Saturday, January 30, 2010

City Museum, St. Louis, MO

Looking for the Free Bag Giveaway?  Click here or scroll down!

Saw this today in St. Louis...

Don't worry, it's not really a school bus.  Well, it is, but it's not full of kids.  Well, it could be, I suppose.  This is part of the City Museum in St. Louis, MO.  The "museum" is an eclectic mixture of art, antiques, and fun architecture.  The coolest part about the museum is that you can climb on pretty much everything.  Inside and out is full of metal tubes, slides, and old gutted planes and busses meant to be explored.  It's like a playground for adults!  SO fun!  If anyone lives in or close to St. Louis, MO, you definitely need to go check out the City Museum.

We took Jonah there today (and while he was WAY to young to have any fun, Neil and I had fun climbing while we left Jo with his aunt, uncle, and cousins).

This picture is me squatting on the end of an airplane wing!  Never thought I'd stand on one of those.  If you can see from the buildings in the background, this airplane was three or four stories high!

 These are the wire tunnels we had to climb through.  Some of them went straight down like this one.

Check out the tunnel those three kids are climbing through up there!  I refused to go through that one.  I had to draw my line!


They also had tons of art and crafts to do and look at.  Here's my niece sculpting something from clay.

How genius is this chandelier?!  It's made out of plastic forks and knives :)

This guy made me a necklace.  (Well I paid for it, but I got to pick out my stone, gem, wire, and cording).  His name is Max and his email is voyager50 {at} netzero .dot. com.  You should definitely email him if you're looking for a great necklace! 

 I just love to feature crafters!  Seems like I've featured two MEN so far!  Way to go crafty guys!!

Anyway, there was one more awesome crafty piece that I just can't wait to show off, but I'm going to keep everyone in suspense so I can make one first and then post a tutorial.  Here's a sneak peek, though - think you can figure out what it is?!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh SOOOO lonely.

Looking for the bag giveaway?  Click here or scroll down a couple days!

Look at that sad EMPTY table.  (I know another TV tray... I definitely have the TV tray syndrome of using them all over my house as cheap tables.  Want to see what I did with the one by my bed?)

Know what used to sit there?

My ever so faithful sewing machine.

Where is it?

At the sewing machine spa resort getting a back massage (or presser foot massage).  I figure I use it for hours every day that it deserves a small break and retreat - a chance to hang out with other sewing machines for a little R&R.

Seriously, though, I was afraid it was going to break or go on strike if I didn't take it to get cleaned and serviced.  It works so hard for me!  But, it was SO HARD to drop off!  I felt like a mother leaving her child at daycare.  And when I got home and saw the empty spot where my sewing machine sits, my heart got a little sad.

This is pathetic.  I'm becoming too attached.

By the way, I think it's time I name my sewing machine.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cute and Easy Homemade Card

Looking for the Free Bag Giveaway? Click here or scroll down!  


I just love when my friends get crafty and then share such craftiness with me!  It brightens my day so much!  I thought I'd share the latest bit of craftiness (from a male nonetheless)!

Neil's Grandpa died a few days ago and tonight, our good friends the Brown's invited us over to dinner and gave us this sweet card.

My first thought was how cute and thoughtful of them to give us a sympathy card.  But then my thoughts got faster and my heart started beating louder as I realized that THEY MADE IT!  Oh, how I love homemade!  Upon a closer look (and taking it apart), I discovered how they created it and thought I'd share it here with you.  It really is genious!

1. Take a piece of scrapbook paper and fold it into fourths (see the creases?) and cut a square from the top right corner that is smaller than the folded area (leaving a border anywhere from .5" - 1", you choose).

2. Fold your paper in half hamburger style (glue closed if you'd like). This reveals the scrapbook paper through the peek-a-boo window!

3. Fold it in half again to achieve your oh-so-cute card with classy window.  You can write something around the border of the window if you so desire OR just leave it blank.

... how do I know that it was MR. Brown who put this together?  First of all, his wife told me that he loves to scrapbook, so only he could have access to this adorable paper.  And secondly, the writing on the outside of the card matches that of his note on the inside.  I know, I should have become a detective.

Thanks Josh, we LOVE it!  (and really felt loved by it)  Thanks for making our lives better!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Want a FREE bag? Read on...

Giveaway CLOSED!!!

You'll want to read this until the end... there's an awesome giveaway/contest to enter from Better Life Bags!

Just thought I'd showcase some of the individuals that Better Life Bags has been able to help thanks to the people buying our custom bags.  All proceeds of every Better Life Bag transaction go towards low income entrepreneurs in developing countries.  Not only do you receive your fully customized bag in the mail, but also a picture and blurb of who your bag went to help.  Here are some of the lastest:

Meet Akuwa-die Baidoo.  She lives in Ghana and runs a grocery store.  She has one child and requested a loan to buy more groceries to sell in her store.  We helped fulfill her loan thanks to six bag orders.  She is in the process of paying us back, and as soon as she does, Better Life Bags will reloan the money to someone else.  So, your bag just keeps on giving forever!

Meet Agababa Aliyev.  He wanted a loan to purchase four more cows for his farm.  He has five children and works very hard to provide for them.  So far, Agababa has paid back 11% of his loan thanks to the five custom bag orders that went to help his purchase of cattle!
  And this adorable woman is Ndiawa Dieng from Senegal.  She dyes cloth, sews, and weaves for a living.  Isn't her outfit just amazing?!  Of course, I had to help someone who is a crafter just like me!  Proceeds from seven bag orders went to help fulfill the loan she requested.
Here is the cool thing.  Better Life Bags has been able to help six individuals and give $150 so far because of your interest in our bags.  And because we've chosen to give through Kiva, when the money is paid back, we can reloan it to someone else.  The loan that keeps on giving!  Here is our first Better Life Bag recipient that came from the second round of loans!  Fatou Aliou Faye.  She lives in Senegal.  She is 63, a widow, and childless.  She requested a loan to help fatten her cattle so she will be able to support herself and save a little money.
I just love Kiva.  I think it's the greatest idea ever.

So, in the spirit of giving, Better Life Bags is doing our first giveaway ever!!   

Your choice of anything at my etsy shop!!!! 

Here's how you win (each comment counts as a separate entry into the giveaway):

1. Follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" link to the right leave a comment saying you did.  (Already follow?  Leave a comment saying you do!)

2. Join our Facebook Fan Page and leave a separate comment saying you did.  (Already a fan?  Remind me in a comment!)

3. Go join the Better Life Bag Kiva team and leave another comment saying you did that, too!

4. Finally, go blog, tweet, or Facebook about how awesome Kiva is with a link to this blog and let me know you did so in a comment.  (Spread the LOVE!)

Get it?  Follow all four steps by leaving four comments and you've got yourself entered into the giveaway four times!  Do three = three entries, two = two entries, etc... We'll see how this first giveaway goes - humor me ok?  You might just win!

Giveaway closes at midnight (pacific time) on Jan 31st... so ENTER AWAY!  
(I will put all your names in a hat and pull the winner on Monday morning!  If you enter four times by doing all four "assignments" at the top of the page, you will have your name in the drawing FOUR times!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

I've been busy...

So, I've been pretty busy lately - as you can see!  SIX diaper bags made for the All About Baby Expo coming up on the last day of February.  My goal is to have 20 bags ready for sale, but I'm really hoping people will order some custom bags.  I'm working on making swatch samples for people to become their own designer!

This is helping tremendously with saving our backs :)  It's a sewing and craft table that is tall enough to stand up and work at.  No more leaning over tables to cut fabric... ouch - we're going to need a chiropractor after this is all over!

I've also been working on improving my designs.  This week, I came up with a new style of pocket for the Emily Diaper Bag.  Vote on your favorite (left picture = elastic pockets, right pocket = straight pockets) by leaving a comment!  (Both fit the essential bottle perfectly.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Before and After - TV Tray

I don't know about anyone else, but we have these common TV trays all over our house.  We use them not for eating dinner in front of the TV (since we don't have cable), but for side tables - by our couch, by our bed, and even as a table for my sewing machine.  I hate the look of them, but we don't have the extra funds to go out and buy new side tables.  The one that bugged me the most was the one on my side of the bed.  It is one of the first things I see when I walk into my room, and it just gives me a bad feeling.  

For a long time I just figured I had to deal with the ugliness of our tables until we could afford a new bedroom set.  But then I discovered Ashley. She recovers, remakes, and refashions so much in her house.  I didn't even realize it was an option to recover my ugly TV tray until I saw this and this and this and this.

So, here it is: 

and After
Needlesstosay, I love it. It makes me smile every time I look at it.  I have material left over and am planning on making some pillow covers from Ashley's tutorial. 

By the way, I got the main fabric for $3/yard (regularly $12/yard).  I bought 2 yards, so with the $16 I saved I'm going to go make someone's life better... I'm thinking flowers for a friend going through a hard time.  

Now, go be creative and make someone's life better! :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mexican Seasoning Mix Recipe

I'm sitting here smelling dinner.  Mexican Chicken Tacos... yummmmmmy.  I'm feeling especially proud of my meal because it includes a HOMEMADE Mexican Seasoning!  Yes, we all know we can purchase packs of taco seasoning for .99 at any grocery store.  But, did you know you can make your own for 28 cents?!

Thanks to a new cookbook I have, here is the recipe.  Try it out for yourselves and post the recipe you used the seasoning in as a comment to this blog - it can be used in place of any taco or chili seasoning packet!

Mexican Seasoning Mix
Makes 5 mixes
(can be used for taco or chili seasoning)

-1/4 cup flour
- 2 T chili powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 4 tsp. salt
- 4 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. oregano

Put all of the ingredients in a blender, cover, and blend 5 seconds or less until powdery (don't over blend). Use the "pulse" feature if your blender has one. Add more cayenne pepper if you prefer it hotter.

Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. (I'm planning on getting a smaller one, but as you can see from my picture, I LOVE these airtight containers).

Three tablespoons of this mix equals one purchased packet of taco or chili seasoning mix.


Oh, and with all that extra money you're saving, why not dump a few extra coins in the Starbucks tip jar... let's make lives better!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

Just finished this book today on my Kindle!  I think I'm reading more now that I have a Kindle (which if you remember, was also a resolution of mine).  This book was excellent.  I love writers who can describe scenes as if you are watching it unfold in front of you.  The twists and turns of this book kept me on edge the entire time - and I even missed the story and the characters on the days when I didn't get a chance to read.  The story was based around a Biblical character, Dinah (Leah's and Jacob's daughter).  It, of course, takes what is written in the Bible and embellishes it to form a pretty interesting novel.  I love reading Historical Biblical Fiction - it really brings the Bible tale to life for me (although, I admit, not always accurately - but how do we know what really went on in Dinah's life when her name is only mentioned 9 times in the Bible).  So, I love to read an author's take on the story behind the story.
The only thing I don't like is when my perception of a Bible character is changed.  I had always pictured Rebecca (Dinah's Grandmother) as a gentle and caring woman, or at least I liked to think of her that way since we share a name.  She did, after all, steal the birthright from her eldest son to give to her favorite son.  And I pictured Joseph as a humble boy who God placed in leadership roles that he accepted graciously.  The book portrays him more as a power hungry ruler.  Oh well, the story was excellent.  Definitely recommend!

I've picked up another book at the library (I refuse to buy books on my Kindle if I can get it at the library).  Same time of Historical Biblical Fiction and I'm LOVING it so far!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti

Keeping in theme with Better Life Bags, we have a new cause to donate to and help make lives better.  Lives have pretty much been destroyed in Haiti and I can't turn a blind eye anymore.  Better Life Bags exists to make lives better and what better way to do it than to donate all Better Life Bag proceeds to helping those in Haiti.  From now until March 1st, all monies will be given to the Red Cross for the work they are doing in Haiti.  After March 1st, the proceeds will go back to helping low income entrepreneurs like usual.  Visit my etsy shop to pick out what you would like and know that you are also helping a very needed cause.  Let's have a goal to reach toward... how about helping BLB donate $200 to the Haiti relief effort!  If you've been waiting to purchase something NOW is the time :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Check out these new fabrics...

... I picked up at Hobby Lobby over the Christmas break!  Aren't they adorable?!  I can't wait to create some bags out of these!  Hurry and get your order in ( if you like any of these fabrics... Five bags have already been ordered from this set of fabric, and I've already started sewing one of them together!

I decided I needed some help with cutting of the fabric (my least favorite part), so I employed my husband as the first employee of Better Life Bags.  :)  I happen to think he looks very cute cutting fabric in our living room.  Don't you think so, too?  

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hotel Stays...

Hotel stays are not what they used to be, that's for sure.  Instead of the romantic dinner out on the town, we ate Taco Bell in our hotel room.  Instead of staying up late watching late night TV, we sit motionless in the pitch black so as not to wake our sleeping child.  Instead of listening to soft music while we slow dance in our pajamas, we are listening to screams coming from our overly tired baby as we bounce him incessantly to get him to at least taste sleep a little.  Jonah did finally fall asleep (and so did Daddy) in our large king size bed.  Neil and I have a full size bed at home, so any time I get the privilege of sleeping like royalty in a King, I'm excited.  Tonight, however, both my boys have spread themselves out across the entire bed, leaving me less space than I normally receive.  :)  I love it though.  Right before he fell asleep, Neil reached over and allowed his toes to touch mine.  I smiled in the dark because I was sure the placement of our three bodies resembled a heart.  Mommy and Daddy's feet angled in to make the bottom of the heart, our heads making the two humps at the top, and little Jonah making the dip between us.  I didn't care how much space I wasn't getting - this was my new family, and I was going to cherish every second.

Resolution off to a good start...

The 1st two birthdays of 2010 have officially been celebrated by a card and gift, and I am well on my way to accomplishing my New Years Resolution!  These cute dish towels are making adorable, fun, and inexpensive birthday gift to send along with the card.

I can't promise that everyone on my Birthday Resolution list will receive one... after all, the original goal was just to send cards.  But I am loving how quick and easy these are and envisioning how cute they'll look in bathrooms or kitchens!  Thanks for the idea from Bloom (a wonderful and addicting craft blog).  And I just love the look of twine to tie them together - so "rustic chic"... is that even a style?!

... just googled "rustic chic" - definitely NOT an original idea of mine.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Moment a Child is Born...

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new."

I am in love.  Look at those eyes and tell me you wouldn't LOVE to look into them every single day!  I love when he laughs, I love when he "talks", I even love when his little bottom lip starts to quiver before he breaks into tear-falling sobs.  I love my baby boy. 

I can't believe how much my life has changed since having him.  It's as if I view life with a whole new set of eyes.  I can't hardly look at a news program or read a story about a mother who lost her baby or a dad who is tragically (and unjustifiably) separated from his son.  Whenever I watch one, all I can see is me in the place of the distressed parent and my baby in the place of the innocent child.  I watched Dateline tonight about the Bring Sean Home: The Untold Story, and for the full two hours, I took on the incredible grief and loss of David Goldman.  I went through emotions like fear - wondering if Neil would ever just up and leave with my baby and forbid me from seeing him.  Anger - furious at the wife for taking Sean to Brazil.  Compassion - for David, as he seemed like a wonderful, loving father.  Sympathy - for Sean as I can't begin to imagine what emotional scarring has taken place.  But most of all, my heart was broken for the father... for 2 hours.  But then, the television gets turned off, the internet shut down, and my life returns to the normal I know it to be.  My sleeping baby safe in his crib.  My loving husband sitting next to me on the couch.  And my beating heart is slowing down steadily from the adrenaline rush of living someone else's nightmare. 

Except that I'm not living it.  And they are.  They really are.

Blogging Project... BEGIN!

Well, after I started noticing pain in my wrist from scrolling through so many crafting blogs, I decided to try my hand at making my own blog. I figure, if nothing else, it will give my hands a different type of exercise to prevent carpel tunnel syndrome... or whatever it is I'm feeling in my wrist! Right now, I'm thinking my husband is going to be my only reader, but we'll see :) (Thanks for the support honey!)

Let me introduce myself...
My name is Rebecca and I live in Southern GA (at the moment).  I'm married and have a little boy born October 2009.  A few months before Jonah was born, a small business opportunity fell into my lap.  Unhappy with the diaper bag options I saw in the stores, I decided to make my own.  I posted pictures of it on Facebook and soon was asked to make a few to sell!  Those first buyers were so happy to be able to buy a bag with their custom colors/prints.  SO, Better Life Bags was born.  We specialize in making handmade custom diaper bags, purses, and baby items.  We set ourselves apart by giving all proceeds to those in need (usually through  Check us out at!

January brings a whole new start to life. It's funny how all of America seems to "start over" come January - with new resolutions and goals. I figure I should jump on the bandwagon and make some goals of my own:
1. Send birthday and anniversary cards. (This was my goal last year, too - but I fizzled out after February... SO Jan and Feb bday people are really going to benefit from this resolution each year!)
2. Spend less time on my computer and more time crafting, reading, and playing with my baby boy.
3. Develop deeper relationships with my family.
4. Figure out if I can MAKE something before I BUY it!

I figure 4 goals is plenty. I've seen a lot of people posting their top 10 goals for 2010, but this seems insurmountable for me.

So, there you have it - my first post on my new blog... no crafts to show for this one, but I have TONS of ideas up my sleeve (many are inspirations from other blogs)! Speaking of... what are some of your favorite craft blogs out there?!

... anyone there?!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Party Tip Tuesday Mini Series

From February - April 2011,
we had the priveledge of hearing from
Jessica at

Every Tuesday she joined us with
affordable tips
 for making our next parties extra special!

We called it:

Just so you don't feel like you missed out,
here are all the posts she did to complete this mini series!

Be sure to check out all the links.
She had some incredible party ideas!

Did I mention her ETSY shop is full of cute handmade greeting cards
and custom invitations.

Like her on Facebook while you're at it!

{Want to do a mini series on Better Life Bags?  Email me with your ideas!}

Finished Lana Bucket Totes!

The Lana Bucket Tote is great for carrying books, fresh produce, or your knitting/crafting supplies in style!

Pick 2-3 fabric you like here
Order your Lana here

Finished Amanda Shoulder Bags!

Just the right size for a shoulder bag, the Amanda will surely look great on you!

Pick 2-3 fabrics here
Order your bag here

Finished Cyndi Small Totes!

The Cyndi Small Tote is the perfect companion to it's big sister, the Nicole.  This bag is the essential handbag everyone needs!

Pick 2-5 fabrics you like here
Order your Cyndi here

Finished Nicole Large Totes!

The Nicole Large Tote is our best seller for sure!  Join in on the fun and create your own!
Choose 2-5 different fabrics here
Order your very own Nicole here

This customer opted for no loops and no tie.  She added a large fabric flower and a small fabric flower to bring in some detail.

This customer is using the Nicole as a diaper bag!  Great idea!

A fun, bright collection of prints for a teacher!  She is thinking about getting it monogrammed on the front.

A soldier in Iraq ordered this for her sister.

Another bag ordered for a teacher!

These were a Mother/Daughter pair.  Can you guess which was for the mother and which was for the daughter?

Ordered as a gift for a friend in Germany!

LOVE this print!  It has been a popular one!

For a Minnie Mouse enthusiast! :)

Ordered as a gift for a relative.  I believe she uses this as her teaching bag!

This was the first Nicole ordered by a customer.  She got it named after her!

Here's the tote bag I made for myself... the one that started all this madness! :)

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