliance Member: MudPie Kids

So my final featured member this week is MudPie Kids.  She has some great felt toys for kids!

I love the originality and fun of these toys!  It also gets then away from all the plastic fruit and other food that you can buy in the big chains.

Here are a couple of my favorites!  Click on any of the images to visit the item listing.

I can just see M'Lou "squeezing" these to make juice!

I'm pretty sure these are free range eggs ;)

These have to be my favorite!  I love the color and texture of the veggies!

Hope you've enjoyed these highlighted members!  Please visit their online stores and support handmade toys!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Featured Handmade Toy Alliance Member: The Toycrafter

I am so pleased to be able to feature The Toycrafter on this blog.  I had the privilege of seeing some of their toys at a fair at the Arboretum last year.

The Toycrafter makes wonderful wooden toys - the kind that don't disintegrate into a million pieces with kid rambunctiousness.  Instead, these are the toys that get handed down for generations and get BETTER with age.

It was really hard not to just showcase all of the toys from Dave's site.  They're all just fabulous!  However, I picked three of my favorites and have to be content with that.  Please go to his site and browse - did I mention that he has some really wonderful toys?!?!  I will definitely be looking at these for gifts this year!  I think M'Lou may need Noah's Ark ... LOVE the animals!

Click on any of the images to go to open an new window and go to their site.

Noah's Ark

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For the older kids in your life ...

A missile launcher!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Featuring Handmade Toy Alliance Member: Pinkhouse Handworks

I figured since I'm in Texas I would feature an HTA member from Texas.

In looking through the members of the HTA, I found Pinkhouse Handworks.  Janice makes some wonderful Montessori baby toys.  I wish I had found these when M'Lou was smaller!  All of these toys have been tested to comply with the CPSIA regulations.

Here are some of the toys that she has in her Etsy store.  Just click on the image to open a new window to go to each of the listings in her store.  Enjoy!!

Montessori Baby Toys set of 5
Circle Rattle
Stay tuned for another highlighted HTA member tomorrow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Successful Weekend! (and Brief Soapbox)

So, the second birthday party of M'Lou went off well despite all the last minute things that always have to get done (such as buying a big fan since it was insta-sweat hot this weekend).

Here are a couple of pics of her party.
Here M'Lou is enjoying some time in the kiddie pool.

We had a friend make cake balls for her birthday cake.  SUPER yummy!

This is her spiffy new set of wheels.  We're good as long as there are no turns ... our legs aren't long enough to reach the pedals if we have to turn :)

I'll also be putting together my version of the chalk oilcloth tutorial this week.  Here's a sneak peek:

They were a huge hit with the toddler crowd so I thought I'd share what I learned in the process.  I'm thinking about adding them to my Etsy store, but now I have to do research to find out if it would be CPSIA compliant.   Arrrggghhhh!!!  Why is this legislation making every idea I have for kids so difficult?!?!?

On that note, I'll mention that this week is the Handmade Toy Alliance's (HTA's) blog week.  I'm going to climb on my soapbox for just a sec to talk about this.  I promise the rest of the week I'll just feature HTA member businesses :)

The HTA is an alliance of independent toy and children's crafters/manufacturers that have joined together to support each other primarily in response to the CPSIA regulation passed in 2008.  I know I've mentioned CPSIA in a couple of past posts.  If you're not in the industry you're probably not even aware of what this is, so here's a quick summary.

In 2008, Congress passed the CPSIA to regulate the children’s product industry, but this law has had unintended consequences.  It requires ALL children’s products to be tested at a third party testing lab.  AND the way the law reads, that's anything that might be used by a child - try to wrap your head around that one!  The CPSC has made some minor "clarifications" so that not EVERYTHING has to be tested, i.e. plain cotton fabric is now exempt from lead testing ... um ... hello?!? thought it would be obvious that plain cotton wouldn't have lead, but guess not.

Okay, you ask, so what is the big deal?  Don't you think we should protect our children?

Yes! I wholeheartedly agree that we should protect our children! However, the testing that is currently required (and constantly changing) is expensive, not to mention the fact that the testing often requires the destruction of several pieces for a result. For someone like me where I literally hand cut the fabric, sew the pieces on my home machines and then hand stitch on all the faces of my monsters, having them then destroyed (beyond the physical cost) is painful!!

To learn more, please visit

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Second Birthday Party

M'Lou's birthday is next week and we're having her party next weekend.  THAT means that we're doing yard and house cleanup this weekend and next week.

That also means that I have to do some party planning.  It's going to be a pool party as the munchkin LOVES water and then we're just going to grill out.  And by pool party I mean the kiddie pool that blows up from last year :)

So the question is now what do we do for party gifts for the kiddos attending?  I found these and now I have to make them for the party.  I'll post completed pics next week.  I had to order the chalk oil cloth since I couldn't find a place here in Dallas that sold it.  If anyone knows of a local place, let me know!

We also started swim lessons yesterday!  It was a mixed experience.  M'Lou loves the water but wasn't wild about having to stick to the program.  She was more interested in getting out and grabbing all the toys, lining them up and then jumping into the water to me.  I will say that when it was time to get out that she fought to get back in the water so despite the slightly hysterical crying about having to float on her back she wasn't scarred for life ;)  We'll see how she does next week!

Alright, now to brave the humidity and heat outside.  I'm trying to think of it as a weight-loss exercise ;)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

FINALLY! Etsy Store launched!

FINALLY!  The store launched late Tuesday!

I will continue to update the store as I complete monsters.  I hope to get the option for custom embroidered shirts uploaded today and the ready-to-ship shirts tomorrow.

I'm so glad that is finally done!  It has been a month of intense work trying to figure out all the details including packaging and shipping.

Okay, so on the list today:

  • Work on coursework that is due for my classes
  • Get shirts photographed and edited for loading tomorrow
  • Clean the house (why does this one never seem to get off my list)
I hope that y'all enjoy the monsters that I've posted.  If you have ideas for a monster that you don't see up there or other constructive criticism, I'm all ears!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Because I was bored

So ... I know I had said I would have things on the store by Monday ... well my Monday got derailed so my goal is to have things on the store by this afternoon.

Yesterday was derailed by a couple of things:
1. Signing up for some classes from our local community college
2. Looking at potential office space

So now instead of just one project (or five), I now have:

  • Business administrative and some technical stuff for my husband's company
  • Getting M'Lou Designs up and running
  • 2 summer classes (thankfully they're online programming classes)
  • Yoga - I'm committed to doing an entire month of yoga to try to jumpstart my workouts
  • Swim classes for the little one
So ... yeah ... not a lot going on in my house this summer ;)

I promise to have stuff up on Etsy today!  It just might be late :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June is Birthday month ...

So in between stockpiling things for the store, I am working on presents for the multitude of birthday parties we have this month.

Here is the Japanese knot bag that I've made for several kids this summer.  The way I made this into a beach bag by making it out of terry cloth fabric from Joann's.

Here is what the pattern looks like after you cut it out and tape it together. And with the outside and inside layered and pinned.

And here is the final project!  On these, I did it with two colors that it is reversible.  I really like it out of the terry cloth because it can double as another small towel in a pinch!

I'm thinking of adding these to my repertoire for my Etsy store ... we'll see.  

As for those things that are definitely ready for my Etsy store, I've been working on some monsters.  Here are the blanks prior to putting their personalities on :)

I hope to get some of these finished and up on the site on Monday!  Check here on Monday to see how they turned out :)  If you have some ideas for monsters that you'd like to see in plush form, send me an email at brooks(at) or leave me a comment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baby Steps

Had a great relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.  Now it's back to reality and trying to get everything done!  It feels like every time I just about have it figured out something else pops up.  

Finally have a definitive answer on the CPSIA requirements.  Basically, until next year I should be good on both the clothing and the monsters since I don't use any small parts and cotton and polyester are exempt.  HOWEVER, starting next year, I'm going to be required to have my monsters tested.  We'll see if we're still around and having to worry about that when we get there (here's hoping this takes off :).

Have my logo done and now my list looks like this:

  • Complete DBA (doing business as) paperwork and file with state
  • Open business bank account
  • Create labels for clothes
  • Create labels for monsters
  • Create branding labels
  • Work on packaging for products
  • Finalized shipping costs
  • Stockpile items
  • Post products to Etsy store
That's doable ... right?!?

Now I just have to fit that all in between planning a 2 year olds birthday party and all the other daily chores I have already :)

I'll post some works in progress next time around - so check back soon!