Thursday, February 28, 2008

it's a secret...

Okay, I have hatched a plan. I'm keeping it a bit of a secret. Some of you will find out sooner than others (I'm enlisting some conspirators!)

Here is a sneak peek at something I'm working on for the secret plan.

I am very excited and very nervous. The same way I'd feel if I were planning a big party...what if nobody comes? Can you see me there with my big pink pretty party dress and shiny shoes and curly hair and big smile with balloons all around and party music cued and the table set, waiting at the window for you to show up? (Which is what I still to this day will do, minus perhaps the shiny shoes, when I'm expecting company...just ask Rich!)

Oh, and don't worry too much about the torture being kept in suspense. You know that I'm the world's worst at keeping's the hardest thing in the world for me to do. If you were here sitting beside me I would blurt it out before you even asked about it. I really would.

{There's always a chance that this really big thing won't work out and then I'll have to invent a new suprise that won't be nearly as big and try to convince you that it was the big surprise all along.}

Monday, February 25, 2008

studio in waiting

I had a dream that I went into my studio to get something and it was all different. It looked like a Jiffy Lube waiting room instead of my studio.

Truth be told, it does look a whole lot different than this photo. The floor is a mess of things just tossed in, by the basket, boxes, and bag-fulls.

I think the waiting room dream is a metaphor. And I do miss making things in there. This week, I'm hoping to make more than just a pathway through the debris and really recreate an inspiring place.

I'm trying to line up a mother's helper from the neighborhood to come by a couple of times a week. That'll help free up some time.

Baby's napping and I've got a list of things to do.

I hope you have a good week ahead of you. I'll check in when I can.

p.s. I somehow overwrote the last post. I think it's gone forever. :(

Thursday, February 21, 2008

daydreaming about changes

I've been thinking a lot lately about the future of my little business. I'm starting to get my groove back and am ready to start putting a little more energy into the store, the blog, and my creative endeavors.

One thing that has happened, perhaps a blessing in disguise, is that orders really almost stopped completely since Baby arrived. I have to admit though it scares me a bit. Even before Baby arrived, orders were slower and fewer between than in years' past and last year was the first year in my history where I didn't do better than the previous year.

When I first started this business over 8 1/2 years ago, there were practically no other small boutiques like Inspire Co. online. I was a bit of a pioneer. Now it's a little like the Gold Rush and I'm one of many. I'm putting myself out there a little to say that. I'm happy that so many people are opening stores like mine and are doing so well. But, well, I'm wondering where I fit into it all.

So these days, in between diaper changes and spoons of applesauce, I'm daydreaming about Inspire Co. and about making some changes, big and small.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

stopping to smell the...

We bought these pretty yellow daffodils at the store yesterday and since then, Baby has been asking for sniffs everytime he sees them. I thought I'd snap a few photos of it. Can you spot his sweet little nose?
He just woke up early from his nap so I have to keep this short.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happiest valentine's day ever

We had the sweetest Valentine's Day, full of kisses and hugs, thanks to Baby. My parents watched him tonight while Rich and I snuck out for a bite to eat. Since we hadn't planned ahead we couldn't go anywhere terribly nice (all booked solid) so we went to La Madeleine. It really worked out perfectly. We secured a cozy table near the fire and enjoyed catching up. Although I do have to admit that Baby and all things Baby were the topics of most of the conversation.

Seth called on the cellphone to wish us Happy Valentine's Day and to let us know that he "got a thousand Valentines"!

They are all moved into their new home. I've been asked to decorate Shelby and Seth's rooms. I'm busy planning what I'll do. I think for Shelby's room I'll do something similar to the room I just did here, except with flowers and picket fences.

Seth told me today that he'd like for me to paint a deer and a squirrel and a bear on the he can shoot them. Oh dear! I'll have to dream up something a little less, uh, violent. Where's that cute little Charlie Brown boy I used to know?

Monday, February 11, 2008

an update

My parents are visiting us for a while and are having a wonderful time getting to know Baby. They arrived with bags and bags of toys Maggie has outgrown and Baby is having a ball playing with each and every one of them. I've really never seen a child love toys as much as he does.

The visitation with his mom went well last week. I think what changed mainly was my feeling about it.

I'm going to try to check in again later this week. I'm trying to get into the swing of things again and find my new normal and I think I'm close. But then when I sit down to blog I can't think of anything to share.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

what's the time?

Here's another project I wanted to share with you.

I used the scalloped circle paper in the Chelsea's Place paper set from Making Memories, the "be inspired everyday" sticker from the same set (how can I not use it when it has one of my taglines on it?!) I also used Brenda Walton's acrylic letter and number stamp set for the numbers. The clockworks are from Michael's and the round base was the top of a box of holiday mugs (you can use the top of a paper mache hatbox)

I glued two of the scalloped circles together to give it some heft. Then I glued the scallop circle to the round box lid.

I covered the hearts with vintage papers and then stamped them with the appropriate numbers. I glued the hearts in place. I stamped the remaining numbers on patches of paper and glued them into place too. (And if I had it to do again, I'd measure and be more exact. I thought it would be whimsical to wing it but it'd be better to have it be more accurate)

I sprayed the entire piece at this point with an acrylic matte finish.

Next I drilled the center and assembled the clockworks.

That's it! Isn't this a fun project? I was inspired to make a clock after receiving the sunshine one from Charlotte Lyons for Baby's room.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

love it!

I haven't been to Michael's for almost a whole month. I used to go there about every other day.

We went there this morning and I loved seeing all the new stuff...especially these funky felt gift boxes! They are just $4 each. I love 'em!

I picked up a few supplies I needed to work on another project to share with you.

Thank you, everyone, for your continued support and enthusiasm for our foster parenting. It has been so wonderful to have you alongside for this journey. I feel like I'm getting my sealegs. Sleeptime is getting better and the three of us are getting along like peas in a pod.

I've prayed a lot about Baby's visitation with his mom. I'm praying to be more forgiving, more open, more positive, more loving. She's a young mother who's lost her baby. She doesn't have a lot of control over what's happening with him. If being critical about my care gives her some feeling of control, I can take it. I can look at the bigger picture and can see this situation from her side. And more importantly, I can see how my good relationship with Baby's mom is the best thing for sweet Baby.

Monday, February 4, 2008

something new

Isn't this the sweetest card ever? It was made exclusively for Inspire Co. by our friend Hope of Paper Relics. Set of 5 flat notecards, approximately 4 1/4" x 5 1/2".

Click here to grab it for yourself.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

all hearts

Here's a fun Valentine project. I'll share with you how I made it.

You'll need 7 or more wooden hearts. You can experiment with different heart shapes. I used 6 wider hearts and one tear-drop heart. You'll also need to buy a small wooden wreath form, available in the floral supplies section of the craft store. Other things to gather include gesso, your favorite crafting glue, a paintbrush, assorted pages from vintage books, sheetmusic, etc., silver glass glitter, and a vintage hearts playing card (try to find one of a value of 7, 8, 9, or 10 so you'll have a lot of hearts to work with.)

I began by painting a coat of gesso on both sides of each heart and the wreath form. You may find that you can skip this step. I like the way the glue adheres to the primed surface and that the back of the wreath is finished too.

Using a staple gun, secure a loop of velvet ribbon to the back for the hanger.

Next, gather up assorted pages from books, including at least one illustration. Use original papers instead of copies. Select pages from different pages to give the piece depth as each paper will have a slightly different patina. Look too for blank endpapers. Trace the heart on the paper and then cut out. Paint a layer of glue on the heart and adhere the paper heart to the wooden one. Do this with each heart.

After you paper the heart, paint the edge with glue and swipe it through a little pile of silver glass glitter to make a border of silver glitter all the way around the heart. It's okay if it's not perfect...that adds to the charm!

Work with the hearts on the wreath form to figure out the placement of the hearts. Overlap, rotate, mix them up.

After you decide the placement, cut the hearts out of the playing card and artfully place them on the hearts. If you don't have a vintage playing card, just use a heart-shape hole punch to make heart shapes out of red paper.

Search through your page scraps or through the books they came from for an appropriate word or phrase. It's like magic, I swear. You'll find exactly the word or phrase you need. I found the word "Together". Instead of cutting it out, use the edge of your counter or table to tear a straight edge. The age of the paper will cause the paper to tear unevenly.

Secure the hearts to the wreath base. Glue first the hearts that are flat against the base. Then glue the overlapping hearts to the first layer.

Voila! A sweet little Valentine wreath that makes a great gift. Experiment with different sorts of papers, including vintage Valentines.

Friday, February 1, 2008

learning lessons the hard way

Today Baby and I met sweet friends Lorraine and Hope at Accessories of Old. It was a rainy, yucky day, especially for beltway driving, but, well, I wanted to see my friends. And I wanted my friends to meet Baby.

We were almost there when Baby stopped his sweet singing and started to grunt. Uh oh. I know what this means. So I start planning in my mind about how and where I'll change his diaper. I make a plan to park in a garage so that I can change his diaper on the backseat. And I find a parking garage right there, just two doors down from the store. Great!

But oh by golly, what a smell!

I took a deep breath...I can handle this. Or so I thought. As I took Baby out of the carseat, I saw the extent of the damage. Poo is everywhere. Oozing (forgive my choice of words) out of his diaper, all over his onesie, all over his pants. And, since I just picked him up from his car seat, all over me.

What should I do? Should I clean him up the best I can, put a new diaper on, and call my friends on my way out of the parking garage to give my regrets? Even though I just paid $9 for the honor of parking in the garage that I'm certain will not be refunded?

I used every last wipe there was and needed probably a good three more. As I'm cleaning him up, I'm thinking to myself "This isn't too bad. Let's see...I can ditch the pants, wipe up the poo that's on the onesie, and maybe this isn't as bad as it seems. We don't have to stay long..."

So that's what I did.

Thankfully, the day before I bought a snuggly-thingy for the stroller that's kind of like a sleeping bag with oh-so-soft fleece lining. I wrapped him up as snug as a bug and walked briskly to the store to see my friends. It was a nice, if brief, visit.

1. Always pack extra clothes for Baby. ALWAYS.
2. Plan excursions around Baby's bowel movements.
3. You can never have too many wipes.
4. Obviously, you can give a baby too many pureed prunes.

small miracles

Yesterday was Baby's second visit with his mom. Training prepares us to expect lots of criticism from mom...his clothes aren't right, his hair isn't right, he's lost weight (he's gained weight), and on and on. It's the mom's way of saying "Look, I'm a good mom. Better than you. I should have my baby, not you."

I try to put myself in the mom's place and understand what she's feeling. I try to hear the love behind what she is saying. I have to admit though that the little jabs really get to me, especially when they are one after another like a barrage.

A little miracle intervened yesterday to make things maybe a little easier (although it was still very hard).

Baby arrived to us with just a hospital gown but a couple of weeks later, the mom gave us a trunk-sized suitcase filled with clothes. Something like 49 pairs of pants.

When I was getting Baby dressed, I had the idea to dress him with the sneakers of which his mom seemed especially proud. There was a pair of track pants that I'd planned to dress him in (going for the whole athletic look here) but in the daylight I noticed the pants were navy blue instead of black like the shoes. Improvising, I pulled out a pair of jeans rationalizing that they go with anything. (Meanwhile, I seriously can't believe I'm putting so much thought into what this pint-size fashion plate is wearing!)

Then, while we were having breakfast, I was thinking about how nice it would be to give the mom a picture of Baby. I'd mentioned to the mom last week that I was making a baby book for her, with a picture of his first birthday for one thing. Since I need so many more pictures before the book is complete, I thought maybe the thing to do would be to frame just one little picture for Baby to give his Mama.

The amazing thing is that there was a message for me that never actually got to me asking me to dress Baby in the shoes and jeans that I just happened to put on him and also to bring a picture of Baby for the mother.

Nobody at the meeting knew that I hadn't gotten the message so all of these things like dressing Baby in just the right things and bringing a picture were expected. It wasn't until later when the person who was supposed to give me the message got the message, panicked and called to explain. And I didn't know until last night that this littlest of miracles had even happened.