Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Story: Back to School Goodies

by Designing Mom Jackie of Avocado and Papaya

The back-to-school vibe is definitely alive at our house. Both of my kids will be off to new schools this year, so it's a double dose of excitement and anxiety around here. The latter for me, not the littles, who probably won't shed a single tear while I soak up an entire box of Kleenex post-drop off. Okay, maybe they'll give me a sniffle or two.

Just like Christmas, there is a sense that you are supposed to flee to the stores and buy lots of stuff in honor of this momentous occasion. While I'm pretty minimal when it comes to the Santa Claus business, I'm koo koo for the whole back to school thing. It's my inner nerd coming out.

Something tells me Graham probably won't be needing a straight edge or scientific calculator on day one of kindergarten, but how about a cute backpack and some new sneaks?

Here's my collection of goodies for big G:
1. Mead composition book
2. 77 nautical striped hoodie
3. Skull beanie
4. Paul Frank backpack
5. Number two pencils
6. Puffy vest
7. Pink pearl eraser
8. Rocket T
9. Converse One Star Oxfords

(You might notice that pants are missing from this list. Graham only likes sweat pants these days. Nothing terribly cute or exciting about those, so I'm skipping a visual.)

What are your favorite back to school purchases???

Monday, August 30, 2010

Decorate: Baby Girl Room...for the Frill of It!

by Designing Mom Ryan Larson of Tin Parade
I didn’t set out to make a Baby Girl Room for my baby girl.
I always thought I’d be the mommy who didn’t try to raise a frilly little puffy pink tutu’d little girl….and then…I started designing her room…granted I was pregnant and so I think I can blame it a little bit on hormones right? Regardless of how or why I went…there….I did.  And I have to say…I love it! I love sitting in her room in the rocking chair and looking around at her little pink, soft, sweet, fluffy room.  It makes me feel a little soft and fluffy myself…not a bad thing after a long day.  It becomes comedy though as that little pink fluffy princess of a girl rips her bottle out of her mouth and yells “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” to the kitty cat who wants to jump up on her rocking chair. 
Here are some pictures of what is now…well…the precious part of my house.
Palette: Creamy off-white, antiqued silver, tan linen and blush pink.
I made this mobile by taking apart a chandelier and using just the top ring of it and then hanging silver bird Christmas ornaments in a spherical fashion.
I painted an old armoire blush pink and took the top doors off and put the changing table right inside.
This is the crib bed skirt.  I made it myself (with a little help from my mother. Thanks mom!) It’s layered ruffles. The top layer has scattered (sewn on) raw edged pieces of chiffon, the middle layer is classic linen and the bottom layer is ruffled chiffon.
These are the curtains. I made them from torn edge chiffon and tan linen that is also unfinished on the edge so it gets stringy. I LOVE that! Again, I made this myself…with a little help from my girlfriend Stacy (Stacy with the red hair as my son calls her) Thanks Stacy!
This pillow was started by me..but I can’t lie. My mom finished it. I just couldn’t deal with one more ruffle!
The paint on the walls is a creamy off-white as is the chair rail. I also did one wall in a paintable textured wallpaper that has a flocked vintage design in it. I’d add a photo but it doesn’t show up that well in photos.
Hope you enjoyed this sweet room or at least had a good laugh at my frilly expense.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fotos: Hoops!

Little Mr. Hoopstah...
Have a Happy Friday and weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Best of our Blogs: Small for Big

One of Designing Mom Mari's (of Small for Big) favorite posts from her blog:
This is, for me, the epitome of what I want my posts to be about - and why I want readers to come to Small for Big There is a stellar product being highlighted that fits my mottos of good design, imaginative open-ended play, and a reasonable price point. Meanwhile the content is meatier than just where to buy and how much. Plus, writing it was super easy - somehow everything clicked that night and it flowed right out of me.

It’s our 5 year wedding anniversary today and it’s got me jonesing for a vacation. That perfect kind of vacation that I think we all dream about. Where we see amazing places (preferably from multiple countries), eat mouthwatering meals, stroll leisurely through small towns until we get lost, sleep in until ten, and wake to the sounds of birds outside our window. Our precocious but sweet little girl would be charming, fascinated by everything, and with an endless attention span and a weightless body. It’s a vacation that we return from to find no workload waiting for us, no cleaning, no to-do lists, and a house that has been scrubbed clean and perfectly organized from top to bottom.
I swear I got all of that the moment I saw these block sets from Haba. They’re simplicity allows for that kind of imagination – even from a grown up like me. Or, maybe, it’s simply the quiet monotony of my life on a slow day like today that lets my brain loose in impossible directions. Either way, just writing this has improved my mood by a couple of  hairs. I wonder how I’d feel if I had these blocks to build with as well?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Story: Behind the Scenes of Creative, Inc...

I know a lot of you "Designing Moms" out there have struck up burgeoning freelance careers...photography, event planning, blogging...  A wonderful new book, "Creative, Inc," by Meg Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho has come out and it contains all of the ins/outs of becoming a top notch freelancer.  This follows on the heels of the crafter's bible, "Craft, Inc" and sure to be an essentials guide for all of us out there pounding the pavement for creative projects!

Their stop motion video to promote the book is the cutest thing ever and below is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of it via Poppytalk

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Story: Safe Eating

I try my best at buying safe products and foods for my family.  But more often than not, as soon as I'm standing in the aisles of the grocery store I go blank...  Call it information overload or mommy brain but everything gets a little overwhelming.  I love that Designing Mom Erin has condensed information down for us in this piece,  listing safe plastics, foods, sippy cups et all in one place.  Feel free to forward this on to your other mommy friends!  
by Designing Mom "Green" contributor Erin

Last night, I was reading through news sites online and came across this article: Female Infants Growing Breasts: Another Disaster from Hormones in Milk Production. This piece discusses how there are babies between four and fifteen months in China that are growing breasts because they have such high levels of estrogen circulating in their bodies from the formula they are given. You can read the article for the details, but I think its a good reminder that eating and living organically is not a left- or right- wing thing, an urban vs. rural thing or an upper class vs working class thing: it needs to be how we all live. For those of us with little ones at home, it becomes even more important because since their bodies are smaller and their immune systems less mature, smaller amounts of hormones and chemicals effect them.

The hormones that they discuss in the article are a type of “endocrine disruptor.” Our endocrine system is, very briefly, the parts of our bodies that make the hormones that regulate everything from our growth, appetite, and mood to our fertility, sleep and metabolism. An “endocrine disruptor” is a hormone or chemical that comes from outside of the body that disrupts the way our endocrine systems function. Some of the most commonly discussed endocrine disruptors include BPA, PBDEs, DDT, PCBs, pthalates, growth hormone (rBST/BGH) and dioxins. Here are some of the things that you can easily do to limit your exposure to these and other chemicals:

1. Buy organic food whenever possible. The higher on the food chain that you eat (in other words, the further away from plants, ie meat) the more important it is to eat it organically. Many endocrine disruptors are fat-soluble which means that as an animal consumes food that is made with certain chemicals or is given growth hormones, the chemicals are stored in the animal’s fat and we then consume those chemicals in greater concentration. (Remember the term “bio-accumulation” from biology class?)

Here is a list of the most important produce to buy organically.

2. Throw out all of your plastic Tupperware. Be super careful with the plastics that come into contact with your food/mouth. BPA has been all over the news - the state of California passed a bill banning it from all food and drink containers. BPA is in hard #7 polycarbonate plastics and has been linked to obesity, cancer, infertility, etc. It crosses the placenta, which means that if you ingest it while pregnant, your developing fetus does too. Plastic is not stable, which means that its molecular composition changes - in the case of plastic, BPA and other plasticizers such as pthalates are released into your food. Extreme temperature changes such as freezing and microwaving increase the rate at which these chemicals leach into your food. Certain plastics are better than others, but the easiest thing is to switch to glass or silicone to store your food in. When microwaving, put a paper towel or wax paper over the dish rather than plastic wrap.

For more info on BPA, here is a recent article from Newsweek.

At my house, we use Pyrex and Mason jars to store food in the freezer/fridge. I froze my homemade baby food in silicone ice cube trays such as these from Tovolo. For my son’s lunches, I send him with Laptop Lunches, which is made of safe plastic. For baby bottles, I have used Born Free (just 3 years ago when my son was a baby this was one of the only non-glass BPA free bottles, now look) and Adiri. We use Earthlust and Thermos for sippy cups. For teethers and pacifiers, we have bought Born Free, Lifefactory and Green Sprouts. (Bottles shown from left to right: Born Free, Lifefactory, Green to Grow, Think Baby, Earthlust, Thermos)

3. Don’t Buy Teflon pans. Teflon, when heated to extremely high temperatures (over 600 degrees, a range that people don’t really cook at), can turn into a gas that can kill birds and make people sick. It has also been said that Teflon can be linked to infertility and cancer. I think the truth of the matter is that cooking with Teflon is probably not that bad for us since the PFOAs linked to cancer and infertility don’t escape the pan after the manufacturing phase is finished. Teflon becomes a health risk when it builds in the environment during manufacturing and enters our food and water sources. Just to be careful, never cook with Teflon pans that has scratches or dents. To be SUPER careful, use an alternative nonstick such as cast iron, Green Pan (one line of Green Pan can be found at Target), Scan Pan CTX or Cusinart’s GreenGourmet line. By buying pans without PFOAs, we are sending a message that we do not want these chemicals in our environments and our bodies.

4. Eat fresh food - avoid canned foods. Back to BPA: it is in the lining of food cans. The thing about BPA is that it it great at keeping the food, especially acidic foods like tomatoes, from corroding the can and many food companies say they haven’t found an adequate alternative. The best thing is to eat fresh foods, food stored in glass or food containers with labels that state “BPA free.”

For more information about a bill trying to end BPA in food cans, click here.

5. Think about how you clean your food and kitchen. Many of the things that we use to clean our food, our kitchen and the rest of our houses actually bring chemicals in that aren’t very good for us. Chlorine bleach, when it gets warm, releases dioxins which are carcinogenic. An easy alternative in hydrogen peroxide. Many of the fragrances and other ingredients put in cleaners can aggravate asthma, especially when sprayed. There are now plenty of companies that offer “green” alternatives, the most common being Seventh Generation, Biokleen, and Ecover. I am a big fan of Biokleen’s Produce Wash and Seventh Generation’s disinfecting line. Of course, there are many people that swear that the only things you need to clean your house are lemons, vinegar, baking soda, castile soap and borax. Here’s a link to an old Real Simple article about All-Natural Cleaning Solutions.

These are just some tips related to foods and eating. I know this is a design-related blog, but we are all moms first, and as parents, we want to take care of our families and ourselves. Luckily, there are many alternatives now, at all price points, that are attractive and healthy.

For more information:

Healthy Child Healthy World

Avoid These ‘Dirty Dozen’ Toxic Chemicals

NYTimes: Cancer From the Kitchen?

NYTimes: New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

NYTimes: Chemicals in Our Food, Our Bodies

Pesticides, ADHD, and Personal Health: Why We Can't Always Control What Happens to Our Brains and Bodies


Monday, August 23, 2010

China Camp cont'd...

...this is what happens when you go picnicking with designers who have "fantastical" eyes and perspectives.  I could barely look up from chasing the little one around and making sure he didn't plunge into the waters (three attempts mind you)  and was so glad Viola's husband Phillip (at Elephant LC) was able to take these beautiful pictures of China Camp. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fotos: China Camp

Designing Mom Aya had the brilliant idea of escaping the San Fran fog with a picnic in Marin last weekend. Off we went across the Golden Gate bridge to China Camp for a picnic set amongst an antiquated shrimp processing building, dock and beach.  I also got to hang with Chewing the Cud's Viola, hubby Phillip and adorable baby Maika.  I'll post up Phillip's great BW shots Monday... 

Hope everyone is still drinking in summer.  Have a happy Friday and weekend everyone!

above: viola and maika (middle), aya and hayden (right)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe: For the Love of Lemons

Pucker up...
Thanks Elizabeth (at To Be Charmed) for sending this lemon pie recipe over!  To read the full post click here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shop: Toddler Glasses

Another favorite post from Designing Mom Mari's blog Small for Big is this one featuring her daughter Wren's uber-fashionable London specs.  I remember wearing very un-fashionable glasses growing up so I can definitely appreciate her quest:

Designing Mom Mari: 

4000 words? Because a mother can never choose just one photo. These are Birdies second pair of glasses direct from London (it was buy one get one half off day! How could we refuse to get two? Plus, there’s the inevitable maintenance and repairs). And oh my, did you notice the rhinestones (carefully sealed under a clear layer of plastic)?! And the backsides of these are lime green – swoon. You can read more about our glasses saga in this earlier post. These glasses are by Zoobug.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Decorate: Aimee Wilder

I know how daunting wallpaper can be...  But your little one's room might just be the perfect space to experiment with it for several reasons, the main one being that squirrel wallpaper can't go wrong in a kid's space.  These modish designs by Aimee Wilder got me really excited...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Story: One Day at a Time...

This is such a touching and courageous post by Designing Mom Guissell of her mom.  What a battle it has been and I couldn't be more thrilled for her and her family to hear of the exciting news!   And if I can just add...Guissell, this is your mom at 53?!  A beautiful mom like you!    

Designing Mom Guissell (of Earthy Beginnings): 

This post has been in the making for a couple of months now, mainly because it's painfully personal.  About a year ago our lives turned upside down when my mother was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer, after a visit to the ER for abdominal pain.  The long week wait for results to come back was excruciating to say the least and just when we thought things couldn't get worse, the doctors informed us that her cancer had already metastasized to her liver and both lungs putting her in stage 4 of the cancer.  Words can't explain all the emotions that we were all experiencing, life literally stopped for me.  I'm the oldest of three but my age gap with my siblings is so big I've always had the position of being mom's assistant rather than just another child.  My mom and I are best friends, yes she's my mother but she's truly my confidant. 

To say that the health insurance process was difficult is a complete understatement. After months of battling, I was able to start my mom in her treatment (almost 3 moths after she was diagnosed). The first month of treatment was bad but not as bad as we all thought it would be. The second cycle however was really tough.  By the end of the third cycle I found myself at the ER with doctors telling me my mother's liver was failing. Her oncologist had explained that this treatment would be really aggressive and to expect things like this to take place.  Once her body stabilized scans were done to check on her progress.  What we realized was that the medication was making her really ill during the last two weeks of the 28-day cycle treatment.  Once she came off the medication she was back to 100% in two weeks, crazy I know.

I will never forget the night her oncologist called me with the test results, it had been now about a month since the scans, something that felt more like a year. He started to explain each result one by one while I prepared my heart to hear the worse.  The mass around her liver he explained was completely gone.  The numerous nodules in her left lung were also all gone!  In her right lung there is only now 5 tiny nodules all under 1cm in diameter left.  He explained the treatment had done far more than what he had expected it to do, far more than what we all expected it to do that's for sure!  Hearing this and being able to give that news to my family was beyond all happiness I have ever experienced really.  Needless to say we remain hopeful, my mother since has finished her fourth cycle and is on her fifth cycle now.  She has managed to figure a way to do her treatment so that she doesn't get too sick that requires bed rest (we haven't been back to the ER since early this year whoo hoo!).  Once she finishes this cycle she will have scans again to check on her progress.  We're all praying for the best of course!

My mother's strength is truly one to be admired.  Her life story alone would fill up a book!  I am grateful to have her as an example, as a friend, as my mother.  Every day I give thanks for being able to hold her hand, see her smile, and for continuing to form memories.  Although it is uncertain what tomorrow will hold, for now we're simply taking it one day at a time!

above: Mom at 16: One of my favorites because it really defines my mother's spirit to date, always very live and looking to have a good time.

above: Mom at 53.  I took this picture a couple of weeks ago after a day out with the family, her spirit a bit worn but still wanting to take in the setting sun.

Mom I know you're reading this, I love you!

Helpful Links:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shop: Acorn Envy

This has a very Autumnal mood to it but it might be due to the fact that it was another very, very cold Summer day in San Francisco... Think pea soup fog, mist, and 54 degrees on the dash (yes, 54 degrees)!  Needless to say, we're hoping to escape some of this over the weekend.
Hope all of you have a Happy Friday and weekend!

above:  Tea Towel, Handmade Acorns, Squirrel Booties, Acorn Stacker Toy, Placecard

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Story: Angelina Who?

This is one of Designing Mom Guissell's (of Earthy Beginnings) favorite posts on her blog and she's sharing with you here.  To all of us with boys...uh oh...is this what's to come?!

Designing Mom Guissell:  
Excuse me but what does a 3yr old know about beauty? A couple of weeks ago while giving thanks my 3yr old said, "thank you for Angelina!" Knowing there's a little Brazilian girl in his class named Angelina I followed by asking him if that's who he was referring to and he said yes. So I had to ask, "Do you like Angelina?" To my amazement something that was usually followed with a yes "he/she is my friend" was now followed by, "She's beautiful!"... He continued to mention her more often at home so like any curious mother would do I asked one of his teachers if he even spoke to Angelina during class. The teacher's response: "Who are you telling!! He has been like this since the first week of school. Angelina, Angelina... It's too much! Just today he was calling her not even 5min after waking up from nap time! I don't understand how he can know what he likes at such a young age!"... Perhaps that was more than I expected to hear. My baby in love?? No way! I'm not ready for this people! ha!!!

Needless to say the Angelina craze continues to date... I've lost my baby to Angelina!! Jen I now know how it feels!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shop: Miss Natalie Lunch Bags

When I saw this little lunch bag by Miss Natalie I thought it was so ridiculously cute and clever!  And the apple makes a great little desk accessory too. 

Make: Chalkboard Clips

I'm really into chalkboard anything lately...  Elizabeth at To Be Charmed sent over these adorable little chalkboard clips.  To see the full tutorial, click here!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shop: Rock Paper Scissor

Lauren of Rock Paper Scissor is a beloved retailer of mine and someone I always look forward to seeing when we are in New York.  Her blog captures her to a tee...full of spunk, wit, style and tons of paper and style finds.  For a recent post, Lauren asked us to send her some photos of our studio and workspace which we were happy to oblige.  Click here to read the full post!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Best of Our Blogs: Small for Big

Why do you blog?  Thought I'd start out the week with a "Best of Our Blog" series.  One of Designing Mom Mari's favorite posts from her blog Small for Big happens to be this one

I don't usually post about my own life, the majority of my blog is first about the things I find and their connection to my life at that moment. But this post came after a weekend where I'd actually had a little mental vacation (Birdie was with her dad for several hours at a time!) and I think it made me more prolific. I love the pictures of the rain at the end.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rainbow Delights...

We always try and have "Cupcake Fridays" at our studio and these technicolor versions by Coco Cake would probably make us all weak in the knees.  What a great treat for a little one's birthday celebration!
Have a happy (cupcake) Friday and weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Make: Recycled File box and Gift Tags

Itching to reuse your scraps and tattered road maps from a summer's worth of travel?  Reader Carolyn sent over these great little "makes" from her blog Homework
To go see the tutorial for the gift tags click here.  And here for her file box. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair..,part 3

I'm wrapping up the last of the finds from Renegade today...  Maybe it was the sun filtering through into the warehouse, but it seemed everywhere I looked, there were so many happy, happy colors popping through on pillows, prints and plateware...

below: I was smitten with the San Fran print and happy, orange day-glo pillows from Lorena Siminovich of Petit Collage.

below: Hue Yang's ceramic mugs and plates had such sunny dispositions on the inside...

below: My favorite print of Hillary Bird's was a feathered girl with bear.  Adorable!

below:  First prize for Lulu Dee...

below:  Pinecone and Chickadee onesies created a nice little rainbow backdrop.

below:  an absolutely charming growth chart made by Ink Lore

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