Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chocolate Pancakes: An Exercise in Getting Your Kids to Eat Spinach and Pick Up a Playroom

How to get my kids serious about picking up the playroom (for my future reference, but may also be referred to by others):

1.  Make it known that I'm making Chocolate Pancakes (you know, the kind that uses pureed blueberries and spinach...and ground flax...and wheat germ).

2.  Yell, "Chocolate Pancakes are almost done..." At this point, they've just been playing, but theoretically, they know they *should* be picking up...they've also forgotten that I've been working on dinner, so hearing that I'm making these is just as exciting as the first time they were told about the special menu item.  Picking up starts to seem more important to them.

**This following step is critical, and definitely strikes fear in the bellies of kids if you're a mom that tends to eat your kids' food when it's something they like (or when it's something they don't like...basically, if it's known that you're a mommy that grazes off of their plates, this attribute is in your favor).***

3.  A little while later, yell, "Pancakes are done........mmmm....they're REALLY good!!!"

What you'll hear next is music to a mommy's ears:

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!  Don't eat them all!!!  EVERETT, PICK UP!!!"  Reminding each other to essentially stay on task (more J to E than the opposite) is accompanied by the sounds of toys being thrown into bins, scurrying around, and occasional promises of, "MOMMY!  We're almost done!" as if to kindly remind me to not eat them all...

Minutes later, they come downstairs, proudly proclaiming that they have successfully picked up the playroom.  Sometimes, J or E will also ask if I left any for them.  REALLY?!  What kind of cow do they think I am?!

They wash their hands without protesting, and sit down, eager (a rarity, it often seems) to indulge in dinner.  Yes, Chocolate Pancakes for dinner.  Because if I'm gonna get a picked up playroom out of the deal, it's most definitely a treat at the END of the day!

Note:  I just asked Jillian if she enjoyed dinner.  She practically swooned as she answered, "yeeeesssssss...can we have some tomorrow morning?"  I asked how many were left.  "2." -- "TWO?!"  Jillian quickly says, "DON'T eat them!"

I rest my case.  My kid thinks I have no will power.  She would be correct, though food with hidden healthy stuff wins out over my weakness for the overall yummy-ness of the pancakes.  

So one pancake per kid tomorrow morning.  

Maybe I'll get a made bed or two out of the deal, too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Craft Room Angel(s)

2 nights ago, I stayed up WAY too late, trying to figure out the settings for my newly acquired serger.*  I was seriously frustrated.  Randomly breaking lower looper thread, some threads too loose, and just a general confusion about what magical mixture of settings would work for my purposes.  For those unfamiliar with sergers (as I was until recently), there are 4 tension settings (as opposed to the normal 1 with a sewing machine):  left and right needle threads, & upper and lower looper threads.  Settings go from 0 to 11.  

Anyway, I wasn't going about it completely blind - I tried the recommended settings in the manual (or at least, what you should start with and then "go from there").  I was also thrilled to find Oretha's own settings hand-written in a couple of places (no doubt corresponding to certain materials for specific projects).  Even those weren't working consistently.

Fast forward 48 hours.  I had already decided I was going to just "recover"/erase the serger issues I had that might have potentially been visible the garment I was working on, and move forward with conventional sewing machine alternatives.  I began to sit on the floor, ready with my rotary cutter and a revised mental plan. 

But just as I sat down, something caught my eye.  It was a small-ish piece of paper with Oretha's hand-writing.  I quickly recognized it as a (possibly new) set of settings for the serger.  I reluctantly took the paper over to the sewing table, adjusted the dials, got a scrap piece of fabric, and tried it out.  

It worked.

I was instantly over.the.moon.excited!!!!!!!!  But before that instant, I first thought how absolutely strange it was that I had never seen this small piece of paper.  It must have fallen out of the manual.  But not seeing it over the span of a couple of days?  I know this craft room is farrrrr from perfection, but even so, I'm very aware of "what is where" in here (LOL).  

I'm typically not this superstitious/sappy/hokey, but I'd like to believe that Oretha (and my Grandmother - they were very close) was with me in that moment, and knew the frustration I had felt.  And could feel the sense of disappointment in not being able to follow through on my initial plans, despite the fact that I had logged MANY hours trying to figure it all out.  

So anyway, I'd just like to give a heavenly "shout out" to Oretha!  I think of you and my Grandma Jeanne every.single.time I sit down to sew.  

Thanks to both of you for blessing me with the love, patience, and appreciation for these skills.  

I love you both and think of you all the time.  Thank you for showing me that I'm still in your thoughts as well.  

Love you much,
me <3

*My sewing/knitting mentor, also known as my "Grand-Godmother Oretha" told her son (my Godfather) that her collection of all things sewing, etc. (including furniture and machines) should go to me after her passing.  While her amazing Singer sewing machine and its numerous accessories are mine to keep, the White serger is on loan for the time being - totally fine with me, of course!  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not exactly what I had in mind as a voice major...

In a couple of months, it will have been 10 years since graduating from (in my "unbiased opinion," of course) the best liberal arts college in the country.  While I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed my choice to major in music (in vocal performance).  It's funny to think back to all of those super-difficult theory and ear training classes (again, my opinion), and to imagine telling my student self that in 10 years, I will have 2 kiddos that are very familiar with various Solfege patterns, because I have happily incorporated them into their bedtime songs  each night.  :)  And if that doesn't seem random to hear as a 21 year old music major, then surely tonight's experience will...

Ya know when you're singing to your kids at night, and they say, "sing the (fill in the blank) song!"?  And you know they're just assuming every possible theme/tv character has its own nighttime song?  Or, I guess another possibility would be that they're trying every possible way to extend the time leading up to the point that they have to go to bed . . . and hey, why not throw out a random request and watch Mommy squirm as she tries to come up with an awesome song on the fly?!

Yeah...usually I turn vehicular-themed requests into songs by adjusting the lyrics to "The Wheels on the Bus."

Frequent request, of late:


The wheels on the firetruck go round and round, round and round, round and round...
The ladder on the firetruck goes up and down, up and down, up and down...
The hose on the firetruck goes squirt, squirt, squirt...*
The firefighters say, "Yay, we did it!  Yay, we did it, Yay, we did it!"
The firefighters say, "Yay, we did it!  We saved the people!"

*Note:  I tried "squirt, squirt, SPRAAAAY" and "spray, spray, spray," but my lil' guy seems to prefer "squirt" and ONLY "squirt," even though this doesn't seem as realistic.

Moving on...

Lately, I've had the following request:


I think I've tried a few different variations/original tunes (that's the nicest way to describe my "raw" attempts), but it was tonight's little accident that finally became "the one."  I was exhausted, and almost totally asleep, as I rocked, in an over-sized, super comfy, reclining chair, that we paid more for than other, similar items in our house, because, obviously, having the "perfect" chair for breastfeeding takes, yeah... in the pitch-black room, when Everett states his next song request from the crib across the room:

As noted above, "SING THE 'MONSTERS INC.' SONG!!!"

And somehow, almost completely passed out (at not even 8pm), thinking about the Starbucks beverage en route to our house, courtesy of the hubster, I came up with this little gem:

(Sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star")

Sully, Mike, and Little Boo...
They all like to sing to you.
Sully's blue and Mike is green;
Little Boo, she likes to scream.
Sully, Mike, and Little Boo...
They all say 'good night' to you.  :)

Annnnnyway.  This is me trademarking my super-awesome (LOL!) "Monsters Inc. Song."  Just had to share my little composition that resulted from an inability to over-think, and instead, the involuntary allowance of my subconscious to take over...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweet Boy/Booger Bear/E-Dawg Turns 3!!!

It is now official.  I am no longer a Mommy of a 2 year old.
Unsurprisingly, I had to document "3 Year's Eve" . . . 

Here are my 2 favorite fitting that they're wearing matching Superman gear, because they're both super heroes in their own, awesome ways!!!

Moving on to celebrating our little guy's birthday:

First, we celebrated with my parents last weekend, at Chuck E. Cheese.  This was way.more.chaotic than I could have ever expected.  We didn't do an "official" party there, but it was still fun...especially if you consider it fun to try to hunt down an almost 3 year old multiple times, in the craziness of a Sunday afternoon at C.E.C.  This kid has no fear.  I swear, he'd be with me one second, and GONE in half that time.  Literally.  I feel like I'd blink, and he'd be nowhere to be found...and in that short period of time, he would end up on the other side of the game area.  I guess my look of PANIC was in full effect at least once, because a couple of fellow mommies came up to me and said, "What is he wearing?  We know that look of panic.  Let us help you!"

And, of course, E would be safely playing with this or that game.  

Seriously.  This kid.

Anyway, here we are :)
(Daddy's shoulders are pretty much the safest place for our super-fast and curious stinker!)

Today, we celebrated with an official "party"
Here are the details in picture form:

For the invitations, I just used various cardstock, scrapbook paper, Cars stickers, and Market Street Stamps "Pretty Perfect Grid" clear stamp.  Font for the text was Silhouette Online's LD Mischievous, and I happily let my Silhouette sketch pens do the work for me :) 

This year, I took some shortcuts and didn't make my own icing.  I made the cake, but had "a breakthrough" (according to my husband) by actually saying it would be okay for him to pick up *gasp* store.bought.icing.  And let me tell you - it was AWESOME.  Sure, it probably didn't taste as great.  But man, was it fun to be able to knock that cake out WAY faster than usual!

I had no clue that Wilton made silver sprinkles, but lo and behold, they do!  I was looking for anything resembling a road, so they worked out perfectly!  Hubby found the Squinkies version of Cars characters, so that made the design of the cake easier to decide upon...something that could accommodate more than just a couple of a "3" racetrack!

I got the idea for Stoplight Snacks from where else?  Pinterest!  Mad in Crafts' "Stoplight Cookies" were pinned to one of my boards at some point, and I modified them a little bit by taking the easy way out and using graham crackers, chocolate icing, and M&Ms.

Of course, birthdays are just another opportunity to try out new shirt designs and test my sewing skillz.
I completed the Mater shirt almost a week before the party...and then decided that making invitations and a cake just wasn't enough.  I *needed* to make a Cars themed skirt for my daughter as well.  

And, since this was my first attempt at a skirt, I didn't exactly whip it out as quickly as one might (maybe?) expect.  Instead, I'll let my Silly Jillybeans FB status share the sad truth:
why did I convince myself that my daughter needed a Cars themed skirt for her *brother's* Cars birthday party? Oh, right...I needed/wanted an excuse to try a skirt pattern...and here I am, at 4:40am, about to go to bed. *sigh*


Even with a lack of sleep, I'm so, so happy I stayed up and figured it out (the waistband portion of the pattern kinda tripped me retrospect, I should have just made an elastic casing).

I'm not sure why I have the crazy need to make everything myself, but I hope that my kiddos always know that it's done with so much love.

I am so thankful for these sweet kids.
For each wonderful birthday I get to share with them. 
Here's to many more fun celebrations - with or without accompanying craftiness!!!!

Much love to my sweet THREE year old!!!!  Mommy loves you!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Demand.

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"On demand."  When I try to describe how my business, Silly Jillybeans, functions right now, "on demand" is the first thing that comes to mind.  I know - it sounds a bit weird, and to all you nursing mamas out there, your mind probably went in a totally different direction!  :)

But anyway.  I just wanted to journal my current feelings on my crafting.  It's absolutely amazing - and amazingly flattering - to feel so in demand as a creator of crafty things.  I'm very aware of the fact that there are a bazillion other crafty people out there, but I'm sure that much like many of those others, crafting is not an option.  It really is what keeps me sane and happy.  Not in the same way my husband and kids do, of course - because they do.  But this is a more personal, "I did it" kind of happiness/fulfillment.  And really, the process of designing and figuring out all of the elements of a creation are exhilarating.  So many fabric options, thread choices, fonts, mediums, you name it.  Ultimately, there may be a bazillion other crafty people out there, but somehow, what I do still feels extremely unique and custom.  Even when clearly, there are other similar products out there.  

So when someone tells me that they were looking for a baby/baptism gift and checking out ideas on Etsy, but then decided, "Hey, I'm gonna ask Dana to do this!" I am extremely humbled - and motivated! - to create whatever it is that that person needs or wants!  In this respect, it's like "creating on demand."  Sorta?  Maybe?  What I love just as much is that I've heard so many times, "I was wondering if you could do {insert creation here}, and put your Dana-Silly Jillybeans 'spin' on it!  I totally trust you - whatever you think, I'm sure it'll be fantastic."  I mean, do you KNOW how much that means to me?!?  That feels like a "bazillion" compliments in one statement!  However, the first few times I heard it, I felt more pressure than anything else.  And I still feel that pressure - but in a good way - keeps me on my game! :)

Back to the "on demand" thing - I think that that feeling is more in effect when I have 5 or 6 very different, custom orders in the works...and then someone places yet another, very new and different order!  It's a nice balance to the other pieces that I do more consistently - the Holiday shirts and the "That's What She Said" and "I Shoot People" signs and shirts.  Even with those pieces, I still get the rush of picking out new colors!  So many opportunities to keep my creative juices flowing, ya know?!

Anyway, thought I'd share the baby/baptism gift I ended up creating . . . the gift-giver wanted the baby to have something that could stay with her for a long time :)

I'm very happy with how it turned out!

Hope my posts make some sort of vague I said before, I'm trying to be better about writing about this aspect of my life... :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fabric Mosaic for 100 Days of Teaching

I'm about to head to bed, but I couldn't help but take a couple of minutes to share my latest was a custom order, placed by a Silly Jillybeans Facebook Fan (who is also a teaher).  My goal is to have a tutorial for this, posted sometime  tomorrow or very soon thereafter.

In the meantime, here are pics!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

You "Ruffle" My Heart ;)

Woohoo!!!  I finished one of the shirt ideas I had this last week!  And just for fun, I did two different color/pattern combos!  I'm really loving turquoise, red, black, & white lately, but obviously, some hot pink thrown into the mix has also been on the brain as well...

It got back down to the 40s today in the Dallas area...which resulted in a super fast photo-shoot with my lil' munchkin.  The picture above was taken as she was running back inside, due to the cold (I know, I know...mean mama...trying to take pics, even with less than favorable temps).

I'm really loving animal prints lately as well, which prompted me to try out some zebra with the hot pink and turquoise.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that my daughter is a BIG fan of anything having to do with animals.  She was super pumped about a shirt with ZEBRA on it! :)

I'm pretty excited that J will be able to sport this shirt even after Valentine's day, when there's still a little chill in the air, but she still wants to wear something fun and unique!  Now...what color combos and patterns should I do next...???

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Heart's calling...

Yesterday, I posted the following status on my SillyJillybeans Facebook page:

what is with my brain the last couple of days? i just got back from running, took a shower, and while in the shower, a painting idea hit me just like the shirt idea last night in bed! my plan was to do the shirt while the kids are at school, but this painting idea is about to bust outta my brain. i hurried my shower, threw my wet hair in a clip, grabbed paint brushes, etc., and am about to see what happens!

I think I'm having the opposite of something similar to writer's block.  The ideas will not stop coming!  Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining; it's just funny that it's happening now, right after I decided to relax more on the business side of SJB.  I thought, "eh, I think I'll just make what I want to make..."  At the time, I really didn't have anything in particular in mind, but figured that I'd work on getting the craft room back to normal after adding some new shelving for my fabric.  I had an idea here and there - basically, things I've made for other people, but that I thought would be nice to make for our own home.  Nothing particularly earth shattering or novel.  

But I guess that just the simple act of letting up on the reigns, relaxing, and not thinking so much about the business of SJB, enabled me to tap into other parts of my brain.  Still the creative side, but probably even more so, since so much of my energy was being directed the other way as well.  

First, I noticed that my brain would start wandering to the crafty world just like it normally does...but in a more natural, less purposeful way.  Somehow, it seemed to result in more clear, almost urgent intentions.  I drove home from Michael's Sunday night.  And *BAM!* a Valentine's shirt idea hit me out of nowhere.  I was driving, but I felt the intense need to do something about the idea.  I called Richard and said, "I know you're feeding the kids, but I just had this idea for a shirt, but I'm driving.  Can I tell it to you, so that you can remind me of it later, in case I forget?"  And, of course, he let me dictate my thoughts as he typed them out in an email to myself.  

But then one night later, those thoughts still in the email, I posted the following status on the Silly Jillybeans FB page at 2:35am:

Finally got in bed...2 minutes of laying there and an idea for a Valentines shirt hits me...I run with the idea for a while before I finally decided I just need to grab my phone and email myself the detailed directions as to how I should make it....My mind was racing like crazy and I'm fairly certain that I really would've gone crazy had i tried to just fall asleep and revisit the idea tomorrow...

So my plan, yesterday, was to follow up on THAT idea.  But that's when I had the painting idea in the shower.  

So I figured I'd share the painting that I started yesterday late morning, and finished up late last night (I've posted lots of pictures because I just can't seem to capture the texture in pictures, as it is in, some were taken at night with different lighting):

All of my Valentine's Day creations (L to R:  last year, this year, 2 years ago):

Stay tuned to see the 2 different shirt ideas mentioned earlier in this post! :)
One is almost complete; the other is still in an email...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Sometimes I forget that I'm able to make gifts that my husband would like.  I almost always make everyone else's gifts, but it doesn't ever seem to occur to me until waaaaay late in the process, that there are things I make that Richard would like.  And being that he's a Razorback, I thought that doing an 11x14 subway art sign would be super perfect!

I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me until yesterday (the day before my husband's birthday) to make this, but i'm actually glad it was a last minute idea.  I was forced to really sit down and put it into overdrive, in terms of creating a design with all of the elements I the way that I wanted them...that would then be manifested on top of a painted, white canvas.  

A lot of times, i design and work with the tv/music. With this one, i just sat and designed for a good, long while! and it paid off! He loves it!!!!!!! :) 


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Two Front Teeth...

Recently, a Silly Jillybeans Facebook Fan requested two, girly Tooth Fairy Tooth Pillows for her two granddaughters.  I had "sew" much fun creating them, and hope the girls love squeezing them tightly at night, as they await a visit from the Tooth Fairy!

Only problem now daughter has pointed out that these are more soft than hers!  Oops : /  All I can say is that I did hers before anyone else's, and since that first one, I made some (good) changes!  The best part is that they're all about the same size (approximately 11" tall and 9" at widest point), and are super squeezable!  Definitely more squeezable than the tiny tooth pillow I was able to put under my pillow as a kid!  Because of that, on nights that there is a tooth in the pocket, my daughter usually stands the pillow up on her nightstand, so that the Tooth Fairy doesn't have to find it in her bed.  To make it even easier for the Tooth Fairy, my daughter left a note the first couple of times, explaining that "this tooth" (meaning the pillow) was NOT the tooth to be taken...the tooth to be taken was in the pocket! :))  HAHAHAHA!!!!  Now...if only I could find the picture I took of that adorable, little note...

Anyway, if you're interested in some plushie teeth for the little ones in your life, shoot me an email at and let's get one started for you!  Girly teeth are $20 each, as they include eyelashes and a flower bow; teeth without these details (could be for a boy or girl) are $15 each.  All teeth include a pocket on the back for tucking away baby teeth to be whisked away while they're in dreamland. ;)

The Cool Whip Quandary

An unopened tub of Cool Whip in the fridge is so, so sad and lonely.  Do you throw it out, in fear of the not so remote possibility of accidentally opening it late at night and finishing it off?  Or do you take a risk and try to ration it out, after realizing that the former option would be totally wasteful?

Obviously, I went with the second choice.  Because I'm practical like that.  ;)

But that doesn't mean that I've totally ruined my 2012 resolutions (partly because I haven't really sat down and officially made any...)!  I just added a couple of small spoonfuls to coffee, sprinkled some pumpkin pie spice on top, and the result is YUMMINESS!!!!

There.  The Cool Whip Quandary has been addressed and taken care of.  You're welcome. ;)