Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I recently saw a recipe on a friend's Facebook page for Dark Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies and I could not wait to try them out. I planned to make them while hunkered down during a snowstorm, but then I realized I did not have some very key ingredients at home (such as the M&Ms!), so I convinced my husband to take me out to get the stuff I needed before the snow got too bad. The trade-off was that he got to choose the store and instead of going to the large and very popular grocery store in town he chose a smaller specialty shop. Of course they didn't have the ingredients I needed either, so since I liked the concept of a chocolate mint cookie I grabbed some mint chocolate chips and called it a day. 

I made a lot of adjustments based on what I did have on hand, including omitting the M&Ms and the dark chocolate powder. Of course that means the name had to change, but for the sake of this post I am using the original recipe as guidance and just deleting/substituting what I did have. I am also keeping the original directions but changing it where necessary. Thanks to My Baking Addiction for a great base for me to start from! Be sure to check out her site for the original recipe 

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

YIELD: 3 dozen
PREP TIME: 15 minutes


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 oz milk chocolate chips
8 oz (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nestlé Toll House Winter Mint and Chocolate Morsels
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Crushed candy canes (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Use a whisk to stir, evenly distributing the dry ingredients and aerating the flour at the same time. Set aside.
3. In a large measuring cup, melt together 4 oz (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter and chocolate in the microwave, heating 30 seconds at a time. After 30 seconds, stir the butter and chocolate together, then heat again. Stir after each increment until butter and chocolate combine easily. Do not overcook. Set aside to slightly cool.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, mix the remaining 4 oz of butter together with granulated sugar, scraping the bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium speed after each addition. Continue to scrape the sides of the bowl often.
5. Add vanilla to the mixture and mix on medium speed again until the wet ingredients are well combined. Leave the mixer on low speed and slowly add in the chocolate-butter mixture. Add it slowly so as not to accidentally 'cook' the eggs with the warm chocolate.
6. When chocolate has been completely incorporated, begin to add the dry ingredients in increments, mixing on low speed after each addition.
7. When a cohesive chocolate dough has formed, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any remaining flour and mix again, then remove from the stand mixer if using one.
8. Add both the mint and white chocolate chips to the dough, mixing them through by hand.
9. Use a medium sized cookie scoop to distribute 6-8 dough balls per baking sheet.
10. Bake each tray for 12-14 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle tops with crushed candy canes (this is optional. I used a fine candy cane dust that i got by running the candy through the Magic Bullet). Press each cookie with the flat back of a spatula to flatten, then allow to cool.
11. Cool the cookies on the baking tray for a moment, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here are the Winter morsels. Very tasty!

And the finished cookies:

I think this will be added to my "Tried and True" collection for next year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas is WHEN?

Tonight as I tucked him in, my five year old asked how many more days until Christmas. I thought about it and realized it was only nine more "sleeps".  NINE MORE SLEEPS until we wake up on Christmas morning. How did that happen?

This year went by incredibly fast, but the weeks since Thanksgiving seemed to have passed in a mere blink of an eye. Perhaps it's because I was very busy all year with my crafting business (I have been very lucky to have some wonderful return customers) and it has barely slowed down, especially during the holiday season. Or perhaps it is because I am a little less organized this year and I didn't make my usual lists to keep track of lists. But all I know is that in the next nine days I need to finish my final custom order, create and order our yearly personalized calendars for my family, wrap gifts, bake two kinds of cookies, make two kinds of truffles, and try out a cinnamon sugar almond recipe that just may make it into my coworkers and neighbor's gift baskets (all 21 of them). I also need to brave the mall to get said baskets for those treats. Oh, then there is also my son's school's cookie decorating extravaganza and holiday program.  Lets add on some snow to top it all off, which means I won't make it to the grocery store after work tomorrow for the last minute ingredients I need. But that's what a husband's day off is for, right? Who wants to tell him????

Not that any of these things are stressing me out. I am looking at it all like a big Christmas challenge. Which is why I am writing this blog instead of wrapping the Yankee swap gift for tomorrow's work luncheon, which is resting by my feet. As hard as I will it with my mind, I suppose that emergency auto kit just isn't going to jump in a bag all on its own.

But wouldn't that just be a Christmas miracle if it did???

Nine more sleeps and I will regain my sanity, I promise!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Redesigned website

I have had my website, for years now but it was a regular site that wasn't really conducive as an e-commerce solution. I learned a little basic HTML to make it look nice and I added PayPal buttons for some of my items but it got cumbersome to keep up with, especially with hundreds of products in my inventory. Then I discovered Etsy and opened my store there. It was a great solution because so many people are familiar with it already.  They would search for what they wanted and if I had something similar in stock then they would find me.  Perfect!  Unfortunately the fees started adding up after a while. And then their rules seemed to change often.  It went from a handmade site to one that also hosts mass produced and vintage items.  I don't feel like I belong there anymore (or worse yet, as if I am not wanted).

So needless to say I've been wanting to redesign my site for a while now, but time and money were the biggest obstacles. Isn't that always the case no matter what you're talking about? But since I was finally frustrated enough (and my old website hosting was about to expire) I finally made the change.  And I found a wonderful hosting partner with Merchant Moms.

The site is very easy to use once you get started and the customer service is amazing. They are with you every step of the way and anytime you hit a bump in the road they immediately make things smooth again. Needless to say I have been spending hours upon hours getting my site up and running. What better time to do this then Christmas? That was sarcasm, by the way. Only I would choose to roll out a brand-new website at my busiest time of the year.

Now driving traffic to an e-commerce site is the number one thing and unless I get my name out there nobody is going to know who I am. (IF anyone has any advice on how to use meta-tags please, please, please share)!

Overall I am thrilled with my new site and it is what I always wanted to have. So PLEASE f you are reading this I would love it if you checked out I have so many things on there that would be great for stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers and caregivers.

Spread the word if you like what you see. Use the Pinterest buttons, or share on Facebook. You tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so forth. It's definitely still a work in process but it's better than what I had before!!

Oh, and if anyone would like to come decorate my Christmas tree in exchange for a key fob, I'm sure we could work something out!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ramblings for a Sunday

Yesterday I did a craft fair at a local school I wasn't familiar with. I heard about it through a friend, and since I haven't done any since May I figured it would be nice to get one in before the holidays. I had no idea what the foot traffic would be like, but since we are getting close to the holidays I was hopeful. It wasn't the most successful day for me, but I sold more in one day at this fair than I did all month on Etsy, so that was a plus. I also got my name out there more and I am learning more about the power of networking. I sat next to a very nice woman that was selling a popular bag line. She was incredibly motivated and just hearing about everything she does made me tired. Salesperson, realtor, mom of two, wife to a traveling husband, and head of the PTO. She is organizing a Mom's night out to benefit her son's school and she invited me as a vendor.  I think a night like that is great for my products since they make awesome stocking stuffers or gifts for acquaintances. So even though the show wasn't huge, I walked away with a new opportunity.

As with most fairs I donated an item for their raffle table. I chose a new item in my hair accessory product line, a "bling" headband with a detachable petal hair bow that can be worn alone as a clip, similar to this listing on Etsy.  After the raffles were announced the winner of my headband came to my table to thank me because her daughter was really hoping to win it. Getting the in-person thanks was such a great feeling. So many times I sell things online, but then I never hear from the customer again. Getting positive feedback makes the long hours of sewing worth it, and makes me want to immediately get behind the machine again.

The new opportunity and the happy customers are two more ways to get my brand out there. It is getting harder to sell on Etsy since some of my products depict popular tv shows or characters and they don't like to sell those things. I purchase these ribbons based on customer requests, but then I am stuck with leftover ribbon to use up. One of my goals for the beginning of the year is to set up a better website to replace my current  Joatmon Creations one,   but until then I have to find another venue to sell my Harley, Coach, Angry Birds, Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse, and Family Guy items.  These are the companies that have cracked down on me recently, despite the fact that I did not reproduce their logos in the first place. I just purchased the ribbon someone else made with them and then created my own items.  So, if you are in the market for some fun novelties that are handmade in the US by a local crafter, feel free to message me or find me on Facebook.

Well, now its time for some family bonding, also known as yard work. Happy Sunday!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Sugar Nuts

slow cooker cinnamon sugar nuts 

I found this recipe online and it only called for almonds. Since I like a mix of different nuts, I adapted it to include cashews and peanuts,  too. (Note: this post has been updated to include a link to the original recipe.  Thanks,

1 1/2 C. Sugar ( I adjusted to 1 cup)
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar (I adjusted to 1 cup)
3 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 Egg White
2 tsp. vanilla
3 Cups Almonds (I used 2.5 cups EACH of almonds, peanuts and cashews)
1/4 C. Water

In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinammon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add nuts. Make sure they are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add cinnamon mixture to the nuts and toss until coated.

Thoroughly spray your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and add the mixture of nuts and sugars.
Cook on low 3-4 hours stirring every 30 minutes. In the last hour, add the 1/4 C. of water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy yummy coating. (*make sure after you’ve added the water that you continue to cook the nuts for another 45 minutes to an hour.)

You have to stir really well, especially as it gets later in the cooking process.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the almonds flat to cool. The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure to separate them a little and have no large mounds.

"Action" photo (while cooking)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

See what I put up with?

Last night when I got home from work my guys were still out doing errands so I called my husband to tell him I was going to walk to the mall because I needed something at Michael's Crafts. I explained that there was pizza for him and our son and they could heat it up and eat it without me. 

Husband; "isn't Michael's next to a Firehouse Subs? I could really go for a steak and cheese. And CD wants a ham sandwich. Get something for yourself too since you will be hungry when you get home." (Gee, thanks, can I really??)
Me: "I am WALKING. I don't want to carry sandwiches for 2 miles! And you have pizza!"

After a little back and forth he finally convinced me that carrying three sandwiches home wasn't going to kill me.
So I did it.
I carried three hot sandwiches for two miles.
Like a baby in the crook of my arm because the flimsy paper bag started to break. But I brought them home dinner. And when I walked In the door they were sitting at the table waiting for me.

In front of their pizza crusts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hannah Montana and the Wildly Awkward Twerker

Okay, here is my deal on the whole Miley Cyrus thing. I watched it once...that was all I needed.  It's not a case of "if you don't like it, don't watch it."  I'm not horrified that Hannah Montana has grown up and is trying to show she is an adult and is "sexy".  It's the fact that she was so weirdly awkward while doing it.  I actually feel bad for her if she thinks that what she was doing was provocative and racy but instead it was clumsy, ugly, and just plain bizarre.  How does she seriously think that the tongue wagging stuff is attractive?

You are a grown up, go for it....just please learn to do it in a way that doesn't burn my eyeballs and make me cringe for you in embarrassment.

p.s. you know you are an amateur when your "surprise" costume #2 is hanging out under costume #1.  The minute she walked out and I saw that, I thought "this just can't be good."

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Anxiety

My five year old will be starting school in two weeks and I'm not sure if we are ready.  And by "we" I mean "me."  I do think he has come to terms with the fact that he will be starting Kindergarten.  In the beginning he was very nervous and said he didn't want to go, but then he went to a Kindergarten prep "camp" of sorts for two weeks and I think he saw that it wouldn't be much different from the two years of preschool he just completed.  He seems totally fine with the prospect of starting school now, thank God.

I, on the other hand, am a bit nervous.  Not about sending my son off to begin the next 13 years (or hopefully 17 years) of learning, but about having to be involved.  With other moms.  Who will no doubt be very different from me.

I am older.... in my ((cough cough)) 40's (closer to early 40's, but next year I'll be closer to the mid's).
I work full time, 8 to 5, every day
Our son is an only child

This feels like the trifecta, the perfect storm for not fitting in.

I can't relate to the other moms.  I only recently heard the song "Blurred Lines" for the first time.  They don't play that on XM's 80's on 8 satellite station.

I won't be able to volunteer at the school on a weekly basis. I'll drop CD off on my way to work and my husband will pick him up on his way home.  No extra time to stand and chat in the drop off/ pick up line.  No getting together to hit the gym or take a walk while we pass the time waiting for school to end. Probably won't be able to fit in many PTO meetings either.

I won't know any of these parents on day one because I don't have other kids that have gone through the school system. Some days I feel like we are the only parents in a one-child family.  We didn't intend it to be that way, but it's just how it has worked out.  And given my age, the ship has pretty much sailed on this one (so please stop asking when number 2 is coming thankyouverymuch).

My husband and I are very active socially with our core group of friends that I've known since my twenties.  But they don't all live in our town, nor do they all have children.  Now that CD is starting school I know it's important for us to make friends with the parents of his classmates so we can plan play dates, and such, something that will be crucial for an only child since he does not have anyone at home his own age.

I don't want to sound like I'm anticipating only bad things and this is all in my head.  It's not.  For two years we tried to fit in at CD's preschool.  People were nice enough, but we always felt like outsiders.  At school sponsored events we would try to strike up conversations, but they didn't go much farther than the pleasantries.  We typically are likable people, I swear.  We aren't degenerates and we don't smell funny (well, I don't think we do).  We just found that a lot of the other parents at that school knew each other already.  They were around the same age, many of whom went to high school together.  We felt like they intentionally didn't want to include others that they didn't know.

I hate cliques.

Ironically toward the end of his last year of preschool I started to fit in a little more.  CD was invited to a number of birthday parties and we always went to them.  They typically were at a local inflatables play place, so it was easy to mill around and talk to different people for short periods of time, while keeping a watchful eye on the kids.  Even though we would ask him every day who he played with at school, our son always replied "I didn't play with anyone today.  I don't have any friends at school."  However when we would go to these birthday parties and I'd introduce myself almost always the reaction was "So you are CD's mom!  My son does not stop talking about him!!"  Apparently our son was highly regarded among his classmates, although he would never let onto this fact at home.  This finally gave me a little more leverage when it came to socializing, but it was a little too late.

When it came time for his birthday party mid-August I asked who he wanted to invite and he gave me four names.  It was nice having their mom's at our house for his party but I still didn't feel like I fit in entirely. Part of that may have been because I was trying to chat with them, while also checking on the other 30 guests (family members). I guess I just feel awkward when it comes to small talk.  Plus, we have an odd sense of humor (says the woman with the pair of jeans hanging on our porch wall, that were ripped off one of our friends at our "Redneck" party or the giant stuffed boar's head looming over our table where we serve our summertime guests)

I know we have to try extra hard and be there for every school sponsored event so people will get to know us.  I plan to approach parents and start up conversations, as hard as that may be.  But I'm still fearful of being the outsiders.  I fear it will eventually hurt our son and that is the last thing I want to do.

I plan to keep an open mind and a positive attitude.  But I am also a realist and like to plan for all the "what ifs!"

If anyone has some experience with this, please share it in the comments.  I can use all the encouragement I can get!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strong boy, powerful words

My son, CD, just turned 5 and he is gearing up to start Kindergarten in two weeks.  Originally because his birthday was so close to the September 1st cut-off, his preschool teachers convinced us to wait an extra year before sending him off to elementary school.  Then back in March they changed their mind and felt that his social skills really blossomed this year and he would be ready to start school on schedule.  We spent months convincing ourselves that it was in his best interest to wait until he was 6, only to reverse course and scramble to enroll him for this September.  We still speak to a lot of people who think waiting another year would be best, but when the teacher said "if he was my son, I'd send him now" I took her advice to heart.

But that doesn't mean we aren't all still a little nervous, my son especially.  We thought we had one more year to prepare for this, but we don't. So I have been trying to talk up how great Kindergarten would be and how he will still get toys even though he is getting older (yes, this was one of his concerns)!  We decided to hold off on other activities for a little while until we were sure he could handle more than just the day at school.  He is going from a three day a week, 9 to Noon program to five days a week, 8 to 2:30.  One of the activities that we are temporarily putting a hold on is his martial arts class.  We do plan to start up again in a little while, but for now we wanted to wait.

Over the weekend I had to stop by the martial arts studio to drop off a headband to his instructor.  While we were waiting someone asked CD why he wasn't in his uniform.  We explained that we hadn't renewed our membership for right now because we wanted to see how the transition to Kindergarten went.  Another student overheard this and immediately exclaimed "Kindergarten will be the BEST year of your life!"  then he recounted all of the wonderful things about going to school.  It was a little different for him because he is a cancer survivor and he was going through treatments when he started school, but he still had such a fond remembrance of it all.  He told us that he is 12 years old now and heading into the seventh grade.  I was a bit surprised by this because he looks younger.  And as if he read my mind he said that he knew he looked like he was only 8 years old and he was always the smallest in his class (as I fear my son will be), but it was okay.  He didn't say it with sadness, just very matter of fact.  There was a wise-beyond-his-years attitude about him.  He was so excited to tell my son about how great everything would be, even I wanted to go back to Kindergarten!!!

I marveled at this boy and how kind he was to my son. I regret not seeking out his parents to let them know what a great job they did in raising him.  The martial arts studio is having an awards ceremony on Saturday night and they will be celebrating this young man's 8th year in remission. I am hoping I can let his parents know at that time how much his advice helped me and my son.  I truly think CD is a little less apprehensive now because of this really brave guy and his kind words.  And I hope one day my son will do the same for someone else.

Never underestimate the kindness of strangers, no matter how young they may be!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indiana Jones and the 5 Year Old's Birthday Party

About a year ago my son became infatuated with the Lego Indiana Jones Wii video game.  Next came the movies, which he can describe with amazing accuracy.  He has learned a lot about history, nature, and survival (he knows more about scorpions than I do)!  He will tell you that when he grows up he wants to be an Archaeologist, to which we reply "Not all Archaeologists swing over chasms with a bullwhip" so then he changes his mind and says that he wants to be a stunt man, too.  Oh, boy!

So, it was no surprise to us when we asked him six months ago what he wanted his 5th birthday party theme to be and he said "Indiana Jones!"  We asked again each month after that and the answer never wavered.  Therefore this mom was given the great task of planning a party around a 30 year old movie.  Yeah, me!

After doing some research I realized I was very limited in the party supplies I would find.  The last movie, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls (which is my least favorite of the Indy franchise), was released in 2008 so if there were any party supplies out there they would be centered around that movie.  But even those were hard to come by.  I finally made the decision to purchase a few things, but then make most others.  One of those purchases was a plastic tablecloth.  For $14.99!  Of course after spending that much on a piece of plastic picturing an old Harrison Ford and a post-Transformers Shia LaBeouf I didn't want to get it dirty, so I hung it up like a banner to keep it as clean as possible.  Will I ever use this again, who knows?  But I just couldn't bear the thought of eating off a $15 tablecloth!  Buyer's remorse much?

We nailed down the party date just before leaving on vacation so I really didn't have much time to get creative.  Most invitees were family with just a few of my son's former preschool classmates, so I found a picture of Indy with a map in the background and used PowerPoint to fill in the details.  Printed out on regular old 8 1/2 x 11 and we were good to go....

I found this cute Adventure Trunk that included an Indiana Jones costume, foam whip and knife, coins, compass and some other miscellaneous items.  Even though CD already had a Fedora and Whip he still loved everything that was in here.  I added in The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones and a few tiny artifacts that I found on eBay and he was beside himself with excitement before the party even began!

We have a pool and normally that is the big "activity" for the kids, but I felt like I had to do a lot more given the nature of this theme.  I debated on having someone show up dressed as Indy, but in the end I just went with having an adventure obstacle course. In my head the 8 kids would all arrive at the same time, we'd line them up and each one would go through the obstacle course one by one.  It would be a grand old time, with their parents and friends watching on, full of laughter.

We'd start by having to cross over the snake pit, then crawl through the tunnel of bugs. Oriental Trading Company and The Dollar Tree were instrumental in stocking these obstacles.

After that they would climb up the rock wall into the bat cave, which had these great animated bats (yay for AC Moore putting out their Halloween stuff early!!)

They would then go down the "mountain" slide while trying to avoid the giant boulder.  After that they would dig for treasure in the sand pit (more Dollar Tree finds)
Treasure before being buried
And here is how the sand pit looked when they arrived

Finally they would grab a "goblet" and use some adhesive gems to make their own Holy Grail.  All the while they could dine on some worms and sip the antidote if they had the Pankot Punch (generic blue fruit drink from the local market).


In reality, as soon as the kids showed up  they were so excited to see each other, they ran past me as I was greeting their moms and made a dash for the "bat cave", but not before grabbing handfuls of snakes and insects to take with them.  One little girl went right to the treasure dig and had a wonderful time finding the jewels as the boys threw snakes down the "mountain".  My OCD started to kick in, and I was about to shout "wait, there is an obstacle course!  I have a whole PLAN!!!"  But once I heard their squeals of laughter I realized all that mattered was that they were having fun!  Seeing the smile on my son's face made it all worthwhile!

After a while some of the girls (and my son) decorated some of the goblets.  That seemed to be a hit for them, along with the treasure dig.   Boys and girls alike seemed to really enjoy that.  Of course I had to add some skulls and spiders in there for good measure, but it was fun to see the boys walking around with giant "diamonds" on their fingers, too.

Lunch was a feast of pizza, sandwiches, and of course Eyeball Soup (ping pong balls floating in tomato sauce)

and Monkey Brains (raspberry jello with dry ramen noodles dyed red)! One little girl was even brave enough to try the brains.

Of course we had a Pinata (the skull shape went along well with the theme) and the backyard was decorated with movie posters and brown paper wrapped boxes that were marked "Property of Dr. Jones" and "Top Secret, Army Intel, Do Not Open".

My son loves the Zeppelin scene from the Last Crusade, but the closest I could get was a Goodyear blimp.  I wanted to somehow paint it to look like a Zeppelin but my husband nixed that idea (probably because I asked him to do it at 10 pm the night before the party), but my son didn't seem to mind that it was not an exact replica.  He loves that blimp!

For the goodie bags each child went home with their own "Adventure Journal" (awesome find at AC Moore in the dollar bin. I added a sticker using the SF Fedora font and a stamp that said Confidential. Voila! Perfect), some snacks, and whatever treasures they uncovered in the sand pit. Oh, and of course snake tattoos!  Why did it have to be snakes!!

This was the most thought I've ever put into one of his parties, but it definitely was the most rewarding.  My son gave me a huge hug at the end of the day and told me I was the BEST MOM EVER.

This may not have been the most elaborate Indiana Jones party (by Pinterest standards), but for me it was a huge success!!

Well, maybe not so much for this guy. I think he was waiting too long for a push. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Boston Strong

Boston Strong Key Fobs
I'm a lifelong Bostonian, so the events over the past couple of months have definitely (and literally) hit home.  It's been a tough time, but it also gave us a chance to show what a proud and strong city we are.  I was unable to attend or even listen to the fantastic concert benefiting the victims and The One Fund last night, but based on the clips that I have seen it must have been a truly unbelievable experience!

When tragedies like this happen everyone wants to know what they can do to help and how they can show their pride. My family made a donation to The One Fund right away, but I felt like I should do more.  Then a customer asked if I had any "Boston Strong" ribbon.  I did a search online and didn't find anything that suited my products so I contacted a ribbon supplier, drew up what I wanted, and she had someone custom make the ribbon for me.  Now I have over five different products in my shop featuring this ribbon, and 15% of my sales go to The One Fund.  It's my way of doing more!

So, I am proud to say that I so far I am up to a $90 donation to The One Fund!!  And I still have more to sell, so please stop by and see what I have.  Show your Boston Pride, show that you are Boston Strong, and do a little MORE for the city that we all love!
Boston Strong Headbands

Boston Strong Dog Collars

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Can't say I didn't try

A couple of weeks ago I posted an entry called The Cobbler's Kids which detailed my guilt over not being crafty with my son.  Today I wanted to post a bit of an update on that entry.

After thinking about it more, and having two Saturdays pass by, I realized that while many of those excuses i posted may be true, the more underlying issue is time.  We just don't have a lot of time to be crafty on the weekends.  I work outside of the home from 8 to 5, then once I get home it's dinner time.  After that we have a very short window to play, then the bedtime routine begins.  Saturday is my day alone with my son because I am off on the weekends, but my husband works until 1:30 on that day.  That would be the perfect time for me to break out the supplies and craft away with my four year old.  However since it is the perfect day for me to get things done, once karate class is over mid-morning we are then running around doing errands.  Or going to some event (birthday party, train show, grandma's house, etc).  By the time we get home, I'm usually cleaning the house instead of making more of a mess.  Then Sunday is typically family day where we go hiking or over someone's house for dinner.  It's just a little tough to carve out that time to focus on a project.

But this past weekend I did carve out the time and I had THREE projects I wanted to work on with my son.  I was so excited on Sunday morning, I couldn't wait to get started.

Project #1: Easter Egg coloring!
Well, that was more of his own project since he doesn't need too much guidance there.  He loved coloring them, and even when I thought he was done, he ran back into the room to dunk the eggs one last time.

He's very intent on getting them perfect.

Project #2:  Easter Bunny Lollipops.  Or as I like to call them: The Demented Easter Bunny family.  
This was a project that I found on Pinterest and I couldn't wait to make them for my cousin's kids.  I thought CD would love to make them as well, but after getting him to help sort out the different pieces that we needed (I used a paper plate separated into quarters and told him how many of each material to put into each section) he totally lost interest.  I think I got him to bend one pipe cleaner ear, and that was it.  The Cat in the Hat was more interesting to him than these bunny lollipops.  

Project #3:  Embroidery Floss Easter Eggs.  
This was another Pinterest  project that I couldn't wait to do.  And another project that completely did not interest my son.  Once he saw the water balloons, all he wanted to do was blow them up.  And pop them.  I thought he may like the idea of dragging the floss through the stiffener so I suited him up with rubber gloves, and that was the last time I saw him.  Well at least for an hour, then he kept coming back to see if they were dry so he could pop the balloons trapped inside the newly formed eggs.  

So, perhaps my projects were wrong for a four year old, but it just reinforces the fact that it's not entirely my fault that I am not very crafty with my son.  But that is okay.  I took him to a train and toy show the day before, and afterwards he told me I was the "best mom ever."  That compliment will erase the guilt any day of the week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The cobbler's kids....

You know the old tale about the cobbler's kids that have no shoes?  Well, that is how it is in my house when it comes to crafting.

Every night my four year old son goes to bed at 8:00 and my husband follows pretty close behind (sometimes even earlier), so that is when I get started in the craft studio.  It's a chance for me to pass the time instead of watching television on the couch while snacking on bon-bons.  I have a room full of supplies that I love to experiment with. Fabrics, ribbons, beading, paper, yarn, even stuff for candle making!!  But I never get the urge to pull those things out and just sit down to craft with my little boy.  I guess it never really hit me until today when pinned a fun Easter craft onto my Pinterest page for making embroidery floss Easter eggs and I thought to myself "will we really end up doing this?"

So, I sat down and listed all of the possible reasons why I never craft with him.  I'm putting it out there to help me overcome these perceived obstacles and realize I'm missing out on some awesome mommy-son fun time.  Please, don't judge!

The mess.  I am far from a good housekeeper, that's for sure.  But something about purposely making a mess on my dining room table and then realizing I need to clean it up before dinner seems daunting.  I am actually thinking about the after instead of the during.  This probably all started when I first let him finger paint.  Oy.

Boredom.  Whether it is him or me, one of us inevitably loses steam mid-way through and has no desire to finish.  This happens a lot while building Legos.  We start off nicely, with him helping me sort out the different colors and handing me the pieces we need.  Then next thing I know I'm the one totally engrossed in building the Starship Enterprise and he is completely engrossed in The Cat in the Hat.

Frustration.  I will admit that this may be the biggest obstacle to our crafting time.  I take for granted that my son is only four, especially since he talks like he is 40.  So if we are trying to follow instructions to get a specific end result I get a little frustrated when he takes some artistic liberties (or simply doesn't listen to me).  I remember at Christmastime we had some snowman ornaments with adhesive backed pieces which stuck to the white base.  I don't know how many times I would stop him and say "no, that doesn't go there, use this instead."  So what if his snowman had an arm sticking out of its head and a carrot where the arm should be. It was his project and I should have let him do it.  But I'm a control freak and not ready to let him nurture his inner Picasso.

Imagination.  Some crafting projects require imagination and sometimes I just don't have any.  This is also why we don't play house or dress up or any other fun things that a kid likes to do.  I leave that to his dad, who is very good at playing "Army men" for long chunks of time.

Territorial.  Occasionally I need to get something done during the day up in my craft room. The little guy follows me up and loves looking around at all the "stuff."  Then he starts touching it.  And wanting to make things with it.  But it's my stuff!  I need it for a future project!  I swear!  Last night I watched an episode of Hoarders and realized every time the person said "oh I need to keep that in case I ever do such and such"  I have boxes of supplies from crafting projects that I haven't touched in years.  But the minute my son wants it, I say "oh no mommy is going to need those again if I ever decide to make a feather covered tiara with pipe cleaners and rhinestones" (you get the point here...)

Electronics.  This is the worst one to admit to, but I'm putting it out there.  My son and I are both addicted to our electronics   On a Saturday morning it is not unusual to find us sitting side-by-side on the couch with our iPads playing foolish games. Sometimes he looks at mine and asks what different words are laid out on the Scrabble-like game board (I justify this by saying I'm helping him learn to spell). Or he asks me to help him achieve a certain goal in his building game.  But I realize this foolish addiction has got to stop, for both of our sake! Now please don't think all my kid does is sit on the couch and play games, that's not true at all. He has a lot of toys that he plays with, he has karate and swimming classes that keep him active, and when the weather is nice we hit the park.  But his time with his iPad it is definitely time that would be better spent on a project.  At least once mommy gets that first cup of coffee in her system.

So, I wrote this post to lay it all out there and realize I need to start getting more crafty for FUN not just profit.  My son needs it.  I've been feeling really guilty about it and it's time I take action, especially when he told his teacher that I should come into class and make a craft with his friends.  I can't come up with a single idea of something I can make with a group of three and four year olds!  Last year I went to his class and taught them how to make lollipop ghosts with tissues and pipe cleaners at Halloween, but that isn't  going to fly this time around.  Looks like I'll be "pinning" a lot more and testing them out with my son on the weekends....NO EXCUSES THIS TIME!  And to keep me honest, I'll post pictures of the end results.... no matter how messy they come out!

If you have any great toddler craft ideas (that can be done with a large group, and with little mess or prep) please comment!

Let him alone for just a few minutes....

Mess in the making


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Necessity is the mother of invention

I know towels that hang from the stove handle aren't a new "invention" and there are lots out there.  But it's new for ME and that's what is important right?

It drives me crazy when I have a towel hanging from my oven and it slips off.  I usually just have them there for aesthetics, but it's still frustrating to always be fixing them so they look "just right."  I've been meaning to whip something up that will stay put and match my kitchen.  Here is the first pass and it met half of my requirements (my kitchen is more green and burgundy but I wanted to try my idea out with some ribbon that I had on hand).  A few more tweaks and I'll love the outcome! I did do a search on Etsy and there were similar items, but nothing that I saw quite like this with the ribbon along both edges.

I'd love to hear what you think.  Is this a product you would be interested in?  My goal is to also use some fabrics instead of ribbon so the possibilities for matching color schemes is greater, plus with fabric the towels become more functional.  Many of my fun ribbon prints do not hold up very well to repeated washings.  However I do think some lined with my favorite New England teams (Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins) would be adorable for a sports fan!  

So, is a new product line for Joatmon Creations born again???

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My reputation precedes me

Today my four year old needed to take something to preschool for their "Leprechaun Trap."  Apparently the class has a pint size pixie wreaking havoc on their classroom at night.

At first I made the little guy a new bow tie to wear, thinking that would be intriguing to him if he saw it in the trap.  "Oh no, mommy.  That's much too big!  he is only this size" (squeezing his thumb and index finger within an inch of each other).  So back to the drawing board!  We searched through all of my craft items and my son, "CD", was picking out any small green supplies that he could find, whether they would be appealing to a leprechaun or not (but then again, who am I to determine what a mythical creature would enjoy, right)?

Finally he decided that maybe the leprechaun needed a new bed.  So we searched around for the perfect sized gift box.  We found one that formerly housed jewelry, so it already had the padding which served as a mattress.  We then added a green speckled bed spread and a felt pillow, which he helped me sew (he handles the pedal while I maneuver the material through the machine).  Finally he went through all of my miniature pieces and picked out two items that served as stuffed animals for the new owner. It was pretty cute and I was proud of him for coming up with a different idea.

He brought it to school today and the teachers told him how much they loved it.  He then said "maybe some day my mommy can come into school and do a craft with us all!'  As he told me this idea he ran up to me and gave me giant hug around my legs with a look of pride in his eyes.

So...tell me, how can you resist that?  Now to come up with something to make with a group of 4 year olds!

The bow tie I originally made for the Leprechaun

His new bed and "stuffed" animals

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Everything is coming up DISNEY!

I love making custom creations for people. They always make me happy.  But the ones that make me the happiest...and the saddest...are the Disney items.  So many people seem to be taking trips to Disney lately and they want to be all decked out in Mickey!  I can't say that I blame them!  My Mickey and Minnie headband covers have exploded over the past few months.  I have yards and yards and yards of ribbon that were special requests from customers and it's waiting for new home (or vacation).

But as I said, it also makes me sad because I really miss the Magic Kingdom.  After all, it holds a very special place in my heart.  A little over 8 years ago, on December 31, 2004, my now-husband proposed to me in the gazebo at Port Orleans!!

We were on a family trip and heading to dinner on Pleasure Island when we stopped for a photo.  My dad was fumbling with the camera (which was unusual since he always set it up without incident to take group photos using the timer).  So while he was trying to figure it out my guy stepped forward and thanked my family for inviting him on the trip even though he wasn't part of the family.  Then he added "but I would like to change that," as he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my parents, sister, brother in law, aunt, uncle and cousin.  And for a family oriented person like me....that was just PERFECT.

Oh, and you may be wondering if my dad ever figured out the camera.  Well he was actually video taping it the whole time.  My husband met with him a month earlier to ask his permission (very old fashioned) and they concocted the whole plan.

So.... maybe now you will know why every time I create something with a Disney theme, it sends me back in time just a little bit!!  And I love every minute of it!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Diaper Derby, February 16th

A new year, a new venture!

I spent 2012 building up my business to a bigger level than it was the year before (isn't that how it is supposed to be anyway)?  I got my name in the local newspaper for my Patriots headbands last February.  I started a number of new product lines that really took off (key fobs, reversible interchangeable headbands, dog collars).  I even got my feet wet with some craft fairs again (it had been years since I wanted to do another one).  It really got me excited for things to come in 2013.

One of my goals for this year is to get my products into a few shops.  I have a some contacts that are interested in different items and soon I will be visiting them to see how we can help each other.  It's exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time!

But first I will be setting up a table at a local MALL during their annual Diaper Derby event.  How fun will that be?  My son is a bit old to participate since he is four :-)  but it will be hilarious to watch those little diaper clad bums scoot down the "track" to their awaiting parents.  And I will be right there with my pacifier clips and tooth fairy pillows encouraging them on!  Crazy to think about!!

So, if you are in the North Shore area on Saturday February 16th please stop by the Liberty Tree Mall to see me.  You need to go to the mall for other things anyway, right?  I would love to meet you!