What Makes me...amazing?

I had a good giggle, and maybe even a slight blush, when I saw that @mrs07c wanted to know "What makes you so amazing?" when I asked if anyone had any questions for me.

Gah! Really? Me? Amazing?

Then I started thinking about it, and maybe she's right! I think I'm quite a catch!

I think it stems from having a strong upbringing and parents who always encouraged me to chase my dreams {something I'm passing on to my son}. They knew that I loved art from an early age, and they encouraged me to just go with it, no matter what the outcome was.

I wasn't a sporty kid growing up. I was that geeky one in the choir, who could sing her little heart out {fairly well I might add!}...the girl in the art club who would organize fundraisers and other such things to help out in the community.

I'd like to think that I'm pretty well rounded...and that makes me amazing. I have a good head on my shoulders, have had to face challenges probably before I should have had, and had to grow up a little bit quicker than some.

I think it helps that I have a bit of a temper, and an attitude that I have nothing to lose, but so much to gain by putting myself and my work out there.

There's also a curly haired little blondey boy with blue eyes that makes me swoon...and because I made him, that's pretty amazing too.

What makes YOU amazing??

Mompreneur Monday: BailyBelle has a new look!

Remember that little shop I introduced you to earlier in the year, BailyBelle? Well...Ms. Vanessa has been working incredibly hard on her new website and I want to share it with you!!

The new BailyBelle features the same infinity scarves that I've fallen in love with, but also an incredibly celebrity collection, and unique eco-friendly tote bags that are too adorable not to share!




Vanessa has designed custom pieces for Lauren Conrad, Tenley Molzahn, Zooey Deschanel and Kim Kardashian! Pretty amazing if you ask me!


She's even been taking some of her older pieces, tearing them apart, and creating something totally new from them. I think it's so incredibly refreshing to meet an artist who has vision, and isn't afraid to look at something they've done, appreciate it for what it is, and turn it into something fantastic and new.





I proudly own four rings, an infinity scarf, am getting a custom business card holder made for my trip to BlogHer and own this amazing piece!


The photo does not do the necklace justice. It is so incredibly awesome, I just adore it!! It packs such an amazing punch, and is a real coversation starter.

Don't own a piece of BailyBelle yet? Hop on over to her Etsy shop...get 10% off with code BLOGHER


Mama Moments...on a Friday?

Going to get a little sentimental today.

Tomorrow, my son turns 2.

Two

T-W-O

Deux

No matter which way you put it, it's emotional for mama.

I remember it all so clearly...the water breaking, the epidural, the 10hours of LOST that we watched...the aftermath.

I remember your Daddy walking in with you in his arms, and the biggest smile on his face {anyone crying yet, because I sure am as I write this!}. I remember snuggling you for the very very first time, and how in that one moment, I knew that I would be mush everytime you came to me for a snuggle from that day forward.

Tomorrow, you're two, little Bear.

My sweet sweet Bear...

Oh, how time flies.

I want to never forget how you say peas, tank-too, and welcome. I want to never forget how you say wuv-you and blow kisses to everyone, even from your carseat to people in the next car when we're stuck in traffic.


I will never ever ever forget the kisses you give first thing in the morning, or how you still like to have  All My Loving sung to you when you`re upset.

Happy birthday, Bear.

SWH4T$: Apple Cheddar Honey Pinwheels

Are you drooling yet? Well...you should be, because these are some of the most delicious appetizers that I've created in a long time and what's even better...you can make a tonne of them on the cheap!





Ingredients:

Crescent rolls
Apples - chopped {I left the skins on}
Shredded aged white cheddar cheese

How To:

Crack the seal of your crescent rolls, and unroll the dough so you have 4 rectangles {basically two triangles, squish the seam together, and voila! rectangle!}.

Fill the rectangles with chopped apples and lots of shredded aged white cheddar cheese.

Roll up tightly and slice. Each rectangle will make approximately 4-8 slices depending on how tight you roll and how full you fill!

Bake as per the package instructions, then cool slightly.

Once you've transferred onto a platter, drizzle with local honey....ah-mazing!

It's a little take on my favourite dish from the Hunt Club...an upside down apple tart with aged white cheddar, local honey and proscuitto {add that to your mixture above...delish!}, but costs a fraction of the price!

Enjoy!

SWH4T$: Couponing with Shizz!



I've kinda laid off the couponing for a while, as I was trying to just use my stockpile while we were having some money issues and really tamping down our spending in all areas of life.  However, we are starting to run low on a few things, so I needed to make a trip, and fortunately last week CVS was having some great deals!

I set up my shopping so that I went in 2 trips: the first was to earn as many ExtraBucks as I could, so that I could use them to pay for my second trip.  Also, at each visit I used a reusable shopping bag and scanned my GreenBag Tag so that I got credit towards my $1 ExtraBuck that I get with every 4th visit where I use a bag :)

Trip #1

Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo & Conditioner (with a bonus trial size shampoo attached!)
Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo (for the beach this summer)
Suave Moisturizing Body Lotion x 2
Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 Spray

Total before coupons & store sales: $25.70
Total of coupons: $6
Total AFTER: $15.93
Savings Of: $9.77
ExtraBucks Earned: $7

Trip #2

Cottonelle Fresh Care Wipes Refill x 2
Secret Invisible Solid Deodorant
Palmolive Green Apple 10 oz Dish Soap x 2

Total before coupons & store sales: $17.61
Total of coupons: $3.75
Total of ExtraBucks redeemed: $7
Total AFTER: $0.55
Savings Of: $17.06

So basically, if you think about it, I got both of those shopping trips for $16.48.  Not bad at all right?

Photobucket

SWH4T$: Strawberry Lentil Cookies

As a busy mom, with a somewhat picky toddler, I need easy and quick ways to ensure that he's getting the protein and nutrients that he needs to be the ever-ready bunny that he is.

I knew that I had a bag of lentils in the cupboard, so I cooked up a batch (I think 1/2 a cup of dry lentils...wowzah do they make alot!).

Now...if you haven't cooked with lentils before...they're not the most appetizing in colour, smell of really flavour. In soup? sure. Alone...kinda gross.

Then I had a thought...what if I mixed them with fruit, and pureed them down into a sauce? Would he eat them then?

You betcha...when they were made into Strawberry Lentil Oatmeal Cookies! The best part: thay just taste like strawberry oatmeal cookies! You can't even tell that the lentils are in there! Sneaky...and smart!

1 tsp. baking powder
   1/4 tsp. salt
  1/2 c. butter
  1/2 c. sugar
  2 egg whites
  2 c. rolled oats (I had large flake on hand, so that's what I used)
  2 c. all purpose flour
  1 c. strawberry lentil puree
 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients, then add and mix the wet ingredients. If you have a cookie scoop, I recommend using it so that your cookies turn out evenly and lovely.

Bake for 11mins.

I found that this made a decent amount of cookies, about 5 dozen so I wrapped them in plastic wrap and popped them in the freezer so I could take them out and have {healthy} cookies on hand whenever needed.

Enjoy!

WAHM Wednesday: The Geek Bar

There's this little item on the agenda of BlogHer that has me really curious

The Geek Bar

First and foremost...what in the heck is a Geek Bar??

I sort of envision a trendy bar set up of neat gadgets, geared for bloggers and companies. iPhone's, Blackberries, playbooks, Square....all sorts of apps and gadgets that can help us with our blogs, Etsy shops and things of the sort.

Once I looked it up, I began to understand.

The Geek Bar is all about the geeky aspect of blogging.

Wordpress vs. Blogger

Html

Writing labs

Social media platforms

Google+

Video editing

Alot of the subjects from last year seem to be covered in the individual seminars this year, so I'm not sure if I'll get alot out of The Geek Bar this summer. There are things that I would like to learn, for sure, but I think I'd rather go to the individual sessions.

*sigh* I really liked the idea of a geeky gadgets bar!

SWH4T$: Toddler Fashion


I know I've talked about it before, but seriously, consignment shopping for kids is like the best thing ever. We all know how it works, kids grow out of stuff faster than you can wash them for the 2nd time.  Therefore, the abundance of gently used kids clothing out there is downright crazy.

I've been to a few different kids consignment stores, but I definitely have my favorite.  Most of these stores are individually owned franchises, therefore the quality of the clothing will vary.  You need to find a store where the owner and employees care about quality and not quantity of clothing.  

The store that I go to (BFF T told me about it, I can't take all the credit) only stocks brand names.  Gymboree, Chaps, Polo, Gap, Children's Place, Nike, Disney, Carters, etc.  Another store that I've been to will sell Target brand (Circo) for like $3/each.  Um, I can get it brand new at Target for cheaper than that so no thank you!  Do your market research owner-lady!  

Most of the time I am able to get a few items NWT (new with tags) at my store.  A lot of times they will have 30% or 50% off sales and fill-a-bag sales.  I go every season and get Jack some extra clothes for daycare, and I usually end up finding a few every-day things as well.  

Here is my latest haul:
1: Talbot's Kids polo shirt, Gap madras shorts
2: Nike Red Sox jersey & mesh short set
3: Nike T-shirt (NWT), Nike mesh shorts

1: Chaps khakis
2: Gymboree t-shirt
3: Gap khakis
4: sun hat
5: Gap t-shirt (NWT)
6: Gymboree jeans
7: Polo jeans
8: Black Dog hoodie (NWT)

Also, not pictured: Fisher Price Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo, $14.99 (NWT!!!)

So, how much did I pay for all of this?  $82.

Pretty good, considering the Zoo Talkers, Gap khakis & Gap t-shirt at full price would have been ~$82 alone.  

And that Talbot's polo and madras shorts might be my new favorite outfit for Jack 

WAHM Wednesday: Podcasting?

Another seminar on Day1 of BlogHer that I'm excited about is the Podcasting 101 seminar.

My husband and his friend, Mike Arsenault, used to podcast about once a week. Usually about sports, reality TV (their recaps of Survivor and The Bachelor were hilarious!) or they would dissect a movie like Dirty Dancing {manly...right?}

I was always too nervous to get the headset on and be a guest on Mike's podcast. I'd usually just holler in the background about who I thought was trashy on The Bachelor or who I loved on Survivor.

The Podcasting 101 seminar at BlogHer has gripped my interest. I'm obviously not afraid to vlog, so why not podcast? What about the microphone intimidates me?

Do I have anything worthy to say?

Will people giggle at my Canadian accent?

What would I even talk about?

I am so excited to sit in a room and hear about Podcasting...why it's important, and how to do it {and do it properly}.

Maybe it'll even get me over my fear of the microphone!

SWH4T$: Studio Makeover

It's finally ready...the virtual tour of my new studio! I figured that it would make a great post for SWH4T$ since I upcycled some old furniture, created my desk, and created my own typography art!



DIY Desk 

The desk was so incredibly easy to make!

You'll need:
2 shelving units (mine are Martha Stewart Home collection from RONA- $40 each)
piece of MDF ($25 for a 4'x8' piece - 2 free cuts at RONA! I had mine cut 4'x2'ish)
6 bins for the cubbies ($10 each at RONA)

How-to:

Put your shelving units together

Paint your piece of MDF whatever colour you want to suit your room

Put MDF board on top of the shelving units when dry, and voila! DIY desk complete!

Total project cost: $165 - which is pretty cheap considering the cost of furniture, and it's completely unique! Mine stands about 3'ish high, so I dont need a chair in my studio, which is great for my posture! I also have 3 pieces of MDF leftover, which will make great coffee table tops, colouring tables for the kiddo or even just pieces of art!

I already had one of the units for the desk, which saved us $40 of materials cost. Add in the paint, and you're right around $140 for an entire new room!

The bookcase and mailing centre unit were my Husband's when he was a child; thankfully the inlaws  held onto them and I was able to repurpose them!

Love the typography? You can download it for free!




WAHM Wednesday: Blogging for the Love of It!

One of the seminars that really has my wheels turning is the Blogging For The Love Of It seminar on day1 of BlogHer.

It got me thinking about why I blog....about this little niche in the blogosphere that I've carved out for my artsy self.

Why do I blog? What do I get out of it?

Is it just to put out my art and products, get feedback and hopefully some customers?

The simple answer is no to all of that.

The longer answer...

I blog because I love to write. It has always come really naturally for me and I find that it is a really organic fit with the art that I do. I get to create something, start to finish, and then share it with the world. How often do you get that opportunity?

I blog because I have something to share. Yes, I blog about my house and my family, about who we are, local businesses, other mompreneurs and my little artsy company...but I blog because I have something to share.

It might be pictures....an interesting home decor tip...maybe even a DIY tutorial

For me, it's about sharing and getting the creative ideas out there.

I'm really excited about this seminar at BlogHer and think that it will be amazing to connect with other like minded bloggers who blog just for the love of it.

Why do you blog?

BlogHer Sponsor Love: The Printing House

You may have noticed that one thing that I am big on is branding. My Etsy shop banner is the same as my Facebook profile picture is the same as my blog header.


It's also the cover art for my *new* gorgeous to the n'th degree business cards that I just got from TPH Canada!

Do you have a brand that is slightly all-over-the-place? Graphics not matching up? What do you want your brand or blog to say about you?

Let TPH Canada help! Check out their new video about branding and the importance of {gorgeous} business cards!


SWH4T$: Pinteresting Printables



One of the trends I've been seeing lately is printing things out at home, instead of buying them ready made at the store.  Most printers today have settings to allow for ink-saving, therefore printing at home has become much more cost-effective than it used to be.  Lately, I've been finding a lot of printables on Pinterest (duh).

Labels
Lately I've become an organizing freak, as in I've labeled almost 50% of the contents of my kitchen cabinets.  OCD much?  Here are a few of my favorite printable labels (free, of course!)

Source: bhg.com via Shannon on Pinterest

I used these in my kitchen, the blue ones (my favorite color :)


These are great because you can download an editable PDF file and type out the text you want directly onto the label (great for messy handwriters!)

Planners
I do better when I have a task list, and planning pages are a great way to get things done.  Especially for all you mommy bloggers, blog planning pages are a great way to brainstorm ideas, keep yourself organized, and stay in check with your marketing strategies!


I like this one because of the pretty colors (I sound like a 4 year old, right?) and also for the fact that you get 2 pages on 1 8.5x11 inch piece of paper :)  Eco-friendly and cheap :)


I like this one because of the stats box at the bottom.  Its hard for me to remember my growth in stats, so its nice to have a place to write down where you were at that moment in time.

Coloring Pages
Why buy a coloring book when your kid is probably only going to mark up a few pages and then get sick of it?  Print out pages one by one, and don't waste paper :)


We like this one for obvious reasons :)  CARS!


This whole website has free printables, but I especially like the number and alphabet coloring pages because they are simple.  I feel like toddlers get overwhelmed with lots of lines, so these are straight to the point.

How do you use your home printer to save money?  Have any favorite free printables you'd like to share?


SWH4T$: Sweet Popcorn Treats

Hello hello!! It's Thursday and that means it's time for SWH4T$! Want the bloghop part of the post back? Let us know!


A fun and easy treat for you this week on SWH4T$!! I whipped this Bunny Bait up for Easter, and my husband just about went gaga over it!

Ingredients
2 bags of popped unbuttered popcorn
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 cup of M&M's
1 cup of chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds)
multicoloured sprinkles



How To

Pop your popcorn...pretty easy but make sure that it doesn't burn like it so often does.Put in a large bowl with the M&M's and nuts.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30second intervals, ensuring that it doesn't burn either.

Pour the chocolate over the popcorn, M&M's and nuts. Stir to coat.

Dump the contents onto cookie sheets and spread out the mixture. Top with additional chocolate if needed, and sprinkle with multicoloured sprinkles.

When cooled and chocolate has hardened, break up into large pieces.



Variations

Oreo - semi sweet chocolate drizzle, chopped Oreo's, and chocolate sprinkles

Rainbow - white chocolate drizzle, Skittles, multicoloured sprinkles

Mint Chip - mint chocolate chip drizzle, chopped chocolate chip cookies, chocolate sprinkles

Triple Chocolate - white chocolate drizzle, chopped dark chocolate, milk chocolate almonds


Enjoy!

WAHM Wednesday: #Roadto30 Updates!

Welcome back, everyone!

I'm really excited to share with you some updates from my amazing roommates, Shaun and Mel, who I'm sponsoring in their #Roadto30....a journey to lose 30lbs each by BlogHer this summer!



Their journeys are going strong - Shaun and I have even connected on the Map My Run app for iPhone and I love reading about the routes she is taking. Every step may seem like a small one, but it's a step in the right direction and that's what matters!

I am growing increasingly proud of these ladies. They're not stopping at BlogHer...oh no...in fact...they're going to keep pushing themselves and are going to run the BlogHer 5km Fun Run! Amazing!






I'm considering joining them for the run. It might be crazy...it's be the first 5km I've ever run in my entire life...but I want to support them to the very end of their journey and show them just how incredibly proud I am of them.

Stay tuned! More on their journey next month!

Interested in sponsoring them? Contact Mel and Shaun today!

SWH4T$: Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice
by: Shizz



I'm sure you've all seen this floating around Pinterest, Rainbow Rice to put in a sensory bin for toddlers to play with. I've been wanting to make this for a while, and Monday was the perfect day since the weather here was 85 degrees and sunny (yup, its still April).



I used this recipe as my guideline :)



I tried to break down the cost by cup of rice, but it wasn't really working, so here is what I paid for everything today (I have leftovers).



1 10 lb bag of white rice: $5.49 (I only used about 1/3 of the bag, I made 12 cups of rice total)

bottle of rubbing alcohol: $1.09

Ziploc bags (sandwich size): $1.00 for 15 (Dollar Store!)

Food coloring: $2.50 for 4 bottles

Plastic container for storage: $1.00 (Dollar Store!)



So that's less than $12 for a fun activity that I could probably make about 8-10 batches from that one bag of rice. Not bad at all!






Step 1: Gather your supplies:


Ingredients listed above,


Wax paper for drying


Disposable gloves (if you hate dye on your hands like I do)





Step 2:


Bag up your rice: 1 cup to a bag






Step 3: Add color


1 T rubbing alcohol + 10-12 drops food coloring


First batch I mixed them in these little bowls, 2nd batch I added


the alcohol and food coloring directly into the bag (much easier)



Step 4:


Squish Squish Squish the bag till all the rice is colored.


Make double sure that your bag is sealed.


Trust me on that one...






Step 5: Dry


Spread out on wax paper in the sun and let dry


I think it took about 30 minutes to dry






Step 6:


PLAY! Dump into a bin, sand/water table, cookie sheet, large bowl,


basically any large container. Add a few utensils, cups or spoons,


and let your toddler go to town!






Jack loved it :) He played with it for about an hour :)


I was worried about the dye coming off on his hands, and I'm


happy to report that there was not one speck of dye on his hands :)

WAHM Wednesday: Nostalgic New York

Unlike some of my roomies, attending BlogHer isn't my first NYC experience.

Thankfully, my husband has family about a 40 minute train ride from the city and we've been able to go and visit them a couple of times. We even had a little babymoon in NYC just before we got pregnant with our son.

I was feeling a little nostalgic, and started looking through our pictures from our last trip in 2009.



Oh roomies...we are having cupcakes from this bakery...it is a must!



Can we squeeze in a Yankees game??



Excited for a group shot in Times Square

As much fun as it is to go on vacation with your husband, there's just something about a girls trip that is really exciting. Being able to get all dolled up in some fancy new clothes, going out for a fabulous dinner and then drinks on some rooftop patio

*sigh* Why is it only April!?

Blogger{at}BlogHer12: Blogging Tips

Definitely late to the game on this bloghop for the week, but better late than never??

Hopping along with my roommate Shaun...





The theme for this week is blogging tips...you know you have 'em, so you might as well share 'em!

Quality

This is something that is incredibly important to me. I want to ensure that I'm staying true to myself as an artist, not compromising my ideals and values, and that I'm also presenting my sponsors in the best possible light. This all boils down to quality. What good is a blog that is full of giveaways, reviews, and very little content? Well...it's great if you want to win stuff, but it's not great if you're looking to build a relationship with your readers {like I am}. Food for thought!

Network

I've found that the best way to grow my readership is to have a close network of bloggers who believe in what I do, both as a writer and as an artist. Pushing posts to Facebook and Twitter only go so far if you haven't taken the time to connect with who will see those posts and tweets. Connect...engage...be real.

Scheduling

I try to stick to a consistent schedule. I know that my life as a fulltime mama and fulltime artist make for late night {or all-day-Sunday} blogging sessions, and without my themed days and schedule, I wouldn't know which post is going to go where...and likely would have writers block. it helps me stay focused, gives my blog consistency, and gives my readers something to look forward to when they know a certain theme is coming up in a day or two.

Those are my top three tips!! I can't wait to learn more and grow as a blogger in the coming months. This little dream of going to BlogHer is becoming more and more real, and it's such an amazing journey!

Mama Moments: Be Good...to Yourself

A new series...who knows how often, but I'm shooting for the second Monday of the month. A monthly series...Mama Moments

A chance for you to get to know me as a mom.

I recently went out for my monthly MNO (Mama's Night Out) with two girlfriends who have 6 month olds.

First and foremost, if you don't do an MNO but have mom friends...do it! it's such a refreshing little break, if only for a drink, dessert or {who am I kidding} a full meal that I can eat from start to finish...with it still being hot!

Anywho...I went out for our MNO, and we talked about some nitty-gritty stuff. Post-Partum Depression was a theme, as was me-time, diaper changes, solid feeding, transition to bottles and pretty much every other topic three first time mom's can chat about in 3 hours.

I was thinking about this post the entire way home and wanted to get up on the roof and scream

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, MAMA!

We sacrifice so much of ourselves as mom's, that really...what is left for us at the end of the day? Who is there to take care of us? When do we ever give ourselves a break?

WAHM's - tap a nap, and don't feel guilty about it

SAHM's - flick on a movie and snuggle up on the couch with your little one

Downtime is so incredibly important and I'm finding that more and more mom's don't take it. I know I'm totally guilty on not taking it until I'm at my breaking point and in tears, needing a break.

But, what good are we unless we are good to ourselves first, and others second? Who are we able to love, unless we love ourselves? How can we give others compassion and our attention unless we first give it to ourselves?

I've been thinking long and hard since April 5th about this new mantra, and it has completely resonated with me.

Be Good...to Yourself.

So you go on with your bad self! Have an ice cream date with a group of mama friends and talk tirelessly about sleep deprivation, being WAHM's, having kiddos in daycare, solid feeding, being a SAHM, being a working-mom.

Go bowling, to the movies, to the spa {ahhhh....}.

Be you.

And be good to you!

WAHM Wednesday: Updates!

So this journey to BlogHer is really heating up!

So far, I've...

  • met with my amazing fashion designer, Kristine
  • secured sponsorship for my flight
  • booked the hotel
  • collaborated with Amber on accessories
  • finalized the design of my messenger bag with Tina
  • finalized the design of my new business cards being printed by TPH

Everything's coming along tickety-boo as they say {do they still say that??} and I'm really excited that the conference is only 5 months away.

Still on the to-do list...

  • finalize a makeup sponsor and try to do something with my mug {...errr...face}
  • figure out a hairstyle that is going to work for the summer and still be trendy for the conference
  • continue on with sponsor posts the first week of every month
  • decide on what seminars and workshops I will be attending
  • blog about said workshops and seminars
  • figure out what places in NYC I really really want to make my way to with my roomies

How is your journey coming?