Friday, February 26, 2010

13 Tips When Getting a Tattoo

So, my adventures in tattooing continued last night when I had this turned into this:

(Ignore the red marks, that is the remnants of Sharpie used in the sketching process.)

As I have spent a lot of time consumed with this artwork the past few weeks, I though I might impart some sage advice on you all. Here are my top tips to consider before you go under the needle:

1. It hurts. A lot. Anyone who says otherwise is a big, fat liar. Your skin is being punctured thousands of times per minute with needles. See that red: That is blood. You are purposely causing injury to yourself. Keep that in mind

2. Eat. Going to get a tattoo on an empty stomach is not a good idea. You might get faint, and that will only be exacerbated by having an empty stomach. Also, bring a small snack and a bottle of water with you. You may need a break to get your blood flowing again.

3. Don't get any major tattoo work until at least the age of 25. Ask anyone you know how they feel about the tattoo they got at age 18- and 9 out of 10 are less than enthused. We are not the same people at age 30 that we were at 18 (thank God) Take it from someone who knows (remember the belly tattoo I got that was so cute on my 17 year old washboard abs... not so much after 3 pregnancies... just saying.)

4. Names are almost never appropriate. Unless it's a mother or a child's name, for all that is holy, Don't Do It! We all want to live in Never never land where we find our soul mate at age 20... but you'll be kissing a lot of frogs.

5. A short list of unacceptable tattoos... any Disney character, any depiction of or reference to drugs or alcohol, unicorns, roses or hearts with daggers.

6. Imagine your mom with the tattoo you want. If you recoil in horror- think how your children (or future children) will feel.

7. Try to avoid red, especially if you are sensitive. It might have nickel in it, which will cause a reaction in most people.

8. Do not go to a tattoo artist with an exact piece of art that you want a duplicate of. They are called artists for a reason and you need to let them do their magic. Give them an idea of what you want and let them create your own personal art piece. If you want them to recreate something exactly as you have it in your mind, you will never be satisfied. (The exception to this is a portrait tattoo, which takes a phenomenal tattoo artist to complete.)

9. The biggest reason you need to choose a tattoo artist is references (which also includes seeing their artwork in person.) You should never EVER stop into a tattoo shop off the street and get a tattoo from someone who's work you have never seen. Even photos they have on hand are not proof that they will create the art you want to carry around for the next 50 years.

10. In getting references and checking their work, make sure that you are looking at a piece with the same feel as what you are going for. They might be adept at skulls and wizards, but not at all comfortable with butterflies and feminine swirls. When a wonderful friend of mine got this tattoo
I asked her immediately who the artist was because I knew he had the feminine touch I was looking for.

11. Unless you are in a gang, Old English is rarely the font you want on your tattoo.

12. No face tattoos. Period.

13. Avoid tattooing any place on your body that might get fat/develop cellulite/ grow muffintops... yes, I know this severely limits the available places we can place artwork but if you have ever seen a droopy boob/cottage cheese thigh/post-baby belly tattoo- then you know exactly what I am talking about (see where the wrist tattoo works well?)

That's is my quick list. DO you have any others that I may add?

(Thank you for my birthday tattoo, Momma!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Design on a Dime: Fashion Edition (Subtitle: Why I am not a fashion or photography blogger!)

I actually did this great redo on this dress a while back. But the photos were so embarrassing that I didn't know if I should post about it. And then I thought, "People read my blog for some inexpensive and crafty ideas and probably won't care how un-photogenic I am or what a terrible photographer my 4 year old is." Really, I am quoting what I thought word-for-word. So, here is my redo for a $7 skirt- tacky photos and all.

When you are shopping at thrift shops or clearance racks or raking through hand-me-downs, keep in mind that most dresses can easily be made into a skirt by cutting them and sewing an elastic where you want the waist to be.

I got this dress for $4 at Target a few months back: (I know, I look like I am doing some sort of self breast exam but, hey, this is the best of the shots Annika took!) I really liked the dress and even wore it a couple of times. Unfortunately, I am 5'9" and dresses never fit me correctly. (Hey, I here your snide comments- oh poor, Michele, 5'9" and can't find clothes to fit... keep it to yourself!) If it's an empire waist- the waist falls directly across my boobs. If it's a regular waist- it falls 2-3" above my natural waist and it drives me insane while I am constantly trying to pull it down to where it should fall. Which leads me to where I turn it into a skirt that I can where any way I want to. It is so easy to simply cut straight along the waist line and then add an elastic and you have a skirt. I will not even try to give you a tutorial on sewing in elastics, as you all know I am a hack. But there is a great tutorial from Angry Chicken that uses a very simple product called Fold Over Elastic. It truly takes 5 minutes and you can go from an ill-fitted dress to a skirt that I will use as a go to all summer long:
(Yes, I know, awkward pose, wrinkled skirt. See, THIS is why I don't do fashion posts!)

This elastic waist method also works fantastic with the little girl clothes as well. You can extend a wardrobe for years. Now that Acadia is the end of the line for the hand-me-downs, I am very excited to start dismantling her clothes and repurposing. For instance, you can take any childs dress, cut straight across under the arms and then sew the elastic to create a waist for a newly repurposed skirt. This would take a dress for an 18 month old and create a skirt that will last until they are 2-3 years old.

Another easy redo for your wardrobe is combining 2 shirts when 1 is to short. See the tank in the photo above? Wait, here's a slightly better photo:
I have had it for about 10 years and I really love the pretty lace overlay. Unfortunately, after baby #3, when I decided to get rid of all my clothes that had for before babies 1, 2 and 3- it was deemed too short. Well, all I had to do was take another tank that was also too short, cut a couple of inches from the bottom of that one and sew it inside the bottom of the lace one. Now, it covers my stomach appropriately and I got a few more years out of it. This can be done with t-shirts as well if you shrink them. Just cut the bottom off another to sew inside the first and you get that layered look without the bulk of multiple shirts. Great way to repurpose, recycle, upcycle and save money too.


I have a goal now. I want to do a post with a good Design on a Dime fashion tip... AND include reasonable photos. I do not know what it is about me being in a photo that ruins it, but it happens every time. I know I am a good photographer and I have great equipment. See this:
and this:

I mean, I can capture great photos. And, now, I am determined to get in one myself without looking like a total goob. Although the goob photos are probably way more interesting for the blog reader, right?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Social Media at Its Best

I have discovered a new found love for social media over the past couple of weeks. You know sometimes when you are behind the nagging mom in the grocery line or in the waiting room with cranky old man at the doctors office and you just want to turn to them and say, "Good God, would you smile already. Life is good, you only live once and you are wasting it whining and complaining and being a sour puss." That's what I want to say but, of course, would never dare.

So, when I encounter someone sweet, kind, upbeat and enjoying their moments... it makes me all warm and fuzzy. And that has happened to me 3 times over recently... but not in 'real life'. It has been via communication with strangers I have had throughout different social media outlets.

It all started with my Etsy site. A fantastic lady named Stacey from Wild Hearts Photography contacted me to buy blocks. As I perused her website, I was very impressed with her artistry, her vision, her "non-traditional portraiture" (I have a real disdain for big-box-store type photography). So I asked if I could pick her brain and get some feedback on my blocks. Not only did she oblige- she went above and beyond. I mean, here is a woman who has no vested interest in my success I am a stranger hundreds of miles away trying to get free professional advice... and she was wonderful! We went back and forth (over many extended emails) with her giving me great tips and advice, most of which I have absolutely used. And, although we only communicate through Twitter and email, I can just feel that she is a genuine, kind, sweet person. Truly. She offered up her gorgeous photos of the blocks she ordered for me to use on my Etsy site. Just a completely generous token (and if you'll notice her photos next to the ones I take myself for Etsy... having a pro do your Etsy photos makes a HUGE difference!)

Which bring me to the second wonderful lady that I have been introduced to and that is Terry from Sassy Designs. Stacey suggested that I go with digital scrapbook paper. (Note to my crafty friends: digital scrapbook paper is the way to go! No more tubs of paper scraps or runs to Michaels and, at $3.99 for a 12 sheet pack... it's cheaper!)

But I digress.

Before I even had the chance to order paper from Terry, she was contacting me. She also shared some great ideas and posted about my shop multiple times on her Facebook page. With her fans, she took me from 10-15 visits a day to 80-100! And 40 people favorited my Etsy shop after her very first Facebook post. Oh, and not to mention the orders that I have taken in directly because of her publicity. But, again, she wasn't asking for anything in return. Just another genuine gal ready to help another woman succeed.

The third woman is Shannon from The Maternal Lens, which is my most favorite photoblog which features the sweetest, most touching photos a camera can capture. But, I will save my accolades for her for another post before this gets too long and you all stop reading it.

So, I am starting a movement. A movement where I only patronize/ associate with/ subscribe to/ get services from nice people. Plain and simple. Kind people. Anyone want to join me? You can start with these 2 ladies. Go check out Wild Heart Photography and Designs. Stacey is not only a phenomenal photographer, she offers some great digital designs (soon to be featured on my blocks.) And absolutely go visit Sassy Designs website and fan her on her Facebook page as I hear she might have a great custom photo block giveaway coming up.

Do you have any kind people I need to be introduced to?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beware: The post where I discuss politics.

This post is totally out of sorts for me. Something I never talk about... ever... to anyone. Not my mom, not my husband, not coworkers or friends.


I never discuss politics because, well, its politics. And, like any discussion with 2 opposing opinions that I have with my 4 year old, there is never a good ending. People are very allegiant to their chosen political party and I really think all politicians are politicians for a reason... not Peace Corp volunteers or researchers for cancer cures or kindergarten teachers.

So... Sarah Palin. I am completely bewildered by this train wreck. How the hell did she come within a sneeze of being the vice president of our country yet she has less capacity to make a cohesive sentence than my 9 year old? And even after we have seen her many, many failed attempts at constructing a quasi intelligent public persona, people still find her a viable option for some sort of public office. I am not sure exactly how astute she is, but she truly has trouble conveying it.

And, it's embarrassing. Not that she makes women look bad, she makes Americans look bad. I get that awful pang in my heart for her whenever I see her speak. You know, when you see a coworker with their fly down approaching the CEO of the company, but you are not the type who can broach the topic with people, so you let them go and then internalize their humiliation as your own because you feel guilty for not preventing it? That type of embarrassing.

How do hoards of people not see this? I blame it on that allegiance. That allegiance will force Republicans to continue to stand behind this atrocity of the English language because, really, how would it look if they turned on her now after almost letting her become the second in command of our entire country?

Ugghh- this is why I don't discuss politics.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Citar

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go visit Tabitha for more Sunday Citar... and while you are there, congratulate her on her adorable new baby boy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Muffins in an Orange Peel

I don't know why I try to over think everything... but I do. Annika says, "I wanna make muffins tomorrow." I think, "Oh, fun... let's make this interesting." Followed by research, trip to the store, trip to the store again when I forget items the first time. And then I need to buy some extra utensil for bizarro project because I have never done this before and do not have necessary tools. And then it's 20 step process, 100 photos, 3 spills, 1 large mess... and Annika says, "Mom, can't we just make corn muffins? I just wanted corn muffins."

Well, whatever, I have lots of photos, yummy muffins, which equates to 1 tutorial, a few tweets and about 2000 extra calories consumed today.

Start with a couple of oranges and a pre-boxed muffin mix. I chose orange cranberry since that seemed like a good match with the orange peel.

Cut the oranges in half.

Scoop out the orange innards (or juice them, if you like fresh squeezed orange juice.)

Make the muffins per the instructions. Typically I wouldn't provide pictures on how to make pre-boxed muffins, but Annika fancied herself a Julia Childs and kept saying, "You need to take a picture of my pouring... and stirring.. and licking." So here you go:

Acadia wanted in on the action too:

Once you make the muffin mix, pour it into the orange peels:

Bake at the temperature that the box suggests for the recommended time and you will have some yummy muffins and a great smelling house. I only made 4 of the orange peel muffins and made the rest as mini muffins. Annika did not want me to take a picture of the mini muffin tin, she just wanted the muffins put into the oven already so she could eat up!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Motley Miscellany

I featured this photo on my Suburbanity photo blog. Yes, it really is the name of a residential road... where people live... and have to give their address to people... memorable, at least.

I really need to make these before winter is over.

Acadia said 'banana' today. Not 'manana'(which, coincidentally is what she calls he Nana as well). Damn it, I wish she would slow down with the milestones.

I adore vintage children's books. I wish we had a whole library for these.

I really do not like flash photography. Ever. It just look so unnatural and ruins the moment. Here's an idea...

5 things you are not looking for at Goodwill.

I am so jealous of my friends on the west coast right now.

Did you know that there are 5 states that allow for insurers to sell abortions riders on their health insurance? I was going to do a whole post on the lunacy of it all, but seriously? You can plan ahead to pay for a rider but not to use effective birth control? That's all.

I have a pet peeve. People who do not send (or have your children send) thank you notes. I think we are raising a society of rude little people by not having them say a simple 'thank you.' I would even take a phone call, email, message in a bottle. At least let me know you got my wedding gift and pretend you like my hand crocheted doilies. Right now I am using this adorable printable so that I don't even have to run to the store when we need a quick 'Merci'.

It's proven: U.S. Men Average 38 Minutes More Leisure Time Daily Than Women. Man, what I could do with 38 extra minutes per day!

I have been working on my organization recently. I have discovered Once a Month Mom's monthly meal plans to be a great idea and Simplemoms master weekly checklists, pocket docket (and other printable lists) to be indispensable (with a few of my own tweaks, or course).

On Valentine's Day... who would possibly want something tacky like this for $200, when you could get something perfect, personal and unique like this for $60? (or I would absolutely fawn over this and it's not even $40!) And, no, I did not get any tacky jewelry for V Day. My husband knows me better than that. Besides, all I wanted was more of this for Valentine's and my birthday:(Coming February 25th!)

And, just for the fun of it... music. I love some fantastic music that simply doesn't get the kudos it deserves. As I flip through the radio stations and I hear lyrics like, "My room is the G Spot. Call me Mr. Flinstone. I can make your bed rock" I just have to know... how the hell do they get radio play and this band doesn't?

If you haven't heard of 'Over the Rhine', they are exceptional musicians with beautiful lyrics; haunting yet alluring vocals coupled with fantastic percussion/violin/fiddle/etc. I really, really suggest that you give them a listen... unless, of course, you are more of a "Don't stop, you the bestest,and I just be coming off the top asbestos" type of gal.

Oh, and shameless plug, I just listed some new photo blocks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday Citar (Yes, it is Tuesday.)

“A home without books is a body without soul.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Design on a Dime: Photo Mat Tutorial

Here is the photo frame mat project that I mentioned in Design on a Dime: Projects 5, 6 and 7. I love to find frames at Goodwill. Typically they are filled sweet 70's and 80's artwork. Unfortunately that does not go with my decor, so they call for a redesign. This can be accomplished really easily by painting the frame and redoing the mat. There is a great idea on painting a frame on Trey and Lucy, one of my favorite crafty blogs. But I will show you how to redo the mat quick and cheap.

Grab the mat, a pretty piece of scrapbook paper (or it could be an old map or old sheet music or any type of cool paper), an exacto knife and of course, Modge Podge.

Modge Podge the the wrong side of the paper to the mat and then cut off the excess with a razor or scissors.

Now use your exacto knife to cut an 'X' from the inner corners of the mat into the scrapbook paper.

It should look like this:

Trim back those excess corners a bit so that you can fold the paper back and Modge Podge it to the back of the mat.

Press the Modge Podged paper onto the mat on all 4 sides.

And you end up with a fresh looking mat. You can use some coordinating papers and do a few frames together for an interesting design. I would suggest using black and white photos so that the whole idea doesn't get too busy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Design on a Dime: Projects 5, 6 and 7

Remember Project 4, which was Acadia's bedroom slash the guest room... it turned out like this:

It turned out ok so far- but the circles on the wall were a little lackluster to fill that area, we needed a bedside lamp and the pillows were... blah. So one trip to Goodwill, one trip to Michaels and Joanns, and I came up with this:

First, the pillows. I found 2 green striped pillow covers at Goodwill for 99¢ each which I then used on 2 hideous pillows that I had stored away. I then saw this remnant at Joanns for 87¢: Sewed it up in about 3 minutes, tore apart another hideous pillow to steal the stuffing and came up with: The best part? Not a stitch of pink and it was 87¢. It will do to add a little something to the bed.

And then... the lamp. I found a $3 lamp and $3 lampshade at Goodwill. The lamp was ok as is... but I figured if I added a little color, it would look fun with the zebra print lampshade to jazz up the room (yeah, I did, I said jazz.) The only issue? I only have 1 can of spraypaint... and it is Pepto Bismol pink. Oh well, I can not possibly justify buying a can of that caustic chemical for 10 square inches of color. I will just paint it the pink for now and see if I ever have a need to buy a better paint color. I taped it off: sprayed aforementioned Pepto and here you go: I know... gross pink... Wait! I have Photoshop. Let's pretend it's not... Come on... six bucks, it's cute, right? But WAIT! The best ever part? When I plugged it in I figured out it was a TOUCH LAMP! How fun is that? So fun, in fact, that the girls have spent A LOT of time rubbing the magic lamp. I haven't seen a touch lamp since 1992 when my parents had the lovely brass and glass version requisite of every 80's household.

And the last update was adding some custom matted photo frames with photos of the girls. I did a quick tutorial on that for a later date, but I think they add something to the bubble wall. Alright, another $8.85 added to the design budget- still no too bad.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where babies come from...

I spent much of my day Sunday uploading home videos to my computer and creating DVD's. It was so fun to see the change of the girls through the years... and sometimes a little monotonous (really, Colby, 45 minutes of Ariana pushing around ice crates as she learns to ice skate???) One thing in particular made me giggle though- the birth videos of the 3 girls. They are all very similar. Here is the most recent, Acadia's: (go ahead, its only 16 seconds....)

You didn't think I was going to show you ooey, gooey ladies parts, did you? No, I did not allow any sort of camera around me for 'the moment' of arrival. You know it seems like a sweet idea, in theory, seeing that moment where you come into the world. But really? As the mom, I don't want to see that part of me in that manner and, as the child, would you want to see that part of your mom in that way??? And aside from that, what are you going to do with that footage... show friends? Show your kids friends?

Now, I am a woman that loves being pregnant and loves having babies, but I just don't need that particular couple of minutes of my anatomy forever digitized for all to see. This way- with the cute shot of me cut to a sweet crying baby, it just makes me forget the gore and want to have more babies... luckily, for Colby's sake, he has put an end to that in this household.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Citar: The Wisdom of Pooh

" From the state of the Uncarved Block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times. As Piglet put it in Winnie-the-Pooh, "Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right." - The Tao of Pooh

Go see Tabitha for more great photos and Sunday Citar.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cactus Terrarium Tutorial

If you remember before Christmas, I had mentioned I was going to make the girls fairy house terrariums from Santa. Well, I did do that, albeit at about 1am on Christmas Eve... uhhh, such a procrastinator. But they came out great:
And, now I am an expert on terrariums, so your tutorial begins here. These are your supplies: You need gravel or rocks(I bought mine at a craft store for $3), sheet moss (also from the craft store for $2-$3), activated charcoal (purchased in the pet store aquarium aisle for $6), soil and sand (I had this on hand), an open, wide mouthed glass container (Goodwill $1), and I had to use some cute figurines for mine which I got for a steal from a great website called Miniature Gardens. Of course my girls love fairies so I got some of those, a gnome for Ariana, some great doors, tiny lady bugs, frogs and butterflies. I could have gotten a ton of stuff from there, but I kept it to 3 terrariums.
Now, I am telling you how to make a cactus terrarium- there is a difference between these and a moss terrarium. With a moss terrarium, you can keep it moist and keep it covered. The cactus terrariums need to be kept fairly dry and do not need a lid. We clearly went with the cactus version since it is wayyy easier to maintain. Moving on...

Wash your container very well first. You then want to mix 2 parts dirt to one part sand (again, this is only for cacti, not regular house plants.)
From there you want to add 2 inches of rocks to the container.
Then add 1/4 inch of the charcoal, this will keep down odor and filter the water.
Now add 3 or 4 inches of your dirt/ sand mix.
Add your cacti in a pleasing visual arrangement.
Add your figurines and then voila:
You will notice that I did not use the sheet moss. The moss works well in a regular terrarium as the moisture will keep it green and fresh. In the cactus terrarium, it will brown and add more of a tumbleweed feel, which I did with the other 2 and it looks great. I just decided to try this one without. So, you can do it, right? Pretty easy... right, Nap Mom?