Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

As a family we decided to do something different today, cook at home for Easter. Normally it's out to Lovells in Lake Forest but there is always Mothers Day. It was a long week of travel and then spinning plates the last couple of days keeping the kiddos entertained until school is back in session.

We made a Pineapple Mustard Glazed Ham

Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks

Honey Glazed Carrots

Also steamed artichokes and fresh rolls. I realized I forgot the salad when we sat down to eat. I always forget something OR something doesn't cook enough so it's a food delay. At least everything was cooked when it was supposed to be. No dessert, the kids already had enough Easter candy. A little bit of wine was in order also. It was a great day.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Mini Spring Break

 It's that time of year, spring break, what to do when you can only go away for a few days. Krista had been asking to meet my bff from elementary school, on through middle school and high school so I thought maybe a trip back "home" was due. I had a wire working class so we couldn't leave until Sunday but that gave us plenty of time to see quite a bit. The time went fast but we sure packed a lot in! Not much has changed in Wyoming, MI, that's for sure. Except for the Studio 28 closing, I suppose, everything else was pretty much the same.  We saw the old house, the old elementary school, the middle school and high school (all of which were exactly the same except for a planetarium that appeared to be missing from the HS), the old neighborhood and my bff's old house so they could see where used to walk each other "half way". Then we were off to see the old BK that I worked at and noticed the old "Chicken and Egg Roll" was still around (impressive, good for them).

Dinner was great, as usual time evaporates when you see a great friend and it's just like old times. We turned into a couple of giggling school girls which thoroughly entertained my 15 yo. We got to visit her sons, who we hadn't seen in, well, 14 years. It's interesting to see how children turn out from baby to young adult. Her eldest is handsome, artsy, wants to be a tatoo artist and do piercings. The youngest, also handsome, is very athletic and a big basketball star. We were so busy talking I forgot to take pictures!

Monday we did a great tour of Calvin College, Jer's alma mater. It was a perfect venue to show Krista an example of a small private school. They have an amazing new arena and sports complex. We were able to walk the entire campus, see the dorms, library, where Jer had his classes and the Chapel where they hold daily services for students.
Then we were off to tour Grand Rapids. GR has changed a ton, there was much that was the same but the new construction was very impressive. MSU is building a medical school there, Grand Valley State College has built a huge new facility, there is a new hospital and a lot of other new buildings. By appearances it looks like GR is booming. Speaking of booming, anyone know what is up with this huge table and chairs on top of this bridge?

We found my grandparents tiny old house, drove through East Grand Rapids, Heritage Hill, Gaslight Village, found the houses he used to live in, his sister used to live in and even the house that his mother lived in when she went to Calvin and then had her first job as a school teacher.
The kids loved the Grand Rapids museum. Here's Claire learning how they made pills in pharmacy in the old days (Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit). They had a huge exhibit for Amway, Furniture City, Bugs (not as impressive as I had hoped I have to admit - perhaps I'm spoiled by some of the exhibits in Chicago or maybe I was just tired by then), the zoology exhibit was one of my favorites as it relates directly to Michigan and some of the Mastodons they found there. Apparently there was even an Ocean right where I used to live and one of the Mastodon skeletons was found not far from where I grew up. How cool is that?

Next we were off to meet friends at the Beltline Bar for wet burritos, yum! Sorry, no pic of the restaurant but I did find a great pic of their burritos! I almost forgot - lunch was at YesterDogs, one of Jerry's favorite hotdog places while in college (umm, I don't want to know what was in the chili sauce they put on those things).

Tuesday morning we left for East Lansing to visit Sparty and
the campus of Michigan State University. Go Spartans! It was almost 70 degrees and the campus was all abuzz with the MSU basketball team being back in the Final Four! I tried to tell my husband that it just wasn't possible to walk the campus like at Calvin, he thought I was exagerrating. We had lunch at the Student Union, walked over by my gorgeous first dorm to Sparty (now fake sparty I guess as old sparty is being showcased in the new section of the football stadium) bringing back fond memories of sleeping outside overnight to protect him from the Wolverines and their inclination for painting him blue and gold when they were in town.
We walked along the Red Cedar over to Shaw hall so Krista could see where her parents met when they lived in the same dorm and then it was off to the bookstore to get some mementos and Final Four gear.

We had to drive the rest of the campus, as I said I was NOT exagerrating about not being able to walk everywhere we wanted to go, we marked our trip on a campus map later and Jer finally realized that we only walked about a 10th of it. It's beautiful though, even in early spring - pre flowers blooming and grass turned green. We drove to the Kok's farm. Here's William with Uncle Steve- I mean Uncle Andy (William was having trouble keeping his uncle's straight). They have 3 full grown cows and 3 calves so the little ones helped feed them and then took turns on the tractor before Katie insisted that she was done sharing her dad.
The fun ended when Claire was bitten by the outdoor farm cat, she can't resist smothering animals with love and this time she hugged a little too hard I guess.

We were off to the hotel for a last swim and to get packing for the trip back home.

We decided to go to Saugatuck for a hike through the dunes to the beach. It's so beautiful on that side of the lake. The water is clean, the sand is like sugar, the sun was shining and the weather was warm. We couldn't ask for anything better.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why didn't anyone tell me that Life has so many moving parts

I enjoy reading other peoples blogs. I learn a lot about people that I would have no way of knowing otherwise. Not necessarily specific people because I may never read anything about that person again. I just like reading about people in general. Sometimes it's just a glimmer into another life, are they like me are they not like me. Sometimes I can relate, sometimes I can't.  Sometimes I glean the satisfaction that I'm not alone in this world and other times I end up wondering what in the world is going on and where have I been? Many times I'm able to gain perspective on a subject that I never looked at from that specific point of view. 

On some occasions, if the post is moving enough, I read the comments as well. I learn a lot there too. Some topics are very controversial and stir up all sorts of emotions. It baffles me though how not many of the people responding are willing to realize that they just read someone else's feelings, how are they able to judge how someone else FEELS. Sometimes there are actual objections to a person's emotions and why they should feel differently.  Who do those people think they are? Perhaps that gives me my drama for the day, although I do give pause and wonder how the blogger might feel about those comments.

I love the blog world, if offers insight, imagination, confirmation, rationalization, differentiation and occasionally drama.

 Most of all, I've realized that life truly does have a lot of moving parts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yum! Tea...

I've been trying to buy whatever I need from vendors on Etsy and showcasing them here. Tea is one of my favorite indulgences so I thought this would be a good item to shop for on Etsy. I am a very picky tea person. I do NOT like the teabags as a general rule, particularly those that are just dust particles of tea leaves that look they came from the bottom of some barrrel. There are some nice tea bags lately that are whole leaf and come in biodegradeable bags but that's another post for another day. Also for another day I'll share my favorite brewing methods.

Overall I prefer loose leaf tea and today I received some yummy teas that I ordered from Ivykeep. 

While not a huge selection, I was intrigued by some of the flavored teas. I tend to purchase my green teas and darjeeling teas directly from suppliers who have access to the best of the best. However, I enjoy trying  flavored varieties from new sources. I decided to try the Blood Orange and Smashing Good Tea (described as "A full bodied and robust tea that lends itself well to warming up your winter nights or brewed as an iced tea to complement any summertime bar b que. Fairly traded organic black tea is blended with high quality flavours, including chocolate and orange, to create a taste experience that is anything but ordinary"). I highly recommend this as a dessert type of tea instead of after dinner coffee.
One I did NOT try but is worth mentioning "Bubble Gum Yum" described as "A mixture of fun fruit and tasty blossoms make up the base of this vitamin C infused tisane which is accented with bright bubblegum balls." Yes, bubble gum balls. This is actually a tisane, I'll put descriptions below but here's  the very fun pic.

 I really like that Ivy Keep donates portions of their proceeds to local charities, and are expanding their use of environmentally conscious supplies and materials. Below are some great descriptions from the shop:

FRUIT AND HERB TISANES - A herbal tea, sometimes known as a Tisane, is an infusion made from any plant other than the tea plant, or Camellia Sinensis. This separates them from flavoured tea, where the plant or flower is added to the tea leaf. Made from dried fruit, seeds and flowers, the different variates of herbal tea are practically limitless, and many have added health properties.

FLAVOURED TEA – A flavoured tea is created by adding fruits, seeds or flowers to dried tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant. By flavouring the tea, and extra dimension is added to the normal tea-drinking experience as the different flavours are almost limitless. They are also a fantastic choice for people who enjoy herbal tea but would also like a little bit of a caffeine kick!

BLACK TEA – Black tea is the most oxidised variety of tea that comes from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis, also used to make oolong, green and white teas. It is strong in flavour and contains more caffeine than the less oxidised teas. This tea retains its flavour far longer than other teas, and as such has even been used as a form of currency in Tibet, Mongolia and Siberia in the past. Black tea is the most popular tea in Western countries, and is often blended with other leaves to create the much beloved English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas that are so popular today.

GREEN TEA - Green tea is a less oxidised version of the Camellia Sinensis plant which is also used to make black and white tea. Originating from Eastern Asia, it has been used for thousands of years as both a beverage and a herbal medicine. In fact, in Japan it is often referred to “nihoncha” or “Japanese tea” despite it having earlier origins in China. In recent years, it has been more widely used in the West for it's alleged antioxidant properties. Regardless of any possible medicinal benefit, green tea makes for an incredibly refreshing cup.

ROOIBOS FLAVOURED TEA – Rooibos, or “red bush” tea is a variety of herbal tea originating from the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is well known for it's medicinal properties and has been used in South Africa to treat ailments such as infantile colic and asthma. It is also a popular alternative to black and green tea as it is naturally caffeine free. Flavoured Rooibos tea gives that little extra spark to an already sweet, enjoyable evening beverage.

CHAI TEA – Chai tea originates in India, and is made with a mixture of locally grown tea leaves and Indian herbs and spices. Throughout India “Chai Wallahs” or Chai sellers are a common sight, and Chai is now a mainstay of modern Indian culture. Tea plants have grown in the Assam region for hundreds of years, but were considered more of a herbal medicine until the British colonization of India in the 1800s. The East India Company worried about the Chinese monopoly on the tea trade, and greatly increased tea production in India.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Introducing -- Lorenzo, the Cat

Alright, so this isn't a new introduction as he's been on the web for awhile but he's new to me. I first saw his pic on an etsy post on facebook and I laughed all afternoon. Makes me jealous, all my cat does is meow for us to turn the water on so she can drink from the faucet. Other than that, she'll sleep on my girls while they are sleeping. If she's doing neither of those - she's nowhere to be found.

Lorenzo's Bio:
About Lorenzo the Cat

A Maine Coon with the patience of a Buddhist monk and the soul of a philosopher, Lorenzo the Cat was born on Halloween and tossed in a garbage can at birth—a traumatic ordeal that he has fully recovered from without the aid of psychotherapy.

He has a big hairy chest, luminous green eyes, and a thick bushy tail that occasionally curls up and hits him on the head. He smells like a fresh summer rain, and sleeps with his paws covering his ears. Sensitive yet masculine in that Italian soccer player sort of way, he’s calm, confident, and superbly sweet-tempered. He never cries over spilt milk; he just laps it up. He is one cool cat.

He loves going for walks on a leash and thinks that people who laugh at him for doing so are jerks. His hobbies include tormenting lizards, peeing in potted plants, napping on good books, chasing rubber bands, eating refrigerator dust, studying the physics of toilette water swirl, and contemplating the meaning of life.

Lorenzo has a fetish for fashion, but he is not gay—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Although not quite a metro-sexual, he appreciates the perks that come with always looking your best. He loves fine clothes, preferably stylishly casual shirts left unbuttoned at the neck. Every few months he places an order with Mr. Luigi, his personal tailor who lives in Tuscany. Lorenzo does not wear pants or hats, and he refuses to model in the nude.

He has his own MySpace page, YouTube channel, and Facebook fan page and is a hit with animals throughout the world. Every day he gets messages from cats, dogs, hamsters, donkeys, pigs, and parrots who cheer him on. He also tweets on Twitter.

Without a doubt, he is the best dressed cat in America.

His motto: “I like to wear clothes. And what…you don’t”

For more information, visit:

The Artists Profile:
Joann Biondi is a journalist, author, photographer and animal advocate whose work has appeared in dozens of publications including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Miami Herald, USA Today, Islands, and Travel & Leisure.

Her collection of Lorenzo the Cat photos challenge preconceived notions of what a cat will or will not do. They lie outside the grid of convention, and deliver a new perspective on the cliché of cats being stubborn and aloof. It is the juxtaposition of human clothing on a cat’s body that renders them startling, and at the same time, enchanting, intriguing, and compelling. Simple yet strange, the photos are a testament to the inherent beauty in the feline form. They spark the imagination, force us to smile, and speak to the bond among all sentient beings. And they are thump on the head to anyone who believes that animals don’t have souls.

Biondi has donated Lorenzo the Cat photographs to raise money for animal shelters in Florida, and she was one of 125 acclaimed photographers who donated their prints to Eyes and Hearts for Haiti, a post-earthquake art auction that raised money for Friends of the Orphans in Haiti. In October of 2010, the Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture in Delray Beach, Florida, will host an exhibit of her Lorenzo the Cat photography.

She adopted Lorenzo when he was a few weeks old and instantly sensed that he had an unusual character for a cat. He did not purr and rarely meowed, but he watched her intently with a face that said, “Tell me what to do.” By the time he was three months old he was sitting up on command and jumping through hoops. Although eager to please, he was also a self-contained spirit with plenty of spunk—he loved to sink his teeth into a bare ankle as it passed him by.

He had another bad habit as well, and that was stealing panties from the dirty laundry basket. One day Biondi got mad at him for this and decided to get even. She put a spandex tank top over his head and onto his body. Lorenzo was unfazed. He adjusted his shoulders, threw out his chest, and looked at her with an expression that said, “You think this bothers me? Well it doesn’t. In fact, I like it.” He walked around wearing that tank top for days.

That was when Biondi suspected she had a natural model on her hands. She took a few snapshots of Lorenzo wearing clothes and the images were so funny people laughed out loud. She then took more, and realized that for Lorenzo, the camera was catnip. He loved it. And he loved wearing clothes. It was as if he knew that that’s what he was put on the planet to do. Wear clothes, pose for the camera, and make people laugh.

They have a lot of fun together, Biondi and Lorenzo, and what takes place between them is nothing less than a respectful collaboration. Lorenzo knows what’s going on. When the clothes come out and the lens cap is removed, he’s ready to go to work. He is an active, earnest participant in the shoot. And when he’s in the mood, he can totally work it, serve it, slam it, and bring it on home.

Yes, Biondi attributes “human characteristics” to Lorenzo, and to claims that she is guilty of anthropomorphism she says, feh! Like Charles Darwin, she sees the difference between humans and animals as a matter of degree rather than kind, and believes cats—and all animals—do indeed feel and express emotions. She thinks there is an innate intelligence inside Lorenzo’s furry little head, and she tries to capture that intelligence in her photographs. And she does so naturally; no Photoshop magic wand involved.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Lorenzo - if you'd like to see more of his "work" you can find Lorenzo and Biondi here on Etsy.

*Photo and biographical information used with permission from the artist

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Comedy for a Cure

I'm sending two of my "babies" off for a silent auction in Hollywood. The benefit is called Comedy for a Cure and all proceeds will go to the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in many different organs, primarily in the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs. You will see it referred to both as tuberous sclerosis (TS) and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The term TSC is used in scientific literature to distinguish tuberous sclerosis complex from Tourette's syndrome.
The disease affects some people severely, while others are so mildly affected that it often goes undiagnosed. Some people with TSC experience developmental delay, mental retardation and autism. However, there are also many people with TSC living independent, healthy lives who enjoy challenging professions such as doctors, lawyers, educators and researchers.

Ways to donate to TSC Alliance

Wish my "babies" luck - I hope they bring in a little something to help this great cause!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I've made some new friends on Etsy, I wanted to show off their shops!

The first one is Holly Edwards Photography, her photography is beautiful - see for yourself:
Taken at one of the most beautiful, untouched places: the Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island, Rhode Island, with a Canon Rebel K2 and fisheye lens.

This photo is printed professionally on Kodak Endura Metallic Paper. "This paper uses a proprietary combination of film laminate layers that results in striking, three-dimensional, lasting images on an ultra-bright background. Its professional emulsion set provides extreme sharpness, brightness, and color saturation. In addition, the paper support offers enhanced durability and tear resistance."
Her prices are very reasonable.

Next up is Piece by Peace Designs , she does jewelry too, although it isn't as good as mine (just kidding!). Her work is beautiful, check it out. This piece is my favorite:
I love swarovski and lampwork beads. This is a very classy and timeless.

Another photographer with work new to Etsy is VisualJourney, this is Possibilities in Light and Dark
She has a lot of nature photography. Very beautiful. I wish I could take photos like this.

tidytipsy is a bit different, she does both fine art photography as well as handsewn items. She is a student from Germany and hasn't been on Etsy much longer than the other two photographers. I love this plum photo:

I'll try to bring introduce you to a few new friends each week, stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I made a few new thing

I've been so busy I can barely breathe. Forgive me if I'm repeating myself. I'm in the process of revamping the website, which has been a lot of work. I've revived the Diaper Bag Junkies blog, I've got the facebook fan page set up, I set up twitter, what else? Oh yes, I've been making more jewelry, flowers and girly girl socks for BellaUrbane. All this as my husband tells me I have the life of Riley. Hmm. Riley must be pretty swamped. I've been communicating with tons of diaper bag manufacturers to find out what's new. I'll be doing weekly profiles/spotlights on each so the blog can be a complete go to site by end of year. The plan is to do a spotlight early in the week, a give away, one day and then blog about each bag style the rest of the week. Social networking is fun but very time consuming, how do you decide who to follow and where to hang out? OK, so here is some new stuff:

And from the back, some are pins and some are for hair:
girly girl socks

Now just to find the energy to upload them to etsy...

Monday, March 15, 2010

I have been looking for the perfect apron for years

I've always wanted a great apron, I have a few plain ones from Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table but I've always, in the back of my mind, coveted the thought of a GREAT apron. I thought it would be great to have one that had some great fabrics, maybe vintage, maybe not, half, full length, nothing concrete. Until the other day when I saw this
I HAD to have it, I orderd it Saturday and it arrived today. It's exactly what I thought I wanted and then some. The quality is incredible, the details fantastic and it's comfortable and looks very durable. Oh, where did I get it? The Craft Queen on Etsy The price was fantastic too! I highly recommend this Etsy seller. Now to find something to bake...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When I grow up I want to be a Millener

This afternoon I watched Alice in Wonderland with the little ones. I felt inspired by the Madhatter, unfortuantely I don't know how to make hats! I cruised etsy and found a seller that makes the exact hats I WISH I could make katarinacouture.

If I were shopping there I have no idea what to buy because they are all amazing.

How about a turquoise sun hat?

OR, maybe a red wool cloche?

I definitely don't think I could pull this off but how about a feathered beret?

My favorite might just be this brown wool fedora

Do you have a favorite hat shop or a favorite hat? I'd love to see it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gotta love creativity like this

I love the kind of creativity that when you see it you just know the person not only put in a lot of time and energy but had a blast doing what they do. That's exactly what I thought when I visited the etsy shop Tweeling. I was in one of the Etsy critique forums and normally the shops you click on above yours aren't anything much different from anything else, cute and nice maybe but not necessarily one that you'd truly shop from. I fell in love with "Sid and Nancy". If only they would go with my decor...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blooms, Blooms, Blooms!

Not the best photography (because it's me taking the pictures), I made some new flowers for BellaUrbane. Love these!
My favorite

Making more today before I set up this weeks giveaway. Wednesdays seem like a good day for a giveaway. Be back soon...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Decorated some socks today!

I made matching hair pins to go with them. I have a LOT of ideas for girly, girl socks. I'm going to have fun working on these the next few weeks!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Busy, Busy

Wow, so much to do. I feel accomplished for the evening but I can't get my brain to slow down so I can sleep a few hours before the kiddos get up and need to be packed up for school! Let's see in the last 12 hours I put together a revamp of the home page, updated twitter and connected to facebook, set up a mamasandmunchkins/ BellaUrbane fan page on facebook, Updated Bella Urbane profile with new links, began working with web designer on new logos for the other two sites and color schemes to keep consistency. I worked on some test socks to see how they wash and made some hair clips. Oh, I also made two more necklaces. Here are the hair clips:
What else? Who knows, I can't remember. Off to try to sleep now. I sent my web designer 8 bullet points to work on, now all I'll do is go over it in my head to assure myself I don't need to change anything else TODAY. Sleep, please come quickly.

I've never wanted to do a load of laundry so badly

I just received this in the mail from an Etsy shop BeautifulSoaps:
 It's made with all natural Olive Coconut Palm Soybean Oils, Borax, Super Washing Soda, Sodium Hydroxide (lye). Say goodbye to chemicals in the wash. Only a 1/2 tsp per load in my HE washer. The scents are wonderful - Clean Cotton, Rain, Awapuhi Seaberry, Ocean Breeze, Green Meadows and Juniper Breeze. I'm going to try Ocean Breeze first, it smells incredible and I'm doing my sheets!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fickle Faerie Eco Friendly Reuseable bags

I'm LOVING these Fickle Faerie Eco Friendly produce bags! I despise those think grocery store plastic bags that hold moisture, these are reuseable and washable. I'm definitely adding them to Look for them soon!

This is the product description:
Give this great gift and show you care about the enviroment. Put an end to all the unwanted plastic in our dumps......

This set of bags is extra strong and will last a long long time. I have doubled the nylon mesh PLUS I have also double stitched everything.

This is an EGGPLANT gift set complete with:

-2 Large sized nylon produce bags, approx size 11" x 13"

-2 Medium sized bags approx. 9" x 11"

-2 mini singles great for 1 or 2 items like a tomato, kiwi, lemon, etc, approx 6" x 7"

- 1 drawstring pouch to carry them in, pouch carry bag "will vary" in print but I will match the color with your produce bags....

I can honestly say these are the best things I could make! I used them myself and will never ever go back to clear plastic produce bags. No more fighting to get the bags open, and imagine all the plastic bags getting dump everyday!!!

My satin ribbons and the way they draw from both sides fo the bags, make these the easiest closing bags ever! So much easier than rope ties on one side of the bag that stick when you tug them closed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Love these Miu Miu Sequined Socks!

I want to make these!


These give me some great ideas... Fabulous inspiration.