Digital scrap items in the header, layouts and sidebar are by Miss Mint at or Jen Wilson at

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Formal Apology

I'd like to retract the statement I made last May about Brian's Mother's Day gift. I've recently learned that he uses a unique blend of logic, problem solving, constructive thinking and personal talents (he's very handy!) to create his own brand of "creativity" that he pours into any gift he gives me. I was right that my shoes frustrated him but what he really gave me was a way to avoid future arguments by organizing them for me himself. Thanks sweetie, I can't look at the shoe organizer without smiling now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Double Trouble

1 graphic designer, 1 vinyl cutting machine, 4 girls, 5 colors of vinyl, 6 new designs, 8 bottles of paint, 9 tons of ribbon, 10 fresh-cut wood blocks and 12 M&M cookies equals...

A freaking awesome craft night! Double trouble indeed!
I am very, very lucky to have several local girlfriends who love crafts as much as I do and who are graciously willing to help me create product examples when I need them. (It's such dull, hard work, right?!!) Thank you gals, I couldn't get it all done without you!!! Special props to Nate for the M&M cookies. ;)
The above design is from my new BlockART line - vinyl cutting graphics specifically intended for fast, fun & easy crafts! Check out to see all the new shapes & stuff for your vinyl plotter!

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Day of PreSchool

Here is Aiden on his first day of preschool, teary-eyed after his sixth temper tantrum of the morning. (How does one pour apple juice the wrong way?)

I asked him if he wanted to hold his backpack. (It would look fabulous with his orange bracelet after all) That spurred the seventh temper tantrum. It's a GREAT day to send him to preschool!

By the time we get to the school, he's FINALLY happy! Yay!

Aiden had a total blast! However when I picked him up the teachers had a LOT to tell me about. Each day they get a parent report slip sent home with them and as you can see, they ran out of room writing about Aiden's issues:

Not listed is their concern about how accident-prone he is, the two falls-with-head-injuries he sustained and how he climbs on tables and refuses to sit still and do puzzles. That's our Aiden!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tay Time

So what's a girl to do when her man is away on a backpacking adventure? Everything. Today has been delightful. I adore exciting randomness. Roughhousing before breakfast, hunting down new music artists while I work out at the gym, drawing pink cupcakes & grungy rockstar graphics at the same time, making double-stacked sandwiches for dinner, splash fights at bath time and listening to Counting Crows while reading A Perfect Mess. It's been a good day!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peppermint Creative HYBRID CT Call!!!

Peppermint Creative is having a call for HYBRID CT members!

REQUIRED: Applicant must own or have access to a personal craft cutting machine that accepts SVG, GSD or EPS file formats (such as the Silhouette, Cricut and Wishblade) and must have experience importing files to create vinyl wall art or hybrid crafts.

Read about the Hybrid Call & Apply At Peppermint Creative!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The KING of Puking in Public

My dad grew up with an unusually sensitive gag-reflex that left him prone to easy vomiting. Apparently it's genetic and I'm grateful there is at least ONE mother on this plantet that completely understands what I am going through. (I should call my grandmother more often...)

No matter how much strangers stare at us or how often my friends swear they've never heard of a child throwing up this much, Aiden continues to be a pretty steady twice-a-month kind of kid. Today he threw up in the checkout line of HEB. I've never had faster checkout and bagging service in my life.

We walked to the car with my pants - and Aiden's balloon - dripping with vomit. A couple people stopped to watch me strip Aiden to his diaper, start the AC, load him in his car seat and finally load my own completely thawed groceries. Should I ever see another mother in this situation, I'll know excactly what to do: Skip introductions and just load the groceries while assuring her my son suffered from the same thing and give her an exact date and age of when he finally stopped spewing like the girl from The Exorcist.

When I asked Aiden why he threw up he said "I choke and throw up cake". Ah. HEB had free sample chunks of their chocolate bundt cakes in the bakery and I grabbed one for Aiden before we hit the produce section (which is worse than the candy aisle for us). That was about four minutes before the checkout line scene. I don't know how you choke on a crumb-sized piece of super-soft cake but my child can do it! Can yours?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Anthng But The Usual is Our Usual

I flipped open my planner this morning to find our week delightfully UN-scheduled. It's the first time this has happened in MONTHS (since last August maybe?) and I'm fully planning on getting some serious items off my to-do list. Later. This morning we have shamelessly vegged out. We've played, watched a movie, had a leisurely lunch and I even got a baby shower card made. It's been a wonderful morning! This afternoon I'm going to tackle bathroom cleaning and see about getting some christmas shopping done while Aiden naps. Ah, what a deliciously calm, laid back day!

Aiden can count to.....S
This is hilarious, mostly because we can't get him to stop! He can count to six but being the comedian he is, he prefers to count to something that gets him the best reaction. Randomly thoughout the day he'll begin counting some objects and - no matter how many there are - he'll say one, two, three, four, five, nine, S! It's ALWAYS a random nine thrown somewhere in there, followed by S! His pre-school teachers will be so thrilled. ;)

Bucket Head
Wish I had a picture for you - it would be all the funnier! We bought Aiden a little plastic play food set that came in a clear plastic bucket. Of course the packaging has been the best toy ever! He frequently puts it all the way over his head (suffocation style) and runs around the house squealing and laughing, which echos inside the bucket. It's quite humorous and just one of the many reasons that we think he's nuts!

Fleece Obsession
Aiden's favorite star blanket is fleece. And so is "nemo blanket" - the blue fleece blanket with orange clown fish that my mom gave him last winter to keep warm during nap times. Also floating around the house is an orange fleece scarf and Spike the fleece alligator I had a seller on Etsy make for him nearly a year ago. He's been sleeping with star blanket since he was 8 months old and added Nemo blanket this last January. This week the orange scarf has been requested at every bed time and just this morning Spike was added to the must-have mix. Even all wadded up, this is a 36x36 inch mound of fleece. Add this to Mack Truck and the various other Cars character Aiden insists he needs to sleep and his crib looks like a messy dresser drawer at each nap time. I have no idea how he gets any sleep...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another post so soon?

Hey, I've always got stuff to write. It's whether or not I have the time! Tonight I'm sick of looking at both Photoshop and Illy so the blog is getting some attention.

Aiden was his usual self today. Snuck a cupcake and two muffins he wasn't supposed to have before dinner and then boasted "Yummy toast!" as he took giant mouthfuls of the hamburger bun he scaled the fridge to reach. I have no idea how he did it but he did. He's also learned to open doors with child proof knob covers on them (back to the drawing board First Years designers) and breaks into the office to steal my orange hilighters. I scrubbed several marks off the door and (shhhh....Brian's X-Box) last week and am totally fine that Aiden now opts to scribble on his own hands. It gives me ten additional seconds to notice the house has fallen quiet and race to find him.

Breakfast Cupcakes: Seriously, I couldn't remember why these weren't allowed but I do know that cupcakes without frosting (aka: muffins) for breakfast sound much more reasonable to pediatricians/no-sugar mommies/persons over 50 so we made some "muffins". Read: spice cake mix with raisins. They're freaking good and well, they're cake so getting Aiden to eat them is....cake! That is if there are any leftover after Brian's late-night raids. I can hear the microwave door opening every couple of minutes, Bri, and I know that's not the most creative place to hide them but save some for the kiddo!

Crashin': It sounds the best when Aiden says it and right now EVERYTHING 'crashin's'. He still plays with the train table Brian made him for his birthday but rarely does Thomas make it around the loop. Typically he's happily driven a few millimeters before being plowed off the track by Frank the combine harvester from Disney's Cars. (Which, by the way, was NOT an easy character toy to find and now spends its days harassing Thomas, Percy and Sir Topham Hatt.) After a few good smash-up, bang-up sessions the entire slew of trains, tractors and wreckage parts get thrown in the doll stroller for a nice run around the house. These are just a few of the reasons why I call Brian once or twice a day at work to simply inform him "your child is crazy", laugh and hang up. Honestly, I should have him start blogging just about these phone conversations. He hears an Aiden story every 1-3 hours and they come so frequently, only the ones that have me laughing almost to tears do I recall long enough to record here!

There is one downside to all the crashin' and that is the marked-up walls. All cars at our house drive perpendicular to the floor, straight down the center of the wall three feet off the ground. He's been doing it so long (and ignoring my discipline) that there are actual tire marks at four different heights, showing his growth between the time this bad habit started and now. The small black shelf in the living room is known as The Impound and can often be found lined with vehicles that have been taken away for that hour/day/week/lifetime. His favorite drywall dinger is a car that has removeable rubber tires. (Remember the ones he put down the drain a month or two ago? Yep. That car.) Any ways, it's a cool looking slab but with it's tireless chrome rims, it looks like Aiden left it parked in a questionable corner of the playroom overnight and found it on cinder blocks the next morning. As soon as any other car is impounded, he goes for this candy-paint wall-chewer with it's beveled rims to REALLY show me what he can do to the walls. Brian, your child is crazy.

BTW: I guess I'd better post who got a new head in the photo below because Brian SAW me working on it and still thought it was him! LOL! No, it was ME who got the new head! Look all you want, you won't find a tell-tale mark. (Thanks to Kelsey who took two nearly-identical pictures!) If you want to search, the 'line' is in the middle of my necklace. Now if only I could keep my eyes open, look at the camera and not smile like I'm about to sneeze, huh Kels? ;)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Family Pics: Better Late than Never!

I have a good excuse: work is REALLY busy this time of year because I have to have all holiday stuff done by August. You know how crazy your November is? I now have crazy Julys AND Novembers! LOL! Any ways, I FINALLY had Kelsey order our prints this weekend and I wanted the family to see:

Bet you can't tell which one of us I had to crop a new head on because said person wasn't smiling right! Go on, take a guess!

Dan & Laura, I haven't forgotten about your request from 2 years ago for a horizontal 4x6 of the family. Sorry it took the 'photoshop pro with a photographer friend' so long to get one to you. Watch your mail box soon!

Wait! One More Aiden Story!

I almost forgot to post this one! It happened the day after I posted the necklace pictures below. Aiden was playing in the living room while I was shuttling cleaning supplies from the kitchen to the bathroom. All of a sudden I heard Aiden cry out in pain and exclaim "Car! Diaper!" I turned to look at him, wondering how a car & diaper had anything to do with each other. He actually had tears in his eyes as he very clearly said "HURT! Penis!" through the sobs. That got my attention, since I'd like to have grandchildren someday, so I opened his diaper to find...indeed, a car. Parked vertically at a very uncomfortable angle and pinching his skin right where he said! LOL! He was fine but Aiden doesn't drive his cars into tunnels any more...or stash them in his diaper!

Everyday Adventures

I was busy these last two weeks with the bead party & craft day preparations but I've GOT to update the blog with some of the latest Aiden Antics:

The Changeling: We've experienced the collapse-to-the-ground tantrums that arose from us somehow opening the Playdough jar the wrong way and endured the screaming when we picked up the wrong tractor book (he has eight? nine?). The most recent annoyance is how Aiden will BEG to watch a movie BY NAME and then before the DVD tray can slide closed, he's INSISTING a different movie be put in. It's enough to make you want to rip your hair out. If I dare say "No, we're going to watch this movie" a full-blown tantrum begins. I've learned the easiest thing to do is spoil him rotten by buying cheap McDonald's toys off eBay that go along with all of his movies and when he starts this mess, I gather up the toys that go with the movie so they can all watch it together. *POOF* The living room is transformed into Disney World and he's completely happy. Thank you McDonalds for the toys. Sorry Aiden puked in the kid's area last week.

The Cravings: I've been through a pregnancy and not had my cravings change as fast as his. I have a love/hate relationship with dum dums. He'll beg for the tiny suckers all day long until I decide 9:45 is far enough from breakfast and close enough to lunch to give in. He likes to pick his own from the bag, not only to tell me what color it is but to keep tabs on how many there are left so he can beg for every single last one from the moment he wakes until he goes to bed. So annoying! Fast forward to some errand or chore I must get done while Aiden is contemplating a nuclear meltdown. I pull one of those microscopic suckers from my purse and the problem is solved. I'm sure I'll have hell to pay later for these bribes but seriously, my child is insane. I'll pay for the fillings.

So this morning Brian has caught my stomach bug and is making a LOT of noise. Aiden wakes up right as Bri is leaving the house, missing that last 30 minutes of sleep I have discovered is critical to having a good morning. Aiden tows bleary-eyed me to the kitchen and - no lie - in one breath says "WantSuckerWantPeachesWantCupcakesEatChocolateYogurtWantEggsEatPizzaWantNoodles..." He's still rattling on and I'm stuck somewhere around 'cupcake', trying to remember why my mother told me they weren't a breakfast food. (They do have eggs in them...) A nanosecond later - before I can blink, let alone inhale to answer him - Aiden's little body is thrashing on the floor in a screaming fit. Noodles it was for breakfast.

The Surprise: Last week Aiden began asking to go to the grocery store. This is more than odd, since the battle to keep him in the cart is so fierce, I frequently choose going without fresh produce for days before entertainging fellow HEBers with our dysfunctional shopping performance. However Brian SWORE he was an angel in the store on Saturday and when I ran up there today, again he was the perfect child I never knew I had. He sat politely in the cart, asked nicely to hold a Cars toy he saw and told me "No open, first pay for it" (OMGosh, he listens and understands me?) and entertained himself the entire time with the toy package, which stayed pristine, a balloon and a dum dum. Miraculously I was able to cut our weekly grocery bill by $40. Don't ask me how, I'm still reeling from the parallel universe-type shopping experience and I'm certain in my euphoria I forgot something expensive. Nevertheless, I thought his excellent behavior deserved a special treat so we came home and made the cupcakes he'd asked for at breakfast.

Aiden looooooves to crack eggs these days. Usually by the dozen and all at one time. So I had him pull a chair up and I let him hold the egg while I cracked it into the batter and then scrubbed him down before we added salmonella to the list of bugs we're battling this week. He very sweetly pointed to the KitchenAid whisk attachment and asked to lick it so I scraped most of the batter off and let him ingest salmonella that way. I instructed him to stand by me and put the whisk in the sink when he was done. THREE seconds later he's vanished with the whisk. I pull him over in the living room, smeared with chocolate cake batter and driving the licked-clean whisk in his stroller. It was so funny I had to get a picture of my chocolate-covered surfer dude!

Okay Silver family, does he not look like one of the Shannon boys?!! (For the rest of you, check out my SIL's blog to see Aiden's cousins in action. The craziness runs in the family....)

And that was just the stuff from today. I haven't even told you about the chronic pants-removal issue we're having. I swear, this place is like a Frat house. I don't even pretend to be in control any more. I just laugh, stain-treat and go on!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

YAY! Pictures!!!

As promised, here are some quick example pics of the necklaces that can be made on Friday night:

Lots of bright, playful colors! It's going to be fun!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bead Party

I ordered a LOT of bright, fun acrylic beads from China and I'm teaching my friends how to make Charming Charlie-style necklaces at cost. Everyone reading this is welcome to come. However, since we can only squeeze so many people around a table - and I only have 10 pairs of round nose pliers - we're going to have to divide this up into more than one night. Here's the info:

Friday July 17th @ 8 pm
Bring a small treat to share & $5 for every necklace you want to make.


Friday July 24th @ 8 pm
Bring a small treat to share & $5 for every necklace you want to make.

We are making multi-colored necklaces. Depending on demand, you might have the option of doing additional colors.

• Allow at least ONE HOUR to complete ONE 33-36 inch necklace.
• If you don't want to share tools, consider purchasing round nose pliers from Hobby Lobby.
• Loose beads will be available for purchase if you'd like to make more necklaces at home.
• Beads are very tempting to toddlers but pose a serious choking hazard. No children please.

We will add an additional night if needed.
If you told me in person you would attend, I have forgotten which date. E-mail me!
Friday July 17th: FULL!
1. Rachael Wharton
2. Kelsey Call
3. Krissy Cotten
4. Stephanie Crosby
5. Erin Bailey
6. Becca Schmidgal
7. Eva Armendariz
8. Lauren Shepherd
9. Becca Moser
10. Jamie Smith
11. Cathie Packer
12. Sheena Sorensen
13. Jen Clark
14. Alisha Ashton
15. Harriet Karchner
16. Kelly Oaks
17. Rebecca Moser's SIL
18. Crystal Petersen
19. Josie Brenner
We are OVERFULL! Please bring your own folding chair and pair of round nose pliers (purchased from Hobby Lobby or Michael's) since I do not have enough chairs and tools for everyone!
Friday July 24th:

1. Shaliece Moser
2. Amanda Brann
3. Kelsey Brann
4. Crystal Petersen
5. Danielle Smith
6. Brittany Knudsen
7. Melissa Gleason
8. Amy Schaivo

ETA: Beads arrived today (7/10) and wow, are they GORGEOUS!!!! I am making example necklaces to photograph & will post pics as soon as I can.

So you know, each class will get 1/2 of the beads. The second class will start out with fresh beads (not picked-through leftovers) so that it remains fair to everyone. IF a class runs out of beads or a bead color, participants would need to come back to the second class to have access to those colors. However, there are so many beads, it would be very difficult for us to run out of any one color unless 40 people all want to make yellow necklaces! Still, since we are dealing with a limited resource, it's going to be a first come, first serve. Literally, the first people to my house that night select their beads first.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blanket Found! Help Me Pay It Forward!

I am so excited to post that after EIGHT MONTHS of searching, an IDENTICAL star blanket has been found! I am extremely grateful to Caroline Langrall of Maryland for taking the time to view the Plush Memories Lost Toy blog, checking her closet, e-mailing me, being willing to part with a brand new star blanket she'd been saving for a baby gift and taking the time to ship it lightning-fast to a stranger in Texas for only enough money to cover the cost of the blanket plus shipping. What a saint! What she also didn't realize is that when I opened the package and saw the bright, clean new blanket and felt how super-soft it was I was whisked back to Aiden's newborn days when 'banket' was still clean and Aiden was brand new. It made my heart melt!

And now I want to do for others the good deed that has been done for me, except at this moment there is no one looking for any of the plush toys & blankets I have. But maybe you can help me! The Plush Memories Lost Toy Service is run by a wonderful woman and is 100% free. If there is something you can't find and you desperately need to replace, e-mail them! Obviously it works! And please, please, please scroll through the list of items being searched for. Each photo represents a heartbroken child (and parents at their wit's end) over a lost lovey. Many of the items are Target/Circo plush toys that I remember seeing in the store and I KNOW have been given at baby showers in years past! See if you can help some of these fellow parents.

On a side note, I must admit that Aiden has quite unique taste and got attached to something very rare indeed. Caroline's blanket came with it's original packaging and is sold under the brand name "Baby Basics" with little other info than it was made in Brazil. She found hers FIVE YEARS ago at a local discount store that frequently bought close-outs. I was very truly hunting for a needle in a hayfield (forget haystack) and incredibly lucky that one showed up in Maryland. I am sincerely grateful for Caroline's generosity and will check the blog often in the hopes that I can pay this huge favor forward.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lazy Summer Days

Not much going on here, except that I keep forgetting to bring my camera to our activities! Last week it was so quiet, we went to the pool five times in six days! I really enjoy running into friends & neighbors out there. I have a big bag of pool toys I take to dump out in the kiddie area to attract other toddlers who will play with Aiden so I can have a bit of a break. (He doesn't share well so the kids usually end up swapping toys which is great, too!) Unfortunately on Saturday the sun was really bad and we got burned. Aiden burned through THREE applications of SPF 50 and I burned through my sunblock and over my tan. It hurts to even wear clothes! LOL! Luckily Aiden and I both seem to tan out quick so today we're both looking more tan & less red. Aiden's hair is about three shades lighter blonde from the sun, too! He looks VERY cute - like a Malibu Ken doll! :D

Last Wednesday we drove out to Katy to visit the cousins and have a shopping day at Katy Mills. It was a BLAST! Every store we hit was having a clearance sale. At TCP I picked up 19¢ winter mittens & 99¢ pool shoes (for Schlitterbahn next week) and $3.99 newborn baby gift clothes at the Gymboree outlet. I WISH I'd had my camera there so I could take pictures of the mess we had at lunch. It's Aiden story time!

We stopped in the food court to eat lunch and as soon as food was placed on the table, I was fighting a squirming Aiden who wanted to sit in my lap but the second he was there, wanted back down onto his own swivel chair again. I was dodging the swinging chair back, trying to get him situated with his hamburger and sprite when I knocked my sprite and sent it flying. Julie (Brian's cousin-in-law) was quick to salvage it for me but the floor around us was soaked. Lunch proceeded with me coaxing every single bite down Aiden's throat and lots of ketchup smears on my clothes. The carousel in the food court was way too inviting so I went to pay for a ticket for Aiden to ride when I suddenly felt a rapid drip-drip-drip of something on my flip flop....and a VEEERY wet waist. Aiden had unleashed a flood and his diaper just couldn't absorb it fast enough, leaving us both pee-soaked. I had to change Aiden (screaming at full-volume) on a food court table - thank goodness I had thought to pack a full change of clothes - and then leave Aiden with Melissa (Brian's cousin) on the carosel while I went to go find a bathroom to change in, grateful I had just bought a pair of denim crops and a tee at Old Navy. I'm glad Julie and Melissa were there to hlp me laugh it off! Like I told them, these are the moments my life - and blog stories - are made of! LOL!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wild Child

The church nursery workers swear Aiden is a sweet and fairly quiet, reserved child and I'm convinced they don't know which one is mine. That or whatever posesses him is left outside of the church and sits in the car waiting with 'banket'. Either way, this photo from our family shoot last weekend is my favorite candid EVER!

Notice we BOTH have him by the arm as he squeels and lunges forward with excitement, ready to tackle Kelsey who has just pulled a roll of smarties out of her bag. Smarties are like toddler heroin and yes, I've seen Aiden gnaw all the way through the plastic packaging just to get to them. At 9:30 in the morning. While I check my e-mail and wonder why he's been quiet for three consecutive minutes. (Hold on, while I'm thinking about it I need to go add Smarties to the grocery list...)

Let the Aiden Stories begin!

• I no longer worry about Aiden rushing into the street and being run over by a car because his latest habit has bought me a few more precious seconds for my panicked screams to reach his ears. No mater how fast he has gone barreling towards the road, he now skids to a stop and JUMPS off the curb into the street. Luckily for me he's not Olympic-bound so his longjump is only six inches and most of the time - since he is my son - he looses his balance and has to pause to regain it before bolting into traffic. Or back up the driveway to do it again. This is just one of the many reasons I don't need caffeine; the nearly constant drip of adrenaline provided by such antics keeps me feeling plenty awake. Gray hairs are sprouting up somewhere, I just know it...

• If I was ever disappointed by a husband who wasn't a comedian, I'll learn to be careful what I wish for because my son was born funny. He may be limited to five word sentences but his timing and delivery are flawless. Most of my day is narrated for me in a nasily, finger-up-his-nose toddler voice. He'll ramble past the bathroom and announce "Mommy poops" any time I'm in there loudly blowing my nose. Then, when I get frustrated at the dog (who stands so close to me that I nearly fall and kill us both several times a day), Aiden will shout a string of incoherent scoldings in an oddly familiar tone that typically begin and end with 'Maysher bahd dahg". I'm not complaining about this one because Major is usually so upset at being shouted at by a toddler in a foreign language that he disappears for half an hour. Meanwhile Aiden continues to throw astute observations in with his usual banter. Such as "OW! OW! Mommy hurt! *Mumble Mumble something*" when I (yet again) injure myself and I'm spewing "freaking stupid *mumble, mumble, dont-want-Aiden-to-learn-all-these-words*" in the hallway. Then there was the week I tried DESPERATELY to teach Aiden the color brown. Every time I would put on his brown crocs or brown cargo shorts, I would label the color. One day he said "brown crocs" and I clapped and squeeled like a crazy woman. This was promptly followed by "brown mole" and a sticky little toddler finger pointing out the birthmark on my neck. Okay, next color... Oh, and last but not least is the one that crushes my heart - and he KNOWS IT! If I'm in the office, he'll announce "Mommy Busy" and follow it with a prompt, forceful office door slamming. Nothing pulls me away from my computer faster and lately I've gotten to the point that I'm hardly on the computer during the day at all. It hasn't stopped Aiden from using this trick, though. If my arms are full of toys I'm picking up and I can't get him a juice box that second? SLAM! "Mommy Busy!" Running the vacuum because he decided to color the living room grout lines crayon-style with pretzel sticks? *Rattles the closed-and-baby-locked office doors* "Mommy Busy!" Secretly I think he loves seeing the look on my face and hearing whatever response I give him because it's sure to be chock-full of new vocabulary words (like 'ridiculous', 'pretzel dust everywhere' and 'grout sealant'). He's got character, that's for sure!

• Aiden is honestly good about putting things in the trash and throwing his own trash away half the time without being asked. (I know teens with less compliance rates than that!) Unfortunately he likes throwing things away so much that I'm down a couple hair clips, some chapstick and an entire box of gallon-size ziplock bags. Brian comes to my rescue and pulls the obvious items - like Thomas, Percy and James - out of the garbage but he seems less inclined to rescue my girlie things since they already clutter up the bathroom and he figures Aiden is doing him a favor. It's okay, it probably won't be the last time the boys team up against me! LOL!

• Last week we couldn't leave Build-a-Bear without the blue & red stroller. The stuffed monkey in his cute swimming trunks is still brand new, unplayed-with in the box. The stroller, however, just turned over 100 miles and is the number one reason both the walls and my toenails will need a new coat of paint this week. The thing gets a five star crash-test rating from me. It has been slammed into every vertical surface in this house - including one sneaky trip into the garage to bang it against the big metal garage door panels - and it still looks brand new. Wish I could say the same for my pedicure...

• I've been buying a few things off Ebay including some Thomas the Train toys & Disney pajamas for Aiden. Today one of my winnings arrived in the mail and Brian had Aiden bring the package to me. I told Aiden it was actually for him as I ripped the top of the package open and handed it back. Like a child who has gotten to many socks for Christmas, he flatly and matter-of-factly said "Aiden's Jammies" as he peered blankly into the package. It made me laugh out loud to hear Brian's cynicism in his little two year-old voice! He's right, though. I let him open all the pajamas when they arrived while I opened most of the trains and hid them so I could dole them out during emergencies. Actually, to Aiden's delight, the package contained a new Wall-E robot toy. (I swear, eBay is the only place you can find Wall-E stuff!) I hope the surprise encourages him to have a positive outlook on life. And things that come in the mail. ;)

• And lastly, when I got Aiden up from his nap today, I barely had laid him down for a diaper change when he rattled off "want pancakes, want yogurt, want pizza, want Taco Bell", listing all his favorite foods as fast as he could. I blinked as he stared back at me expectantly and then I cracked a smile when I realized what he wanted to know. "You're hungry for lunch!" "LUNCH! Want lunch! Hungry lunch! Mommy wears shirt." Say WHAT?!! Since when do I not wear a shirt to lunch?!!

He's right again. While I typically do remain clothed for my meal, he does not since I take off his shirt to avoid doing twice as much laundry. I'm happy to hear he prefers his lunch dates not to be topless. :)

P.S. As I was writing all this I realized why Aiden narrates most of my day. It's because every evening and weekend I repeat everything he says for Brian who isn't as well-trained in translating gibberish. Aiden must believe it is good communication, or at least the foundation of good humor. Let's hope we can come to an arrangement at some point in the future where I'll agree to stop translating if he'll agree to quit labeling every hiccup, sneeze and cough as "mommy poops".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Activity Pics

Here are a couple quick pics of the things we've been doing instead of writing on the blog!

Aiden playing outside in his inflatable splash pool:

The very first tomatoes we got off the cherry tomato plant last week (the one that wasn't uprooted!):

Aiden LOVING the huge beach-entry shallow end of the new pool at our gym:

Aiden and his favorite girlfriend "Oliviaups" (Olivia) eating cake while Olivia's dad keeps a close eye on them and grills Aiden about his career and retirement plans: (ROFL!)

Next, I found this pic taken at my parent's lake house on Easter morning and thought I would post it. Most of my friends have met my very tan-complexioned, brown hair & brown eyed sister. This picture shows my brother and his wife along with Brian and I:

I know, I know, we don't look anything alike! Courtney - my blonde sister-in-law - and I are CONSTANTLY believed to be sisters because we look much more alike than AJ and I do. AJ, Sheena and I all share the exact same set of parents and we all look very different from one another. Genetics are crazy, aren't they? Oh, and my (younger) brother is 6'4", which should help explain why Aiden is so tall. The guys in my family are HUGE! I am actually the shortest of the Sullivan siblings & in-laws which I LOOOOOVE after years of being one of the tallest in my classes. It's so nice to be labeled "short" for a change!

Caught Blue-Handed

Aiden and I made playdough for the first time today and I let him select colors from the McCormic Neon food colors I bought at Easter. The recipe called for kneading food coloring into the dough. The lime green worked well and rinsed easily off my hands. The blue was a whole different story... the photo below is after ELEVEN hand washings:

I look like a robbed a bank! LOL! Here's the playdough culprit:

And the three we made. I left the third white - we are DONE with food coloring for today!

Of course the playdough held Aiden's interest for maybe four minutes before he realized I could only yell at him from the sink while my hands were covered in blue suds. Then the REAL fun began. He made a bee-line for the open bathroom cabinet and had a delightful time making a baby powder fog storm.

Meanwhile I discovered that twenty-something hand washings with a scrub sponge, two exfoliating sugar scrubs and a one-minute bleach soak will remove the bluest blue food coloring from your skin. Bonus: My hands have never felt so smooth and soft! I'm sorry my friends missed seeing me with blue hands but I thought you would enjoy the pictures! ;)

"Look Mom, Blue Hands" No-Cook Playdough Recipe:

1 cup flour
3/8 cup salt
3/8 cup hot tap water
food coloring* (optional)

*If using food coloring add hand soap, Scotch Brite sponge, Bath & Body Works sugar scrub and Clorox bleach to the list of required materials.

Combine flour, salt & water in a bowl; mixture will be crumbly. Knead until a dough forms, adding food coloring gradually as you knead if desired. Play! Refrigerate dough in ziplocks for up to one week. Then scrub & bleach hands while making empty threats from the sink.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Handy Hubby

Brian has done some really nice projects for me lately that deserve some recognition. He does enjoy making the blog and I was really excited about these projects because I got everything on clearance for half-price or less! YAY!

First up is the new white office shelf he hung for me last night. I was thrilled and thought the wall turned out really cute! (Kelsey is selling the pink & green metal frames if you want some, too. They're magnetic so my "naughty" and "xoxoxo" magnets fit perfectly!)

Next is the new kitchen table pendant light Bri installed:

And one of the two matching entry & hallway lights:

He did a great job and got them up pretty quickly! We both liked how they made everything feel more formal. (I got a STEAL when I haggled a poor Lowe's employee to death to discount already-clearance-priced lighting.) I learned that any manager can reduce the price on clearance merchandise - a trick I will be using much more often in the future! :D

Last but not least is the shoe organizer Brian got me for Mother's Day:

I'm always encouraging Bri to "get creative" and "think outside the box" when it comes to gift ideas for me. Apparently my shoes were in his way. Boy, did I learn my lesson! I'll spell out my Mother's Day gift wishes MUCH more clearly next year! ROFL! Meanwhile it is nice to have all my dress shoes organized for easy grabbing and Brian even custom-sized this organizer to fit in the space below the builder-installed shelves. I love that he's so handy!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Brian & Aiden: I'm Outnumbered

Brian has been wanting to make the blog lately. I think he meant that I should post pictures of his most recent projects - and I'll get to that eventually - but for now let me tell you about our most recent discussion: My "spoiling" of Aiden by letting him do "whatever he wants". Brian had to fish three rubber Hot Wheels tires....along with several beads and lime green clear his clogged bathroom sink drain. He wasn't happy. Personally I find it hilarious and laugh it off as one of the many inconveniences of living with a toddler. (I still have not found my favorite hairbrush he hid last September...and there's no telling what is down my sink drain.)

In fact, Brian is only aware of about 10% of the antics that go on during any given week. (Read: He only has to clean up 10% of them) For example, here's a story from this week: I usually store our pool bag in Aiden's room since that is where I keep the swim diapers & baby sunblock. It wasn't a big deal until I went to check on him while I thought he was napping and found him sitting in his crib pulling the plastic bristles out of a hairbrush with his teeth. The hairbrush had been in the bottom of the pool bag I'd left several feet away from his crib. Strewn and forcefully thrown about his ENTIRE ROOM were Nemo swim diapers, pool toys, hundreds of bits of shredded wet wipes, our hideous community pool photo ID cards and a half-dozen spit-out hairbrush bristles. I had all evidence of the hairbrush-ruining incident cleaned up and the pool bag put back together and stored in our room before Brian ever saw it. Not a big deal - the hairbrush had been a freebie any ways!

Brian, however, finds it incredibly difficult to believe that Aiden can get into so much trouble in such a short period of time and surely I'm not watching him. This is sometimes true. Sometimes I am on the phone, sending an e-mail, getting an aspirin for my Aiden-induced headache, scrubbing down the high chair tray for the fourth time, searching for blanket, removing Chuck E. Cheese tokens from the printer's SD card slots, picking up freshly-strewn DVDs, removing Yogos from Aiden's nostrils with tweezers, mopping up newly-spilled mystery sticky stuff, coaxing Aiden that he can color as much as he wants with orange crayons on paper and not on the walls, stain treating his third? fourth? t-shirt that day, wrestling to keep Mater, Thomas the Train and a sippy cup out of the filling washer long enough for me to get his sheets in, plucking him off the top of the table/counter/toilet for at least the tenth time that hour or - heaven forbid - going to the bathroom or letting Brian's stupid doberman outside so it can go to the bathroom. Most of the time I'm well aware of the mess Aiden is making and I pause, make a decision about whether I want to fight this battle or not, and if it's not too distructive I let him continue. Pulling tires off Hot Wheels cars using his Guido forklift character? Fine. Throwing them in the sink where they roll down the drain so fast I barely have the time to identify them as tires and not raisins? Not okay but we'll give Brian the heads up that his liquid Drano isn't going to to the trick. ;)

And that's what got me in trouble: Three tires and a few "pirate treasure" beads town his drain. PLEASE. You should have seen what he did with the orange silly putty on Friday...after he bopped your dog with your Xbox controller, rearranged several of your do-not-touch-daddy's-books on the bookshelf, pressed the buttons on your alarm clock, threw froot loops in your hamper, pulled out all your boyscout troop books to find the one with the fish in it (he's earned that merit badge by they way, if for no other reason than I've had to read it twice) and threw several pieces of your dry-clean-only clothing on the ground to dance on top of. Aiden you owe me. I cleaned up all the other evidence (while you had moved on to make the next mess) and I'm sorry I missed the tires in the sink. Brian, congrats on making the blog.

In case you were wondering why there are so freaking many syrafoam peanuts shoved behind every piece of living room furniture, here's the photographic evidence:

(I got a delivery, opened the box to check the order, pulled the items out and got all of seventeen seconds to myself before there was yet another mess to clean up! I insisted Aiden get his little green OXO dust pan to help with these ridiculous packing peanuts that were literally running down the hall and behind the TV stand on the tiniest AC air current. )

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere....
Clean up, Clea- aw, forget it. This is boring!

If I spent my entire day on the computer, Aiden would have accidentally killed himself ten times over. And that would have been in just his first six months of life! :) Instead I am watching him - with the camera ready - and we have hundreds of funny pictures of the delightfully endearing things he does in these fast-fleeting years to enjoy for the rest of our years together. In the end, it really is worth living with the extra messes. I love you both so much! Sink tire wars and all. ;)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe

My dad grilled a WICKED BBQ chicken growing up and when I asked him a couple years ago what the secret was he said "cheap Kraft BBQ sauce!" LOL! So I plunked Aiden in his kiddie pool, threw some BBQ chicken on the grill and had a delicious dinner last night that brought back memories of summer cook-outs with dad. I slightly altered my dad's original recipe to compensate for cooking them on a gas grill instead of slow roasting over briquettes & wood chips like he always did. They were AWESOME! Here's the recipe:

Tay's Melt-A-Man Hickory BBQ Chicken
(adapted from Tay's Dad's B*tchin' BBQ Chicken recipe!)

1 bottle Kraft Hickory BBQ sauce (99¢)
1 packet McCormick Grill Mates™ Hickory BBQ Marinade (50¢)
3 tablespoons Colgin brand Liquid Smoke - Hickory flavor (99¢)
Pack of chicken drumsticks (figure 4 drumsticks per adult/2 per child)
Basting brush & small cup to hold basting sauce
Rectangle pyrex pan

Open BBQ sauce and pour 1/3 of the bottle into a small cup. Set aside for later grill basting. Place rinsed chicken drumsticks in a glass pyrex pan. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce over the drumsticks, fill the BBQ sauce bottle with roughly 1/2 cup of water, shake to loosten remaining sauce and pour that mixture into the bottom of the pan. (Don't rinse BBQ off chicken with it) Open the marinate pouch and pour 1/3 of the pouch into the basting cup on top of the BBQ sauce. Sprinkle the remaining spices generously over the chicken. (Ignore marinade recipe on back, we just need the spices.) Pour 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke into the basting cup and drizzle 2 tablespoons over the chicken in the pan. Cover the chicken pan and basting cup with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Chicken will need to marinate 1-6 hours.

Fire up grill and leave it on medium-high to high heat. Using tongs, turn the drumsticks over in the pan twice to coat with BBQ sauce and place on the TOP rack of your grill. Close the lid and let cook for about 20 minutes. Open the lid, fip the chicken, heavily baste it and let it cook for 15 minutes more. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, move the chicken to the lowest grill surface, baste heavily again and close the lid to allow the BBQ sauce to caramelize and the chicken skin to slightly darken if desired. Chicken drumsticks should be done after about 45-50 minutes of grilling. Allow an hour and fifteen minutes or more for chicken breasts or full leg pieces.

Serve with baked beans, grilled corn on the cobb and/or any of your favorite summer side dishes. Enjoy and watch your man MELT!

Thanks for the memories daddy. I love you!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Aiden Stories

Sometimes my blog entries need no other title than that. I have a fun new routine of telling Brian about all the hilarious things Aiden said or crazy things he did during the day and let me tell you, it's a riot! My sister-in-law has a column running down her blog of the latest things her little girl Molly has said. I am really going to have to start doing that....

Aiden Discovers Love Bugs

On Saturday I took some "me" time and went to HomeGoods just for fun. I ended up buying Aiden a cute little outdoor bug catching kit for our afternoon play time on the font porch. He's wanted me to catch love bugs in the jar so he can look at them through the magnifying glass lid so today I plucked a flower cluster from a bush where a pair was eating and tossed it in the jar so he could observe the bugs drinking nectar. He gazed at the pair for a moment and then said "Bugs stuck!" I stifled a giggle. He peered even more intently into the jar and then I saw his forehead crease as his eyebrows lowered and he said "Bugs stuck.....NAUGHTY!" This time I about fell off my camp chair! Yes, indeed, the bugs are "stuck" in a naughty way. :)
(Nevermind that he was referring to the way the female of this particular bug couple was dragging the poor male around by his nether parts, going wherever she pleased and leaving the other bug flapping to keep his balance as if he's being dragged. Aiden has been learning at toddler social gatherings that pushing, shoving and dragging others is impolite behavior and apparently he thought the bugs needed a scolding! )

Lately I've decided that I wanted a lot more family time and that I needed to get better about taking pictures of the silly little moments. Last week we enjoyed making ice cream cones or going and getting snow cones to eat out on the front porch at sunset. It has made for a delightful and relaxing end to the day and it is something I hope we continue to do several nights per week. Here are some photos of other things we have been up to:

Here is the tent Aiden and I made the day it was raining cats & dogs and there wasn't much to do besides curl up and watch a movie!

He loved the tent. He especially loved laying sideways and watching the blanket overhead move as he kicked the chairs. (I had to re-make the tent about six times)

A quick pic of me & 80 one evening after finishing our ice cream cones on the porch!

Big bear hug for Bri!

He sure does love his daddy!

Ah, yes, the counter pic. This was the only way to get Aiden to understand that a frozen eggo waffle has to cook in the toaster BEFORE he can eat it. The previous three mornings he had screamed the entire five minutes it took the waffle to go from frozen to syruped & set in front of him. This particular morning I was too tired to fight him so I put him in charge of watching for toaster fires. I caught him lying down on the job...

And then we finger painted....

He was having fun with it until I wanted him to quit flinging paint and hold still for a picture! I'm sensing some attitude... In reality, he was bored with finger painting after six minutes. Clean up took over thirty five minutes so I don't think we'll be finger painting a whole lot but this was his first time ever so it was worth it!

Okay, okay, THIS was HILARIOUS! First, the back story: for Aiden's two year old photo shoot I bought him a skateboard and covered it in bright-colored, boyish vinyl decals. The problem is wall vinyl doesn't stick to the sandpaper-like surface of a skateboard very well so Aiden has been able to easily peel them off. Last friday Aiden smeared his clothes up with yogurt and the majority of his lunch so I stripped him down and sent him to go play. NO LIE, he wandered into the living room not ten minutes later with this biohazard decal placed on his arm tatoo-style! He'd done it completely on his own! I just about died laughing - it is so HIM!!!! (Not shown: the orange skateboard decal stuck to his butt!)

And there you have it. The most recent Aiden stories. :) Gosh I love this little boy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

And So It Begins

When we put Aiden to bed last night I was well-aware of the fact that Aiden might have nightmares after seeing giant aliens & monsters on a 40 foot screen. I was right, he didn't make it past 10pm before he called out for me in a small, frightened voice. I went into his room and he immediatly informed me "see window, monsters!" Monsters outside his window; I knew this was coming.

Luckily for me (and unfortunately for Aiden) I happen to be educated in just how short of a short-term memory toddlers have. Here's a trick if you ever need it: toddlers will lie in bed and think about the most recent novel things they have experienced. If they're thinking about scary monster movies, introduce something else totally new and interesting and the previous images will be replaced with these new things to think about. I was practically smirking to myself when I dug out the soothing Baby Einstein DVD's Aiden hasn't seen since he was 10 months old (see: too young to create long-term memories) and popped in Baby Galileo since that is his favorite Baby Einstein book. Aiden cuddled up with me and was soon engrossed with all the moon, star & planet images. Long story short, and three Baby Einstein videos later, we have him in bed and he sleeps in until 8 this morning. Sweet! I'm fairly pleased with myself until Aiden asks for "star blanket moon mowie" this morning. Fine, Baby Galileo goes in again. At least it's educational.

Okay, TWO repeat plays later and I am sick of that overly-sugary voice and annoying merry-go-round music so I put on my ipod to give my ears a break. I'm humming to myself when Aiden comes up, pokes my leg and patiently waites for me to hit pause and meet his eyes before his eyebrows drop and he very sternly says "Noooooo, mommy." HA! MY humming was interrupting his ridiculously repetitive Baby Galileo 'mowie'? If only he knew how frequently his tantrums interrupted my grocery shopping....

And so begins the mutual scolding war. I just PRAY that I can keep a straight face the next time he juts one hip to the side, slightly cocks his head as he thrusts his chin forward (OMGosh, I think I do that!), rearranges his features to make the exact 'serious' face I always give him and drops his voice to mimic mine as he tells me I have done something he doesn't like! ROFL!

Another Quick Aiden Story: As I was sitting here quickly typing the above story, Aiden brought me the red plastic clip that came with his birthday balloons. Uh, thanks kid... Then he brought me a clear plastic outlet cover. I had no idea where that came from and was looking at it to see if it had visible signs of him prying it out from the wall when he returned and handed me a large button-cell battery I'd never seen before. I shouted "Aiden, what the heck?!! Where are you getting all this?!!" He instantly gives me a sad puppy look and says "Mommy no screaming". I smile and say okay, biting my tongue as I exit the office and pass a half dozen other random oddities scattered on the floor and see that he's been exploring the darkest back corners of the kitchen junk drawer after completely ransacking two rooms in a matter of minutes. HOW?!!! This kid obviously has talent. He's Dash from the Incredibles, I'm telling you. I will probably be jumpy, slightly hysterical and have circles under my eyes until he leaves to go to college!

And then I'll miss all of this and wish I had taken more pictures and made more 'mowies'. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Aiden Sees His First Movie in the Theater!

Yes, I've been neglecting my blog but for good reasons. :) Aiden and I have been enjoying lots of play time and today I took him to see his very first movie in a theater! We saw Pixar's Monster's vs. Aliens and it was cute enough but Pixar has done much better. The forward-thinking psych student in me liked that there was a couple role reversals (ie: females filling typically male roles, females in distress relying on their own strength) while the Tay in me LOVED the bits of grown-up humor thrown in. When they flash to the CNN-type news screen scene, be sure to read the weather ticker along the bottom - quite funny! The inept President and the armchair villian with his ridiculously sultry-sounding space ship were humorous as well. :D

Here are some pictures I took of Aiden's first moviegoing experience. Luckily we were one of two mommy & son couples in the whole theater so it was okay that we climbed over a few arm rests, cried for a minute and threw our Insectosaurus toy on the ground. Twice. Here is Aiden watching the "loud TV", holding his popcorn & sippy cup so mom can't have any as he watches the previews:

I smuggled in Sprite inside his sippy cup, which he loves, and the popcorn was a HUGE hit:

Here is Aiden on the edge of his seat while the new Pixar "UP" movie sneak peek is showing. He shouted "orange balloon!" about ten times after this....LOL!

Still clutching the popcorn with his cheeks stuffed full:

Finally he agrees to share some when I ask him for the fifth time:

It was a fun afternoon for us! He wasn't bad at all so I got to see almost the whole movie. Afterwards the day of spoiling continued with a Happy Meal and a Bob the Blob toy inside! It's really fun to know we can take him to go see movies now.
So who was my favorite character? Well, of course Susan because I like Reese Witherspoon, but ladies man Missing Link made me crack up the most so it's a tie. :) Aiden just keeps saying "robot" so I'm guessing the giant alien clone robot was the one he liked best?!! He called it Wall-E during the movie. Close enough...ROFL!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Viny Cutting Machines: More of What you Wanted To Know

LOTS of interest on this topic! Vinyl cutting is a lot of fun and can be done on LOTS of different machines, including hobby craft cutters. I own a QuicKutz Silhouette but the ProvoCraft Cricut, Xyron Wishblade, Pazzles Inspiration, Graphtec CraftROBO and the Klick-n-Kut Element all have the ability to cut vinyl. Here's how to begin:

1. Get comfortable using your machine. Paper is cheaper than vinyl so experiment with it.

2. Order your vinyl & materials. I prefer Oracal 631 matte vinyl from simply because they are closer and ground shipping costs less. For a list of all the materials you will need to buy, view my blog post on Vinyl Cutting: Everything You Wanted To Know.

3. Start cutting and having fun!

How To Figure The Vinyl Roll Size You'll Need To Buy: Vinyl typically comes in rolls of 15 or 24 inch widths but craft cutters don't accept vinyl that wide so you'll have to cut it down before you can feed it through your machine. A smart thing to do is take the minumum required material width your machine accepts and see if it divides evenly into 15 or 24. For example, my Silhouette requires material be a minimum of 8.5 inches wide (and it does best with 9 inch wide material). Neither one divides into 15 or 24 evenly so I then consider what I will mostly use the vinyl for: small to medium craft projects. Based on that info I buy the 15 inch wide rolls and then cut 9 inch strips from the roll, giving me 9x15 inch sheets every time which are perfect for all the little quick-runs I do. If I know I will be cutting larger vinyl for wall hanging or sign boards, I'll go ahead and order a 24 inch roll, repeating the same steps to cut 9x24 inch strips.

I'm going to describe this fast-cutting technique further, since I know it can be confusing without pictures: Set the roll on it's end so it stands up on it's own nice and tall. Unroll 9 inches of vinyl. Cut the vinyl VERTICALLY (from top to bottom) to produce a tall, skinny sheet that is 15 inches tall and 9 inches wide. Feed this into your Silhouette. Repeat with a 24 inch roll.

What Length Should I Buy? Once you have determined the width you want, it's time to select the length. Rolls are usually 10, 50 or 100 yards long. I personally opt for 10 yard rolls (15 inch width) because I do not sell cut vinyl online and the lower cost per roll allows me to purchase more rolls in different colors. However, less than a year after buying my machine, I am on my third roll of white and second roll of ivory and chocolate brown so if your supplier gives a discount for buying larger rolls, consider this option for colors you use frequently.

Other Vinyl Ideas, Tips & Tricks:

- For the easiest weeding and best-looking results, buy good quality vinyl.
- Application tape can determine whether your vinyl will make it on the wall or rip the paint straight off the spackle. Spend good money here, too. This is extremely important if you intend to sell your vinyl because the general public expects vinyl to apply flawlessly to ALL wall surfaces. Good application tape helps deliver on that expectation.
- To be honest, craft cutters don't cut as cleanly as commercial cutters so you won't be able to cut items quite as small. If you're looking to start a business, skip the craft cutters and consider a 24 inch desktop cutter. You'll be so glad you did!
- If your machine is producing rough-edge cuts but the image appears smooth on-screen, increase the threshold of your auto-trace. If you purchased the graphic in one of those big bulk-packs and are importing it directly into your software (no auto-tracing), it's probably the graphic causing this. For companies to provide so many shapes at regular intervals, quality must be sacrificed.

Frequently Asked Questions from my Inbox:

To cut down on the e-mails I get, here is what you're dying to know about vinyl!

• Why doesn't my machine accept JPGS?

A few do, most don't. Quite frankly this is so the retailer (who is not actually the manufacturer of your machine) can also make money selling shapes you buy & download to cut.

• Why won't my machine import/open/cut JPGS I found online and saved?

Most machines reject these images because a) they aren't clean or smooth enough to cut well and b) so you can't save the online picture of the shape the retailer is trying to sell and have your machine cut it.

• Why don't all my fonts show up in my cutter software when I want my vinyl machine to cut text? Where are they?

Only True Type fonts are available for use in vinyl cutting machine software. The missing fonts are Open Type and cannot be used.

• My machine can't find files that I know are saved on my computer.
Select IMPORT, not Open, to import purchased files. This is true for almost every personal or commercial cutting machine unless you have purchased files with specialty file extensions. Those you can open directly from the software File>Open menu.

• My Silhouette cuts along the edge of text and objects with a dashed line instead of a solid line. The letters are not cut out.

Your software's metafile settings and the image file settings are different colors. Click on Insert>Metafile Settings. The solid line color is red by default. Your image file should also have red lines when it is NOT selected. If your image file has lines any other color than your metafile line colors (red by default) then your machine will cut everything with dashed lines. Change your software metafile settings or, more simply, change the image file line color (Select image>Right Click>Line Settings) and then save over the original with the correct line color.

*Since Robo Master software uses red as it's default line color, I design and package my GSD files with red image lines. They will open and cut without these issues. (Unless you have changed your metafile settings of course!)

• How can I be sure that your designs will work with my machine?

Download my cute FREEBIE, which has all the file extensions we offer in one package. Once you find the file type your machine imports, you can confidently purchase additional graphic packs.

• Why aren't all the shapes in the commercial category also offered in the personal craft cutter category? I want the same shape in SVG.

Some of my designs sold in the EPS file format and are intended for commercial use only. This is to give small vinyl businesses fresh, new designs that grab attention in a very competitive market. It's my way of helping other stay-at-home moms and entrepreneurs provide cut vinyl designs every bit as appealing as the larger, over-priced companies. In order to truly help, and not compete with the businesses I'm trying to assist, I don't offer the shapes for personal cutting use.

Since some commercial vinyl cutters (ie: 24 inch desktop cutters) only import SVGs, I do offer the same exclusive shapes in the SVG file format with a commercial license for the same price as the EPS packs. This is a specialty purchase, please use the Peppermint Creative Contact Form to arrange this option.

• Where do you get your fonts? Are they free or do you have to buy them?

I get nearly all of my fonts from and because I am using them commercially, I do (and must) pay for commercial use fonts. Free fonts can be used for personal cutting projects but they are usually lower in quality than a pay font so make the investment and purchase some pretty fonts that cut nicely; they're usually under $20 each. Who's my favorite? Ronna Penner!!!!!
Please do not download and use illegal font copies! Font designers don't make as much money as you might think and designing a font takes nearly a year. If we want gorgeous new fonts in the future we need to make sure to pay the font designers for their work so they can continue designing!

More of What We're Up To

A warning to all you moms: drinking syrup is similar to eating too much Halloween candy. The sugar overdose is going to make your child sick. But, even if the first gulp is at noon, the puking never comes until the middle of the night. 1:42 am to be exact. Luckily I was still awake (working) and sat holding Aiden in the bathroom until the heaves passed. Once I was sure he wouldn't spew all over his room, I put him back to bed around 2:15 and went to bed myself. This morning he wanted pancakes and cried LOUDLY for the 20 minutes it took me to mix the batter and get the first ones off the gridle. I shouldn't have been surprised when he took a whiff off the warm, syrupy stack and burst into tears over, what I guess, was a fresh wave of nausea. I don't think he'll be drinking syrup again today! LOL!

Working at 1:42 am? Yes, I WORK! I am very lucky to be able to work from home in the evenings, and during some nap times, as a graphic designer while enjoying raising Aiden during the day. Problem is I don't have the benefits of going to a nice, quiet office somewhere away from the distractions of home to get my work done. So I simply hit the computer when Aiden goes to bed at 7:30 and quit working when I go to bed at 1 or 2 (or 3) in the morning. I absolutely love what I am doing, the only downside is that I don't appear to be a working mom! My friends who see me at the park or church luncheons assume that I'm just oblivious, clumsy and neglecting to call them when in reality I'm running on four hours of sleep, fumbling and dropping things in my delerious half-awake state and forgetting to call them because the grocery shopping needs to be done, my errand list is growing by the minute, graphics clients are e-mailing urgent questions, my responsibilities for the craft days need to be met, my jewelry orders are backing up, voice mails have gone unlistened to, floors un-mopped, Aiden has destroyed yet something else that requires industrial-strength cleaners (thank you ACE Hardware for stocking these), a friend is calling needing an emergency invite made/vinyl item cut/gift jewelry set, the laundry is backing up, Aiden is finger painting on the floor with melted popsicle AGAIN, I remember that yet another week has passed without me mailing that thank you/scheduling my doctor appointment/dusting the blinds & ceiling fans, the kitchen and highchair need their fourth? fifth? scrubbing of the day because my child still throws as much food as he eats, the dog is spotted with wet, sticky patches of fur in the shape of Aiden's little handprints - ah, it's syrup/liquid soap/pasta sauce/toothpaste, the tomato plant is lying uprooted on the back porch again, the trash is in the bath tub and all the bath toys are in the trash can, the dog wants to be fed and Aiden wants his afternoon outside play time, I must get the mail stamped and to the box before the mail lady comes, Aiden has to be stopped two dozen times from dashing towards the street and reminded in non-hysterical tones that "cars run over babies", the house needs it's quick pick-up before Brian gets home to see what a mess his son can make and dinner needs to be cooked. Oh, got a phone call, dinner needs to be cooked for us AND a neighbor in need and now it's 7:30, time to start work. WHEW! I forgot to call my girlfriends. :( Tomorrow, I promise myself. I really will call them and tell them how much I adore them tomorrow!

I love you gals. Sorry I'm so busy. It won't be like this forever, just for now. :)

OMGosh, Aiden just put candy up his nose - gotta go

Monday, March 30, 2009

Aiden Stories & Practical Jokes

The Practical Joke: We've been playing this practical joke on Aiden, which started out as an accident, became a total riot and then blew up in our faces. A couple weeks ago I hopped on eBay and bought a Pongo (101 Dalmatians) toy for Aiden since he has been loving the movie. When it arived one day last week, I didn't open the package until after he had gone to bed. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to set Pongo on top of the DVD player to distract Aiden from pressing all the little buttons, as is his morning routine. Plus I thought it a great way to not spoil him too much by having the toy just 'appear'.

The next morning Aiden gets up and walks past the toy several times. (Oblivious. He is SO my child.) Mid-morning he asks for the "puppy movie" and, since I'm already mopping up his messes, in goes the movie. The opening credits were playing when he spied Pongo. His entire expression changed - his eyes bulged, his mouth fell open and I'm pretty sure he went a shade whiter than usual. For the next three *SILENT* minutes he carefully paced the floor in front of Pongo, examining him from all sides and putting his face slightly closer to it to see if it would move. But he wouldn't touch it! Finally he got up the nerve to gently pet the toy and, discovering it was plastic, shouted "PAWGO" and delightfully played with him the rest of the morning. About 30 minutes later I caught Aiden peering in the tiny speaker holes on the TV to see if there were any other characters in there. Then I realized Aiden thinks Pongo came out of the TV!

Being the terrible mother - who feeds fruit snacks before 10 am - that I am, I couldn't resist repeating the joke when his Nemo bath toys (also from eBay but for his birthday) arrived a couple days later. The next morning was a complete repeat when Aiden saw Nemo sitting on top of the DVD player, grinning at him. That day he began looking in the speaker holes of the TV once every couple of hours while I kept my hand clapped over my mouth to muffle my hysterical laughter! Since Brian had missed all the fun before, Dory came out to play that evening after he got home. It wasn't quite as exciting because Aiden was starting to expect that Disney Characters escape the television set every so often and wait for him on top of the DVD player.

Of course nothing ever works out as smoothly as I plan with Aiden. The day after Nemo and Dory appeared I heard this awful racket and found him trying to send his entire duplo train into the TV through the same "magic portal", which resulted in me fishing duplo pieces out of the X Box disk tray and from behind every crevice of the TV stand. He looked at me in cynical disbelief when I explained that things could neither come out of or go in to the TV. I admit I had set myself up for this.

And I just couldn't quit. When Aiden's birthday gift from my parents arrived with a new Disney Cars toy inside, I decided to save it for an 'emergency' when I would desperately need something to distract him (read: less than 24 hours later when I wouldn't let him flood the tomato plant with any more water from his watering can). Since it had been a day or two since a character came out of the TV, I ran for the toy and plopped the brand new Red the Fire Truck on top of the DVD player while he was throwing the contents of my tupperware cabinet in the garbage can. (He'd obviously found his own activity to replace tomato drowning.) I plopped Aiden directly in front of the new toy so I could retrieve the plasticware and put the cabinet back together. Aiden cautiously poked with one gentle finger at the fire truck and WHEEEW - WHEEEW - WHEEEW it's siren went off. He was TERRIFIED. In fact he utterly refused to touch the fire truck again and, to this day, still has not played with the gift from my parents. (Sorry mom & dad.) Red now guards the tupperware cabinet.

The Syrup Story: This morning I decided to clean out my office. Ten minutes into the ordeal and I realized I had way too much cut vinyl sitting around so I e-mailed neighbors to come and get it for free. I took one TWENTY SECOND phone call from a friend to let me know she was on her way, hung up the phone and heard Aiden, who had suddenly appeared beside me, exclaim "YUMMY!!!!" and squeeze a nearly-full syrup bottle so a stream shot volcano-style out the top while he tried to catch it in his mouth. I'm pretty sure I nearly fainted when a river of syrup splashed across our five month-old office floors and pooled in the bevels between each board. I stripped Aiden on the way to his crib, thanking the Lord he's too afraid of falling to climb out of it, and raced back to the office praying that syrup was too cohesive to slip between the tongue and groove planks. On the way back I noticed the drip-drip-SPLAT pattern of syrup that extended from the pantry, down the hall, covered the entry way and drenched the office, marking exactly where Aiden had been standing when he made another syrup geyser to drink from.

I had just thrown the last paper towel in the trash when my girlfriend arrived. (This stuff is always instantly funny to anyone not experiencing it but I was able to laugh, too!) The now half-empty syrup bottle went back in the pantry and I was extra careful that the door stayed closed all day and that Aiden had plenty of water to try and dilute the pure sugar he'd just drank.

Along comes 4:30 and Aiden's sugar rush is in full effect. He's running FULL SPEED from the back door to the front door, pushing his ride-on toy and smashing it into the doors at each end with every pass while screaming giddily at the top of his lungs. You can imagine the headache that is building. I was currently doing the dishes when I made Aiden stop and wipe down his little table to end the SQEEEEEEE *BANG* cycle of repetitive noise. I throw something in the trash and instruct him to throw his paper towel away when he's done with the table. I have my back turned but I'm mentally counting the seconds, knowing I'll need to close the door once I get the big pan I'm working on scrubbed and rinsed. It's then that I hear "YUMMY! PANCAKES!" and whirl around in horror to see Aiden sitting on his ride-on toy with the syrup bottle completely vertical and his head tiled back, chugging the stuff like Buddy the Elf.

My eyeballs are throbing by the time I strip him out of his second syrup-soaked outfit for the day and rinse his face, hands and chest free of sticky residue. I call Brian to tell him today is one of THOSE days where he kindly needs to come home as fast as possible, which is never fast enough but I can at least collect my thoughts knowing help is on the way. I cleaned up the mess and made dinner while Brian came home to find Aiden strapped in his high chair watching a disney movie over the only patch of un-sticky tile in the living room with his bare diapered body still reeking of maple syrup. And my friends wonder what I am busy doing all day long!

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Vector EPS Graphics for Vinyl Cutting Machines + Coupon Code & FREEBIE!

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you my passion is graphic design. I began doodling in the fourth grade and I haven't stopped creating yet! Last year when I purchased my QuicKutz Silhouette craft cutter and got in to vinyl cutting, I soon discovered I could put my graphic skills to good use. And then I discovered people liked what I made! (Now I spend all my time designing and only cutting vinyl for friends! LOL!)


I'm beyond thrilled to have my graphic products at available in three different buying options including commercial vectored EPS files for professional vinyl plotters and SVG and GSD files for personal craft cutting machines. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Here's a brand new freebie word art with REPOSITIONABLE commercial EPS file elements and a staggering 6 total file types so you can test for compatibility before you buy:

What does repositionable mean? It means that you can move the flourishes independently of the word art phrase, cut them in a different color vinyl to accent the design or use them in a completely different design. Unlike other EPS graphics, they're NOT WELDED FLAT! Instead I smart-weld for your business in the same way I create graphics for myself. The overlapping word art letters are welded so each word cuts as a continuous piece. Extras & add-ons that don't overlap are not welded to the rest of the phrase but instead are optimized for fast, clean cutting and left as their own layer. To make things even easier, each accessory is saved as it's own EPS file (commercial packs only) for on-the-go designing. So go on, put them anywhere you want! You finally have the benefits of a custom graphic designer without the $75 per-hour price tag.
BTW, the freebie comes with a non-digital commercial license so you are free to sell any 3-dimensional vinyl cut, craft or project made with it!

To Sweeten The Deal: Use Peppermint Creative coupon code tay15vec to take 15% off all my COMMERCIAL vector shape packs! One-time use coupon code vaild through March 31, 2009.

For Small Business Use Only: I designed these graphics to fill the needs of small business owners. I'm a mom too and I know how hard it is to do everything yourself, start-to-finish. Previously there weren't many options besides purchasing font after font and doing the best you could with existing embellishment shapes while large companies with in-house graphic designers gained the advantage. In my own little way I'm hoping to support fellow moms. There is nothing I love more than being at home with my precious little boy and if I can help ensure another mother has that same option then I believe I have made the absolute best use of my talents. :) Enjoy your freebie!