Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews. Show all posts

August 31, 2023

Rug Expedition

Having sent both of my boys back to school this week, I am trying to establish a new routine here at home. I've been working on projects that have been put aside for years (hello basement floor cluttered with nuts, bolts and tools!), decluttering, and making things more efficient for our family. I'm lucky to have this time for myself and our home, before I start the process of heading back to work.

Our living room has been the focus of much of my attention.  I moved a lot of the toys upstairs which left some space for a homework area. My third grader will be needing a spot to work, so this space will have a desk and comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair.
 For the moment, it's been used as a reading nook, as the desk is backordered until later in September.
There are still a few open-ended toys in this spot, like blocks and magnet tiles stored in baskets and bins.  One major addition to the space is a new area rug from Rug Expedition.
It's a faux silk rug, on the thin side but very plush and comfortable underfoot.  The boys enjoy lying on it when setting up blocks for their toy cars.  I admit I've had to tell my eldest multiple times that he cannot have the rug in his bedroom, he's that enamored of its soft feel.
The rug is a classic one from KAS in a slate blue Damask pattern.  The blue is such a great tone, and I think the variations in the pattern will prohibit dirt and stains from showing up too much (what can I say, life with two boys).
 I think it will wear well in the years to come.  I'll post some more pics when that desk finally arrives.
In the meantime, consider checking out Rug Expedition. They're a small, family-owned company that would be delighted to have your business.
Disclosure: I received an area rug from Rug in exchange for an honest review of the product.  All opinions are my own.

March 28, 2023

Easter Goodies from Stubby Pencil Studio {Giveaway}

I'm sure if you're a regular reader here, you'll know that I used to be an art teacher, and therefore have a fondness for art supplies, both kid and adult oriented ones.  I also like to think of myself as ecologically-minded, so when there's a craft or art material that involves recycling or uses natural ingredients, I'm all for it.
Stubby Pencil Studio is an online store I discovered a few years back which offers quite a variety of eco-friendly art supplies and craft materials. The products are not only safe for the environment but for people as well, using ingredients like soy and beeswax (not petroleum), as well as 100% recycled paper sketchbooks (not virgin trees), and pencils made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers (not vibrant forests).
Kate, owner of Stubby Pencil writes:  "I started this arts and crafts supply store to bring the safest, highest quality art materials to other families. You see, when my twins were toddlers, I wanted them to enjoy arts and crafts, but I didn’t want them exposed to chemicals. I tried to buy toxic-free, quality art supplies and I really had to search. Once I found products I was confident enough to give my own kids, I realized other moms would want these safe products for their kids, too."
Not only are their products ethically made, but they're cute and colorful too.  Wouldn't these make great Easter basket stuffers? 
My boys especially like the crayon rocks, but I definitely need to pick up some Smencils for them too.  Browsing their website is like being a kid in an eye candy store.
Who knew that such things as eco-highlighters existed?
This finger puppet robot is pretty cool too (there's a mermaid available too!)
Mary's Softdough is always a hit, and it's made with natural ingredients
And if you're thoughts are set on Easter, this kit is really adorable
My 6 year old loves to paint wooden objects, so I know he'd love this.

One very lucky reader is going to win this adorable suitcase filled with art supplies, all ready to give as a springtime or Easter gift!
Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, and best of luck!
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March 3, 2024

Wise Craft {Giveaway}

In an act of serendipity, I was contacted to review a new book from a blog that I had only just stumbled upon the day before.  Have you ever visited Blair Stocker's blog, wise craft?  It's a remarkable site, filled with crafts, quilts, upcycling and repurposing, and general inspiration for creative types (or would-be creative types).  Actually, it's very much what I'd like to see my blog turn into, someday, when little hands and bodies aren't always in my face.  But I digress...

Blair Stocker's new book, out this month from Running Press, is called Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love, and it's full of inspiring projects to transform things you already have into beautiful and useful craft objects.
Arranged by season, the projects incorporate a variety of materials from paper, fabric, leather and found objects.  There are so many clever projects in this book, from Zombie Barbies (!!!)
to cross stitched pegboard Christmas trees
and even a reimagination of an old standby like a crocheted placemat.
This book is filled with so many creative and more importantly, DO-able projects.  Flipping through the book, I was already noting which projects I had the materials for in my stash, like these book pot holders/trivets.
At $20, this is a reasonably-priced paperback craft book, especially with 60 projects included.  For me, I love that the ideas in this book are a jumping point for coming up with ways to upcycle items from around my home or that I see in a thrift store. 

Wise Craft is And thanks to the author for including this cute little bunting made from fabrics used throughout the book.  It brightens up my living room!
This book trailer does a better job than me at showing you what's inside the book

(I'm so jealous of her studio space! )

You can learn more about Wise Craft via Blair's blog or by looking through the book on
One lucky reader will win a copy of Wise Craft.  Leave a comment on this post telling me something you've made this winter.  Get another entry by sharing the giveaway on Twitter and leave a separate comment. Contest ends March 12, 11:59pm EST. I'll contact the winner by email.  Good luck!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

February 6, 2024

Never Been Stitched {Giveaway}

This time of year, housebound with kids underfoot, I often look for a project that is quick and satisfying.  Sometimes that involves a sewing machine, but often it does not, since even sitting down at mine, uninterrupted takes effort.

Thankfully, Never Been Stitched by Amanda Carestio showed up at my door.  This book, filled with 45 no or low-sew projects is a great way to chip away at the winter doldrums.
There are instructions for home decor items like pillows, pictures and as well as clothing and accessories, like socks and scarves.  One of the simplest projects is the Map Bunting, which uses just scissors and glue to cut a map into a festive decoration.

Some of the other projects use items like fusible webbing, grommets, and wood embroidery hoops.  There are a few projects geared toward kids, like the Fleece Octopus and Felt Pencil Roll, which would be great for making with my son on a weekend afternoon.

I like that this book is a collaborative effort which includes projects from bloggers; it's interesting to see different styles and approaches to crafts within the same book.  The best part about Never Been Stitched is that it's a great way to quench my artistic craving when I'm bored and looking for a quick fix.

BONUS: Lark Crafts is generously sharing three downloadable projects for free via their website,
Click on over and get started on one of these creative projects.

One lucky reader will win a copy of Never Been Stitched
Comment below with your favorite book from Lark Crafts.  Winner will be chosen on February 22nd, and I'll email the winner.  Share the giveaway via Twitter tagging @LarkCrafts for an extra entry, and leave me the link to your tweet.
UPDATE: WINNER is #2, Linda.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

December 11, 2023

Give the Gift of Essential Oils {Giveaway}

As much as I like the smells of the holidays (baking, evergreen, citrus) I prefer natural scents to perfume-y candles and air fresheners.  I use eco-friendly cleaners in my home, so I am drawn to products made from all-natural ingredients.

I keep an assortment of essential oils on hand to use in everything from personal skin care to massage to cleaning.  When Puritan's Pride, an online provider of supplements, vitamins, natural beauty products, healthy snacks and more, contacted me about trying out some of their essential oil products, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create some all-natural, handmade gifts for the holidays.
Aromatherapy is a way to manage stress during this often-stressful season, so I was delighted to try their aromatherapy products.  I was sent a bottle of their Wonder Oil (an amazing citrus-y fusion of oils, herbs and fruits for the body, including Olive, Sunflower Seed, Wheat Germ, Sweet Almond, Sesame and Jojoba Oils, a ScentBall plug-in aromatherapy diffuser, and three 100% essential oils in lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
Puritan's Pride began over 40 years ago, with the mission of making the finest quality nutritional supplements available at the best value to their customers. Today, the company remains true to its original commitment and serves millions of loyal customers. Puritan’s Pride manufactures thousands of  vitamins, minerals, herbs and other nutritional supplements in their state-of-the art facilities located throughout the U.S. As part of the company’s commitment to quality, Puritan’s Pride only uses ingredients from suppliers worldwide that meet their Quality Assurance Standards, as well as Good Manufacturing Practices food quality standards.
I love all three of these scents, and thought that used alone or combined could make a wonderful gift set for a teacher, friend, or neighbor.
Packaged in a decorated clementine box, this gift basket is both inexpensive and easy to make, and is a handmade, thoughtful gesture.

You just need a few plain or fancy jars to put the items in, as well as a spray bottle for the room spray.  Here are the recipes I created.

  • baking soda
  • 100% essential oils (I used peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil, which I had on hand)
  • Parmesan cheese jar, or just save the cap from a plastic Parmesan container and screw it onto a mason jar (it works!)
Fill your jar halfway with baking soda, then add 5 drops of each essential oil to the jar.  Cover the top and shake well.
Fill the rest of the way with baking soda and shake again to combine.  Add a pretty label, as well as an instruction one on the back that says something like "sprinkle on your carpet, wait 5 minutes, and vacuum as usual."

  • 1/4 cup Wonder Oil (a blend of olive oil and other great-smelling essential oils) or plain Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
Cover and shake well.  
Add a pretty label as well as instructions to "Shake well.  Pour one tablespoon onto a clean, soft cloth and wipe onto wood.  Buff with a dry cloth. Repeat process monthly."

  • Distilled water
  • Lavender essential oil for soothing spray and peppermint and eucalyptus for refreshing spray
Add enough distilled water to fill your spray bottle halfway.  Add 8 drops of essential oil into the water, then top with more distilled water.  Shake well and include instructions for user to shake well before use.
The addition of a diffuser into this gift basket is a really nice touch.  The ScentBall diffuser plugs into the wall and comes with reusable pads that you add 5 drops of essential oil onto.
It plugs into an outlet and gently warms the pad, releasing a subtle, pleasant scent.  I have mine in our bathroom, where it works to mask unappealing odors without the chemical cloud that typical air fresheners use.

I packaged all these home care items in a clementine box that I had decoupaged with scrapbooking paper, and added a scrub brush and a cloth diaper (for cleaning, they make the best reusable rags).
Tuck in a few evergreen branches, some pine cones and tie on a pretty ribbon, and you have a lovely seasonal gift that will make the recipient's home smell fresh and clean.
Puritan's Pride has so many other delightful essential oils to choose from, as well as other products to create a holistically healthy lifestyle.

You can learn more about Puritan's Pride via the Puritan's Pride Facebook page as well on Twitter @PuritansPride.

One lucky reader will win an assortment of aromatherapy products from Puritan's Pride.  Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
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Disclosure: I received sample products from Puritan's Pride for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

November 29, 2023

Welcoming Winter at Your Front Door

When it comes to decorating at Christmas, I have a fondness for all things natural or handmade.  Since the door is the star of our front porch, I like to dress it up a bit for the winter.

If you choose to go with a natural wreath, it will often take you from November through February, especially if you change it up a bit with a different bow or swag.
This fresh wreath, the 18" Magnolia Pomegranate Wreath from Creekside Farms will be gracing our door all season long.
The rust/salmon colored bow (it changes depending on the light) and the tan undersides of the magnolia leaves looked beautiful throughout November. The best thing about this wreath is how great it smells whenever I open the door; that evergreen scent permeates the space between the storm door and front door.
The cedar, pinecones, juniper, echinops and pomegranates really add to the texture and interest of the wreath.  It's been a few weeks now and the wreath is still in good shape and ready for a more festive Christmas bow. 
I'll probably change at the bow at the end of the holiday season, to something white and wintery. 

Creekside Farms sells so many more beautiful wreaths, like this Apple Berry Wreath
Creekside Farms also carries wreaths and garlands beyond Christmas, like for Fall and for weddings and even herbal ones for the kitchen.  The herbs and flowers in the wreaths are pesticide-free and harvested by hand in California.

Their wreaths have been seen in top home décor retailers and catalogues, including Williams-Sonoma for over 18 years, Pottery Barn, Sur LaTable, Restoration Hardware, Front Gate, Pro Flowers, Orvis and Harry and David. 
Creekside Farms' artisan-made wreaths would make a great gift for anyone.  I would be thrilled to have one of these gorgeous wreaths show up at my door (and I was when mine did).  I like that the purchase of a Creekside Farms' wreath supports a family business and contributes to the continuation of a family-run farm.  It's a beautiful way to greet the holiday season at your doorstep.
Disclosure: I received a sample wreath from Creekside Farms for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

November 26, 2023

Holiday Cards from Minted {Giveaway}

'Tis that time of year again, when we go nuts trying to get it all done--decorating, baking, wrapping and making.  One thing that I enjoy doing is creating holiday cards to send to my large extended family and friends.  Picking the perfect photo of my kids from the year and choosing a holiday card to go with it is one way that I like to enjoy the holiday season.
Merry Berry Mix Photo Card
For the past few years, I've gotten my cards from Minted, and I have never been disappointed.  In fact, I even have a few art prints from them and am pleased to admire them all year round.

As usual, Minted has a new assortment of gorgeous holiday cards for this time of year, whether for Christmas, Hanukkah (no Thanksgivukkah though, but that doesn't seem their style), or New Year's.
Preppy Stripe New Year's Photo Card
I've always liked how easy it is to create your own card on the Minted website.  You can easily change photos from color to black and white or sepia.
and in some cards, like the one above (which was actually one of the winners of their annual Design Challenge) you can even change the color and text of the sentiment.
Minted's holiday cards truly are customizable, including changing the edges, choosing a flat or folded design, adding special envelopes and more.  With the huge variety of styles and messages, you'll definitely find one that fits your personality.  And if you're not up for a photo card, they have non-photo cards too.  The hardest part of the process is choosing your favorite design; seriously, it's so difficult!

Some of my favorite include
Hand Painted Branches Holiday Card

Joy, Peace & Love Holiday Card

Quilted Holiday Card
Though it's a little hard to see, the text on the one below uses real foil, either gold or silver, your choice.
The Little Dove Foil-Pressed Holiday Card
A tough decision, definitely.  Which one would you pick?
One lucky reader will win a $100 Gift Certificate to Minted!  Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a gift certificate to Minted for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

The Sounding Joy from Elizabeth Mitchell {Giveaway}

You might know that my kids and I are big fans of Elizabeth Mitchell's music.  We listen to it over and over in the car, and I can honestly say I don't tire of it.
When I saw that she was releasing a new album from Smithsonian Folkways, filled with seasonal and traditional Christmas tunes, I was eager to listen.
This album appeals to all ages, and taps into the collection of folk carols from Ruth Crawford Seeger's (mother of musicians Mike and Peggy Seeger and stepmother of Pete Seeger) 1953 songbook, American Folk Songs for Christmas, which I had not heard of before listening to The Sounding Joy.
 Seeger's music shares the spirit of community and Christmas prior to the commercialization of the holiday.  I admire that Elizabeth Mitchell is working to keep such songs in our collective American songbook, rather than letting them fade into oblivion.
Here's a sneak peek at one of the songs, Little Bitty Baby:
There are so many songs on this album that I was unfamiliar with, but was pleasantly pleased to hear.  Joining Mitchell on this album are quite a few other musicians and artists like Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, Happy Traum, and even special guest Peggy Seeger.  It's truly a collaboration unlike Elizabeth Mitchell's other albums (which tend to have just one or two guests) in that there are so many different voices and styles here.  In January, February, the Last Month of the Year, the vibe is more of a gospel choir than a folk ballad, which is a refreshing change.

The setlist is quite extensive for a Christmas album.

The Sounding Joy Tracklist:
1. Oh, Mary and the Baby, Sweet Lamb
2. Mary Had a Baby
3. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow (feat. Mike Merenda)
4. January, February (Last Month of the Year) (feat. Amy Helm and Marco Benevento)
5. Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol) (feat. Natalie Merchant)
6. Shine Like a Star in the Morning (feat. Simi Stone)
7. Joy to the World (feat. Jay Ungar)
8. Christmas Day in the Morning (feat. Peggy Seeger)
9. Mother’s Child (Child of God) (feat. Peggy Seeger)
10. Sing-a-Lamb (feat. Dan Zanes and Suzan Lori-Parks)
11. Great Big Stars
12. Baby Born Today (feat. The Silver Hollers - Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar and Chris Wood, with Larry Campbell)
13. Ain’t That a-Rockin’ All Night
14. Cradle Hymn
15. Bright Morning Stars Are Rising
16. Sing Hallelu (feat. Elizabeth Clark-Jerez)
17. The First Noel
18. The Blessings of Mary (feat. Larry Campbell)
19. Oh, Watch the Stars (feat. Aoife O’Donovan)
20. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
21. Mary Was the Queen of Galilee (feat. Gail Ann Dorsey and Joan Osborne)
22. Silent Night
23. Singing in the Land (feat. Natalie Merchant, Happy Traum, and John Sebastian)
24. Children, Go Where I Send Thee (feat. Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar, Gail Ann Dorsey, Dan Zanes, Aoife O'Donovan, Simi Stone)

I'm sure you'll see some songs or some singers you recognize. It's a lovely and meaningful audible treat for the holiday season, especially if you're interested in cultivating traditional Christmas values and a folksy back-to-basics celebration of the season.

And if you'll be in New York on the 14th of December (Saturday), she's playing an 11am concert at Symphony Space.  You can get tickets HERE.

One lucky reader will win a copy of The Sounding Joy!
Please leave a comment here about which song you'd like to hear.  I'll pick a winner randomly on the morning of December 4th, so that I can hopefully get the prize to you before Christmas. Good luck!
Disclosure: I received a sample copy of The Sounding Joy for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

UPDATE: #2, Tara is the winner via Thanks for entering!
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