Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Clue...

I realize I've been doing some food posts lately, so I guess I owe in the 'life' and 'making other stuff' department.
Being a very creative person can be very frustrating at times. So much I want to do, so little time. I also tend to flit around a lot, which is never good for business. Oh, I do enjoy my creativity! However, I've had the hardest time settling on which one to pursue. Asking a creatively ADD person to pick one thing and stick with it is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child... excruciatingly difficult.
I came back to my Taiwo products because it's the one I have the most experience in. I have been making soaps and other body products since December 1998 when it first hit me that it was possible to make this stuff at home. It's just always seemed logical to do that. After taking a 3 year break from the business (due to the increasing size of my family), I decided it was time to go back. I came back to the same problem I had before: how to pick a niche and focus on that niche. I always thought I had to offer EVERYTHING. That can be the death of a business too, trying to be everything to everyone. Just because you CAN do everything doesn't mean you SHOULD.
I think I may have finally found that niche. I am excited, but waiting until the initial excitement passes to make any announcements.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


You know that scene in the movie "Envy" with Jack Black where they announce at dinner that 'Flan' will be served. suddenly everyone gets real excited like Flan is just the best thing in the world! Well, if you don't know that scene, run to the nearest video store and get a copy. It's hi-larious!

Anyway, the reaction in that scene is what you'll get everytime you make Coquito, Puerto Rico's answer to the American Eggnog. Think Eggnog by the beach on a hot sunny day. That's how yummy this drink is.

I first discovered this drink about 2 years ago when The Man brought it home from a weekend with his Capoeira buddies. I had a taste and just had to make it! Alas, in my old age, I've grown to become somewhat lactose intolerant, but this drink is not as dairy intensive as its American counterpart. Warning: it's not for the faint of heart. It's very sweet, and possibly very fattening, but it's a wonderful once a year induldgence. Here's my recipe

1 Can Coconut Milk (I use Goya)
1 Can Coconut Cream (the sweetened kind, I use Goya)
1 small can sweetened condensed Milk
6 oz Rum (Preferably Coconut Flavored)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
makes approximately 46oz

Combine all ingredients in your blender cup and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge for about an hour. It will thicken slightly, just mix with your whisk. It will be thick but smooth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A time to give

So, it's that time of the year again.

This year I decided not to do my usual last minute mad-dash of trying to figure out what to give my kids' teachers the night before. I decided to actually be ahead of the curve this time.
Actually, this new-found preparedness began with the secret santa at work. I mindlessly filled out the form, thinking, how cool it would be to get presents from someone I didn't know. At the time, it barely occurred to me that I would have to reciprocate (insert comments about my self-absorption here...) When the lightbulb finally went off, I started to think. Since my secret santa recipient likes hot cocoa, I set out to make a gift mug filled with hot-cocoa, marshmallows and the works. What I I ended up with was even better.

I used cone bags, instead of the usual mugs, to package the mix. I really got excited when I realized that I could use my newest toy, silhouette machine, to cut the tags. I tied some ribbon around it, and finished it off with a tag and some bling! I got really into packaging the stuff, and for once I was on-time!

This makes a great gift for coworkers, teachers, mailpeople, babysitters, and anyone else you'd like to appreciate! It's also a great stocking stuffer.

Here's the recipe for the Hot Chocolate Cones. This makes about 6 cones.

Hot Cocoa Mix:

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Measure all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk them until they are evenly blended.

  2. Store the mix in a tightly covered container at room temperature until you're ready to package it. Makes about 4 cups of mix.

To package each cone:

Ingredients (For Each Cone:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa mix
  • 2 (6- by 12-inch) cone-shaped cellophane bags (available at party stores)
  • 2 clear rubber bands (I used twist ties)
  • Scissors
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 Peppermint Candy Canes

  1. Pour the cocoa mix into one of the bags. Close the bag with a clear rubber band, then trim the end of the bag 1 inch above the band.

  2. Place the cocoa-filled bag into the second bag and flatten its top so the end doesn't stick up.

  3. Layer the chocolate chips and the marshmallows, then stick 1 candy cane in the center. Fasten the bag around the candy cane with one twist tie. Secure the bag with the other rubber band.

1. Tie a piece of ribbon around the cone to cover up the twist tie.
2. Address a decorative gift tag and hang from the ribbon.

Happy Gift Giving!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And the winner is....

"Angie in AZ" for her entry of "Sand and Sea".

Here is what she wrote as her entry:

"This soap sounds wonderful and is really, really beautiful. The very first thing that popped into my mind reading about it and looking at the color, patterns, and texture is "Sand and Sea". The colors are of the sand and sea. The patterns remind me of swirls of water and the top, of waves. So that's my name."

I thought her entry and her reason for it was just so awesome. It made me think, and being that I'm product-naming challenged, it was one that I wouldn't have thought of, but is oh-so-fitting.

Thank you, Angie! Step forth and claim your prize by emailing me at

Thank you to all who entered...tough decision because there were so many wonderful entries! You will get another chance to name another soap soon!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taiwo Artisanal Soap...and a Contest!

I love to make Soap. I really do. Problem is, I find it hard to limit my selection of soaps to a few constant bars. To solve this dilemma, I am introducing a line of Artisanal Soaps. 'Artisanal' is defined as: Any product made by hand, by a skilled craftsman. I make these soaps by hand, with little to no mechanization. Well, I like to think I'm a skilled craftswoman, thank you very much!

Here is my first in this line of soaps. It is made with Olive, Coconut, Soy, Cottonseed oils, and Avocado oils, along with a healthy helping of Pure unrefined Shea Butter. The lovely green swirls you see is achieved with the use of natural mineral rich Spirulina. The soap is scented a fresh uplifting Pine scent. It is a healthy hunking 5.75 oz!

Okay, here comes the hard part. What do I name this soap? Hey, This calls for a contest...

The Rules:

1. Come up with the most clever name you possibly can.
2. This contest will go be open until Friday November 13, 2009 at 5pm EST.
3. Winner will be announced on Saturday November 14th, 2009 10am
4. Enter your entry either by commenting on this blog.
5. Winner will receive One free full-size bar of this soap.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taiwo Bath and Body GRAND OPENING! Take 20% off

So, the long awaited grand opening of my store Taiwo Bath and Body is finally here! Make sure you take 20% off your total order with the code: 'GRANDOPENING20'

Missy G's Sweet Potato Pound Cake

A few days ago I was listening to "All Things Considered" on NPR where they did a segment on the Office Cake lady. It was really fun to hear the lighter side of NPR, and the segment also left my mouth watering for a piece of Missy G's yummy poundcake. I immediately went to the website to get the recipe. I made the cake the next night, following the recipe to a 'T'. Absolutely de-lish!!!!

I also took pictures on my phone, which I posted to my facebook page. This of course led to lots of requests for the recipe. facebook page. You can get the recipe here. I'm not sure how long the link will be good, so I've copied and pasted the recipe here for all who have asked for it.

Let me reiterate that THIS IS NOT MY RECIPE, AND THESE ARE NOT MY PICTURES. The recipe and pictures are taken directly from the NPR website.

Missy G's Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Enlarge Annabelle Breakey
Sweet Potato Pound Cake

You'll Need

A shallow baking pan

A potato masher

A 10-inch tube pan

For The Cake

About 4 medium sweet potatoes

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

1/2 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apples

For The Topping

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3/4 cups chopped pecans

About 2 Hours Before Mixing The Cake

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake your sweet potatoes for at least 45 minutes. Use a knife or a fork to test for doneness—the potato should be very mushy inside its shriveled skin. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour. Slit each skin lengthwise and remove, leaving the soft, orange center. Mash with a potato masher and measure out 2 cups for this recipe. Cool to room temperature before mixing the cake. If the mashed sweet potatoes are too warm, they will melt the butterfat and the batter won't get as nice and thick as it should.

To Make The Cake

2. Position a rack so the cake will sit in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of your tube pan with parchment paper, and spray the sides and bottom with baking spray.

3. Cream the butter with a mixer on medium speed.

4. Combine the sugars in separate bowl. Gradually add to the creamed butter, 1/4 cup at a time, beating at medium to high speed after each addition.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at medium to high speed for 1 minute after adding each one.

6. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup at a time.

7. In a separate bowl, dry whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

8. In another separate bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, and maple flavoring.

9. With the mixer still on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture, beating after each addition. Start with a third of the flour mixture, beat, then add half of the milk mixture, beat again, and repeat until the last of the flour mixture has been added and beaten in.

10. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and then mix the batter on medium to high speed for 2 minutes.

11. Slow the mixer down to the lowest speed and add the apples, mixing until just incorporated.

12. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use the back of a spoon to even out and smooth the batter.

To Make The Topping

13. In a separate bowl (I know — it's like the bowls have Balkanized here), combine the cold butter, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Mix with a wooden spoon and do not fret because the mixture is crumbly. That's just the way you want it.

14. Sprinkle the topping all over the surface of the batter.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes before testing for doneness. Then use a sharp knife to test the cake, and poke it around in a couple of places to determine whether it's finished. This cake can fool ya.

15. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then, using the plate-over-pan method, unmold the cake and flip it onto a cake rack, topping side up.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What did you eat today?

Beauty is more than skin deep. You will get out of your skin what you put in. No cream or salve or balm can externally change what needs to be changed internally.

I'm also guilty of eating bad sometimes, but I do try to eat well most of the time. With that in mind, here's what I had for lunch today:

Veggie Pita Sandwich:
1 tomato, diced
1 handful baby spinach, julienned
1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, julienned with a slicer
3 stalks green onions, chopped thin
3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
squirt with rice wine vinegar and olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper.

Fill your pita pocket, and enjoy with a cup of hot tea, water or juice.
'Bon Appetit!'

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My undying love for Menards...and other soapmaking adventures in the quest for PVC pipes.

Disclaimer: The following is going to read like a paid advertisment. IT'S NOT. I
just really love the place.

For you poor souls who don't know, Menard's is a ginormous regional hardware/home improvement warehouse chain in the Midwest. This store is to home improvement what Ikea is to Furniture and home accessories. I absolutely love roaming the aisles of HIWs because you never know what you're going to find. For someone as crafty and creative as me, Menards/Lowes/Home Depot are like candy stores! Menard's is HUGE! My local one is about the size of Lowes and Home Depot combined, with about twice the selection of either.

The best part though, is their outstanding customer service. During our somewhat big (for us) kitchen-bath-and everywhere else re-do this past march, I accidentally broke one of a pair of lighting fixtures in a box. They took it back, no problem. They even let me keep the unbroken (already mounted piece) with no hassle. The staff is always friendly and eager to help, and like I said earlier, I can find everything I need, and more, at a great price! It also has that old-timey country store feel to it.

Since it is a bit out of the way for me, I sometimes forget to consider this store when I need something home improvement related. Yesterday, I happened to be in the area, and thought I'd stop in. I wanted to check on their selection of PVC pipes and accessories, for some soap and other goodies I've been working on. I had the hardest time getting what I needed from Lowes, Home Depot, AND Taylor's Do It Best. Lemme tell ya, they DON'T do it best! What I needed was to have 5 feet of PVC pipe cut down to 2 inch pieces. Now, I understand that that is kind of a tall order. I could've cut them by hand with a handsaw, and that was not something I wanted to do. These warehouse stores have very powerful table saws (for cutting for customers) that would've made shortwork of the pipes, but they would not cut them for me! I guess the sales force is trained to only sell, do an occasional crooked cut, and maybe help you find stuff (which they barely do). They are not there to help you achieve your ultimate goal, which for me happened to be 18-24 pieces of 2 inch pvc soap molds!

Now, there are a couple of notable efforts worth mentioning along the way to achieving this goal. An older gentleman (about 70years old) employee at Home Depot actually propositioned me during my attempts to get these pipes cut. I wondered why he was looking at me like I was on the menu. He chatted me up for a good twenty minutes, stringing me along by asking me questions as to my purpose for needing the pipes, telling me how he liked doing things the old fashioned way, asking me whereabouts I lived. Naive little me thought that he was about to offer to use his saw to cut the pipes for me on his personal time. Even that didn't sit well with me, but I was playing along. Little did I know that rather than trying to cut some pipe, he was trying to lay some pipe! Old fool! I hastened my exit when he leaned in all conspiratorial and said to me, "I love black ladies..." I won't even mention what he said right before that! He then proceeded to ask me if I was married, to which I responded with an emphatic YES! and got the hell outta dodge. Nasty ol' man!

The second most notable effort goes to the man at the Do It Best center. I called prior to going in just to make sure they could cut the pipe for me and the lady on the phone said yes. Though I'd been told they could do it, I went in with being not very hopeful, because phone operators will often tell you what you want to hear to get you off the phone and into the store, only for you to find out that it was a big ol' lie. So I went in and I started getting somewhat more hopeful when the man in the plumbing section said, 'sure, I can cut that!'. He asked how many pieces and what size. He proceeded to go in the back and cut. Twenty minutes later he comes back with a hacked up piece of what might or might not be the PVC pipe, and declares that he just can't cut it. The fool was in the back using a hand saw to cut the pipes! Of course it wasn't coming out straight, DUH! I could've done that myself, but didn't want to! I had to give him an 'A' for effort though. He was actually going to hack off 12 pieces of PVC pipe by hand for me. How sweet.

So that's how I ended up at Menard's. The young dudes in the "Barn" (where they cut lumber) were like 'sure, we can do that!' And this time it was for real. Despite the plastic dust flying everywhere, they painstakingly measured and cut, measured and cut, until I had 18pieces of pvc, all so that I can have perfect little round pillars of soap for sale. Ah, what I do for my customers! Oh, and here's the result of all my hard work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brighter Minds Media and new products coming soon!

For those of you with crafty kids, here's what I think is a great opportunity. The good folks over at Brighter Minds Media are putting together a book of crafts, for kids by kids. Here's a chance for your crafty kid to get their work (and name!) immortalized in a book. Shoot on over here to get details.

Well, I've been quite busy formulating some yummy new products for my Taiwo shop. I'm so excited about everything and can't wait to get it out there! In due time, in due time. I'm also excited about new things I will be putting on my JesPlayin shop, which is looking quite skimpy lately due to some spectacular customers that have come my way. Patience...I will be adding new items soon.

Thanks for stopping by, and take time to look at the flowers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What is a Bath Bomb and how do you use it?

I'm sure you have noticed those egg-shaped colorful things called bath-bombs or bath fizzies in my shop. Some of you might now how to use it, and some might not. Here is an explanation, for those that don't know.

A bath bomb or bath fizzy is a sensual, visual and olfactory experience. To use one, simply drop into your bathtub filled with water, and watch as it releases scent and color. It's really quite fun to watch, especially for kids!

But that's not all...
My bath bombs are specially designed to help soothe skin as well as delight the senses. The special ingredient, Oat Flour provides a therapeutic benefit to skin. Oat Flour is useful in soothing dry itchy irritated skin caused by such skin conditions as Dermatitis or Psoriasis. It is also excellent for soothing sunburn. *Please note that I said SOOTHING, not CURING or HEALING* Bath bombs will not replace medical attention from your doctor.

Will you end up with a tub full of oats? No. Oat Flour bond with water to form a mucilage that helps soothe the skin. This mucilage does not leave a residue in your tub, so no worries about oatmeal in the tub!

I hope I have addressed your questions/concerns about Bath Bombs. Please feel free to post any questions you may have.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Notice my embedded instructable to the right of this page. I did this over a year ago, and it has just occured to me tonight to put it up on this here blog. Check it out for yourself! I will do another one, this time as a video, so stay tuned.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Items on Taiwosoaps Etsy and upcoming tute

Just listed: some fresh new body goodies! Check them out here.
Just developing: I am working on my latest project for the EAS blog. I am so excited about this project! I am also developing an Instructable and a step-by-step tutorial for it
Second clue: Repurposing an item for everyone's favorite swedish megastore...
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vision Time!

I have been meaning to make a vision board for a while...even got some magazine pages ripped out. I have heard that these are quite helpful in achieving your goals. I can believe that. Anything that puts your intentions in the forefront of your mind can't be bad. I think mine will be in the form of a book though. I have so many areas of my life I want to make a focus for. When it's (finally!) done I'll post a pic, and maybe a tute.

Why don't you join me?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't call it a comeback!

I've been here for years...

So, I am happily back to what I know, which is soaps and body products. I am busily formulating my new line to arrive soon online, at shows and home parties. Stay tuned for the grand opening announcement. Please be sure to join my mailing list on the right in order to be notified when the goodies come available.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Everyday Artists' Studio

Well! It appears I have been formally introduced as a blogger for EAS. Check it out here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recipe Freebie - Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Yeah, Kinda weird, I know...Weirdly Delicious! It's a good way to bury the veggies too. They won't even know there's something green in there. To veganize: just replace the eggs with egg substitute. Easy-peasy.
I figure it's time I start giving back to people who stumble onto my blog, so I plan on including some more free downloads...crafty tricks, decor ideas, projects and of course recipes. Look out world!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

passing it to the next generation

So, I've been on a serious sewing kick lately. No, more like I've rediscovered and deepened my love of sewing. Blame it on Heather Bailey, Amy Butler, and Anna-Maria Horner for their luscious fabrics and simply beautiful projects. They have inspired me to start sewing, and gasp! without a store pattern...
I even revived my old-new sewing machine this weekend. I had parked it away for over a year because I broke the needle clamp in a freak sewing accident. Instead of purchasing the part needed, I bought an old 'Husky' from my favorite thrift store for a whopping $8 and used that for a little while. My old-old Husky, while a great machine, is rather noisy. It's hard to sew at night with a noisy machine, so I decided to fork over the $30 for the part I needed for my old-new Brother. And boy, am I glad I did! I've been in sewing heaven for the past 24 hours. I'm discovering the joys of scalloped stitches, drop-in bobbins and automatic button-holers! I never knew such bliss was to be had!
This means I now have 2 perfectly functioning machines. Everyone should be so blessed. I decided to gift the Husky to my 8 year old daughter who has been begging for one. Most 8 year olds get a toy sewing machine, but she gets a REAL one! Boy I tell ya, she is her mother's daughter! She is begging to learn knitting, crochet and sewing. I encourage whatever she is into because the girl has talent, if I do say so myself, and I do!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sew Simple, Sew Cute

So I've been making some little girl dresses. The idea just kind of popped out of nowhere. I forgot how much I love sewing, especially without a pattern. There's just someting so freeing about making something freestyle. I've made a few pillowcase dresses, which I then adorned with my own printed patterns. Once I get a picture of one of these printed ones I will post the pic. In the meantime, here's my lovely supermodelquin (She's not really a modelquin, I just love that and wanted to say it) sporting one of the un-printed ones.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Furniture on Etsy - ReStyled Pedestal Side Table by JesPlayin

Furniture on Etsy - ReStyled Pedestal Side Table by JesPlayin

Gorgous and Very stylish!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A good before shot would have been nice...

I have seriously got to start taking before shots. Here is my latest project, coming soon to my etsy store. This little gem was really banged up, but I've brought it back to life.

Here is a before: okay, but a little banged up.

After: Nice, huh?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day Tea Party.

I was inspired by an old friend of mine to host a Tea Party for my friends this year for mother's day. Well, it was also inspired by the holiday tea my friends and I visited back in December at a Bed and Breakfast. It was so fun to get dressed and sit down to some finger sandwiches and sweets and actually get served. As Mothers, we rarely get a chance to sit down and get served! We're usually doing the serving and just eat on the run, or eat our kids' leftovers.

Anywhoo...this year for Mom's Day, I decided to host my friends. I even sent out 'save the dates' followed by invites. It wasn't a formal affair, but I did it up nice. I collected some nice dishes, cups etc to round out my little china collection. My daughter enjoyed making the tissue flower centerpiece. The plan was to make Heather's flower pinwheels but make them into corsages, but I just ran out of time...and I was exhausted! Check out the menu below.
Most of my guests canceled on the day of, but oh well. A good time was had by those who did show up.


Salad: Spinach & Mango Salad
Soup: Vegetable Soup
Hot Tea: Pure Chamomile
Iced Tea: Goji Berry Pomegranate
Water: Distilled flavored with Cucumber Slices
Sweets: Cranberry Orange Scones
Cinnamon Scones
Cookies with Almonds and Strawberry Preserves
Savories: Open-faced Cucumber Sandwiches
Turkey/Cream Cheese Rollups
Mini Quiches
Cheese & Turkey Bacon Croissants

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Monday!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My favorite Treasure Hunt

Take a good look at the picture below:

Looks like a big ol' pile of junk, doesn't it? To the untrained eyes, it probably is. To those who know, it is a pile of rocks with diamonds hidden underneath. This is the Outlet. I love this place so much and was going so often that I had to declare a moratorium for myself. I have put my limit to once a week. I'm guessing that it's the last stop for 'stuff' before the landfill, but I could be wrong. Stuff is cheaper there than the regular Thrift Store, especially since the cashiers kind of have the final say on price (this could be good or bad).

Of course it's not for everyone. You have to love a good treasure hunt, and not be afraid to dig into possible broken glass or dirty things (that's why it's good to bring your gloves!).
I absolutely love this place. It's a rummager's dream, and I loves me some rummage! I'm so spoiled that I don't even go into the regular thrift stores anymore, unless for's not a really good place for clothes, I must say.

I usually need a good hour or so. In the back there's furniture, frames, lamps, bikes, sewing machines, stereos, etc. In the main area there are at least 10 rows of about 10 bins each. The last row has just shoes. I don't generally venture there either. My favorite part though is the main area with all the bins. I start on one end and work toward the other. I know I'm going to find some great stuff if I suddenly feel the urge to go. I guess that's because when you're jonesing, you look more carefully. When I go 'just because', I don't do as well.

Watch out for bin-change! Bin change is when they rotate the bins out and bring in a fresh pile of 'junk'. People act like savages because they want to have first dibs at looking at the bins. Once they see the workers start moving the bins, they start lining up in anticipation. Once the new bins are in, watch out! Stuff goes flying at an alarming rate. I usually stay away from this scene and wait till the herd has thinned. I don't mind not having first dibs because people are looking for different things anyway.

No matter what nice stuff I get, I do sometimes get 'cart envy' while waiting to check out. There's just so much stuff, you will miss something, or someone will beat you to it. For instance, the last time I was there, this lady ahead of me in line had a collection gorgeous dishes! I was so jealous!

The pickins have been so good that I'm considering reselling some vintage items, as is or tricked up my way. I don't know about that though...I'd be tempted to keep everything for myself.

Anywhoo...I'm sure you'd like to know what kind of 'stuff' I've gotten from there. First of all, I usually set my budget at no more than $10 for the whole trip (unless of course, I'm getting furniture.) This tells you how cheap stuff is. I've gotten decorative items, as well as functional ones. Here are just a few things that I've gotten from there:

1. I broke the glass cup to my blender. I found 2 identical replacements (on 2 different trips). I paid $0.75 each. Now I don't have to toss the motor and buy a new one.

2. A collection of milk glass and hobnail glass dishes and lamps. $0.39 each.

3. A brand new bathtub corner organizer thingy unopened with all it's parts intact: $2.

4. A brand new 3-bin laundry sorter, unopened with all the parts intact: $3

5. 4 Gorgeous red dining chairs: $8 each.

6. Gorgous side table: $4

7. A pair of funky chairs that I tricked up below: $5 each.

8. An assortment of dishes (brand new): $0.39 - $$0.69 each.

9. A nice bike for my husband: $15

10. All the metal tins I'm using to store my craft supplies (which I will blog about someday soon, hopefully)

These are just a few of the things I've picked up from there. I'm so excited, I get to treat myself and head out there tommorrow! I wonder what treasures await me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My evolving design aesthetic

For as long as I can remember I have been a slave to contemporary know, clean lines, brand new everything, trendy color combinations etc. I must admit I do still love the trendy colors like pink + brown, blue + brown, etc. I think I mostly loved contemporary because it was everywhere. HGTV certainly seems devoted to it, and you know I love me so HGTV.

I am however starting to see my design aesthetic shift towards the love of vintage/vintage inspired/vintage made modern. It must have started with the pair of funky chairs I previously posted. Maybe it's because of my old home. It certainly got cemented with Domino Magazine and their "Domino: The Book of Decorating". (That book has SO helped me with setting up my living room! I absolutely love this book and it will be added to my bible collection, just as soon as I can get it for a good price.) Suddenly I not only appreciate, but love the beauty in old things, the mundane everyday items that have been cast off, etc etc.

I wouldn't say I'm completely into vintage, because I wouldn't want my house to look like the 50's threw up in it. I do love pairing modern with the old. I especially love taking something old and making it new again, as I did with said chairs. Lately I've been collecting those candy and cookie tins. I just love them! I couldn't figure out what to do with them at first, then it hit me that they would make great storage items for my craft supplies. That is a blog for another day when the reorg is done and I have pictures...stay tuned.

I think though the reason that I've fallen in love with vintage decor is because it requires imagination. It is also very warm and to me, conducive to my bustling lifestyle, whereas modern/contemporary design is more rigid and austere. All in all, I realize I don't have to stick to one style, as long as I combine different styles without looking 'all over the place.'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

In honor of Earth day 2009, I thought I'd finally make the effort to blog about and post pics of some projects I've done in which I've used upcycled materials. Okay, granted everything I do involves some sort of reusing or recycling. This is because:

1. I love the thrill and challenge of finding a new use for something other than it's original purpose. I think it's so boring to use something exactly for what it was intended for, so I always find a new life for something, after the original owner decides that its life is over. Even if when I'm using something for its intended purpose, I still love creative reuse. I was never into shopping the malls and department stores, just for this reason.

2. It is a bargain to do it this way. Let's face it, I L-O-V-E a bargain. I have come to the realization that even if I were to someday strike it rich, would still bargain hunt. It is my hobby, my raison d'etre, if you will. I especially love thrift store shopping. For me it is a high unlike anything else...uncovering that diamond in the rough, that needle in the haystack of discards. More about my favorite haunts, in a minute.

Anywhoo... Here is how I built myself a very nice pantry. My very old home came with a pantry that had seen better days. The floor leaned a little, the walls were horrendous, and the shelves were a disgrace. I wish I had a before pic of the pantry as it was (I took some, but they must've gotten deleted.) It took us months to get the pantry together.

We had to re-drywall and paint...then came the question of shelving. The previous shelves were in pretty bad shape, so reusing them was out of the question. I had originally thought I'd buy some cheap IKEA bookshelves (Flarke, anyone?) and use those, but an even better (and cheaper) alternative fell in my lap. See, this is where it pays to troll Craigslist for bargains. I saw a post for shelves for $2 a piece (???!!!) and immediately jumped on it. The seller was a bookstore owner who was clearing out their warehouse to cut costs. These shelves were over 20 years old and made of plywood. They were bookshelves, but they were built shelf by shelf, meaning that each shelf was a box, and stacked on top of each other. They were about a foot deep, a foot tall and 4 ft wide. I spent a total of $18 for 24 shelves (long story). 2 coats of primer, 1 coat of paint, some moulding to pretty up the edges and sides, and here's what I got in return:

Shelves: Before (this is how they looked at the warehouse, dingy, dusty and full of splinters)

Shelves After:

Total Cost:
Shelves: $18
Paint/Primer: $35 (1 Gal each)
Moulding: $30 (Moulding is expensive, yikes!)
Total: $83
Having the pantry of your dreams: Priceless

I also tricked out my pantry with some thrift store baskets (about .75cents - $1.00 a piece) to store produce. Here are more pics:

Baskets to hold the produce (courtesy of my favorite thrift store) :

My old wire rack to hold my large collection of spices (rolls from side to side for access to the shelves it covers) :

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Envy and the Envy Killer

Envy is a very ugly emotion. For me it's an emotional equivalent of that feeling when you bump your head against something and feel your brain rattle a little bit, and you get that smell in your nose (kind of a hard smell to describe). It's that feeling like I'm never going to be good enough or I'm not going to ever get there, and here I am, doing the exact same thing this person's doing, but I get no recognition for it. Or that this person(s) has it all figured out, and damn, why didn't I think of that!!!

It's really so silly.

I'm working on my envy issues. I only get envious whenever someone gets attention/success due to something that I do well or thought about doing myself. It always looks so easy when I hear these stories, but I know that it really isn't. I also know, that they only attained that attention or success as a result of them doing the one thing that I won't do: Stick with something.

Earlier today my good friend V called to tell me that the $5 dinners lady was on Rachel Ray. I was like 'oh, ok.' Then tonight I'm watching the local news, and they were also talking about it. For those who don't know who she is, she's this local lady who gained fame and fortune for being able to feed her whole family for $5 a dinner. She made a youtube video, and won a $6k gift card from Walmart. She also has a site that shows you how to do this.

The reason for the envy? My friend V. had told me to do just what she did with having the site, because I too, am a maven at feeding my family (very well) on a budget. I didn't really pursue the idea because it wasn't one I was passionate about. I realized though, that I didn't envy her because she was doing something I wanted to do, really. It was really more an envy of knowing what you love, are good at, and having the courage to pursue making somewhat of a living at it. I have a lot of things I'm good at and love doing, but I don't think I've found the one that I want to pursue as a career/business idea. Maybe I'm not meant to make a career/business of any of my current skill-set. I don't know.

Tonight I found my envy-killer. I came to the realization that it's just not my turn yet. I'm not where I need to be to make it happen. I haven't found my 'one thing' that I am good enough at, and passionate enough about to overcome the fear of doing. That day will come and it will happen organically.

Until then, I'm will quietly content myself with doing the things I currently love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Unanswered Prayers, what ifs, what nots, shoulda-coulda-wouldas...

I, for some reason, have had that Garth Brooks song "unanswered prayers" in my head today. I think it all started while listening to "This American Life" yesterday. That episode was about 'what I used to believe,' and there was a segment in which, two people, a man and a woman meet by sheer coincidence. The man is a christian minister, and the woman an almost-agnostic. They end up discussing whether God exists, and of course the minister spends the better part of the conversation trying to convince the lady. She asks him why is it that God answers some prayers and not others, and the minister explains that sometimes God saves you from what you think you want by not answering what you've prayed so earnestly for.

I'm not at all religious (despite being raised in the christian tradition). I believe this, however, that everything you pray for is not necessarily what is good for you, and that yes, you should thank God (or the creator, or whatever entity you believe in) for unanswered prayers.

'Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs,
that just because he may not answer,
doesn't mean he don't care.
Some of God's greatest gifts
Are unanswered prayers.'

I remember all the times I prayed hard for something, but I couldn't really tell you now, any one specific thing that I had wanted so badly at the time. Somehow everything just works out the way it should.

I do also believe that we are also blessed with free will, but I think it all just works together. One of my favorite movies is "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie depicts two alternate realities and the possibilities those realities hold. I love that movie so much (though the details escape me right now) because it deals with wondering what if.

I think the reason I love it so much is because I am always looking for the perfect scenerio, perfect solution, perfect everything. What I've learned though, is that there is no 'perfect.' There just IS. It's our interpretation of the IS that makes it perfect, or not. You make the decision, do what you feel is best, and the result is what you more, no less, no perfect, no imperfect. No one can really say with any certainty that their result is perfect, or that it isn't and that there is a more perfect result out there.

So, I'm grateful for answered and unanswered prayers, free will and destiny, and perfect imperfection.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So many projects

I freely admit I'm the worst at taking pictures and documenting my projects. That being said, I have been doing so many projects that I haven't had time (or maybe the desire?) to blog them. When I get into a project, I'm full speed-ahead, then realize I haven't taken pics. I do actually have some pics of works in progress, so here goes: Chairs rescued and brought back to life:




This chair is not complete yet though. I still need to add the cord to hide the uglies, and possibly paint the frame. I can't decide what or white is predictable, and the room will be orange, so now what? I actually like the bronze on the top part of the chair so maybe that.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Introducing Craftivity!

So, I'm finally realing a long-time goal of mine, which is to teach school age children functional crafting. I have wanted to do this since first starting to make soap, but at the time I limited the scope to just body products. I agonized over how to do it, and went through different transformations before finally arriving at Craftivity. I will now be teaching children how to make things for their own use. I'm very excited about it, and I hope that the class gets a good response at my daughter's school where I am testing out the concept. I know we are in tough economic times, but I can't think of a better time to start teaching our kids how to be more self-sufficient.
While looking for more ways to beef up the class offerings, I ran across this RePlayground. They are a company that makes gifts out of recycled materials. I've had this idea before, but never this wonderful! They take it to a whole other level! I absolutely love their creations, and I now have permission to use their ideas in my classes. Hooray Recycling! Viva Craftivity!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Craft Stores are the D*mn Devil!

So tonight I headed out to Joann's. I had scoped it out earlier in the week and they had some pretty good sales going on. Of course I was lost in there for about an many beautiful things to see, so many cute ideas!!! There's definitely a craft renaissance going on, as evidenced by the abundance of supplies out there. I remember when craft stores were grandma's playground. Now there are soooo many hip funky, fresh and simply fabulous fabrics out there! I'm even considering taking up I need another craft to add to my repertoire. hands get so jealous of what my mind can create!

Speaking of people living the dream, there are some designers I've been stalking. They are absolutely living my dream! I just love their work! I love Lotta Jansdotter for the simplicity of her designs. I love her for the same reason I love Ikea. It's that whole clean simple and well designed Scandinavian aesthetic. She makes me want to learn every kind of printing by hand that there is!

Then there's midwestern sweetheart Amy Butler. I don't know exactly when I took notice of her brand, but it's been on my radar ever since. Everything is just so fresh and wholesome and beautiful! I actually contacted her once, since she lives in my state, but that went nowhere.
Another designer I recently discovered is Heather Bailey. Her work is startlingly similar to Amy Butler, but there is a suble difference. Plus she gets mad props for those Trash! I wish I'd come up with that!

I love these 3 designers for many reasons. I guess what I love the most is that they make a great living doing what they love. They also show the rest of us that being crafty is not silly or unimportant.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Don't mistake the detours for shortcuts..."

So says the lyrics of a song I like. Truer words were never spoken. Sometimes it's easy to do just this. I did just that tonight. Okay, so it wasn't brain surgery, nor did it have life-altering consequences, thank goodness.

I set out to make a yummy looking recipe for truffles. These were to go to my kids' teachers for Valentines day. I got kinda lazy at the last minute and decided to go with chocolate covered pretzels. I'd been craving some since I had some at a work carry-in.

For starters I broke the #1 rule of chocolate melting, which is, do not melt over direct heat. I made another mistake in following the package directions, which said to melt either in microwave or in a pot on the stove. Well! I did just this and the 'chocolate' seized up like petrified wood!

In the end I have not truffles, no chocolate covered pretzels, and no valentines day presents for the teachers. I should've just gone with the truffles.

Don't mistake he detours for shortcuts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Slowly Coming Out from Under My Rock

Wow, what a long 3 months it's been! I know it's been quite a while since I've blogged, so I am blogging now. This is my last week at my seasonal job, and even though I'll miss the money, I am happy that it's about to be over. It's definitely not fun working full time nights.

Anywhoo, March 1st is almost upon us again, and that means it's almost time for baby girl's 8th birthday! This year I've decided to do it right and actually plan ahead. I have exactly 4 weeks to the event. Furthermore, I've decided no more sex-segregated parties. This came about not because of some lofty ideals I had, but because I found myself short-changing the boys. I would end up doing a total girly-girl party for the princess, then do a half-job with the boys party. Also, because we didn't know a lot of little boys, I would end up forcing my son into a mixed party. The biggest reason is because I hated telling my boys they can't come to their sister's party.

As I sit here writing this, I'm feeling more strongly about it. I'm feeling that we shouldn't force these stereotypes on our children at such a young age. Of course all this stuff has commercial underpinnings. I remember when we I was young and there was no 'spa party for girls only'. Now everything has to have a theme. Well, I'm taking it back to the old school where we will play games, maybe do some crafts (unisex of course) and have a great time, with boys AND girls in attendance. Now I just have to figure out how to pull this off. I will definitely post the party plans ones it's cemented.

I've also resolved to do better with my overall craftiness/gift giving. It seems like for the most part I only relate my creativity to making money with it. The flip side to that way of thinking is that I end up getting frustrated and not enjoying the doing and everything turns into work because I only look at it as something to sell. Meanwhile I have all these friends birthdays, and baby births that come and go where I've either gotten them nothing or bought something at the last minute. I resolve to do more loving creativity. I am going to put my love into my crafts and give more to people who matter to me. For instance, I have a niece who will be born any day soon. I am going to make her these absolutely adorable baby booties, amongst other things.
My bestest friend ever, in Virginia is getting ready to have another little girl too, so that's 2 booties to make. I have a cousin about to turn 8 also, so I have to find something for her as get the point.

It's good to be back.