Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Alive!

I'm so excited to announce that the Granola Strolla website is finally live.
Check it out and let us know what you think.  It's still a work in progress as we get our prototypes made. 

5 things I can't believe people spend money on

Ever see something and go "why do people buy that crap?" Yeah, me too.

5: Shake weights.  Now lifting weights is too much, we need them to shake for us.  Not to mention it looks like your jerking off your man.  Hell, why not just jerk off your man.  He'll be happy and it's a great time to ask him for anything you want.

4: BowFlex. Just because Chuck Norris endorses it doesn't mean you need to use it.  Oh Chuck Norris is going to come to my house and punch me with his third fist.

3: Snuggies.  I don't want to use a blanket, what can I use that has arms and keeps me warm?  Oh yeah, a sweater. Maybe I'm old fashioned because I love the feeling of snuggling in to a cozy knit blanket.

2: Hummers.  Those damned monstrosities that some people feel the need to drive.  Hey, if you're in the military and need to drive a car through a war zone they're great, but they aren't needed for driving around to show off your complete lack of genitalia.   Nothing says "I have compensation issues" quiet like driving a vehicle that gets no gas mileage and can barely stay in one lane. 

1: Car Testicles.  Do you really need giant blue balls hanging off the back of your truck? Who thinks that's cool or sends a message other than "hey, I don't have testicles so check out the giant blue ones on my truck"?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A WIC coupon is not a license to treat people like crap!

I'm not normally profane by any means (at least not on this blog), so you'll understand just how upset I am when I say:
FUCK YOU STOP AND SHOP!  My using WIC does not mean you can treat me like I'm some idiot or a worthless piece of shit.

It's hard enough to be on WIC.  It hurts our pride, but we know it's the best thing for Garrett.  We do our best to make sure we get the items that are WIC approved (most stores have WIC written on the code on the displays so it's easy to figure out what is covered). I section everything on conveyor belt by what WIC coupon I'm using so everything is together. 

Sometimes things get mislabeled or even misshelved, but instead of an apology I get this look like I must be a piece of shit and I've made their job a pain in the ass (although most of them have that "I hate my life" look). 

Today it was milk.  A fucking quart of milk.  They had 3 milk brands and all were WIC approved.  We've checked with the WIC office before and they told us if it is labeled as WIC approved we can get it. If something is labeled and they don't honor it we have to lodge a complaint with them.   So I grab the milk.  The woman at the register gives me this look and huff and says "You can only get the store brand. The other brand is WIC approved but you can't get it."
"If it's WIC approved then I CAN get it."
"Um, No"
"Get me the manager"

She huffs at me again and rolls her eyes like I'm being the biggest bitch in the world.  The manger comes up and I explain it to him.  They've already taken the milk I was going to get and put it back.  Ben had run to get another one but grabbed the wrong size (the milk section was a mess).  So the manager sends back the bagger to get the milk this time.  A quart...remember we're getting a quart.
I take the pen and write down the names of the people I'm dealing with.  Suddenly the manager gets this tone with me...
"I didn't do anything."
"Excuse me?"
"I didn't do anything why are you writing my name down?"   Oh guy...prepare for a new asshole...
"Really, first off I was writing down the names so when I call and they ask me who I dealt with I can give them names.  Second off, now I will call corporate to lodge a complaint because at no point did you apologize to me or my husband when we both said your employee made us feel like crap.  No, you continue to stand here and give me that look of annoyance like somehow I am worth less than you because I'm on WIC."

The manager was silent.  So bagging lady comes back...with a fucking GALLON of milk.  The manager looks horrified and sends her back.  Still no apology to me or Ben for the way we've been treated. 

So we finish with the WIC and proceed to get our other groceries.  We got 4 boxes of cereal because there is a sale where you get a free coupon for milk.  I reminded Ben about it and he asked the woman at the register...
She gave him such a dirty look and said "it prints on its own".  And then practically ignored him. 

Now really, did we deserve to be treated like crap because we are on WIC?  Would it have been hard for the manager to apologize because the cashier made us feel shitty? 
Tomorrow we call WIC and the Stop and Shop corporate office to lodge complaints.  Using WIC is hard enough for people.  It doesn't give anyone the right to treat you like you are less of a person for it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My sleeping beauties.

I love my guys, but it seems that I love taking pictures of the two of them sleeping.  Must be something about them snuggled together.  It's pretty cool to see how Garrett has grown. I had a bunch more but convinced myself I didn't need a ton of pictures of my boys sleeping and deleted them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Always crafting

I'm working on an awesome project involving a vintage telephone table.  I had some fabric left over so I made myself a headband.
Headbands are great for those foggy Boston days when I've had no sleep and need my hair to not look like Medusa.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What happened to the small fabric store? A find in Portsmouth

I admit it, I get most of my fabrics at Jo-Ann's.  They carry a great selection at great prices and send me a ton of coupons.  But I honestly miss a good local store.
I've gone from looking for designers named Michael Kors and Elie Tahari to designers named Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry.
There are some amazing fabrics out there that you just can't find at your big box store.  Enter The Portsmouth Fabric Company (hey, they're just as old as I am).  Nestled in an alley off the main road I almost missed them but I keyed in on the sign that had FABRIC in large letters.  Sure enough I wasn't disappointed. While the store is small the selection isn't. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and the prices are very reasonable for some very high end fabrics (plus there is no sales tax in NH).
Can't wait to use all these nifty fabrics

I came away with a small haul of over half a dozen various fabrics (each in about a yard).   I know it's a bit of a drive for Boston but I'm a very tactile person and I love feeling my fabrics before I use them for a project.  They even have an online store and ship all over the world.
I can't wait to use the fabrics I purchased there. I just wish I could find a shop like this closer to Boston.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why buy when you can make it?

One of the other moms at Early Intervention showed me a blanket she had purchased for her daughter.  They run $25 and her daughter loves her blanket, I had some left over minky fabric from another blanket so I decided to make one. 
Forgive the quick cell phone picture

What you'll need:
patterned fabric
softer plush fabric (I used minky)
contrasting thread
a piece of ribbon (optional)

Figure out how large you want to make the blanket and how large you would like the tabs to be.  I made my blanket 16" x 16" and the tabs 1" wide x 5" long. Cut 1 set out of your patterned fabric and 1 set out of your soft fabric. I made 12 tabs, 3 for each side. I used a 1/8" seam allowance but you can do whatever you are comfortable with.  Just make sure you account for your seam allowance when you cut your fabric.
A ruler and rotary cutter make this part easier

This is the tedious part, sewing together those little tabs. Place a patterned strip and a soft strip right sides facing and sew 1 short side and 2 long sides together.

Now turn it right side out.
Ben helped turn them while I sewed

You can leave the top seam unfinished because that will be hidden in the finished blanket.  I started tying all my knots in the tabs.  You can do it later but if your tabs are shorter it may be rough.

Pin the tabs to the blanket the the unfinished ends together.
I did 3 on each side.

I wanted my minky side to be showing on the tabs when it shows on the back so I pinned them with patterned sides together. Just remember, the side you pin face down against your pattern will be the side that shows when the blanket is facing up.
The left one shows how I sewed, the right is how it will lay when finished

Sew the tabs in place with a 1/8" seam allowance. You only need to go over them once because we'll be securing them more later.
I added a piece of ribbon in a loop to one corner just like the original blanket.  You don't have to do it, but it makes it easier to clip it on to something.
a fun contrasting color, left over ribbon is easy to find

Now place the minky on top of your patterned fabric right sides together.  Make sure all of the tabs are laying flat against the patterned fabric.
make sure the tabs are inside like this

Now sew with a 1/4" seam allowance so you get the ends of all those tabs again.  Leave 1 1/2" open for turning.

Turn your blanket right side out. Instead of doing a plain topstich I used the zig zag stitch.  You could always use a more decorative stitch because it will show with a contrasting thread.

All done, much cheaper than buying it and much more personal to give as a gift.
Lila approves of her new blanket.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Here's to 7 years!

7 years ago Ben and I got married in a small (very small) ceremony held by the Parent's Fountain on the SUNY Albany campus.
Our family
Our witnesses

Yup, only 6 people besides.  9 if you count me, Ben and the Justice of the Peace. 
The wig looked even worse in person

We had lunch at Outback Steakhouse afterwards.  Ben smooshed the ice cream sundae into my face. But I got him back.

I did have a lovely bouquet, put together for me by Ali over at The Craning Gap.  Who also took all the photos on our wedding day.

To the man I love, here's to the next 7 years together.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Customer Service where I least expected it, a paper company

Did you know to submit trademark paperwork to the government you need to use a very specific paper?
25% cotton, white and bonded.  What the hell is bonded?  Which paper did I need?

Ben and I were standing in Staples thinking "the last thing we need to do is send in the paperwork on the wrong paper".  So we asked the people who worked their who said "it would be with resume paper" and offered no other help. 
There were so many types of paper, all by the same company, Southworth. I picked up a package to read the back for more information and noticed a phone number. So I called. The phone tree was simple and I didn't have to press a ton of buttons before Carol came on the line. "Carol, I'm standing in Staples and I need some help."  She was wonderful and patient with me as she walked me through just what the hell bonded actually meant (it's a finish on the paper).  Carol not only told me which products would fit my needs, but she knew which ones Staples didn't carry. 

Ben was wondering who I had called who answered so quickly and gave me such amazing help. I was pleasantly surprised that I got such great customer service from the number on the back of a box.  It also reminded me that when in doubt look for a customer service number.

5 things I love

 Or just 5 things I can't live without.  (I am not affiliated with any of these companies, I'm just telling you guys what I love)

5: Band-Aid Blister blocker.  It looks like a strange mini deodorant stick and rolls on the same way. But damn it, it works and I use it all the time. Especially in the summer when I'm prone to blisters.  While the stick is small it lasts a long time.

 4: My Camelbak filtered water bottle. I grew up in NYC and I'm spoiled by the amazingly good tap water there.  I always carry a reusable water bottle but sometimes water from a bubbler can taste strange and you really don't know how clean it is. This bottle eliminates that because it has the filter built right in to the bottle.  I also love the convenience of the Camelbak straw. It won't spill if dropped and I don't need to tip my head back to get a drink.
 3: Spray sunblock. I have my favorite brands, but I love spray sunblock in general.  I was always one of those kids who hated the feeling of sunblock on their hands. Now I can spray it on and be covered.  I can cover my own back without help and do it all in a fraction of the time.  It's also a lot easier to spray Garrett than to try and get him to sit still while I glop stuff on.  With the locking caps we can easily carry one in the diaper bag so we're never without sunblock.  There is a type for everyone.

 2: My smartphone.  yes, I'm addicted but I love being connected. I'm constantly online between Twitter, Facebook, all my emails and the business, I need to be connected even when I'm out and about. There are even great apps like Toddler Lock that can help keep Garrett occupied.

1: I admit it, I'm in love with my Old Navy skinny jeans.  At first I thought anyone over a size 6 shouldn't be wearing skinny jeans but I soon learned.
I love that Old Navy sells Short, Regular and Long options for their sizes, it means I don't have to hem every pair of jeans because I'm only 5 feet tall.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm guest blogging today

Check out my guest blog over at Tales of an Unlikely Mother where I talk about making grommeted headbands.  You can even make them without sewing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy ice pops

I love ice pops in the summer but hate the overly sugared and fake flavored ones at the store.  It isn't just that I have to think about Garrett and what he eats, I'm diabetic and need to watch my sugar intake. 
We've got a bunch of ice pop molds, I know some people use ice cube trays but I prefer a more substantial pop.

I started with plain juices. I prefer using all natural juices with no sugar added. I went with Simply Orange with Pineapple.  Even Garrett loved the ice pops, he's also a big fruit eater so I decided to blend some raspberries, blackberries and strawberries with a little milk.  It would have been good just as a smoothie but now it's in the fridge.  My next ice pop flavor will be watermelon.
Garrett enjoys an ice pop
Very refreshing

Making you own ice pops is really easy.  It's just 3 basic steps.

1: Choose the fruit (or fruits) you want to use.  Or skip this step and go to #2

2: Put in the blender with water, juice (for added flavor) or milk.

3: Blend and put in molds.

I like to let everything freeze overnight so I know it's frozen all the way through. 

a freezer full of ice pops
A freezer door full of ice pops
Fast, simple, delicious and even good for you.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Busy bees

Ben and I are very busy around here.  I'm working on tons of sewing projects and tutorials. Together we're working on Granola Strolla.  It's been a while since we've had time to work on that project, now we're back on track.
I'm hoping to have a summer full of new tutorials, projects and even a new product.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Labels aren't always a bad thing

"You don't want to label your child, it will follow them through their life."  This was said to me in regards to Garrett having Autism.  I've been thinking about it for a while wondering why the statement really irritated me and I've finally figured it out.

I just don't see what's wrong with "labeling" him with Asperger's.  Having the delays he does has helped us get him in to some great programs. All the parents in Early Intervention are more than happy to tell you what label their child has been given because they know that once they get that label they get help.  I'm labeled as having asthma and anxiety, but it also means I can get treatment for both those conditions. 

My labels don't define me, they help explain me a bit and have even helped other people identify with me.  A friend of mine said "these same parents would be more than happy to label their child as gifted".  It's true that people only want the "positive" labels and not the ones they see as negative. But that Autism label gets Garrett help so I can't see it as a negative. 

I look at this this way: having this label now will help him later in life.  To the point where people may never even know or at least where it will help him function better within society.

Maybe people need to stop with not wanting to label their children (no disabilities or special needs and even no gender) and just let things happen naturally.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Headband tutorial revisited

Last year I made myself some cute headbands.  I realized that I had some silk ties I used as headbands but I hated the big bump they made when I knotted them in the back.  Wait, I have a sewing machine, so I figured I could adjust my own tutorial to make these silk ties more wearable. 
ties after being cut
Ties after the ends were snipped

The biggest problem I had was that layer of foam in the tie to make it thicker.  I found I could keep the shape of the tie but still sew an elastic in if I snipped some of the foam off the ends.
edges folded under
folding under the edges

The I folded in the unfinished edges and sewed the elastic in with a zig zag stitch.
zig zag stitch
A simple zig zag stitch
 In a few minutes I had a handful of better fitting headbands.  Just in time for the hot weather.

finished headband
yay headband

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pillows Galore

No, I haven't lost my pillow stuffing mind. This plethora of pillows started with a floor cushion.  Yes, the floor cushion from this post.  I have been dying to make one and decided to do it for his Early Intervention group.  Since Garrett has done so well (that will be another post) I wanted to make something for the people at Bay Cove.

floor cushion
A fun little floor cushion for Garrett's group to share

When I brought the floor cushion in everyone was practically in tears.  The director told me that their pillows were in such bad condition it was a perfect gift.  So I decided to sew some pillows (twist my arm, right?) for all the classrooms/play groups.

Garrett in the poly fill
helping separate the poly fill
Every fabric I bought was either in the remnants pile or red tag clearance fabric.  I found some great combos with some help from Ben.  Garrett even helped with the stuffing.
pillows waiting to be sewn shut
Ben was stuffing the pillows while I sewed them shut

19 pillows later I'm finished.  I'm sure all the kids at Bay Cove will have tons of fun with them.
 19 pillows all done
19 pillows, stuffed and sewn shut

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 things that annoy me when I go to read pages online

We all have them. Things that we hate to come across when go to a webpage. I use Stumble Upon a great deal (as you can see by the Stumble Button at the top of the page) and find some great websites that way.  I like to check out all sorts of different blogs and look for crafts and recipes but these are the 5 things that will make me navigate away from your page faster than you can say Firefox.

5: Popups, those damned little boxes are so annoying.  Whether they open another window completely or I have to find the damned microscopic X before I close the page it already tells me that you're page is going to frustrate me to no end.  There is something to be said for people who force you to read something.

4: A 404 page with surfer speak.  I get it, sometimes we look for pages that no longer exist or have been moved on the server.  404 errors themselves don't bother me, just the ones that look and sound this dumb.  I don't need my internet to sound like Bill and Ted's Excellent Internet Adventure.   I wish I had grabbed a screenshot when I saw it because it was on someone's business site.

3: No blog content. I like giveaways and coupons a ton, but I also like content. I love to read pages that aren't just reviews, giveaways, coupons and people begging for votes.  I want to see what you have to say.

2: My son.  It's like he knows when I need to take a few minutes on the computer to look at things or relax.  It's at that moment he doesn't want daddy and has a need to be attached to my elbows while molesting them.  If I stop using the computer and go to play with him he runs off to do something else without me.'s a good thing I love this kid because he's molesting my elbows right now.

1: Music or video that automatically plays when I go to your site.  IT'S ANNOYING! I will assume you are in the 90s and using some crappy midi file because you don't give me the option to play it myself.  I like to surf the web while my son naps, often snuggled up next to me and having your music or video suddenly come blasting on (and I keep my speakers at 20%) startles me and everyone else in the damned house.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm not bias, but my tape is.

I like gadgets, but I'm not the kind of girl who has to go get every single nifty thing on the market. After coming across a pattern for a bias tape bag and seeing their tutorial for making bias tape I figured I'd give it a shot.  Except I didn't want to use store bought bias tape, I wanted something cuter.
Ben had given me a Jo-Ann's gift card for Mother's Day and I figured this was the perfect time to use it.  I bought myself this little beauty and some extra heads so I can change the size of my bias tape.

bias tape maker
Forgive the rest of the mess

 I ended up with my own custom bias tape.  I cut up a box to make little cards to wind the bias tape on. This stuff is cuter and cheaper than what you get at the store.  I have so many other projects lined up (as you can see by the fabric in the first picture) I can't wait to make more bias tape.

home made bias tape
Home made bias tape

The bag is adorable and the first new bag I've gotten in a while. I mainly use the diaper bag for my things so it's neat to not only have a new bag but one that is reversible as well.
me and my new bias tape bag
Ben is very good at capturing my dopey face