Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My story

 So, I have been working on my about me section in my shop today, and I figured I would share it with you guys to.  It was a little painful to write, and to think about where I was ten years ago, but I think it is good to tell my story, because it may inspire others- what do you think?

I'm Cassi, and I have made over 8,000 garments out of my bathtub.  No kidding!  I want to tell you my story in hopes that it inspires you to follow your dreams.

I never knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up".  To be honest, I felt like my options were pretty limited.  The expense of college was not something my parents could undertake, so I graduated high school at 17 (a year early), and moved to the ghetto of OKC (the only place I could afford to live on my own), and worked at Kmart.  A few years later, Kmart closed, so I went to work for Walmart.  Even then, I knew that I did not want to be there forever- there had to be something better for me out there, and my life was not meant to be spent slaving away for a large corporation for crap pay.  It was like an endless cycle though- when you can barely afford to eat, how can you pull yourself out?

I have always had a creative soul- in fact, during those hard times, being creative and artistic was about the only thing I could do to find a break from the hard times around me.   I spent a lot of time painting- I would paint just about anything I could get my hands on.  The other thing that got me through those rough times was volunteering, and giving to others in anyway I could.  It made me feel like even if times were hard for me, I could still make a difference.

I got married young, and even though that was NOT a smart idea, I got the best gift I could ever ask for from that relationship- my son, Wes.  When I found out that I was pregnant, I started dabbling in tie dye- it was a fun way for me to make something really neat out of things that I already had around the house.  I didn't have anyone to teach me, so my creative personality kicked in, and I spent hours testing and trying new things- never in my life could I have imagined that I was giving myself an education for what would eventually become my career.

In 2007 I found myself a single mom of a one year old son.  As fate would have it, I ended up falling in love with a hot shot manager from Arkansas.  We had met when I was pregnant with Wes, and became fast friends.  He was my age, a bad boy, and NOT the kind of guy you would ever consider settling down with.  In a strange turn of events, we seemed to make each other better people just by being friends.  When we started dating, we were the oddest couple- no one who knew either of us would have ever put us together- we were complete opposites.

Chad saw the artist in me, and encouraged me to follow it.  "Why not?" he would tell me.  So, I went back to my tie dye adventures- spending every extra penny I had on supplies.  I begged anyone and everyone to look at my work, and to buy stuff from me.  I started trying new techniques that I thought MIGHT work- and refined, and practiced.

My sister had told me about this website called Etsy- as she described it- it was the most amazing thing ever- all handmade, and perfect for people like me.  Chad suggested that I try it- just to see what would happen.  I specifically remember saying, "No one who doesn't know me is going to buy my stuff."   When I got my first Etsy sale, I literally thought I had broke my computer, or something was wrong- where did this money come from?  When I realized that I had actually sold something- to a stranger, no less- I took the money I had made and invested it right back into my creations.  Thanks to word of mouth, my shop was getting steady sales, and with each new order, I got  better- I was determined to refine my technique, teach myself how to do new things, and to make my clothing something that people would love.  I wanted to break the barriers that tie dye held- I wanted to make clothes that were gorgeous, and unique. 

The hard work paid off- before I knew it, my shop was keeping me busy full time, and I was living the life that I was determined to get!  In turn, this gave me more time to fulfill my other passion- giving.  Life was good- people recognized me when we went places- specifically Walt Disney World.  We would get stopped, and people would ask me to sign their autograph books, and take pictures- it was an amazing feeling.

Now, you think this is my happy ending- but it is not.  You see, I made a stupid mistake when I opened up my first shop.  I was selling TONS of Mickey Mouse tie dye- everyone loved them.. well, everyone except for Disney.  I woke up one morning and found that my shop, and everything I had worked so hard for, had been shut down for copyright infringement.  This fueled my creative fire- instead of giving up- I started over and reinvented my line.  I thought my dream was over, but I refused to quit.  After a few VERY scary weeks, my new line caught on like wild fire, and that leaves us where I am today :)

If you have a dream- FOLLOW IT.  If you want to change your life- CHANGE IT.  It won't be easy, and it feels scary, but you will never know until you try!  You might just find your ONE  GREAT THING :)

To check out my current "good works" projects- check out http://www.cassiselby.com , or find me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/onegreatthing


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yummy Mummy Drinks

The following conversation REALLY happened between my 6 year old son and I a few weeks ago....

Wes:  Mom, can we have a Halloween party? 
Me:  That might be a good idea, we can think about that.
Wes: Good- because I told my whole class yesterday that we are having a Halloween party!

So!  We are having a Halloween party for Wes and all of his little friends.  Now, if you know me, you know I can't just have a simple Halloween party, I have to have (what my husband lovingly calls) a Halloween party on steroids! 

I thought it would be fun to share some of my crafty projects for those of you that are planning Halloween get togethers as well.  I always make sure my projects are kid friendly, because crafting is more fun when you do it with another person, and my little helper is always Wes!

Today I am going to show you how to spruce up some boring juice boxes and turn them into fun mummys!

Here is what you will need:
-1 roll of white Duck Tape
-Sticky eyes (I bought mine from Oriental Trading )
*Note- you could use googly eyes to, but to me, hot glue and a 6 year old is an accident waiting to happen.
-Juice Boxes (I get Juicy Juice, because they have Box Tops, and the school collects them)

Step one.. remove all of the straws from the juice boxes (you'll want to use them to drink with later after all!)
Next, you will want to get your Duck Tape ready... You will want to leave some pieces big for the bottom, and tear some of the others in half to make wrapping easier for little hands...
Wrap the bottom part of the box with a regular (untorn) strip of Duck Tape- it makes wrapping the rest easier.

 Then continue wrapping the box in any random way you want until it is covered.. just remember to leave an opening to put the straw in later!

Last but not least, add some silly sticky eyes to finish off your mummy!
That's it!  How fun and easy is this project?  Now go get crafty!
XO Cass 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Livin' in a LEGO house!

First I have to give a shout out to my friend Renee- who inspired my blog title :)

Today I am going to show you how to make some amazing shelves to hold all of those little Lego guys that you love to step on :) 
The hardest part of this project was tracking down shelving to use.  I lucked out and found some two tiered photo ledge shelves on sale at Kohls, however, it looks like they are sold out on the website right now.  Here is a link to some on  Amazon though :) If you are lucky enough to have an Ikea near you- this option is much cheaper!

Alright- so if you are living in a Lego house, you probably have enough Lego's at home already to create your shelves.  Just go through and pick out a bunch of the square bricks.  If you want to do the shelves all in one color, just go to the Lego store and take advantage of the pick a brick!

Next, you are going to dot Gorilla Glue across the section where you want the bricks to go (remember- Gorilla glue expands, so little dots, not big blobs!)
Next, you are going to add your bricks.  I liked working on small sections at a time, so I didn't have to worry about my glue drying out-
And just keep going until you fill your ledges!  This was sooo easy, that my six year old son could help :)
That was easy, right?  Now just let them dry for 24 hours, and let your little one go crazy putting up the Legos (just don't tell them it's really cleaning!)
Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The last time I redecorated Wesley's room was when he was young enough that I could pick the theme- Toy Story, of course.  It was kind of a mish mosh of all things Disney though- perfect for my little Disney crazy toddler.

It all started with something simple enough- I got the new Pottery Barn Kids catalog.  I was showing Wes the backpacks (since we had to order one for school), and low and behold, he sees... the Star Wars bedding collection.  "I WANT that!" he exclaimed- "My room is a baby room- I want a big boy room like that!"

He had a point- so I told him I would save up some money so we could do it around Christmas.  Little did he know, I had a scheme to surprise him with a room makeover.  I called Chaddy and he was on board!  So, while Wes was with his dad over the weekend, Chad and I went to work!

Here are the before pictures :) 

After two weeks of ordering some amazing stuff for his room online (and hiding it as it came in) it was all coming together!

I was really nervous about putting glass over Wesley's bed, so I mounted his Darth Vader poster (left) to the cardboard that came with his frame with spray adhesive.  I should also note that it was pretty much impossible to find a frame that would fit the poster, so I bought a smaller size and trimmed it down.  Then I framed a Star Wars Typography made specifically to match his new room decor.  We topped off the look of the print by using a set of curtain hooks to mount a lightsaber above it.  We also added and extra shelf above his bed to hold his extra Mickey hats!

The bedding was one of the most expensive investments in our project, but I love how it pulls the room together! 

 Of course, every little Jedi needs a cool place to hide stuff (lunch box from Hobby Lobby), and a big kid alarm clock.  That little guy is really cool- you push his head down to turn him off!  Now, that little Death Star looking thing on the right is the Star Theater Pro by Uncle Milton.  It actually projects rotating stars and planets into Wesley's ceiling at night time, and let me tell you - it is amazing and well worth the money!  I was worried when I ordered it, because the reviews on the different varieties of these things look scary on Amazon- but I took a chance and went the best model- and I am so glad I did! 

We painted Wesley's natural wood colored Lego table black to make it cohesive with the rest of the room.  I don't know what it is with me and black furniture, but it is my favorite way to make something old look new and modern!  I had made those awesome little Lego guy shelves a few weeks before (don't worry- I'll tell you how to do it this weekend!), and it really brought the little space together.   Then of course, I had to create something new for his table... so here is what happens when I play Legos (no kit required kids!)

Speaking of Legos- Chad had an amazing idea to hang Lego Star Wars ships and planets from the ceiling with fishing string.  So, after an impromptu trip to The Lego Store, Chad was happily building Legos in the dining room.  Just a little tip for those of you guys that have kids that pull apart the creations you spend hours building- SUPER GLUE.  My husband is a genius!  It makes the bigger sets more durable for rough play!

Next up is this awesome custom Jedi Knight vinyl I found on Etsy.  I had it made in silver, and put it on his headboard- it really pops!  I also have to say- being somewhat of a vinyl addict, this was a GREAT high quality vinyl and design.  It went on smooth, and has not budged (it you have ever made the mistake of buying one of these from Hobby Lobby- you know how important stickability is!) The best part is- the shop had awesome prices, and shipped this to me super fast!

Last but not least- the dresser area....
We completely recovered his dresser with Star Wars paper- don't worry- I'll blog about how to make one soon! 

We topped that area off with a R2D2 print by The Daily Robot on Etsy.  This print knocked my socks off!  It shows the hypothetical inner workings of R2- but if you ask me, they look pretty accurate!  The seller was also super friendly about getting me the print in time for my project, and his shop is full of other amazing work as well!

If you are wondering- Wesley's reaction the the surprise was like nothing we had ever seen before!  We love surprises around here- and the last time we surprised him with a trip to Disney, his response was, "Ok, let's go." but THIS brought on screaming, jumping, hugging, "I can't believe it's!" and, "I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!"  Now THAT makes it all worth it!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Back to School Savings for Brand Savvy Mommas

It's that time again.. back to school madness is coming up in a few weeks!  As a fashion savvy mom, I take a lot of pride in making sure my son has an awesome wardrobe that reflects his unique personality!  And, even though I'm a clothing designer, a kid can only wear so much of something his mom makes.  Of course, buying him the brands and trendy things he (errrr..I) like can cost a pretty penny.  So, today I am going to share my tips and tricks for big savings on back to school clothes!

First things first- if you haven't already got one, go sign up for a FREE EBATES account.  Ebates is a website that gives you a percentage of your online purchases as cash back (via check or paypal) quarterly, for shopping you are already doing online anyway!  5% may not sound like much, but man, it adds up fast!  Plus, new members get a free $10 gift card (and Target is one of the choices!), or $5 in their account for signing up!  Here is a fireshot of my current account-

See that?  A total of $502.49 that is paid to me just for making purchases I would be making anyway!  What do I do with that extra cash?  It goes right to my Disney fund :)  So what's the catch?  You have to get into the habit of using it.  In other words, you have to remember to go to Ebates.com before you make your purchases, and click through that link.  But, another benefit Ebates has is posting coupons- so I always remember to go look for coupons before I buy- and that helps me remember to use Ebates! 

START NOW, and skip the mall!  Start your child's BTS wardrobe now by taking advantage of the great online deals that are out there.  Most retailers are heavily marking down designer apparel for kids right now to get ready for fall and winter clothes.  And other retailers, like Nordstom, have pre season sales (The Half Yearly Sale started today!)!  What I love about Nordstrom is they offer free shipping and free returns, no matter how big or small your purchase is.  Plus, you can get 5% cash back through EBATES.  If your kiddo loves brands like Under Armour, Joes Jeans, Lacoste, Nike, The North Face, and UGGS- you will not find better prices than what they offer during this sale.   So ditch the crowds and lines at the mall, and start your kiddos wardrobe from your couch.  The amount I would save on gas getting to a mall is enough to buy an extra outfit anyway!

Join MY HABIT - this is also a free account.  My Habit is a new company that is run by Amazon.  Every day, they offer select items at majorly discounted prices.  I will warn you, it can become addictive (because they also offer free shipping), but the deals offered over there are impossible to beat!  They often carry the hipster brands that my son loves- like Wes and Willy, Lords of Liverpool, Joes Jeans, Mini Shatsu and many other designers.  Here is a little example of what they have up today:

Buy your basics at wholesale prices.  Jiffy Shirts
is one of the few places where you can buy basic apparel (like t-shirts) for wholesale pricing without a tax id.  In my opinion, if you are layering something on top of it, there is no reason to buy a priccey brand!  Short sleeved white shirts for kids start around $2, and orders over $65 ship for free.  They also carry a wide variety of other things like hoodies, tote bags, socks, and adult clothing.

Last but not least, if your kiddo is into the hot hot trend of tie dye, you know who to talk to to get custom shirts, dresses, and TOMS!  Visit me anytime at 1 Great Thing  and get free domestic shipping with coupon code FREESHIPPING at checkout.

Happy shopping!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Secret Cookie Recipe :)

I always tell people that if I didn't design clothes, I would bake for a living!  I LOVE making cupcakes- in fact, I make so many cupcakes that I usually can't give them all away, because my boys aren't cupcake crazy.

So, one day I decide that I have to figure out a way to translate my cupcakes into cookies- so that they would get eaten!  It took several tries, but I finally created a recipe that works well with (get ready for it) BOX CAKE MIXES!  Yes- really.  This is probably the yummiest, easiest recipe you will ever find.  Plus, it is kid and budget friendly!  So go grab that box of cake mix that has been sitting in your pantry- and let me tell you my cookie secret :)

What you will need:

1 box of cake mix (any flavor!)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
powdered sugar or sprinkles

THIS IS IMPORTANT!  Don't skimp on quality ingredients- the difference between amazing cookies, and ho hum cookies is using the best oil and eggs you can find.  I use Crisco vegetable oil, and Eggland's Best cage free all natural brown eggs (if you knew where the cheapie ones came from, you wouldn't want to eat them anymore!) Since this recipe is so inexpensive in the first place, it doesn't hurt to spend a few extra bucks to get great ingredients. 

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees

Like I said- this recipe is super kid friendly.  We make these cookies a lot since they are so fast and easy- so Wes made the cookies for me so I could take pictures :) 

*Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large bowl
Wes likes to stir with a spoon, and then I usually finish up the mixing with my electric mixer when his arms get tired :) 

You will know you are done mixing when the dough has a play-doh like consistency, and forms a ball in your bowl.  Its ok to get down there and squish it around if you want to :)  We usually can't resist!
The next step is the fun part!  Start by making sure your powdered sugar and/or sprinkles are nearby in a small bowl. 

*Pinch off some dough, and roll it into a ball with your hands.  I usually tell Wes that it should be the size of a bouncy ball.
*Roll the dough in the powdered sugar, or sprinkles- whichever you prefer!  (I did both here so you could see both ways.)
*Place the dough on your baking sheets (it usually takes two), and press it gently down with your fingers.

 Now seems like a good time to tell you about my sprinkle obsession-since I know you guys are going to ask where I got the Mickey sprinkles!  I LOVE SPRINKLES!  My friends can tell you that my collection is a little ridiculous- my sprinkles take up two shelves in my kitchen cabinet!  My favorite place to get them is Sweet Treat Supplies on Etsy.  She has a huge variety of sprinkles, cupcake liners, and all of the other fun stuff you need for baking.  This is especially handy for people like me who live in small towns and don't have a Hobby Lobby or Michaels anywhere near by.

Also, by now you may have noticed that I really like red!

*Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.   This part can be tricky- when you pull them out, you will swear they are not cooked.  BUT keep in mind, cookies are very heat sensitive, and they will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven, because they are so hot.  Don't even think about touching them for at least five minutes after they come out of the oven.  I know, I know- you will be tempted because they smell SOOOO GOOD- but don't do it!

That's it!  You now have super yummy, cute fun cookies! 

 A few quick tips...
-Stock up on cake mix when it goes on sale at your local grocery store.  The United I shop at does a 10 for 10 sale on them a few times a year.  Combined with coupons, this is a GREAT deal!  There is never a bad time to make cookies, and with mix on hand, I can always whip up some in a flash for people that come over, or for school functions, teachers gifts, etc.
-Store extra cookies in the freezer!  When you are ready to eat them, just sit them out on the kitchen counter, and let them dethaw.
-Change it up!  Don't be scared to try something new.  A few variations we love are pineapple cupcakes with brown sugar topping, creating ice cream cookie sandwiches, and funfetti cookies with cream cheese frosting.

Now go get baking!


Sunday, July 15, 2012


I want to preface this blog by telling you a little about my health.  I have severe anxiety disorder- which basically means, certain triggers make me feel like I am suffocating and having a heart attack.  Most people who know me have no idea that this is something that I deal with on a day to day basis.  The reason I want to share this, is because when I was first diagnosed, I felt really alone- and like I was a "crazy person"- so for those of you that are out there and reading this and suffer from anxiety... I want you to know that you are not alone.  

Because of my anxiety disorder, I take a medication that helps control my over active emotions, to prevent me from being in a constant state of panic.  I'll be honest- I feel like they saved my life.  But, because of this, I don't feel emotions in the same way that I used to.  I always joke that I am like Data (from Star Trek), and I have an emotion chip that has to be activated- haha!  But the point of this is- it takes a lot for me to feel the emotions that I felt the other day- so I hope you keep that in mind as you read this. 

The last few weeks have been very testing for me.  I always try to stay positive, but a lot of things have been going on that left me questioning myself, and my faith.  Chad has started a new job, and he is gone for weeks at a time (and I miss him!), we got news that Chad's mom has cancer (for those of you that don't know- his dad died from cancer a few years ago, so this is an extremely heavy blow), and I am still on the verge of taking my business in a new direction- trying to figure out what I am going to do now that my previous Etsy shop got unexpectedly closed down.

So, by now you have heard me talk about my Fair Trade Nepal bracelets.  For me, this is a leap of faith into an unknown territory.  I have spent a lot of time working on this project, and it makes me happy, because when I sell them, I know that I am helping change another persons life in a good way.  But, like every new venture- it is scary to spend a lot of time and money on something, when you are not sure if it is going to fly, or fail.  All I know is that the thing that makes me happiest is making other people happy, and doing good for others- so I have to try.  Keep in mind, I don't make a lot of money from doing this- but the point is not to get rich, the point is to make a difference.  Some things in life are more important than money.

I got a beautiful new order of bracelets in this week.  I was so excited to get them listed up on the new website (which likes to fight me tooth and nail sometimes- I am pretty sure that is a user issue though- not a server issue!)  Finally, all of the work was done, and I was ready to launch the site- with the bracelets- ready to go... this is IT.  

I post the link to the new site on Facebook- and all of the sudden.. my email starts going crazy!  Order 1... order 2... order 3...  Yes!  

Then, a few hours later, I randomly check my email and I surprised to see a new order- it is from a customer turned friend, who I am going to call D (gosh forbid I get famous someday and the paparazzi comes looking for her if I use her real name! HAHAHAHA!) 

It's a big order.

I am immediately overwhelmed with emotions.  So much, that I burst into tears- I can't stay sitting in my chair I am so overwhelmed, so I kneel on the floor, and lean onto my chair, and cry.  All I can do is pray, and thank God for showing me that this can work- people do care, and I am on the right path.  This is my sign, my affirmation that I have needed to tell me that I am going in the right direction.

I email D, and thank her for what she just did.  I tell her about everything that is going on, and that she gave me that push that I needed- she made a huge difference in my life.  I will never forget that moment. D emails me back, and sends me this.  It is so appropriate for my current situation, and when I read it- I had goosebumps.

... Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of life.

Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 16:11

Today is a new day, and I am looking at it in a new light.  No, what I am doing is not easy- but it is the right thing.  I am thankful for all I have- and I know that I have a chance to make a difference in the world... one act of kindness at at time.  

If you are interested in helping me support women with fair trade items- there are still some amazing bracelets available- just swing over to http://cassiselby.com, and click the fair trade button at the top of the screen. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Starfish Story

Like most motivational stories- this one has a million different versions, and everyone tells it a little different.  Today I want to tell you the version that I tell other people- when it feels like life is overwhelming.

A young couple on their honeymoon were taking an early morning stroll on the beach.  They walked hand in hand until abruptly, the wife stopped in her tracks.  Before her were hundreds of starfish, washed up by the turbulent ocean waves. She immediately started scooping them up- one by one, and started tossing them back into the ocean.  Her husband watched- amused, and then finally asked, "Honey, what are you doing?"  Without  stopping she replied, "The tide is going out- if they stay up here on the beach they will die."  He looked skeptical, "There are at least ten more miles of beach here- you can't possibly think you can make a difference.  There is no way to save them all."  She paused for a moment, and looked at him.  She then turned, and tossed the starfish she was holding in her hands back into the ocean, "It made a difference for that one."

You know how some things just stick with you?  That is how I feel about this story.  On the days where you feel like you aren't making a difference, or like you just want to give up- think of a starfish.  Nothing in life feels better than doing good for others, and it just takes ONE person, to make a big difference in someone elses life.

So let's do a little show and tell- who threw you back into the ocean?  What do you do in your every day life to try to make a difference?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The next chapter...

Yesterday morning, when all of my shipments for the day came in (and, if you can believe this- I usually get a visit from USPS, UPS and FedEx once a day!) I was super surprised to see that my bracelets from Nepal came a week before I expected them to!  I immediately dropped everything I was doing, and ripped into my package.  I can't remember being this excited about opening a package since I was a kid at Christmas time!  I immediately headed to the office, and started organizing and stacking them in the color combinations I had been planning in my head.  I will admit that I am slightly OCD about this- the poor girls at Simplistic Style can tell you I have to do it with their bracelets every time I go in to shop! 

I have this overwhelming feeling that this is the start of something amazing.  Not because I am going to make a ton of money selling them (because my profit on them is very low), but because I know that when I sell one, I am helping women in Nepal get out of poverty, live better lives, and helping them feed their families.  And that, in my opinion, is way better than making tons of money!

To shop the very first batch ever- come by http://www.facebook.com/onegreatthing :)