My Favorite Wooden Block Calendars



Have you seen these perpetual wooden block calendars? These are my favorite "I want that!" desktop accessory.

Available all year long inside Queenvanna Creations, the calendars are handmade by owner Vanessa and her husband. They live in northern Connecticut with their two little girls.

Each set includes six parts - the base, three month blocks (4 months per block), and two date blocks. Wooden pieces are meticulously crafted by her husband, then patterned paper is attached by hand. Calendar measures approximately 3" tall and 5.5" wide and is now available in French, Spanish, German, Portugese too.

She jokes, "I do not smoke and I do not have pets. If I had pets, I would not allow them to smoke either." I love her sense of humor!

Read more about this crafty gal on her business blog at http://queenvanna.wordpress.com/.



See more of Vanessa's calendar designs, clothespins, wall clocks and MORE inside her shop at http://www.queenvannacreations.etsy.com/.

Happy New Year!

Hope You Had a Great One



Hope you had a fabulous Christmas with your family yesterday. For us, the fun continues into next week visiting MORE friends and family.

If you are dragging your kids all over town too, I wish you safe travels and happy kids along the way.

My sister shared this easy and fun recipe with me today (perfect to keep the kids busy even for a moment):

Easy Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

1 bag of square or regular pretzels
2 bags of Hershey's kisses and/or hugs (white chocolate)
1 bag of M&M's or mini M&M's or sprinkles (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • On a foil-lined cookie sheet, spread out the pretzels in a single layer (good job for the kids)
  • Now top each pretzel with one Hershey's kiss
  • Pop in the oven for 4 minutes (so the chocolate kiss will melt)
  • Top each pretzel with M&M's or sprinkles to decorate (optional)
  • Slide into the fridge so chocolate will harden
  • Roll up the foil and your kitchen is still clean!
This cute Christmas card is from Dimple Prints (love the name!)

I'll be back with some new mom-owned businesses to share with you next week.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Recipe for You



Okay I just spent the last 30 minutes clicking and scrolling around the web to find you the perfect recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

It takes me so long because I want to make sure I am sending you to a safe site with no annoying pop-up ads or really really long page loading times. I'm looking out for you, girls!

There are many ways to make peppermint bark, but I'm a fan of the 2-layer chocolate AND white chocolate peppermint candy cane bark. A bite of this treat tells my mouth that yes, indeed it is Christmastime!

I found a great recipe that fits the bill at Alpha Mom on Melissa's "Buzz Off" for Easy Chocolate Peppermint Bark. Hooray!

This recipe was posted last Christmas, but the photos are great. This one is my favorite:



I can totally see my 4-year-old getting into this project.

Happy candy-cane-crushing to you!


P.S. - The recipe is from a mom's blog as part of Alpha Mom. This is a neat site that I had never seen before with lots of great blogs on many topics.

Something Fun and Light



After my last dreary post about safety regulations and my days filled with sewing and cutting and ironing and packing and sewing and squeeze in two sweet girls in there too...I needed something light and fun!

Thanks to the talents of my photographer Julie of www.lot116.com, Tot Trends Weekly picked one of her photos for the cover of this week's magazine, Make It Personal. And it just happens to feature my Christmas Initial Apron on her cute-cute-cute daughter, PJ.

I think there is a teeny tiny link to Polka Dot Market at the bottom of one of the pages, but I am not IN the magazine. Maybe next time! I just love that photo, so it makes me happy just to see it.

What are you doing to keep your busy days "light" and "fun" this week before the holidays?

Gingerbread houses? Cookies? Paper ornaments and garlands made from macaroni and fruit loops?

Have a great day, Moms!

Consumer Product Safety Regulations for ALL Manufacturers



There are some major changes to the product safety laws that have been passed that small manufacturing businesses (that's us!) need to be aware.

I am not a legal expert and governmental laws and bills really confuse me. Thankfully, there are some AMAZING bloggers out there who are helping make sense of these major changes.

Kathleen of Fashion Incubator has started National Bankruptcy Day, an informational site about the CPSIA laws and how it will affect all businesses on February 10, 2009.

There is also a new CPSIA group on Ning to discuss the changes and requirements.

Some of the requirements include product safety testing and safety compliance forms included with every order you ship.

A wealth of information may be found on the Fashion Incubator blog including the original post.

Two things you can do right now that only take five minutes (I did!):

Even if you buy your products from a supplier then add a monogram or paint, this law affects all of us.

I'll add updates here as I can. Please take some time to read this information over the holidays (if not before).

Message to The Elves



We are all like Santa's elves this time of year...working at our machines, glueing, painting, assembling, packing and shipping all these gifts in time for Christmas. I know many of you are making crafts, decorations and handmade gifts for all of your friends and family too. It is a busy time!

As I sew my days (and nights) away, I am thinking of you. All the orders are IN at Polka Dot Market, now they just all need to go OUT!

I've even put my Etsy shop on "vacation mode". This is the first time I've closed shop, but there are only so many hours in the day and all these boxes need to be out by Monday. It is a great feature. You can close your shop with the click of a button (sign in, click "My Etsy", then scroll down and click "Vacation Mode").

The photo above of our girls was taken at Portrait Innovations. They are all decked out in polka dots! Pretty busy this time of year, but the store has a good system in place. We had lunch around the corner after our portraits, then stopped in and picked up our photos less than an hour later!

If any of you are still open and accepting orders for Christmas, please post a comment below so our readers may find you.

I'll be posting Christmas crafts and featuring your businesses as often as I can over the holidays.

Have a great day, my crafty elf-friends!

Gifts on Sale at Sweet Baby Creations



There is a big sale on personalized polka dot gifts going on now at Sweet Baby Creations!

Owned by Misty, an Air Force pilot's wife and mom of two, Sweet Baby Creations opened its online doors in 2004.

You'll find a HUGE selection of personalized gifts inside Misty's shop. There is something for everyone!

I love the polka dot travel coffee mugs. So much cuter than the free ones my husband brings home from trade shows (you know you use those too).

Misty's monogram name ribbon key chains are the perfect gift for teens, sisters, friends and the girls who work the nursery at church. Even teachers love these.





She does have a lot of things on sale right now for a limited time - order this week for Christmas delivery!

See you over at Sweet Baby Creations - you'll love her website design too. It is so cute!

My Initial Wreath - I Did It!



Hello, boring blank wall in our living room (where the Christmas tree is). Do you want something on you to dress you up? Okay...what about this:



My Initial Wreath!

I think it is kind of leaning forward and needs a few adjustments, but it is a great improvement over NOTHING.

See the extra ribbon up on the stairs that I need to trim? Oops. Hey, it even covers the thermostat. Bonus!

I used one wire hanger and two wired garlands I found in the Christmas box from last year. One did the trick, but I kept wrapping with the second garland because I was on a roll!

I think the weight of two garlands is a bit much for my one little hanger. The tail of the "G" tends to droop without assistance and re-shifting from time to time. Using the giant cardboard letter like Thrifty Decor Chick may have solved this problem. And I think the garland I had on hand may not be the same type they used. For a first try, it was definitely an EASY project that everyone should try. Then revise your project and make another one for your neighbor!

Have a great rest of the weekend, Moms!

Weekend Project: Preppy Initial Wreath



You know you want one!

This preppy initial wreath is featured on Pink and Polka Dot's blog...her instructions are to open a wire clothes hanger with pliers, shape it into your letter, wrap it all the way around with garland (hot glue gun at the ends?), then grab a yard of wide ribbon to hang your masterpiece.

Another wreath tutorial with a few more step-by-step photos:



Thrifty Decor Chick has typed up all the details to make-your-own Christmas initial wreath on her blog too. While you are there, see her tips for decorating our glass china cabinets for Christmas - this is so inspiring!

I know I have an old wire hanger and I know I have some old garland that is just waiting for a new life as a big letter on our front door. I'll let you know how it turns out. This weekend is Christmas decorating time, or it will never get done!

Mini-Vacation



I'm back! After shipping thirty-five boxes in 2 days, I was able to throw my girls in the car with some clothes and their growing collection of bedtime stuffed animals and drive out to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a mini-vacation. My husband was there for a convention and we turned his quiet and clean hotel room into a total disaster, but he loved having us there (right, honey?).

Our favorite spot was the Aquarium of the Smokies. We stayed there all day on Wednesday and had a ball. The cool underwater tunnel shown above has a slow-moving sidewalk and it is so relaxing. Soft music, water, fish swimming all around you...that is the best way to destress! We went through at least twice, or was it three times?

I have been working so much that it is rare for me to have a full day to play with my girls, so this was a rare treat. I think the only way for me to totally focus on them is to be OUT of the house, since my work is always here (in fact it is calling my name as I type right now).

How do you carve out time for your kids and your husband? Turn off the computer at 5:00 p.m.? No work on the weekends? I'd love any of your tips.

My girls had so much fun at the Aquarium (and dad treated them to Wacky Bear on Thursday), that though we can't run off and spend a bunch of money every weekend, finding free and fun things to do outside of the house is a definite MUST for us moms who work at home.

Thanks for understanding my mini-break - I hope you got a lot of holiday shopping done using all those great Cyber Monday coupons while I was away!

Cyber Monday Coupons and Deals



Here are the latest sales and deals I've heard of for today, Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year!

Shop handmade with the best moms in business:

(Many of these fine handmade boutiques have Christmas shopping deadlines fast approaching, so order today for the best deals.)

Happy Holidays!