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 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, 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?