Wednesday, November 30, 2011

first, a confession - then, some creative wrapping

First of all, THANK YOU for your sweet comments and entries on yesterday's "gift-away".  Every time my phone "binged" signaling a new comment, my heart swelled in appreciation.

I also want to apologize for how utterly selfish I have been over the last year in blogging.  Things have gotten busy and I have neglected to respond to about every single comment that was left on my blog.  There is NO excuse for that.  It pains my heart to know that many of you take the time to comment and then never hear anything back from me.  Talk about talking to a blank wall!

I DO want you to know that I read EVERY. SINGLE. COMMENT. and beam with joy at some of the encouraging things you say.  I usually then click on your blogger profile and stalk your own blogs that you write!

Besides promising to do better in this area and actually talk to you like I do over email and our Facebook page, I want to reward you for commenting.  SO... I installed a new feature on the blog that pulls the top commentators (from the last 500 comments) and displays them on my side bar (down below "followers).

Every so often, I will reward the top THREE commentators with a Better Life Bag gift certificate:
$15 to 1st place
$10 to 2nd
$5 to 3rd place
Click over to see the new feature if you are in Google Reader or email to see if YOU are one of the winners!  If you are, email me at to claim your prize!

And thank you for your grace and forgiveness in this area.

back to the blog...


Wrapping presents is one of my least favorite things to do.  Although, shopping for wrapping paper is one of my favorite things to do!  Similar to my love for doing laundry and my serious distaste for folding it.  Go figure.

So, to increase the fun-factor in wrapping, I decided to use some fun Christmas fabric and plain brown packing paper.  Ruffles, bows, and twisty wraps make these so pretty under the tree!

While it may seem self-explanatory for some of you, I've included a tutorial on the two different fabric embellishments I used on the gifts.

The first - a simple ruffle.  If you can operate a sewing machine, YOU CAN DO THIS.

1. Wrap up the gift without tape and making sure the creases are clear.  This will give you an idea on where you want the ruffle to go.

2. Unfold and cut a strip of fabric about 3" - 4" wide.

3. Place the strip of fabric at the edge of the brown paper in the place where you want your ruffle to go.  Then, as you sew a straight line, squish and crunch up the fabric before you sew over it to make a simple ruffle.

{hint} There's no need to ruffle the fabric on the sides of the package, so start scrunching that fabric up once you reach the crease that signals the top of the package.

4. Wrap your present back up and admire.

Another easy way to embellish a gift using fabric uses two fabric strips about 3" wide and long enough to tie around the package.

1. Tie the first strip around the package and tie in a knot.

2. Tie the second strip around the package going the opposite way and tie in a knot.

3. Take the end of one fabric strip and tie it in a bow with the end of the opposite fabric strip.

4. Tie a bow with the last two ends for a full ribbon on top.

Easy, right?  Have you done a Pinterest Search for Christmas Present Wrapping ideas lately?  There are SO many cute ones out there!

BLB of the day: 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a gift for you

I wish that I could give every one of you faithful readers a special gift this Christmas season.  To let you know how thankful I am for you.  But honestly, I just have no idea how many of you are actually out there.

Sure, my blog statistics give me some idea of the "reach" of this blog, but honestly, sometimes it feels pretty lonely and pretty quiet around here.  {cue crickets}

And sometimes I get pretty down when I feel like I'm writing to a wall.  {cue violin}

So, to stir things up a little around here, I'm going to give away TWO sets of my handmade bibs.  I've been cleaning and purging around here lately and these bibs just aren't getting the use that they should (we have WAY TOO MANY).  They've each been used just a handful of times and have absolutely no stains or discoloration to them.

If you've been around this blog for awhile, you've seen the tutorial for these bibs.  They were also featured over at A Little Tipsy with Michelle.  They are repurposed from child sized t-shirts and lined with super soft minky.  They wash like a dream and look even cuter on.

The first set is for girls only.  It's full of pinks and teals, frills and rhinestones, and Hello Kitty.

Here's a close up of all the bibs included in this gift set.

 Then let's not forget about the boys!  Here is their set full of plaid, buttons, trouble, and fun!

And the close up.

All you have to do to win one of these sets is to comment below on this blog post telling me which set you'd like to win. 

I'll draw TWO winners on Thursday morning (12-1-11) and announce it here on the blog!  Merry Christmas!

BLB of the day:

Save 10% with BAGOFTHEDAY {good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

Monday, November 28, 2011

did you get your discounted gift certificate?

Big Sale on ALL Gift Certificates!  These make great Christmas gifts as your recipient can design a bag for themselves.

Pick up a certificate a discounted price - ending tonight at midnight!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

cookbook stand to book holder {a "great idea" post}

As we are all (in America) recovering from our turkey induced comas, I bring you a "great idea" post.

I got a cookbook holder for our wedding.

I don't cook.

But I DO use the cookbook holder!  Just not for a recipe book.

I use it to hold the current book I'm reading.  And lately, as I've found it increasingly hard to get time in God's Word, the Bible has been open behind the plexiglass.

I leave it on a passage a week and read it whenever I walk by.  Or whenever I do the dishes in this dishwasher-lacking home.

And just like God promised, every time I walk by and read something - it becomes alive and speaks to that very moment.

Like today, when I was just about ready to quit on life I read, "You, O God, keep my lamp burning" (Psalm 18:28) and I suddenly had a boost of energy - knowing that it is God that gives me strength to keep picking up after two tornado children.

So, dig that cookbook stand out from your cupboard and get the Word open!
Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday... I'm celebrating it all!  All Gift Certificates are on SALE! Get the full printed price for much much cheaper here.  These are awesome gifts for that someone who might like to design their own Better Life Bag!

Friday, November 25, 2011

truth in the tinsel e-book for $2.99 {an Advent challenge}

Truth in the Tinsel.

How sweet is that name?  It's the name of a new e-book out there by Amanda from Impress Your Kids.

Trust me, this book would totally impress your kids.  It's a participatory advent book.  Each day, the book takes you on a journey through a passage of scripture and leads you in making a coordinating ornament to go along with the theme.

The ornaments are super fun and easy to make (and don't require fancy equipment).  Think toilet paper rolls and general craft supplies.  She even gives you a shopping list so you can get all organized before December 1st rolls around!

There is a scripture and ornament you could make every day, but don't feel that you have to do it all.  In the back of the e-book she offers alternative schedules if you can't take the time to make an ornament every day.  You could follow "Just the Basics" which takes you on 6 days of the most basic elements of the Christmas Story.  Or you could focus on "The Characters" and do 10 days of ornament making and scripture reading.

It's so flexible and everything is laid out in easy, readable form.  All the templates for the ornaments are included in the e-book.  So, just print, cut, and trace.

If you have young kids at home (preschool - early elementary) they will LOVE Truth in the Tinsel!

And you will love the price. Today only (Black Friday), the e-book is $2.99 (regular $4.99).  Don't let this deal get away.

And to make it more fun - you can join with everyone at the Truth in the Tinsel Facebook page to encourage each other during Advent by posting pictures of the crafts your kids made, funny things they said, etc...  What a fun challenge!

No BLB of the day today... We are having a BLB Groupon-like sale!  All Gift Certificates are on SALE!  Get the full printed price for much much cheaper here.  These are awesome gifts for that someone who might like to design their own Better Life Bag! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

what would you have left tomorrow?

It's Thanksgiving.  The day we all give thanks.  I'm not very good at giving thanks.  Are you?

Maybe this will help.

I pinned this quote on Pinterest awhile back and it continues to haunt me every day.  Am I giving enough thanks?  Even when life is HARD?  And the kids are whiny?  And someone vandalizes my house?  Or breaks into my car?  Thanks is hard.

There has been a huge trend towards Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  Basically she encourages everyone to start writing down the simple everyday things we are thankful for each day.  And make it a goal to reach 1000 entries.

I quit after just two weeks.  I guess I'm not very good at giving thanks.  That is - until she came out with an iPhone app!  I can log my 1000 gifts with a picture and a caption.  Now THIS is right up my alley.  I love pictures and I love documenting life and memories.  And I LOVE my iPhone.  Now I can add my thankfulness in the midst of it all.

It is my end of the year goal to have this be the last waking thing I do every day.  Fall asleep while logging my thankfulness.

It should make for a great end of year.  Join me?  Download the app here.

BLB of the day: The Alicia 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

do you see your bag?

Still trucking along on Christmas orders.  Remember, the deadline for Christmas orders is December 5th.  There will be no more sales on bags themselves this year, BUT stay tuned for a really special Black Friday/Cyber Monday SPECIAL!  You won't want to miss it.

Until then, feast your eyes on these custom bags I finished last week.  They are in the mail, ladies!

A Cyndi bag and Tracey Clutch - matching, of course.

A Nicole featuring the NEW Better Life Bag labels.

An Alicia Clutch in my limited stock of Amy Butler fabric.  If you are wanting a bag in this fabric, act fast - I'm almost out.

And a hair straightener cover (these are GREAT sellers!)

BLB of the day:

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Monday, November 21, 2011

4 generations of quilters. will it be 5?

So far, every woman in my family has been a seamstress.  My Great Grandma made the quilt I've been using in the backgrounds of "Watch Ditty Grow".  She actually either made the quilt with me in mind or Ditty!  There was a note pinned to the quilt that said, "For Marian's Great Daughter"

Now stick with me here:  Marian is MY grandma.  So my great grandma {Marian's mother} either meant it for me {her GRANDdaughter} or Ditty {her GREAT Granddaughter}.  The note is unclear.

Either way, it's in my possession and I'm SO happy about it.  I love that the stitching is all hand sewn.  I can't imagine how long that took.

The quilt beneath it was made by my Grandma.  She was an amazing quilter and gifted me this one on my wedding day.  I will also treasure this one forever.

My mom ALSO quilts and made Ditty a colorful quilt at my request.  All three of these quilts are going to be handed down to Ditty when she leaves my house.  There are stories behind each one.  And beautiful hands.
Speaking of generations... I have been lucky enough to grab 4 generation pictures for both JoJo and Ditty.

Here is the male 4 generation shot:

And the female version.  The "seamstresses"...

I suppose I'm going to have to try my hand a quilt to add to the collection, too.  And then, of course, will teach Ditty everything I know about sewing so she can add hers to the family quilt collection!  I just love family history heirlooms. 

BLB of the day: 

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{good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

Saturday, November 19, 2011

headbands are just extensions of little girls' heads {a tutorial}

Ever since Ditty was born, I've put headbands on her.  I want her to think that the headband is just an extension of her body - mostly so she won't pull it off every second.  So far it seems to be working.

Here is a photo montage of 'Lil Ditty with all her headbands.
Headbands are from:
Center - some boutique store in IL, Top Left Corner - Target, Top Center - Dollar Store, Top Right Corner - Bandz by Liz, Right Center - Bandz by Liz, Bottom Left Corner - handmade, Bottom Center - interchangeable flower hat by Ooh So Chic Boutique, Bottom Right Corner - interchangeable bow clips from Sunshine Items, Left Center - just a simple piece of ribbon

But, I'm getting bored with all the headbands we have.  So, instead of buying more (although I did recently do that, too), I decided to make one out of an old loved t-shirt of mine.

You can too:

Start with your old worn shirt.

Cut a strip of fabric about 2" wide and 14" long (remember, it will stretch to fit your little one's head).

Sew the ends together.

Try it on your little love to make sure it's the right size.  If it's too loose, just sew it together to make it smaller.  If it's too tight, start over!
The band is now finished, so you can decorate with a fun flower!
I cut four flowers in differing sizes - no pattern needed... you can't mess it up.

 Laid the on top of one another.

 Then sewed them together by hand.

Such a cute, sweet headband that was super cheap.  Much better than throwing that torn shirt away!
Better Life Bag of the day: 
The Cyndi:
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{good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}
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