Happy Howl-loween!

October 31, 2008

You knew I had to use that pun, right? :)

Here are some pictures that the Turner family sent me of their border collies all dressed up for Halloween.

Bogie as a pirate. Oh, you can tell Bogie knows he’s looking mighty handsome!

Arrrr!!!  Shiver me timbers!

Notice the mock hook on his right paw and the mini parrot on his hat?

Now it’s Bentley’s turn. Can you guess what he’s dressed up as?

Here’s a hint: May the force be with you.

He’s Princess Leia from Star Wars!

Okay, so Bentley is actually a boy, but he doesn’t seem to mind being a girl for a day!  Besides, the point of Halloween is to enjoy dressing up, right?

Bogie’s second costume as a jailbird.

Somebody help me get this ball and chain off! (I wonder if the plush ball squeaks?)

Bogie’s doing time for being too adorable, and I hope the Turners are feeding him nothing but treats while he’s in “jail”!

And my personal favorite for a dog costume this year:

Yo quero taco?  Costume available here.



Room Candy – always yummy!


My Fifteen Minutes of Game

October 30, 2008

Hello, has it been a couple of weeks since my last post? How ironic is it that I’m slacking off at blogging when my last post was on the most industrious and hardworking blogger/mommy/designer from allthingscupcake.com? For shame, Linny! (wiggle your forefinger at the screen – I deserve it!)

Anyhoo, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time lately playing casual games online. Call it my form of escapism from all the never ending stream of bleak news all over the news these days. Here are a few that were particularly amusing to me (click on the game names for links).

1) Makeover game (80s style)

This is the look I came up with for my model. I call her Lucy Lookie. Heck, with legs like that, any outfit would look good!

Check out those accessories! I am especially taken by those flared, white wrist thingies on the bottom right (I’ll have to google the proper name). Did girls actually wear those back then?

2) Music Catch

A very nice, melancholy piano piece plays in the background and you basically “catch” the shapes that come on screen.

Supposedly, you can also download your own songs with the full version. Cool!

3) Ping Pong game

Wow, this one was soooooo much fun, but it can be a real time suck. I grew up playing ping pong, and the sound effects of this game are awesome! The game is developed by Nabisco, so there are a few Nabisco product placements throughout the game. And yes, I did get strangely hungry after I played the game!

Hmm, I wonder what Nabisco product they’re touting in the game…could it be Jello?

Well, I don’t have the kind of budget that Nabisco has for product placement (even a casual online game costs easily as much as a car to develop), so here’s my attempt at subliminal branding. See if you can count the number of “x”s there are in the next sentence:




Room Candy – always yummy!

You ever watch that show called Heroes? Well, I happen to know a real superhero living amongst us (more specifically, in sunny Florida), and her name is Jessica Bailey.

Unlike us mere mortals, Jessica has the supernatural ability to bend time and stretch it out so that she can on any given day be simultaneously: a mommy to a 1 1/2 year old daughter, a website designer with her own swanky company, a blogger to three very active blogs, and who knows what else she hasn’t told me yet!

Here’s Jessica’s little blond cutie having a very serious discussion about being green with our Freddie frog toys.

The princess and her loyal subjects!

I’m sure being a devoted mom to the Princess takes up the bulk of Jessica’s day, and yet she finds time to blog about her life as a wifey/mommy/techie on her mommy blog: thetattooedmama.com

Come night time, Jessica dons on her tech head and designs website and blog designs via her company, Delicious Design Studios. If I were to try a similar feat, I would have probably named my company Sleep Deprived Inc.

True to its name, Jessica’s designs are simply digital yumminess. It’s hard to pin down her style of design, but what I’ve noticed is that Jessica leans toward happy girly colors (yay, pink!), and she could easily start another company designing scrapbook paper because many of her designs feature patterns that would look great as scrapbook paper. If you’re thinking about starting a blog or itching to update the look of your current site, this is the first site you need to check out because Jessica has a whole slew of ready made designs for the super impatient, and even a few freebie designs! For those of you who want something more customized, you’ll have to book your spot with Jessica quickly because a girl this talented is in very high demand. Last I checked, she’s taking on new customers for Spring ’09.

Last but not least (I’m getting winded just writing down all the projects Jessica is involved in!), Jessica is the creator/editor/blogger for the super sweet site, allthingscupcake.com. I must warn you, this site is highly addictive, and although the site is technically calorie free, the side effects of reading through the posts about real cupcakes may include a sudden case of sweettoothiritis! What’s cool is that Jessica and her team of contributors also scour the net to find other accessories with cupcake designs (e.g. cupcake Xmas ornament, anyone?), so the site is really a directory of…well, all things cupcake!

I’m sure you are curious as I am as to what drives this supergal, so I had to ask her a few questions that were on my mind:

1) Jessica, do you remember how old you were when you tasted your first cupcake? Do you remember what it looked/tasted like, and why you fell in love with cupcakes?

I can only imagine my love for cupcakes started at an early age. My mother loved to bake and would always include me. I remember making mini-pies when I was really little. I had this little muffin tray that had… maybe, wild guess here… 12 muffin cups. They were the size of a quarter and so so tiny. I would take these little trays, and fill the bottoms with a piece of pie crust, topping it with some jam and baking them for a few minutes. These were my mini pies. I don’t have the same memory with cupcakes but I do remember eating them often.

2) Craziest cupcake you’ve tasted/seen over the years?

I made a green tea & tapioca cupcake last year around Christmas time. I couldn’t find any matcha green tea so I had to resort to green tea powder from the health food store. Wasn’t quite the same but still delicious. I then filled these cupcakes with tapioca pudding. Yum!

3) If you were to be stranded on an island and can only eat one cupcake for 30 days straight – what cupcake would it be?

Oh geez! You just had to go there, didn’t you? I’d have to say the Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava. Recipe by Cheryl Porro of Cupcake Bakeshop.

4) Moving onto Delicious Design Studio – how did you get started with web design?

I remember when I was young, around the age of 11, I would always play around with HTML and create my own “websites” and “fan sites”. Often being scolded for being on the computer too long, little did my parents know that what I was being grounded for, would eventually be the same thing that would help support my family as I got older. As the times changed, and things became more and more complicated, I started reading books and browsing the internet for solutions and “how-to” guides. That is how it all began.

5) How long does it usually take you to finish a project? Where do you usually get your inspiration for all your fabulous designs? And how long is the waiting list if we want YOU to design our blog/website?

Oh gosh! We have waiting lists from 2 weeks up to 6 months. I recently hired another designer to help me with the work load and she is fun and amazing to work with. I would love to be able to have a waiting list of 2 weeks instead of 2-3 months.

My inspiration comes from many different sources. On my desk, I must have between 10-12 books. Books about scrapbooking, web design, color, decorating, interior design. I can find inspiration in almost anything.

6) As a newbie blogger and someone who thinks html, CSS, PHP, SQL are all jibberish, what advice can you give gals like me who want to be more tech-savvy?

Read! Read as many books as you can. There is so much information out there, you just have to start from the beginning and take time to read and understand it. If you can afford design books, the internet is a great place to start as well.

7) I can’t even imagine how you manage to be a full-time Mom to a darling little girl, blogger for two sites and run your web design business! Other than catch up on sleep, what do you like to do when you actually have some free time to yourself? :)

Excuse me? What is this “free time” that you speak of?

If you tell Jessica to take on the world, I bet she’ll think it’s a piece of cake. Or more accurately, a piece of cupcake!

Extra yummy: After learning about Jessica’s island-worthy cupcake, I contacted Cheryl Porro of cupcakeblog.com (another cupcake blog – hooray!) to see if I could reprint the recipe and post a picture of the said cupcake. I present to you: Walnut Cupcakes Topped with Rose White Chocolate Mousse and Baklava. Please refrain from licking the screen.

This cupcake is truly a labor of love because there are four different recipes for each component of the cupcake. To get the full recipe, check out the step-by-step directions by Cheryl on her blog. Thanks for the picture, Cheryl!



Room Candy – always yummy!

HH Backer Pet Trade Show

October 7, 2008

Every year, I participate in an industry trade show called the H.H. Backer Pet Show in Chicago, IL, and this year was no exception. For me, doing a trade show is similar to going to boot camp – it’s five days of very intense packing, unpacking, setting up, chatting with hundreds of people, furious scribbling, and more packing at the end of it all. It’s tiring as heck, but so much fun, though! Since I had my camera with me, I took some pictures of my booth for those of you retailers that couldn’t make the show last weekend.

Can you tell it’s a garden theme? :) It’s also a happy coincidence that the yellow spotlight that shone from the ceiling made the booth look like it’s a sunny day out.

I have to confess, I am such a procrastinator when it comes to planning these trade shows, I always drive myself crazy a couple weeks leading up to the trade show scrambling to get all the booth fixtures and materials (toys, beds) ready. I got my idea for the garden theme thanks to these wonderful tissue paper pom poms by Martha Stewart that I saw at Walmart.

Who knew you can get these fluffy looking floral pom poms just from a stack of thin colored paper? Beauty does come at a price, because it took me a good two hours to separate out the paper layers to get all five pom poms up. A few feet of fake grass turf, a lawn table and fold up chairs, and I’m all set for the show. If I weren’t so much in a rush, I would have also packed myself a straw brim hat and a pair of sunglasses to really complete the look!

Front view of booth. In the past, I had my dessert style dog toys on a cake platter, but kept it simple this year and put everything up on a peg board. Notice something new? Why yes, it’s our new Xmas-themed donut toys!

I know it’s only October, but it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas! If you need to stock up these toys for your stores, they are already in stock and ready to ship.

Talking about donut toys, the booth directly across from me were the folks from Rockin’ Doggie, and their two french bulldogs Louie and Lulu were just darling. Here’s Lulu having a field day with our pink donut toy.

She was a real pro at finding all three squeakers in the toy!

A girl needs a nap after all this sugar rush!

Jelly donut beds and hand knit toys.

Our new JUMBO toys. That Millie caterpillar toy is so long, it took up the whole width of the rack!

Our talking poodles, our rattling unicorn toys and our big head toys.

Sea animals and jungle toys. I usually sell my samples at the end of the show, and the first ones to go were the jungle toys and the shark toys. I guess I’m not the only one who’s a fan of the National Geographic and Discovery channel. :)

Our small dog toys all fit neatly in a rack. Needless to say, our toys have grown exponentially in both selection and size!

Extra yummy: We are honoring our show special until the end of the month, so give us a call at the office to find out which toys/beds qualify for the show special pricing.



Room Candy – always yummy!