Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quilt... for the Birds

The time that I spend with the sewing machine is usually dedicated to the production of bags for Threadbeaur, however, I was in the mood for a new quilt. I looked on the shelf to see if one of my quilting books would lend me a little inspiration. Usually I will pick out the fabric then the pattern, this time I only had one fabric that I wanted to use. I picked up a book that I got for Christmas called Making Antique Quilts by Rita Weiss. The book has great pictures, and easy to follow instructions. I rarely use a pattern, so it is very important that they are easy to follow. I found a quilt called King David's Crown, and it was perfect for me. The title of my quilt will be Quilt...For the Birds. I took my fabric which happened to be Alexander Henrys Bird seed in yellow, and matched it up to all the fabric in my stash. I would post a picture of my stash, but it is a little messy at the moment. I will reorganize it and post pictures later. I had a ton of fabric to choose from and this is what I came up with.

I like to make a tester block, and this one came out great. I will finish this into a 3x4 throw blanket. Off to cut more pieces!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer is Over

Summer break is officially over. It was back to work this week at the Montessori school. The kids are all excited and having fun getting back into the routine. Summer is our shortest season, and I know that it is nearing the end. It is the small things that add up to the advances of fall. First, where did the sun go. Just a few weeks ago we played tennis well after 8 pm. Now our games are cut short by 7 pm. This afternoon as I drove home from work I noticed the trees. They are starting to change. It is gradual, but I noticed. The bright yellow leaves of fall are on there way, in just a few short weeks we will be in the peak of our fall color. I would say that autumn is my favorite season, but I dread the inevitable dreary winter. I am going to enjoy this weekend and the weather it brings. The skies are going to be blue and clear, and the air will be warm. This is summers one last Hoorah! I hope everyone has a great, safe long weekend! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arte Y Pico

Many thanks to Mary over at Now Entering Momville. She has given me a great award. There are so many blogs to choose from and I am happy that she picked mine! So thank you Mary. Now I get to share some blogs that over the last year have really captured my attention!

This award recognizes a blog’s creativity and overall contribution to the blogger community. Once you’ve been selected, please follow these guidelines and pay it forward:

1) Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award based on creativity, design, interesting material, and overall contribution to the blogger community, regardless of the language.
2) Post the name of the author and a link to his or her blog by so everyone can view it.
3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
4) The award-winner and the presenter should post the link of the “Arte y pico“blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) Please post these rules.

I pass this award on to more deserving blogs. Drum Roll Please!!!

1). Misosouper- She not only knows how to shop, but she knows where to shop! Thanks for keeping us ALL in the know!

2) Grapeinabottle-Who doesn't love grapes in a bottle! Yum.

3)Irene Design- always fun to read and great web design

4) Try Handmade I like this blog because she is an advocate for all things handmade. Great blog.

5) Eco Blog-This blog always has something great about the environment! Thanks for trying to get everyone to go green.

The original website where the award started is Arte Y Pico

Hair Hair Everywhere

It is that time of year, Nilla the giant yellow lab is shedding up a storm. If you have a lab you know what I am talking about. Here in the cold climate she is fine in the winter with a little hair here and there, but come summer it is hair everywhere. I am talking about tumbleweeds of hair in the corner, that blow around when the doors are open for a breeze.
I found a great contest on What's that smell?. They are giving away the FURminator, and I need one. I had never seen anything like it before, and her before and after pictures are great. If you have a dog, cat or other shedding animal, I would check out the contest on What's that Smell?, you don't want to miss out on that great shedding tool!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Get a little splash of color for your walls!

Your walls will thank you if you win this great contest sponsored by GreenYourDecor. They are giving away two wall panels from SusyJack on their blog. Each of the panels are 10x10 and with two of them image the statement you can create on your blank wall! I know excatly where they would go if I win them!
Good Luck to all, check out to enter!

Under the Big Top

I am not talking about any old circus, this is the Cirque Du Soleil, and it was amazing. For the last few years, my husband and I gave up going to the movie theatre, in part so we could save the money, and part so we go to the real theatre. Cirque Du Soleil was traveling through Chicago this summer, and we wanted to go. Kooza was the show that was here this year. Finally with only 3 shows left I decided we were going to go. I checked my email, and there was a notice from the Cirque Club that the tickets were 50% off! Wow! I went to their site and picked the best tickets I could find, on an aisle. Once we were there and in our seats we remembered how fun the shows are. The actors started milling around in the audience picking people to bring to the stage.
Then the lights dimmed and we were in for the show of a lifetime. The thing about Cirque Du Soleil is that everything down to the details of the set are timed so you don't even notice the technical moves. You are distracted to another part of the stage as they set up the next apparatus. The artists are amazing during ever element that they perform, and the stunts are breath taking! If you ever have the chance it is well worth skipping a years worth of movies to enjoy a 2 hour spectacle under the blue and yellow big top!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Waterless Car Wash

What a prize I won the other day from Recycle your Day. She had contest to win EcoTouch Waterless Car Wash. This was perfect for me, since we are trying to be more earth friendly on a daily basis. When I got two boxes in the mail on Friday I was so excited, I ripped them open to my surprise found 4 bottles and two towels! It was incredible. EcoTouch had sent one bottle of each of the following: waterless car wash, dash and trim, carpet and upholstery, and chrome detail. On Saturday morning I moved my car from the garage to a shady spot in the drive. I could have just done it in the garage, but it was really nice out. Just as the directions stated, I sprayed the area on the car, and the towel and got to polishing! After a few minutes when the haze appears you buff it with the other towel and the car just glows! You do have to use a little elbow grease to clean up the car, but I just considered it a little extra exercise for the day. The ease of use of this waterless car wash is amazing, I would recommend this to anyone who would like to save a little water, but keep their car clean. You don't have to worry about set up or a messy clean up when you are finished. You just wash the towel in the next load of laundry, and put the bottle away! Thank you to Recycle your Day for hosting a great contest with a great prize!


You can read her full interview about the product on Recycle your Day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vintage Fabric Find

Another great place in Mt. Dora is the Village Antiques Mall. They have a ton of vendors in the mall that have a wide variety of items. My mom has a shop in there and she is constantly buying and rearranging her corner of the shop. They were voted the best antique mall in the Orlando area two years in a row! During this last visit, I wandered the mall while she put the finishing touches on her latest finds, and I found something wonderful! A bolt of vintage fabric! It was 14 yards of this great pattern.
I was so excited about the fabric, and it turned out that my mom knew the vendor who was selling the fabric. With Tropical Storm Fay approaching we had little time to negotiate a price, so when they called back we quickly went back to the shop to pick up the material! Then the chore was to fit all that fabric in my small carryon suitcase! I did it though, and now I will list a few yards of my vintage fabric on etsy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Take Me Home

Over the weekend, I travelled to Mt. Dora, FL, my hometown. Most things in this quiet little town never change. I think people like it that way, I do. Each time I visit I am reminded of the joys of small town living. They now have more and more big box type stores, and chain resturants, but you can search out the local goods. I went downtown to see what was new, and found a cute shop called The Painter's Daughter, they had a wonderful selection of items from antiques furniture to bamboo clothing. I picked up a few bamboo tee's for the up coming school year. They were so soft, and made in the USA, what could be better than that! We walked to a few more stores, then went for ice cream at La Cremerie (I used to work there in high school), the cool treat was nice in the hot, humid Florida afternoon. No trip to Mt. Dora is complete until you visit Renningers Flea Market. It happened to be the monthly antique fair, so we had a blast poking around in all the old stuff. So if you are ever down in Florida, I would suggest a trip to Mt. Dora, it is a wonderful little town with lots to see!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I recently found the Etsy shop TanyBug, she was having a photo contest a few months back. I found out that she is holding another giveaway. I am so excited about her camera straps that I had to dedicate a post to her contest. I have been looking for a handmade camera strap to sport around when I am in lugging around my Sony A100! Her handmade straps look like they would be oh so comfortable, especially compared to the one that came with my Sony A100 D-SLR. If you are a shutterbug, pro or hobbiest go check out the giveaway on TanyBug's Blog. Of course there is a deadline to enter, so scurry over to her blog before August 23rd!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blueberries disguised in Chocolate Brownies

Not that you would need to disguise the delicious summer blueberries from Michigan, but what a combo, blueberries and chocolate. I made a 9x13 pan of these amazing brownies that I found here. The recipe said that it was vegan, which is all well and good, but I did not have any soy milk, or intend on buying it just for the recipe. I substituted regular whole milk. The pan of blueberry chocolate brownies may be the best brownie I have ever eaten, and frankly, I could not stop eating them. I had some before dinner, after dinner, after we went to dessert at a friends house where we had a mango tart, and some just before bed with a glass of whole milk! Needless to say the pan is almost empty now!
I just was in the mood for some blueberries, but I also wanted chocolate, so I searched google, of course, and now I have my new favorite brownie. I don't think I will ever make them any other way. For the original recipe you can click here .
This is how I made them, less vegan, sorry!
Blueberry and Chocolate Brownies

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips I added a few extra for fun!
10 ounces blueberry preserves (spreadable fruit, smooth, no whole blueberries)
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
21/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

Before starting Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and grease the 9x13 pan.

In a small bowl melt 2/3 cup chocolate chips in microwave in short intervals to avoid burning.
In a large mixing bowl combine bluberry spreadable fruit, milk, sugar, canola oil and vanilla. Mix this until smooth. I stirred it by hand, to preserve the quite in the house.
Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir this batter until it too is smooth. It is okay to taste it, no eggs! Don't fill up because next you add the melted chocolate, and then the batter really gets good.

Once you are satisfied that the batter is stirred add in remaining 1/2 cup of whole chocolate chips (plus a few extra) and fresh blueberries.
Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 40 minutes. Though it is tempting to try the brownies just out of the oven I suggest you let them cool. I burnt my tongue, but oh was it delicious.
Share if you want, but they are so good you might just want to keep them all for yourself!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seeking Green...Look no further

I recently found Ecovian. They have a fabulous website that provides a listing of services, shops, and resturants that have green practices. I love this idea of being able to search by city on ecovian. There are so many listing categories to choose from from spas to grocery stores and everything in between. Each category has its own standard of green, and on the website you can get the details for each heading. Last night I was scouting out clothing stores in Chicago that are green on Ecovian.

When you search as I did for a clothing shop, the list shows up on the left hand side of all the shops that are considered green. How would you consider a shop green, well, as they say on the website, the stores are rated on how much of their stock is produced in sweatshop free conditions, and how much of the stock is organic/natural. I love this since I am always looking for sweatshop free items, this will be helpful for me! Each listing has a green meter, little green trees. Those trees give you a quick indication how green the stores merchanidise is. With one green tree being the least green (but still green enough to be listed) and 5 green trees being the best.

The best feature on Ecovian is when you click on the store to get the details they provide you with a map, the store hours, and phone number along with the stats regarding the green factor. The store I was looking up had 3 stars for nautral/oraganic clothing and 5 stars, yes 5 stars, for sweatshop free clothing! Time to go shopping! Ecovian has earned a spot in my bookmarks, so that I can scour the pages before each shopping trip!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend Project

We have been living with our front porch as it was when we bought our house back in 2004. We never really liked the look of the banister that welcomed us home each day for over three years! One day a few weeks back I decided it was time for it to go! With not much of a plan for what we would replace it with we took down the banister. We hauled all the pieces to the side of the house, just incase we wanted to reuse them to make something new. Then we started planning for the new and improved front porch. In the meantime everytime I returned to the house, I was greeted not with a banister that was not so pretty, but greeted with the porch and the true charm of our house. After a week or so of planning, we came up with the idea of handmade planters and new steps to the deck. Once we had our parts list we headed to Menard's for some lumber.

We reused all the deck screws that we could when replacing the treads for the steps and the one board that we had to replace on the deck. When we were all finished we had two new planters, two new stairs, and a new ottoman made from the recycled decking and banister! What a fabulous front porch we now have!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Green and Clean

That is what the contest over on 1GreenProduct is all about. They are giving away a Eureka envirovac™. This looks like a fantastic product, and who won't be a little more green while you clean. The small motor means a less energy used during your everyday cleaning, that can really add up. The company also has the packaging down to a science, less wasted material and it is 100% recycled and unbleached cardboard! Kudos Eureka!, and thanks to 1GreenProduct for this great giveaway!

Don't forget to head over to grocerymama too for another giveaway!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thrift Store Finds

More often than not I can find something at the thrift store. Most of the time it is material, like drapery, tablecloths, sheets, that get repurposed into Threadbeaur shopping bags. My latest find though is not fabric at all, it is a fabulous little cabinet, that can be used to store things, like fabric of course! This cabinet has a hutch too, but I have not finished waxing it, and I could not lift it to its proper position by myself. I really like the simplicity of the piece, and those little porcelain drawer pulls are my favorite! I cleaned and waxed it, but it did not need much more work than that! I can't wait to take it upstairs to the craft room. I think it was a great find for $28!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back in Business!

The power just came back on! I am so glad too, the dog hair was starting to take over. I have already had the plumber come out, I have vacuumed and done all the dishes!
The next order of business is to get up to the sewing machine and start cranking out some new bags!
Check out this awesome giveaway on Grocerymama, maybe you could win a Threadbeaur original! Threadbeaur, thats me, is giving away a free bag of your choice! So go check out GroceryMama for all the details! Who knows maybe you will be sporting a fun reusable bag from Threadbeaur on your next shopping trip!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Without it no internet. I have been without power since the big storm here on Monday. Thankfully, there was not any damage to our house or family. I don't mind so much not having any lights, or even air conditioning (at 80% humidity and 90 degrees). It is the internet that I miss. ComEd says they can't tell me what the estimate on restoration is, but it may take days. Thank goodness for Panera and their free WiFi and the great broccoli cheddar soup!
Here I sit at Panera checking all my mail, etsy convos and the weather. I guess I am power dependent after all! It has halted Threadbeaur's production line! I will have to work double time when the power comes back to my neck of the woods!
Until the power is restored I fear that I will not be on the internet much. I will get back to my schedule as soon as the internet permits.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Made in the USA

Time for a new pair of tennis shoes for hubby! First things first, we are not buying anything made in China. It can't be that hard to find a shoe made in the USA, right? I decided to do a little research BEFORE going out shopping. I am glad I did. There are not too many shoes that are made here on American soil, but I did find that some of New Balance shoes are made here. Their website says that if 70% of the materials come from the USA and it was assembled here then the will place that tag on the shoe that says "made in the USA". Good for them I say! I will buy your product with that tag! Off to the Sports Authority we went in search of the elusive american made shoe. Wandering the aisles we checked other shoes, just for fun, and to our disappointment, there were aisles and aisle of MADE IN CHINA shoes, and other products. It is scary to think how much money is being sent there instead of used for American wages. We found the New Balance shoes and much to my surprise they said made in China... yuck! So we looked around and finally we found a few pairs that were tagged with USA, so we started searching for the correct size, and after an hour, we had hubby's new shoes made in the USA! Thanks team 724, we salute you!

We are on a mission to not buy from China, and spend our dollars on products made in America! It is not easy, and sometimes we don't buy things we want now, but I think it is worth it, and it makes me feel good!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Camping at Kickapoo State Park

Kickapoo State park is near Danville, IL. We packed up the car and the dog, and headed out on Friday night around 6:30. With a two and a half hour drive, we could just hope that there were still spaces available to set up camp. I had already acknowledged that it was going to be dark when we arrived. Once there, we took the first spot we saw, since there were other people coming in late too! The tent went up with out a hitch, as the dog sat patiently in the bag of the car. The night was uneventful, and warm. In the morning we reserved a canoe at Kickapoo landing for an 8 mile paddle down the Vermillion River. They shuttled us up river in a hot, sticky bus. Needless to say, the dog was unhappy smashed between a ton of other people and a Dalmatian named Dallas.
Once we got on the water everything started to work itself out, the dog settled in to the bow of the canoe, and I sat just behind her, and captain of the canoe, DH, sat in the back! The dog had a blast running in and out of the water, when we stopped for breaks. The sun beat down with no clouds, it was a wonderful day. After 4 hours of canoeing we were both tired, and we headed back to camp for some relaxation. We sat around and people watched until it was time to make dinner. We started up the firepit, and grilled some food. We had to make my campfire favorite... S'mores.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sunny Side of the Street

A few years back my husband and I splurged on a purchase of sunglasses. Mine are my prize possession, and I don't go anywhere without them. My husband has a pair of Kaanapali Maui Jim's that are the best sunglasses in the world. They are so lightweight that you often forget that you are wearing them. They provide a wonderful polarization that is a must have for a sunny day. No more squinting. Aside from being the best sunglasses ever, Maui Jim has the best customer service around. One sad day DH's glasses started to crack near the bridge. Over time, it continued to crack until it was unsafe to wear them without damaging them beyond repair. I looked at the Maui Jim webpage and their repair request. In short it said for $60 you can get the lenses replaced. Since DH loves his Kaanapali's, I packed them up ever so carefully, and took them to the post office. I shipped them down to Peoria, IL to the Maui Jim repair center, with a note about how they were broken, and we were sad. After a long sunny week driving to and from work, DH asked if his glasses had returned. So I shot off a quick email to the Maui Jim repair line at 5pm no less, and within a few moments, I had a reply! Can you believe it? Casey said, here is the tracking number we sent them on the 29th! I can not believe how fast and efficiently their system works! Thank you Maui Jim for the great customer service and the fast turn around on the repairs! We will be forever loyal to you!

The sunglasses were in the mailbox!