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Friday, May 27, 2011

A Toy Garden {Review & GIVEAWAY!}*CLOSED

 A Toy Garden is an online shop owned by Sonya, a mother of two. Sonya created her business after people began showing interest in her own hand-made products she has made for her daughter when she was little.  Since then, she has expanded her shop to offer many other products, as well, although most {if not all} are made from natural "waldorf-inspired" materials {think cotton, silk, wood, wool, etcetera}.
A Toy Garden recently sent us some of their "Stockmar" crayons that they carry.  Stockmar crayons are a high quality crayon made from beeswax and are produced in Germany.   What's so special about beeswax, you ask?  Well, for starters they're environmentally friendly, so even if your little one sticks this in his or her mouth, you don't have to worry about any nasty chemicals.  Secondly, the Stockmar crayons produce more brilliant colors.  This means the picture little Johnny draws will be "truer" picture that's more vibrant and pleasing to the eye!
crayola (left) vs. stockmar (right)...see the vibrancy difference??

I also particularly like that they come in a tin box, that clasps shut.  This way, it cannot open accidentally, and spill the crayons all over.  Additionally, they are a chunky, rectangular-shaped crayon. For this reason, they are especially nice for little hands, as they're easy to grasp, not to mention, they can't roll off the table onto the ground.  Plus, as they have no paper around them, no caps and no plastic tube surrounding them, no matter how the little hands scribble with them, they'll "work" for your budding artist!  I tried these out with my 1 year old, who has a natural knack for wanting to color.  With other crayons or markers, she gives up more quickly because of one end "not working" {due to a cap, or plastic end of a tube}.  But with these, all sides of the crayon work! 
my one-year old testing them out...love that any side of the crayon "works" for her!

The only drawbacks with these are that {as my 4-year old son pointed out} they 1) smell kinda funny, 2) are difficult to use for filling in coloring pages {you know, the ones with the black lines} because they are so chunky and don't have one nice sharper end, so it's hard to stay in between the lines, and 3} are pricey.  But, they will last for a long time...heck, DECADES even!  So you could use these for a lifetime, really, which is worth the price ticket right there.

A Toy Garden has agreed to send one of our blog readers their own box of 8 Stockmar crayons to try out!  We'll rock this giveaway for two weeks!  Here's all you gotta do...

Mandatory Entry
Visit A Toy Garden and come back here to tell me your TWO FAVORITE PRODUCTS they offer! Be sure to leave your email address in the comment, so we have a way to contact you, should you win! {1 entry}.
Winner will be chosen via random.org and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to claim prize or another winner will be chosen. Entrants can enter through June 9th. Winner to be chosen on or around June 10th!

Extra Entries {optional}
*Subscribe to our blog via Google Friend {1 entry possible}

*Give a shout out about this on your Facebook page ~ Be sure to leave a link to this blog post!! {1 entry}

*Become a fan of adam's blankie on Facebook {1 entry}

*Email up to 3 friends about this giveaway ~ Be sure to copy me on the emails!
adamsblankie@gmail.com {3 entries}

Thank you to all who entered!

Please note, I was not paid to do this review.
Opinions are strictly my own, and no one or nothing else has influenced me in my review.

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Facing Tragedy

It was both the worst AND the best week of my life...EVER.
This was three years and three days ago, and I'll never forget it.
It has forever changed me.
It was the week we nearly lost our son to a drowning.

For any of you who have ever nearly lost (or, heaven forbid, actually lost) a child, you know the feelings of a matter such as this.  You know the feeling that there is nothing you can do.  You know the feeling of guilt, no matter what the particular circumstances.  You know the pang of death you feel in your own heart.  You know the feeling of nothingness, numbness, dizziness & depression.  You know the sleeplessness, the exhaustion, the shock, panic and deep, deep sorrow...the willingness and pleading to God that you do, begging him, "Lord, please!  Pleeeease!! I'll do anything, anything!,  if you would just heal our child!!!"

Lucky for us, those are not the only feelings we grappled with that week.  We also felt sheer JOY that week!  Why?  Well, obviously because we did, in fact, get our son back.  And not just "back," but ALL back {Praise God!}!  But even more, what forever changed us that week was really knowing that God is real.  That, yes, he does still perform modern day miracles!  That He has a deep mercy for us.  That He is in control.  That He can overcome anything.  That He take even the most difficult of instances and turn it into a blessing.  Most people don't get this "opportunity," if you will, but he blessed us with it!  Now.  Please understand, I would never ever want this to happen to me, or any one of you, for that matter. But the fact is, it did happen.  To us.  But through this near-devastating crisis, we pulled through...our son pulled through...and it was all because of God.  His perfect plan. His perfect timing.  All of it.

I know some of you are scoffing at this right now.  You know who you are.  You are the one sitting at your computer right now...wondering {mocking} how I can be crediting God for this.  How I can be so sure there is a God.  And that hurts my heart.  More so for you, than for me.  But.  But.  I'm going to notate some of the "uncanny" details from those 3 days...things that are much, much too "coincidental" to be just that, coincidental.  They are God's workings....here, see for yourselves:

*My boss asked me about leaving for lunch 5 minutes before I normally go.  I took this seemingly small "opportunity" to head out 5 minutes early.  I shudder to think what might have actually happened had I left 5 minutes later...as it turned out I was the one who would fine my son...floating on the pool, face-down.

*My son was wearing a tshirt with a screenprinted helicopter on it that day...the only one he owned with a helicopter on it.  Later that day, he'd go on his first (and only, so far) helicopter ride (from the ER to the hospital).

*My husband had been a police officer for 5 years prior to this event.  In those five years, and all the tragedies he encountered in them, he had never witnessed CPR actually work.  But on this day, I successfully gave CPR to my son...and got him to take a breath. I was *not* CPR-certified and had never performed it on someone before this day.

*My husband and I had to take a separate ride {we couldn't go in the helicopter with our son, as it would weigh too much} from the ER to the hospital.  So instead we rode with the fire chief {he was driving, of course, as we were in no shape to drive ourselves!} in his truck.  During this ride {which was the longest ride of my life EVER!}, I saw on the floor of the truck a copy of "The Family Prayer," and I also noticed on his wrist a bracelet, which had inscribed on it the word, "faith."  I can't believe I was able to notice or focus on anything at all during this ride, but somehow God made me notice those two things...and nothing else...not the traffic, not the noise...not anything else...just these two things.  And I held on tight to that word and that sheet of paper...and somehow, some way, felt a wave of calm then...knowing God was in this, and all I had to do was trust in Him...and have faith.

*My son, who could barely speak any words before the time of the incident to begin with, spoke his first word since the incident, the day after it happened.  We were in the hospital, and he spoke the word, "Nana."  He said it to his Nana, literally just as she came into his hospital room.  It was as if he was saying to her, "It's okay. It wasn't your fault. Everything's gonna be just fine.  God's got this."

*Thousands of people prayed for our son during this time.  There were special services held just for him...even in other countries.   The power of prayer is real.

*I had formed my company, "adam's blankie," before this happened.  I originally came up with the name out the love my son has for his blankie...his needing it for comfort and peace.  But I now know that this name is two-fold and came from God. For it speaks not only for Adam's love of his blankie, but it references God's "blankie" of love and protection that surrounded, enveloped & protected Adam during this near catastrophe.

Still to this day, retelling this story makes my eyes well up with tears.  I still cry every time I have to talk about it.  But I know God made this story part of our journey so that we would tell it.  So that is what I'm doing.  And I hope that it moves you such that you are that much more careful with your children around water, of course.  But most importantly, I hope it touches your soul such that you would know God to be true to His word.  That He is who he claims He is, and that you would seek Him in your journey here on Earth.

Please click this link to read the full story from that day.  Please also note that adam's blankie is a supporter of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, and donates a portion of its profits to them.  You can click here to discover tips on helping to prevent drownings, or to find the address to send your own donations to them. 

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Color Fad

Move over, Pink, and make way for PURPLE!

Is it just me, or have you all been noticing more and more purple around {been to Target lately? They have a whole slew of purple home decorative items}?  It seems that I have started to notice a trend of purple popping up here and there more and more....  From children's clothing to home decor, I think it just might be trying to give pink a run for its money!  And to this I say, "It's about stinkin' time!"  I mean, I love me some good pink and all, but seriously.  How. long. must. "it". be. PINK!?!!  {Although I'm STILL waiting for the "pink and brown" and "blue and brown" fad to leave the baby industry.  C'mon now! Any day, peeps!}

So I just recently made this custom headband for a friend of mine who's brother is getting married soon. It's for her 6 month old daughter to wear to the wedding.  The wedding color?  Yup, you guessed it ~ PURPLE!

I'm digging it, and am find myself wondering, "Hmmm...where can I add some purple in my house?"  I love plum purple with mustard yellow...so maybe once we redo the nursery, our daughter's room could be in those hues...mmmm...my mouth is almost. almost. salivating. ;)

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

Duo Concept Clothing

I love having versatile items of clothing, don't you?  You know, that scarf that can be wrapped a zillion different ways, or used as a belt, or cinch for your bag, etcetera, etcetera?  So I'm especially excited to be introducing this new little piece to the adam's blankie collection!

The idea is an adam's blankie original, that I'm pretty darn certain you won't be able to find anywhere else!  {How's that for exciting?!}  But, more importantly, this little baby doubles as both a skirt and a top!  It's funny how I really didn't go into making this item as a double concept.  My original idea was just to make an adorably cinchable skirt!  Then I thought about adding an adjustable "ribbon" throughout the bottom {or top - wear it how you like! Like I said, VERSATILE!}.  Then as I was designing it, I realized, this would make for an adorable bubble top, as well!  That's when I got really excited!  That is definitely one of the best parts of designing anything ~ when your idea just grows and gets better and better! {eeeeeeeeeeeek!}

So without further adieu, I'd like to introduce ya'll to the adam's blankie "Bubble Duo Concept!!!"  Wear it low as a skirt, or wear it high as a shirt!  Both ways are exceptionally cute, if I do say so myself {see pics below!}!!  It's even "flippable," so that you can wear the side bow on the top or bottom!  Hellooooooo! That means FOUR WAYS TO WEAR IT!  :)  It will be arriving to our shop soon, and be available in all our gorgeous fabrics, of course!

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Teacher Appreciation {End of Year} Gifts

Okay.  So let me just start by saying that I'm totally LAME that just his week I learned that parents are supposed to give their teachers an Appreciation Gift at the end of the school year.  Now, don't get me wrong here.  It's not that I didn't think they didn't deserve one ~ quite the contrary!!  It's just something I totally overlooked in my crazy, hectic life!

So, now that I know this, of course, I've been trying to figure out what to give her!  And I need to know NOW since there's like, what, 2 weeks of school left?!  {Yikes!}  Sooo....here's the deal.  I absolutely prefer to give original gifts.  I mean, of course, right?  After all, that's what I do for a living ~ make original gifts for mamas and their precious babes!  BUT.  Time is of the essence here!!  Besides that, I'm thinking that teachers probably get soooo many gifts for their houses, that they've probably run out of room for more "stuff" by even the third year of teaching, ya know?!??  So.  That leads me to....a gift card.  I know.  Totally unoriginal, right?  BUT. Very, very practical.  Now, that's what I'm talking about!

So, now I must interject a point that all you parents just simply must read!  I have enough current and former teacher friends to KNOW this. is. TRUE!  As lovely and unique and brilliant as all your little kiddos are, your teacher does NOT, I repeat, does NOT want some trinkety little thing that he or she made.  I'm so, so sorry to break some of your gals' hearts out there, but please refer to my previous point: they only have so much room for so much stuff in their houses!!  So before you make {C'mon now. Be truthful here.  You KNOW your kids do not actually WANT to make that thing for their teacher! You're totally making them!!} Little Johnny sit down and craft that googly-eyed, glittery pinecone-of-a-thing for your teacher, let it go.  That's right...just let.it.go.  Your teacher will thank you.  Trust me. :)

So, back to the main issue at hand here... I decided on a gift card.  For a coffee house.  Yes.  That's right.  Like I said, TOTALLY unoriginal.  But, please just try and tell me one gal you know who couldn't use a little caffeine boost here and there?!  Seriously.  Um, for me? DAILY!!!  And here's the clincher:  It's gonna be the cutest-little-giftcard ever!  Why?  Because I found this totally adorable prop it goes with!  And YOU, TOO, can print yours and give it to your child's teacher! 

{photo courtesy of www.eighteen25.blogspot.com}
All you need to do is visit the eighteen25 blog to download and print your very own "Thanks a latte for all you do" card.  Instructions are there on what else to do with it {very minimal ~ promise}.  Easy-peasy gift for your teacher that's practical and a sure-winner. :)

{Thanks, eighteen25! You ROCK!}

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

anyone want to win OVER $7000.00 worth in prizes? {yes, please!}

So two of my wonderful photographer friends both have HEEE-YOUUUUUGE giveaways going on RIGHT NOW!  One is over $6000 in prizes {I know! "gasp!" right?!?}, and the other, $1000!!!  Aaaaaand, both giveaways will give ONE lucky gal tooooooooooons of divine goodies! I SERIOUSLY wish I could enter them myself!!!  I've been LOVING checking out all the creative shops and products, and I KNOW you will, too!

So, one giveaway ends TOMORROW, so you better get your little fastly furious key-tappin' fingers over there ASAP and get your name in already! This giveaway is with Laura Winslow Photography.  She is an absolutely amazing photographer, and is local for any lucky Phoenix blog readers.  Be sure to check her page out and book a session!  {I KNOW you won't be disappointed!}

The other giveaway, with Christina Hendrick Photography, ends Sunday night {the 8th}!  But enter now, so you don't forget!!!  Here is the link to that one! If you live in the San Diego area, be sure to check out her portfolio and book a session with her, too!  She's also a fabulous photographer with a keen eye for detail and is very efficient and highly personable, as well!

Thanks for checking them out, everyone!  ALSO, be sure to check back here frequently as adam's blankie is going to be hosting OUR OWN HUGE GIVEAWAY soon!!! {can't hardly wait!!} :)

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fixing Clothing with Embellishments: Part I: Using Ruffles to Hide Holes

I know we have all had this scenario happen at our house.  Here's how the thinking goes: "Baby Jack's  favorite shirt got a hole in it.  It fits perfectly fine, but now we'll have to throw it away.  Oh, he'll be so disappointed.  I sure hope he doesn't notice it's missing from his closet."  Or maybe it goes like this, "Whaaaaat?  How did that happen?  We JUST got this shirt, and it already has a hole!  I wonder if I can return it...do I still have the receipt?"  Either way, you're totally bummed.  And probably about to throw the clothing (not to mention your money) down the drain.  But guess what?  Perhaps you do NOT need to throw it away.  In fact, you mostly likely won't need to!

There are so many easy ways to fix these kinds of items.  Especially when it comes to kids clothing in particular. Why?  Because you can get away with a lot of more embellishing "kid-style," if you will. You know what I mean....patches, ruffles, appliques.  These are all wonderful solutions for covering up holes or snags in clothing.

So, as I'm sure you've guessed, this recently happened at our house.  I had purchased a tank top from Baby Gap...before our daughter was even born, in fact.  I got it at the outlet, and in a size 12-18 months (yes, I like to plan ahead!).  So this Spring she is finally big enough to wear it.  So we tried it on, and guess what?  Not just one, but TWO holes were already in it (no wonder it was at the outlet, right?!!)!
one of the two holes I found....ugh.
As I sat muttering to myself {I won't go into what I was saying...it might have even been an expletive, not sure...but let's just say I wasn't happy - ha!}, I was just about to toss it. When all of a sudden, my crafty self came through and thought,"Wait just a minute here!  I can totally fix this!"  With ruffles.  Now how often can you say, "Ruffles to the rescue!"  Seriously!  I just looooooooooooove ruffles and am going to keep adding ruffles to everything for as long as they stay in style.
here it is...the fixed shirt...can i get a "thank you, ruffles!"?? :)
The other beauty of the fashions we're in right now? Raw edges. Mixing and matching.  Embellishing galore.  It's just the PERFECT time, style-wise (if you care about that at all!), to be able to change, upcycle and fix about anything!  Whoo-hoo! (Now if this style only NEVER went away, right?!)

So, as the shirt was made in a jersey knit (as most tshirts and cotton shirts are), I decided to stick with that same type of fabric for my ruffles I wanted to add.  I was ecstatic about using jersey knit, because when you cut this stuff it does NOT fray!!  This means a huge short-cut and time saver because you do.not.have.to.HEM.it!  Score!

So here are the steps I took to create this ruffled magic.  I do apologize for not having pictures of most of the process {including a picture of the original shirt - doh!}.  I wasn't planning to blog about this, but midway through my project, I thought to myself, "This is really something a lot of women should know about!  Ways to embellish and create and save money!"  So without further adieu...

First, I simply measured the length of the bottom part of the shirt.  Then I doubled that number (to get the length of the whole way around the shirt), then doubled it again.  {You always needs to multiple the total length you're going to ruffle by at least 1 1/2 times the length.  I like to go twice as long because it means even more ruffles!}

Then I cut 2 strips of jersey knit fabric.  One in white, and one in turquoise.  I cut each piece 3 inches wide and, again, 2 times the length around the bottom of her shirt.

Then I ruffled each strip with my sewing machine (click here to see a tutorial on how to make ruffles).  I did NOT secure the ruffles at this point.  {You could do that now, BUT you'll end up having to sew over the entire ruffled strip twice if you do that}.  So, for now, just sew on your basting stitch and gather & ruffle the strip of fabric now. 

Once ruffled, I placed the end of one of my ruffled strips (the white one) on the side seam of the shirt.  Then layed out the strip around the entire shirt {so that the ends of the ruffle met each other at the same side seam where I started} and made sure it fit around properly.  At this point, you will probably need to either ruffle some more, or let some ruffle out, if the ruffle is not fitting onto the shirt correctly {that is, matching up at the side seam}.  If the ruffle is hanging off the edge of the shirt, it's too long, and you need to ruffle your strip more.  If the ruffle is too short and not reaching the side seam, you need to let out some of the ruffle. Once I got it to fit around perfectly, I used oodles of pins to secure it in place!
 Go ahead and also pin the two ends of your ruffled strip together at the side seam.  Sew this together.  Be careful that you're sewing only the two strips together and not sewing it onto the shirt yet!
the two ends of one ruffled strip...pinned together and ready to be sewn

sewing the ends of the ruffled strip together...as you can see, NO shirt in sight here!
Now go ahead and sew that strip on.  Just sew right over your basting stitch.  Next up, the second ruffle.  I did the same thing with this ruffle, only pinned it below the first ruffle, of course.  I placed it so that the top ruffle would cover the top portion of this new one, but also so that this new ruffle would cover the bottom of the original hemline of the shirt.
here's how the ruffles look, placement-wise, on the shirt... the top (white) one is already sewn on...the bottom (turquoise) one, awaiting to be sewn.

here's how they lay when you put the ruffles down...you can see the white (top) ruffle just barely covers the bottom (turquoise) ruffle
Again, just sew the ends of it together first, then sew the entire ruffle on.  Trim your threads, remove pins, and presto!  Fixed shirt!  And in my opinion, this ruffling made the shirt look even cuter than the original!  Sa-weeeeeeeeeet!

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at adamsblankie@gmail.com