Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photo with Santa at Gumdrop Swap - Arcade Mall, Bridgeport, CT 12-11-2010 from 2-4pm

Since the Halloween Event (Boo Bash Bridgeport) was such a success (click on link to see photo slideshow from that event), I was more than happy to host this event when contacted by photographer Carmen Nieves. This fellow mompreneur has a mobile photography business. She can set up shop at any event and print photos on site. Forget those long lines at your local mega-mall and come see Santa in downtown Bridgeport's hidden gem, the historic Arcade Mall, 1001 Main St, Bridgeport, CT 06604. If you have a Facebook account you can RSVP here.

Photo with Santa at Gumdrop Swap - Arcade Mall, Bridgeport, CT 12-11-2010 02:00pm - AmericanTowns.com

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm Living My Moment. How 'bout you?

As a mompreneur, I am always on the lookout for legitimate inexpensive (preferably FREE) way to promote my business. I take customer service seriously because keeping a customer is a lot cheaper that advertising to acquire a new customer. And word-of-mouth from satisfied customers referrals are more valuable than a printed ad. Don't you get the opinions of others when shopping for a product or service? I know I do. Social networking is paramount! It's time consuming but worth it.


When I stumbled upon the website Living My Moment, I thought their offer to list parent-owned businesses for FREE was truly too good to be true. But sure enough, I submitted my info and now I have a content rich feature page there with links to my site, this blog and all my social accounts. What's that I hear? My Alexa and Google rank rising? Uh huh. Mama likes! So, now it's your turn. Go to my link to see how sweet it is. Then, submit your business for FREE. Want to thank me? Just mention, you heard about Living My Moment on Gumdrop Swap's blog when you submit and I'm sure some good karma will flow to all of us. Now, that's social networking!

Gumdrop Swap Online Clothing Swap Club & Boutique

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Technically Speaking, Gumdrop Swap gets a Custom Built PC

Years ago I considered myself an Apple girl. I went to art college at the Savannah College of Art & Design. My sophomore year, every computer on campus was changed out for a Mac, even the computer in the lab to check your email were iMacs. It was a given that if you did any computer graphic work, you needed a Mac. Macs were cool (not to mention expensive). As a freelancer after college, I invested in a refurbished Mac desktop which I still use at home to check email. But I haven't updated the operating system in years because of a misalignment of the dvd drive. Not a difficult fix one would think but not every computer fix-it guy can work on a Mac.

But I digress, at my business Gumdrop Swap, I was using a laptop. It was a convenient choice because I could transport a laptop back and forth and do bookkeeping work at home after hours etc. That laptop was stolen in July. My mom loaned her Msi minibook to me which was purchased from Motusworks based in North Carolina. They brokered a great deal for her and sourced the laptop saving her at least $40 off any retailer and Damone prepared the laptop and installed her preferred software for her prior to shipping. This was perfect for my mom (not technically inclined) and was ready to use when arrived. I was so impressed with the purchase and value she got with MotusWorks that I contacted them for advice when I had to get a permanent computer and return my mother's minibook.

I have many side gigs. One being, photo retouching. Something I learned at the above mentioned art college. It comes in handy as a sometimes model and I don't have to look for clients because I just work for fellow models. Word gets around quickly in the plus model community. So, when I spoke to Damone I told him what I needed my computer to do and what programs I would be using. He made recommendations (this sounded a lot like a foreign language as he used techie terms) and I understood terms like RAM, Memory, Graphics Card, resolution, etc... He communicated every step of the way. Asking my opinion on the case (chassy-sp?), size of monitor, sound quality of speaker. I did not want the dual speaker that had to plugged in with those wispy thin wires. I have enough wires around my desk already. I have limited space around my desk. The speaker he chose is so unassuming, when I turned on my iTunes radio the first time I nearly jumped out my skin. I was listening to the muffled built-in speaker on a laptop before. I could throw a party in my store now using the speaker I have and everyone would be able to hear the music!

The space under my desk is already cluttered so I needed the computer to sit on the desk and not attract to much attention. I asked the computer be made to rest horizontally so the monitor could sit on top. He said that would not be a problem. He asked about what kind of fan I wanted to cool the computer?! Ugh. I don't know. I do know that computers can overheat and remember how freezing our college computer lab was kept to optimize the computers speed and function there. I can attest that he made a good choice because my hands actually get chilly near this computer. The vents on the side feel like an air conditioner which should be great in the summer time. But its winter and I find myself warming my hands like a hobo throughout the day (lol). It runs like a dream and so quiet.

The first time I used Adobe Photoshop to retouch a photo I sat in awe at the image on the monitor. I don't know how I ever did this kind of work before. It's amazing how much difference a high definition monitor makes. I laugh at the monitor I was using before. It pales (pun intended) in comparison! This IPS monitor is crisp, sharp and vibrant!

He obviously enjoys what he does. I love that! When someone loves what they do, it doesn't seem like work ya know? MotusWorks also builds media centers. You'll have to contact them for the details but think of one device that looks like a DVD player but its a computer you connect to a tv or screen and have access to video, movies, photos, presentations etc. Whether, you're a business, school, or for personal use, that's so convenient and the possibilities are endless. Well, if you have about 10 min you need to watch this video he made documenting the building of my computer. It has good music and time lapse video. I loved my computer but now I'm so impressed with seeing how it was built. I highly recommend MotusWorks! Why get a carbon copy standard computer when you can have one built for your specific needs for the same price? It's a no-brainer! Call 980.428.9473
Gabby's PC Build (Time Lapse) Video from MotusWorks Design LLC on Vimeo.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Easy Recipe: Top Notch Turkey Chili!

Just whipped together the best pot of  turkey chili I ever had! All you need is a large pot with a lid. Stir well after each step.

  1. on Medium heat, saute minced garlic and 1 large white onion (chopped fine) in olive oil
  2. brown 1 lb ground turkey with the garlic and onion
  3. Add Archer Farms (brand sold at Target) corn and black bean seasoned blend
  4. Add 1 can of Glory brand (sold in ethnic *soul food* section) red beans and rice
  5. Add 1 large can of Hunt's 100% petite diced tomatoes
  6. Add a few dashes of Worchestershire sauce and 1/2 cup of water
  7. turn heat to low and simmer with top on for about 10 min
  8. Now stir and add chili powder (I used about 3 tablespoons in total) and I loved the smoky flavor of Badia brand smoked paprika so I added about 3 tbsps of that too)
  9. let cook another 5 min with lid off to thicken up
  10. Serve with chips as a dip or in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For Those Who Like GIVEAWAYS!

Do you like entering or hosting blog giveaways? It's an easy why to win cool schwag, products, and services for free! The companies that giveaway the product or service get exposure and hopefully some word-of-mouth advertising and you don't spend a dime. Those bloggers that host the giveaways usually get the equivalent to write the initial post and more followers once the word gets out that they are hosting a cool giveaway. So everyone is a winner!

Whether you are someone who likes to enter or the blogger that hosts, you need to know about the "Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion" November 1-5! I have been a subscriber to Bev's newsletter for about 6 months now. It comes about once a month and has great offers from mom-owned businesses. She lets people post announcements about their blog, coupons, events... whatever. She's all about promoting each other to each other. I think this Giveaway Explosion is a great idea and if you are new to the blogosphere its a great way to meet other blogger moms and network with businesses! Have fun!

The purpose?
- To provide an explosion of giveaways

- To provide an explosion of new subscribers/clients/fans for all who provide giveaways

- To provide an explosion of new opportunities to connect with each other

- To provide an explosion of fun!!

How does it work?  You host giveaways on your site and Mom Audience will provide great exposure for your giveaways, as always. Team up with Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion and get your site in front of thousands!
Mom Audience will send out a special email each day from November 1 through November 5. Each email will list giveaways unique to that day, so each email will be different from the others, with different giveaways for each day.

To enter to win giveaways, simply subscribe to Mom Audience, and you will receive our five Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion emails, November 1-5, listing the new giveaways for that day. Peruse the list and enter the giveaways that look appealing to you.

To offer giveaways:

- Display our Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion button on your site now to ramp up traffic for your giveaways. See below.

- Subscribe to Mom Audience, if you haven't already.

- Create the giveaways on your site. Include subscribing to Mom Audience as an entry, please. (If you need help creating a URL for a future post see this help section).

-
List your giveaway(s) on Mom Audience now - you don't have to wait until November. In fact, the earlier you list your giveaways, the higher on the list you'll be. The deadline to list your giveaways is midnight (Eastern) October 28.

- You can offer as many giveaways as you like. If you have multiple giveaways, spread them out over several days to get more exposure. But each giveaway may only be listed on one email, not repeatedly on several emails. 
- Blog, tweet, facebook, email, even call (gasp!) everyone you know to tell them about the Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion - the more exposure we get the more exposure you get.

- Announce your winners and enjoy your new subscribers/clients/fans!

To get even more exposure:
Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion emails will display sponsors' buttons at the top of the Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion emails. These will be exclusive to the Giveaway Explosion and will not carry over from the regular Mom Audience emails. So here's your chance to get top billing and place your site's button at the top of the email.

Choose the day you want to get increased exposure. Or place your button on two, three, four or all five emails! You'll get noticed as soon as our subscribers open the email!

To sponsor Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion emails, click here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Style Naturally Curly Hair

***Updated 10/16/10: I have learned of an excellent book entitled "Thank God I'm Natural" and accompanying site that you may find useful. And I must share this Sesame Street clip celebrating a puppets love of her natural and versatile hair. Super cute and empowering for youngins'.


I have thick, curly hair that my mother didn't know how to style. I would cry when she brushed or combed it. When I was 5 yrs old she took me for a hair trimming and the hairdresser cut my hair wet. The hair may have been 8-10 inches long but it curled up into an afro. I was teased at school and I've been doing my own hair since then!

After years of cotton ball hair, I chemically relaxed my curls as a teenager, and only for the last maybe 5 years have I learned to manage and style my hair. The best product line I have found is from mixedchicks.net. It's moderately priced and is the best I have found and trust me I have tried them all! Read the testimonials. I think if you use "contact us" link on the site you can request a sample (ask for the leave-in conditioner). I also like Pantene's (Women of Color) Leave-In. It's heavier than others (like a lotion) but I like it. That whole product line is good to me. I also use "Let it SHINE! Glosser" as a finisher. The was a "Let it SHINE!" brand leave-in that I found once in this white rectangular bottle that must be discontinued because I can find it anymore.

My other suggestions: Never BRUSH curly hair, use a wide tooth comb or ventilated brush with stiff, spaced out prongs (not a sable or smoothing brush) to comb out tangles in the shower while hair has shampoo lathered in. Condition, rinse, and squeeze out excess water. Pat dry and apply leave in conditioner and run fingers through the hair. Or comb again if you have to. Let air dry or use a low setting on hair dryer.

For a tamed style, use your hands to section off sections of about 1 square inch or more (while still wet with leave-in conditioner) and twist in one direction starting at the root to create a tight coil and twirls the ends around your finger. You should be left with a "shirley temple" effect. Let air dry. Always avoid combing or brushing dry curls! This will cause breakage and frizz.

In 2010, I began designing a t-shirt line with my best friend who hosts Naturally Flyy Natural Hair Meetups in Detroit, MI. Here is a link to her Etsy store "Ettaflyy".


Monday, October 4, 2010

Boo Bash in Bridgeport!

 This year has flown by. I can't believe its going to be Halloween in a few weeks. I must admit, I haven't been excited about Halloween since I was a preteen. My earliest memories of the holiday are dressing up as a princess which was my costume of choice for consecutive years. One year we had trick-or-treating at my church (somehow this seems odd as an adult knowing what I know now of the history of the holiday) but it was all very innocent fun back then. The adults would dress up and decorate the classrooms of the church which had a large basement and we would go door to door. The largest and last classroom played music from Michael's Jackson's Thriller album and had a strobe light and dry ice. I think now our parents must have seen this as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating in our our neighborhoods. I remember going over the proper way to inspect your candy and look for tampering or even (*gasp) razor blades!?  We were very close to another church family who had children close in age to me and brother and they would host costume parties at their house some years. I didn't go trick-or-treating from door to door until we lived in Georgia. By then (age 10) I felt forced to dress up to escort my younger brother. I would create a costume from supplies at home with lackluster effort. My mission was to do enough to get the candy. We're talking enough candy to last a kid a whole year. We'd bring the candy we didn't want to school to trade. Then it became such a disruption that my middle school banned that tradition. Age 13 was the last time I did that. So, from that age on I saw Halloween as something for kids or teenage troublemakers. I was never into pranks so that didn't interest me. Then, well, there was a year in college that I served on the Student Activities Council and helped planned our Halloween Bash. It was a lapse in judgment for many reasons. I volunteered to make matching costumes for myself and 2 roommates. We were supposed to be "sexy aliens". Supplies included colored Syran Wrap and pipe cleaners for antennae. If I knew where the photos were I don't think I could post them. Too much personal embarrassment and I run the risk of losing some great friends.

So that's a brief history into my history involving the holiday. Since college I hadn't much considered the holiday until I became a mommy. For my daughter's first Halloween, my husband and I had our first big fight over whether we should dress her up and if we'd hand out candy. My family usually turned off our porch light. Yeah, we were "that" house. Never decorated the lawn or door or any of that. My husband was taking his new daddy role to the max. He insisted that I stop Halloween eve on the way home from a long commute that I stop and get candy. What? Didn't he know all the good candy we be gone by now? And it was. I ended up with some disgusting caramel chews. But I was happy that I was right anyway.

For my daughter's 2nd Halloween she was toddling. They make adorable costumes for toddlers! We spent the evening at a friends party. Which bring us to 2010. This year I'm all in! Halloween costumes are in the category with bridal attire or prom dresses. They are not to be repeated. So naturally, by running a kids boutique that accepts second hand items, I have a few costumes. This gave me an idea. I decided to host a Halloween party at the Arcade Mall where my store is located in downtown Bridgeport. We'll do it on the day before Halloween (10/30/10). It will be in the afternoon (1-4pm). It will be fun for the whole family and in the daytime. So we won't interfere with anyone's annual traditions. It's a great way to show families all the new businesses that are in downtown Bridgeport. I'm so happy to have neighbors! Toppings Cupcakes has agreed to do a themed cupcake for the event. Gopher Ice Cream has fall sprinkles and pumpkin flavored ice cream. And we have some activities planned for all the kids. I am so excited! I am co-planning this event with Pryceless Events. And, it's teh 60th Anniversary for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF so we will be donating to a good cause. We're calling the event "Boo Bash in Bridgeport" and even have a website and sponsors! We hope to make this an annual tradition of our own.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Exhibiting at "Live Green CT" Norwalk, CT Sept 18-19 at Taylor Park!

 Just want to remind everyone that this is where I'll be this weekend. And I am excited to announce that there will be a special guest in my tent! Poor Me Teas' mission is to thoughtfully create herbal blends which inspire inner growth and balance. - To develop quality, flavorful herbal blends with strong organic standards. - To provide an educational website with information on Complementary Medicine methods such as herbology, chakra healing, energy medicine, and color healing. - To form relationships with other agencies who have the shared goal of accelerating the integration of Western and traditional holistic approaches of medicine, giving every individual access to care which incorporates the healing of the mind, body, emotions, and spirit.(click photo below to visit their site!

 I will have a booth for this 2 day festival to expose more people to Gumdrop Swap's unique spin on kids clothing consignment. 'Cause its basically recycling your children's wardrobe! And keeps the "green" (money) in your wallet. It's free if you are on foot and $5 charge for each car to enter so if you must drive - carpool! I will be giving away some memberships that day in random drawings. So come visit my booth!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

She Shoots, She Scores!

Last month I asked for help styling my upcoming photo shoot. Many things have happened since then. I booked and been canceled by two photographers. The weather has cooled so I changed my mind about the styling. I've purchased some cool wardrobe items. And I managed to find a local photographer through the Make-up artist (MUA) I found (well, she technically found me through this blog). The MUA is Nasheikah Bennett. She is new(er) to the blogging world and was so happy to find another blogging mom (me) that was local. And we have similar interests (namely fashion photography/modeling). She has been working with a photographer as she builds her portfolio and recommended (another blogging mom if you can believe it!) Jefferine Kerr. She has a photojournalistic style and is amazing with kids! I must have her shoot my Butterbean soon. I'll give you a few images to whet your palette. Wardrobe credits: Fashion to Figure zebra cowl neck dress, olive boots with wedge heel I bought on Endless.com and all else from my personal wardrobe. I'm sure you will see more from this threesome soon.

















Monday, August 30, 2010

Take my BUTTON... Please! (in my best Rodney Dangerfield impression)

I always see other blogs boasting the buttons of their sister bogs. I wanted to get in on the sharing and supporting, but was completely clueless as to how to make the text box with html language for people to "grab". Designing the 125x125 pixel button was easy enough. Although, I'm not sure how happy I am with it. It's hard to get creative in that tiny of a lo-res space. Or maybe my creative juices weren't flowing. I wanted the words to "jump up" at you but didn't want a solid background either. You can see what I ended up with on the top right. Then, my trusty friend Google led me to this blog post at Oikology 101 with explicit instructions for making a Blogger button. So, please, take it and post it on your blog and leave a comment with a link to you and I will return the favor. Oh, and I added my blog to "Top Baby Blogs" so if you would be so kind to clink the bar at top to cast your vote and improve my rank, I appreciate it! Thanks in advance!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

What an Honor!

I have been nominated by an unknown person for a Business in Bloom Award from the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. I am really excited about meeting my fellow nominees and business owners. Sometimes I feel like I exist in vacuum. The problem is picking someone to accompany me. The ceremony is Sept. 7, 2010 so I will let you all know how it goes.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Potatoes aren't just for the Holidays

*This is an updated post to include a recent news piece from NoBaddNews August 2010!

My best friend is from Detroit, Michigan. I visited her last year for my birthday. As my birthday comes around again later this month, I am remembering my last trip there. Like the rest of the nation, Detroit was affected by the recession. But being the "Motor City" they took a harder blow years ago when automotive jobs went overseas. They have been rebuilding for some years now and with the influx of tourists to the new casinos downtown, you can see a revival taking place. I have visited the city a few times in the 10 years my friend and I have known each other. My visit last year was the first time I got a tour of the sights and the rebuilding efforts. I visited the stadium where the Tigers play baseball, Motown Museum and Sweet Potato Sensations.

This bakery that makes all their treats from sweet potatoes, has been in Detroit for over 20 years. They have grown and moved into a larger, new bakery with seating for the public. Sweet Potato Sensations is the “Sweet Potato Lover’s Heaven on Earth”. Owner, Cassandra Thomas, developed a sweet potato cookie recipe in 1976, to expand her husband’s favorite dish - candied sweet potatoes (commonly know as candied yams). After conducting market tests and distributing hundreds of cookie samples, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

From that cookie recipe, an entire line of delicious sweet potato products has been created. Presently the product line includes: Sweet potato cookies, sweet potato cheesecake, sweet potato pie, sweet potato cake, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato pecan pie, candied yams and sweet potato cobbler.
 
I tried the sweet potato cookie with chocolate chips (I should mention here that I love chocolate), the cake (oh my, this was the best cream cheese frosting I've ever tasted), the cheescake (can we say silky smooth?)and of course the pie. Get the recipe for the sweet potato cake and icing here! A Facebook picture of the cake.  I give them all a thumbs up!

With sweets this good, there is not way I can only have sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This family run business (Cassandra is supported by her husband and 2 grown daughters) is dreaming up some innovative recipes with this under-appreciated root! You can tell the love that goes into these treats. Look at the line of people before Thanksgiving 2009 http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=9981867&id=307506540576
 
Over the years, their efforts haven't gone completely unnoticed. Sweet Potato Sensations has been featured in various national and local publications including: Detroit Monthly Magazine, one of the Best of Detroit, in their 11th Annual List; The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, AAA’s Michigan Living Magazine. Cassandra and Sweet Potato Sensations were featured Spring 2004 on “The Best Of’, the highly rated Food Network program hosted by Marc Silverstein. Cassandra has also appeared on Kelly & Company of Channel 7 (ABC News Affiliate; Best Bets of Detroit, Channel 4, (NBC news affiliate) and Glenn Plumber of CTN-Channel 26. Sweet Potato Sensations has been selected to serve desserts at the Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, the largest sit down dinner in America, for the past seven years! The National Coalition of 100 Black Women and WINGS (Women in Need of Guidance and Skills) , recently honored Cassandra Thomas as an outstanding business woman of the year!


Are you drooling yet? Well, if you are not planning to visit Detroit anytime soon, the good news is that a good number of menu items can be flash frozen and shipped to you in the US. You can taste that they use only the finest ingredients. The items are baked fresh and there are no preservatives. Cookies have the longest shelf life and are easiest to ship. I was told yesterday that they have introduced a new cookie with pecans, chocolate chip, and coconut cookie which I will order for my Gumdrop Swap grand opening later this month.

http://sweetpotatosensations.com/pricelist.html

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=9981866&id=307506540576#!/pages/Detroit-MI/Sweet-Potato-Sensations/307506540576

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Fusion Fashion Jewelry Blowout Sale Ends 8/6/10!

Fusion Fashion is having a sale on earring and necklace sets for $15-$25. To place an order please send an email to Shawnda Henry  at fusion_fashion@live.com and let her know what item #s you want to purchase (for example, A16 is the Item # for the photo above). After she confirms your order she will send you a link to a secured site to complete the payment process. She accepts all major credit cards. If you want to make other arrangements to pay in cash or by check please place that in your email. She will close the shopping extravaganza on Friday, August 6th at 5 pm and place your order then. It will take approximately a week to receive your order. **Pre-payment is required to place your order. Hurry! This offer ends Friday, August 6th at 5pm (EST). She can ship anywhere in the U.S. for a nominal fee. At these prices you do you holiday shopping early! Please feel free to forward to your family and friends. Happy Shopping!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Help Me Style my Next Photo Shoot!

As a plus sized model (or any size model) I have to constantly update my portfolio. That is the model book with my best and most recent photos that I show to potential clients when I go to a casting (a casting is also called a "go-see" if you don't watch ANTM). So,it's that time again. Time to add some new photos to my book. I have a couple of go-to photographers in the area and even a make-up artist that I work well with. I hate lugging my wardrobe and other photoshoot supplies to NY if I don't have to. So, I have a location picked out for my next shoot but I need your help choosing my look.

Recently I've been drawn to the color yellow. Because of my pale skin I assumed the color would not be flattering for me but I bought a yellow scarf last year and I love it (pictured above). So I think I will feature this color in this shoot. Here are the dresses I am considering:




And now for the shoes. Have you ever used endless.com? It's run by Amazon.com and has a huge selection of shoes from low prices to expensive designer labels in all sizes, styles, and brands. You can search many different ways. Even by occasion. For my search I used "yellow" and my shoe size to sort. The BEST THING about Endless.com is the shoes ship for FREE and even return shipping is FREE. Most are shipped overnight or get there in 2 days. That takes the fear of the shoes not fitting and feeling hassled to return them. So, if I try them on at home and don;t like them, I'll send them back and get the next pair on my list. These are my favorite 9. (*The last 2 are not a mistake, I think I can pull it off)










And final choice is how I should wear my hair. Here it is in it's natural state. Photo by Kristina Vartuli based in Stamford, CT http://kristinavphotography.com Very big and curly! And the 1st picture in this post shows it blown straight. What do you suggest with the dress and shoes you have selected. Please comment with the # 1, 2, or 3 for dress and #1-9 for shoes and then specify what hair style best completes the look. Thank you fashionistas!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Positive Review!

When your run your own business, it's always validating to get positive feedback. I stumbled upon a blog last month named "This Mama Works It" and mom blogger, Tammy, shares how she sells her kids clothing on ebay. She has a following and I thought her audience was similar to my target demographic. Maybe her readers are unsure if ebay is the right option for them to get rid of gently used kids clothing. Let's face it, posting those auctions take time which is a limited commodity for most parents. Gumdrop Swap is a guaranteed sale as opposed to waiting for a possible sale by online auction end. 

Tammy was excited to try the service. And she posted her review today. I gave her a free month to try this service and I am allowing her to give away the same offer to a lucky winner. Go read her review and giveaway rules.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Heavenly Bites All-Natural Desserts in Fairfield County Connecticut!

Chef Mona makes some unique and delicious baked treats! I required a taste test before creating this business card for her. I tasted the mango cheesecake which inspired the illustration on the card. She makes some other flavors I look forward to trying soon. She uses shortbread cookies for the crust instead of the typical graham cracker crust. You can taste that the ingredients are fresh. I've ordered a cheesecake for my husband's upcoming birthday! For more of my graphic design and illustrations go to the Gift of Gabby website.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the Spotlight

I have a new favorite online magazine! Liberating Style is hosted on this cool site, issuu.com, which allows anyone to publish a magazine to share with the world. The Editor-in-Chief, Angela Clay, strives to bring the deserving and often undercover talents into the spotlight. This publication primarily focuses on adult fashions - spotting new trends and helping to expose new designers, artists, models and photographers. They have their fingers on the pulse of fashion. So imagine my surprise to have my kid's boutique, Gumdrop Swap, featured in their "What We Love" section!

There is something pretty major as far as my modeling career is concerned that took place in early June but I don't want to blog about it until its public. (Hint: I did some work for a well known plus retailer.) But today I saw Madison Plus' newest Fresh Face, Kamari (someone I know in virtual reality) and remembered that I was interviewed by them a while ago. So I searched back in June and found my spotlight.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Snappy Dawgs - Fresh Food Fast in downtown Bridgeport, CT!

I've worn many hats as far as my career has gone before I opened Gumdrop Swap. I don't advertise myself as a graphic designer/illustrator anymore but occasionally someone I know needs a service I know I can provide. If I can make time to do a project I will. So, I met a woman who owns a lunch truck on the same block as my store. She bought it from a guy who had been in that space for 7 years and finds that many people don't realize it's under new management and has a different menu. This is not your average Street Food vendor. There are more than hot dogs and burgers. She and her sons are serving hot breakfast and variety of sandwiches with tasty side items. Even a traditional Spanish dish every Monday and Wednesday! I love that they deliver for free downtown! Its such hassle to close my store to get lunch.


I fell in love with Janet (the owner) and her food. I introduced myself and that I owned a business also. We began to chat about being entrepreneurs and moms. She visited my store the next day. When she mentioned her plans to order new take out menus and a sign for her cart I asked if she considered having a website. She hadn't. I explained how convenient it would be for those working downtown to access her menu online and call their order in. It's a convenience I look for in a restaurant. So, I offered to make a simple website and put her menu online.

It's the food cart parked in front of the Courthouse (corner of Fairfield Ave and Main St). This is the best street food you've ever eaten. I'm working my way through the menu. I've had a Reuben, chili cheese fries (I could write a whole posting about the bad and bizarre dishes I've eaten in New England that were called chili cheese fries and were complete FAILURES of marinara sauce and sliced mozzarella cheese????!!!! UGH!) a hot dog with NY style onions in red sauce (first time trying that), a "Poe Poe Banger" which is this deep fried egg roll wrapped thing filled with seasoned ground beef and mashed potato (hard to explain but interested). Today I enjoyed the Special which was a gigantic fried pork chop with Spanish beans and rice. She makes Hispanic food on Mondays and Wednesdays and it always sells out. I got the next to last special and I called my order in at 11:55am. If you're ever in downtown Bridgeport between the hours of 7am-3pm you need to try breakfast or lunch from Snappy Dawgs. Are you looking for something different to eat? Make it SNAPPY! Mention the website when you order to get a free drink when you spend $5 or more! See the full menu online. Or just stop and say hello and tell her you read about Snappy Dawgs on my blog. She'll be tickled that I was right about blogging and social networking.

Snappy Dawgs on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Everything is Coming Up Roses!

 I have thousands of new socks at Gumdrop Swap! That is not an exaggeration. I have designer socks most of them are Tic Tac Toe (Cricket Hosiery) brand which I've seen for sale at Lord & Taylor kids dept for $4.50 a pair! What the heck? Who can afford to pay that much for a pair of something knowing that it's 99% likely one of the pair will be eaten when they are laundered and disappear into the black hole of lost laundry? Socks at Gumdrop Swap are always $1 a pair. Some are solid colors, some have a cute pattern, others have a 3D element such as a bow, lace, appliqué, etc. Still ONLY $1! I've admitted I've never gone to business school but I'm trying to sell these socks because I got a good deal on the lot and there is no reason to hold onto them. They aren't making me any money just sitting there, lol. So, I was inspired when I saw someone selling  roses made of socks. I thought to myself, I can make those!  (A view from the top)Event Page

I didn't know how at the time but I knew what supplies it would take to get it done from my days of floral design as an assistant in the floral dept of a grocery store (my first job). It amazing how running this boutique draws from EVERY skill and talent God has blessed me with. Each seemingly random job I've done in the past has somehow come into play. The photos seen here are of my first attempt which I gifted for my cousin-in-laws' baby shower. The lost of the party actually placed it on a table thinking it was decoration. That was a compliment! I will make more for the Bridgeport Arts Festival this coming Saturday at McLevy Green in downtown Bridgeport.









I did 2 more arrangements today.








an another 7/14/10
 yellow wildflowers & white roses

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big & Bold!

If you want a product to be seen by millions of people walking or driving where would you put it? Let's limit it to America. Did you think Times Square in New York City? Well, it's one of the world's highest trafficked areas and is an overload for the senses. I wonder with all those flashing lights and video screens, how much information is really being absorbed? Our brain naturally filters a great deal of the information we get bombarded with every day. If it didn't, our brains would probably explode trying to digest it all. So, I wonder what the response will be to this billboard in Times Square? It features some women from IPM Model Management in Carmen Marc Valvo swimsuits. Six curvaceous women, the antithesis of what most media outlets portray as beautiful. Full, fleshy arms, thighs, and hips. Confident and tastefully displayed. Let's see if anyone's idea of "beauty" is reconsidered. I sure hope so.


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Friday, June 25, 2010

A River Runs Through It (Gumdrop Swap's Basement, That Is)

June just hasn't been my month. It really appeared I was hitting my stride at the end of May. A successful Grand Opening. The weather was improving. It's not surprising to need a jacket on Memorial Weekend in CT. So with the warmer weather, you can see people's mood changing. They can't wait to get some fresh air after a long winter. So I was getting some good traffic especially from those working in downtown Bridgeport and wandering during their lunch break. I even get a few jurors on break from the courthouse down the street. So, I was feeling good about opening my boutique instead of keeping Gumdrop Swap as a web-only business. Then WHAM! My store was burglarized. June 17. My immediate reaction was the urge to run for the hills. I can take a hint. Maybe this isn't for me. I mean, I don't have a retail background. I went to art college for goodness sake. My business experience was learned through many instances of being taken advantage of as a freelance artist while still in high school. And a string of administrative jobs taught me contract negotiation, legal ease, record keeping, and etiquette. But, who was I to think I could open my own retail store? The theft was a reality check that being a friendly business owner won't deter the scum of humanity from feeding off your hard labor. But what bothered me most was the idea of someone invading my personal space. In the last few months I've spent more hours in that store than anywhere else ever (besides my home). I've made a decision about every color, fixture, hanger, and object in that space. Some stranger came in uninvited, took things that belonged to me, rearranged things, stole papers with my information... It's so hurtful. So one week later I was beginning to recover. To smile and trust the customers coming into the store. I'm trying not to assume the people that enter my store are casing the joint.
    One week later, it was humid. My A/C had been out of commission for weeks and the technicians FINALLY figured out the problem and fixed it. Great! Things are looking up. I had a few new customers and a returning customer who spent some gumdrops she had earned from her swap a few weeks ago. She had some great suggestions about my store hosting her meetup group of local moms. We chatted for a while. Shortly after she left I noticed the sky was getting darker (remember there is an all glass roof over the atrium of the courtyard in the Arcade Mall). There was some thunder and lighting. We've had a few thunderstorms recently. No big deal. Then the electricity flickered on and off a few times. Ok. That caused me to pause because I was using my laptop at the time. Then the rain began. Abnormally heavy rain I noted. Right after that thought, a loud crash of glass breaking. Oh God, not the glass roof! I imagined the whole thing crashing down. I ducked and waited about a minute before investigating. I stood inside the door to my store and could see debris and glass from the broken roof panes. There was a piece of roofing that flew from an adjacent building that caused the break. I looked to the back door and above to see walls of water passing by. The building's superintendent waved me back from the door. I backed away towards the middle of my store and heard a strange sound coming from the rear stairwell that leads to my basement where I store off season and duplicate merchandise. The best way to describe the sound I heard was a waterfall. My heart dropped. I hope that water is staying in the alley and not coming into my store. Wrong. There was a river flowing in through the less than 1 inch gap under back door. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie or something. I grabbed some plastic bags and plugged the gap to slow down the flow of water. Then I went to investigate the damage in the basement. The floor is uneven down there so there was 4-6 inches of water depending on where I stood. I was in awe for a minute. You've got to be kidding. I think that was directed to God.

    I used an empty paint tray to push the water towards the drain on the floor. I began moving bins and boxes out of the water. Transferring the dry merchandise to higher levels. The security guard helped me for about an hour. The superintendent came to tell me there had been a tornado and outside looked like a war zone. He left to go help at another property where an A/C unit had been ripped from a wall and water was pouring into the building. The mall would be closed for the rest of the week until the glass could be replaced on the roof and normalcy returned.When I went outside I couldn't believe the destruction. Trees and light poles ripped from the ground. Awnings and signage crumbled and windows of building and cars shattered. People walked and inspected in a state of shock. I made it to my car but was detoured a few times with road blocks by police barricades or a tree blocking the street. It looked like a movie set. I was still processing what happened. I had been relatively safe inside my brick building unlike those out on the street when this unexpected twister came through. Some wet clothes in a basement was minimal damage compared to what I was looking at. I rushed home to my daughter and husband for a much needed hug.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    A Tasty and Healthy 10 min meal!


    I remember how hard it was to shop/cook for one person when I lived alone after college. I was on a tight post college budget. I ended up splitting up my groceries and freezing smaller portions because I couldn't stand eating leftovers more than 3 days in a row no matter how tasty they were. This meal idea can be prepared and cooked in less than 10 minutes! Portions can easily be scaled up for a family. I made this for dinner last Friday because my daughter was staying at my in-laws and hubby was at work. He has a seafood allergy so I rarely cook seafood at home.

    So I bought a bag of individually wrapped talapia fillets (such a mild fish, yum) and San Francisco style frozen vegetables. That's the first I've heard of this blend. It contains: broccoli, french cut green beans, mushrooms and red bell pepper. I set the oven to broil. I put about a third of the bag of frozen veggies in a small pot that had a lid and boiled on high with about 1/4 inch of water in the pot. With a few shakes of Badia brand complete seasoning. This seasoning is great on EVERYTHING. I use it on eggs, meat, vegetables.

    I defrosted 2 talapia fillets and placed on a piece of aluminum foil lined cookie sheet that I greased with some butter. I seasoned liberally with Old Bay seasoning on both sides and put a half a pat of salted butter on top of each fillet. I broiled on each side about 4 min (flipping the fillets once). The fillets are delicate so I used a spatula. It was so simple and tasted better than dishes I've eaten in restaurants. I just had to share! I can't wait to have another night at home alone so I can make this meal again.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Curry Lamb Burgers with Cucumber Dressing

    I get tired of the same old meals. This is a relatively easy recipe for an experienced cook. I say that because I am estimating the measurements and you will need to use your judgment on some things. Not to keen on trying lamb? Or can't find it in your local grocery? Substitute ground hamburger or turkey. You can serve on a roll or hamburger bun but we eat it without the bread.




    INGREDIENTS:
    • about 1.25-1.5 lbs ground lamb (not offered at some stores) I used to buy this at Shaws but they have moved out of the area. If you live in upper Fairfield County, CT this can be purchased at Food Basics on Park Ave and North Ave in Bridgeport. You can ask a local butcher if you cant find it. Stop & Shop butcher said they don't sell ground lamb.
    • brown mustard (about 2 tbsp)
    • about 1/4 cup curry powder (remember curry powder is not hot, add red pepper flakes for heat)
    • 2 large eggs
    • about 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian breadcrumbs)
    • about 2 tbsp minced garlic (I use the jar of minced garlic) 
    • Optional: black pepper, finely chopped white onion or scallion, 1 tbsp celery powder, red pepper flakes
     For Cucumber dressing
    • cheese grater
    • 1 large cucumber
    • 1 container of plain Greek yogurt 
    • lemon juice 1 tea spoon
    • salt & white pepper (optional) to taste 1 pinch at a time
    INSTRUCTIONS:
    1.  Make cucumber dressing first by grating the cucumber into a bowl, pour off excess juice from cucumber, mix in Greek yogurt, lemon juice and salt. Store in refrigerator while you prepare and cook burgers.
    2. Heat grill or skillet or hot plate to med high. 
    3. In a large bowl mix all ingredients for burgers.
    4. Form into burger shape no more than 1 inch thick
    5. lightly oil the cooking surface I use olive oil or non-stick spray
    6. cook on each side about 4-5min, remove from heat and let rest for another 5 min
    7. If you are serving on buns, prepare your buns and add lettuce and sliced tomato if you want
    8. Stir your cucumber dressing before adding a dollop to burgers. You'll probably have some dressing left over.

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    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Saundra Phillips - Miss Fat Back



    I heard this song on iTunes radio today and had to post! It's an anthem for us women with plenty of meat on our bones. Take a listen! "Miss Fatback" sung by Saundra Philips. On that note (pun intended), I thought this would be an appropriate place to show you a promotional photo of some of the models with the agency I am signed with. IPM Model Management of NYC.

    Violated

    No such thing as a victimless crime. Yesterday, I became a victim. Sure, it was a non-violent crime (thank God) but I still felt hurt and wronged. I came to the boutique as I do everyday and unlocked the front door. The first thing I noticed was the contents of a bag of handmade items from my days as an accessories designer were spilled onto the floor at the end of my sales counter. I don't remember knocking those over yesterday is what I thought to myself. When I took a few steps closer I realized the bag that held those items was gone. Then I looked on my desk (behind the counter) and the cash register was gone. So was my laptop, it's carrying bag, my digital camera and more things I realized as I cleaned the disarray later that afternoon. But as soon as I realized I'd been robbed I did a u-turn and went outside to call the cops. I was 99% sure the thief had entered through the rear of the store and didn't want to disturb the scene or take the chance they were still in the building. Better to wait for the cops in the courtyard. And wait I did. The property manager waited with me for about 45 min. A female officer arrived over an hour after my initial call. We went through the store and basement together to determine the losses. Turns out the cash register was still in the store. Discarded in the back after they pried it open with a screwdriver and emptied the petty cash. In total, I'd estimate the value of the items they stole to be about $1500 when you figure in the merchandise they lifted. With a $1000 deductible, I'm contemplating if it's worth it to file an insurance claim. A higher premium is likely.

    The most frustrating part? I've been trying to get the property owner or someone to install a slide bolt into the metal rear door. I didn't have the tools to do it myself. They jumped a tall gate that lead to an alley behind my store and came in through my back door. For the most part they did little damage, made a mess of my desk looking for valuables but didn't ransack the whole place. What I've learned: Not to leave any valuables in my store, to count my blessings, and not to put off precautionary measures like installing an alarm. I'm trying to bring something positive to this community and I am a bit discouraged. But my faith comforts me and I will press on. I can't let "them" win.

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    Monday, June 14, 2010

    MILKMUNY.COM TURNS UN-RECYCLABLE JUICE CARTONS INTO HIGH FASHION WALLETS AND ACCESSORIES

    I love this company's mission. Similar to TerraCycle's but reclaiming the hard-to-recycle coated cardboard cartons for juice and milk. If you're looking for an stylish, eco-friendly, and affordable (ONLY $10?) wallet, buy this!

     (*copied from Milkmuny's Press Release)

    The creative Portland start-up wants to spread awareness about the challenges of carton recyclability, raise funds for struggling non-profits and promote a new kind of ‘trashion’ statement all at once.

    More than 510,000 tons of milk and juice cartons are generated every year in the United States, but sadly, less than .05% ever get recycled according to an EPA report of (MSW) Municipal Solid Waste). Paper cartons ARE recyclable, however, “because of the wax lining, are not universally recycled. Each locality is different, depending on their recycling process capability”, says the (NRC) National Recycling Coalition.
    That’s what got the Portland based industrial designer, John Schreiber, thinking and how Milkmuny.com was created. The first two initial lines of wallets, in 22 styles (from the reclaimed cartons of recognizable brands of both dairy and juice manufacturers) are available online and at specialty retailers. Milkmuny is already designing other lines of recycled products, as well, to be released by the summer of 09.

    “There is considerably talk these days about ‘green’ design but the vast majority of design, both graphic and industrial, is still about promoting consumption”, says John, who is also Milkmuny’s founder and creative principle. “It’s ironic that we continue to dispose of existing products and materials like computers or radios in order to purchase ‘greener’ ones. I wanted to challenge traditional design thinking and create a mass produced product that didn’t expend more energy to create or require more resources to produce but was also aesthetically pleasing and uncompromisingly functional. It’s a amazing idea to think that on one hand; here is this ubiquitous but seemingly inconsequential carton so routinely discarded and yet on the other, something that with a little creativity, has the potential to raise money for schools, be an example of innovation in design and reusability – and even create jobs.

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    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Do you have a special needs child? Therapy Ball Giveaway

    My friend Jean has a blog which is a great resource for parents of children with special needs, particularly Austism. She reviewed Fun and Function's Sens-ational T-Shirt (great for kids with sensory issues) and their Peanut Therapy Ball (great for OT and PT).

    You can enter to win a Peanut Therapy Ball valued at ($40)

    Visit her blog to enter: http://mommytotwoboys.blogspot.com/2010/06/need-new-toys-for-your-special-needs.html Please tell her I sent you!
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    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Easy Dinner Suggestion - Smithfield Pork Sirloin

    I am so busy these days. So I try to save time (and money) wherever I can. I aim to make meals that take less than 30 min to prepare and love to figure out shortcuts. For instance, instead of ordering wings from a restaurant, I have been buying the frozen ones. Microwaving makes them gross and soggy. Frying is fatty. Instead of following the instructions (who can wait 20 minutes for wings in the oven?) I set the oven to broil while I microwave the wings and then I broil them a few minutes on each side to get the crispiness. It cuts the oven baking cook time in half!

    Ok, so when grocery shopping the other day I decided to try a marinated pork loin from Smithfield (Garlic & Herb). The instructions tell you to bake at 425 degrees for 20 min for every pound. The one I got weighed 1.44 lbs so I cooked about 30 min. It did not instruct me to let the meat rest but I know this is a good idea for any loin. It keep the moisture in and finishes the cooking process. I'm usually not a fan of pre-seasoned store bought meats. I'm very picky in the way things are seasoned. Probably saltier than most folks prefer. There was a hint of rosemary and bold, savory flavor. I highly recommend this product.

    Do You Dream of Being a TV Star?

    Dreams of hosting your own cooking show? Do you have a flair for fashion or interior design? When Oprah announced this was her final season, did you think "I could take her place". Well, you should enter this contest to have your own show on Oprah's Network. http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html


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    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Nothin' But the Truth (My Birth Story)

    I hate when you ask someone for advice (especially when it comes to marriage or having babies) and they say "You'll see." Yeah, I know I'll see. I'm asking you so I have an idea of what to expect! Why are parenthood and marriage treated as a secret society that you have to be a member before anyone tells you anything? I never got that. So, this post is for all the pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant or considering having children in the future that can't get an honest account of what childbirth is like.

    *WARNING* THE FOLLOWING STORY IS HONEST AND HOPEFULLY NOT TO GRAPHIC, I TRIED TO KEEP IT PG13. THIS IS A VERY COMPLETE ACCOUNT OF MY BIRTH EXPERIENCE. IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH OR MAY BE SOMEHOW SWAYED BY THIS STORY WHICH MAY EFFECT YOUR FUTURE CHILD BIRTHING DECISIONS, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ ANY FURTHER.


    I awoke to some abdominal pains about 10:15am and called my birthing coach. I've always had severe menstrual cramps so it felt like cramps but instead of being on the side the pain was centralized and low in the pelvis. Some people feel contractions in their back, some describe radiating pain. So this is one of those factors that are different for each woman. I just know they didn't feel like the contractions that were described in my books or how I imagined my abdominal muscles would contract all over my belly. My doula (Sarah) confirmed that labor had begun and encouraged me to distract myself and be prepared for hours of inconsistent pain but to monitor the pains for their proximity and keep her informed. No problem. The pains were bearable, so I watched tv. I had the urge to keep urinating so I remember using the bathroom frequently.

    Then my OB’s office called to confirm my Mon. appt. if I did not deliver that weekend. It was a Friday, I was due the next day (Sat.) When I told the nurse I think early labor had started she offered for me to come into the office for a resting monitor to track my contractions. My husband suggested we take my overnight bag I packed for the hospital but I was pretty sure we would be coming back home and didn't need it. No harm in having it in the car I guess. So we brought it. So at 1pm we went to the OB office. Nothing to be alarmed about. Contractions were barely registering. I had one small one during the 15 min session. I asked the doctor to check to make sure my water hadn’t broken because I felt like I was leaking and had been peeing a lot that morning. She thought this was unlikely but checked as a precaution. To everyone’s surprise I was almost 5cm dilated! We were instructed to proceed to the hospital and she would meet us later. Thank God we brought the hospital bag!Way to go Daddy! I updated my doula that we were en route to the hospital. She was shocked I was progressing so fast. She said she would meet us there asap.

    The OB office called ahead to the hospital so my room was prepared. We settled into the hospital room and it took about an hour to hook me up to an IV and other monitors, take my vitals and info. When they checked my dilation I was 6-7cm. I had created a birth plan in advance and really had my heart set on a natural delivery (no epidural). So, I did all types of relaxation techniques with the help of my doula (birthing ball, hot shower, pressure points). Sarah was awesome and I lucked up with a great nurse, Eileen, who supported my desire for a natural delivery. Everyone kept emphasizing how well I was taking the contractions. Because of how low I was feeling the contractions, they didn't track well on the monitor. No one could warn me when one was coming or how big it was. I would close my eyes and not respond if someone was speaking to me. That's how they knew I was contracting. I survived by eating ice chips and focusing through the contractions. I didn’t really count but I knew they would last about a minute and sort of visualized going through a tunnel and knowing there was an exit on the other end.

    Once I got to 8cm things stalled for a while. Like 2 hours without change. The pain level increased tremendously and I tried various positions but lying down was not comfortable. I threw up a few times during this phase. After about 2 hours and not much change in the cervix I agreed to have my water broken to expedite things and I was told that if I did not progress to 10cm withing the next hour that I would need to have pitocin to speed up things. I wanted to avoid that after hearing of how that drug intensifies the pain and frequency of the contractions. So I asked to get back in the shower. By this time I was having extreme pressure and suffering from exhaustion (approx 10pm). They didn't want to but relented as long as I promised not to push if I felt pressure and let them know if I had the urge to push or "go number 2". I asked if I could deliver in the shower and they catch the baby but no one thought that was funny. I wasn't joking. I was so tired by this time (about 12 hours since  pains started that morning). I managed to catch 2-3 minute naps in between the waves of pain. I would be so deep in sleep within 2 minutes I would forget I was in labor until the next contraction awakened me. Hubby was there cheering me on and asking “It is unbearable? You feel like you want to push? You ready to get out?” with every pang. To which I would nod or grimace or ignore him. I’m sure he felt helpless. But I didn’t know how he could help me either.

    After about 30 minutes in the shower the pain in my bottom was extreme. The best way I can describe it is the worst constipation and most painful bowel movement you can imagine. They checked me again. I had finally reached full dilation and was instructed on the "correct way" to push. Easier said than done. The position and instructions were unnatural and awkward. They wanted me to lay flat on my back with my feet in stirrups and drop my knees to the side and hold my legs. It was intense and excruciating. How can you have the energy to hold your own legs up when you feel like you are being split in half? This is when you need support. I wanted to give up many times during this stage. I was exhausted like I have never felt. I just wanted to sleep. So my mom held one leg and my doula held the other for me. I must have turned white or green because they scrambled at one point  and put an oxygen mask on me.

    After about an hour of pushing, there SHE was. A nameless baby girl. Wriggling and sprawling… Hubby says she was dancing. My eyes were full of tears and I cannot verify that but I know she danced her way into our hearts immediately.

    So, an overview. Yes, it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. But, I've never broken a bone, had surgery, or been shot or stabbed prior to this so in all fairness, I didn't have many painful experiences to compare it to. I don't regret choosing a drug-free birth. If I had opted for an epidural, I would never have been allowed out of bed to labor in the shower. I would have been catheterized. I think my recovery was a lot faster because of it. I'm not against the use of drugs for others. I was open-minded because  I don't consider myself to have a high threshold for pain. I knew it was an option. Whatever works for you.

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Potty Mouth. A Much Needed Laugh!

     There are many woes when it comes to potty training. My daughter (almost 28 months) showed a lot of interest about using the bathroom right before she turned 2. This was the sign I had been waiting for! She asked questions when I went into the bathroom like "Mommy, what you doin?" and I would explain big girl's don't use diapers, etc. and she began to express interest so we purchased a potty for her. She would sit on it when I used the bathroom. I will admit, we didn't try a schedule then (which I now regret). But talking and counting seemed to come so easy to her. I assumed potty training would be as easy. She catches on quickly. I let her go diaperless a few times which ended in a puddle of pee on my floor. I found this suggested method (from one of those all-knowing baby books) to be frustrating. She would deny the urge to go potty and proceed to pee a minute or so later.

    At her 24M appt. I discussed this with the Nurse Practitioner. She was remarking about how well spoken she is. She asked about potty training and I said she was expressing interest but I wasn't pushing the issue yet> (I had a lot of things going on at the time getting the boutique open). I didn't have the time to introduce a potty schedule knowing my husband wouldn't stick to it while I was away from home. She revealed her daughter was almost 3 and not fully trained yet. She said since she was so focused on counting and vocabulary, not to push it. So, I didn't. She slept through the night without wetting herself  2 nights in a row around 25 months. I began to sit her on the potty in the morning after breakfast. (the tv had to be on for her to sit more than a 2 min) and she peed in the potty sometimes. That was rewarded with a silly potty dance from mommy and lots of hugs and kisses. I wasn't keen on rewarding with sweets which I know has worked for others. But that's something I was opposed to for my own fears of instilling food related issues (read: eating disorder). And it seemed to much like giving a dog a treat for rolling over, lol. After a few weeks of this morning ritual off and on (didn't I say I'm not good at schedules?) she REFUSED to sit on the potty. This is exactly why I didn't want to push her, I didn't want to create a potty phobia. Ugh! SO, I stopped bringing it up for a while. But lately when people meet her or see her again, they have expressed shock and awe that she isn't potty trained. Maybe because she is so vocal she acts older than she is? But I thought many people potty train around 3 yr old?

    Then, I read this anonymous post on babycenter.com that cracked me up!

    "When I was concerned about our first kid's potty training a wise person said, 'I've never met an adult that didn't figure out how to use the potty. Don't worry... the kid is not going to grow up and be at a business meeting when he suddely drops one in his slacks. It'll happen.. don't sweat it.'"

    Thanks "Anonymous" I needed that laugh. It was very comforting advice. So for now, potty training is on hold.

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    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Recycle Tutorial: Cereal Box mailer (borrowed from Sophisticate Style)


     Please go read this simple tutorial on Sophisticate Style's Blog on how to turn your empty cereal box into a mailer. Perfect for mailing your small crafts for you Etsy and craigslist sellers!

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