Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How To Use Pinterest

I am in love with the site Pinterest. Seriously,  I could forgo all work for hours and just surf the net "pinning" things.

But how do you pin, you ask? First, get invited. If you want an invite, message me at www.badgereels.etsy.com with your email address and I'll invite you! :) Find my board at: www.pinterest.com/mamaslilmonkeys

Okay, so you signed up, now what?

**Fill out your profile and privacy/email settings just like you would on any social site. Now to pin!

**First off, add the "Pin It" button to your browser bar. (I use firefox.) To do so:

Go to your Pinterest.com.
Click "add a pin"
See the little thing tell you to drag that "pin it" symbol to your browser bar? Do that, literally, dragging it up into your browser where your most visited sites are.

Now the "Pin It" bookmarklet is in your browser. So any time you are on a website with any images, you can just click "pin it" and it will automatically lead you to pin the item.

(nice swagbucks I got there, eh?)

Okay, now what?

**FIND YOUR FRIENDS!! Pinning is most fun when you connect with your friends and repin what they find awesome.
From Pinterest.com, look at "people" in the top right sidebar and find friends. Connect your facebook or twitter accounts and find your friends. You don't have to do this, but I find it fun.

**Organize your boards. Pinterest gives you some automatic boards but I found them boring so I created my own.
When you pin something to a board, think of it as a bulletin board for online life. You can click my Organize board and see all the links I find interesting. Keep clicking til you get to the actual pinned item and it will eventually take you back to the original site, whether I pinned it or RE-pinned someone elses find.

**Give credit where credit is due when pinning!! There is a space for a description, use it! If you find the tutorial on a blog, or the item on etsy, credit the artisan!! This makes it easier also should the original post disappear, if you have written "blog.mamaslittlemonkeys.com" under the pic, the reader knows to go find my blog at least if they are faced with an ugly Server 404 or "your stuff ain't der no more" sign.

**Think outside the box when creating boards. What makes you happy? Sad? What do you want? Need? What do you have that is great and you want to share with others? Self promotion is fine but try to keep it to one board and don't forget to share the love!!

**Update who you are following. I don't know if this is a glitch, or just the way it works, but it seems, for example if I'm following my friend Merry. I follow all of her boards. But if she ADDS a board later, it seems it won't automatically show me those pins unless I "unfollow" and then "follow all" again. This could be a glitch, could be I'm not noticing the new boards, I dunno. Either way, just for kicks, from time to time, I go unfollow friends then follow all again just to be sure I'm getting everything they pin. Because, well, my friends are awesome, and I wanna see what they love!

**Pinterest is growing. I do find from time to time the servers are busy. Hang on and bear with them. I get the feeling they never knew this site would take off as it is.

Enjoy and happy Pinning!!!~~Amy

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jenga Sentences

Since there are only 12 days til school starts here, I thought I'd do a few things to make sure my monkeys' brains don't turn to mush. We've done a few science experiments, but my dad just gave us a Jenga set. I doubted they would stay together as a set, nor would my children have the patience to play it, I decided to turn it into a literacy game!

What You Need:
Jenga Blocks (lego blocks would work too, particularly Duplo)
Address Labels. I used Avery 8160 size. Use what fits your blocks

What to Do:
Print the words you want to make sentences on your labels.
Peel and stick to the Jenga blocks. Print enough to do both sides if you want.

Make some sentences!!


Run, Mama, Run

(First published 722/11 on my other blog, Real Housewives of NOLA.)

There are many facets to my personality. I am a mother and wife, first and foremost. I love to sew and create. I’m perfectly happy staying in and learning to crochet. At the same time I love to go out and hear a live concert, the more southern soul the better. I can make a mean martini and like my coffee so strong the spoon stands up. I live life gluten free, aim to save money and am THAT annoying lady with the coupons in front of you in Wal-Mart. I founded Handmade Louisiana and this very blog. So stands to reason I’d add yet another facet to my life. But this addition will hopefully help me live a long and healthy life!

I am becoming a runner.

Now, I’ve been told if you actually say it, repeatedly, accept it, and broadcast it, you are more likely to stick with it and actually bring the goal of running to fruitition. So I’m saying it. I am a runner.
Granted, right now I can only run literally, less than 2 minutes at a time. BUT- two weeks ago I couldn’t run 30 SECONDS at a time.  So to me that’s a great improvement! Considering I only go 2-4x a week, that’s great!

Right now I mostly run with my best friend of 24 years. She used to run in college so it will likely come back easier to her. I NEVER ran. I have always been fairly active…but of course years go by….you get lazy (or sedentary). Ironically, her brother is a marathon runner who has been trying to teach everyone he knows the benefits of running for years. Now, I’ll finally listen.

So we mostly walk. Fast, but still. Our time has steadily improved, even when we hadn’t run in 4 days. Our goal is to run for 30 minutes straight. I don’t feel the need to run marathons, just 30 straight minutes of good, solid running. The reasons are obvious. I’m getting older. If I don’t get my stamina in check now, I’ll be exhausted and not able to keep up with my boys. I realize the body ages and one day the knees may not be able to take running, but I’m going to do it the best I can, for as long as I can.

I also like the simplicity of running. I’ve tried various exercises. I worked at a gym as a young adult, so I did all the machines then. Nowadays, we can’t afford the gym membership, so it’s about free and easy. I have done pilates and yoga over the years, which are great for flexibility and some muscle building but I want to burn calories and stamina. And there is nothing simpler than putting one foot in front of the other.
So how do you like to work out? What workouts do you hate? Are you a runner? Have any tips for me? (besides getting a good sports bra..yeah….I totally learned that lesson.)

If you wish to follow my progress, drop me some encouragement, or push me when I need it, I’m on MapMyRide.com Let’s connect and run together, even if it’s virtually! :)
Now, get out there and run!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Fun....

So, my boys have been driving me CA-RAZY! A friend suggested turning off the TV and just letting the boys get used to being bored. I admit, I use the TV and various screens as crutches. I am forever trying to shoved 48 hours worth of work into 24, so I tend to let the kids get away with watching more TV than I'd like.

So I turned it off. I'm really not a huge TV watcher during the day myself, but my boys had gotten used to it as background noise. This TV is also a hand me down and is slightly possessed and may or may not turn back on easily once off, so I tended to keep it on.

Well today, I turned it off all day. My older son, H, didn't get any screen time til his little brother's nap. The day went much better. No, I still didn't have time to get work done until E's nap time, BUT, I did science experiments with the boys, ran errands, cleaned, and was able to read magazines. Best of all, my boys were forced to learn to get along better. And they did!

I can only hope I can keep this  up and the boys will learn they will not die if they don't have a screen in front of them!!

Here's a little of what they do when I unplug their little behinds...

Color with Window Markers from Crayola. Very cool markers, basically dry erase that you wipe right off any glass or mirror!

Splash in the pool together...although that usually does end in screaming and fighting...

Sometimes, they are calm enough to actually sit and talk to the dog....usually they're trying to squish her...

We'll see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Need a Plan...or do I?

If I learned anything from my girl, disconnected experiment, it's that I stink at time management. I actually do manage to cram quite a bit of stuff into my days. I never missed deadline or projects when I was working. And currently, I do manage to get all my shop orders out, keep the house from exploding and everyone fed, clothed and somewhat happy.

But I still feel majorly stressed. I've tried a variety of schedules. It's hard to have ANY schedule in the summer when my boys are out of school, but what about the school year? I have YET to stumble upon one that works for me. The same thing every day? Or do I chose a "day schedule" like, monday is cleaning, tuesday is shop stuff, etc. Or do I go with the flow and do what works best in the time I have??

I know this much...sites like cozi.com, sparkpeople.com, etc don't work for me. It feels like such effort to get so streamlined and organized. I prefer a plain ol' notebook and written to do lists.

So maybe you guys can help me sort out my brain. Here are, on average some of the things I need to do in any given day or week:

Grocery shop/Plan Menus
Create/List/Network/Package/Ship/Manage all things for my business
Tend to the dog (usual pet chores, walking, pick up poop, etc)
Tend to the kids (usual kid chores, walking, pick up poop...oh wait.....)
Bible study
Reading (for fun...it is possible)
Writing (blogs and fiction)
Cook daily dinners and bi-weekly potluck food for church
Photograph (creative and handmade)
Friends/Social Networking/Calling Friends
Running errands with Dad

Then there is the little things, the tv watching, driving in car for errands, taking the boys on fun trips, etc.And of course all the little things you do every day you don't even calculate...eating, showering, etc.

HOW do you possibly schedule all that? I'm contemplating just flat out spending a few weeks just letting things go with the flow, not TRYING to schedule anything....but will it backfire? It simply has to be possible to schedule it all in...somehow...

Friday, July 1, 2011

When You Buy Handmade....Where Does Your Money Go?

I thought I would share a little bit of what happens when you purchase one of my handmade or destash supply items. Where does your money go? I love companies that offer full disclosure about their profits/margins and business practices, so I thought I'd do the same.

Of any given purchase from one of my shops, be it on Etsy, Artfire, Cafepress or Zazzle, these are the things you help fund:

**First and foremost, my number one goal is to never have to dip into personal "family" funds for supplies. So all supplies I need to further create handmade are purchased with profit.
**A large chunk goes to business fees such as: venue fees, taxes, printing materials, business marketing materials, paying for my CPA, shipping supplies, etc. The 'bones' of running a business, shall we say.

After those expenses are taken care of (which are a HUGE chunk of my profit.) We get on to the 'real' stuff.

Your purchase of my handmade items can at any given time pay for one, some, or all of these things:

*Healthy food for my children and family. Organic and gluten free ain't cheap.
*Vet bills and pet care! My husband insisted I pay for the dog out of "my" money since she was my idea. I gladly do so, just sharing.
*Fun stuff for me off the very venues I sell on. I believe in putting it back! I purchase a good bit of supplies, vintage and handmade items off Etsy and Artfire, just as I sell there! My latest focus has been on vintage items to redecorate our home!
*Presents for my husband for special days and events. It's just not fun to buy his anniversary present out of OUR money....it's however incredibly fulfilling to be able to buy his special gifts with money I earned of my own accord. (and chances are, those items are bought OFF handmade venues, like the hand stamped guitar picks he got for our anniversary!)
*Special trips and events that aren't in our family budget...like day trips with the kids, concerts, etc. Right now the majority of my profit intended for supplies is being saved for a high dollar supply item I want/need. The other % for "me" is going towards a family car. I realize it will be years probably before I can save up a valid amount, but we hope to make my '96 last a few more years. (A good reason to marry a mechanic, ladies...he'll keep your car running!)

I'm sure there are other little things I'm not thinking about, and that handmade artisans and small business owners all over have similar lists. I just wanted to show you, when you buy local or handmade, you are buying from an actual person...not a huge conglomerate who makes millions. We shop owners are real people, with real families, trying to run a legit business. We are not in pyramid schemes, we are not selling Amway, we are not even trying to hawk mass manufactured items at home parties (not that that is a bad way to make a living.) But we are real, flesh and blood humans who in the case of handmade items, are actually physically making the items you purchase with our own two hands. We are creating, putting together, sewing, painting, stitching, sanding, cutting, designing, weaving, shooting, hammering, drawing, items just for you. We sniff strong glue for you! :)

So, next time you need to make a purchase, be it for fun or work, consider handmade. Consider the source. I believe in a life that is based on the minimalist principles. Living simply is not about not having things, but rather, enjoying, cherishing and RESPECTING the material possessions you do spend your hard earned money on.

Thanks for listening and thank YOU for reading my blog, looking at my items, watching me grow, trying my tutorials, and purchasing my items....it really, truly, does help me every day and mean a lot to me.

~~Thank you!!!


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