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Monday, December 5, 2011

Eco-friendly packagaing

As I get my packages ready to mail out to family and friends across the US, I came across this idea on the USPS website, and am going for it!
Use AIR POPPED popcorn instead of packing peanuts or bubble wrap. It's all natural, biodegradable, non-toxic, inexpensive, and smells yummy! What a fun surprise when you open a package. Maybe my recipient will make a popcorn string?

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(Notice the reusable bag? See the tutorial here)

If I had fragile items in my shop, I'd switch over to this for my business too.
Some of my bigger packages are getting re-used bubble packs and bubble wrap. At least re-using is better than buying new, I figure!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reusable gift bags!

I spent a couple of hours the other night making up reusable gift bags for all of our family gifts that we'll be sending out this year. I meant to do it last year but only got as far as buying the fabric! We have a bunch I've made up over the years for our immediate family but my goal was to not use wrapping paper this year (well, not much, if we can help it).
Here's how they turned out!
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You can find a link to my original tutorial on how to make simple reusable gift bags here. Give it a try and let us know how they turned out!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time saver - easy labels for school photos

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It's that time of year again where we pass out school and sports photos. If your family is like ours, we have quite a few pictures to mail, and lots to hand out. A few years ago I started doing this trick, and I'll never go back to hand writing on the backs of photos again! Use small return address labels (like Avery 5267), print your child's name, age, and school year on each one, and put on the back of school pictures. This has lots of benefits:
  • It's quick! Each year, you can just edit the label document with the new information
  • It's neat! No smudges, illegible handwriting, or mistakes
  • It's safe! No ballpoint pen pushing through to the front of the photo, no permanent marker bleeding through
  • It's easy! 
Have you done this yourself? Share any tips or techniques you have found!

Monday, October 17, 2011


There's a (not so secret) giveaway happening at my Hyena Cart shop! Don't miss out! There are only 47 entries right now (out of 749 facebook followers!), so your chances are pretty good :) Drawing will be held tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A little slice of heaven

This little slice of heaven came to my door today, and I had to smile.

(This is the 6 half bar sampler set from Sweet Sally's SoapsPin It

Have you tried handmade soaps?? They are my new addiction and guilty pleasure. I don't mind paying more for all natural hand crafted goodness that smells divine. It's one of those "me" things (and now the rest of the house goes along).

When I started eliminating toxins from our home, soap was one that had quite a few questionable ingredients, and is one habit that's easy to change (see here for information on ingredients in your own products). Plus, if you suffer from allergies, going with essential oils versus artificial fragrance can be a benefit. If you suffer from eczema, a goat's milk soap can be beneficial. We also switched to shampoo bars, but that's a whole other topic :)  Give handmade soaps a try - my guess is you won't go back!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sprinkled oatmeal!

A fun family tradition we have started is to get holiday colored sprinkles for the kids' morning breakfast. Right now it's Halloween time! The kids love putting sprinkles in their plain oatmeal, and I love that it winds up being less sugar than the pre-flavored packets. Those have between 9-18g of sugar (remember, 1 tsp = 4g)! So even though they are liberally shaking out some sprinkles, I know it's less than 2 teaspoons, and I like that! I also put some brown sugar into an old sprinkle container so they can use that for flavor, and we don't have to worry about double dipping spoons into the sugar container when they are on their 2nd (and sometimes 3rd) bowls!

Ideally, we'd be flavoring oatmeal with fresh fruit...but for now, I'll settle for less sugar :)

Do you have any fun holiday breakfast traditions or healthy shortcuts?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Going outside your comfort zone

One of my frequent customers requested a custom order that at first scared me off a bit; it seemed too complicated. But after a little more discussion and thought, I decided I could make something I'd be proud of - and decided to step out of my comfort zone a little. Here is the result - gnome and toadstool longies!

It took a little more work, but it felt good to let my creativity shine. Plus, I was able to work with one of my best customers and get her something she truly wanted - and that feels good! Now, I can't say I can ever create these again - they are truly one of a kind! Each piece was cut free-hand.

Sometimes it's good to think outside the box you create for yourself. This summer I also set a goal to be able to run a 5K - and started the Couch to 5K training program (Yes, I truly was a couch potato...and I'm going into week 5 already and can run for 5 minutes!) Is there something you've tried recently that you were hesitant at first, but once you did it, you were happy? Please share!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ironing board covers add some pizzazz!

Well, maybe I'm new...but I just discovered patterned ironing board covers! I've spent the past 1/2 hour browsing Etsy to find the one that's just right for me. I've been wanting to add some *spunk* to my laundry room (it's very small, so not many options), and not sure what to do. I have my boring silver padded ironing board hung on the wall. Well, no more!!!! (You can see the extent of my laundry room decor on my post here.)

It's true, it's really not a major breakthrough, but what a fun way to add a little something to a space! I had no idea people were even making these until I saw a patterned cover on a blog about laundry room organization, and started searching.

Here's one I'm eyeing from Compelled To Craft:

You can find lots more by doing a search on Etsy.
Once I get my new cover and some other things settled, I'll post an "after" picture!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Plan for waste-free lunches this school year!

Have you ever sat in the lunchroom during your child's lunch break at school? Whether preschool or elementary school, I have really noticed the "convenience" packaging offered by food manufacturers is a big hit with busy families. Individually bagged snacks, pre-packaged apple slices, juice boxes, water bottles....And then there's the ziploc baggies for everything else in between. Yes, those products make lunch-packing a bit quicker in the morning, but the waste that's generated in just one lunch is incredible!

There are MANY cute, colorful, cool options (or more sophisticated for older kids) available to have a completely waste free lunch. For us, it doesn't take too much time to put some chips in a container, grapes in a reusable bag, and wrap up a sandwich in a wrap-n-mat. My kids love having their own lunch packaging, and it has always come home (which is pretty impressive for a 6 and 4 year old).
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Check out for some great tips on packing a waste-free lunch.   Also, there are many great Etsy sellers who sell reusable items. Here's a list of lunch items from Team EcoEtsy.  Also search for things like: cloth napkins, reusable snack bag, lunch kit, etc.  There are also many options if you are trying to avoid all plastics (even BPA free ones). (Try to stay away from things lined with PUL that would go next to food - they have not been tested for food safety, though a lot of sellers use them for their waterproof nature.)

Here's another idea: You can get pre-made name labels from places like Mabel's Labels or Name Bubbles which work great to identify snap top containers, sandwich wraps, reusable snack bags, thermoses, and drink containers.This ensures your investment doesn't get stuck in the lost and found bin! (See examples on my son's water bottle and wrap-n-mat above)

Here's to a great school year; and healthy, waste-free lunches!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mom's Balancing act

As a stay-at-home mom, working mom, or work-at-home mom, we all know that balancing daily life can get to be a challenge. Sometimes I feel a little bit like this two-headed turtle we recently saw at the Reptile Zoo! Kid's schedules, our schedules, deadlines, goals, house duties, hobbies, relationships...aahhhh! I think one of the biggest challenges is learning how to balance it all and be successful overall. What do you struggle with the most? What's the one thing that you let "slide" (mine is ALWAYS housework)? Does it change from time to time as your focus shifts?

A few months ago I made the decision to cut back on the time I was spending on my business. As it turns out, I really hadn't realized the time it had been monopolizing. Now that it's been awhile, I have had some time to reflect.

I am planning to walk the Susan G Komen 3 day walk for breast cancer next September, so I have been focusing on walking daily. I purchased the fitbit pedometer, and it has really urged me to increase my activity. But did you know, staying home with the kids I average about 3-4 miles of walking a day WITHOUT going for a purposeful walk for exercise?? I always knew I was busy :) Since I've changed focus, I've also lost 5 pounds. Focusing on my health, exercise and reducing stress has really paid off. I'm also more purposeful about the food that I put in my mouth. All of this has helped with the stomach problems I was experiencing as well.

I do miss the satisfaction of the business side of Winkydinks, but I know that it's still there when I'm ready to shift my focus again. Are there things you have been meaning to do but "life" has gotten in the way? Is it time to re-prioritize? Share with us your struggles and successes!

Also, if anyone would like to take on the walking challenge of hitting 10,000 steps a day (which is a fitness goal floating around out there), let's do it! If anyone has or purchases the fitbit, let me know and we can be "friends" to share stats and goals!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shop change announcement

You may have noticed all of my "custom" listings have gone missing from my shops. I finally had figured out a great way to have customers get the items they needed in the sizes they wanted by using style numbers and pre-selected color combinations. The popularity of this new listing style has been very strong, and at the same time, overwhelming.

Due to the volume of orders coupled with less available work time (for numerous reasons), it has been stressful to meet the demand for customs. Out of necessity for my work-life balance, I've decided to take the shop in a new direction.

The change: I'll be listing only IN STOCK items, and as always, they will ship next day. I will have several CUSTOM slots available periodically, depending on my availability. Those will be offered through my Hyena Cart shop only, and scheduled ahead of time (so you'll know when they're coming). Each slot will allow up to 4 items to be made for whoever reserves it. Items between my Etsy and Hyena Cart shops can be combined when ordered the same day, and shipping overages will be refunded.

This has been a hard personal choice for me. I truly enjoy making things that meet your specific needs, and I know I can't possibly stock the exact sizes and patterns that you might be looking for at any given time. Customs have been a huge part of my sales, so as a shop owner it is frustrating to need take a step backwards. With upcoming summer vacation now that my kids are school-age, I anticipate having much less available time to get things made. Custom orders require more communication, plus they are time-sensitive (everyone is anxious for fluffy mail!). With this new direction, I will be able to make things on my own schedule, without worry of getting behind on orders - plus be able to make up some new and different things. I will also be able to stock more wool items since I won't be focused on custom fleece.

Thank you all for your business and continued support. I'm very proud to be able to say that Winkydinks started as a "give it a shot" endeavor, and now has grown too big for its britches :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

And the Tax Relief contest winner is....

The winner of the Tax Relief contest is aware - who guessed 376 

Congratulations! The actual number of items sold in 2010 is 387 - good guess! I'm pretty proud of that number - that's an average of more than one item sold per day - not too shabby for a mom who is also running a household, entertaining a 6 and 4 year old, and trying to stay sane at the same time :) Thank you to all of my wonderful customers for keeping me so busy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tax relief contest - just for fun! Win a credit to Winkydinks

Well, it's about that time...April 18th is just around the corner (thanks Gov't for the extra few days this year, by the way!). I have just finished up my business and personal taxes and sent them off...have you?

In doing my taxes, I also had to take inventory. I surprised myself (and my husband) by the number of items sold in 2010. I thought it would be fun to make a contest out of this. SO.....

The person who guesses the closest to the number of items sold by Winkydinks in 2010 (without going over) will win a $10 credit to my shop! 

  • "Items" includes: soakers, longies, shorties, hats - it is not the ORDER total (which would combine multiple items for one customer into one transaction). 
  • Items sold through Etsy, HyenaCart, and direct email are included in the total
  • If two winners are exactly correct, they will both win the prize. If more than 2 winners are correct, I will take the first two who posted. The winner will be closest to the actual number without going OVER. (So, if you are one guess over, you would not win, but someone 5 guesses under would win).
  • Credit expires May 31, 2011. Can be transferred/gifted but not sold to someone else.
Contest ends on Tax Day! April 18th, 10am PST. 

Enter your guess by commenting on this blog post. Only one entry per person please!
Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win (either by having your profile filled out or leaving an email in your comment).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New available fabrics

I've been stocking a piece from my new fabrics every now and then, but here they are all together (click photo to enlarge). Look for them soon in my updated "pick your style" listings. I'll be replacing some of my discontinued/clearance items, and low remaining quantity fabrics with these. As always, since these are listed in my fabric album, they are available for custom orders too.  Many look great with other trim options as well!

As I make up custom orders and in-stock items with my fabrics, I make room in my small storage space to get new fabrics. I'm always on the lookout for cute things - but I only buy limited quantities, so when they're gone...they're gone....!

Happy diapering!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stripe it Rich going Retail!

I wanted to announce that I've agreed to a "trial" wholesale order with ali AND swan for my Stripe it Rich soakers. I'm excited about having a new channel for my products! The first order is a small number (pictured above), just to see how things go. I have always been wary of a wholesale situation for a number of reasons:

1 - I don't charge enough to enable me to sell my soakers at a deep wholesale discount to anyone for resale. I sell them directly to my customers for the best price I can. That's always been my goal - keep it affordable!
2 - I don't want to take up the few hours I get to sew with a wholesale order when I would rather get customs done or get my shop stocked. When you get the kids' nap times, preschool hours, and sometimes evenings to work (in addition clean, exercise, or do any other hobby), your time is precious!
3 -  I was nervous to have someone else represent MY items, and didn't want them sold for more than I was selling them in my own shop.
4 - I was worried about too much pressure to "produce"

Well, after working with Alison from ali AND swan, I feel very comfortable with her representing my handiwork. In addition, she's a WAHM herself (if you've ordered from me recently, you may have received some of her product as a sample - Super Stars wipe solution!). I'm also very happy with the way she's set up her shop and the other products she's carrying. In addition - she offers a military discount and free shipping on orders over $40. She's willing to work with me on price and quantity so that we're both happy. So, all in all, I think it's a good match. 

So, check out ali AND swan, and be on the lookout for IN STOCK Stripe it Rich soakers stocked there from yours truly :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why use fleece covers?

Fleece offers a waterproof, but BREATHABLE, barrier between the cloth diaper and the outer clothing. While it is not a natural fiber, it is highly reusable (I've had some that are going on 2+ years old) and is very effective. (For some pros/cons between fleece and natural wool covers click here).

A fleece cover/soaker is used over a fitted, prefold, or flat diaper (or any non-waterproof cloth diaper). It can also be used as extra protection over a pocket, AIO, or disposable diaper. When being used over a waterproof diaper, it can only provide an extra layer before it hits the clothing - it cannot force the liquid back into the diaper to re-absorb. Make sure all edges of the diaper underneath are completely covered to get any extra protection in these cases.
  • Fleece does not absorb anything. Without a diaper underneath, it will leak. Depending on the effectiveness of your diaper, you could get leaks out the legs of a fleece cover (for example, a poorly secured prefold diaper).
  • Fleece can be washed with regular laundry or diaper laundry, with no special care (100% polyester won't shrink). 
  • Fleece does pill with wear (Click here for examples).
  • Fleece offers a breathable barrier - this being said, you may feel "dampness" or humidity on your baby's clothing if you're getting used to fleece covers. It is not a puddle or a wet spot, but you feel the heat/moisture exchange a bit. To me, this is a good thing because you know your baby's skin can breathe!
  • The more often you change the diaper, the more effective fleece will be for wetness protection. For night time, a soaker with a double layer of fleece in the wetzone is helpful and often gets babies through the night (again, depending on the diaper absorbency). There is also thicker fleece (200 or 300 weight) which provides more reliable protection (though a bit bulkier and more expensive). 
  • Some people find fleece is bulky under daytime clothing, compared to a PUL cover. However, for others, they are already sizing up in clothing to make room for a fluffy diaper :) In my case, it helped to keep the pants on my skinny 2 year old! 
  • There is no elastic in the legs/waist which is a benefit if your little one gets irritated by it
  • Soakers can be worn on their own during the summer months with baby legs for a cute outfit! You can also get fleece shorties or longies that double as a cover and clothing at the same time.
  • Fleece soakers on their own are not a suitable "training pant", since there is no absorbency. However, once children are at a stage where they stop their flow upon realizing they need to go, soakers can provide that extra layer of protection before it hits the clothing. (If they are still having full accidents, a soaker over training pants is not your best solution). 
  • There is a fabric called "eco fleece" that is made from 89% recycled pop bottles - great solution for an even more eco-friendly product (and it's the thicker, 200 weight)! 
If you'd like to see more fleece covers in action, visit my Facebook page to see customer photos! 

Do you have other questions about fleece as a cover? I'd love to hear! Leave me a comment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Patchwork soakers

These are by far the most fun for me to make (although they take the longest) - patchwork soakers! They really use my creative energy. I've made and sold a few, and have gotten a great response. Saving all of my wool scraps has paid off! The hardest part is organizing them, and finding coordinating color schemes with the same weight of wool.

I've just listed these three, which I've been working on for quite some time and finally finished up. Enjoy!
Click here to visit my shop to see the listings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green shipping

Is there really such a thing as "green shipping"? With Winkydinks, I'm trying to focus my efforts on staying as green as possible, but that's a little challenging considering 95% of my customers are out of state. So I chose to make my shipping as cost effective and environmentally responsible as possible.
  • I switched to Eco-Enclose polymailers. These are biodegradable or recyclable, in addition to being very sturdy (a.k.a. REUSABLE!). Many people who cloth diaper wind up selling/trading diapers with others and these are perfect because they don't add weight to your package. 
  • I don't include unnecessary wrapping
  • With the exception of International packages, all of my shipping is done from home via PayPal (no extra trips to the post office, which saves gas)
But I felt like I should be doing more. I researched ways to do carbon neutral shipping, and have found something that will work for me. It's called Green Shipping. (click to go to a Demo screen).

Use GreenShipping to ship carbon freeI pay (a price per shipment they have calculated by distance and weight) to offset the carbon used in that delivery. I can also add in personal packages I have received or sent, as long as I have a tracking number! They also offer package tracking, which my customers can use. I haven't figured out the best way to send that information out, but am working on it.

So if you're curious, you could enter in your own tracking number and see what it says!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Polishing silver without toxic chemicals

If you're lucky enough to have some real silver pieces, you know that they do have to be polished from time to time. The commercial silver polishes contain harsh chemicals, but you can clean them without exposing yourself and your family to them.
I found this article (look for "make your own silver dip") which explains how to do it with simple household ingredients, and I'm happy to say it worked! I had two piggy banks that needed the tarnish removed, and after sitting for about 5 minutes in the solution plus some rubbing, most of it came off! I will say it may not have gotten off all of it, but it's definitely shiny, and I'm glad it was natural!
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