Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twas the Night Before Disconnecting....

and all through the house, not a monkey was stirring...because after a loooooooooooooong, exhausting day, my glorious husband took them out of the house for a couple of hours. I. Love. Him.

Well, if you've not read by now, I'm taking a month long break from social networking. I will still be online for a short period of time: 1x a day to check shops/package orders, check email and blog progress! That's it! No facebook, no shopping online, no twitter, no googling....this is going to hurt...

I have to say....already I'm going to miss my friends. I know some people scoff when they hear "online friends." They think, really how can you REALLY be friends with people you've never met?

But you can! No, I may not have met them all, or even necessarily know (or remember) their last names...but I KNOW them. I know their favorite mediums to work with. I know if they are addicted to watching Dr. Who. I know if they struggle with money. I know if they have children who they love but drive them crazy. I know if they are going through a divorce. I know because they tell me. Because they share their lives with me through the various forms of social networking and forums available in our tech-filled world.

So, yes, I have online friends. I have casual acquaintances as well, people I know due to the Six Degrees of Separation philosophy. But I do truly have friends. Many of them are you, dear readers. You listen to me talk about my children, their up's and down's. You help me perfect my craft. You purchase my handmade items. You retweet links I share about children's charities, gluten free life, handmade and more. You read....and I assume you read because you ARE interested and you DO care.

Do not think this goes unnoticed. Do not think I do this for naught. I do blog partially for my own personal needs, to get it out, to practice my writing skills. But I also blog for you, my friends and strangers. I blog because maybe one of my tutorials will help a struggling mom at home make something cute for her child. Maybe my dealing with Eli's Autism will help another parent realize they are not alone. I blog because I can and need to.

So, I hope you understand this 'girl, disconnected' series is not to get away from any of my friends. It's not to find out if I NEED the internet...I know I do!! :) It's to help me refocus my personal family and business goals. It's an experiment to see if I can streamline my online time.

But I will miss it, I know it already. I know I will miss seeing my friends update their lives and share it with me. Several friends have already expressed how they'll miss me, and believe me I am touched, I really, truly am! I will miss you too!!

So stay tuned....I'll be blogging my jonesing for the net in a few days...or less.....

With Love...

Monday, May 30, 2011

(handmade) Stuff I've Bought Lately

I love handmade. I really do. It's one of my addictions. So I thought I'd share some goodies I splurged on lately...

I bought this skirt...I can NOT wait for it to arrive. Its' not handmade, it's vintage but I heart vintage too! It's from Miss Farfalla. Very cool stuff.

I also stalked my friend Sara and the ribbon shop she runs with her husband, The Ribbon Dude. She had teased me with some awesome Saints and Who Dat ribbon...and I was finally able to get my hands on it. Yeah...I got a lot of ribbon, but here is my fave:

Back in April I snagged this awesome vintage cup and saucer for my kitchen redo. I was (slightly) redecorating my kitchen with a more retro feel. I'm not done, but making progress. This little cup and saucer fits in great on my armoire! Purchased from Molly's Closet.

And I got this vintage Mason Jar that Midwest Finds turned into a soap dispenser.
Okay, so I realized that these are all vintage and supplies......hee hee. We'll call this the Vintage/Supplies edition of stuff I've bought.

Be sure to check out these cool shops!~amy

Sunday, May 29, 2011

on the way to girl, disconnected

I am on a mission to live simpler, fresher, cleaner, healthier, more naturally, etc. I’ve been on this mission for some time now. If you read back through my blog, you’ll find posts on living simpler, living frugally etc. And I am enjoying this process!

Although I am an avid couponer and sales addict, I purchase only items I REALLY use. However, even looking at my stockpile I see room for change. I’m curious...how better would I feel if I really did know where my meat, produce and dairy came from...and if I ate less processed foods. Now, I’m Gluten Free, so I probably eat far less than the average American consumer, but still GF foods are not always good for you. They compensate the lack of gluten with more sugar and fat.

I am, a sugar addict. I admit that. I was not raised on the healthiest of diets so even the way I eat now is a DRASTIC change from where I was ten, twenty years ago! So I stick to small changes, still. I use Sun Crystals (stevia and sugar blend) in my coffee, and since I hate artificial sweeteners and consider them poison....I can’t go that route. So what’s a girl to do?

Here are my to-do’s. I’ve no idea how long it will take me to complete them, but I’ll keep you posted!

*Integrate stevia and blue agave nectar into diet more. I never could get over the bitterness of stevia, but now that I’ve been using Sun Crystals, perhaps I can. Blue agave nectar has tons of uses, so I need to discover them!

*Use up current stockpile of all items that contain high fructose corn syrup, and multiple chemicals on the label. Really if there are 20 names for chemicals on it, should we be eating it? But I’m not a waster, so I cannot just toss food.

*As we use that stock up, research alternatives for such items. I have goals but I’m also a realist. My children are so damn picky as it is, I’m not going to deny them ketchup. But how about a ketchup without HFCS in it? (Sorry big corn business...I ain’t calling it Corn Sugar.)

*Limit our soda intake. This may mean not buying it anymore. I used to drink soda like water growing up...and weaned myself off of it after years of bladder infections. Somehow, we slowly sunk back into having soda constantly in the house. Once it’s used up...purchase natural sodas without HFCS.

*Drink more Water. This one is not terribly hard, I do drink a lot of water, but could drink more. And for the record people, Mio water enhancer? Really? Dyed water? No thanks.

*Cut back on sugar.  This is the hard one for me. I am a sugar fiend. But even I can tell...I usually eat the stuff because it’s THERE...and I don’t truly enjoy it. What I TRULY enjoy is some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or a real homemade gluten free cookie. So why do I buy sugar filled processed candies I don’t love as much?? Time to stop!

*Eliminate or drastically cut back on food dyes. This is more for the kids, but I’m sure the dyes are out there. I also plan to research the dyes. But with one child with Autism, one with suspected sensory processing issues, and just them being boys in general..... I need to limit anything that will hype them up!

*Purchase meats, dairy and produce that I KNOW where it came from. Ok...Jamie Oliver scares me. I am very grateful I send my children’s lunch to school...let’s just say that. If you haven’t seen “food revolution”...you must do so. But I admit, I’m a penny pincher. We are a family of four living on a budget. But our health is most important. So my mini goals in this section are:
    *Purchase red meat and chicken only from our local grocery store that sells local/organic meats. This will take some creative meal planning, but hopefully it will be doable.
    *Purchase the ‘dirtiest’ produce list http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/04/29/2010-dirty-dozen-produce-list-released-by-the-ewg/ organic and preferably, locally grown. I have checked into joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) and it’s just not in our budget or time frame. However, there is a local produce stand that I believe purchases items from the local CSA, so that should help work out. Sadly my FAVORITE farmer’s market stand (a huge one!) was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and he never reopened.
    *Purchase locally grown and organic fed dairy products. Now, I do get WIC for my youngest son so we get some dairy products each month...and we are prisoners to what they choose for us to get. But we drink far more milk than we are ‘given’ by the WIC department (which we may or may not have much longer if he doesn’t requalify for the medicaid for children with disabilities). I usually do purchase the local milk where they seem to run a healthy farm....but I would like to try my hand at Raw Milk. This will be much harder to achieve as it is illegal to purchase raw milk and honestly, if I find it...I’m not going to tell you about it! The eggs and dairy are much easier, as there are a lot of companies who make organic, cage free eggs and organic dairy products.

*Exercise more! This one is REALLY hard for me. I admit it, I take on too much. I have a husband, two children, a house, a full time job running my businesses at home (of which requires me to do EVERYTHING...the manufacturing, books, shipping, purchasing, marketing, etc.) I also handle different things voluntarily and choose to do some things for fun like blogging and writing. This leaves me little time to exercise. So my goal is simple: 30 minutes of “Just Dance” on the Wii (or comparable fitness game) 3x a week. We shall see.....

*Spend more time in bible study. My religion is of utmost importance to me but I do not give it the time it truly deserves. Basically it is due to the same reasons why I do not exercise. But all of those are just excuses. If I cannot draw closer to God, then everything I do is a waste of time! So I’ll start small: 30 minutes of bible study every day. Prayer is a part of my day, throughout the day but you can always do more. I also have a smaller goal of reading the Bible story with my oldest son, so that he can more thoroughly start to understand WHAT we believe and WHY.
*Cleaning and Housework.  I’m already a fairly eco friendly housekeeper. I do run a shop that focuses on eco friendly cleaning after all....www.micromops.artfire.com. But I do have weaknesses....and that includes commercial cleaning products and paper products. Those honestly don’t bother me terribly, as it is certain products I use that are commercial made. But if I REALLY wanted to save money, I’d experiment more with natural cleaning recipes and methods! The paper products are my weakness because well, I do enough dishes...paper plates saves me some dishes. Paper towels are quick and easy and when my mother in law is over, she goes through a whole roll practically just cleaning the kitchen. So I keep them on hand. They don’t go bad, and are great to donate and give to the school. So this is one I don’t need to work terribly hard, just make up my own cleaning solutions more.

*Purge some of the plastic. Now, I’m not a nervous nelly by any stand point. I’m pretty much ok with dirt, filth, and germs to a point because it’s our freak out ways that has caused overuse of antibiotics, antibacterial soaps, etc and left our human bodies at a loss on how to fight simple illnesses we used to fight easily generations ago. But, with time and technology we invent things we may not completely understand how they all work. So one thing I know I can change is, plastic. Its common knowledge heating plastic and eating/drinking from certain forms may not be great for you. Since the verdict is still out on much of it, I’m trying to look at it from the “did my grandma us plastic” stand point. Nope, she didn’t. And she lived 30+ years after they told her she’d die of cancer, so I’m gonna go with what she did. This doesn’t mean my house will be totally void of plastic...remember, I’m also a realist. But I will start tossing Eli’s sippy cups if they are not marked BPA free (heck, they probably are getting old anyways.) and slowly reinvest in those awesome metal kids cups. Or, SHUDDER....teach my children to drink from glass!! OH THE HUMANITY!

*Read More! I’ve been working on this one for months, and I’m love it! I finally caved to getting a Kindle and IT IS AWESOME. I really DO read more with it. It fits in my purse, books are always right there, I love it. This is one, I’m rocking, I must say.

*Un-Plug More. Thus we come to the main point of this post. I need to disconnect more. Social networking and technology is fabulous. I love it. I’m an addict. I was a computer nerd from the get go, playing Dream House on my brother’s Commodore when I was six! That was all she wrote. I’ve been a tech nerd ever since. But for much of my life, we couldn’t AFFORD most technology. I only got a cell phone when they started becoming more prevalant because I was going to college and working, driving hundreds of miles a week. Until recenly, we had computers, and one cell for me, but that was about it. We still don’t have a fancy tv, stereo system, iPod, etc...but we have slowly accumulated a few more things...particularly as the internet and social networking became our society’s lifeblood.

Don’t get me wrong, social networking and the net has it’s place. I think it’s vital in today’s world. But I know I tend to get too caught up in it. Unfortunately, I’m rather stuck with it, because I run my business ONLINE. I have no choice but to be on the internet, and I certainly don’t want to toss it aside, it has helped provide me with a decent handmade business! Plus, I can never get rid of the computer....my friends are in there!

But....if I want to actually ACCOMPLISH some of the above things on this list....I need to unplug. I need to remember what it was like to sit on the sofa at 2 in the afternoon and just read. I need to recall laying in the grass and watching the clouds with my boys. I need to make obnoxious paper plate art with my children. I want to get filthy with them in the dirt and wash off in the hose. I want to clean, decorate, read, write, live, love, and laugh withOUT feeling the need to broadcast it on facebook or twitter.

So, it’s time....from June 1st to June 30th... I will disconnect. Ironically I WILL be blogging the progress of this on this blog, but my net time will be limited. I WILL be keeping my shops open...mama’s gotta make some money after all. But you can read my allowable internet activities here: http://blog.mamaslittlemonkeys.com/2011/05/girl-disconnectedcoming-in-june.html

Now, no fussing at me if you see facebook and twitter posts....I have most of my blogs hooked up to auto post! I am not the only one writing for www.realhousewivesofnola.com  http://dailyhandamdepicks.blogspot.com or www.handmadelouisiana.com so those sites especially will have posts. But for the most part I will not be allowed online other than to blog the progress and run the shops.

What do I hope to gain? Hopefully accomplishing some of what’s listed above. Also peace of mind and a more in-tune consciousness of how often I rush to get on the computer.

My friend Heather will actually be joining me in her version of girl, disconnected. so check out her blog here: http://heatherscustomsewing.blogspot.com/2011/05/girl-disconnected.html

I will keep you all updated and see you in a month!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Real Housewives of New Orleans....

In my traditional fashion....I've taken on another project. Nooooo, not me, who wishes there were another 24 hours in the day!! :)

I've added another blog to my resume' and I'd love it you'd check it out! I decided I really wanted to get back to my creative writing days and threw the idea out there to some creative local ladies and Real Housewives of NOLA was born!!

The blog is about REAL real housewives in and around New Orleans, LA. Our ups, downs, joys, pains, local life, kids, men, etc.
You can check us out at www.realhousewivesofnola.com. Besides myself, the blog is written by theses lovely ladies: Celeste of MetryChick, Jessa of Little Pearl Quilts, Tedra of HerbN'Developement, and Cara of Cara Jouglard Photography.
I hope you'll hop over and check us out. We also have a Facebook Page and a Twitter that you can stay up to date with!

I will be writing about more personal things, (not that I keep much from you people!!) and will occasionally cross post here.

Thanks so much for checking us out!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Freebie

I go to a lot of potlucks at church. I usually make 1-2 Gluten Free dishes since I am Gluten Free, and there are a couple of others who eat GF also. Every time, I stick a notecard on there saying the dish is GF. Well, I decided to class it up a bit :)

So here, with some graphics from Shabby Blogs, I gift to you, Allergen Tags! Save it, print it, use it as you wish (not for commerical use, however!) and enjoy! Save the blank ones as an image, upload in your photo editing program (Paint, paint.net, photoshop, picnik, etc) and add your own label, maybe your family name so you get your dish back!! Print them on cardstock and laminate them for longer use!

Let me know if you can't get the images to print right, I'll upload it as a PDF! :)


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Blog Tradition

I've been blogging for several years now, and I think I've reposted this every year....I think it bears repeating...

Confidential to Mama, I miss you, I love you and every day I wish you were here. Mother's Day is bittersweet without you but I know you'd be proud of me and you'd love your grandsons. Miss you.

Why Being a Mother Kicks Arse!!

Here are some reasons why being a mom kicks arse...

1. It builds intelligence. Clearly, it takes an upper level intelligence to sort a pile of 56 baby socks, all in similar color schemes.

2. It fosters creativity. See, a childless person would not necessarily have the creativity to know that peas and carrots are not just peas and carrots. They are, in fact, ogre booger balls and orange alien space ships.

3. It is a nifty way to have fun. There is no other time in your life when it is acceptable to do these things: Go to Chuck E. Cheese, play Barbies, color, watch Lady and the Tramp (and cry), rock out to The Imagination Movers, or swing at the park. Okay, well you could do these things as a childless person, but with children, the chances of you being ostracized by society is far less.

4. It is endlessly changing, thus building your ability to roll with the punches. Plans with your spouse? NOPE, someones puking. Need a hair cut? NOPE, dance recital. But, somehow, everything gets done and you learn how to make things happen in a pinch! (Shhh, no one needs to know your hair is out of a bottle.

5. It is a wonderful excuse! Invited to a party you REALLY don't want to attend? Not a problem. Blame it on the kids!! Saying someone is sick, has baseball practice, has leprosy, is allergic to shag carpeting is almost always foolproof....just keep track of your 'fibs.'

6. You suddenly learn how valuable the little things are and learn the real value of money. 50.00 toy from Grandma. Ignored. 35.00 onesie from Auntie Kim? Puked on. .25c bag of Cheerios in your diaper bag while stuck in traffic? PRICELESS.

7. You learn how really STUPID and PETTY the things that worried you when you had no children are. Suddenly, what your next purse purchase will be, who is sleeping with who, and what new vodka is on the market is not really important anymore. Upon entering parenthood, a whole slew of 'grown up' worries hits you--health insurance, life insurance, safest car, vaccines, good pediatricians, college costs, how much a bottle of vodka is, etc.

Okay, so the vodka remains important no matter what stage of life you are in.

8. You have instant companionship--for awhile! Now this is not to say you should turn your back on your spouse or your friends upon becoming a mother. And remember, children do not need you to be their friends, they need you to be their parent. HOWEVER, how incredibly awesome is it to be having one of THOSE days, and be given a big smooch by the human being YOU brought forth into this world? And if you play your cards right...get past the scary teen years, and do your job...you WILL have a friend in your child---when THEY are an adult and can appreciate what you went through for them!

9. You get to dress them up. Okay, so it's petty but come on...dressing up babies is SOOO much more fun than dressing up animals. And please...stop dressing up animals. I beg of you.

10. And finally... no matter how your day goes, how you may have screwed up, what you said wrong....at the end of the day, you get to tuck in and kiss the most beautiful creature(s) in the world and know that YOU are their mommy and that is that--no matter HOW you came to be their mommy..you are and that is yours alone!

I think the perks far outweigh the sleeplessness, belly bloop and expense, don't you?

Amy...proud mommy

All Text Copyright Amy Dutsch 2009
Feel free to share...but give me the credit I deserve!

Friday, May 6, 2011

girl, disconnected....coming in June

Hey all, you know me, a little A.D.D. and need to change things up from time to time. Well, last month I decided I wanted to do a month of being virtually offline. So for the month of June, I will be doing a blog series, "girl, disconnected". It should probably be, girl--mostly disconnected because I will not be COMPLETELY offline. For one...I can't blog the progress without being ONline. So here's the deal:

I will be allowed online for the following things:
1. To blog the progress of this project, sort of a diary of how I'm doing dealing with disconnecting. I plan to write 2-3x a week...depending on how bad my withdrawal is!!
2. To check in and run my most popular shops, Badge Reels (which is getting it's own website!) and MicroMops. I will also leave all my Artfire shops open, after all I do pay a monthly fee....I have to be a realist and recognize that I am trying to run a business here and I need to keep up with my income. However, it will be, a log in, check for sales, answer customer questions, print shipping, and get offline! No online promoting, etc.
3. My other blogs and sites may 'post' but will be due to scheduled postings I've already planned ahead of time.
4. Weekly check of email so my inbox doesn't implode.

What I will NOT be allowed to do:
1. Facebook, twitter or plurk. Ouch....that's gonna hurt.
2. Look up patterns, tutorials, recipes, etc. I have a wealth of information ALREADY, it's time I use some of it.
3. Shop Online. This one is gonna really hurt too.... I'll miss you Amazon.
4. Print Coupons. Again, I have PLENTY cut already and a decent stockpile.
5. Play online games....bye bye farm on my Ipad....
6. Any other internet access. My family still can, and we do sometimes use Skype as a form of communication, so that is ok, since connecting in REAL life is  my goal here.

I suspect this will be both equally hard and rewarding. There are days where I don't get online much, as is, like the days I take my Dad grocery shopping...and those days are really nice. Running errands, then sitting in my Dad's beautiful green yard sipping sweet tea....seriously I wonder WHY we get so caught up in social networking. I wonder what it'd be like to be more like Kelly, my best friend who is a rare soul, rarely online, no facebook, twitter, blogs, nothing. She barely remembers to check her email. Granted she has three children and is trying to sell her house, so she has zero time for it as is. But she's an old soul...she even fought getting a cell phone tooth and nail. If she didn't have children, she probably still wouldn't have a cell! Perhaps she's on to something....

I remember years spent in my youth bored to TEARS. Do children even experience that now? Do they know what it's like to just SIT and BE?

I don't plan to just sit around during my month of disconnection. I'll still have my business to attend to, but I hope to really focus on my kids, family, home and what I want. Sometimes, I wonder if I really want to continue in my business. As success grows, what do we sacrifice? What would it like to not rush so much for a month? Could I really close down ALL my shops for a month? REALLY, truly disconnect? (that's a later experiment!).

There is so much I want to create, complete, finish. I tend to take on WAY too many tasks, because, well, I don't know. But I do miss the early years after my son was born, before I took up the handmade life, when I just sat, reading a magazine, while he played on the floor....what happened to that? Where did it go?

It went into starting a business...which has been an incredible experience. I have learned SO much the past 3 years that I've been running my handmade shops. I've actually found some success with it, and there is the possibility to have continued, advanced success if I play my cards right. So part of why I'm disconnecting in June is to focus on that...how can I blend a successful business, my family and my dreams into one?

Soooo, stayed tuned, the journey beings June 1st!!!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chili anyone?

I haven't done a recipe in awhile, so here go, homemade chili for even the laziest of cooks.


1 1/14 ground beef (or turkey)
2 cup diced onion (I buy mine precut from a local produce farm)
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1 (14oz) can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons of cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 1/14 cup of water or beef stock
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can kidney beans (or pinto)

1. Sautee' meat and onions in big pot.
2. Add all ingredients EXCEPT beans.
3. Simmer and stir occasionally for 1 hour.
4. Add beans (after you drained them if you wish to drain them)
5. Simmer 15 minutes more.
6. EAT! :) Serve with cheese, tostitos or crackers, or whatever floats your boat!!



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