Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Bags to the Better Life Family!

I have been busy creating new Spring and Summer bag styles for your customizing pleasure (all while trying to keep up with current orders)!

Here's the newest bag.

It desperately needs a name and because I like to name the bags after the first customer to order one, it remains nameless.
For now!

11" x 14"
 Inside slip pocket
Cute button closure
$41 plus shipping - order here!

And remember this lovely ruffle couple?
Well, the bag has been fondly named "The Maggie", but that poor little Ruffle Clutch is STILL without a name!
Go order her and get her named after you!!
$19 plus shipping.

Happy Designing!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Decorate the Kitchen - Part 3

The kitchen was in major need of somewhere for me to write notes and small to-dos.

So, I came up with this dry erase board made from a cabinet door!

And just so you can do this, too - here's a step-by-step!

IKEA has a great "As Is" Section where I found this awesome cabinet door!

It was only $7!

I wasn't sure what to do with it when I bought it, but I figured I'd come up with something soon.
Sure enough, a few days later I was sitting at the kitchen table staring at a blank kitchen wall when the idea popped into my mind!
"Make that cabinet door into a dry erase notes board!"

So, I went to Joanns and bought the wood letters for a dollar each and spray painted them black.

Using some gorilla glue, I glued them to the top left section of the door.

What kitchen wouldn't be complete without a calendar?
I simply printed this one off the internet and taped it behind the glass.
(Each month, I will have to print a new one and retape it behind the glass again... shouldn't be too hard.)
I found these really great, vintage-looking, FREE calendar prints here and here.

Since this was a cabinet door, it had a drilled hole ready for the cute knob I picked up at Home Depot for $2.

Now, I have no idea how to install cabinet doors into real cabinets or what those round holes are for in the back, but they were perfect to use to hang it on the wall!

So, after a little measuring, a little leveling, and a little hammering, I had my complete dry erase cabinet door!
(By the way... how cute is that old wood chair I found in the house?  All it needed was a little pillow from the Salvation Army to complete the look!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Splish Splash I Was Taking A....


So, I thought you all might want to see the underneath of this shelf I installed above the kitchen sink.
You know, just to see how sturdy it is and how great I am at using power tools.

Yea, right... I just want an excuse to post adorable pictures of Little Bug taking a bath in the oh-so-cool kitchen sink.

Baths are SO MUCH EASIER than when he was a newborn.

And have I told you that my mom is an excellent seamstress?
She makes these adorable bath robes!
Aren't they so cute?!  
Jonah LOVES his (despite the look in this picture)!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Kiva Loans!!!

I just love this part of our business.
I love that we get to give back to people far far away by giving 10% of every purchase to someone through Kiva.  Have you checked out Kiva, yet?

Here are the entrepreneurs we loaned to this week (thanks to your bag purchases)!

Meet Mona:
Mona is from Lebanon.
She is a 37-year-old woman and a mother of four children. Mona has been producing different types of thyme, olive and olive oil, dry yogurst, topping for Lebanese pizzas, lentils, and pickles since 1994.  She will use the money from Better Life Bags to purchase merchandise for her business.

Meet Emma:
 Emma lives in Armenia.
She is a widow with an 18-year-old son.  She is a hard worker and over the past 18 years has been involved with trading to make an income.  Her son is also going to college with an annual tuition at $115. (yes... you read that right).  She will use the loan from Better Life Bags to grow vegetables, maintain a few cows, and help her son finish school. 

I thought it would be fun to allow someone here to experience the thrill and excitement of picking out someone to give to on Kiva.
SO, I'm giving away a $25 KIVA gift certificate to someone on the Better Life Bags Kiva Team!

Here's how to enter (it's simple).
1. Visit the Better Life Bags Kiva Team Page (by clicking on that link).
2. Click "Join Now"

Easy, right?!
(If you're already part of the team, you're automatically entered!)
As a BLB team, we have already donated $650 to low income entrepreneurs in developing countries!!
(there is no pressure to loan anything once you become a part of the team, but if you do, I add your loan to the "BLB Kiva Loans" on our blog!)

The coolest part is that since this is a LOAN, they are repaying you your money.  In about 6-12 months, you will have your $25 back and you can choose what to do with it then.  You can reloan it to someone else OR keep it to buy a Better Life Bag ;).

On Friday, May 14th (tomorrow), I will pick someone on our Kiva Team to receive the $25 Kiva Gift Certificate.

So, go sign up!  And tell your friends!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Can I brag on God real quick?!

 Since we decided to take our business full time with the hopes of bringing economic growth to the city of Hamtramck, MI, we have seen God move in BIG ways!

Part of taking the business full time means Neil and I will be living in this economical down-trodden urban neighborhood in order to reach out to our neighbors to bring them the hope of Jesus as well as help meet their physical needs.

Funny that as we made this move, it meant that we, ourselves, would have physical needs that would need to be met.  I am blown away more and more by how God provides for our every needs.

The business is not nearly at the point where it is making a profit for us to live off of.

But, at the same time, we really felt God telling us to make this move.

So we did.  And I will keep updating you on how He provides.  Because every time He uses one of His people to give to us financially, it should result in PRAISE TO HIM!!

We received this today - out of the blue.
The note reads:
"I woke up this morning with God whispering in my ear.  I hope this comes in handy."

Can you believe it?

This month, God has provided a full month's salary to live on - 
(yes, I just shouted that!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Decorate the Kitchen - Part 2

Hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Mother's Day!

Little Bug took a 2 hour nap for my Mother's Day gift.  It was a great 1st Mother's Day as we explored a new restaurant and new shopping area in our new city!

The shop did pretty well for Mother's Day, too!
We sold SIX Gift Certificates for moms out there to design their own bag!
I hope you have fun, moms!!

In decorating news...
I only have a few weeks left to decorate this house we were so generously given to live in temporarily.

The kitchen has been my 1st priority.

Now, here's what I did above three of the doors.
 (Enter dark, dingy, and messy BEFORE picture)

And the AFTERS:

They really add more height to the room and liven up space that otherwise would be wasted!
Plus, I think it goes great with this country-chic look I have going on.

And the best part?  You can find the COOLEST baskets at thrift stores for less than $2 each!

All it took was one small nail to keep them up on the wall.

(by the way... aren't those door frames awesome?!  I LOVE old houses!!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

This is why I don't sew clothing...

I did NOT go into the clothing business.

There was a reason for that.

You will probably never see clothing in my shop.

Not just because my shop is called Better Life BAGS, but because of this:
 See that left sleeve?  Something isn't right.
Turns out I sewed it on upside down... TWICE IN A ROW!
When I finally finished, it looked something like this:
Not TOO bad.

I ran out of the paisley print (because I cut things out wrong) and had to modify with some fabric I had on hand.

Mr. Bug wasn't sure about the color combo...

what do you think?  Too loud?

(ps - I sure hope my face doesn't look like that every time I take a picture!!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Decorate the Kitchen - Part 1

We have been graciously given a house to live in for the next month and a half.

We are living here rent free in exchange for me decorating (HOW GREAT IS THAT?!?!)!
(They have 7 college girls moving in this summer... 2 of which will stay full time in Hamtramck.  I thought they'd like a decorated place, too!)

We moved in yesterday.  

Within one hour, I already had wall decoration project underway!
Here's the Before:

And here's the After:

It was SO super easy!

Here's the run down...
- I found the frame in the garage
Remember this picture from a previous post:
- The old rug beater was also a garage find.  (rug beaters can go in the kitchen, right?)
- $10 shelf from IKEA
- $5 set of plastic glasses from Walmart to hold the silverware.
- Moved the dishes to the shelf.
- Added a red rug (not seen) and red towels $13 total from Walmart.

Total = $28

There are no kitchen cabinets in this house, so I thought the shelf would be a great idea for easy access to dishes.  I LOVE how it turned out.

Who needs kitchen cabinets anyway?

PS - My fabric is ready and waiting for your orders!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The New Addition to our Family...

On Monday, we took Little Bug on his first train ride with Amtrak.
(Did you even know they still HAD trains?!?!)

(by the way - THAT'S my new diaper bag.  It's in the final production stages and will be for sale soon.  It's convertible from a shoulder bag to a messenger bag to a backpack!  The backpack mode was super helpful while walking in Chicago.)

It was the best way to travel!  We actually made it from Detroit to Chicago relying solely on Public Transportation.  My brother reminded me how "earth friendly" that was for us.

I wish we could say that was our motivation for traveling like that, but really, we just wanted to be able to relax the whole weekend (including the travel time).  Little Bug didn't have to be in his car seat, and Mr. Bug didn't have to drive!

Our real reason for going to Chicago was to pick up this new addition to our lives.

Yes, that's a helmet.

Yes, Little Bug has a flat spot on his head from sleeping on the same side of it every night.

Yes, we tried to get him to sleep in different positions.  Failed.

So, now to correct the problem, he has a white helmet.

We gave him some Starbucks to help lessen the blow.
Starbucks can fix anything!
(no, of course, he didn't really drink any - but he did have fun playing with the cup)

He has to wear his helmet 23 hours a day.
Let's just say we are still getting used to sleeping in it.
And mommy is still getting used to kissing his chubby cheeks around a helmet.

BUT, I still think he looks adorable.

The good thing is, it hardly phases him when he falls now!
He fell backwards onto hardwood twice today and didn't so much as whine.

Good helmet.
We might just keep you around.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

Wow, is it Tuesday, already?!

We spent today and Monday in Chicago, IL acquiring a NEW ADDITION to the Smith Family.
Will reveal it tomorrow, but let's just say it has changed our lives.

This weekend was spent enjoying the warm Michigan weather.

A little croquet.

A little sun.

A little lesson.

A little flying.

A little beating up on dad.

A little bird watching.

And a little bag making.
A custom Maggie Ruffle Purse for a customer

The coordinating Ruffle Clutch!

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