Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ARRR, Matey!

Love the special requests for sock monsters that I've been receiving lately. My most recent order was for a pirate-dog to match the pirate theme in a little boys bedroom. :) In addition to the pirate-y accessories I tried out a new ear style and I think I really like it. 

the hat didn't quite turn out exactly as I'd hoped but I still like it, and more importantly... the buyer loved it! I can't wait to hear what her little boy thinks! :)

In the past few days I've gotten 2 more custom orders for NEW sock monsters that I haven't made before! Looking forward to getting to work on them!

family pictures!

Last month Becky Higgins did a huge photography giveaway on her blog where photographers from all over the world gave away photo shoots and picture packages. I entered for the Michigan photographer nearest to me, and although I didn't win she did offer everyone who wasn't chosen a discounted sitting. My boys and I hadn't had pictures taken in EONS so I made an appointment and we met with Jody Sebring last week. I've been dying to see if any of the pictures turned out and today I received the disk of pictures in the mail! I loved a lot of the shots she got of the boys, together and individually. :) Unfortunately my shirt looked like a circus tent and effectively made me look about 100 pounds heavier than I am. note to self: do not wear baggy shirts on picture day no matter how cute they look on the hanger or in the mirror! It was also INSANELY windy that day so my hair is a massive disaster in most of the shots I was in. I didn't think to bring a mirror or anything so once it was blown around there was pretty much no fixing it. AND even though the boys bickered pretty much constantly, we did end up getting ONE shot of all four of us that I really like...

Thankfully this one was early enough that my hair wasn't a completely horrifying mess yet. Carter has decided this is his "new smile" because he doesn't like his 'old smile' anymore. He made this SAME face in every single picture. I love having stubborn children ;) Cameron and Connor were practicing the forced fake smile most of the day... but they actually look almost real in this one.

Some of the individual shots of the boys...

This last one is my absolute #1 favorite shot of the day! Totally cracks me up. The photographer told them all to jump on 3... she counted, Connor and Carter both jumped... and Cameron just stood there, looking at her like she was absolutely out of her mind. Seriously, what was she thinking asking a teenager to do something so completely uncool like that?!?! rofl I just love the look on his face while he stands there NOT jumping. ;) lol

 Looking forward to getting some of these printed... I think I'm going to blow up that first one with all four of us. :)

In other news... still plugging away on orders. I'm looking forward to getting caught up so I can start working on some of the new designs and some promotion ideas I have in my head. :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

the end of an era!

My youngest son graduated from 5th grade tonight! After tomorrow I will no longer have ANY children in elementary school! No more walking them in on the first day and taking pictures at their new desk. No more picking them up on the last day and taking pictures with all of their friends and favorite teachers. I'm SOO sad to see it go. We LOVE this school. As a mom, I am SO thankful for every single person who gave my son everything they possibly could, as if he was the only kid there. He's gone to this school since 1st grade. It has ALWAYS been a challenge, Carter has some issues and some quirks that aren't always fun to deal with. And even still, EVERY teacher, social worker, counselor, even the principal ... has given Carter 200% at all times. They honestly LOVE him, as he does them. He's grown by leaps and bounds in the past 5 years thanks entirely to THEM! In first grade he spent more days in the office curled up in a ball crying than he did in the classroom. In first grade I was OFTEN called to the school to pick him up because he was inconsolable. In first grade when he got upset he would completely shut down and there was no getting through to him. But NOW, he can usually talk through his frustrations... he can walk away from things instead of letting them upset him to the point of no return. He never gets sent to the office (though we did still end up with a pink slip or two. *OOPS*). While he has always been very smart, his own behavior and emotional issues were holding him back academically. This year he got the highest MEAP grade (state testing) IN THE DISTRICT! This year he got the highest grade in the whole 5th grade class on his 6th grade placement tests. Next year he'll be in advanced English AND Math! Today at the graduation he was one of only six kids to get the Presidential award for academic excellence! He got a certificate, a letter from President Obama and a little pin (which he proudly told the waitress all about at dinner after the ceremony). All of these successes are thanks to the teachers at this school! I have no idea what we'll do without them! Thank goodness for email! lol
The end of every year has always been tearful and sad... but underneath the blow was softened with the knowledge that we'd be back in a few months so it wasn't goodbye forever. But NOW it is! :( I know Carter is going to be heartbroken tomorrow when it really sets in that it's the very last time he'll walk through those doors. I will be shocked if I get out of there without sobbing like a fool. Just writing this is bringing that tell tale lump in my throat. 

How do you even thank teachers like the ones Carter has had??? There are no words! No end of the year gift that shows them how very much they mean to not only your child but to you! Everything I've come up with just seems inadequate.

Carter, receiving his graduation certificate from the principal, while his VERY proud teacher looks on. :)  
side note: though you can't see really it here, Carter chose his own outfit this evening. a tuxedo shirt (complete with pleated front and left untucked), black dress pants and a vest... that just so happens to be about 2 sizes too small, buttoned all the way up. VERY stylish ;) the brown belt and brown shoes totally completed the outfit too. lol

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've been working on this sock monster for almost a month... sketching out how I thought I would piece him together, over and over. In the end I scrapped everything I'd sketched and got down to business yesterday with a new design. In order to keep his tail as one piece with his body (instead of cutting it separately and sewing it on) I decided he should be in a 'laying down' type position . That let me take advantage of the full length of the extra long sock I'd purchased for him. I spent about 13-14 hours on him and at the end (before I added the horns) I was slightly disappointed to see that, while cute enough, I thought he looked more like an anteater with wings than a dragon! lol BUT I stitched up some felt horns, stuffed them, added them to his head and VOILA! We have a dragon! Funny how something so small can make all the difference! :)

He is my biggest sock monster to date, almost TWO FEET long from nose to tail!! Definitely the most complicated and time intensive as well. But totally worth it. My friend/customer LOVES it and her adorable grandson will hopefully love it as well! :) I'd love to be able to make more of these at a later date... after I get caught up on the MANY Lens Pets™ I need to finish up right now. Speaking of... I'm off to sew some more.  I have 3 sock monsters to get done in the next couple days so I will be busy, busy, busy! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

helpful hint for other night owls out there...

the post office lobby is totally creepy at 1:30 am!! lol

Right now I'm dropping orders at the post office 6 days a week. I sew late into the night (many nights I'm up until 4 or 5 in the morning) and all the following day then I run up to the PO right before they close at 5:30 (and at 3 on Saturdays). But tonight (meaning Friday night though technically it's Saturday morning now) I finished four more orders and rather than wait until tomorrow afternoon I wanted to get them out the door asap. I figured this way they head out to their destinations in the morning rather than waiting until the afternoon. So maybe they'll make it to their new homes a day sooner? Who knows! Anyways, Carter was still up watching Napoleon Dynamite (my kids are total night owls on the weekend, just like their mama) so he and I made a quick run up to the post office. Even if it was kinda creepy, how awesome is that little self serve machine thingee?!!? It weighs the packages and prints the labels, charges your credit card and spits out a receipt. Super cool! I may start shipping on Sundays now that I know how easy and convenient that machine is!

Late last night I made this little guy for a customer who asked for something red, yellow and blue without specifying any animal in particular (which by the way is my FAVORITE kind of request because then I get to try out some of the other design ideas I have cluttering up my mind right now)...

I messaged her to make sure she likes it before I ship it out but I'm still waiting to hear back. Secretly I'm hoping she HATES it so I can keep it for myself! lol I LOVE those polka dot tentacles! ;)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


It's been a whirlwind few days! After Erin Cobb shared my Lens Pets on her "Ten on Tuesday" list I received almost 50 orders in three days... then things slowed down for two days and I settled in to sew, sew, sew and get caught up. Until yesterday (June 7) when 'MandeeFranee' apparently turned into an airborne virus or something!! It was popping up all over the place. A couple people mentioned seeing my link on and, and when I did a search on Facebook I found it shared on numerous photographer's fan pages (all of whom I plan to thank here very soon)... there were even a couple tweets! In 24 hours I received over 120 orders through my Etsy shop! In fact, I've been SUPER busy sewing those orders and only wanted to take a quick second to update here letting everyone know I'm not abandoning my blog, but I may not be around much for the next few weeks. I am planning to periodically check in on FB since I can type up a quick status update while I eat a bowl of oatmeal... but I don't expect to have much time for typing up long drawn out posts.

I am overwhelmed by all of the kind words and I absolutely LOVE seeing the excitement over my Lens Pets and sock monsters. But BOY! I did NOT expect things to take off quite this quickly!! From 3 sales... to almost 200, IN SIX DAYS!!! I'm thinking that probably doesn't happen often. So I'm flattered and thrilled... and working my fingers to the bone to get all of these orders out ASAP!!

THANK YOU! To everyone that shared my store link and to everyone that ordered!

and because a post just isn't the same without a photo, I leave you with my most recent sock monster... the smaller part of a matching set made for a little girl and her doll. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day with the family...

Both of my parents, my sister and her 5 kids all came to visit for the long weekend. They all live in Ohio and normally we try to see each other at least once a month, but money has been tight since I lost my job so we haven't seen them since Easter. It was a fun weekend for everyone. I didn't get any sewing done but as always, the kids had a great time playing together... ghost in the graveyard after dark, frisbee, card games, video games, the park, camping out in tents in the front yard, a parade and all sorts of other made up games. Hopefully it won't be such a long time before we see everyone again. I thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures from the weekend here.

my oldest son Cameron (who is a goofball teenager, hence the face) and his friend Gabe at the playground

my niece, Kaileigh, with the frisbee on her head

my youngest niece Kamryn playing hopscotch on the playground

my youngest son Carter hanging from the monkey bars

my nephew, Kurtis, playing in the front yard

my middle son Connor finds his own way across the monkey bars

my oldest niece, Kiera, learning how to skateboard

another niece, Kierstenn, scaling the climbing wall with ease. ;)

in addition to a fun weekend I was surprised with not one, but TWO mentions on websites in the last few days. SO flattered and excited. :) First, this past Saturday, One Pretty Thing chose me as one of their Flickr Friends Roundup picks for my sock monsters. My friend Martha posted on Facebook to let me know. :) THEN, just a few hours ago, a friend of a friend posted on my FB that she had shared my Lens Pets™ with photographer Erin Cobb and Erin liked them so much she posted a link to my Etsy shop on her 'Ten on Tuesday' list today. I had 8 sales in 30 minutes! I'll be sewing like a mad woman tonight making all those Lens Pets™... and I couldn't be more excited! :)

Between the Michaels contest and my recent Etsy success I am totally floating on cloud nine these days!