Featured Shop of the Week: Plumed

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Okay, Okay, so this is my new pillow shop. But I am really excited about it and wanted to share it here first. I started my new pillow venture somewhat accidentally - I made a couple pillow covers for myself and I was instantly hooked! It was supremely satisfying to make something that really added splash of style to my home. I realized I could only make so many pillows for myself and decided to open a new etsy shop, so I could keep on making more.

What I love about making pillows, which almost sounds silly if you knew exactly how much I really love making pillows, is pillows are meant to be used, they are comforting while also giving your space new pizazz and style. They are an affordable way to decorate, to make a statement, and/or add texture and color. I really get to work with textures and patterns (as in prints) in a way I haven't fully appreciated before. I love working with different weaves of fabrics, such as a heavy cotton that feels like silk in your hands and pair that with a soft textured linen or hemp; or a starch canvas cotton to contrast the softer front panel with a crisp graphic. I am inspired by the prints on the fabric and let this guide the materials I use to give the pillow the right shape, depth and texture for the print and the overall feel of the design as well as adding that feeling of comfort to your space.

I also love that I can use a blank piece of fabric and adorn it in such a wide variety of styles and aesthetics, using many different mediums. I feel like when I do this I am able to take crafting to a little bit more of an artistic level. I love embroidery and I have found pillows a great place to indulge in this passion of mine. Again, it is about the textures and the simple statements we can make in our home.

You can find my new shop at plumed.etsy.com My pillows are at introductory prices and I am also running a special 10% of the purchase of 2 or more pillows, but you can use the special code for having read my blog, "lulobird" for 10% off one pillow or the code "lulobirdtwoormore" for 15% the purchase of two or more pillows! A little extra bonus for my blog readers. And don't forget to browse around at the other fabulous shops on Etsy while you are there.

Picking Your Battles With Toddlers

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I have to admit having twin toddlers is a whole other ball game than when I was parenting my older son at this age, who until age ten was an only child. There is a 10 1/2 year age gap between him and my twin, almost 3 year old boys. It is quite a different experience, all their personalities are so different but the picking of battles remains the same, just a little more high-speed with twins.

Everything is on fast-forward with toddlers and even more so with multiple children, and I don't necessarily mean twins or triplets, just more than one child. Getting up, getting dressed, eating meals, taking naps, getting ready for outings - the list goes on. One goes one way and the other goes another way; one needs this, the other needs that. And in between all the routine parenting tasks of each day, I find myself saying "no," somewhere around 500 times a day...at least. "No" to getting into the refrigerator and pulling out the eggs (yes, they break when you throw them, every time). "No" to climbing onto the counters and getting a jar of molasses out (why do they always find the messiest thing to get into?!). "No" to trying to flush bath towels down the toilet (how about trying to go potty on the toilet?).

Then there are those times when I am saying "no" and I think is it really worth the battle? Well, no, it isn't. Toddlers are constantly exploring, experimenting and navigating the world around them with a new gusto of new skills they learn everyday. This is such a great and fast-paced time of learning and exerting independence, and saying "no" all the time to everything really just discourages this important part of developing into an independent adult. Of course we love to see our child independently pick up a book to look at, or pull on their own pants, but there are those other times that the way they figure things out isn't necessarily building obvious skills but it is allowing them to be themselves, which is absolutely a wonderful skill to develop.

Here are a couple of examples of recent battles I found myself in and decided, okay, who cares if they put their snack in and eat it out of the potty they have never used once? At least they are using the potty for something!

This bottom photo is of my son Milo, who in a rush to leave the house, insisted on wearing my older sons shoe. We were already running late and I was spending precious moments trying to get the shoe away from him, and then I thought, who cares? He was so happy and proud to be wearing his big brothers shoe, why take the the moment along with the shoe away from him? I am trying to curb my "no" reaction before I actually say the word, so they will listen to me when I do say no, rather than me relenting or feeling like I have to "follow through" with something I should have never battled with to begin with. Of course climbing counters, running out into the street, biting each other - these are automatic no's, but when I see them eating out of their potty chair laughing and giggling together, I have to stop and think, is it clean? Yes. Are they in danger? No. Are they having fun? Yes. So, instead of saying no, I go get my camera and take a picture.

Watching My Garden Grow and Grow and Grow

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Calendula with a little busy bee atop

I read a few days ago that in 117 years of record keeping this has been the wettest spring in Portland, Oregon. I am thinking that last year holds first place. We have had horrible weather, the kind that people describe Portland as, wet, grey, rainy, all the time. I have always been irritated by this because it's just not true! But no one that has hasn't been here for more that a few years would believe me and would probably think I was completely delusional.

But I am always looking for that silver lining - and I can find it in my garden.

I do not have a green thumb. I do have a green heart though; I love to work with soil and flowers, herbs, vegetables and anything beautiful and/or useful. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my gardens never survive very well - and let's not talk about house plants! I know it is because I probably don't give it the right attention, I like to talk baby-talk to my garden mates rather than water them regularly, and I watch my vegetables get to massive proportions before I will cut them back or harvest them at all. But I plan to change that this year, because my garden is thriving without me! I planted most of it last year to no avail, but this year it is growing strong, and beautifully I might add. Perhaps it is all the rain, or the fact that we didn't get any snow this last winter but my garden just started growing! Maybe this particular garden really loves baby-talk, but I am vowing to school myself on what to do after you plant the garden. Geez, I should have done this sooner, but I definitely owe it to this hardy garden.

If you don't see a name below the photo that means I forgot what is was, d'oh! Can you identify these lovelies?

Rainbow Chard

Beautiful Poppy

Walla Walla Onion Blossom


 Romaine Lettuce

Strawberries, Almost ready!


Make: Beer Suds Shampoo

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is such a simple and fun gift idea for the dad in your life. It really is very easy! So if you are looking for that very last minute idea - this won't look last minute at all. Kids can help with this one too. Decorating the bottle or making tags is a perfect way to include them.

What you need:

6-8 oz of beer (any will do)
8-10 oz of clear/fragrance free shampoo (baby shampoo is perfect)
a bottle or container to keep the shampoo in - I used just an old condiments bottle that would have ended up in the recycling (I like to keep these types of bottles just for these occasions).

Optional Ingredients:
Oil for fragrance
Calendula, lavender, chamomile (can you use tea!)

First you need to place your beer in a non-reactive pot, like stainless steel. Bring it just to a boil and then turn it down to simmer. If you are adding dried lavender, calendula, etc. add it now. Let the beer simmer into a reduction for about 25 to 30 minutes. If you are wanting to use a tea concoction to add to it, just go ahead and make a very small amount of tea separately (an ounce or two), like chamomile or green tea, and set it to the side.

Let the Beer reduction cool down. Strain out your herbs if you have added them in. You can also put the shampoo into the bottle at this time.

Now you can add the cooled beer (and tea if you made some, but remember it should only be an ounce or two) to the bottle with your shampoo. Make sure it is a good consistency. If you need to add a little more shampoo, go ahead. You can also add your fragrance oil at this time if you would like to, a few drops should do. And something like tea tree or coconut oil can help with scalp issues.

For my beer shampoo I added calendula, chamomile and an a few drops of scented oil for fragrance.

Featured Shop of the Week: My Beared Pigeon

Friday, June 10, 2011


I am opening a new pillow shop soon on Etsy, it's something I have been working on behind the scenes and I am getting pretty excited about it. So needless to say, I have had pillows on my mind. When it came to choosing a shop to feature this week I remembered my all time favorite shop featuring soft cushions for your head and furniture, and that's hands down,  My Bearded Pigeon.

First of all, what a great name! Second, I just love these pillows! The map fabric is wonderful, unique and exclusive to My Bearded Pigeon. Not only is it instantly interesting to the eye, offered in rich vibrant colors, the textured look luring you to want reach through your screen and touch them, but they are made from 100% Organic Cotton! As owner, Cath, states, this isn't just a marketing ploy; it's a conscious choice made on the basis that non-organic cotton accounts for a large portion of the pesticides and insecticides used in farming, which we know has serious side effects, of the most serious being proven to be carcinogenic. So, as you can see, the choice to go organic here, isn't simply one to feed a niche market, or to make more profit, (because let me tell you organic cotton is spendy!) it is one with the health and well-being of the planet and the people on that planet in mind. And just in-case you need further convincing how great this shop is (which I think speaks for itself just fine without me!) but $1 from ever sale goes to support micro-lending via kiva.org.

SOUTH AMERICA map cushion, Organic cotton Vintage atlas map , cartography, 16 inch, 41cm
S. America

My Bearded Pigeon represents the best of Etsy. It is a shop that offers a unique product, made of quality materials and at the heart of it, the creator, not only give us a great home decor accoutrement, but also puts back good into this world and through our purchase allows us to be apart of that effort. Wherever the star on your particular map may be, owner Cath, is thinking about the big map we all share. Visit My Bearded Pigeon Here  - there are several more listings to get happily lost in looking at. And while you are at it be sure to check out Cath's wonderful blog too! You can follow the link here: http://chunkychooky.blogspot.com/

            WORLD MAP - giant organic cotton cushion- the whole wide world cushion cover, pillow 86cm/34inches x 61cm/ 24 inches .
 World Map

Easy Felt Watches and Bracelets for Kids

Monday, June 6, 2011


I love working with felt. It is easy, fun, and forgiving. I can pull it out and make a little project while relaxing in front of a movie, or while my kids are playing around me. This project is certainly an easy one that you can do on your own or you can do with your older children, (I'd say about 4 years and up - or younger one can certainly help with the design!).  This project also is just a basic idea that you can play around with, you can make one of these bracelet's very simply, or you can get really creative.

What you will need:
Embroidery Needle
Embroidery Thread
Felt (I prefer wool felt over synthetic, especially to wear.) or other fabric of your choosing (canvas, scraps of felted wool sweaters...it's endless really. But scraps are perfect! And the thicker fabric is easy to hold and embroider on, especially for doing this project with kids)
Optional: Buttons, ribbons, sequins

Tip: for doing this project with littler kids, you can buy blunt end needles that won't poke fingers but will still go through felt or wool fiber fabric. The needle eyes are also larger to make threading easier.

What you need to know: The Blanket Stitch (click this link for an excellent  tutorial!):   
First: you will need to measure the wrist and cut 2 felt strips. I usually measure about 2 extra inches (allowance for the velcro closure). One felt strip will be where you do your design and the other will be to cover the back (so all your knots and strings don't show!)

Second: you start  plotting your design. You can make a watch face (by using a white piece of felt and embroidery floss), sewing on buttons, sequins, beads, cut out felt shapes...

Third: just start sewing on your design on one piece of your strip of felt (set the other piece to the side for now). Again, you don't have to worry about what it looks like on the back. But do be sure that the design is on nice and tight, and is secured well to the felt, especially if it is for a child and there are any buttons, sequins etc.

Forth: you will place the finished top strip with your design face up on your second piece of felt strip.Now you are ready to sew the two pieces of felt together using the blanket stitch.

Fifth: just cut a small square of each side of your velcro (fuzzy side and rough side) that is big enough to be secure, but will fit inside the parameter of the bracelet. Be sure to pull them apart so you have your pieces of velcro separate. It doesn't matter which side of your bracelet you sew fussy piece or the rough piece of velcro onto. So you will sew on one piece of velcro to the end of the bracelet on the side of your design.  Then you will sew on the other side of you bracelet (the side that will be on your skin), just flip it over sew the other piece of velcro on the opposite end and opposite side of your bracelet.

(In my photo here, you can see the velcro on one side and then the outline from where I sewed on the other piece on the other side of the bracelet.)

My kids are still pretty small and I am not sure they would be interested anyway, but I think this would be a fun project for a birthday party or slumber party activity, where each child could take their creation as a little party favor.

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