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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Show of hands- who is ready for Valentine's Day?

Photo courtesy of Martha

Remember how I challenged you to "shop from your shelves?" If you are like me, you have a ton of extra craft, scrapbook and construction paper taking up space in your home. Instead of wistfully thinking about all the good intentions you had for those supplies, make them into personalized Valentine's Cards! Simple trace your child's hands, cut them out and decorate! The possibilities are endless on how each child will decorate their hands but here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
  • tape lollipops or other wrapped candy to the hand
  • use letter/word/picture stamps that you have on hand (or use this cool potato stamp idea!)
  • Good ole' glitter makes everything better (except maybe for Mariah Carey's career...)
  • crayons and marker drawings or love notes
  • use smaller pieces of craft paper to cut into shapes (flowers, hearts)
  • Grown-ups can help sew on sequins or buttons rescued from the washer

Why waste money on mass produced, licensed character cards when your kiddos can put all of their own character into their giving?

Share any other great Valentine's crafty things you are doing at your home!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Finds

I officially hate everything in my closet so I have been trying to figure out what "look" I want to go for...I came to the conclusion that dressing fancy is just not practical for cleaning, sewing and toddler rangling, so I will stick to jeans and basic shirts. But these fabulous vintage and handmade finds are the perfect pieces to liven up any jeans and t-shirt routine!

1. Blue braided organic soy jersey tee by IslaNewYork

2. Vintage Sterline Silver Flower Pin from SodaRenee

3. Antique leaf and pearl jair pins from RageoftheAge

4. Embellished Flora Tee by Elizandaxel

5. Unchained Blue Satin and Glass Necklace by Starflight

6. Pink chiffon and pearl bib necklace by NYLightMetals

7. Audrey Clip in Brown by artistrybymckenzieg

8. Red Poppies Head Garland by OrdinaryMommy

9. Trim shop floral tee by fcpcares

Do you have special ways to dress up your everyday mommy wardrobe? If so, please share!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just in case...

Just in case you read this blog and got the impression that I have a clue as to what I am doing...

Just in case you think I am able to accomplish anything because I have a self-sufficient child who plays by himself...

Just in case you think that I am not learning something every single day...

I wanted you to know that-

I bribed my child to not fuss in the stroller while I went for a jog with a lollipop (in his right hand) and then left him to nap in said stroller after he fell asleep before we got home (inside, but still!)

These really dirty shoes are what I wear almost every day...and, no, I do not run almost every day (or even every other day...) And running is offended by me refering to what I do as running...

Oh look...I am such a good mom! Letting my son be free and expressive in his finger painting...but wait! You should see how expressive and free he is below that green shirt...Yep, he is not wearing pants. Ever. My child is a partial nudest...

I got these napkins finished for my shop while my son climbed all over me...again, completely naked from the waist down...fabulous...

I wanted you all to know the truth, you know...just in case!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sustainability and the Shopper...a tale of two loves

One of the hardest things about trying to live a sustainable life is my love of shopping. Now, those who know me know that my shopping love is one of thrift and frugality...I am a window shopper, deal-finder and coupon user.(In other words, I am cheap!) But, as my husband once said when looking at our spending habits "You are going to twenty-dollar us into debt!" And, there lies my problem...I would make lots of small "good deal" purchases that eventually added up to a LOT of money. And, unfortunately, my "good deals" were often cheap and didn't last long. As I worked to make sustainability a goal at my house, I have learned some easy ways to move towards that goal and to keep my inner need for retail-therapy at bay...

Here are my top three ways to achieve sweet sustainbility for the shopper:

1. Shop from your shelves.

This premise is simple but is easily overlooked. Take inventory as to what you actually possess. Write it down (I am a compulsive list keeper, I will confess.) I guarantee you that you will find atleast one or two pieces of clothing that had gotten pushed to the back of a drawer or closet that will freshen up an outfit. Doing this in the kitchen is also a great way to be fun and frugal (more on that later!) Make a goal to eat only out of your pantry and freezer for atleast a week, buying only fresh produce and milk. Find all the crafty things you have bought for your kids (play dough, markers, craft paper) and actually use it! Read books and magazine you already own! Play old video games, watch old movies or break out that dusty deck of cards with your family. The things you find when you take inventory of your house WILL amaze you...

2. Support sustainable shopping practices.

Living sustainable is about living "lightly" on the earth. I want to make the least amount of imprint on the earth and my budget. This step accomplishes both.

After you have taken inventory of what you have and you discover things that you will not ever use, consign or sell these items. Take the money you get back and put that in a jar/envelope/bank account where it is kept seperate and use it for any special shopping or spending ventures. I strongly believe in the negative impacts of clutter so this helps me clean out things that are taking up room in my home/life and creates a little economy of only spending from what I actually have and what I took the effort to make. This makes you actually think about what you are spending and what you are spending money on.

(I also strongly support donating items from your home...this may not actual make you any money, but most thrift stores are run by very efficient charitable organizations and will give you a reciept for tax purposes for any donations.)

3. If you must buy, buy responsibly.

Like I stated before, I often compulsively bought cheap things because I thought they were a good deal. However, I am slowly learned that really thinking about my purchases really pays off- for me and for bigger purposes. Cheap stuff can be sold cheaply because it is made cheaply-either by using cheap materials or by using cheap labor. Supporting either is not supporting the sustainable life I am striving for. If you are spending money consciously, you should consider atleast these 3 things:

1. how it was made
2. who made it
3. what it is made with

Some people prefer to buy vintage or used goodies instead of new organically made things. Both are sustainable options. Many great vintage goodies were made years ago, by hand in American factories, are extremely well-made and will last you much longer than the cheap-o item at a big box store. There are alot of great "green" options to buy new that are very well made, made responsibly by people paid fair wages and support a retail movement that brings green living to the "regular" marketplace. (Buying handmade often accomplishes both of these options...there are alot of great artists on Etsy and other handmade marketplaces that work towards these goals by upcycling, using organic material and paying themselves fair wages through their prices!) Sometimes buying in one these ways can be more expensive or require more effort than buying cheap, throw-away items. Thinking or researching about your purchases does make it more difficult to buy willy-nilly...but isn't that the point?

As a conclusion, I will share that I am doing the "shop from your shelf" step right now in my own kitchen. I have been really enjoying the creativity aspect that this requires...I have some apple cider packets in the pantry, 3 red apples starting to get a bit soft on the counter and a total over-abundance of applesauce in my pantry. Unfortunately, I had no oil or baking powder and I was not allowing myself to buy anything this week. After reworking an apple cake recipe from a forgotten cookbook and praying hard that they would actually turn out editable, I ended up with these yummy muffins:

They were, surprisingly, one of the most moist muffins I have ever made. My little guy stole one off the rack before they had a chance to completely cool. There are only half of them left this morning!

Do you have any other ways that you balance a sustainable life and the draw of the current predatory retail market place? Share with me what YOU do!
And don't forget to check out my current giveaway going on here!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sharing a little Camp Cupcake...

I have a little confession-I didn't really want to run a business...I really initally just wanted two things:

1. A way to support my fabric-buying habit (obsession)

2. Have something to say when people asked that dreaded question "What do you do?"

However, I have learned in the short two and a half months that Camp Cupcake Designs has been in business is that when you treat something like something, it responds. That is, if I treat what I do as an actual business, my business responds in kind. I am learning to run my business (and my homemaking!) in a way that is intentional, defined and goal/task oriented. I am currently working on defining my business goals so that my business plan is intentionally moving in one direction.

In order to do this, I want to gather feedback from those around me- my friends and family, blog and Twitter friends, other Etsy/handmade folks and anyone else that may feel so inclined. And-wait! Here is the good part- I am offering an incentive to you giving me your two cents!
A Giveaway!

This is a small stroller blanket made from the coveted Heather Ross Medocino fabric line, backed in super soft minky fabric and has coordinating grosgrain ribbon sewn in to keep baby interested. The colors in this fabric is very modern and grown-up with a sweet underwater theme...Similar blankets (which just sold out this morning!) in my store sell for $25.00 :) Even if you don't have a girl (I know the feeling!), this blanket would make a great shower gift or a sweet doll blanket for an older child...

So, how do you get this little goody to end up at your house? I am going to make this as easy as possible...simply visit my store and give me feedback in the comments! What kind of feedback? Tell me what you like, what you don't like (I am serious!), what you would like to see in the store, what you would like to see MORE of in the store, or critique my banner/pictures/etc. Now- go forth and comment! This giveaway will be running through Sunday, January 31st and will announce the winner Monday, February 1. I will draw the winner from the comments with a random number drawer (that way, everyone is equal, regardless of positive or constructive feedback...)

PS-I would love for you to follow my blog or for you to fan Camp Cupcake Designs on Facebook! I will be sharing all the fabulous info that you give and the goals I define from that information through those forums!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Sneak Peak!

Just sharing a sneak peak of a my very first giveaway...stay tuned this week for details! If you are not already a fan of Camp Cupcake Designs on Facebook, become a fan here to make sure you stay on top of any new products, promotions, or other news!

(Apparently, I really like alliterations this week...)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Work-in-Progress Wednesday (a day late!)

I was a tad bit busy yesterday living a little bit of my old life but I am back at home this morning full force! Not only to I have a ton of ideas motivating me to be busy with Camp Cupcake Designs today, I returned home to a sick baby...To keep me moving forward with projects and to be inspired with what other people are working on, I wanted to start sharing what projects are currently on my quilt rack (or shelves, or bed, or floor...where ever they may fall!)

First up:
The first quilt top I ever made...therefore, my longest work-in-progess ever. And I hate it (thus, why I am taking so long to finish it!) I am machine quilting it on my regular sewing machine (it is queen sized...) and this causes much colorfull language to spill from the craft room. It has too much blank space that I am trying to fill up with some cool vereigated color thread and I am still not sold on whether it will look decent. I downright don't want to hand bind (picture my lips all pouted out and me stomping my foot!) But the hubby says that I have already put so much time and energy into this stupid thing, that I must finish it. So, I share this with you so that you can keep me accountable!

It is the world's most simple disappearing 9-patch pattern made with only one layer cake...for those that don't know quilting, this is NOT alot of fabric to make a queen sized quilt, thus I added lots of off-white fabric to make it big enough. THUS, it is stupid looking...

Crap, I have a long way to go...

Feel free to tell me how terrible this quilt is and that I don't need to finish it :)

Something actually cute! I found a 25 cent bag of colored suade in a bin at my local thrift store...I hand washed it and made these super simple baby shoes for a friend's new baby. I haven't a clue what kind of suade this is, but is a super duper soft and supple. I love making baby shoes for some bizarre reason!

I last posted about charitable crafting and the Quilting for Peace book that I love...Only days before writing that post I had requested a quilt kit from the Quilting from Peace-featured Quilt for Kids website and they estimated that it would take 1-2 weeks to get to me. So, it was like Christmas when UPS brought me fabric in the mail the same day I wrote that post. I am excited about putting together this quilt (it is a simple pattern as shown below) in the next weeks. The kit did come with the challenge to make another out of my own fabric to send back with it, so my mind is brimming with some ideas to put together! (I think that I am going to use this Robert Kaufman/Amy Schimler-designed fabric made especially for Quilts for Kids!)

All the fabrics come in the kit-including the backing and the binding. All you have to add is batting! Check out this super simple block pattern (and the directions are included and easy to follow!)

Are you motivated to try a quilt for the first time? Read this great stories about how these quilts are put to good use for sick kids. These quilts go to children hospitalized for extended stays and partners with the Children's Miracle Network. Just fill out this request and a kit can be on its way to you!

(P.S. I am not related to anyone at Quilts for Kids or Downy-the corporate sponser for these quilt kits... But I am especially drawn to the fact that this group started after it was discovered that fabric was headed to the garbage dumps in rediculous amounts. The founder chose to rescue leftover/scrap/slightly flawed fabric and turn it into charitable sewing projects to benefit those in need...charitable crafting with a sustainable purpose-that is right up my alley!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spotlight on charitible crafting...

With the news coverage of the tragedy in Haiti, I felt compelled to share one of my favorite things about the crafting community-their chartible hearts and hands! Charitable crafting is not new and one of my favorite craft books (shown above) shares the inspiring history of my favorite craft: quilting. Quilting bees have been the social network of women (and men!) for centuries and during the Civil War, they have been credited with saving lives with their donated quilts. Through the decades, quilts have comforted victims of fires, forced the world to pay attention to the AIDS epidemic, and wrapped newborns in their warmth. "Quilting for Peace" by Katherine Bell (check out the amazing website for the book!) shares these stories and highlights 15 charitable projects that you can complete for your home or can donate. While I treasure many of my crafty books, this books has been one that I have recommended over and over again (and was the first craft book to make me cry!). The projects are not new or even difficult, however, when it comes to chartible crafting, that is the point. Anyone can utilize their skills or develop new skills while participating in these projects. One of my 2010 challenges to myself is to encorporate a charitable function to my business and to my personal life (hopefully, these can intersect!)

I made my son a quilt for his new toddler bed from a simple pattern in this book...
Do you not have time to craft or feel like you have nothing to contribute? Do you feel like shopping is the only thing you can do well? Well, I have the perfect solution for you! Craft Hope has been inspiring me for a long time but they recently set up a shop where Etsy artists and sellers can contribute items to be sold with the proceeds going to Doctors without Borders. Check out this fabulous shop, buy yourself something great, and know that you are playing an important role in the world of charitable crafting.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead
How will YOU respond to the need in your community and around the world? Share with me your favorite charitable crafting projects! I look forward to hearing what keeps YOU motivated...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Motivation Monday: How to create a Paperless Kitchen

It is the beginning of a new week and I always feel like the possibilities are endless! If you are working on the journey to sustainability in your home, Simple Mom shares some great tips on creating a Paperless Kitchen. I really love how she has different categories for household "cloth." So motivating!
(Thanks to my friend Tracey for sharing this article with me!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Retro Re-do: Repurposing a vintage pillowcase

I mentioned in my last post that "vintage" goodies were one of my favorite ways to be "green." Admitedly, my love of vintage goods started before my dive into living a sustainable life. They often have a great aesthetic (um...they look cool!) and represent historic time periods that fascinate me. One of my favorite things to scrounge for in thrift and consignment stores is vintage linens. Sheets, blankets, and pillowcases in fabulously cheery funky floral prints are my very favorite! (And, if you are desperate for some shopping therapy, these are usually super cheap at your everday Goodwill or Salvation Army. At my local store, each piece costs between 50 cents to $1.00!)

So...what do you do with your lovely linens after you bring them home? Most of mine are waiting until I have enough accumulated for a sunshine-y quilt/beach blanket. But this pillowcase was just singing to me with its lovely citrus and lime colors to make it into something new. And what would be better than a market bag to reduce waste at the grocery store? Nothin' much!
Let's do this thing! Start with one vintage pillow case...

Step 1: Fold the pillow case from corner to corner (which corners don't really matter...)

Step 2: Iron along this line so you have a visible crease. Cut alone line...I used a rotary cutter but it is not neccesary. Scissors will be fine since we will be finishing these edges at a later step.

You will now have two long triangle pieces...

Step 3: Fold down the skinny tops of the triangles and pin the edges...

The edges should be folded and pinned down about half and inch...

Step 4: Sew edges down. I did a double stitch thing but this was me just trying to be is totally unneccesary and one stitch will work just fine! Sew down both sides of both triangles, including sewing down the skinny triangle parts (as shown on step 3).

Step 5: One of the triangles has it's short end already close up because that was the bottom of the we have to make the other triangle the same. Fold the right sides together of the open triangle pillow piece (pin if you need) and sew together. Again, I was trying to be fancy and used a zig zag stitch here-it is a more sturdy stitch but it is not neccesary. Turn the piece back so the right sides are back out again.

Step 6: Line the two short sides of the triangles together...put one end inside the other.

Step 7: This is the only hard part of this whole thing. You need to pin each outside to the piece inside and sew them together.. As shown in the picture below, you will need to stick your hand inside to pin so that you don't pin all four layers together. Sew along you already sewn thread lines, making sure you are only connecting two laters of fabric. It can be the most tricky at the corner.

Step 8: Tie the two skinny ends together to make your shoulder strap...and go! That is it!

This would be where I pose in front of bicycle with a basket in a meadow and have fresh bread and arugala sticking out of the bag...but that ain't happenin'. So you will just have to see how roomy and vintage funky-fabulous this bag is in this cool picture where I am trying to suck in my gut and butt while my husband takes a picture on his lunch break. (There IS spinach inside the bag...just sharin'...)

I know you are ready to go make yourself a couple of these bags for your weekly outing to the farmer's market. But just in case you are all stocked-up with market bags, check out these other great ways to repurpose the extra pillow cases in your house:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am one of THOSE people...

I own a Toyota Prius, we cloth diapered our son, use cloth wipes for wiping noses, and I am thrilled that so many people have been reducing their waste by purchasing cloth napkins from my new store. Recently, when someone found out these things about me, they said to me "So, you are one of THOSE..." I responded "Proudly!" Since I am not sure EXACTLY what was meant by that, I have my ideas and felt that the topic needed a little discussion.

My desire for Camp Cupcake (and my home!) is to share "Sweet Sustainability." But what does that mean? Some of my friends can tell you that I have often gone a little overboard showing how easy and cute cloth diapers can be. My husband can tell you about all my crazy antics to get him to use only kitchen towels instead of paper towels. I believe strongly that many people don't make an attempt to be green because they think that it is a) too hard or b) have some crazy idea that it is some ugly burlap way of life. I have made it my personal and business goal to share how fabulous green can be! To be honest with you, I am not sure that the world will implode from global warming (and since the world will die by a large Mayan lizard god in 2012, it probably won't matter-ha!) I have read what seems to be quality research that supports doomsday fears and research that speaks against it. I don't know if I "believe" in alot of what many of my fellow "greenie's" talk about. My reasons for being eco-friendly is much more simple: I don't believe in waste. It may seem ironic for someone who wants to grow her business in 2010, but I believe strongly in the phrase "Waste not, want not." I, personally, want to WANT LESS in 2010. I want people to buy products that allow them to waste less...whether that is by creating less trash at dinner time or by putting less waste back into the eco-system.

How can YOU live green? Use reusable products. Use products that are ALREADY made and in the consumer marketplace (VINTAGE goodies would be my personal favorite way to do this!). Recycle what you DO use. UPcycle by reusing items in a new way (be crafty!) Go old-school in your cleaning (No need to buy pricey high-end "green" cleaning products: baking soda and vinegar are REALLY efficient and SO inexpensive!) And, yes, I will say that supporting handmade is a good way to "go green." Resourceful handmade artists often produce less waste than large commercial operations. And they are incredibly creative with their ideas to help YOU produce less waste.

Some of my favorite "green" products right now:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Introducing: Retro Reads Book Reviews!

One of my New Year's goals is to share some of my favorite things with everyone-starting with "reviewing" some of my favorite vintage housewifery-related readings. Admitedly, these won't be hard-hitting exposes (these books in cue have been on the market for 50 years, more or less!) but tongue-in-cheek walks through a time captured in books or cookbooks. These books are often humorous, full of actual relevant knowledge and always reflect a time and standard that the housewives (or home executives, stay-at-home mom, etc.) of today either loathe or love.

Since one topic on many people's mind at the turn of the year is to lose weight and to get healthy, I decided to start this series with the cookbook that started the Slenderella diet enterprise- the 1957 Slenderella Cookbook by Myra Waldo. Vibrating exercise machines, supliments and even IRS controversary eventually followed but this book actually gives very good, basic, weight loss advice that has relevancy today. There are no gimmicks or strange methodologies-just 3 30-day menu plans divided by caloric intake (1200, 1500, 1800). There are tips on getting your children to eat healthy with you and tips on dining out (don't talk about being on a diet!).

My favorite part of the book? The proper weight chart that lists women's heights while WEARING TWO INCH HEELS! Because I do that daily! The chart, however, is almost identical to one written today. I also found the section on WHY people are more overweight in 1957 than 50 years prior almost identical to those written in 2009 about the 1950's. Apparently, we weren't all that different in our lifestyles (I may not be in a cool car as the graphic above shows, but I do still dream about cake!)

And example of what you would eat (and have to cook!) for on a typical meal in the 1200-calorie menu:

Beef Soup (for children, add rice)

Beef Fricassee (for children, add bread and butter)

Green Peas and Potato Casserole

Cucumber Salad

Orange Whip


Favorite quotes from the book:

"Eggs, in common with champagne, may be served at any stage of the meal-as an appetizer, main dish, salad or in desserts."

(There are 5 versions of deviled eggs alone and an entire chapter devoted to the subject of eggs!)
"A woman kneading bread is a truly beautiful and feminine sight, a sage once remarked, but it has become something of a lost art."
(Isn't it funny that break making was "something of a lost art" in a time that we all think of as the June Cleaver in the kitchen?)
I have actually prepared my family several of the recipes in this book and have found them to be very good. However, the serving sizes are very small (maybe because they are having a multiple course meal!) by today's standards.
I must confess that I have not tried the multiple recipes listed for cow tongue or cow brains....
Please share if you have a favorite vintage cookbook that you love and if you actually use it or relish it on a shelf :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A quilt rebel log cabin tutorial

I WANTED to title this post: How to finish more than one quilt block during nap time when your child has NEVER taken even an hour long nap let alone the long naps that OTHER moms talk about...but I am not bitter about it...
But I figured that post title might be a tad bit too long :)

There are a million ways to make a log cabin quilt block and half a million tutorials you could find online. But after looking (coveting) at a lot of log cabin quilts on Flickr (some day I will write a post about my slight obsession with Flickr!), this is what I came up with to share...I started quilting/patchwork sewing before I had any other tools beyond my sewing machine and some scrapbooking scissors. You NEED no other tools than that to make this easy peasy quilt block...

Warning for the expert quilter: my methods may seem wild and crazy. I promise that I can sew and quilt by the rules and I do the majority of the time...but my favorite thing about quilting is that it can be completely by the books or completely down and dirty. THIS is down and dirty...
Step 1:
Cut strips of your favorite fabrics OR unroll a pack of pre-cut fabrics-I am using a Moda* Momo Wonderland jelly roll-each strip is 2.5 inches wide, which is a good width for your strips...make the strips as long as you like but 10-12 inches is a good length.
*(I love Moda pre-cut fabrics almost as much as I love flickr!)

Step 2:
Cut 2 squares out of your fabric and sew them together. Since I used the jelly roll, I made the squares 2.5 x 2.5 inches. (NOTE: to sew the pieces together correctly, always place the right sides together...and the right sides, if you didn't know, are the sides with the print...)

Step 3:

Here is the start of the down and dirty part...Lay your sewn together squares and line up one of your strips against the long side...cut the strip to the same length. Don't get out your rotary cutter...don't get out your ruler...just cut it and get on to step 4...your kid might wake up soon and time is of the essence!

Oh yeah- sew the pieces together...

Step 3 (through how ever big you wanna make your quilt square...):

Keep going around the square/rectangle in a circular motion (I typically add a strip moving clockwise, however, this isn't can add strips willy nilly if you want! This is down and dirty!)

Yes, I used pins to get my strips to lay still when I sewed them, however this is because I am a clutz and need assistance. You may have sewing skills and can sew small strips together without the need for pins.

See me cutting with my left hand? Ha! That is because I am trying to take a picture with my right do people make these tutorials so pretty and show them using both hands?? And how do they get them done with perfect natural light that is only available when your 2 year old is awake? Thus, I took these pictures at night which is why they look all crazy...

See? Still cutting and adding till I feel like the square is the size I want...

Ta da! I finished one square. I added a random extra strip on the sides of my square for need to do this. Or you could add random strips where ever you feel like it.

So, you made a log cabin quilt what? Whatever you want! Use one square and make a pillow. Make a bunch and make a quilt. Use them to make placemats...Make tiny ones for coasters! Make a mini wall hanging with it...the possibilities are endless!

Check out these great links to all the different ways that a log cabin quilt can look:

Wonky square type log cabin Quilt

Another Wonky log cabin quilt

Oh, guess what...another wonky log cabin

Traditional log cabin quilts-check out the way the color strips are added to create additional patterns...

Example of a half log cabin block quilt

Interesting fact of the day: the log cabin pattern has been seen in Egyptian could say it is REALLY Old School!