Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keepsakes by Jill & Judy

When I was growing up, my mom stayed home to raise us kids and she created keepsakes to sell to people for gifts.  She did so many of them, it was money she earned to help our family go on summer vacations. These keepsakes are all over the world now.  They are in England, Australia, Italy and many more places I can't think of right now.  They are beautifully done and very well made.  Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have gone into business with my mom and we create these keepsakes together.

Keepsakes by Jill & Judy are hand decorated invitations or announcements for any life's milestones.  Anniversaries, weddings, graduations, new baby and many more!  Here are some pictures of the keepsakes I've done so far.
High School Graduation Announcement
Baby Boy
Baby Girl

 I also have different designs for babies, weddings and anniversaries.  So, for example, if you have more than one child, the baby announcement for each child would be a different picture so they are not all the same.

Wedding Invitation

 If you're interested in getting a keepsake for a gift or for yourself, post a comment or send me an email at

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Binky Fairy

I recently wrote an article When Should I Wean My Baby Off the Pacifier?.  I figured if I was going to write an article on that, I should practice what I preach.  My 3 1/2 year old was still sucking on her pacifier and had eventually learned to talk through the darn thing.  When we started saying "take that thing out of your mouth, I can't understand you...." it was time to make some changes.  So we started her off with the binky only allowed during nap time and bed time.  That was a rocky start but eventually, Ellen would get busy throughout the day and forget about her bink.  Then, as stubborn as she is, she would go upstairs and grab one of her pacifiers and cover her face with one of her blankies as she walked down the stairs, knowing she wasn't allowed to have it.  Yes, she walked down the stairs with her blankie covering her face.  I soon came to realize that every time she went upstairs to get her pacifier, it was because she was tired, bored, or upset about something.  Then we had to start hiding the binks and putting them up high.  That worked for a while but then it seemed that her pacifiers were coming out of the woodwork.  I figured out that Ellen was taking one of her pacifiers and she would hide it in her room.

It was time for the Binky Fairy.... 

Just before Easter, I tried to convince Ellen that if she gave the Easter bunny her pacifiers, he would give them to other little babies that don't have any pacifiers.  She was not too keen on that idea and I could see that it just wasn't going to work.  BUT!  Recently, one night I went to tuck Ellen into bed and I really couldn't find any of her pacifiers.  I really couldn't.  I told her that if she laid in bed and went to sleep, I would keep looking for her pacifier and bring it up to her when I found it.  Naturally, I never "found" any of them.  Ellen went 5 days without the pacifier.  She would ask for it every night and every night I would tell her that I still haven't found it.  She was the one who asked about the Easter bunny coming to take her binks and leave a present.

Here was my chance!

Ellen and I sat on her bed for quite some time the other night talking about the Binky Fairy. This is how the conversation went:

Me:  What do you know about the Binky Fairy?

Ellen:  She comes in my room and leaves me a present.

Me:  How does the Binky Fairy come into your room?

Ellen:  She comes in the window and flies around my room.

Me:  What does she do?

Ellen:  She leaves me a present in my closet, but she could leave under my dresser or over there, over there, there or there or there.....

Me:  Why would she leave you a present in the closet?  What if you don't see it or forget about it in the morning?  (no answer)  Do you think the Binky Fairy will hide your present?

Ellen:  uh, yeah....

Me:  Well, did you know that if the Binky Fairy comes, she takes your binks and you won't have them anymore?

Ellen:  Yeah....

Me:  Are you ready to give up your binks?

Ellen:  Yeah....

Me:  What does the Binky Fairy do with your binks?

Ellen:  She gives them to other babies.

This conversation went on and on.  I am so amazed at the "big kid" conversations I can have with Ellen.  She is the most reasonable 3 year old I know.

I stayed up pretty late that night making one of her presents from the Binky Fairy.   It was one of those Make and Melt projects.  A rainbow, like I had growing up.  She also got a fancy pair of dress up shoes.

The Binky Fair came?????????

Ellen woke up the next morning and walked right by her window where the shoes and rainbow were.  She came in our room and didn't even realize that there were presents in her room.  After a few minutes, she remembered and wanted to go downstairs to see what she brought.  I think she thought it was going to be like Christmas or something.  When I told her to check her room first, she walked in and still couldn't see anything new.  Good heavens!  She finally saw the window and got the biggest smile on her face.  She liked the rainbow the best and was really happy that she even left her a thank you note.   After a few minutes, Ellen says, "that's all I get?"

Oh, to be such an honest child.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Facts about giraffes

My daughter is a huge fan of giraffes.  She has her own little stuffed giraffe that she takes everywhere she goes.  She makes noises for her giraffe and makes it "talk" but do giraffes really make sounds?  Have you ever heard one make noise?

It took a while, but I found a video on youtube by Myth Crew.  Some interesting facts about giraffes:

  • they can get up to 18 feet tall
  • their heart is about 25 pounds, which is a little over 2 gallons of milk jugs together size
  • their tongue is about a foot and a half long so they can reach food at high places
  • they can either bend their knees or spread their front legs apart so they can reach down to drink water
  • they can't keep their head down low for very long because it will make their blood pressure drop and make them pass out.
  • they have the same number of bones in their neck that all mammals have
So do they make sound?  Check out myth crew for more interesting facts and find out for yourself!

If you don't want to watch youtube, I'll spoil the surprise for you........

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Baby giraffes will make a moaning like sound to find their mother.  This proves that giraffes have vocal cords and can make sound to communicate.  In this video, the zoo keepers corner a baby giraffe for a checkup and the baby giraffe just wasn't liking it.  However, once giraffes become adults, they "choose" not to use their vocal cords.  They use their bodies to communicate.

So there you have it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Other Side of the Magic

My daughter has been a Daisy in girl scouts for two years and she just had her bridging ceremony to become a brownie tonight.  It was a fabulous ceremony and she was so excited about getting a sash and a uniform.  She was practically jumping out of her skin until it was her turn.  Meanwhile, my 3 year old was getting sick while I held her in my arms.  Here fever slowly crept up and it was very difficult for me to take pictures and videos while I had a sleeping preschooler in my arms.  Thank goodness my parents were there and they were able to take the pictures I couldn't.  I didn't even get a picture of my daughter and me together.

After all was said and done, I realized that I wished I had done more for my daughter such as get her a card, flowers, a balloon, set up a little party at our house afterwards, something.  But I was so involved in getting the potluck food ready, the handmade decorations and also remembering everything else I had to take such as the camera and video camera.  My husband ended up having to work so that left more on my mind to be sure I didn't forget anything.  Regardless, everything went wonderfully but I felt bad that I wasn't able to make a bigger fuss over Marcella.  When we got home, Ellen ended up with 104 fever and throwing up.  Thank goodness she didn't throw up at the bridging ceremony!  On top of my feelings for not being able to fuss more over Marcella, I had to give most of my attention to Ellen because she was sick.

I told my mom that I have grown to not like being on "this side of the magic".  I don't like hiding Easter eggs and setting the presents under the tree anymore. I wish I could wake up and see that the Easter bunny has been here or wake up and see all the presents under the tree.  I miss that kind of "magic".  For Marcella's bridging ceremony, I was so involved in getting things ready, that I didn't think about the little special things we could've done to celebrate her success.  My mom was quick to ease my mind when she explained that this side of the "magic" is still special because all the things I do to create that "magic" for her, is helping her to build her own memories and special moments. Sparking that "magic" inside of her.  It's a different kind of "magic". 

Marcella is such a special girl.  She understood that since Ellen was sick, we couldn't do anything special afterwards and asked me if she could have a small party with all the family so (as she stood in front of the fireplace) she could stand "here" and hold her certificate up and wear her new sash and take lots of pictures.  All I could do for her now was to let her stay up late and watch a cartoon together while we snuggled on the couch.

So to all you moms (and dads) out there who work hard to make special moments for your children more special, no matter what you are able to do, just because you want to, I commend you!   When moms are up all night with a sick child and still have to go to work all the next day and still come home to keep on going, I commend you!  For those parents who looked forward to a special occasion and had to cancel at the last minute because of a sick child, I commend you!  No one ever said that parenting was easy, and those who say it is, never had children of their own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Sister Day

My sister is the best at decorating cakes.  She creates these most amazing cakes that I would never thought could possibly exist.  You've got an idea for a cake, no matter how outrageous it is, she'll figure out how to do it.  Sometimes, my sister gets so busy that she could really use extra help.  Sadly, I'm far from any skills that would benefit in helping her but cookies..... I can do!  She got an order of 96 cookies to bake and decorate for a wedding, which is something she doesn't normally do.  So I set off to visit her all day today.  No kids, no interruptions, we made cookies all day.  What a treat for me to just sit at the table, decorate cookies and visit with my sister.  Check out her website and you can see for yourself these amazing cakes my sister makes!!!!  She's even won awards for some of these cakes.

Sheena's Sweets

My family has so much talent.  We've got a painter, a potter, a cake decorator and me.... well, I write, I take pictures, I do crafts, lots of crafts!  I love messy crafts and I like to write about them, too.  Check these links out:  Flowers at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Glass Art by Chihuly  these are some of the pictures I recently took.  I love photoshop.  I could spend all day and change a picture around a hundred times to make it look different.  Unfortunately, my kids wouldn't let me waste that much time on the computer, but someday..... I will.  My goal someday is to be a hobbyist photographer.  Yeah, there's a title for ya.  I've got many dreams I would love to accomplish.  Right now, I'm grounded to the house taking care of my family and my dreams are in the works.  Sometimes, I can feel my creative juices start to simmer with ideas I want to take off with someday.  Being a stay-at-home mom is like being a horse in the starting gate, waiting for the race to start.  When that gate snaps open, I'll be off and running with some wonderful ideas of what I can do and my kids will (hopefully) be proud of me of what I can accomplish.  It's going to be a great ride!  Right now, my kids hold me down with lots of hugs and cartoons on the TV and we have lots of fun together.  What a life it's been!  I'm the luckiest mom in the world!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lord have mercy! So much HAIR!

I woke up with an overabundance of energy today.  I ended up doing a week's worth of laundry, stripped the beds, cleaned the house, made dinner for a friend and dinner for my own family, bathed the kids, and I brushed the dog.  'Tis the season of Spring time SHEDDING!   We have a German Shepard and my friends warned me about shedding.  We got her from a breeder, who kept the dogs outside most of the time so Koda had quite a thick winter coat.  We got her groomed and that took care of most of the hair.  I thought to myself, I can handle this.  Well, now that it's spring, oh, good heavens!  I brushed enough hair out of Koda to smother a puppy.  This was the third brushing in a couple of weeks. 

 Because of all the hair, I went on this cleaning frenzy.  The sun was shining so the windows were opened and now it feels good to sit here, practically catatonic from not sitting down all day...  in a clean house!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

As if doing one craft yesterday wasn't enough, I added even more activities to keep my energy level at bay.  Instead of cleaning the house, like I should have done, I made a chicken pot pie from scratch.  I've never made one before.  The recipe said that once you make this pot pie, you will never go back to the frozen kind again. Boy, was she right!  It will give you bragging rights.  Some of my friends have asked for this recipe.  It came from  Moms Who

Along with all the craziness in my day, my 3-year-old came in from playing outside all morning and I noticed her shoes.  

They were brand new.  I still don't know how she did this.  Even the flowers on the strap are missing.  I was not happy but I couldn't help but to give a "maddening" giggle. Of course, she ran off and screamed and cried about everyone laughing at her.  What drama we have in our house.  All I could say as best as I could without laughing was, "at least you have another pair of black dress shoes...."

I just love being a mom.

A Fun Craft to Try

I'm finally getting over a severe sinus infection.  For two weeks, I've laid around the house not wanting to do a thing.  The house would be a wreck and I didn't care.  My husband would come home from working all day and he would start cleaning the house because I just didn't feel like doing it.  (Thank you, Honey!)

Yesterday, I got so much energy back, I didn't know what to do with it all.  So I invited the neighbor gal over to play with my 3 year old and we did a big craft.  We had so much fun with it that my 7-year-old came home from school and she made one, too for her teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week.   This is how we did it:
Color a white coffee filter with markers.  Be generous with the coloring.  Squirt the coffee filter with water and allow to dry.  Insert a pipe cleaner and then bunch the filter to look like a flower.  You can add tape to make sure it stays.

Next you're going to decoupage an empty water bottle.  Cut up pieces of tissue paper, set aside.  You can make your own decoupage solution by pouring elmer's glue in a small container and add a little bit of water.  Use a paint brush or a sponge and paint the glue over small sections of the water bottle.  Add the tissue paper and overlap the layers.  Use the paint brush to "paint" the edges of the tissue paper down.  If you put one layer of tissue paper, it will look more like stained glass, or you can add a couple layers of tissue paper to give it more of a bold color.

Once your bottle is dry, add the flowers and enjoy.  You could even spritz a bit of perfume on the flowers for an added touch.

For my daughter's teacher's present, she wrote a sweet note and we tied it on with curling ribbon.  You can even add orzo noodles, rice, sand, or small stones to weigh the bottle down.  Happy crafting!

If you like this craft, check out my other crafts such as:

Window Crafts
Yarn Crafts
Paper Plate Crafts
Homemade Toys for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How did they think of that?

To save myself from Mushy Mom Brain, I felt the need to exercise it.  Since I'm not excercising my body at all, at least my mind can get a workout.   This is some of what I learned tonight, just a little useless trivia.

VELCRO was invented in 1948 by de Mestral when he was hiking.  He noticed burrs getting stuck to his fuzzy socks.  When he stopped to pull them off, instead of being annoyed, he thought it would be a brilliant idea to make the burrs small enough to hold together flaps of clothing.  It took 3 years for the invention to be perfected.  The name Velcro came from velvet (vel) and crochet (cro) that forms the "hooks" and "eyes" that make Velcro possible.

Gary Dahl was an out of work advertising executive in 1975.  He went out for a drink with friends and the topic came up about how hard and expensive it is to keep and train their pets.  He took pity on his friends and gave some rocks away as "maintenance-free pets".  His friends thought it was a real hoot so Dahl took his advertising experience and created a manual for PET ROCKS.  How easy is it to train a pet rock to roll over (with a gentle push), play dead (no assistance required) and to protect its owner (curled inside your fist).  Dahl was convinced this would work so he bought 3 tons of smooth rocks from Mexico and a month before Christmas, sold the rocks in small boxes with air holes.  He earned nearly a dollar for each rock sold and before the fad died out, he sold five million pet rocks.  Eventually, the rocks ended up with painted faces with expressions and sold Pet Rock food, which was rock salt.

WATER BEDS was inspired by beanbag chairs.  Charles Prior Hall created the crazy idea that a bean bag chair could be transformed into a bed.  After a few different experiments, he got a mattress, filled it with water but found that by morning, the mattress was too cold.  So he installed a heater to keep the mattress warmer throughout the night and introduced the water bed in 1971.  Thanks to a plug from Playboy Magazine, Hugh Hefner bought one for the mansion and it instantly became a trendsetter.  Not only did Hall enjoy the flood of sales of the water beds, but of the repair kits, too!

The very first VIDEO GAME was born in Cambridge, MA in January 1962.  Steve Russell created a dot that moved around the screen and within a few weeks, he transformed it into a crude triangular spaceship.  By February, there were 2 spaceships on the screen and a blast to destroy the other.  Peter Samson and Dan Edwards contributed stars and J. M. Graetz added a hyperspace button to allow one ship to get away from the other.  This game was known as Spacewar.  Pong was the very first video game that was introduced to the public by Nolan Bushnell.  You had to pay a quarter to play it.  Since this concept, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong were born and Bushnell was responsible for bringing the video game systems into homes and became a very rich man.

Australian school children played with bamboo hoops and South Seas islanders used grapevine hoops in dances used by the Ancient Greeks.  Wham-O executives didn't care who actually invented the HULA HOOP.  They knew a good toy when they saw one so they created a hula hoop with a durable plastic and lots of colors.  Manufacturing costs were only .25 cents to make and they sold for $1.98.  In 1958, every child owned a hula hoop and over 25 million were sold.  But sales dropped off very quickly because not only did colder weather hit, but every child already had one.  Later they added more psychedelic colors and noisy beads inside.

In the late 1950's, a Danish wood carver sculpted a white-haired troll for his daughter.  He based his design on the elves of Norse mythology.  When he gave the troll to his daughter, he said it would bring her good luck.  A shop owner noticed the little girl carrying the ugly doll and commissioned the wood carver to make more for his shop.  TROLL DOLLS became a craze in Denmark and in the early 1960's, American manufacturers licensed the good-luck dolls.  That's when the dolls changed a bit to have the crazy, bright colored hair, added details from diapers to motorcycles and created more characters that remained popular for over 30 years.

So, that's my useless reading for the night.  I love useless trivia.   Not that I will ever remember this information, but it sure is interesting to find out how things become as they are and who the masterminds were behind the idea.  Maybe I'll start something here and post more useless trivia as I find them.  In the meantime, enjoy some of my articles on my Yahoo! Contributor site.

Sally's Challenging Day

Do It Yourself Pedicure

10 Ways to Wear a Necklace

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Apple Ring Pudding

Want some comfort food that is a very filling dessert?   Try this dessert in the crock pot.  This recipe came from The Everything Slow Cooking For a Crowd Cookbook by Katie Thompson, F+W Publications, Inc.

6 Tb Butter
6 apples
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Use one-third of the butter to butter a loaf pan.  Peel and core the apples, then slice crosswise and layer in the pan.

2. Cream the remaining butter with the sugar.  Stir in the water.  Sift the flour with the cinnamon and combine with the creamed mixture.

3. Spread the batter over the apples.

4. Loosely cover the loaf pan with foil or other lid.  Place on a trivet or rack in the slow cooker, and pour water around the base of the trivet.

5. Cover and heat on high setting for 2-3 hours.

My review:  This dessert was very filling.  I didn't have a trivet or even a rack that I could fit in my crock pot but I did have a small corning bowl that I put upside down.  I ended up using 2 very large green apples and that was more than enough apples for this recipe.  I had this apple pudding in the slow cooker for about 2 hours and the apples came out very well cooked.  So the next time I try this recipe, I would add an extra apple and try to slow cook it for 1 1/2 hours instead.  I like a little crisp to my cooked apples.  Then again, my crock pot can cook a meal in half the time than the recipe calls for.

I suggest borrowing this book from the library or purchasing it through Amazon.  There are 300 recipes that you can make in a crock pot.  I don't know about you, but I like making a meal and forgetting about it all day and eat it when I'm ready.

Try this recipe out and shoot me a message and let me know what you think!

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I love this question.  Everyone I know well, I already think of that person as a certain age and they are always that age, forever.  For example, my niece and nephew will always be 6 and 9 (they are actually 9 and 12... I think).  I still don't know how old my parents are.  I was brought up that asking an older person their age was considered rude.  My parents will always be in their early 40's to me.  I believe they are in the 60's.... I think.  My husband was 36 when I met him.  He told me he was 34 when we met and he still is 34 in my mind.

For me, if I didn't know how old I was, I would say I was 25.  Do I look 25?  I don't know.... but my mind sure thinks I'm am.  When I sit on the floor with kids and I try to stand up, my body will argue with my mind.  I'm NOT 25 but I want to be.  I always thought that was a good age.  I finished college and had a good job.  My husband and I got married when I was 25 and we had so much fun (and still do!) and went to so many places before we had kids.  It was a whole new kind of freedom.  I have so many good memories during that time that I guess I always want to hold on to them.  So yes, I'm 25 years old and I think I always will be!

Want more to read?  Try  Ellen-A Short Story

A Mother's Love - A Poem

A mother's love can do so much
Make someone smile and laugh as such
Make goofy faces and kiss away tears
Love a child and hold them so dear.

A mother can cook almost any dish
And teach a child to gaze a star and wish.
Tell the best stories, even from a book
And can tell a child's in trouble with a single look.

A mother gives all of herself, all of the time
Even when she's weak, and not have a dime.
I hope to be as wonderful as my mom
Who never gives less and more than just some

A mother teaches a child to grow
And become the best person to know
I love you mom, more than I can say
You are the best! Happy Mother's Day!

Like this poem?  Try a few of my other poems:


Kids Play

A Sad Trip Home

Our Kids Will Do It Differently

I got inspired to write an article when I took my 7-year-old roller skating.  My sisters and I lived at the roller rink when we were growing up.  Times were so simple "back then".  I thought about all the things I want to teach my kids that kids don't know how to do today, like bake a cake from scratch, jump rope rhymes and make an empty pop can stick to our shoe while we walk.  Ever since my daughter was born, I have lived vicariously through her and at times found myself depressed because toys that we played with as kids just aren't made the same anymore.  One Christmas, Santa brought her a sit and spin, a princess castle for Barbies, a wooden baby crib, a vanity table, and some smaller toys that my husband and I played with when we were growing up.  We ended up getting rid of all these toys before the following Christmas because they either fell apart or didn't work right.  Even the sit and spin had lights and music to it and it didn't even spin all that fast.  Talk about a hit of reality.

Yesterday, right before dinner, my 7-year-old started taking the dirty dishes out of the dishwasher and "washed" them by hand.  Of course, she was just rinsing them under cold water so I intervened and taught her the right way to wash dishes by hand.  She made it all the way to having to dry the dishes and when I saw that she wasn't drying the dishes well enough, she said, "this is too hard, I'm going to watch cartoons...."  Yup, that's right.  Life is way too easy for our kids these days.

I invite you to read  Our Kids Will Do It Differently  and read the comments that other people are making.  It has brought quite a bit of attention and it's comforting to know that I'm not alone being an "old fashioned" parent in the world today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where do I stand?

I’ve been thinking about blogging ever since I saw the movie Julie and Julia.  I loved the fact that Julie didn’t think she had anything good to say, but needed to find a purpose in life.  I really liked that movie and I thought to myself, if she can do it, why not me?  Ever since then (it’s been about a year since I’ve seen that movie) I’ve been wondering what I could write about.

My whole family has incredible talent.  We have a couple artists, a baker and business managers.  I fall into one or more of these categories but I want a category all of my own.  I want my talent to stand out where people seek me out for that talent.  I keep convincing myself that I do have a place in this world.  I’m a stay-at-home mom where I take care of my family with 2 young children and 5 step children (who are all now adults), I manage the household, schedules and I volunteer.  And I still think…. Where is my place in the world?  The other side of my brain argues with me all the time.  I DO have a place in the world.  I’m a mother.  I’m a damn good mother!  I love my family and I would turn myself inside out for them.  I do everyday.  But there are so many mothers out there who do what I do.  I want to find that talent that I’m good at, not along with millions of other people.

I write what I know.  Is there anyone out there who would be interested in what I write about?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Should I care?  Not really.  Perhaps, someday, my children will be interested in what I have to say.  In the meantime, I will pray and strive to find that talent I know I’m good at.  I will be a great mom until I find that one thing I’m good at.  Only in God’s time will my place be put out there with what God sees fit…. and I’m going to love it!