Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Will You Be My Valentine--Shutterfly Giveaway

Love is in the air...that is for sure. I am definitely feeling Cupid's presence all around me. I think my hubby is too because I have been getting an awful lot of smooches from him lately. I have been secretly planning his gift for weeks now. But, I still haven't found the right card to go with it. To me, and many other lovey-dovey saps out there, that's the most important part of Valentine's Day! I am so tired of never finding the right card to give to him and all of my other loved ones during this very important occasion. These days, personalization is EVERYTHING! What better way to express your love than by giving them a personalized photo card or gift from Shutterfly?


One of Shutterfly's cute and personalized calendars

Remember that hot and steamy date night? Tickle his memory with a photo from that night, by putting it on one of Shutterfly's adorable new personalized Valentine's Day photo cards.

Maybe capture his heart by uploading your wedding photo to a water bottle...you'll be on his heart even when he's sweating at the gym! How romantic...

Or, what would make his heart melt even more is a picture of you and the kids on a cute little desk top gift like stationary, a coffee mug, or even a mouse pad.

Some guys may even be into seeing a picture of their cat on a Valentine's card, although I highly recommend one of the other three options first. You will score big brownie points that way :)

I have been blessed with the opportunity to present to you some wonderful examples of personalized Valentine's Day cards and gifts. I did a post back over the Christmas Holiday about this company and how great they have been to me personally. I cannot describe in words the heart melting moments I experience when I open those bright orange packages from them. They help bring your most precious memories to life. I have been a long-time loyal customer and will remain one for many years to come! Here are a few of my favorite Valentine's Day items they have to offer:

 
 
              
 
 

At this point, I can't decide which one I will go with this year, they are all TOO CUTE! I love the modern color combination and design/layout of the "Love Grows" card. One of my favorite components is the variety in card sizes. You can get 6x8, 5x7, 4x8, 5x5, or 4x5. A girl's gotta have options!

Here is your chance to win some these amazing gifts for free! Below is a Rafflecopter form you will need to enter in order to be eligible. If selected you will receive 50 4x5 stationery classroom cards and 5x5 desktop plaque. The deadline for this is February 3 at midnight. Good luck!! ****IMPORTANT**** In order to be given credit for the first entry, you must visit the link provided and comment below on which of Shutterfly's gifts you like the most.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tribute to Stay at Home Moms

I realized I never "officially" announced here that I decided not to go back to the classroom after three years of teaching. Since having my daughter, I felt the need to stay at home with her and raise her myself. My husband was completely on board with the idea too.  Here's a brief synopsis of the transformation:

I had my maternity leave time with her (which just wasn't long enough!) and returned to work to finish out the school year (this was last year). Since the hubs is a firefighter, one of the perks of his job is the schedule! He works a 24 hour shift, then is off for 48 hours. It was so easy to line up shift swaps with other guys at his station, that way we never had to put our little monkey in daycare. It was manageable for a few months just so I could finish out the year, but there would be no way we could swing that for an entire school year.

Before I returned to work (last year) I had already launched my little hobby/side business. Everyone has been encouraging me to do it for years and I finally got the nerve to do it. It was slow to start, which was good because I had a newborn at home. Over the summer, business picked up and we made the decision for me to stay home with her. (YES!!!!)


So here we are now, sacrificing a lot financially to give our daughter what we feel is the best. In our minds, it is so worth it! No one will love and care for your child, like you. Grandparents would be the next best thing, but they all still work, so that wouldn't have panned out. Being a stay at home mom, comes with a stereotype I have quickly come to find out. I actually now consider myself a work at home mom since I am making some money here and there from etsy and blogging. I have seen some describe "our kind" as lazy, couch dwelling recluses that sit around watching soaps and eating bon bons. Or we are the do-it-all-Debbies out there that clean a house from top to bottom, wearing an apron and heels, with freshly prepared meals on the table everyday. Or how about having a wide open schedule that allows you to attend every party, function, and event going on during the week? Doesn't quite describe you? What I want to know is, where are the kids in those descriptions? I don't know about any of you with kids, but how is it even remotely possible to watch anything on TV that isn't animated or contain a rhyming song every 30 seconds while your kids are around? Now I only have one child, for now, so parents doing it with multiple kids, you get an extra medal of honor for this, but preparing homemade Betty Crocker cookbook meals everyday isn't ideal for us. Some days Stauffer's comes to my rescue, am I right? Sure there are days I love to break out my Kitchen Aid mixer and whip up some homemade goodies, but it's not everyday. And my schedule...don't get me started on that one...people think that stay at home moms have all the time in the world. I have had the opportunity to be in both the working world, and the stay at home mom world. When comparing the two, I find myself busier AT HOME! Maybe it's because I do have my little side business keeping me up until at least 11pm almost every night. But I can't stand when people think I have all the time in the world. What's up with the assumptions out there? I am too busy doing laundry, cleaning up toys, making meals, going to the park, changing diapers, kissing boo-boos, clipping coupons, grocery shopping, walking the dog, budgeting, working on orders, changing diapers, changing diapers, changing diapers....and I remind myself daily, that this is just with one. It's only going to get busier. And I accept that challenge with grace! I have always wanted a big family, I am one of five kids myself and love my brothers and sisters!

I love my life. I love the challenges that it brings. I love the fact that I get to watch my daughter grow everyday. I love that my husband supports me and everything I do. I love my hobby-turned-business. I love being a Mom. I love that I can fall back on the Lord and ask for His help when things get too hard. I love my life.

Moms are some of the hardest workers I know, and they don't get enough credit for it. So today, I commemorate all the stay at home AND work at home moms. We all work at home, some of us just may not get paid for it. You are appreciated by your children, even if they don't show it yet, and by other stay at home moms that know exactly how you feel. I also commemorate the working moms out there too...for having the strength. courage, and trust to leave your kids with someone else. I am sure it is one of the most difficult things you had to do. I know Mother's Day isn't for a while, but I was feeling like the Moms out there needed an early pick me up! Happy (early) Mother's Day!


 
For my Mom--"I love you Mom and appreciate all you did, and continue to do for us today! I hope that some day I can be the kind of Mom you are to me."

Happy Kraftin!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Picture Pirating

I have been recovering from the flu, as I am sure many of you out there have been as well, or at least know someone who has been. It was NOT pleasant, especially since my whole family (including my poor little 14 month old girl) got it at the same time. There's nothing like everyone laying around together for three days wallowing in each other's misery.

This morning, as I am forcing myself to get up and moving in hopes that I will improve as the day goes on, I decide to conquer my inbox....two days of not checking emails equals a daunting task when that time comes to open it up. I received an email from a fellow Etsy shop owner and it was brought to my attention that some of my pictures were being stolen and used by someone else, claiming that she makes and sells these items! WHAT??!!! Do people really do this? The shop owner left the links of all the locations of my products, and lo and behold...there were MY PRODUCTS! In her picture captions, she writes "these are some of the items I have made in 2013." I could feel the sickness coming back...So maybe I am being na├»ve. I know that photo borrowing is out there. I don't have a copyright logo or anything on my pictures. I take pictures of my products, and post on Etsy, my Facebook page, and occasionally here. I admit, I have been known to use a general photo from the Internet to support a cause or enhance a point, without the owner's permission. But haven't we all? Never a small, private business owner's picture of course. And NEVER have I EVER taken credit for someone else's work! I see that as stealing. I don't mind people using my ideas, and recreating something similar. That's why I post things on Pinterest and elsewhere...to share! But taking my actual photo and claiming that you made that item yourself? Am I wrong in freaking out over this?

So the reason for my post is what the heck can I do to prevent this from happening again? I privately messaged her on Facebook asking her to remove it, saying that I did not give permission for her to post my photo, but have not heard back yet. I realize I am going to have to go through and watermark all of my photos and that will take sooooo much time. But it will be worth the time. I put a lot of hard work into creating and maintaining integrity in my business and it stinks that sorry, lazy people have to go and ruin it. Have any of you ever experienced anything similar? Please share what you did!! I need advice!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mashed Cauliflower Success!

Ok, so I have come to the realization that I have a slight obsession with cauliflower. I wouldn't say the obsession is with the actual vegetable itself, more so with finding ways to make it awesome. As a kid, I never liked cauliflower. Even as an adult. Dressing it up with butter or cheese wouldn't fool me. But I was motivated to try and find a love for it since my husband liked it so much.

steamed cauliflower
 
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE mac 'n' cheese...probably more than my 14 month old daughter does. More than anyone I know. When hubby and I cut out pasta and breads from our diet over a year ago, I just had to find a way to bring the comforts of mac 'n' cheese back into our home. So I used cauliflower to replace the pasta...and kept the same ingredients. You can find that recipe here.

After much success with that...I couldn't stop. What else do you think of when you crave good southern soul food? Mashed 'taters of course! Going for the healthier option, I cut out the potatoes and used steamed cauliflower instead. However I would normally make mashed potatoes, I pretty much mimicked the recipe for the most part, or you can just use what you happen to have on hand at the time. I used: (don't laugh at my measurements---that's the awesome thing about this dish is there is no right or wrong)
  • a little butter
  • splash of milk
  • couple spoon fulls of sour cream
  • parmesan cheese
  • the rest of our shredded cheese for the top
  • garlic powder
  • salt/pepper
  • and my favorite ingredient: Cavender's Seasoning
Make them how creamy or dry, and as chucky or smooth as you'd like. I like a little chunk to my mashed taters so I didn't completely puree them. (You can puree, put in the blender, use a mixer, or use a hand-held potato masher...whatever you have.)



Be generous with the seasonings because cauliflower tends to be very bland. If you haven't tried Cavender's Greek Seasoning, you must! I love it on eggs and anything starchy/filling.
Best Seasoning EVER (I use it on almost everything)
I popped it in the oven (uncovered) for about 20 minutes on 350 just to get everything all warm and gooey. If you attempt it, please let me know how it turns out, and any variations of ingredients you used. I am always on the hunt for new cauliflower uses. :)

After scooping out the deliciousness
Happy Kraftin!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Calling All College Students

What do you think of when you hear the word college? I think of degrees, a better future, friends, football, and of course being broke. The stigma that goes along with being a college student is being poor right? All of your money is being used towards tuition, housing, food, and textbooks, along with all the other hidden costs that your high school guidance counselors neglected to share with you.

WARNING: I am about to take a few moments to brag a little about my college days, so bare with me!

I am a proud University of Florida alumni (GO GATORS!) that holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Special Education. And let me tell you, the costs were outrageous! Worth it, but OUTRAGEOUS! Even with having the Bright Future's Scholarship as a cushion, making ends meet as a college student was a tough road. I lived in a dorm my freshman year so that I could learn the ins and outs of college life. I quickly learned that buying used textbooks was the way to go. But, being in a college town, with zillions of bookstores, I had no clue which one offered the best prices. Not to mention, I knew I'd eventually had to sell them back at half the price I paid for them. Rip off!


I wish I had only known about CampusBookRentals.com. If you are currently in college and are looking for an inexpensive way to get textbooks, be sure to follow the link and check it out. Here is a brief list of the perks this company has to offer:
  • You save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
  • You get free shipping both ways
  • You can highlight in the textbooks
  • There are flexible renting periods
  • They donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented
The last one listed was my favorite characteristic of this company! Children that suffer from cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities at birth are being helped by CampusBookRentals.com. So in the scheme of things, YOU are making an impact in these children's lives by renting from this company. For more information on Operation Smile, go here.

They also have this new program called RentBack. "RentBack is a new initiative that allows students to rent the textbooks they own to other students." This concept is amazing because it makes them 2-4x more money compared to what they'd make through buyback options--which is what I had to do when I was in college. If you are interested in more info about that, go here.

If you still aren't sold on the idea, visit their Facebook page and read a few of the testimonies from college students. I did. And I pretty much saw 100% satisfaction when reading through some of the posts. Saving that money you would have spent buying at bookstores can now be used to start paying off those student loans...which reminds me....I need to set up another payment towards mine :-/


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crafter's Dream Giveaway #2


I am THRILLED to say I have teamed up with one of my favorite blogs, Ashley Brooke, to participate in my second Crafter's Dream Giveaway! It will be going on from February 11-21. I know, I am early, but I couldn't wait....had to give  y'all a heads up since the last Crafter's Dream Giveaway during Christmas was such a success! One of my favorite items from Unique & Chic Creations (stay tuned to find out what it is) will end up in the hands of one lucky participant!! You will also have to chance to enter different giveaways going on from other bloggers and etsy shop owners that have teamed up as well. Can't wait!

Happy Kraftin!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cheap and Easy DIY Hair Bow Holder

After I started making hair bows for my daughter, I needed a place to display them that would be both functional and appealing. At first, I stored them in a little basket. But, I ended up digging through the entire thing to find the one that I needed, which by the way always happened to be on the very bottom. Many of the others were spilled on the floor or rolled underneath the bed in the process. I have seen many different versions of hair bow holders out there, but wanted an "original" that no one else had. "So make one," I thought.


I found this old picture frame for free at one our local teacher giveaway spots. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure. I saw the potential.

 
 
I cleaned it up. gave it a couple coats of white paint, added some hardware on the back, and hot glued a few strips of 2.5 inch ribbon (vertically), and of course adorned it with some cute little handmade felt flowers and ended up with this:
 
 
 
My $2 Elephant picture frames...love these!



Close up of the felt flowers

 
 
 
 
It was a piece of cake to make, and it is a lot more functional than the basket! So next time you are thinking of throwing out that old piece of artwork, save the frame and make one of these. You'll be glad you did! :)
 
Happy Kraftin!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Have Your (Pan)Cake and Eat it Too!

So far, the gluten free meal plans are a success! I was craving some syrup-less pancakes this morning and viola! Found these at my local grocery store:



If you knew me, you'd know I love chocolate. So I HAD to throw a few chocolate chips in there too. These are perfect to eat on the go (without sticky syrup of course). Surprisingly they really didn't taste too different from regular pancakes. My 13 month old ate them with delight as well. :) Give gluten free products a shot! Check out my previous post on the Udi's Brand items as well.

Happy Kraftin!