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Small joys among great struggles

Sometimes we find that struggles bring us some good things after a time.

Today, and the past few days, I’ve been sick in bed, so I thought it a good time to take a look back at previous posts.  This picture was used in a post about my eldest nephew.  Before him, my husband, Javier, and I knew that children were in our plans, but always thought about it as in the future.  His birth was so life changing that right away the idea of children was thrown into the present and we were ready!

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That was almost 3 years ago now and life has led down a path that we never expected.  We started trying to conceive right away after he was born and have had the great pleasure to be pregnant 5 times since then…  five pregnancies in under 2 years.  Every one of those babies gave us great joy during the short time that they were here.  And then they were gone.

When you don’t know why you have an issue with recurrent miscarriages, you do everything you can possibly do to clean up all areas of your life, trying to eliminate any possible causes of the devastating tragedy of losing babies.

One of the things I started to do was to live a more natural lifestyle.  I never really thought of myself as “unnatural”, but some of the natural changes have given me some small joys among the struggle. Despite not being able to fix the primary, recurrent pregnancy loss issue, these natural substitutes in my life have each made  me feel better, in their own small way.  I plan on sharing several of these ideas with you here.  In the next few weeks/months, I will write about my diy cleaner, dry shampoo and deodorant and perhaps will pick up a few more to share.  Along the way, you’ll probably hear more about my struggles and how all of this has changed me.  I hope you’ll join me.  Please sign up with your email or follow me on bloglovin’.

What small joys have you found amid great struggles in your life?

 

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New in my Etsy Shop – Garden Markers and More

If you are a fan on my Facebook Page, you may have seen that I’ve been a busy little beaver posting new items in my Etsy Shop.

Here are a few little tastes for you.

First, I added a new kind of scarf ring to my women’s accessories section.

PicMonkey Collage

Just like my original faux Mother of Pearl Scarf Ring, this Faux Turquoise scarf ring is made with a special polymer clay technique.  These make a great addition to any new or vintage scarf.

I’ve also been adding new leaf jewelry, like these earrings.

Made with polymer clay, and mica powders, using hypoallergenic ear wires.

Made with polymer clay, and mica powders, using hypoallergenic ear wires.

You’ll also find some new travel jewelry, like this Compass Necklace.

Compass Rose Necklace

There are plenty of other new items in my shop and more to come including some really fantastic rainbow cloud jewelry that I am super excited to get listed.

The thing I am most thrilled about is that I FINALLY listed my one of a kind garden markers in my shop.  Take a peek, tell me what you think and tell a friend about how cool they are.  I’d also love to hear what you are planning to put in your garden this year.  Please, please, please tell me in the comments.  Yes, I’m begging you to leave a comment!

One of A Kind Garden Markers designed and made by hand.  ~ Mandy from McCloud Designs

One of A Kind Garden Markers designed and made by hand. ~ Mandy from McCloud Designs

Feel Good Naturals Laundry Soap

Do you love laundry?  Yeah… me neither.

I’m ready to start enjoying my laundry though because I’ve found Feel Good Naturals.  

I met Lindsey, the owner of the shop, and a fellow Omaha Metro Maker, because she worked with my brother.  She has now “quit her day job” and is running her shop full time.  She was kind enough to walk me through the super simple process of turning her natural laundry soap bar into a liquid soap that works in all machines, including high efficiency machines, like the one in my apartment.

Here are some photos of the process.  These are strictly process shots and don’t include photos of the fantastic time we had.  Normally this process is really quick, but we turned it into an all evening event including chinese food, fawning over her new felted soaps and dreaming of homemade paper with flecks of silk.  Any other crafty geeks out there?

Here are the laundry soap bars before we started the 5 easy steps.

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Feel Good Naturals Laundry soap

Aren’t they pretty?

Our first real step was to gather everything together.  Here is what you’ll need.

  • laundry soap bars purchased from Feel Good Naturals Etsy Shop
  • water (32 oz or more for a 4 oz. bar, we did 8 oz., so we used 64 ounces of water, got it?)
  • container to hold the amount of water you are using (perhaps an old laundry detergent container)
  • food processor or cheese grater
  • pot that holds the amount of water you need
  • funnel

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Now that we have everything together, here we go!

Step 1 (Prior to step one I hope you took a chance to admire the beauty of these laundry soap bars.)

Grate your laundry soap bar with a food processor or a cheese grater.

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Step 2 (Wasn’t step one easy and fun?)

Heat up water in a deep pan on the stovetop. Use 32oz. or more of water for each 4oz. bar and it is best if you use the container that you are going to store the liquid soap in.  That way you know for sure that you won’t overfill it.

Add water

Step 3 (Is it step three already?)

When the water is near boiling remove the pan from the heat or turn it to a very low setting.

Step 4 (Hold up!  There were no pictures of step three because it was so easy?  Yep, that’s right!)

Add the shredded soap to the water and stir.

IMG_1333 IMG_1334 Add soap to water and stir

IMG_1337 IMG_1338 IMG_1339 IMG_1340 Add water and stir

You can see that within just a few minutes, the shredded soap bar has completely dissolved into the water. If only I could take a picture of how good this process smells…

Step 5

Allow your liquid to cool and then transfer the soap into your container using a funnel.  This is a good time to have a glass of wine, play with your children or pets, buy more laundry soap from the Feel Good Natural Etsy Shop or watch an episode of Downton Abbey.

That’s it!

I’ve liquified some of the soap that Lindsey and I shredded, but when I shred the next bar on my own, I’ll post some pictures of me completing the process by myself.  Everything is easy when someone is teaching you how to do it, but I imagine this will be easy with help or not!

Lindsey is curing some new laundry soap bars right now, so they will be available in her shop very soon.  In the meantime, follow her on Facebook and try some of her handmade soaps!

Get ready for some clean, soft clothing!

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Shopping at work!

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One of the toughest things about selling on Etsy is keeping yourself from shopping all day, even if it is just window shopping.

Here are some things that I have loved over my years as a Etsy Shop Owner.

‘Over the years’ by mcclouddesigns

These are some favorites that I’ve looked at many, many times over my years as an Etsy Shop Owner.


Snap cowl with geometric pat…

$69

UK 4, Womens fairytale tall …

$299

MiNiBook Briefcase vintage b…

$9

Gray rainy clouds 11×17 prin…

$20

Woodland – Printed Tights – …

$19.9

40% OFF Marla Sweater

$60

Beatrix Potter Cecily Parsle…

$12

Forest Wood Sculpture Art Tr…

$85

Wide Leg Pants in Navy Blue …

$79.99

Nebraska Pride I Heart My St…

$4.49

Hemp leather ballerina flat …

$55

The Secret Place Beneath the…

$20

Pincushion – Felted Cupcake …

$28

Hand felted Pebbles – Pine F…

$30

SNUG.CLOUD bread board

$23.9

French Rolling Pin, Tapered …

$60

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I’d love to see some of your favorites.  Post a link to your favorite Etsy item/shop in the comments below.

DIY – Itty Bitty Tea Bags for your Tea Party

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DIY – Itty Bitty Tea Bags for your Tea Party

One of my good friends says I’m a tinkerer… so from time to time, I’ll share a project that I’ve done with you.  This one was actually a gift for the same friend’s daughter who just turned two.  Starting from a very early age, she liked to pour things, water, juice… etc.  So even before she turned two, she was playing with a tea set that her mother got for her.   For her second birthday, I knew her mother didn’t want a slew of toys for her.  For the most part, besides a recent Frozen obsession, she is really good about just playing with whatever is around.  She draws on old packing tape rolls to make bracelets, she bangs wooden spoons for drumsticks, and is just a fun and creative little kiddo! For this reason, I wanted to give her just a little something.  We also don’t have tons of money in the birthday budget now, so this a great gift that I hope she’ll play with for a long time… that I made all with stuff I had around the house! I used

  • a few scraps of fabric (no more than a 5×5 inch square)
  • a couple cuts of thin crochet thread
  • sewing thread
  • fray check
  • bits, yes, just bits of stuffing from a cheesburger dog toy that my little Lacey shredded

Yes!  That’s it!  Here is what I made. IMG_1148 Itty Bitty Tea Bags IMG_1147 IMG_1146

These Itty Bitty Tea Bags turned out so cute and I really think they will be a staple in Tea Party’s at my friend’s house for years to come.  I can’t wait to be invited for tea! What have you made lately with things you had in the house?

Out in the World – Council Bluffs Public Library

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There are many awesome things about our public library in Council Bluffs.  Here are my top two favorite things (besides the piles of books, movies and music, of course)!

1.  Our library has a memorial magazine trade.  Bring your old magazines, and pick out an old one that someone else bought. I simply hate throwing away my magazines and while recycling them is great, if they get used several times before they are recycled then I’m a much happier duck!

2. The Council Bluffs Public library kindly invited me to display my jewelry and other accessories including a linocut print and my unique garden markers.  I’ll be on display through February.   I have several pieces there now and will change them throughout January and February.  Here is one of the pieces:

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If you want to see the rest, you’ll just have to go check it out!

Winter is the coziest time to read, so head on over, grab a book, take a peek at my display and unload all your old magazines!

After you check it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts either here or on my Facebook Page.