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After months of planning, building, photography, meeting, writing, meetings, calls and conversations…. I am pleased to announce The Needle n Thread Sewing Studio ONLINE STORE! I’m really proud of my Mom and all the hard work. She finally has her own business! I think she’s wished for this for years and now has it. Congrats Mom!

The Needle n Thread Sewing Studio has so many cute things! From baby gifts to boys and girls to nursery accessories. All items are available for personalization with embroidery, appliqué or both! There are some cute Valentine’s style appliqués including:

an airplane with little hearts

and a heart lollipop flower.

Click here to see all the designs.

If any of you saw Garner at Christmas in her reindeer dress, you’ve see Needle n Thread! Most of Garner’s embroidered shirts, burp cloths, blankets, onesies and other baby items are Needle n Thread.

SHOP NOW!

I want to work for Louise Fili. If you know me as a designer, you know I love typography. If you know me as a teacher, you know I teach about the importance of typography in visual communication.

I had the pleasure of working for a creative one time that had a Masters in Typography – hand typography. He would stand behind me at work and peer over my shoulder at the computer saying, “YOU COULD PARK A CAR BETWEEN THOSE LETTERS! KERN KERN KERN!” It was at that firm that I learned the beauty of thoughtful typography, letterforms and layout using type.

I’m in awe and inspired by Louise Fili. Her work is absolutely beautiful.

I’ve been reading posts on great Valentines ideas and thought I might give some of my own. Or at least link to some I like.

Love this post at Twig & Thistle. She’s a designer too, so of course I’d love it!

For the how-to/post go here.

I think I should have my husband (who is a photographer) set up a copy stand for me at home so I can take beautiful photos of my creations too! 🙂

So I decided to give you a gift and created some stickers for Valentines goodie bags that can be use with bakery bags, cd sleeves or any other envelope or bag. Feel free to download the PDF below and print away!

For a PDF that you can print on label paper, cut and use for your Valentine’s goodie bags, go to my ValentinesCookieLabels PDF and download. Fun! Or if you prefer circles…

The circles are set up with 24 on a sheet and perfect size for a 2″ circle punch. Both the rectangle and circle stickers would print best on glossy label paper, or use double stick tape on photo paper. Click here for the Valentines Stickers PDF. Just makes you smile too, huh?

They can be used like this:

Or this:

Or this – just use two and stick them together back to back on a toothpick:

Check out the MSL photo gallery of Clip Art and Templates – very nice. I see cupcakes in my future.

One good thing about blogs is that I can forget about them for a few months and then happen to see one in my favorites lists and then I’m in the middle of tons of inspiration once again.

I love the product blogs. I love the creative blogs. I love the blogs like odeedoh.com. The photography, fun products and creative ideas are endless.

Like this:

Pantone® Storage Boxes found here.

Or these great space utilizing book cases – Dad, take note because the dollhouse is going to eventually be used AS a doll house.

Or these fun DIY felt pom pom flowers. I made some of these in paper for Garner’s 1st bday. I love the felt too!

And I absolutely love this idea by Darcy Miller (and Darcy herself), editor at MSL. She recently had an art show of her Scrapboxes at Kate & Jack Spade’s space. It’s a fun and beautiful reminder of those memories we often stuff in a box or book. And it’s art!

These boxes are a great idea for those of us who tend to save little trinkets and pieces of paper from every event and trip. I have large 12 x 12 x 4 clear storage boxes that I use to store and compile these items. I have one from Garner’s first year, one from our 1st anniversary trip, one from our engagement trip, and one from various Christmas cards and things. I can see what’s in them and am able to add to them easily. I’ve been doing this now for about 7 years with the hopes that I would use them for a scrapbook.

After reading the article in February’s MSL about the Scrapboxes, I’ve decided this will make be the best art for mine and Garner’s room. To see Darcy’s photo gallery, click here.

Time to quit talking about it and start creating!

I had the joy of spending time with the Cowles this weekend. I love them. I love their easy way. I love eating with them.

When I pulled up, the chickens were running around. You might think they live out in the country on a farm, but no, they live smack dab in the middle of the city. They have a very large back yard for a city lot. And it wasn’t one bit unusual for me to see chickens in the yard. I love the Cowles.

I had made Butternut Squash Ravioli prior to that visit and thought I’d share with them. They were so sweet to invite me to stay for dinner, which I LOVED. E made grilled pork tenderloin and roasted asparagus. The sauce for the pork was SO GOOD. She just whipped it up out of jars of sauce. She’s so good like that. It’s a recipe that’s not for everyone and I knew they would appreciate it.

The recipe comes from Giada and can be found here. Her recipe calls for it to be made into tortellini, but I made them into ravioli so there was more filling. I recommend making it in stages. Roast your squash and make the filling ahead of time. It can be frozen.

The ravs can be made ahead also and frozen. The sauce should be made as the ravs are boiling and should always have fresh sage. Wonton wrappers can be found in the produce section of most groceries near the tofu. Talk about an easy way to make ravs! B suggested filling variations including spinach and cheese. The possibilities are endless.

This is Giada’s tortellini version:
The sauce is brown butter with fresh sage, cranberries and walnuts. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet.

With the silky goodness of the butternut filling – oh my…makes you want to eat way too much.

Thank you for a wonderful time Cowles family. I look forward to it again.

One more recipe from simplifysuppers.com : Chicken Orzo Salad. I made this for a work function and realized while making it that one of the ingredients was missing from the list. That’s the second recipe from ss that I’ve come upon like that. After I got to work and shared the dish, and the missing ingredient issue, we collectively agreed that it must have been sliced almonds that was missing.

If I made it again, I’d get larger grapes and the larger orzo pasta. It was a little gummy but very tasty. It would have been even better with the almonds!

Crafting: Somehow I managed to get this dress done in December, but not before Christmas:

She wore it the Sunday after Christmas and that was ok. It’s called “Silent Mice” and is the sweetest little plate I’ve seen for Christmas.

I learned a lot of things on that dress.

1. Everything takes longer than you think it will – especially hemming a dress.

2. Never ever take that top holding row thread out until you’ve completed the finishing.

3. Finishing isn’t near as intimidating as I thought.

4. A French seam is your friend.

5. No one, and I mean no one will know if your stitching is exactly right – on the smocking or the finishing.

6. There’s a sense of accomplishment in sewing that nothing else brings. I created not only a beautify heirloom, but I created a necessity – clothing!

7. I’m glad I’m finally learning this craft that my Mother’s does so well. It gives me a respect and appreciation for her that I’ve never known. And I’m glad I learned it while she can encourage me and see the outcome!

Garner update (don’t read if you don’t like those silly little Mommy posts – but this is my only means of journaling at this point in my life) with less than 2 months til her 2nd birthday, Garner amazes us daily. In the last month she’s started speaking in sentences and alerting us to the need to potty. She loves Snow White and becomes so animated during certain  scenes. Scared when Snow White is scared

Saying:

Fro Whi – Snow White
Ssat? – What’s that?
Wook Mama – Look Mama
Pakka – Pockets
My poon  – My Spoon
Rob Bop – Rabbit
And a favorite during the holidays….You Got I! Hot Hot Hot YOU GOT IT! Hot Chocolate!
N Elmo (Nemo) has now turned into Meeemo.

Singing: ABC song, Twinkle Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and most recently Jesus Loves Me.

She bows her head and folds her hands for prayers.

I’ll hear her from the other room talking to her babies, to Fro Whi, to her kitchen. She loves to play dress up and color and show Mama and Daddy.

That’s all for now.  Happy Monday.

In searching for cooking with friends and menu planning I stumbled upon Org Junkie. She had this great page of resrouces. I ran across simplifysupper.com.

Part of simplifying for me includes menu planning. It is crucial for a smooth cooking week to have planned the weekend before and done some prep work. I realized last night when I was on the third recipe how much I really really love being in the kitchen. Garner loves it too. She’s finally to an age I imagined when we looked at our house the first time. She sits on her sweet perch at the island watching mama cook. I can imagine one day she’ll be chatting with me, or helping. 🙂

The website is easy to use. You can register for free and plan your own menu. It creates a grocery list that you can print, email or send to your phone. The recipes are quick, easy an affordable. They could use some fresh ingredients, and I’ll add those in as I plan.

Three recipes I made were:

Chicken Dressing Casserole – a little gooey but tasty. JD will enjoy

Asparagus Quiche – 2nd time to make this. Delicious. I’d love to vary this with different cheeses and ingredients. The first time I made it I added an extra egg – don’t do this, a deep pie crust won’t even hold the 4. You could, however cut down on the cream to make it more of a frittata than quiche. Add ham…yum.

Tater Tot Casserole for JD. – this one is in the frig ready to cook. JD would prefer to eat every meal with red meat and potatoes. Poor guy doesn’t get that in our house. I failed to put the french fried onions on top, rather, mixed them in with the sour cream and cheese. And I used what I had on hand – Cream of Chicken instead of Cream of Mushroom.

Last week I cooked the Asparagus Quiche and Waldorf Salad. I’d add ingredients to both to beef up the taste, but overall good.

On the list for this week – Chicken Orzo Salad, Chicken Enchiladas, Spaghetti, and some kind of Shrimp.

I understand why casseroles were so popular in the 70s. Because they are easy, good and economical. I don’t think I could eat one ever night but once or twice a week works. They are entirely too fattening! I’ll have to convert some of these recipes to a healthier option.

Try simplifysuppers.com if you’re struggling with dinner ideas or menu planning. It’s a great place to start.

As a working mother, I find myself simplifying life more and more. I’m up at 5:30 and out the door before 7, when I’m not running late. I have myself and a toddler to get dressed and ready. JD is great to help with dressing and breakfast. Sure, I’d like to say that I have lunches prepared and the french press ready the night before. I’d love to say that I pick out my outfit and have it pressed and ready to go complete with shoes, undergarments and accessories also the night before. I’d love to say that mornings are pleasant, easy and allow for quiet time. The are rushed and sometimes chaotic and almost always late. This all from a person who was once always 15 minutes, if not more, early to work. Sigh.

What I can say is that I have some products that I’ve come to rely on for a simplified morning. I’d have these on my “If I were stranded on a deserted island, what items would I want with me” list.

1. Tweezerman Tweezers are by far the best. I have 2 pair, one in the car and one in the bathroom. You ladies would agree when I say the light in the car is the best light ever! 2. Great Lash Mascara by Maybelline – I love this mascara and have used it for years. 3. OPI Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil – I’ve been using this for about 6 weeks and can say it does make a huge difference in the health of my nails. They are stronger and happier AND longer! Twice a day is recommended. 4. Mac Lipstick in Tanarama –  yes it looks weird, but when paired with 5. Mac Lipliner in Chesnut is is warm with enough hint of pearl. It can look darker or lighter depending on the amount of liner. If I didn’t use any other product in a morning, I’d use these two because a girl just can’t go without her lipstick! 6. Bare Minerals – I’ve been using this since last summer. The jury is still out  on whether or not I really love it. It allows enough coverage without feeling like I have on make-up. In fact, I never wore makeup all over until last summer. Having a baby wrecks your complexion and I had to take drastic measures and wear makcup! 7. Garnier Smoothing Milk – perfect for my fine hair – not heavy at all. 8. Croc Turbo Flat Iron – wonderful! Heats to 480 degrees, reaches full temp quickly, auto turn-off and just plain incredible.

What are your morning routing must haves?

I think we’d all really be disgusted to know exactly how much dirt, dust and debris fills our homes.

After several years with an less than ideal Oreck that I loathed, we made the plunge to this beauty.

I did a little test. This afternoon I vacuumed the downstairs with the hated Oreck. This evening I vacuumed again with the new Dyson Animal. Yes, it was as I predicted. I filled the canister downstairs alone. Then again upstairs, thanks to dogs and two weeks with no bags for the Oreck. Christmas, lots of guests, and lots of being at home bring a lot of dirt into the house.

I’m not a clean freak by any stretch of the imagination. I do prefer a clean home. Bathrooms are my weakness. Mopping floors are a close #2. Vacuuming I’m ok with, mainly because the house feels cleaner with freshly vacuumed floors. And now with the Dyson, I’m able to see how much crap was sucked up. YES!

Here’s five stars from me. Thank you Dyson. Part II – baseboards, molding and fans…I can only imagine.

I’d say 38 was great.

1. 3 and 8 look really good together in most fonts. Garner’s bday is 3.3.08 and I’ve always loved those numbers together. They’re strong, round and solid.

2. Balloons from my co-workers.

3. Many texts, calls and emails of well wishes.

4. Time with family.

5. Italian for dinner – I think I must have italian in my blood somewhere because I just love it.

6. Cupcakes are good – in real life…or in pictures. JD surprised me with both Muddy’s and Martha’s Cupcake book 🙂

7. My husband’s willingness to try and find the purse I described in the store. Thank you.

I think I’ll like 38. Happy Birthday to me!