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Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Time has Come, Please Help Us Save Marsha's Life.

 I would normally never do this, but because we are now fighting the clock to save my Mother-in-law's life, I wanted to reach out to as many people as possible.

This is my Mother-in-law, Marsha Shepard-Skinner. (With my two boys.)

She hasn't been able to eat more than a bite of food in years. Her condition has worsened and she can no longer eat at all.
Marsha has exhausted all options and her last hope of ever being able to eat a meal again is with a $61,000 procedure that her insurance will NOT COVER. This procedure is one of only two life-saving options she has left. The other, the one the insurance will cover, is a feeding tube that would render her confined to her home with a line directly into a vein in her neck. One that would have to be in place until the day she dies. Given that her last feeding tube was rejected within months, this option isn't much of one.
Marsha has been down the road with many other procedures, and one by one, her body rejected or stopped responding to them...
When I think about all the foods I love, I dont know how she's lived like this. When I think about how thin and frail she's gotten (hovering around 100lbs for her 5'9" frame,) I worry knowing that number keeps falling exponentially. And when I think about poverty being the only reason my friend may lose her battle with a rare and painful disease, it makes me angry.
Her body no longer has the means to even heal itself, or maintain itself. She's finding it next to impossible to recover from the surgeries she keeps getting to mend her rapidly-deteriorating body.
My Husband, Xac, and I created this to help save her life. She has done so much for so many, and suffers through with a smile on her face and a fight I have never seen before behind her eyes.
It's time the rest of us do something more to help her fight. Because she is definitely not going to go without one.

Thank you very much for your time.
Randi Gleason-Shepard


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

FREE, (or Dirt Cheap,) Summer Fun for Families in the Grand Rapids Area

Hey all!
I've been super busy during my hiatus, and one thing I've been up to is planning a ton of summer fun for my kids!

I had no idea Grand Rapids was overflowing with FREE entertainment and workshops for the little ones! Being the awesome freeloader that I am, I also like to share the wealth. So below, I have included some of the many awesome sites and places that offer the fun freebies. (And there are a TON.)



GRKids.com is an all-encompassing site for everything from family-friendly events to parenting advice. I originally loved this website! I still do, but my ADHD cannot stand the site glitches. (Particularly when searching for events. When you click an event to see more information, the back button essentially resets the search. SERIOUSLY aggravating.)

Kent District Library


Good ole KDL! Particularly the events page. Select your branch from the drop-down menu and BEHOLD all the lovely FREE workshops, classes, and shows they have for everyone in the family. A few of the things I'm planning to do with the littles this summer are Ruff Readers, (a program which school-aged children read books to service dogs and their handlers,) Kids' Club, (they hold these a few times a month during which the children will craft, play games, and do other fun activities,) and there are even occasional Magic Shows, Carnivals, Pet Shows, Beyblade Competitions, super-cool days where local zoos bring in animals for the kids to touch and learn about, AND A WHOLE LOT MORE! There are different events depending on the branch you go to, so check them all out. OH! And don't forget  the ever-awesome Summer Reading Program and all the great things associated with that. PLUS, BOOKS! KDL is like a fabulous wonderland of knowledge!

Home Depot Kids Workshop

 So, I was totally unaware that Home Depot does a FREE workshop for children on the first Saturday of every month! They teach kids how to build things like birdhouses, mail organizers, fire trucks, etc. and even teach children the safe and smart way to use tools! SCORE! 
Children receive a free project kit to assemble in-store, an orange Home Depot apron, and an achievement pin!
Make sure to register to ensure your spot!

Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic


Lowe's also has a FREE workshop for children on select Saturdays depending on the location. They also supply your kiddo with the tools and wood necessary to complete that session's project, a free apron, safety goggles, patch, and other freebies! Visit the site and register your child as spots are definitely limited!

Michaels Kids Club

Michaels is hosting a Summer in-store craft time for only $2.00 per child. They call it the Passport to Imagination! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from June 16th to August 1st, from 10am to noon, your child can explore and craft all sorts fun things! 

So there you have it! 
Now you know what my awesome little family will be up to this summer! There is literally not enough time to do all of these things, so you should have no problem giving your little ones their best summer ever for next to NOTHING. 
(And just to throw it out there, I threw this list together just for you guys. I wont be receiving any compensation for sharing or anything, I just LOVE free stuff, and I love to make sure other Moms have the scoop on freebies too!)

Have fun this summer! I'm sure I'll be back shortly with other stellar things to share!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Behind the Scenes Look at What's Been Going on Since Last Time...

Hello Everybody!
Wow, have I missed blogging! Rest assured that I have been staying busy!

My husband and I have been working on a remodel/overhaul of our little abode that has really done wonders for the aesthetic appeal of the house! We even managed to set up a little office for me! (It's still in ruins from having to sort and organize a crap-ton of DDW stuff, but we're getting there!)

May is a hugely busy month for my family and I already! There are tons of family birthdays to attend, Mother's Day (and Mother's Day orders!), relays and marathons, etc. This past Friday and Saturday, I participated with Susie's Organization Solutions in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life! What fun! The event raised a massive $36,000 for the American Cancer Society which will be going toward the funding of cancer research and cure.

 (I took this photo during the actual Luminary dedication ceremony. The Relay was held indoors due to temps below 50 degrees and rain.)

This Saturday I have volunteered with the Crash's Landing/Big Sid's Sanctuary team to hand out Gatorade, water, and other fueling-up supplies at the Fifth Third Riverbank Run. (Crash's Landing and Big Sid's Sanctuary are two local cat rescue organizations that I volunteer for once a week. SHOUTOUT to "Sid's Kids" D.C., Doki, and Morrissey! and "Crash Cats" Van Gogh, and Mayor McCheese!) Volunteering with these two sister organizations has been a highlight in my life for the last several weeks. They are both such special places, overseen by one Dr. Jennifer Petrovich, who is an absolute saint for what she does! Big Sid's is even one of the largest rescues in the nation that houses FeLV and FIV kitties. And I have to tell ya, they are some of the sweetest cats I have ever met. :)

On top of everything else, my family has recently learned that my poor Mother-in-law's long-time disease is becoming more complicated and is requiring very drastic surgery here in the near future.

DDW functions have taken a bit of a backseat to family and personal life as of late. May always throws lots of things our way. The kids' school year is winding down too, so that always means lots of field trips, IEPs, half days, field days, picnics, concerts, etc. WHEW! But I can assure you that I've still been turning the old gears brainstorming new and awesome things to come!

Stay tuned! (And feel free to drop in and say "Hi" from time to time!)

Take Care!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Notice of Seasonal Hiatus. :)

Hey everyone!
Sadly, I have had to make a tough decision and will not be updating the blog for a little while. The coming of the warm weather has launched me into what seems to be a never-ending list of to-do's. My home and family are currently in need of more attention than I have been able to give being so engrossed in work all the time.(Plus, with the coming of summer, I can't wait to get out into the sun and make memories with my kids!)
Dini Design Works is also running in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Byron Center, MI the first weekend in May, as well as the Fifth Third Riverbank Run on the second Saturday. Relay is/will be taking up a large chunk of my time and energy on into August. It is crunch-time, and sadly, I have been neglecting my duties as a Volunteer for this cause, and I really have to get my butt in gear!
DDW is also hoping to start selling at the local festivals and markets come Memorial Day and through the summer, so I will need to use a lot of my spare time to work on inventory.
I WILL, however, still be operating the Dini Design Works shops on Etsy and Zibbet. (So feel free to order!) The only things that will be affected by this hiatus are our Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter accounts; as well as my After Hours blog. (All of these things may be updated occasionally just to share with the goings on of DDW.)
This sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time especially once the seasons change. But I have a lot of fun things in store once I get back!

Comments and questions can ALWAYS be emailed to me through: DiniDesignWorks@gmail.com

Thank you all for your continued love and support!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Old-School Easter 4.17.14

Soooo, as we all know, Easter is this Sunday. (I don't understand how being that it was just Christmas yesterday...) I was inspired by this Buzzfeed post to do some digging around for some awesomely hilarious and old Easter photos.

Below, you will find a healthy mix of Easter Bunny pics, vintage Easter cards, and other Easter goodies. My good friends at AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com receive some pretty hilarious images from their fans from time to time, and a few of the ones I will show you came straight from them. The rest I found on Google: Images.


The look on this Dad-or-Mom Bunny's face says it all... (No denying that those are his kids though... lol!)

I will never understand why RetroBunnies always look like what nightmares are made of! This must have been taken on Easter morning at Leatherface's house.

Well, that was an easy egg hunt.

Ahh... this is more reminiscent of what my house looked like on Easter morning. Subtract one sister and throw some 80's hair on this guy, and you're almost dead-on. Nowadays, I'm pretty sure this is what every parent feels like. 

"They're going to do what?"

This was the last year the Easter Bunny delivered baskets tailored to Moms and Dads too. This Mom's basket had wine and shoulder pads in it! (Not pictured.)

First of all, where is the punctuation in that sentence? :-/
Secondly, I bet you didn't know that the tradition of hiding eggs came from the Easter Bunny's repeatedly failed attempts to hide his eggs from the pretentious, snot-nosed, village children in puffy shirts. This postcard perfectly depicts the anxiety felt by rabbits everywhere. 

Uhh... O_o
Apparently this church isn't only interested in reforming itself, but also local inmates...?
Perhaps they should try that whole "reforming" thing one more time...

Two words. (Kinda.)
I can see Jud's house from here! :D

Meanwhile, at the Playbunny Mansion...

There was a shocking recurrence of children popping out of eggs on these old Easter cards. This one is just bizarre. I don't understand what the appeal was, and I really don't understand what this card is trying to say. "A Merry Easter." YOU ARE TOO VAGUE!

Not sure what this pic has to do with Easter, but they got something right.
Birds + doing "it" = eggs

Little Suzie kept telling Mom and Dad that she was being followed by a "creepy bunny". 
They thought she was just imagining things until they tried to take a picture of her in her Easter clothes and saw this horrifying maniac staring back at them. 

They actually drew the chicken's "glory'?!
People were really demented back in the olden days.

Little Charlie Bucket was embarrassed when Grandpa Joe flaunted how broke they were on Easter.

Are you wishing me "Best Easter Wishes"? Or are you telling me that this was the chicks' Easter wish? 
"Uh oh, Jerry. Do you want to tell Dad that Mom is still having an affair with the Cadbury Bunny, or should I?"

When you see it...

"Oh no you di'int!"

"A Joyous Easter"...?
FOR WHOM?! Look at that poor chicken's face! 

If vintage Easter cards and old pictures have taught me anything, it's that the Easter Bunny was a sadistic butthole back in the day.

Oh, and that they didn't believe in punctuation and really like to push the envelope when it comes to how absolutely certifiable they can make the Easter Bunny look while still coaxing their children onto his lap. Something tells me this whole Easter Bunny tradition started as an elaborate April Fools joke. 
The whole egg and rabbit thing actually came from Easter having been about fertility and the rebirth of spring. Eggs = babies and such. Rabbits =  well... you've heard the expression having to do with rabbits and their rather rapid rate of procreation... 

Tell me how creepy making your kid sit on the Easter Bunny's lap is now.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!
I'm on vacation again tomorrow through Sunday evening in Chicago, so please have a happy and safe Easter!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Failure 4.16.14

Oh, and in addition, if someone expects you to fail; fight tooth and nail to prove those bastards wrong. Even if you agree with them. ;)

Have an awesome evening, everyone!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Try-it Tuesday: Stovetop Home Scents 4.15.14

Hey guys! I've got an awesome DIY for you that just may or may not save your behind one of these days.

Stovetop Home Scents!

I'm talking about making your own air freshener out of common ingredients found in your house that you can boil to quickly and effectively make your home smell HEAVENLY. 

I was about 17 the first time I was introduced to this concept. I walked into a friend's house, and her mother was boiling water on the stove. The house was filled with the heavenly aroma of what I thought was cake... but there was no cake to be found. (Worst. Bummer. Ever.) I asked my friend's mom how she got her whole house to smell that awesome without actually baking anything, and she told me that she was "boiling vanilla".
Apparently if you simmer a pot of water with pure vanilla extract in it, it will release what I presume Willy Wonka's factory must have smelled like. (You know, before torturing the children...)
So what I have decided to do was compile a few recipes for you to try at home! The initial concept is simple: bring a small pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, add various ingredients. The heating of these ingredients is what brings out the delicious smells. The simmering acts as constant "stirring" which creates the tiny bubbles from the bottom of your pan which burst at the surface and release scent through the air with the steam.
The ingredients commonly used are fruits, spices, seasonings, extracts, and essential oils. Most are designed to give the home a "warm, comfy smell". And, lets be real for a second, those are the best smells in the world.
Now, you have to be VERY careful not to let the pan boil dry. Water does evaporate. Letting the pan boil dry will not only cause scorching with a resulting burning smell, but can actually damage your pots and cook tops. (I usually just keep pouring water in once it's low until I am tired of keeping up with it.)

I bet you are itching to see what luscious scents I have for you... On to the recipes!

Cinnamon Roll

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 c. water

Orange Ginger Pound Cake

1/2 tsp. Ginger Spice
10 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 c. water

Mom's Apple Pie

Skins of 1 Apple
1/2 c. Apple Juice
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Clove
1 c. water

Pumpkin Pie

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Clove
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ginger
1 1/2 c. water

Give these a try to make your home smell lovely when expecting company, or to trick your family or roommates into waking up with false hopes. ;)

Until tomorrow, my loves!

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