Monday, December 17, 2012

Supporting local artists for Christmas

Hope you have most of your Christmas Shopping done with only a week before Christmas. If you don't, there's still a chance to stop by Art Moms (and friends) Holiday Boutique at Park Place Center right next to Plato's Closet in the Olive Garden/Fuddrucker's parking lot. That's where I scooped up two of my family's Christmas presents. Tote-ally Inspired is among several vendors at the boutique that is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Dec. 23rd. So hurry!
This year I was able to find some of my Christmas gifts at the boutique and other local craft fairs, and at the same time, support several of the fabulous artists in Sioux Falls and surrounding area.
My friend Christina Wolff, owner of Sweet Sapling, (be sure to check out her Facebook page too), makes these flower hair clips and headbands along with beautiful ruffled skirts. I purchased these flower clips for my two nieces. The clips are versatile and can be clipped onto this elastic band for a headband.
Sweet Sapling's hair clips and headbands

 Next on my list was a birthday present for my sister who has an early January birthday. I probably won't see her again between Christmas and her birthday, so I had to cross that off my list too.
I purchased one of these scarves that are made from recycled t-shirts by Heather Babb Designs. These are currently for sale at Art Moms (and friends) Holiday Boutique. Other locations include, the Blessed Door, Gift & Thrift in Sioux Falls, and Trendz in Brookings. Of course, I had to buy one for myself too!

Heather Babb Designs recycled t-shirt creations

I found this picture frame at Art Moms (and friends) Holiday Boutique. Of course I wanted to support Art Moms LLC after having the amazing opportunity to be a part of their boutique this year. Art Moms LLC is owned and operated by a very creative mother-daughter duo. Thanks to them, grandma will have a very beautiful, inspirational picture frame for her to display her two grandsons' picture. 
Arts Moms LLC picture frame

It's been a family tradition since I was little to receive a personalized ornament every year for Christmas. We have continued the tradition with our two boys. We found these cute snowman ornaments at Luverne, Minn's Winterfest where I was a vendor. 
I found these super-cute snowman ornaments at Luverne, Minn's Winterfest a few weeks ago.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tote-ally Inspired photo shoot with Rachel Ebel Photography

Here is a small sampling of my photo shoot with my former SDSU college roommate Rachel Ebel of Rachel Ebel Photography. Rachel chose to shoot my work at the nature area behind Sertoma Park for a rustic meets-modern-setting. She did an amazing job capturing my work at its fullest! The photos turned out how I imagined they would. I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out. I believe this was her first photo shoot of mainly objects, as she specializes in weddings and engagements. I'm glad she made an exception for me. It was a fun reunion with lots of laughs. We ran out of time during the first shoot, which was an overcast day, and were blessed with gorgeous sunlight for the tote bags (see below). To see more images check out Tote-ally Inspired's Facebook page and Etsy Shop Enjoy!

This is my attempt to look like John Cusack's Say Anything. What? I couldn't help myself.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last-Minute Stuffing

Apple Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

This is one of my favorite stuffing recipes to make. It's quick, easy and very flavorful. This is the perfect stuffing if you don't have a lot of time to cook. I made this for my family's Thanksgiving celebration earlier this week since I will be working on the holiday. I will be making another batch of this for my work's Thanksgiving potluck.

Here is what you need:
1-1/2 C. apple juice
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 pkg (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing mix for chicken
1 small apple, chopped
1/2 C. cranberries ( I just used dried cranberries)
1/4 C. chopped pecans, toasted

How to make it:
Bring juice and butter to boil in medium saucepan on high heat. Add stuffing mix and fruit;mix lightly. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in nuts. Enjoy!

 (Picture below)
This what I made for our family's Thanksgiving. Turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, pepperoni caesar salad, wheat finger rolls and apple pie (store-bought ..I cheated this year).

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Zipper Time

So I've overcome my fear of the zipper! This was my first try at "installing" one and I chose to make this cosmetic bag or zipper wallet or clutch, whatever you want to use it for. This Tutorial Blog was excellent in providing simple, step-by-step directions.
I plan to start making some decorative pillows (with zippers) to match the fabric wall art. This is a 7x5" wallet and can really be made into whatever size you would prefer. I added a red ribbon for a pop of color and to provide better handling on the zipper. Ribbon could be made even longer for a wristlet clutch.

                                            Cosmetic bag


A night out on the town!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Latest inspirations

I found these inspirational signs a few weeks ago at the Autumn Festival in Sioux Falls. I went there for my own inspiration as I was looking at how other vendors have created an indoor booth. I will be doing my first indoor craft show on Dec. 1st at the 16th Annual Winterfest Arts and Crafts show in Luverne, Minn. I'll be sharing more about this in the weeks to come.

But while I was looking around, I found a whole wall of these inspirational signs and an inviting aroma of three wooden tubs of homemade potpourri (that actually smelled good) from a Eureka Springs, Ark.  called Spring Street Candle. I wasn't able to find any more signs on their Facebook page or Web site, but I'm sure it's worth asking if you are interested.

If you are interested in ordering online, they have a promotion going on now until Dec. 19th for free shipping anywhere in the U.S. by spending $40 or more.

I thought these inspirational signs were just what I needed for my newly organized work space. More pictures to follow of my "studio" room. I'm so glad to have my own space that I can attempt to keep organized, or just shut the door  when I'm knee-deep in a project.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Perfect Autumn Soup

Now that the cold is here to stay, why not find the perfect autumn soup to warm up to? I actually found this recipe after searching for a recipe that called for fresh mushrooms as I had some sitting in the refrigerator that had no purpose.

To my surprise, this Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup hit the spot with its creamy broth and fresh vegetables. This soup is very easy to make and the most time-consuming aspect of the recipe is cutting up the vegetables. The soup was a so-so hit with the boys, but one of them liked to slurp the creamy broth. My husband and I fell in love with this though.

This recipe may even give you "a first" to cross off on your cooking list ... cooking with a leek. If you don't know what that is I'm about to show you. It's those green things next the mushrooms. They basically look like a giant green onion and taste like one too.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

5 T. butter, divided
2 leeks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. dried dill weed
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 C. Half-and-Half
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional) NOTE: I did not use this

First melt 3 T. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

 Next mix in leeks and carrots and cook 5 minutes.

 Pour in broth. Season with dill, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
Mix in potatoes, cover and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but firm. Remove and discard the bay leaf (Finding the bay leaf in your bowl has become a contest in my family).
Melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
Stir into soup.
In a small bowl, mix the Half-and-Half and flour until smooth.
Stir into the soup to thicken.
Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve. This is optional as I did not do this. I thought the soup had enough dill. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Ground Hogs Day Kind of Halloween

Well it's past that time of year where you should be thinking about what your children will be for Halloween since its a few days away. You should have it figured out. I guess I haven't had to put much thought into what my boys will be this year. Don't be too worried, I have it all figured out. I'm pretty much off the hook this year.

Last year I made my 5-year son the scarecrow costume from the Wizard of Oz. I made a trip to Savers and some craft stores to put the whole outfit together. I was actually quite proud of how it turned out. To my benefit, my son wants to use this same costume this year. It's like Ground Hogs day but Halloween. There's nothing more special than a homemade costume. I'm more enamored by homemade costumes than store-bought.

My 3-year son will be Super Man. I already had the items for this costume. Last Christmas, my mother-in-law sewed him a reversible red and blue cape embellished with his initials. He already had a Super Man T-shirt, blue pants, and a navy blue sweater to wear under his T-shirt to stay warm. So looks like I'm putting my feet up this year!

Here the two costumes I actually did take time to do last year for on-the-cheap.

Here's how I made The Scarecrow costume:
1.) For the top/hat: I found this tan fleece in the scrap bin at Mill End Textiles. I cut the bottom to a rounded edge and sewed under the edging of the front part around the face. I designed this piece to act as a hood. I added some Velcro to close the flaps and to fit under his face. I used a strip of the fabric to tie the hood under his chin.
For the hat, I purchased black felt fabric. I really had no pattern for this hat and pretty much winged it. I cut out a circle larger than the circumference of his head so it would be wide enough for the brim as well. I cut a triangular shape for the cone part of the hat. I sewed the pieces together and glued a piece of drapery cording to accent right above the brim.

2.) For the shirt: I found this green corduroy button-down shirt at Savers. I glued some craft straw to the pockets and cuffs. I found this drapery cording on clearance at Jo-Ann Fabrics to create a sash and stuffed the shirt with more craft straw. I also accented the cuffs with the cording.

3.) For the pants: I also found these brown pants at Savers. I added some iron-on patches to the knees. I glued the craft straw inside the openings of the ankles of the pants.

4.) For the hands: I purchased gray stretchy gloves for the scarecrow hands. The closest color I could find in stores to the movie was gray.

5.) For the nose: I used brown costume make-up to paint his nose.

Last year I made my 3-year-old a Where's Waldo costume that barely cost me anything.

Here's how I made the Where's Waldo costume:
1.) I purchased red duct tape and cut them into several thinner strips to re-create the red stripes. I stuck them onto a white onesie. I added the tape strips to this white hat I already owned.
2.) These are children's 3D movie theater glasses with the lenses taken out. Here's my little Waldo.

Have a Happy Halloween! I would love to see and hear what your homemade costume creations are.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ten Things You Should Know About Me

So hello world! I bring you this blog in hopes to inspire you with my creations as well as bring down the wall (no pun intended) behind the designer of the fabric wall art and tote bags. This blog is a big step for my technological-resistant self. This is coming from a girl who just got her first Smart Phone a few weeks ago. I want to take you along in my journey as an aspiring entrepreneur and share my latest happenings.
I hope to inspire you in other ways as well through food, wine, running, scrap booking, family and other interests of mine. First off, I would like you to get to know a few things about me and what makes me tick:
  1. I love designing. I had a blast picking out color schemes, paint colors, tile, trim work, carpet, fixtures, and wall decor for our lower level finish a few years ago. I am by no means a designer by certification/education, but I like to consider myself one at heart. Since you only have so many rooms in your house to decorate, my passion has bubbled over to wanting to help decorate others' homes. I love watching pretty much any show on HGTV. However, I don't have a lot of time for TV nowadays. I love mixing and matching color schemes and patterns, which is why I enjoy creating the fabric wall art. It seems like I'm always making things for my house such as curtains or pillow cases. I would love to help others decorate their homes and offices. I'm very interested in consulting with customers who are looking for assistance in color schemes or guidance on how to hang their Tote-ally Inspired wall art. There are so many possibilities out there that making a decision by yourself can be challenging.
  2. I love to sew. I've been sewing since I was little. My start definitely came from being an active 4-H member. My mom  taught me how to sew and I've always enjoyed it. I can still remember playing with fabric scraps and designing Barbie clothes and accessories. It seemed I was always borrowing her machine for various home decor projects. A few years ago, I was given my own sewing machine for Christmas. I couldn't wait to tackle a new project on it. I decided to make my oldest son a Buzz Lightyear tote bag on his 2nd birthday. I wanted him to have a boyish bag that he could carry his toys and books to church, and for long car rides to both of his grandparents' house. And to keep tradition alive, I had to make one for my other son on his 2nd birthday. It wasn't until last Christmas the idea sparked to turn this craft into a business. I worked like crazy trying to finish tote bags for each of my nieces and lone nephew for Christmas. I knew then I wanted to further my hobby into a business.
  3. I am a mother and wife. I have been married for more than six years to my best friend and an amazing man who supports me in everything that I do. We joke about the fact that he is a silent partner in my operation. He helps me build the wooden frames, stretch the the fabric and staple them. I'm trying to depend less on him as time doesn't always allow for him to help me. We have two beautiful boys, 5 and 3 years old, who keep us on our toes and definitely smiling with their crazy facial expressions and silly phrases.
  4. I am a quizzical person and I am always wanting to learn new things. I am often called "the reporter" by friends and family, which is fitting since I worked as one for several years. I graduated with a degree in journalism and minored in nutrition. I've always been a creative person at heart. I switched careers three years ago after the economy took a turn for the worse and caused the newspaper industry to downsize. I'm now working full-time in a public safety position while juggling being a mom, wife and growing my business. Creating/designing is definitely my stress-outlet. I hope to one day publish a children's book. For now, I'm enjoying the challenge of learning the ins and outs of running a business, diving into new projects and designing new things.
  5. I sometimes feel like an old lady trapped in a young person's body. At least that's how I feel with most of my hobbies and interests, but I'm okay with that. I think that's what makes me unique. I hope to teach you a few things from sewing to cooking/baking. I hope I don't jump around to much with my varied interests, but I will warn you, I have A LOT of hobbies/interests. Sometimes I overwhelm myself with them that I just want to take a sabbatical to focus on all of them.
  6. I am an extroverted person although I have been tagged as quiet. I think once you get to know me you will find that's not the case. I am an observant person, so I tend to be a little quieter when I first meet people. I can do a few impersonations and I love making people laugh. I do have a serious side, but mostly am a very positive, calm, and laid back person. I can be a planner, but for some things I like to be spontaneous and may decide to try something or go somewhere last minute.
  7. I love music and movies. I am a self-proclaimed Pandora junkie. I usually have it on while I'm working in my studio, running, or just lounging around the house. I love a variety of music from the Foo Fighters and Shinedown to Coldplay and U2. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend night is watch the latest movie release snuggled up with chips and salsa or popcorn. Everyone can agree that movies provide a great escape from reality. I consider myself a home-body, but I do enjoy going out and sipping on wine and catching up with the girls or watching the latest flick on the big screen with my husband.
  8. I love food. Who doesn't? My current work schedule doesn't allow much time for me to make elaborate suppers for my family, but when I do have the opportunity, man do I make a mess of the kitchen. I love sifting through old cookbooks and Cooking Light issues and trying new recipes. Sometimes my husband has a hard time deciding what I should make because I mix it up too much with new recipes. He's not quite sure what he is craving. I guess I'm really messing up his taste buds. I think cooking has become a lost art and I hope to inspire you with simple, healthy meals and some not-so-healthy delicious dishes! Cooking can be really fun and so delicious compared to processed foods. When time and money allow, my husband and I love trying new local restaurants. They have so much to offer and why not try something outside of a chain restaurant that you've dined at a dozen of times.
  9. I love to run. I know what you're thinking ... "Who says that?" But seriously, there is nothing like a good run to clear your head, crank up the tunes and just escape, and you get a good workout doing it. I got back into running more seriously after I had my youngest son. I have made running a weekly habit and started running competitively in local 5ks. I'm planning on tackling my first 10k this weekend. We'll see what kind of lofty goals I set for myself from there (there's my competitive side coming out).
  10.  I grew up on a farm in central Minnesota helping my family with their dairy and produce operations. I think my entrepreneurial side comes from my dad, who grew the family produce business from a small pumpkin patch to more than 100 acres of vegetables, which are sold to several wholesalers in the Twins Cities area. I am thankful for growing up on a farm. It has given me a strong work ethic that I think has been lost in today's generation.
Stayed tuned for more posts of the becomings of Tote-ally Inspired. To see more of my work check out my Facebook page by searching Tote-ally Inspired or check out my Etsy shop