Home Maid Simple: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Social!

Oh man, it's saturday already!  We've got lots going on here.  We are outside having a yard sale trying to get rid of all this JUNK!  Once it's gone I'll feel so much more like we've actually moved into a home and not a big closet!  I've got this great story to share with you all today.

When we first moved in, we didn't have a kitchen table.  We'd been using our desk as our table and the card table as our desk in the apartment.  Now that we owned a home, I wanted a real table.  So last saturday morning we went on a hunt.  First place we stopped was a storage unit auction.   I had never been to one of these before, so I didn't know what to expect.  We found the perfect table!  Oh so perfect! Then we found we had to buy everything in the unit with it, and clean it out that day.  So a couple hours later and it's all sitting on the side of our house.  We definitely found some interesting items, including the cremated remains of somebody.  In case you ever need to know, if you have this same situation, you call the police and they book it as evidence. 

So finally today, we're getting it sold, gone, out of here!  I feel like I can breathe in the house again!
Isn't this the perfect table!!  It was definitely worth all the other junk.

We're linking up with the Giveaway Corner for the Saturday Social Blog Hop~ head on over and check out all the other awesome blogs!!

While you're here enter my giveaways! Very low entries!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: What's in the Garden revealed

mini purple hyacinths
a pretty pink flower (girls picked at it before it bloomed though)
and my new vegetable garden - lettuce, asparagus, potatoes, peas and eventually tomatos

Monday, April 25, 2011

Big Moving Event: TherapyBearz Review

Introducing TherapyBearz!

I am so excited to be featuring TherapyBearz today on Home Maid Simple!  They make some wonderful soothing products, sure to help anyone relax in style!

Let's start with a few questions I asked the owner of TherapyBearz

BME:What is your name?
Annie Byington
BME: Tell us a little about yourself
I was born and raised in Utah as the youngest of five children. I have been married for 7 years now to my sweet, supportive husband and we have three beautiful children. I like to do a wide variety of things from baking and sewing to fly-fishing and riding mini bikes with my family. My favorite color depends on what mood I’m in and I love anything chocolate.
BME: How did you get started?
I started to sew, and do many other crafts, at a very early age. I remember watching my mother’s hands as she worked on countless items and trying to mimic the motion. I first thought of Therapy Bearz when I was looking for something to help my young son stay in his own bed at night instead of coming into mine. I wanted something warm he could snuggle up to but I didn’t like that the commercial bears weren’t machine washable. I knew I could come up with a better design. I ended up making a bear for each of my children and they still sleep with them every night. People began commenting on how great they were and I started making them for others. What started as a simple craft for my children has now become my own small business.

BME: Do you have a favorite product?
I know everyone probably feels the same way, but I love ALL of my products. If I were to go relax right now however, I might warm up my pillow and add a little Tangerine and Chamomile and use my hand mitts to warm my hands on this cold, dreary day.
BME: What motivates you?
If I am being completely honest, I have to admit that at first it was knowing that any thing I sold would be a little extra money. Now however, I find myself excited to see every finished product. I love finding new fabrics and watching a project come together. I am sure my husband laughs at me every time he comes home and hears me say, “Do you want to see what I made today?!” I am also adding a “featured friend” section to my blog and webpage that will tell which charity I am currently donating to. My goal is to bring high quality handmade products to people while helping others. I am looking for charities and local friends in need to contribute to. I’m excited to know that I can make even a small difference in a person’s life.
BME: What is your decorating style?
I love simple, clean, timeless pieces. My favorite shelf in my home contains three willow tree figurines, two simple handmade clay vases, a small clock and a doily tatted by my mother.
BME: Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?
I have so many things I like to do that I enjoy both. I do spend a great deal of time outside when it is warm enough. But I prefer to stay inside if it is cold.

BME: What's your favorite season?
My favorite time of the year is the end of spring and the beginning of summer. I love it when the temperature is warm but not hot and all the flowers, trees, and plants are coming into bloom. The new life fills me with excitement and energy. For me, this is when the year really starts.
BME: Do you listen to music while you work? What is your favorite genre?
I usually listen to my three year old while I work. She is always telling me stories. If I am lucky enough that she lies down however, I do enjoy listening to audio books or music. I honestly don’t know what genre of music is my favorite. I tend to lean toward a genre that mimics my mood at the time.

BME: What scent helps you relax the most?
I personally love the smell of any citrus oil. Tangerine, orange, neroli, grapefruit, they all smell clean and refreshing. I can’t help but smile and let out a big sigh when I smell them

Thank you so much Annie!  Those hand mitts sound really nice right about now.  I can't seem to get my fingers warm enough to type right, lol.  Annie was kind enough to send us a Aromatherapy Bear named Daisy and a pack of 3 essential oils to review.  These bears are so adorable!!  My first thought on opening the package was "Cute!" which was quickly followed by cuddling the bear next to my cheek and saying "oooh, it's so soft!".  Daisy has a velcro back with a removable heating pad inside.  After warming up the pad, you can add some essential oils for different scents.

My original thought was to trade it off between girls every night, but my 3yo Princess took a strong liking to it the first night.  Now every night before bed, she asks for her bear.  Then we tuck the bear in next to her, and she is content.  Daisy has been such a wonderful comfort and I believe has really helped ease the transition from apartment to home for Princess C.  Despite the face she is making in this photo, she really loves Daisy.  I was trying to get her to give Daisy a hug, but she wanted her tucked in the blanket next to her. Awe well, what can you do with kids right?

*I received an aromatherapy bear to keep and use.  I was in no way financially compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Fitness Challenge Week 3

slim down for summer
Woo, what a week.  I really tried to stay away from the sugar, but Princess R turned 1 saturday followed by easter on sunday.  It just didn't happen for me.  I did get my sugar free chocolates from Vande Walles Candy though.  I am happy to report, it tastes just like normal chocolate!  I do wonder just how sugar free it is though.  Some pieces had caramel in them, and I wasn't aware you could make caramel without sugar.  Either way, I'm counting the days I had those as sugar free because the package says sugar free :)
Exercising isn't going as great as I would like.  For now, it consists mostly of running up and down stairs and ladders with boxes.  This week I want to focus on my exercise.  Bonus points this week for trying something new.  I think I'm going to find a zumba dvd or video online.  I've been wanting to try zumba for awhile now, but just haven't had the time really.
Last weeks bonus points were to drink 96oz + of water.  I was barely getting 64 or just under 64.  I'm noticing that the less I do during a day, the more nauseous I get when I drink water.  I like water, but that much leaves me feeling nauseous.  I found my 32oz mug from the hospital though, so I'm using that to  help gauge how much I'm drinking.  It's really helped to see exactly how much I'm drinking.
As for sleep, it's going great!  I used to wake up kind of grumpy after getting up multiple times with Princess R,  and thinking I didn't get much sleep.  Turns out, even getting up in the night, I'm still getting 6hours of sleep! And this last week Princess R has decided only to get up once, maybe twice, meaning I get even more sleep! Most nights it's closer to 7-8hours of sleep each night!  Oh that just makes me smile!

So last week I weighed myself to see how I was doing.  I had lost 4lbs!!  Oh yeah!  Sadly, the sugar eating oer 2 days gained 3 of that back.  Dang! Well, I'm off to drink some water, and exercise.  Got to get those 3lbs gone again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Social Blog Hop

We had so much fun yesterday celebrating Earth Day!  Despite what the weather said it was going to be (rain, snow, all over yucky) it was quite sunny, with just a little nippy wind.  So of course we spent a good portion of our day outside.  
We started the morning off with blueberry muffins, orange slices, and some bacon
Then we went out for a walk.
We spent the rest of the morning putting peas in the garden and just enjoying the sunshine while it lasted.  Also as part of Earth Day we turned the heater down.  It's still been pretty cold here, but there's nothing wrong with walking around in a blanket to conserve some energy.
The afternoon was spent getting ready for today. The baby turns 1 today! I can't believe how time flies.  We're still trying to move in, so I had some serious cleaning to do.  We still need to hang pictured today, and break down some empty boxes (which we store and use as needed, no sense in throwing them away!).  I'll get some pictures up soon of our Family Room (or Hall as hubby wants to call it) as soon as we get the pictures on the wall.
I'm linking up at the Giveaway Corner for the Saturday Social Blog Hop!

Pottery by Dan Winner

And the winner is - 
Comment 32 - Gianna

An email has been sent. You have 48 hrs to reply before a new winner is picked.
Thank you to all who entered! Keep coming back for more great giveaways!
Current giveaway

Upcoming Giveaways

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5 tips to Celebrate Earth Day

Hey everyone! Earth Day is this Friday!  What are you going to do?  Do you have any fun plans to celebrate this beautiful planet we live on?  Here's some simple ideas from me -

1. Plant a garden! This is what we're doing this week.  I spent this morning putting in some lettuce, potatoes, and asparagus.  Later today or tomorrow, we're putting in a blueberry bush, some carrots and peas.  A garden is a great way to teach your children about the earth and it's benefit to our physical bodies.

2. Take a walk through a park.  Admire and enjoy the beauty around you.  Listen to the birds.  There is nothing like a walk through some beautiful scenery with birds chirping in the background.  It's nature's music.

3.  Plant a tree.  Our city is having a story time for preschool age kids, followed by helping them all plant a tree! As long as the weather holds up, we'll be joining in this fun activity!

4.  Recycle.  Don't just throw it in the garbage.  Gather up all your recyclables and take it to your local recycling center.

5. If weather doesn't permit you to be outside enjoying this earth, head to the theaters to watch African Cats, Disney's newest earth day movie.  A portion of your ticket purchase (opening week only) will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation!

Last check out B Kind 2 Earth Day's facebook page for more earth friendly tips and ideas!  
B Kind 2 Earth Day

I'd love to hear what you're earth day plans are!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fitness Challenge Week 2

slim down for summer

I definitely don't feel like I did very well this last week.  I somehow got the same points, but it must've been the water and sleep.  Since the hubster went back to work this week I didn't have anyone "helping" me stay away from sugar.  This week I plan on being much better!!  
Bonus points for last week were to do something new and fun as a family.  Admittedly playing outside isn'r exactly new, but it is when it's your very own first backyard!!! We spent some sunny days playing outside and working in our garden.  You can read about it over here.

Haircoverings.com Review and Giveaway!

I had a wonderful opportunity to review Haircoverings.com.  An online store for all your hair needs!  We got to review a Little Girls Hat with Flower, and a Snood.  I love these products!!  I was never really a girly girl, but then I grew up and gave birth to 3 girls.  After 3 girls, well pink starts to grow on you, and you want to play with their hair all the time, and dress them up like little dolls.

When I first opened the package with our hair accessories Princess V yanks off her hat gives it to Princess C saying "Here, you can wear my hat!" followed by "Mommy I want to wear that one!!"  So of course I put it right on her (just so you know, Princess C is perfectly content with the snow hat she was just given).  It was so cute, and she fell in love!  It also happened to be a nice day that day (the weather needs to make up it's mind!), so we headed out to a park.  Isn't she just adorable!
One thing I really love about this hat, is it fits both girls and can be worn without the flower as well.  You can take the flower off and there is no tell tale place saying something should be there. Which also allows for interchanging flowers and bows!!  The flower also can be worn alone - at the top of a pony tail or just on top of a baby's head (we did that this last Sunday and it was so cute on the baby's head). The hat itself is beautifully crocheted, and the flower holds up to a baby yanking it off her head consistently.

Next we got a snood. The name of this just really intrigued me.  I had never heard of a snood before (we'll call that one on culture and lack of girly interest).  So I googled it.  Snoods are pretty cool! It's what ladies use to wear to keep their long hair up, instead of having to make it all fancy! They seemed to mostly wear them with hats.  So it's a historical thing, my kind of product! In todays society we simply call them hairnets.  I 'm definitely preferring the word Snood to hairnet.  Now granted my hair is not really long enough for a snood to hold it up, but it still works wonders for me! I wear it when I cook to help keep my hair out of the food, and I can wear it when I breastfeed my baby.  You see, the baby LOVES pulling on my hair while she eats. I actually cut my hair to try and keep her from grabbing it, but no such luck, she still manages to get some.  These are also crocheted, but you can also buy some sequined snoods!
Besides these products, haircoverings.com also sells hair rollers, mirrors, combs/brushes, scarves, turbans, bandana's and headbands!  They really have all your hair needs in one place!

Giveaway time!
Haircoverings.com is giving one lucky reader a box of hair accessories worth $25!  You know you want this!  
Open WORLDWIDE!!! Ends 5/2

Mandatory Entry
Visit Haircoverings.com and tell me which products you would like to try. Leave an email so I can contact the winner.

Extra Entries
(leave one comment per entry)
1.d "http://www.HairCoverings.com" to your blogroll 
2. Follow The Hair Coverings Blog on GFC 
3. Follow The Hair Coverings on Networked Blogs
4. Add the Hair Product Blog to your blogroll 
5. Bookmark on on Delicious 
6. Follow Hair Coverings on twitter: 
7. Subscribe to Hair Coverings Blog feed 
8. Fan Hair Coverings on Facebook 
9. Follow Home Maid Simple on GFC (right side bar)
10. Follow Home Maid Simple on twitter

*I was not financially compensated for this review.  I did receive some hair products to use for the review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



We have our first winner for the Big Moving Event!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the Pure Ayre Odor Eliminator! I wish I could give some to everyone of you.  It truly is an amazing product! If you missed my review of it, you can read that HERE.

Raven in a Blue Room 
*Winner was chosen through Random.org

An email has been sent. If I do not receive a response I will choose a new winner.

Make sure you check out the rest of the Big Moving Event posts!  We're giving away a Pottery Bird House from Pottery By Dan.  And we've featured some amazing Etsy Shops - 

And we're not done yet! Keep coming back for more Big Moving Events including more giveaways and etsy features!!  Just look for the posts labeled BME!!  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Big Moving Event: Off Cut Studio Feature


Today on the Big Moving Event I am featuring Off Cut Studio's Etsy shop.
Wooden Skate GuardIn my search for fun and unique shops I came across Off Cut Studio.  Cameron is a furniture designer and cabinet maker in Toronto.  I personally love his wooden bike fenders and Wooden skate guards.  Aren't those just cool!  Too bad I haven't been able to get the hubster out skating with me ever. Maybe this next winter will be my lucky one.

I sent Cameron a questionnaire, and here are his responses.  

BME: What is your name?
OCS: I go by Cam or Cameron... no preference really. I live in Toronto with my girlfriend (touchthedutch on etsy) and one cat (no etsy shop yet). I love city life and couldn't imagine it without my bike.

BME: How did you get started?
OCS: I got into woodworking about five years ago when I first moved to Toronto. So many people here put their old broken furniture out by the curb. For some reason I couldn't stop myself from taking it home with me and trying to do something with it. Since then I became a cetified furniture maker and now work full time building furniture, cabinets, and making things for etsy.

BME: Do you have a favorite piece in your shop?
OCS: Not particularly... it's usually my most recent item.

BME: What motivates you?
OCS: The enjoyment I get from designing things... and it doesn't hurt that wood is such a lovely median to work with.

BME: What is your decorating style?
OCS: street furniutre...

BME: Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?
OCS: It's imposible to choose one over the other

BME: What's your favorite season?
OCS: Winter stinks! I love everything outside of the December through February.

BME: Do you listen to music while you work? What is your favorite genre?
OCS: To one side of my studio my neighbour likes to play bad eighties pop music, on the other side my neighbour likes to listen to bad electronic dance music. I usually just run my machines to dry and drown these offending sounds out.

Take a minute of your time and go visit Cam at his etsy shop: Off Cut Studio!  I'm loving this wooden sugar bowl!
wooden sugar bowl

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: What's in the garden?

It would appear I have a very large garden of green onions.  Or perhaps it's a weed that looks like an onion? And is that an...Artichoke?  I'm wondering if maybe this area was a compost plot? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fitness Challenge week 1

Fitness Challenge

If you recall my new years "resolutions" from this post, goals number 3 had to do with living a healthier lifestyle.  I was honestly had not yet started to do anything about it.  Then last week I came across this fitness challenge over at Fun on a Dime. Alright! What better way to motivate than some prizes, and good friends!!  We've just finished week 1 and I'm thinking 8 weeks is looking awfully long.  (It's not too late if you'd like to join in the fun!)
Let's take a look at how I did this last week:
1. Drinking 64 oz of water daily - I'm definitely drinking more  water than I used to. It took until the last two days though to get to 64 oz.  That is ai lot of water!!  Having a purified water faucet next to our regular kitchen faucet has helped immensely though.  It's so fun getting a glass of water from this little spigot.
2. Exercise 30+ minutes - good! Of course moving into a house has helped. I rarely have had 5 minutes to just sit down.
3. No sugar - NOT GOOD.  I didn't realize just how much sugar I was eating, or how much I like it.  The hubs has been relentless in not allowing me to have any. I'm very thankful for his support, I would've lost this one every week  if it wasn't for him.
4. 6+ hours of sleep every night - when I read this one, I laughed. I knew I was never going to get that much sleep.  I'e got a 4, 3 and almost 1 year old!  Well what do you know, when I started keeping track I found  I get approximately 6hours of sleep every night.  That knowledge alone has given me more energy and spark.
5. No eating after 8pm - no problem.  I was already trying to do this anyways. If it's after 8 I grab a glass of water.  Very refreshing  way to go to bed.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Big Moving Event: Pottery By Dan Review and Giveaway!

I love pottery!  When I see pottery, I see all the hard work behind each piece.  However I have one problem with pottery, I never know where to display it, and how to display it.  It just never seemed to fit in a good place in my home.  Having 3 kids, has probably contributed the most to this.  I was so excited to have an opportunity to review some products from Pottery by Dan, because it meant I had to find and make a place for it in my home.    I am even more excited to share Dan's pottery with you!!  That's right, you have the chance to win a piece for your own home.  Keep reading.

I sent Dan a questionnaire, and here is his response!
HMS: What is your name?
PBD: Daniel King

HMS: Tell us a little about yourself.
PBD: I am 38 years old, married, with a lovely 2 year old daughter.  I work in construction primarily, and create handcrafted items in my spare time.  The majority of my items on Etsy began as designs and creations for our own home, or that of family, and friends. I enjoy working with various materials - including wood, pottery, stained glass, and metal.

HMS: How did you get started? How long have you been working with pottery?
PBD: My first contact with pottery was while I was in elementary school, a friends mother had a pottery studio - and I was amazed at the process.  It wasn't until later in life, while attending college, that I began to actively pursue pottery, with classes and workshops - which evolved into a small home studio.
Initially I preferred functional stoneware pottery, the last few years my focus has shifted to decorative Raku pottery.  Raku is a distinct firing process, in which the pieces are removed from a special kiln while upwards of 1800 degrees F with tongs - while the glaze is molten - the pieces are then placed in a container of combustibles, as the combustibles ignite, the container is sealed creating a reduction atmosphere - the unique colors and patterns within the glaze are a result of this process.  Raku pottery is decorative - and not designed to hold liquids or food - prefect for dried arrangements.

HMS: Do you have a favorite piece?
PBD: Truthfully, all of my creations are favorite, and this makes it very difficult to sell any one piece.  This is especially true with the Raku firing process, as the glaze colors and patterns are unique to each piece and impossible to duplicate.

HMS: What motivates you?
PBD: The sheer joy of simply creating something by hand.

HMS: How would you like to see your product used?
PBD: The majority of my creations are decorative

HMS: What is your decorating style?
PBD: Country

HMS: Do you prefer indoor or outdoors?
PBD: Outdoors - hiking, camping...

HMS: What's your favorite season?
PBD: Probably summmer - We spend a good amount of time outdoors, and prefer the warmer weather and longer days.

HMS: Do you listen to music while you work?
PBD: Usually country, or Classic Country.

Thank you so much Dan for being a part of our Big Moving Event!  I absolutely love the pieces!!  Dan sent me 2 pieces of Raku pottery.  Remember how I said I have trouble figuring out where to place pottery in my home? I had no trouble with Dan's.  I opened the box, and I knew exactly where and what was going with this pottery.  In our new home there is a built in bookshelf.  Perfect for books, and decorations.  The pottery had the perfect colors to compliment my Little History of the United States collection.  Don't you think?

And in case you're wondering, the move is coming along just great, see - 


Are you ready to win a piece of Raku pottery for your home?  GREAT!  Dan sent me a Pottery Raku Birdhouse to give away to one of my lucky readers!  
*Open to US and Canada residents
*Ends 4/22

Mandatory Entry: Visit Pottery y Dan on etsy and leave a comment telling me another piece you like.  Leave an email with this comment

Extra entries: Leave one comment for each additional entry
*Add Pottery by Dan to your etsy favorites
*follow Home Maid Simple on GFC (right sidebar)
*Follow Home Maid Simple on Twitter
*Tweet about this giveaway using 
                 "I entered to win a Raku Birdhouse from Pottery by Dan @HomeMaidSimple http://tinyurl.com/42zb8tq"

*I did not receive financial compensation for this review.  I was provided with a product to review and keep.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Big Moving Event Pure Ayre Review

Go back to the home page.
I LOVE Pure Ayre Odor Eliminator!  What an amazing and innovative product.  I got the wonderful opportunity to review the Pure Ayre for Baby.  This stuff works!  It doesn't just mask the smell, it really does eliminate it!  I was skeptical at first, but after using it in a number of different areas, I'm convinced.  

In the Kitchen - Pure Ayre is a food grade product which means it can be safely used around food.  So I took it to the kitchen.  We don't use a diaper pail, so all our diapers get tied up in grocery bags and tossed in the trash.  That on top of dirty dishes (yes there are dirty dishes in my house), was creating a slightly unpleasant smell in my kitchen.  Without bothering to close the bag of chips or put the lid on the salsa (a yummy afternoon snack), I pulled out the Pure Ayre and sprayed away.  It didn't take affect right away, but after a couple minutes I could tell it was starting to work.  Pure Ayre has no fragrance (making it safe for those of us with sensitive skin), which I think is why I couldn't tell it working immediately.  That fragrance wasn't there.  My kitchen now smells nice, the chips and salsa have been eaten, and the dishes cleaned up and packed for tomorrow's move.

In the Bathroom - Face it, bathrooms stink.  And it doesn't help when you toss wet pullups in the bathroom trash can.  Or when you're potty trained 3 year old doesn't quite make it to the potty (oh so close!).  Just like the kitchen, after a couple minutes, the air was free and clear.  

On Stains - Say what??  Pure Ayre Odor Eliminator treats stains?  Sure does!  Following the directions I treated my *almost* 1year olds very dirty and discolored "I love Hugs" onesie.  I'd tell you about it, but how about I just show you some pictures?

Post-treatment with wash and dry

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?  Except for one little spot that is only very, and I mean very, slightly visible, this onesie looks almost brand new to me!  I've never had clothes come clean like this after looking like what this did! 
I of course had to show the hubby all enthused with excitement.  I even told him I thought Pure Ayre should change the name from Odor Eliminator to Stain Eliminator!  I think this is my favorite part of the whole product!  I'll probably use it 90% of the time while I'm doing laundry. 

Now, don't you wish you had some of this?  

Where to Buy: You can buy online at the Pure Ayre Store. Free shipping in the USA!  Or you can go here to locate a local store that sells Pure Ayre products.

* I was provided with a 14oz and 4oz product to try in my home from Pure Ayre via The Product Review Place.  I was not financially compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.  I only recomment products I believe in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big Moving Event: Ostlund Custom Works Etsy Feature

I spend a lot of time on Etsy, dreaming of things I'd like to buy and getting inspiration for my own handmade items.  I Love Etsy!  Through some blog hops I have found many etsy shops I like, but none caught my eye like Ostlund Custom Works did.  I mean, just look at this clock!  The styles, the colors, and the size (4 FEET tall!!) I would love to have that hanging on my wall!  Think of the conversations that this clock would spark!  I got a wonderful opportunity to "chat" (read: email) with the creator of Ostlund Custom Works.  With that, here is what he had to say!

HMS: What is your name?
OCW: Ron Ostlund Jr

HMS: Tell us a little about yourself
OCW: Well I am pretty  much a regular guy working a full time job in retail and a part time job at a greenhouse.  I have a wife and a new baby, our first child!  His name is Liam Alexander Ostlund and is quite the little bundle of joy.  I work my part time job to try and support my art when my art doesn't support itself!  I am a fitness and nutrition nut and more specifically a mountain biker with plans to go back to racing this summer.  I love being creative and building amazing art out of "junk".

HMS: How did you get started?
OCW: I first started Ostlund Custom Works back in 2005 with big ideas and dreams.  Those fell on their face when I didn't sell anything in years.  I did however hold on to the dream somewhere in the back of my mind.  It's one of those things that you bring up every now and then with the far away look....."someday I am going to build that piece of furniture"....."someday I will design furniture for the rich and famous."  I know everybody knows what I am talking about, we all have those ideas and dreams.  The biggest thing is to act on them and not give up! 

 Back in April 2010 my good friend Candy told me about Etsy.com and I was very interested in giving it a try!  So I set up a shop and pulled out all my old work from 2005, I dusted it off and listed it.  Then I went full bore and started building like crazy, deciding it was time to "do or die" and make this thing called OCW work! 

HMS: Do you have a favorite piece?
OCW: My favorite piece is the Photonic Aura Generator lamp because it’s such a beast and received a lot of attention. I could have easily sold it 10 times over and for much more than it went for, but it is a one-of-a-kind piece of art and the owner is very happy with it, which makes me happy. It is a piece that commands attention with its very presence yet has a calming effect because of its soft glow.  I actually miss it!

HMS: What motivates you?
OCW: What really motivates me is to actually make what I do work as a success.  I want to show myself, as well as others that I can make it happen!  I also want to be able to make a living at it to allow my wife to be a stay at home mom.  I have big dreams and I am very driven to make this one happen! It's a ton of work but it seems it is starting to snowball on me!  After coming this far in less than a year I feel very fortunate and really ready to take on the world. 

HMS: How would you like to see your product used?
OCW: My product is a combination of fine art and function.  I build them with the intent that they will be used in everyday life and become one with the owner while still making them look at it in awe.  I love art that has function, although I do like paintings and own several.  So when you buy a piece of my work I intend it to be used whether it is to light a space,  provide ambiance, or to tell time.  I personally don't use my clocks to tell time. I use them as kinetic sculptures  and  feel that time is secondary to the form and how it makes you feel. ART should move you!

HMS: What is your decorating style?
OCW: Well I don't really have a definite style in my house, I will just say its modern with no particular style. When I get to building more of my own decor and not selling it then I will say its "My Style" 

HMS: Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?
OCW: I really prefer outdoors, I love the elements!  Indoors is fine but its a stagnant space as compared to the ever changing energy of "outside" 

HMS: What's your favorite season?
OCW: Summer is my favorite because of cycling.  I love hanging out with my riding friends and just riding in general.  Like I said above I want to get back to some racing this summer.  

HMS: Do you listen to music while you work? What kind?
OCW: This is a good question that no one has asked me yet.  I have to listen to music when I create!  I want alot of energy flowing when I build.  I listen to rock/metal music when I am in the shop.  The harder the better and I listen quite loud!  The amount of energy I put into my work goes with it to the new owner. The energy of the piece is greater than the sum of the individual pieces in it.  It has a new life as something much greater.  Music is powerful and I use it to channel my life force into every piece I build.

Thank you so much Ron for being a part of our Big Moving Event!  We can't wait to see all you create!
You can find Ron in many places

Monday, April 4, 2011

Home Buying Tips

I love that Social Mom's Writing Prompt today was Home Buying Tips!  I'd love to share a bit more of our journey in purchasing our first home.  The struggles we had to go through, and the walls we hit.  If you are new to the blog, let me start by saying, we just bought our first home last week!!!  It's been such a fun, exhausting, and sometimes exasperating experience.

Where do you start?  
For us, we started looking at homes when we were first married.  We'd periodically get the idea in our head to buy a home, look at some, and then decide we should wait.  We've been married almost 6 years now, so it's been a long time coming.  We also watched HGTV's home buying shows on a very regular basis.  By the time we were truly ready to buy, we knew exactly what we liked and didn't like, what we wanted and what we could do without.

The Realtor
Finding a good realtor is very important and can really make the difference in finding the home for you.  When we started out, we didn't shop for a realtor. We called one, she showed us a house, and we just stuck with her.  I didn't like her, I just didn't feel comfortable around her, and it made for some unpleasant house hunting on my part.  We had already signed a contract with her though, so we had to use her.  However, once her contract was up, we started calling other realtors.  We found one we both liked, and it was amazing! We had looked for 6 months (6 months!!!) with the other realtor.  In one day with the new realtor we had found a home we both liked (it's seriously my dream home!), and had an offer in on day 2 with him.  It was such a great house that there were a couple offers on it, but by Friday we were in the #1 spot.  

Make sure you meet all deadlines.  Buying house involves a lot more than I had realized.  I didn't know about inspections, lead base paint tests, and appraisals.  I really thought you just showed your loan approval and got a yes or no.  If you don't meet deadlines, you risk losing your house to another buyer.  That is exactly what happened with the house we got.  They had a previous buyer, but deadlines were not being met, so the sellers put their home back on the market, and we got it.  I feel a little bad for the other people, but not too bad, since the home is now mine :)

Mortgage Company
Shop around.  We didn't at first.  We were going with a lady who our first realtor had recommended.  She was nice, we were going to use her, but we didn't.  First off, the sellers preferred we use a company our current realtor worked with.  So that pretty much made up our mind.  But before going with them, we checked out a couple more companies.  The hubby is a teacher and one company was offering a $200 gift card to teachers who used them.  It was tempting, and we almost went with them.  Then we looked at the company our realtor uses.  Not only did she save us $50/month then the other company, she also said she'd give us the $200 the other company was offering.  SCORE!  Thanks to her kindness we were able to purchase a refrigerator without adding more debt onto our budget

"Shopping" with Kids
We took our kids to every house we looked at. We have three kids, 4, 3 and almost 1.  Was it a hassle, yes. Were there times we wanted to leave the kids, yes.  So why did we keep taking them with us? The home isn't just for the hubby and I.  It's for our kids. A place for them to grow in love and safety.  We wanted them to like it just as much as we did.  Our 3yo loved every house.  The 4yo though, she had some fun comments "I want this one", "this room is mine!" And my favorite in response to me asking if she liked this house "uh, yeah!".  Really child, you're only 4, no need for attitude yet.  If you can, I strongly suggest bringing the kids with you.  Let them have a say in where you live.  Just be respectful of homes that still have people living in them.  For those homes, we usually went in one at a time, while the other parent sat with the kids. 

Last but not least - Have fun!  Enjoy the time, don't settle for something you don't like, just to get into a home. You don't have to buy at the top of your budget, there are lots of decent homes you can get cheaper and save yourself some money.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

 Head over to 5 Minutes for Mom to join in the fun, and win some prizes!!!

A little about me - I'm a stay at home mom to 3 adorable little Princess' (you can read about our adventures HERE).  

I am married to handsome, wonderful, amazing High School Band Director

I started Home Maid Simple as a way to get my personal life and home in order.  I felt I was living in chaos and couldn't enjoy my family or my home (apartment living here) if I didn't get it organized. I also thought if I had people reading about and seeing my messy home I'd have more motivation (it worked!).  Little did I know I would make some great friends through blogging.  

So what exactly do I blog about? Just about anything and everything around the home.  If I do something that makes my home feel more like a Home, I post about it.  Topics range from cleaning, organizing, cooking, exercise, and soon gardening!  In just a short time I've ventured out to also include reviews and giveaways.  Although they are periodic and just a side to the blog, it's been a lot of fun.  I've got to "meet" a lot of great people with home owned businesses, and work with some larger companies.  In fact, make sure you stop by later today to enter our first giveaway for The Big Moving Event! (you can find the first giveaway HERE!)

The Big Moving Event is a month long event you do not want to miss!  I'll have featured etsy shops, giveaways, and pictures as we move into our first home! Which by the way, we closed on Tuesday and are very proud first time home owners!

I love comments and followers, but I only want you here, if YOU want to be here (and I hope you do). 
And I guess I'll leave you with a picture of me...so you feel like you know me too, and not just my family : P
Sorry you just can't get a picture of me without some family!

Whole Wheat Banana Mango Bread

Originally this would've been my Tuesday tip, but it's now thursday. Life gets busy when you're trying to move!  
I went late night shopping with my neighbor yesterday.  She shops sales, and pretty much has prices memorized. So she KNOWS what a good deal is.  We left the kids at home with the dads, which really made for a peaceful shopping trip.  Whoa, little ramble there. Back to the point!
There was a basket of overripe bananas on sale (ok apparently ripe bananas are cheaper elsewhere, but that didn't stop me).  I love buying overripe bananas! It means instant banana bread, no waiting and hoping no one eats the ripe bananas before I can make the bread.  Now I purposely bought one less banana, because I wanted to experiment! 
Here is the recipe I created, with my mom's recipe as a base. See if you can find my cooking tip!

Whole Wheat Banana Mango Bread
- 1 cup shortening
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 overripe bananas
-4 eggs
- 3.5oz banana mango baby food
- 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- not quite 2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together.
2. In a separate bowl mix the last 3 ingredients.
3. Add the dry to the wet, and mix well
4. Grease 2 loaf pans. Pour batter in. Bake at 350 F for 75 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean

Did you find the tip? It was an ingredient in the wet mixture.  That's right, baby food!  We have an 11 month old who has decided to stop eating most baby foods.  She much prefers "real" food.  Last fall we stocked up, and I mean stocked up on baby food.  So what in the world was I going to do with all this baby food? Cook with it of course.  It will add some extra nutrients to our food, and works great when missing a simple ingredient (like one banana).  The plus side, I couldn't taste the mango, but the banana flavor popped out more.