Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Birthday Party Favors

Here's the latest birthday party favor...it's label #156 from our Child Party Favors. We made a matching tag, and used custom colors. Did you know we could do that? Read about more things we can do to customize your favors.

Happy Birthday, Maria!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spooky Juice

When I'm looking for inspiration for new lip balm flavors, one of my favorite things to do is look up interesting cocktails. I've mentioned this before as something that's fun for a signature cocktail (or mocktail) for an event—try to find a drink with a name that matches your theme. Spooky Juice is one of my favorites. I think it's the coolest for Halloween, so I'm making some this week for October's Flavor of the Month.

Spooky Juice (the real thing) is served in a highball glass, and contains vodka, curacao, grenadine and orange juice. Spooky Juice lip balm tastes like orange and grenadine and has a spooky-ooky ghoulish green color. It's a...well, spooky choice for a Halloween party favor or for "ghouls' night out". Let me know what you think!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Political Party Balms

So one of my Twitter friends (EcommerceDiva) tweeted a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt earlier this week: "Do one thing every day that scares you." I've been feeling terrified for the last few weeks, so Mission Accomplished!!

My scary task today was to have a conference call with a staffer from my Congressman's office to talk about the FDA Globalization Act of 2008. Okay, it really wasn't scary at all, but it isn't something I normally do and I was kind of nervous about how it would go. Thank goodness I was joined by Donna Maria Coles Johnson (the founder of IBN, a trade organization I belong to), who is incredibly articulate and knowledgeable about the issues. All I had to do was to prepare a brief statement about my business and the impact that this Act would have if it became law.

So we spoke with Congressman Allen's staffer, Sarah Baldwin, and she was great. We really appreciated that they gave us the time to explain our position. I appreciated it so much that I made lip balms. Because hey, that's just what I do! You can check them out in the photo above. These are some of our Political Party Balms; since Congressman Allen is a Democrat (running for Senate, as you see on the tag), he gets "Brave Blueberry" flavor (which is actually ideal for a Maine Congressman, wouldn't you say?), but we also make "Strong Red Cherry" for Republicans. You can get your own here!

I wonder what scary thing I'll do tomorrow? Tune in to find out!! :0)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cake Balls, Anyone?

I ran across this article a couple of weeks ago that talks about Cake Balls...how to make them, decorate them, interesting flavor combinations. Basically, you mix crumbled cake with frosting, then roll into balls, dip in some sort of confectionery coating, and decorate. They seem like the perfect bite-sized treats for showers and parties, and can be made for any season or theme--just vary the flavor of the cake, frosting, and coating.

I have to admit I'm not jazzed about the name (cake truffles? cake bonbons? any takers?), but I think it's a sweet idea! I may have to give these a try...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cool Baby Gifts

"Out of the mouths of babes," the saying goes. Imagine if your favorite movie lines came out of the mouths of babes! That's just what the mompreneurs of Baby Fish Mouth did, and displayed the resulting quotables on their line of clothing for babies. (The snapsuit pictured says, "I love the smell of baby powder in the morning.")

These trendy tees and snapsuits just appeared in July's Redbook, and were featured on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. If you're struggling to think of an idea for a baby shower gift, check out their site. Right now they're having an End-of-Summer sale, with short sleeve shirts and snapsuits at 20% off until September 26th.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mojito Yogurt Dip

"Foods with dips" should have their own category here. Whether it's cheesy fondue, chocolate with strawberries, or just veggies and dressing, dipping foods are delicious and fun. Kids will eat almost anything if there's a good dip with it! And dips are really perfect for parties.

Here's a quick recipe for Mojito Yogurt Dip that has a refreshing, tart flavor. It's delicious with fruit kebabs for a baby or bridal shower menu. Try grapes, melon balls, mango, peaches, bananas, or fresh berries, and mix the shapes and colors for healthful treats that are also beautiful!

1 cup lowfat or fat free vanilla yogurt
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4-5 leaves fresh mint; save 2 for garnish

Line colander with coffee filters and fill with yogurt, allowing excess liquid to drain until yogurt is consistency of sour cream. (You could also use Greek yogurt to avoid this step altogether!)

Place thickened yogurt into bowl and stir in lime juice. Mince 2-3 leaves of fresh mint and stir into yogurt. Use remaining mint leaves as garnish. Serve with fruit kebabs or as a topping for fruit salad.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Morn

So again, late with the Flavor of the month. These shipped out earlier this week, but it's taken me this long to post the photo. Always takes a while to take the picture!

September Morn is a rum cocktail with the flavors of grenadine and lime. And of course, our version is non-alcoholic!

Not sure I've mentioned this before now, but we'll be discontinuing our Flavor of the Month Club at the end of this year. I'm kind of sad about it...it was fun to come up with new flavors that went with the season. I think probably the increase in shipping costs for mailing each balm (shipping price doubled last year) has made this a less appealing idea to people. It's just not something we can continue with the lack of interest. We'll keep adding new flavors all the time, though, so please don't be too disappointed! And a lot of our flavors of the month will be added to our permanent flavor listing...the watermelon daiquiri, for example, has become a new favorite!

Those few of you who are in the Club...let me know what you think of this flavor! What's been your favorite so far this year?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

National Grandparents' Day

Today is National Grandparents' Day, so I've been thinking about my grandparents. Here they are--my mom's parents--back in the '40s. And below you can check out my dad's parents.

I was thinking about some of the things I've learned from grandparents. My Grammy Graham (below), with whom I share a name, gave up a career as a nurse to be a wife and a mom to five kids. I am pretty sure that she always had mixed feelings about having to choose between career and family. Those decisions have always been difficult, and I'm thankful that we don't have to choose anymore but can wear lots of hats in our lives!

My Nana (above), used to have a plaque in her house that read, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." These are more than words to her, (which is saying a lot--she also had five kids, and somehow balanced work with parenting all of them). I strive to be as nice as she has always been!

What about you? What have you learned about life and family from your grandparents? Please share with us!

Baby Shower Favors

Today I worked with Daniela on favors for a baby shower later this week (yes, it was a rush job!). We started with an existing design, then added the booties...and then she asked about clear jars. Well, I usually don't stock clear jars, but I happened to have some from a previous job. Here are the balms before I finished decorating them.

I'm thinking I need to stock clear jars.

(Incidentally, this is one of the reasons that I LOVE working with people on their projects--we end up with something completely new and different every time! SO cool!)

What do you think? Should we phase out the white jars and stock the clear lip balm jars so you can see the color of the balms? Please use the comments section below to vote! Here's your chance to tell us what to do!! :0)

Oh, and here's another picture of the finished favors:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

How to Make a Custom Rubber Stamp

So you're planning a party, and you've found that perfect design for the favors. And the invitations and envelopes. Oh, and maybe the place settings, napkin holders, thank you cards, wrapping paper...whew! This is a perfect job for a rubber stamp!

If you're crafty or into scrapbooking, you've probably worked with rubber stamps to add embellishments to cards or book pages. It's really easy (and relatively inexpensive) to turn a black and white graphic into a rubber stamp, and I'm going to show you how to do it using software you'll find on any PC.

First things first: you'll need a graphic. If you're working with a designer, you can request a TIF or JPEG of your logo or design. You can also draw your own picture or scan a copyright free design. One of my favorite sources for copyright-free designs is the Dover Electronic Clip Art Series; their CD-ROMs have dozens of images in a wide range of styles for lots of themes, and they're already in digital formats ready to use. (What you won't want to do: steal someone else's artwork. There are so many copyright-free graphics out there that it's completely unnecessary!) For the purpose of this tutorial, I'm going to use a TIF from Dover's Seashore Life Illustrations CD-ROM.

• Once you've chosen your graphic, open your Paint program (click the Start button in the lower left corner of your screen, choose All Programs, and you'll find it in the Accessories folder).

• Under the File menu, choose Open and select the CD-ROM, browsing to the TIF folder. Double click on the graphic you want to work with (see mine circled in red above).

• Rubber stamps can be ordered in sizes ranging from fractions of an inch to several inches in height, and price will vary according to size. I chose to order my stamp at 1.5" square, so I needed to resize my graphic. Find the size of your graphic by choosing Attributes, under the Image menu. Then under the Image menu, choose Resize/Skew and adjust the percentages to resize horizontally and vertically (see above).

• To finalize your graphic, choose the Attributes option under the Image menu. Make sure that your graphic has a resolution of 500 to 600 dpi (dots per inch). Check the width and height to make sure they will fit on the stamp size you'd like to order. Reduce the graphic size with the Resize/Skew option as described above until the graphic is the correct size.

Finally, under Colors, select the Black and white option, then click OK (see above).

• Save your new graphic by choosing Save As from the File menu, then choose the location for the file, name your graphic, and click Save.

Repeat this process for additional graphics, or resize and save this same graphic a second or third time for different sized stamps. (Use the tinier stamps for envelopes or tags, for example, larger ones for cards, and multiple sizes for wrapping or decorating papers.)

Now that you have your graphic ready, you'll want to choose a web site to order your rubber stamp. I chose Simon's Stamps for their Custom Made Art Mount Stamps.

• I selected the 1 1/2" Tall Art Mount Stamps, then chose the stamp that was 1 1/2" x 1 1/2", clicking the order button (see circled above).

• Now you'll need to upload your graphic. Click the graphics tab (see the red arrow above) and then click the Upload Graphic link (circled in red). Browse to the file of your graphic, select and upload.

• Check the preview of your image (see my sand dollar in the window above?) and make sure it looks correct. Then click Next (see arrow) to proceed to checkout.

• Choose your shipping and complete your payment, and that's it! Now just wait for your rubber stamp to arrive!
<----this a="" check="" for="" href="http://www.stampinart.com/gallery/index.php" ideas="" is="" like.="" links:="" looks="" mine="" more="" out="" projects="" stamping="" these="" what="">Stampin' Art Gallery
Hero Arts Online
Rubber Stamping Gallery

Please comment below to share your stamping ideas and resources!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Clothes Swap

LOVE this idea that I saw here. Have a "clothes swap" with your girlfriends. Each of you bring at least three items to trade with girlfriends. It keeps your wardrobe fresh, saves everyone $, and you're recycling, so it's green!

Why not make a party of it? Consider a clothing swap as a theme for girls' night in, and mix up some cocktails, too. It's better than shopping 'cause it's FREE!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Maine Wedding Theme

I just finished these tonight and plan to deliver later this week. They're for a destination wedding here in Maine, and the bride chose blueberry, lemon blueberry, and ocean breeze fragrances for the welcome gift bags. I really enjoyed working with her to design the bags, labels and tags!

Please contact me if you are interested in custom welcome bags or gifts for your Maine event! I am putting together more Maine-theme designs all the time (and yes, eventually I'll get the Maine page completed...so many designs, so little time!) We already have some with blueberries, sailboats, lupine, and even lobsters!


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