Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Suzi Homemaker's recession-busting gift ideas

I am busy stocking my online store with all kinds of new, unique and INEXPENSIVE personalized gift offerings for the upcoming holiday season. Expect a lot of posts over the next couple of weeks touting new products for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

I just finished posting some adorable personalized placemats, made of 100 percent cotton. They are nice and sturdy and a bargain at just $12.50 each! I also have some canvas wall hangings in the same styles as the placemats but they are mounted on wooden frames (couldn't get those on my embroidery machine, but you know I tried!) and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to personalize them, but I will. I have some stencils and have tried fabric markers, but now I'm leaning toward puffy pens...I'll keep you posted...

Within the next week or so, I hope to have some children's embroidered growth charts posted and some tote bags along the same styles of the wall hangings and placemats. Also in the near future: some cute, whimisical Christmas stockings; holiday wine wraps--the alternative to the boring wine gift bags (but I'll have some of those, too!); holiday baby stuff like onesies and burp cloths; I'm also looking into some napkins for elegant table settings; tree skirts; and so much more!

Here is my pledge to you: I will keep my prices low so you can afford to give truly special personalized gifts to your loved ones this holiday season without breaking the bank. If you think of something you want, but cannot find it on my retail site, just email me at or leave a comment on my blog and I will try to help you out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

101 uses for embroidered cosmo bags

I just finished up an order for my e-friend, Julie, from Inkredible Stamping. Julie is an Independent Stampin' Up Demonstrator-Manager. She contacted me a while back to embroider some cosmo bags (from mint. sweet little things) with her cute little logo on them for her team in which to put their scissors, adhesives and other supplies. I did several bags for her at the beginning of the summer in the now extinct Lime Zebra pattern pictured above.

She just placed another order and this time mixed the colors up (since the lime green zebra sadly is no more), so I changed her logo around to match the trim on the bags. I had to blog about them because they are really darling and they demonstrate yet another use for these cute little bags.

The cosmo bags make great affordable gifts--an important caveat given our current economy. Around the holidays, when I'm doing some local craft shows, I usually stitch out a bunch with simply "Crayons" or "Busy Kit" stitched on them. Then I stuff the bags with little notepads, a package of crayons, a glue stick, stickers and little scrapbooks I make out of brown paper lunch bags. Last Christmas, I made a bunch of the kits for Sophie to give to her friends.

Cosmo Bags also can be used as everyday makeup bags that you can just toss in your purse in case you need to freshen up while out and about. I've also used them to tuck personal hygiene products (a.k.a. tampons and pads) in so they don't spill out embarrassingly when rummaging through my purse for the 30th time in a day.

So, if you are in need of a cute, unique gift this holiday season and don't want to spend a ton of money, keep these little cuties and Suzi Homemaker in mind! Remember, nothing is more special than a personalized gift!

Suzi Homemaker product review/giveaway on Blessings Abound

I have met the most wonderful lady via eversations! Jacqueline from Blessings Abound emailed me a while ago about the possiblity of doing a review/giveaway on her blog. She is such a wonderful and amazing woman that I absolutely agreed! Jacqueline is a stay-at-home mother to four children, whom she also homeschools, a devoted wife and a Christian. All of her correspondence was so uplifting, I really enjoyed working with her! So I hope you will take the time to visit her blog and learn more about her.

While you are there, check out the Suzi Homemaker review and giveaway. Jacqueline reviewed a number of my products (including handmade blankets, cosmo bags and brand new train cases) and is featuring a $25 virtual gift certificate toward merchandise from Suzi Homemaker as part of the Bloggy Carnival. Just visit my retail site, check out all of my reasonably-priced merchandise, then go back to her blog and leave a comment on what you would use the gift certificate toward. There are also chances to earn extra entries. So check it out and good luck! Contest ends on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 11:59 p.m. Alaska time!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Panty lines: The bane and bum of my existence

I just want to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful people that I came in contact with today that took the time to tell me that the belt from my long sweater was twisted inside my thong and that part of my left butt cheek was exposed.

First of all, some of you (especially my mom and sister) may be shocked to learn that I, a 41-year-old mother of three, wear a thong. I have struggled with panty lines my entire life--they are the bane of my very existence! I cannot stand the thought of having that line of demarcation spread across my fanny. Besides, wearing briefs or bikinis just exacerbates the appearance of flab above and below where the undergarments fit.

I do realize there are some benefits to wearing the briefs, the extra room allows me to tuck in the "built-in pencil pouch" I gained by having three Cesarean sections (I'm thinking of adding a zipper to this pouch to allow for extra storage). And I do wear briefs when I'm wearing athletic pants to cut down on the amount of jiggle. But with jeans or other five-pocket pants, I wear a thong. And, up until today, that was my business.

So, once again, thanks to the staff at my daughter's school who watched as I chased after Max and Carly, bending several times to catch Carly before she rang the bell on the admin desk for the umpteenth time, and to the teachers that had taken the children out to enjoy a brisk autumn day who greeted me, as usual, with a smile, but provided no information on the appearance of my nether-region. Thanks to the ladies at the bank. And a big fat thank you to my buddy at the Post Office, for it was right after I left your company, ass akimbo, that I discovered the error of my ways while getting back into the car.

I hope you all had a great day! And, next time I see you, I will hold my head high and my sweater low.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The innocence of youth

My darling, Sophie, is such an accomplished reader at six-and-three-quarters! Each weekday she brings home a Wonderful Exciting Book (W.E.B.) from school which she is to read aloud and then Steve or I will read it back to her (along with her constant companions, Max and Carly). It is so amazing to watch and listen to Sophie read, as she sounds out unfamiliar words. (I do not recall being able to read and comprehend stories so well at her age--the times they are a changing!!!)

This evening she was reading and stumbled upon something troublesome to her.

"Hey!" she exclaimed. "This book has a bad word in it! Do I have to read it?"

What on earth could the word be?

"No," I told her. "You don't have to read any word you don't feel is nice. Let's see if we can substitute another word."

I looked at the page and saw the word, "stupid."

Oh, my sweet girl!

"That's not a very nice word is it?" I asked.

"No," she said.

"How about we use 'not a good idea' instead?" I suggested.

"Yes," she smiled. "That's better."

This further reinforces our decision to move to the country. I so vividly recall walking outside our townhome development in our old neighborhood and hearing five-year-olds cursing and having the police come to shake down residents on a semi-regular basis. Isn't that sad? We wanted our children to be children as long as possible without being exposed to everything that is evil and bleak in the world. Sophie was just three and Max not quite a year when we decided to hang it up.

I wanted my kids to know the innocence of youth that I knew growing up, and not be exposed to violence and foul language. So we gave up having three Starbucks in a three-mile radius, a big promotion for me, gourmet grocery stores, restaurants with cuisine from around the world, movie theaters with stadium seating in 14 theaters, a shopping mall with big-name stores such as Old Navy, Gymboree and Lord & Taylor--and on and on. It really doesn't compare to preserving the innocence of youth.

So the choice for us was simple: To stay in that environment...not a good idea.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Babycapes Giveaway on

Yes, it's true, another opportunity to win a Babycape--this time from blogging giant Janice wrote the sweetest review and included the most darling photographs of her youngest, Olivia, in an embroidered pink sherpa suede Babycape.

To enter to win, just visit 5MinutesforMom and write a comment about Babycapes--it's that easy! The contest ends Nov. 8. As an added bonus, we are offering a bonus to 5MinutesforMom readers, just enter the the code "5 Minutes for Mom" in the comments section at checkout on BabycapesOnline and you will receive a free hat, valued at $18. This offer is good through the end of November with your Babycapes purchase.

Uh, Donny...did you forget about us?

So, after Elizabeth and I sent out a blast email to just about everyone we know asking them to watch CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" last night, the show with our segment did not air! Bummer!

We had so much fun in D.C. the other day!

We arrived at noon and were welcomed by Stephen Clark, President of Liveshots DC. Stephen was so nice to us! He took us to a waiting room and brought us ginger ale for our nervous tummies and offered us cookies and biscotti. He asked about Babycapes, and was genuinely interested in the product and our story.

The studio was beautiful and was housed in the same building as the Washington bureaus of NBC, Fox News and CNN, to name a few of the biggies. After about a half hour, Elizabeth was taken back to have her makeup done and then we played The Waiting Game for about an hour-and-a-half. Finally, Elizabeth (I'm now going to refer to her as "E") was taken into the studio for filming and I got to watch everything on a lovely flat screen TV in the waiting room. Shauna Tesser, one of the producers, came on speaker and was giving E some suggestions for doing her 30-second pitch. Shauna knew all about the product and told E that she would be pitching her idea to Donny and an angel investor--okay, we weren't looking for an angel investor, but as long as Babycapes gets exposure, what the heck!

I'm not going to tell you what happened, except to say that Elizabeth did a great job of pitching Babycapes--I am so proud of her! She had been rehearsing her pitch and wound up switching it up at the last minute because of Shauna's suggestions. Hopefully, the show will air tonight. I checked the website and they have not listed the guests for tonight's show, so we may know later on today.

I'm kind of glad the segment didn't run last night because Jim Cramer of "Mad Money" was on and he was really depressing--kept telling everyone to move back in with their parents...I wouldn't mind that, Mom runs her home like a Bed and Breakfast...

So, sorry for the confusion everybody. We may be calling on you to vote again, as there will be an online poll of which of the three products pitched was the best--we, of course, believe it's Babycapes, but feel free to judge for yourself!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Babycapes heading to D.C. to be on "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch"

I'm so excited! We got the call from the producers of CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" to go down to D.C. today and film a segment on Babycapes for the show which will air tomorrow night!

I'm trying to wolf down a sandwich and am hoping that it doesn't come back up! We have been working so hard for this!! This could be the Big Break we have been waiting for! Elizabeth and I so believe in this wonderful product and this is a tremendous opportunity for us to make some money for our families!!! Who would have thought a chance meeting in a consignment store would lead to this wonderful product, burgeoning business and a great friendship?

Keep your fingers crossed for us!!!! We'll keep you posted!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Babycapes giveaway on

We have partnered with the ladies at to give away a luxurious Babycape. (At right, is my little Carly in her cape--she LOVES her Babycape!)

To enter, visit our retail site at, look at all of the beautiful styles we have to offer, then go to, read the contest rules and leave a comment about Babycapes. There also are plenty of chances to earn extra entries by blogging or twittering about the contest.

This is your chance to keep your little one warm, stylin', comfortable and safe while traveling this winter. Contest ends October 23! So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Striking a balance without dropping the ball--or the baby

My husband and I are perfect complements in our child-rearing practices. He's the laid-back, easy-going parent and I tend the be the high-strung, neurotic one.

He thinks it's perfectly okay to let our six-year-old watch our four- and two- in our unfenced yard on the street, while he ducks inside to catch a few holes of golf on TV, whereas I'm the one who's always hovering and shouting, "Not too high!", "Get away from the road!", "I'm not going to push you as high as Daddy does, I don't want your head to hit the playset!", or "You know our doctor said to never let you guys on a trampoline so I would appreciate it if you would get off now!"

I know our neighbors think I'm wound too tightly (especially because of the trampoline paranoia--the contraptions are ALL over the neighborhood and most of them don't have the netting on the sides!) when it comes to our kids, but I can't help it. I just want them to be safe. Not that my husband does not, he just feels that they will be fine, because he did the same things when he was a kid and nothing bad ever happened to him.

He's perfectly comfortable taking all three out to a crowded event. He always leads the way, paces in front of the kids, surveying the scene, looking at everyone and everything but our children while I'm pulling up the rear with my internal BPS (Baby Positioning System) keeping track of all three kids at once. It's exhausting for me, but it's my job.

Whenever I venture out by myself, I always say a little prayer that God will keep them all safe long enough for me to run and get my hair done or to do an unencumbered trip to the market. (And I'm not ragging on my husband--he is a GREAT father and he loves the kids and I trust him and all--I just cannot reiterate enough that I am NEUROTIC when it comes to my kids!) This past Sunday, I went to the grocery store and left the kids with their Daddy. They were in the basement playing and my husband was in his Man Cave in the next room watching football.

Better shut the garage door just in case Carly tries to make a run for it while Daddy's shouting at the Redskins. And better lock the front door just in case someone attempts a home invasion while I'm at Martin's.

When I came back from the store about an hour-and-a-half later, the garage door still was closed, so I opened it and began unloading the groceries. I was heading out for my second trip when I heard Sophie yelling outside, followed by Carly just wailing. I ran outside and Steve had Carly in his arms and the other two were in their wagon.

"What happened?" I yelled.

"Carly fell out of the wagon...oh, God, she's bleeding!" Steve exclaimed.

"I want my Mama!" my little one cried. Then I looked at her and saw blood all over her face.

I quickly grabbed her and ran inside to survey her injuries. Big fat, bloody lip, blood gushing from her nose (that nose has hit the pavement so many times my Mom has told us to start saving for rhinoplasty in her teen years), scraped up cheeks, tears streaming down her face, sobbing uncontrollably. I got a towel and started cleaning her up.

I could hear Sophie and Max giving Steve the riot act.

"I told you to stop the wagon, Daddy!" said Sophie. "Carly was trying to get out!"

"I know," he said. "It's all my fault."

Max started yelling at Steve, "You hurt my baby sister! You made her bleed!" and then he started crying. Steve was tending to him, all the while taking all of the blame.

They all came in to the kitchen to check on Carly, who, at that particular time wanted nothing to do with her father. Steve felt horribly and I know it was the last thing he wanted to happen. No need for accusations or I-told-you-so's.

Carly was a little beat up, but from what I could tell from reading every child-rearing book on the market, she did not require any stitches. She fell asleep while I held her and watched her nose swell up, telling myself if the right nostril closes completely I will take her to the ER. Are her pupils dilated? Hard to tell with her eyes closed. Should I wake her up to make sure she doesn't have a concussion? When she woke up a bit later, she didn't seem to be in any pain, but still wanted nothing to do with Daddy.

Now, mind you, this was an accident and it could easily have happened to me (except I probably would have made all the children wear their helmets in the Radio Flyer--might need to look into one with a face mask for Carly...). I just wish there was some way to strike a balance between mine and Steve's parenting know, so I can loosen up enough so that my kids don't grow up thinking I'm no fun and that they wouldn't think Steve somehow irresponsible because this accident had occurred on his watch.

I had hoped this would not have a lasting effect on Carly, nor the other two, for that matter.

My fears were put to rest yesterday morning. Carly had woken up in an especially good mood. Steve took her in to her room to get her dressed. She has this morning ritual of lying on her changing table while we change her Pull Up and get her dressed. She always stands up and turns to the mirror and starts putting on the "Carly Crowder Show."

This particular morning she had a different greeting.

"Hi! I'm Carly Crowder," she said as she turned to face the mirror. "Hey! What happened to my nose!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My new friend, Peri

Meet my new friend, Peri--Peri Menopause.

I recently turned 41 and thought I was a bit young for my new acquaintance, but, alas, she has struck up a relationship with me at the same time she greeted my mother and sister. I thought I could stave off her appearance since I had my children relatively late in life, but that did not derail her.

I'm not sure what to make of my new friend. She seems a bit obnoxious--finds it amusing to keep me up at night, thwarting my quest for a good night's sleep (tho she cannot shoulder all of the blame for this, as my children delight in waking me up throughout the night). She likes to crank the heat up, leaving me sweaty and flushed at inconvenient times. She also manages to get me all fired up and filled with murderous rage over the littlest thing, such as a dirty sock thrown on the floor. Need I mention the facial hair that recently appeared around my mouth--in particular the little billy goat hair on my chin that pops up during social occasions and the two little hairs that keep resurfacing on the bulb of my nose? (I must remember to always carry a pair of tweezers).

Peri has emboldened my already tumultuous relationship with my old friend, Flo. Flo's monthly visits now come more frequently (I have yet to pin down her schedule) and her stays are getting longer. Flo, once mild and manageable, now makes the Vietnam War look tame. She has yet to meet a personal product she couldn't take in a fight--not even the new Ultra.

Peri and Flo, I must ask of you--what is UP? Are we not sisters gliding through this grand dance of life? Did I not serve you well, bearing three children and nursing them until their cheeks and legs were so fat that the youngest earned her nickname "Biscuit" because of the oh-so-delicious doughiness of her thighs? Have my annual doctor visits and monthly self-exams gone unnoticed? Did I not keep up my end of the bargain?

If I ply you with chocolates, chamomile tea, the finest of wines, myriad fans, black cohosh or other herbal concoctions will you retreat?

And, Peri, I don't want to seem an ungracious hostess, but how long were you planning on staying?