Friday, May 30, 2008

Etsy Featured Artist - xoelle

Along with my interest in making little homemade playthings this past year (see post below), I have also become more interested and proactive in regards to environmental issues. What changes have we made? Well, I'll save that for a different post. But... can imagine my delight in discovering an Etsy shop that is really unique and also completely focused on making items from repurposed and recycled goods. Check out xoelle - here are a few of her uber-cool items...

First, for baby...a sweet quilted blanket made from vintage bedding and fabric. The colors are beautiful, and I can imagine how soft it is.
Next, for him...if your guy likes a cool tie, then this fits the bill! Hmmm...Father's Day, anyone?

And finally, for her...a skirt "made from a vintage pair of 13 button wool dress blue trousers." Tres chic!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some new playthings.

Over the past year or so, I have been more and more interested in making little playthings for the kids (OK, really for the girls - I'm at a bit of a loss for what to make as a "plaything" for an 8 year-old boy that doesn't involve electronics). It is also only days away from officially being "summer vacation" and I need need need these kids to be busy! Enter downloadable crafts. I found the link for this on Angry Chicken, who has (as usual) a great trove of info. I'm not quite as detail-minded with these things as I think she may be, but really, does a 3 year-old want mommy slaving over precise cutting, or does she want her paper Victorian park lodge NOW? Yes, we went with the NOW rather than the detail. The house and fence were done with an Xacto, but the people were obviously cut quickly with scissors. Once it was done, Grace was obsessed with fitting all of the horses and people (and house) inside the fence. She has also requested we put together a barn later, so the horses can go to bed. Now, if I could find sets like these that have space aliens or super heroes or something, we might just have an activity that every kid in the house can enjoy. Anyone know of resources? Please share!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Mini-J

The Mini-J
Originally uploaded by j.hoferdesigns
A new little product, created as a custom project for a sweet little niece. Now she can go grocery shopping with her mama!

Called The Mini-J, after my new tote "The Jenny Bag." Think of a Mini Cooper - all things small are cute, right?

Now if I could just get my hands on a Mini Cooper, I'd be all set....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Afternoon decadence

I admit, I have the biggest sweet tooth around and honestly, it can be pretty tough to resist the urge. Cookies, cakes, ice cream - oh, I love them. But, a few years ago I took off the baby weight and have successfully kept it off! So you wanna know my secret? I am in love with these, specifically the new Dark Double Chocolate version. I mean, seriously, it's not only chocolate, but it's dark chocolate. Why would I ever want to snack on yucky cookies from a box when I can indulge in these, every single afternoon? It was the Zone diet that helped me lose the baby weight, and ZonePerfect has been instrumental in giving me a tasty alternative during my lack-of-willpower moments (which is all the time, basically).

But what do I drink while indulging, you ask? I just dare you to try the Dark Double Chocolate with a hot cup of tea from this place. Oh. My. Lemon Chiffon and Raspberry Mint Melody are my current favorites. The citrus-y flavor paired with the chocolate is, really, almost sinful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Mothers Day, to me...

Yesterday I got to enjoy a sweet Christmas present - a lesson in old-fashioned pie making, just me and my mom. We made a rhubarb pie, with meringue. It was a lovely afternoon, and I must say the pie tastes lovely, too. Oh, and I got to bring home a big bunch of lilacs. Does a spring day get any better than that? Rhubarb pie and lilacs? I think not.

And, my Mother's Day present is coming to me tomorrow, in the form of a cleaning service. I have let the housework slide dreadfully, and instead of gifty-gifts for Mother's Day I asked for a cleaning service instead! They're only coming once (darn!) but will do a deep, deep clean. Like hands-and-knees-floor-scrubbing, and ceiling fan dusting, and all sorts of other unseemly projects. Of course, I'm the kind of person who feels it necessary to clean for the cleaning people, so tonight we were busy putting away laundry, helping the kids clean their rooms (what a mess that was!) and trying to at least manage the clutter. Because really, how can someone deep clean my house when the carpet is a mine-field of lego bits and Polly Pocket shoes?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Tiered Totes - Carnival Bloom and dots

I've been messing around with photos of products for so long - I think I may have a good solution! Actually, it's an improvement on something I've done before. I set up pieces of white foam board as a makeshift light box, then had overhead lights plus my camera flash. Really, my flash is NEVER in use - but for this kind of shot it's great. Colors get a little washed out, but overall I like the bright effect. And with this, I can take pictures at night, something that is impossible to do when attempting the "no flash/natural light" thing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Preschool Farm Experience

Can you believe it is almost time for school to be out? Here in Nebraska, at least, it is very hard to believe, in part due to the unrelenting chilly spring going on! Take this morning, for example, when we headed out to the Boys Town farm for an end-of-the-year preschool field trip. It was fun but cold, cold, cold! OK, maybe not wear-your-winter-coat kind of cold, but still. Although the sun was out, the wind was fierce! It made all of us parents mighty glad that we only had to bear it for an hour or so while the kids (that would be the 3 year-olds, not the baby goat variety) enjoyed the farm.
Here you see Grace and a friend petting a duckling (who is fortunately in the strong, gentle hands of "Farmer John").
We found this mama cozied up with her babies in a little office within the barn - at least she was warm in the sunshine and out of the wind. I think she looks content, don't you?
More babies, this time of the "kid" variety. He said they were born within the last day! Cow? check. Grass to feed it? check. Getting slimed by the cow's tongue? check. Hand sanitizer in the car? check, check, and double check!
And finally, this is totally unrelated but I had to share. Lauren is in love with all things Clifford (The Big Red Dog) - including the PBS Kids show "Clifford's Puppy Days." In the show, Clifford also lives with Emily Elizabeth's pet rabbit, Daffodil. Well, here at our house we happen to have stuffed versions of Clifford and Daffodil, and they usually have a place of honor on Lauren's bed. It looks as though Daffodil also needed her own "house" on Lauren's bookcase, though, so Lauren has thoughtfully marked the spot as ...
Love it. Especially the carrot.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Here comes the sun...

First, an update in the blog design. A fresh look for a new season!

We spent some seriously good-quality time outdoors last weekend - the first where it really, truly felt like spring. Isn't that just the best? When the trees have that lovely green haze around them as the leaves bud out, and the early-blooming shrubs are in their springtime glory? I couldn't help but break out the camera and try to capture some of the magic. First, take a look at our incredible Korean Spice Viburnum. The scent on these is insane...way better (and much more intense) than lilac. Is that even possible? I never would have believed it until some up-close fiddling with the camera just about knocked me over with the glorious, heaven-like scent! It's worth a trip to your local nursery just to check these out!

And what would outdoor play be without the swings? All I have been hearing lately (from the 3 year-old) is "Mommmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee, can you swing meeeeeeeeeeeeee?"

An impromtu golf session in the back - pretty hard to hit off the grass, so each had one of Dad's tees. It was a dangerous couple of minutes, when balls were flying every which way!

Shooting hoops in the driveway...finally he is old enough to chase after the ball when it goes rolling down into the street (and I don't have a heart attack anymore when this happens...this is a huge breakthrough for me).

What have you been up to lately in the great outdoors???
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Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Twenty sets of silverware (40 pieces total) - wrapped and ready to deliver. It's driving me crazy how cool they look all lined up together!
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Originally uploaded by j.hoferdesigns
There has been a LOT of time spent outside lately...

More to come!

(and don't you love my pedicure?)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Etsy Featured Artists - Day Six - Paper Goods

Here we are, the final installment of Etsy Featured Artists! Today's topic is paper goods, one of my favorite things to shop for. I am the kind of person that gets excited when wandering through the most boring of office supply stores (I know, it's a sickness) and I start thinking, "envelopes! I need envelopes! And look - stacks of blank notebooks! And paperclips and labels and folders, oh my!" So please, just imagine for a moment how giddy I was when I came across the next two shops, which feature cool (and pretty!) office supplies and funky cards as well. Oh, my!

The Purple Pear

Featuring thePurplePear, home of "sweet little products that will brighten your day." Yes, indeed. Why not replace your refrigerator magnets (you know, the ones you get from your realtor?) with some of these little pretties? Go on, do it! Your fridge will thank you!


And for those who always need a cool notecard, check out InkspotWorkshop. You can even find personalized items as well as custom invitations and announcements. Don't you just love the ice cream card?

Thank you for reading along and checking out these cool shops over this last week. For those of you who have just been introduced to the wonders of Etsy, welcome to the world of handmade goods! Happy shopping!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Etsy Featured Artists - Day Five - Fine Art

Over the past few days I have helped show the plethora of beautiful clothing, accessories, jewelry, and various functional objects for house and home and life in general that can be found in the pages of Etsy. One area not covered yet is that of art. Yes, fine art! And yes, you can find that, too, available for purchase on Etsy!

Certainly, one huge section of fine art you will find on Etsy is anything involved with painting, prints of original works, and other wallhangings. From landscapes to abstract art, big (whole wall) to small (baseball card size!), incredibly expensive to just a few dollars - do a search for your interests and you are bound to find some new original art to adorn your home or office.

Featuring chingteoh, an artist from Malaysia who creates amazing original paintings that are masterpieces of color and texture. Just by looking at the photographs, I want to reach out and touch!

A few months ago I was introduced to the idea of paper cutting here, but was so busy that I never had the opportunity to try it. So I was completely impressed when I found the next featured shop and I can only imagine the hours that go into the creation of these gorgeous pieces.


Featuring papercutsbyjoe, where each piece is hand-cut from black paper and mounted against a white background. He has a variety of designs, but I am so into the two pictured here - symmetry and ornate detail, done to perfection!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Etsy Featured Artists - Day Four - Jewelry

As I said yesterday, you certainly need to look no further than Etsy for all of the one-of-a-kind, gorgeous, fabulous, artistic, and amazing jewelry you could ever want! I, myself, have already acquired some very cool pieces that always inspire others to ask, "Wow, I love it!" (To which I typically smile sweetly and say, "thank you!" without revealing my secret source).

Besides the fabulousness of the jewelry available on Etsy, the other great thing is that it is entirely affordable no matter what your budget. You can pick up a pair of earrings or a pendant for under $10! Or, you can spend hundreds on one glamorous piece if that is what you're in the market for.

With a plethora of options, how to decide which jewelry shops to feature? It was difficult, let me tell you. Here are a couple of lovely options-


Featuring NyxEnchantments, where you will find lovely stones highlighted against sterling silver, in anything from earrings to necklaces to bracelets and more. To me, they look pretty, delicate, and just right for summer.

Callooh Callay

And for those who crave the ultra unique jewelry piece with a bit of vintage flair, meet Callooh Callay, where you will find vintage button jewelry and more. Check out the "Five Wheels" necklace - so unusual yet so beautiful!

Enjoy checking out all of the Etsy jewelry options - and just think of all of the holiday shopping you can take care of in one swoop, all before the heat of summer hits!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Etsy Featured Artists - Day Three - Fun (And Funky) Accessories

Really, I could fill this blog from top to bottom with the HUGE array of accessories available on Etsy. Jewelry is obviously the biggie (that's a post in itself, coming soon!) - but I just can't even describe (OK, I'll try) how many fun, cool things you can find to accessorize! Purses and totes, wallets and key chains, knitted and crocheted items...the list goes on and on. Oh, and it's not just for us humans, either - you'll find plenty of funky items for the animals in your life, too! Collars, leashes, and yes even pooch and kitty clothes. Now, my dog would not tolerate any sort of extra fluff on her back, but lots of pampered pets love it and plenty is to be found on Etsy! Add an artistic flair to any of this, and you have the makings of a unique look that most definitely does NOT come from a factory!


Featuring greenbelts, a cool and funky shop that takes accessories to the next level. Not only do the collars (for your animal) and cuffs or rings (for you) look amazing, but they are also made from 100% post-consumer recycled belts. "Accessories with a concscience" - I love it!
The next time you decide you need ANY sort of accessory...whether it's for you, your significant other, your mom, or little Fido...check out Etsy. I can guarantee you will find so many things you love that it will be hard to decide what to buy!