Friday, September 28, 2007

I've Got the Teething Baby Blues

Four teeth at once. FOUR!!! That means non-stop crying, swollen gums, sticky medicine covered clothes, hands, and face, and painful "mmmma mmmma mmmma!" being shouted round the clock.

Yup, Annelie is teething and I am going nuts.

What was Mother Nature thinking? My wisdom teeth came in about eight years ago, and I still remember the unbearable pain as the teeth worked their way slowly through the gums. But I was eighteen and old enough to understand what was going on. Poor Annelie is only seven an a half months old, for crying out loud!!

To make matters worse, she bites like crazy with the two teeth she already has, and every time I yowl in pain (because seriously, who expects to be bitten while nursing? I can assure you, the sweet and happy nursing endorphins that are released while nursing are completely overshadowed by agony... and aren't endorphins supposed to be nature's painkillers?) she bursts into tears, making nursing time take about six years per feeding.

And yesterday, she bit me six times in one feeding.

I quit.

On the bright side, I did discover something that Annelie loves to teethe on. Forget Tylenol, teething gel, biter biscuits, and cold teething rings...

Annelie only gets relief from her electric Hello Kitty toothbrush.

I just pray the batteries don't die on me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bye Bye Baby Weight!

I very recently lost the last of the baby weight I put on during my pregnancy with Annelie. No easy feat, I assure you! I love to eat, and used every minute of my pregnancy as an excuse to grow larger than a pumpkin.

42 lbs. That's what I gained in only five short months. Can you say stretch marks?

But the weight is gone and I am so happy! I only have a few pounds more to lose before I am at my goal weight (I still need to finish losing the rest of my Gracie weight from two years ago!). Curious to know my weight loss secrets? Well, here you go:

Soup. Lots and lots of soup. I make a batch of low sodium, low fat soup every few days. Whenever I am hungry for a snack, I grab a bowl of soup. I'll include my Mix and Match soup recipe below for those interested!

Tea (with a little sugar or honey, and a splash of milk--yum) that I drink with a small cookie, pastry or scone when I am craving a sweet treat. The tea helps fill me up so I don't go overboard on cookies or pastries.

Walking. I walk everywhere. It helps that I don't drive, so if I want to go anywhere in the day, I have to load the girls in their double stroller and walk there. But on the days that I don't have anyplace to go, I load the girls up and walk to the nearest middle school, which has a track and a field so Gracie can run around (unfortunately there are no parks near me).

Here is my recipe for Mix and Match soup. I like to mix things up, so my taste buds don't get bored.

Marisa’s Mix and Match Soup

Use as many or as little as you like from each group to create a soup perfect for your personal taste!

Start With the Veggies: Fresh or Frozen

(add whatever you like. Here are a few I like to add)

Chopped Cabbage
Green Beans
Celery (add only a few stalks or the broth tastes funny)
Yellow Onions
Minced Garlic (lots of it!!!)
Bagged frozens are perfect when you want to work quickly. I like Green Beans and California or Normandy Mix (Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower)

Broth: No, I don’t make my own. Who has the time???


Look for boxed broths, they are the easiest and most economical. I prefer Organic, low sodium and low fat. I buy about 2 or 3 boxes per batch of soup, but buy as many as you need for whatever size pot you want to make.

Add Ins:

Grilled Chicken, cut up
Ground Beef
Italian Sausage
Noodles (whole wheat is best for you, and more firm. Watch out with noodles, as they tend to get mushy. You might want to keep these separate from the broth and just add them to your bowl)

Broth Enhancements:

Fresh Herbs chopped (my favorite is Cilantro)
3 Tbs Tomato Paste
Parmesan Cheese (low in calories and fat, so go crazy)

To Make:

Begin by grilling the onions, celery, and garlic in 1-2 tbs. olive oil. Add the broth, bring to a boil. Then add the veggies and meat. Last, add cooked noodles or rice, and the broth enhancements. Let simmer awhile—about 5-10 minutes or until it is hot enough for you.

The best thing about this soup is it tastes better the next day, so make sure you cook up a large pot of it!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm a Barbie Girl, In a Barbie World...

Life in plastic…its fantastic.

Gracie is Barbie obsessed. Her second birthday was a Barbie princess party. She chose the theme. She has about eight Barbie dolls, seven Barbie movies, Barbie’s airplane, house, car, dog (Tanner—Gracie adores him), two dress up costumes from Barbie Fairytopia and Barbie Mermaidia, and she knows the entire chorus to “I’m a Barbie Girl” by the Scandinavian bubblegum pop band Aqua by heart (Me a Barbie girl, me a Barbie world. Issa fastic, ISSA FASTIC!!). Not to mention that she begs to watch the Aqua video on YouTube every single day and the most commonly heard sentence out of Gracie’s mouth is, “You play Barbie me?”

Is there a Barbie-holics Anonymous? Sign her up!

Because Gracie is only two, and Barbie’s clothes are so… teeny tiny (not to mention impossible for a two year old to put on her doll), I like to revamp Gracie’s baby wardrobe into Barbie ball gowns and summer dresses. From Baby Dress to Barbie Dress in 2.5 minutes. And because Gracie is only two, it doesn’t matter how poorly you sew or how little time and attention to detail you want to spend… to her it is a beautiful dress.

Here’s what you need:

1 Barbie in need of a new dress

1 Baby outfit with elastic around the feet, wrists, or a nightdress with elastic around the entire bottom (moms, you know what I’m talking about)

Sewing machine or needle and thread


Begin with a nude Barbie. If you have small children, chances are a nude Barbie is very easy to come by. For some reason, Barbie is always nude, in our house (no, my husband has nothing to do with it!).

Wrap the elastic hem of the baby outfit above Barbie's chest and snip off the bottom until you have the desired dress length. Then snip off the remaining bit of outfit from the back, taking care that you have about 1/4 inch extra on each side when you pull the dress together (this is to allow room for sewing).

You should now have a flat rectangular piece of fabric with the elastic hem across the top and an unfinished edge on the bottom.

You can hem the unfinished bottom if you want it to look a bit nicer. I don't, as Gracie could care less, but it is up to you and your child.

If you have a sewing machine, it only takes a second to sew a straight stitch to bring the back of the dress together. Don't forget to have the wrong side out when you do the sewing, so the messy looking part is on the inside of the dress. If you don't have a sewing machine, it should only take a minute or two to get the seam stitched up.

Voila. A Barbie dress that is easy for a two year old to put on her favorite fashionista, and a little less scandalous than the Barbie dresses you can buy from the shop! Isn't she a vision in pink?

If you are looking for a handmade Barbie dress that is a little more sophisticated than my five minutes or less tube dress, look no further than Etsy. Here are some of my favorite Barbie items and the shops that sell them:

The first shop I would like to feature is Sew Grandma Cathy. Her shop features dresses for Barbie, Blythe, Bratz, American Girls, and Ken dolls. I think this Halloween gown is just lovely and will get any little girl and her beloved Barbie ready for Halloween.

You can find this dress as well as many others at

The next Barbie outfit and shop I would like to feature is this little knit sailor dress from Pamala's Pastime. It is so Yacht Club chic. I didn't even know people took the time to knit Barbie dresses anymore and was pretty impressed at how cute it is. I'd love a halter like this for myself!

You can find this dress and others at

The last shop I would like to feature is Munzie's Shop because I just couldn't resist blogging this adorable Barbie play tent with blanket, two pillows and a matching tote bag. How seriously cute is this? And it doesn't have to be used to Barbie. Any other small doll or stuffed animal would be at home inside this tent or traveling with your little one in the matching tote. Barbie really does have everything! You can find this set, as well as others in a whole mix of fabrics at

Enjoy, all you Barbie Girls!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Feed Me!

Annelie is crazy about food. I’m talking, seriously crazy.

I was such an excited first time mom, that Gracie was completely force fed solids on the day she turned four months. She didn’t really take to solids until she was about six months old, but that didn’t stop me from going to the farmer’s market and lovingly selecting the best produce, steaming everything until it was perfectly soft, blending all of the fruits and vegetables with the reserve liquid they were steamed in ( in order to get the most nutrients, of course), creating delicious wholesome combinations, and pouring them into ice cube trays to freeze them. She only ate homemade, and it was usually organic.

Annelie, on the other hand, started solids at three months because she was constantly shoving anything food-like into her mouth. When she was four months old, I was eating a meatball marinara sub while holding her. I thought I had dropped a piece, but couldn’t find it anywhere… only to discover Annelie grinning up at me with marinara sauce on her face and a mashed up meatball in her chubby little fist.

At seven and a half months, Annelie will eat anything—and I mean anything. She loves food! I realized the other day that Gracie and Annelie’s eating experiences are very different, though. You could say that Annelie’s food is also handmade—if you consider throwing any food I can find in the food processor handmade. Last night’s dinner: Kraft macaroni and cheese from the food processor. Tonight’s dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce from the food processor. At least she also eats any vegetable and fruit that comes her way, especially bananas (which she likes to eat right out of the peel. I didn’t think seven month olds were old enough to hold a banana and eat it, but she does!).

It’s a good thing I make bibs, because Annelie is constantly wearing one. Be sure to check out my shop Tootsie and Grace at, for a boutique chic bib for your own messy eater.

I would like to honor my little chow hound and feature other Etsian artists who just love their baby food!

The first shop I would like to feature is DaLayney’s Doodles. I love to scrapbook and these little baby food jar scrapbooking or cardmaking embellishments are absolutely adorable! They would be the perfect item to jazz up you baby book as well.

You can find her shop at

The second shop that I would like to feature is Nothing Too Fancy. This Feed Me baby photo frame is the perfect way to show off your little messy eater and is just too cute! I love all the baby food jars, which make the frame colorful and fun.

You can find this shop at

The last shop I would like to feature is Colby Lane Designs. I think this Let's Eat baby bib is very playful and I love how it is backed with chenille! The vintage retro print on this bib is so cool. Even though I make baby bibs and burp cloths as well, I think Colby Lane Designs is just such a sweet shop and I just had to promote it! I have had this shop marked as a favorite for a long time, because I love the awesome selection of fabrics used to make the bibs and the chenille backing makes this boutique bib such a soft treat for little feeders.

You can find a large selection of other chenille backed bibs as well as burp cloths and very chic nursing pads at

I hope you enjoy these wonderful hand made items! Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There's a Mouse in Our House!!

Two of them, actually.

They go by the names Elvis and Freddy. Yes, they are pets. Mice as pets.

I don't quite understand it.

But to give them some credit, they are absolutely adorable. And when they are sitting down, they are the tiniest little balls of fluff.

I bought them for Gracie last week (although they have since turned into my husband's pets, he loves them so much). We were walking home from Target (Yes, I have a Target within walking distance. Prime real estate, if you ask me. I can also walk to Hobby Lobby, Toys R Us, Half Price Books, about a million restaurants including Pei Wei, which is a diner style version of PF Changs and has the same Crab Wontons and Chicken Lettuce Wraps, a Neiman Marcus outlet store, Gracie's Gymboree play class and a dance studio where Gracie starts a Ballet/Tap/Gymnastics combo class next week!). Sweet.

Where was I?

Oh yes, we were walking home from Target and we passed an exotic pet store. I thought it would be fun to show Gracie and Annelie the animals. The store has a ferret, two hedgehogs, some sugar gliders, baby water turtles (as small as quarters!!!) , frogs, a pygmy opossum, tarantulas, halloween crabs, several anacondas and of course, feeder mice.

Somehow, I ended up leaving the store with a large hot pink delux state of the art mouse house with viewing room and running wheel, odor absorbing bedding, mouse food, a purple mouse ball, and a paper bag... with a mouse.

The mouse cost $1.75. Everything else... a bit more. But now we have Elvis. He really is
sweet and we all just adore him. We love him so much that, when we read that mice can get depressed without companions, we instantly ran out and bought him a friend. Freddy.

They are so cute. And, as a rule, I hate rodents, so that is saying a lot!

To honor the newest additions to our family, I would like to promote other Etsians who love their mice:

The first shop I would like to promote, grabbed my attention because the artist is also a children's book writer and illustrator. This profession is and has always been, my life long dream! In fact, I was already familiar with her book, Paisley before I even discovered Maggie Smith's Etsy shop, at Here are Pearl and Mitsi, two darling little mice that are made from vintage cotton prints. They are perfect for mouse lovers big and small! Don't like mice, much? She has a whole shop filled with other woodland animals that are equally adorable.

This little ballerina mouse watercolor show below, can be found in the shop ChichiBoulie Boutique. This is an original watercolor painting and is bright and colorful and would look just adorable in a little girl's bedroom, don't you think? You can find other darling watercolors as well as greeting cards at Too sweet!

Enjoy these sweet and friendly mice!

Loving Collage and Assemblage

Yesterday, two year old Gracie made her first collage.

In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than colored construction paper, Elmers glue, and bowls of colored feathers, sequins, rainbow glitter and foam butterflies, ladybugs and flowers.
Gracie agrees with me, because all she has talked about since making her collage... is making another one.
And another one.
But who can blame her? I was so impressed with the attention she paid to where her glue was placed. She didn't kid around. And every single object she placed upon her paper was placed with tender love and care. She even layered objects (sequin upon glitter, upon foam flower, upon another sequin, upon foam butterfly) to get a very cool effect. She's a natural.

I hadn't made a collage since grade school, and had forgotten just how fun it is. I am, once again, hooked. I think tomorrow we will go on a nature walk and collect pebbles, twigs and leaves so that Gracie can begin again.

There are quite a few artists on Etsy who sell their collage/assemblage work and they are just wonderful! Of course, their work is a little more sophisticated than mine, so if you are looking for feather/construction paper, Elmer's glue creations, look elsewhere!
I have a few favorites to share and I hope you all love them too!:

The first shop I am excited to feature is Synchronicity 313. I found this shop on Etsy when my own shop was marked as a favorite, and I am so glad, because now I have a favorite shop. The Alice in Wonderland series is so cool, and I just have to have a few of these digital prints to hang in my girl's room as soon as we move into our next home. I have several prints hearted, but here are two of my favorites:

Who Stole the Tarts? by Kenneth Rougeau

A Mad Tea Party by Kenneth Rougeau

You can find these prints at

Another shop I just love is Art Girl X, and below is my personal favorite piece. If you haven't guessed by looking at my Tootsie and Grace shop banner, business cards, thank you notes, and myspace page, I just can't get enough of the lime green, black and white color combination. Throw swirls and flowers in the mix and I am happy as a clam. I just fell in love with this acrylic and mixed media painting titled "Lost Garden Green."

You can find this piece as well as other wonderful collages (several others in this series as well) at

This assemblage print by Stoopid Gerl is so cute! It is called "Swim Cap" and is part of a fun series on hair. I just love it. I think it would be just adorable in my bathroom!

You can find more assemblage prints like this one at

If you haven't made a collage in awhile, I strongly recommend doing so. There are so many types of collages to make and materials to use. I look forward to buying from Mata Art 42's shop which has an excellent blend of stamps, ephemera and collage sheets that are just so cool.
You can find her shop at I marked this seller as a favorite the same day I signed on to Etsy and just can't wait to buy some Italian and Parisian collage sheets (as soon as I find the photos I took when I was there. Hard to make a scrapbook without the pictures, no matter how cute the scrapbook embellishments are!)

I hope you enjoy either making your own collage/assemblage or appreciating the collage artists featured (hopefully both!).
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chocolate Lollipops

What is gooey and sweet and loved by just about everyone? Chocolate.


Gracie loves cooking and crafting, but coming up with simple activities for my high energy two year old can be a challenge.

An activity that is a favorite in our household is making chocolate lollipops. This activity is great for kids of all ages and easy for young children, as long as they have help from a bigger person.

To make chocolate lollipops, you need a few things, located at your local craft store in the candy aisle.
Chocolate morsels for melting
Rainbow colored sprinkles
Lollipop mold (we liked the teddy bears)
Lollipop sticks
Squeeze bottle for melting the chocolate and squeezing it into the mold.

To begin: Make sure you all have clean hands. I like to fill a large bowl with warm soapy water for Gracie to use. It makes hand washing easy for little ones.

Break the chocolate pieces in half in order to fit into the squeeze bottle, then let your little one put the chocolate in the squeeze bottle. Microwave the bottle in 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Squeeze the chocolate into the mold and then tap the side of the mold gently to get rid of any air bubbles (I wouldn't recommend letting kids do this part because the bottle can become very hot when filled with melted chocolate). Next, stick the lollipop stick in the designated lollipop stick spot and cover the top with a squirt of chocolate.
Last, hand over the sprinkles and let your little one go wild, covering the entire back of the lollipop.

I like to put the mold in the freezer, because it only takes a few minutes for the chocolate to set and for Gracie to have instant gratification.

Tie a ribbon around the stick or put the lollipop in a cello bag for a sweet and easy gift.

Or do what I do and pass a chocolate lollipop over to a baby and watch the complete and total joy on their faces as they discover chocolate for the first time. Instant addict.

Don't mind the mess. That's what bathtubs are for!

Speaking of chocolate lollipops, I am just addicted to the Chocolate Lollipop line of fabrics by designer Anna Maria Horner. I don't have anything up in my shop made from these fabrics... yet. But I soon hope to! The fabrics are bold and bright and chocolaty sweet while still being sophisticated and fun. I am already mentally designing things to fill my shop with.

Before I go, I just want to promote other Etsian crafters who love Chocolate Lollipop as much as I do, and are selling wonderful things made from this sweet-as-chocolate fabric.

The Etsy shop Evy Bleu Designs features "handmade pretties for girly-girls everywhere."

I just love these twirl skirts! The one on the left can still be found in her shop at: Don't stop at this twirl shirt, though. There are other children's dresses that are equally as cute!

You can find this adorable fabric headband in the shop, Modern Charm. This shop specializes in ADORABLE and oh so chic accessories and handbags. You can find this headband and other cool accessories as

I just love this apron made by Sunshine Designs Ect. It is so cheerful and I would find a reason to wear it all day long. You can find this gorgeous little apron, as well as well as a plethora of "one of a kind vintage art pieces and jewelry (I just love the fabric art collages!)" at

Enjoy your Chocolate Lollipops!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tootsie and Grace: The Blog

Welcome to Tootsie and Grace: The Blog

For Boutique Chic Blogging

I have never blogged before. I hope that wont be painfully obvious. I just love to write and love to journal, and hopefully someone might just find what I have to say interesting!

We'll see about that.

To start, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Marisa and I am a full time mom and part time Etsy shop owner (I say part time, because the rest of the time I am changing diapers, saying "No, you may not watch your Barbie Fairytopia movie again. You already watched it twice today", and force feeding healthy foods to my two year old who only wants "spaghetti-meatballs" aka Chef Boyardee, hot dogs and popcorn from Target, an
d dinosaur chicken nuggets, which may be made from 100% all white meat with no fillers, but doesn't really fit the boat for healthy nourishment in my humble opinion.

With that said, let me introduce my two darling girls, the inspiration behind all that I do, including my Etsy shop Tootsie and Grace.

This is Gracie:

I think she looks absolutely adorable in this photo, however, she was just peering around me because I was blocking her view of the TV. She was watching Barbie Fairytopia. She does look very Boutique Chic, doesn't she? I'm thrilled because the bib she is wearing has been covered in bananas, sweet potatoes, green beans, squash, corn, carrots and rice cereal, and has been through the wash a million times. Still looks great, doesn't it? Yay.

This is Annelie:

She is the world's most perfect baby. No, seriously.

She was the easiest pregnancy, delivery and new born. She always slept, never cried as long as she was being held (and I was always happy to oblige) and actually smiles at the camera, which Gracie never ever does.

The best part is that she adores the ground Gracie walks upon and Gracie adores her back. I worried that having two would be just horrible and that Gracie would reject her new sister and Annelie would cry for days at a time, but instead it has been a wonderful experience.

Now let me introduce my shop, Tootsie and Grace.

The name Tootsie and Grace is kind of funny to me. A year ago, my mom and I began to talk about opening up a children's boutique. I noticed that a lot of children's boutiques were named after little girls and often, there were two names: A silly or modern name paired up with a classic name. Like Tootsie and Grace.

For the record, Tootsie and Grace is inspired by my daughters, not named after them. Gracie's name is really Donna Grace, after my Grandmother. We call her Gracie because she just doesn't seem like a Donna. She just doesn't seem like a Grace either. Just Gracie.

As for Tootsie... I was pregnant with Annelie when the name of the shop was formed, and while I do sometimes call her Tootsie Pop, she has never been called Tootsie. I just liked the name Tootsie. My mom liked it, too which is why she used to call me Tootsie when I was a little girl. When I ran the name Tootsie and Grace by her she thought it was perfect.

My mom has gone onto other things now, and has her own business called Lindylou (she will have to tell you the story behind that name) which can be found on Etsy at I will do a feature on her shop soon, because it is just full of wonderful things for the home and gals on the go (little gals, too. Her baby quilts are too cute for words!)

Now I run Tootsie and Grace on my own and just love the freedom to design and create anything I want and discover people who love my items! I sell a variety of things from Bib and Burp sets, to hand decorate onesies and t-shirts. I plan on carrying a series of baby and toddler toys, beginning with sock monkeys and sock bunnies, as well as play tea cakes and plates. Everything I make is made from designer fabrics (well, not the sock monkeys, but they are make from original Rockford red heel socks!) by designers such as Amy Butler, Alexander Henry, April Cornell, Robert Kaufman, and Michael Miller.

Here are some of my favorite things in my shop:

You can see everything in my shop at
Please stay tuned for more of my blogs. While I am new to blogging, I always have something to say, so hopefully my blog will never be boring.

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