Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fotos: Iphone Portraits

from Designing Mom Mari:
I suppose I partially love this photo because I'm amazed I caught it with my iPhone! But the mood is so accurate to my mornings with Wren: peering at things from new angles so I can see things from her point of view. And always with that gorgeous fresh morning light, which I never get tired of after too many years stuck in an office building all day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fitness: Bootcamp with Jeremy Cheung

It was great to hear from fellow moms that fitness and/or healthy living has been a resolution for the new year! I slipped on my new pair of 5.0 Free's today and gave them a test run on the treadmill. And if this rain will ever quit, I can't wait to go run outside again. I'm sure I will be questioning this all when my lovely shin splints and calluses come back full force but with so little time in my schedule I've come to treasure any chance I get to work out.
For those of you living in the bay area and with demanding mommy schedules, I wanted to tell you about
fitness contributor Jeremy's Saturday workout.

What it is:
From Jeremy... "It isn't really as much as a "boot camp" as it is a boot camp "style" workout. A true boot camp is usually a period of six weeks in length and meets several times a week. My workout is just on Saturday mornings for those that either want to end the week well...or start the weekend well; whichever way you want to look at it. Or maybe it's to supplement the weekday workouts that they are already doing at their own gym. The genesis of this really came about last year in response to the bad economy. People still wanted to workout, in fact, gym and boot camp membership/enrollment was up, but many now couldn't afford a
personal trainer so they found cheaper ways to stay fit. I was already doing my own workouts with friends every Saturday so I thought, why not drop the rate significantly and see if there was any interest."

"One of the things that makes it different is that I limit the class size to only eight people. One of my biggest complaints about group classes and especially traditional boot camps is that there are too many people for any single instructor/trainer to make sure they are doing the movements properly. Injury avoidance should be every trainers main objective, but when you have so many people in a class it's impossible to coach them all."

"What my class entails is a great mix of strength and cardio movements. And the fact that classes are smaller, I team up clients which give a fun competitive feel to the workouts. There are a lot of timed drills so those that are more advanced can really kill it and for those less advance, well, they can move at a rate that works for them. Regardless of the pace, everyone is still getting a very challenging workout.

The workouts themselves aren't designed gender specific. Everyone will benefit from the workout. I guess for mom's that are looking to get back into their bikini's ASAP the constant flow of the class as well as the movements that we do will be great for toning...oh, there is A LOT of core related movements! Keeping with the creativity theme that I've brought up before, each workout is different from the other so I hope that will be interesting to moms! And I encourage everyone to bring a friend...a little friendly competition is always healthy and fun. For the hubby's and mom's...whomever outdoes the other has to be on diaper doodie...I mean duty for the day LOL."

The Details:

  • Every Saturday (weather permitting) at 9:30AM (side note – we do almost all the workouts outside so that’s why I include the weather permitting)
  • Location is: 555 Florida Street (between Mariposa and 18th Street )
  • Class size is limited to eight clients (side note—if it becomes more popular then I will add another class)
  • Cost is only $25
  • Classes are challenging but a lot of fun!

Click here for information or to sign up!

Shop: Melissa and Doug Puzzles

by Designing Mom Tori My two year old is a man of few words but he can definitely make car noises for hours on end. That is why I love these wooden vehicle sound puzzles by Melissa & Doug. My mom picked one up for her grandson a few months ago and it has remained a favorite toy ever since. He loves to not only take the pieces out carefully and put them in their proper place, but he loves to make them drive and/or fly around the house on their own as he mimics the sound that each vehicle makes. I never tire of watching him play with this toy - it's definitely one of my favorites.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Story: One Good Year

by Designing Mom Ryan Larson of Tin Parade

I’m a bit late on posting my holiday card. I know you have seen many and are well on your way into the new year, so thank you for allowing me one last New Year hurrah.

Our card sums up best as titled; One Good Year. A year filled with so many contradictory emotions…Happiness (new baby)…Fear (my husbands kidneys were failing from a genetic disease)….Frustration (trying to sort through the process of testing donors)….Amazement (at all the family and friends who offered a kidney as well as their love and support)….Gratitude (for his darling cousin Alison who came to Los Angeles and underwent surgery for us…we are forever grateful)…Relief (that this daunting time of our lives was over)…and finally…Joy (life actually did become normal again; we are healthy; we are all together; we are a family).

The photo on our card was shot by Laura Grier at Beautiful Day Photography in Los Angeles. We shot it in our 50’s kitchen. I don’t want to explain it away. I think you can get the meaning behind the photo. The “recipe” was the back of the card. Happy New Year! Here’s to wishing all of us a healthy, happy and blessed new year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Make: Placemats

by Designing Mom Erika G of Gleaux

Recently I saw a set of adorable kid's placemats and thought, "I MUST
have those!!" But then saw the price tag and soberly realized if I
bought them I'd have only enough money left over to serve Top Ramen on

So I went home and sifted thru my boy's art bins and had them
select of few of their favorite drawings. I scanned them, adjusted the
sizes a bit, labeled them (which was a study in utter silliness),
printed them out at 11x17 and had them very affordably laminated at
They not only keep our antique heavy oak kitchen table clean and
dry but fill my spill/splatter-prone diner's with unbridled pride and
! Mangiare!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Creative Life: Amy of Mod Podge Rocks

I have to admit something... Before Designing Moms, I had never heard of Mod Podge. Or rather, I had heard of it but never really knew of its wondrous crafty powers or that it was the "world's most famous medium." I was slightly intimidated by the name and fairly convinced I would never have the need for it. Wrong. There are so many moms I know who live/die/swear by it. And their designery crafts are amazing. This is where Amy Anderson comes in. She is behind the popular, craftastic blog, Mod Podge Rocks. I am already hooked and am looking to Amy for expert guidance into my first foray with this wonder glue. If you haven't checked out her blog, click here. I'm sure you'll find not only Mod Podge to rock, but Amy as well! Read on to hear about her Creative Life and how Mod Podge Rocks got started.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
I was born in Seattle to a creative and an engineer. It's kind of a great combination because I always had a knack for school (thanks Dad) and my creative side was supported as well (thanks Mom). I actually have a undergrad degree in Forestry and a masters in Business. I started my career in science and am now in a more creative marketing job - thanks to a SLOW career switch that took several years. I liked science in school, but as a full-time job? It didn't work for me. It's funny how you can try to plan your life, but ultimately what happens is what was meant to happen. I've stopped making big plans.
I live in Georgia now, work full-time and run my blog Mod Podge Rocks on the side. Mod Podge Rocks is such a fabulous outlet to express myself as well as share the creativity of others. I post myself once a week and other Mod Podgers the rest of the time. I consider myself to be a friendly eccentric. I like dogs, the color blue, fast cars, polka dots and stripes.

How did Mod Podge Rocks start?
Honestly, Mod Podge drew me in with the retro label and a decoupage craft curiosity. I began using Mod Podge only a few years ago, but I jumped in full force! I spent hours on the internet visiting many blogs and crafty sites, absorbing how other creative people were decoupaging and using Mod Podge. I did a few projects myself and decided there needed to be ONE place to collect decoupage inspiration. Mod Podge Rocks was born! I wish I had a picture of the first version. You would laugh. It's changed so much, only for the better.

What inspires you?
Definitely browsing other blogs - I'm on them so much that crafty blogs are probably the number source. I also have a collection of craft magazines and books that I love to look through. I've actually made an inspiration book with images pieced together from the internet and other blogs. I also include bits of paper, fabrics, paint chips - whatever patterns and colors strike me. When I need a little creative push, I browse my crafty pubs and then my inspiration book. A final source is actually craft stores. Seeing the goods on the shelf gets my mind turning, as well as any new crafty products that have come out. I'm constantly browsing for new things.

I know this might be difficult...but what are some of your all-time favorites craft projects?
It's SO hard for me to pick Mod Podge projects because I love everything I post, which is why I post it! I did pick three projects that tickle me outside of the realm of decoupage:
--Patchwork Placemat and Potholder.
--Dutchbydesign Clock .
--Button Pillow .
Greatest rewards and challenges about writing/running Mod Podge Rocks?
Getting to know other creative women (and the occasional dude) is SO wonderfully amazing. I can't believe how kind and supportive everyone has been. I have the best readers in the whole world! The most difficult thing is DEFINITELY keeping up with e-mail. I'm a first born child so I don't like to disappoint anyone. . . so when I'm behind on e-mails it makes me feel bad. The good news is that everyone is always understanding about the delays.

Tell us about a typical-day-in-your-life!
I wake up much earlier than I want to, then stop and get a Starbucks and head to work. I spend lunch hours blogging or creating projects - sometimes answering e-mails. I come home, walk the dogs, craft and blog. Definitely sprinkled in there is visiting a friend, reading and other fun pursuits. I love to hang out with my dogs and my loved ones, but I like to be out and about sometimes too. I always try to be flexible with whatever comes up!

Giveaway Winner: Handmade Soirees

Happy Monday everyone!

Thanks to all who participated for the "Handmade Soirees" giveaway.
The winner is:
Project Hope 7
Please email me at so I can get your contact and mailing info.

And stay tuned for more upcoming giveaways, including a companion French General Party Paperie invitation set!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fotos: Twas the Night Before Hazel

Love and congrats to Designing Mom Jenn who had her baby girl Hazel yesterday! I just had to post the adorable poem that her husband, Brad, wrote the night before... I am sooo excited for you and the family Jenn! Happy Friday and weekend to all!

via Grace and Hazel

Twas the Night before Hazel by Brad Topliff

Twas the Night before Hazel, and all through the house,

the Daddy was pacing, irritating his Spouse.
They both were quite nervous with such change to their lives,
thoughts of diapers and spitup started bringing on hives.

The Sister (meanwhile) in her bed with her doll
couldn’t dream that tomorrow was the end of it all.
Life as she knew it would no longer be,
when the new kid in town added one to their three.

The Dog was curled up, probably dreaming of food,
unaware he was going to be doubly screwed.
Already, the one girl pulled hair and made messes.
With two girls, he’d probably soon have to wear dresses.

We’re ready to meet you, it’s twelve hours away,
our sweet little Hazel come out and let’s play.
Whatever you’re like, it can’t be all bad
for a sister, a dog and a mom and a dad.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Project 52: Date Nights

Tiffany is posting a little blurb on me today at Simply Modern Mom if you want to check it out. But what I really wanted to post is her wonderful "Project 52: Date Nights" series in which she and hubby set out on having one date a week for 52 weeks. I thought her latest date was too adorable. They set up their kitchen like a cafe and discussed the book "Tribes" together over milk and dulce de leche. What a great little date night.

Make: Mittens

by Designing Mom Liberty

This is an easy and fast project to do this winter for yourself, your little ones, and even for their (toy) little ones. My daughter, Mimi, got a new doll this Christmas which *needs* (wink) many new clothes. I'm of the mindset that I don't need to be spending tons of money on her doll's wardrobe, so we're starting to work on making some of our own. Mimi's cousin's doll was given some mittens for Christmas, so that was first on the list of wants. I used to opportunity to create a chart to get her to practice reading, and after reading 10 board books on her own, she earned some mittens for dolly. The next 10 will give her the match set. You can make these, too. They are REALLY easy.

We went to Goodwill and bought some wool sweaters to felt. We brought them home, washed them on HOT and dried them HOT as well. Then we traced Mimi's and dolly's hands to make patterns. You can see the differential that I left for seam allowances in the picture.

I cut 2 of the mitten pieces with the thumbs facing left, and 2 facing right to make fronts and backs. I even cut them along the neckline and bottom hem so that I didn't have to "finish" or do any hemming myself. Then I placed them right sides together, and stitched a seam around the sides and top (about 1/4") before flipping the finished product right side out.

There's even enough of the sweater left for Momma to attempt another piece of clothing. Might just be a scarf for this one - the red one I made is gonna attempt to be a sweater. We'll see!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help for Haiti: Fresh Snapped Photos

Designing Mom Lori is donating 100% of profits from Fresh Snapped Photos (Jan 20-Feb 14) towards Hope for Haiti's Children.

How are you contributing to disaster relief for Haiti? Please share with us any of the small or big ways in which you might be contributing--let's inspire one another!

Haiti Relief

by Designing Mom Liberty

It feels so helpless to simply sit back and not do something when you hear news of what is happening in Haiti. Today, prompted in part by my daughter's school - and their efforts to raise every penny possible to send to Haiti relief - I've decided to do what I can do.

Remember the collages I did when I was grieving over AJ? I really needed some stability and the image of that mountain was really powerful for me. Today I've decided to make available some postcards and also high quality prints of the mountain collage. We had some of these made up and everyone in the family got them for Christmas, so I know they look great already... they're framed and up in each family member's home...

So now on my etsy site, you can find packs of postcards, perfect for sending a little note (these work for men and women, unlike much of my stuff!). You can also find a listing for the archival print on high quality watercolor paper - suitable for framing. If you are interested, I can also get the print made on canvas in various sizes.

All of the profits from the sales of these mountain images will be donated to Child Hope International - who are mutual friends of my family and run an orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti. They are sending updates via their website, so check them out.

Please please purchase these to help out - and pass on the idea to your friends and neighbors - blog, tweet and share about it - this actually can do something!

Fitness: Persistence, Patience...

by Fitness Contributor Jeremy Cheung at Twisted Twilight

I’m sitting here in the Portland Airport waiting for my flight home, and as many of us do this time of year, we make resolutions--resolutions to save money, to travel more, to learn a new language, to get in shape. My resolution is to be more effective and efficient as a small business owner. So of course we go out and get the necessary tools to achieve these goals: books, DVD’s, a gym membership. One of my tools is a book called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Some of you have no doubt read this and I’m sure all of you have at least heard of it. In this book author Stephen Covey references “the law of the farm.” The reference is meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed.

Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. If any of you have taken time to visit my website part of my approach is Persistence—the will to want it and go after it and the other is Patience —the staying power to see it through. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a business owner and personal trainer, this concept resonates deep with me. As noted strength and conditioning Coach Mike Boyle so astutely points out, the process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I’m going to bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results—the third part to my approach is progression or the results of your hard work. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together.

Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.
Plant the seeds.
Feed and water properly.
Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decorate: Hallway Photos

by Designing Mom "Shop" Contributor Carina

This image of our hallway that ran in Domino Magazine has generated so many emails and I think that this is a great thing to do in time for the holidays and holiday parties (although it's possible you should have started the process a few weeks ago in a little less stressful period... but that's the way it goes!).

It's nice to do this project in a space where you would normally not stop, this gives your friends and family a reason to stop and look--a hallway is a good place or an entry or even a staircase!
I like to go to a few antique shops or second hand stores (the cheaper kind) they usually have a box of old frames and these work perfectly. If they need glass you can either do that at your hardware store or at a frame shop and it's pretty inexpensive. I like to mix these old frames together with new Ikea frames that are simple with clean lines. While you are at the second hand store, check the old paintings, you can usually find some gems laying around or on the walls of the antique shop.

We use old family photos, the kids school projects and artwork (one of ours is so faded so that it's just a piece of paper in a frame!), and then some old paintings picked up from our travels. I like to use just a few large and then lots of small pieces mixed into the wall. I think it's also nice to take pieces of toys or favorite rocks, etc and put them on the frame edges, little kids really like this--it's a little bit of hide and seek.
I think it's nice to mix in some mirrors as well--these can be old or new, but they are a nice way to break up all of the images and as you pass through to look at the photos your image becomes one of the photos in the mirror! We used many different colors for the frames, silver, black and natural wood but it's also nice to unify the wall with one color frame like black or white. I think it's best to use snap-shots and not staged photos or at least mix of the two.

Good luck and have fun with your wall!

In the News...

Designing Mom April is in this month's issue of American Craft Magazine. Click here to read!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Giveaway: Handmade Soirees

It's time for a fun little giveaway and this one is about creating special, affordable, one-of-a-kind parties. This Chronicle Books title, French General: Handmade Soirees by Kaarie Meng contains over 24 table and decorating projects (just take a look at those adorable eggs wearing 'staches on the cover!) that are "simple projects for special occasions."

It's a beautiful hardcover and can be yours if you comment below! You can comment twice or thrice if you tweet, FB or post it as well. The giveaway ends this Friday and is open to all readers and Designing Moms!

Our Projects: What's in My Sketchbook

Thought I'd switch it up for Monday and show you what's in the sketchbook of talented Designing Mom Aya and her work with a few creative titles from Chronicle Books. Our bambinos share a wonderful nanny together and I look forward to them being partners in crime (or...hopefully design!) together. I also look forward to seeing more of Aya's future Chronicle releases!
*On that note: keep reading because I will have a great party book from Chronicle to give away right after this post...

from Designing Mom Aya: (above) My sketches when I was illustrating patterns for a product called CD packaging kit. The kit comes with 25 stickers to decorate CDs and I draw 5 patterns with a nature inspired theme which I called it Candy Orchard :) Cd2 is the front of the finished kit box.

above: My sketch for a layout of book called The Pillow Book. It’s a how-to book on sewing DIY decorative pillows. As you can see, I wanted to have some kind of ornamental frame to hold text on the right hand page. I tried a few different things, but in the end, I actually stitched a frame on a fabric and used its scan. This was fun.

above: My sketch that I sent to a photographer, Leigh Beisch, to show the kind of photograph that I wanted for a chapter opener of a cookbook called Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey. The second photo is the final sticky-chewy-goodness that Leigh captured for me. Yum! Leigh is a local photographer, and while she doesn’t “design” she is a creative mom of a super adorable little girl :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fotos: In the Final "Stretch"

above: This glowing mama is Designing Mom April
who is in her eighth month

Have a happy Friday and weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Story: Feelin' Groovy

by Designing Mom Jenn

Back in June I wrote a blog post called "Beautiful Bellies" about an incredible henna artist here in San Francisco who has started to break the mold of traditional henna and create rich, ornate and extraordinarily beautiful henna designs on pregnant bellies! While normally reserved for more ritualistic/traditional Indian ceremonies, this belly henna is clearly a departure!

In that post, oh-so-many months ago, I waxed poetic about how badly I wanted to be pregnant again, just so I could be adorned with Darcy's beautiful, temporary tattoos. Well, little did I know, but I was actually pregnant when I wrote that story, and just this afternoon (six whole months later) I got to have my fix.

I went to Darcy's studio in Oakland this afternoon and had her celebrate my beautiful growing belly with the most outstanding designs.

Just like I mentioned in my my post from several months back - pregnancy and I don't get along so well. It ain't pretty (and that's putting it nicely!). But today, in the spacious loft she lives/works out of, with really cool music in the background (and no babies or toddlers in sight!) I got to really relish in the beauty of being pregnant - and celebrate it, honor it and best of all... decorate it. What more could a Designing Mom ask for!

I can't recommend Darcy's work more highly... she is a genius and her art truly has the power to affect your mood and make you feel good inside and out. If you don't live near San Francisco, but are intrigued... do a search for your local henna artists and l let them know you've got a new canvas for them gussy up!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Story: Baby AJ Post #3

by Designing Mom Liberty

This post about AJ has been a long time coming, but I'll be honest - for a while it was just too painful to write.

A few days after I sent Cat the last email post - wherin I included all of our deepest hopes and dreams for AJ to become part of our family, we had a wake up call to the challenges of the foster care system. AJ - though he'd never met them - had half siblings in the "system" and someone in the county literally changed their mind about him being with an adoptive family vs. being with blood. We received a phone call on a Monday afternoon telling us we had to drop him off the next morning at another (AJ's 6th) foster home. This one was not an adoptive home - it's simply another holding place, and though we've offered to be the temporary caregivers for him just to provide stability - according to the County Social Workers involved, we are "no longer on the case."

Talk about a trial by fire. Our little family was rocked by our first taste of the foster care system - and this isn't even any of the details! Though we have done all we can to try and let everyone involved know that we desire to adopt AJ - and we haven't completely given up hope, we haven't exactly been holding our breath for him coming back to us. Once again a family of 4... we hug each other a little tighter and talk about our feelings a lot.

We're still committed to the idea of foster care - with the goal to adopt eventually. We just have a little more perspective as we prepare for the next round of the roller coaster. My husband and I went out to see "The Blind Side" and I wept like an inspired foster mom throughout. I watched the true story of a woman (a designing mom, really!) who was unwilling to look at a kid as just another number or a risk. She saw him as a beautiful person worth risking everything for... and Jay and I walked out of the movie re-committed to the risk ourselves.

We'll keep you posted if we hear anything, but in the meantime, I thought I would share a piece of artwork - a collage - that I did in the first week that AJ was gone. I was struggling with my emotions and turned to artwork to help me articulate what I felt. This collage came out of it.

The other photos are precious to me. The one where I am holding AJ in front of our fireplace was the last morning that we had him... I intentionally held him in front of the picture I'd created for our mantel - as a point of remembering. Another was taken in church the last day before our phone call to transfer him came. The final pic is our family as we are this holiday... without AJ, but feeling close and still joyful, nonetheless.

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