Polka Dot Mitten

As some of you may have heard, we are dealing with a little bit of a bump in the road around here. My little brother underwent unexpected open heart surgery yesterday. Kyle is doing well today, and though he has a long road to recovery, he is the strongest champ I know and I have no doubt he will be back at it in no time!  While he was in surgery, we found out that my mother’s dear friend, and my Polka Dot Mitten rep, Susan Ross, passed away from a heart attack. I really owe the entire existence of Polka Dot Mitten to Sue. Without her, it would not have been possible to be where we are today. Sue was such a wonderful person. She was more generous than you can even believe and she will be sadly missed by more people than you can even count. I debated whether or not this was something I should even blog about.  But I think writing about it helps me feel a little better....

Quick Dinner Recipe – “Taco Lasagna”

My kids love tacos.  So we came up with a new creative way to serve them… We call it “taco lasagna.” It’s so simple to make.  Brown 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey, drain.  Add one packet of taco seasoning, 1/3 cup water, one 14 oz can of kidney beans and one 14 oz can of Mexican diced tomatoes (drained). Let that simmer while you cut 6 fajita-sized soft tortillas in half.  Arrange four of the halves in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish so they cover the entire bottom: Then add a layer of the meat mixture: Top with cheese: Layer and repeat until all of your ingredients are used up. Bake at 400 degrees until hot all the way through and cheese is melted. (Usually about 15 minutes). YUM! —————— Taco Lasagna (Makes 8 servings): 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey 1 packet taco seasoning 1 14-oz can kidney beans 1 14-oz can Mexican style diced tomatoes 1/3 cup water 1 8-oz package 2% shredded cheddar cheese 6 soft fajita-size tortilla shells Preheat oven to 400.  Brown ground turkey, drain.  Add taco seasoning packet, water, beans and tomatoes. Simmer.  Meanwhile, cut tortillas in half.  Cover the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish with four halves.  Spoon meat mixture on top, sprinkle with cheese.  Repeat layers until all ingredients are used.  Bake at 400* for approximately 20 minutes, let sit for 5 minutes before serving....

Christmas Home Tour

I was a little late getting my Christmas decorations out this year.  Usually, I like to have the house decorated by the first weekend in December so we can enjoy it for the whole month.  This year, I had such a mess going on that I didn’t feel like adding to it right away.  We put the tree up and decorated it, but that was about it.  Last weekend, we decided to have some friends over one night to play Apples to Apples (a spur of the moment decision), so I quickly whipped the house into shape and finished my decorating before they came over!  I always get the best cleaning done before someone comes over! My great grandma’s musical cardinal Here is a recipe I tried last night for Saltine Cracker Toffee.  It is AMAZING. Perfect blend of salty and sweet.    http://www.iheartnaptime.net/saltine-cracker-toffee/ It really only took 15 minutes.  All you need is 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar and 50 saltine crackers.  Simple! I probably won’t blog again until after Christmas… so Merry Christmas!  ...

Winter Wonderland

      West Michigan is a winter wonderland today!     Here are a few pictures of Wade’s Bayou in Douglas: And the view out our front windows at home:   And our back...

Hip Hip Hooray! A Giveaway!

Hello to all of my new fans who have hopped over from Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  Before I get to the giveaway part, I thought I would do a little post about myself for those of you who don’t know my story. I used to be a waitress.  I knew it wasn’t going to be my forever job, but I was never quite sure what I really wanted to do.  In 2010, after reading a book called “5” by Dan Zadra, my mom and I decided to open up a little gift shop in Douglas, Michigan.  We opened on April 1st of 2011 in what used to be the Douglas Gas and Oil building at the end of Center Street. It Is What It Is is full of gifts and goodies, many of which are locally handmade. I began making little decorative signs for the shop, and they were a big hit!  These are some of my very early signs from 2011-2012. The big sign on the front of our building was the very first sign I ever made!In January 2013, while attending the Chicago gift show, our friend Sue (who sold us products for the shop) offered to rep my signs for me.  I couldn’t sleep that night, I had so many ideas!  I set up an appointment with our lawyer the next week, and Polka Dot Mitten was born.  We had a hard time coming up with a name for the company, because soooo many of the names we liked were already registered as a business.  The “mitten” comes from...

Very Merry

On Tuesday, December 10th, I will be a sponsor on Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog!  I have been so excited for this for several months.  {she’s kind of a big deal in the world of gift shops and licensed art}  I bought her e-book “Flying Lessons: The Whole Shebang” way back at the beginning of this year, when Polka Dot Mitten was brand new, and it has been a HUGE tool that I have used to grow the business.  She pretty much steps it all out on how to make your creative business soar.   I will be giving away 5 new signs on her blog that day, and I will be sharing all of them here on my blog, too! Here is a sneak peek of one of them (my personal favorite right now)  ::   It’s available {here}.  On Tuesday, I will have a whole page of special deals on my shop website that will only be available to my Kelly Rae Roberts fans!  You’ll have to check it out!...
Small Business Saturday and Gratitude

Small Business Saturday and Gratitude

Recently, SABA asked me to design an ad for a postcard based on a small business/ shop local campaign.  I had fun with it!  I love it when I get to be creative with my little doodles and graphics.  We shared it on our Facebook page for the shop and it was a big hit!  Let’s hope that Small Business Saturday is a big hit for Douglas (and everywhere else) tomorrow! I spent today at Teerman’s for a signing.  There were so many people out and about in Holland!  It’s so fun to meet and talk to all the people who are so “smitten with the mitten.”  I was completely and pleasantly surprised when I saw an ad with my signs earlier this in the Holland Sentinel (thanks mom for pointing it out!), and then an email newsletter from Teerman’s  featuring my signs a few days later (thank you to my rep, Sue, for forwarding that one!).  That was above and beyond what I ever would have expected! I am so thankful for all of the wonderful little shops around Michigan and beyond that have worked so hard to help my little business grow this year.  What a blessing!  It has really been a life-changing year for me.   Thank...

Messy Kitchens

I hear this song by Scotty McCreery all the time (it’s on the iPod at the store).  But today it made me cry. It sounds like our house.  Mama hollers “Supper time, And don’t make me tell you twiceWash your hands and wipe your face.The table’s no place for your toys, And try to use your inside voice, Don’t dig in ’til we say Grace.”So we put down our forks and bowed our headsAnd then she prayed the strangest prayer ever said: “I wanna thank You Lord, For noisy children and slamming doors, And clothes scattered all over the floor, My husband workin’ all the time, Draggin’ in dead tired at night, My never ending messy kitchenAnd dirty dishes.” We all got real still and quiet, And daddy asked “Hon, are you alright?”She said, “Dear, ain’t nothing wrong, Noisy kids are happy kids, And slamming doors just means we live, In a warm and loving home, Your long hours and those dishes in the sink, Means a job and enough to eat. So I’m gonna thank You Lord, For noisy children and slamming doors, And clothes scattered all over the floor, A husband workin’ all the time, Draggin’ in dead tired at night, A never ending messy kitchen For my little busy beesBeggin’ mama, mama can we please?Always wantin’ me to call their nameLoads of laundry pilin’ upCrayons crushed into the rugAnd those little sticky kissesAnd dirty dishes, And dirty...

Packed full of information… and an upcoming giveaway!

First of all, just a heads up… this is a really long post for me (sorry).  I don’t have time to blog on most days.  Today happens to be the only day of the year that has 25 hours (daylight savings). So I am taking that extra hour and writing a jam-packed post.  I really wanted to sum up everything that’s going on right now because there is a lot of exciting stuff to tell about!!  I have never, ever, {ever!} been so busy in November actually, make that “in my entire” life!  This is the typical scene at our house every night after the kids go to bed:   I like to take pictures here and there because sometimes, I can’t really believe how many signs we are making!  What a drastic difference a year makes.  Life is totally different right now from how it was a year ago.   And when I take pictures, my dog, Toto,  is always photobombing.  Or would you call that “totobombing?”       My goal when I started this business was to outgrow my kitchen counter.  That has happened.  We’re about to outgrow the counter and table and living room floor combined.  Some nights, we eat dinner all shoved to one end of the table while the signs hog the rest of it.   It’s really overwhelming, and I feel like I am going completely insane, and I’m really scatterbrained a lot of the time because I am always working.  But most of all, it’s really exciting and rewarding!  And I am so thankful for that! In the past, November has always been a...

Top Seven Sunday!

I’ve been trying to keep up with the blog.  But I’ve been having a hard time with that.  Ideally, I would post 5 times a week!  Instead, here are the top seven highlights of my week. 1. I’m going to be signing signs and doing 3 “trunk shows” in November.  At Teerman’s in Holland, at Shooting Star in South Haven, and at Great Northern Trading in Rockford.  I’ll post dates and more info later.   2.  We have been staying up until about 1 a.m.  every night/morning/whatever you want to call it.  It’s tough to work 2 jobs.  (ok 4 jobs between the two of us.  mike has a normal engineer job monday-friday and i work 7 days a week at the store most weeks, and we both make the signs every night!)  But it’s sooooooo exciting that we have to work so late every night.  My goal was to outgrow my kitchen counter.  And that is happening quickly.  I feel like I’m going insane mostly, but I asked for some help this week. Finally.  I took a picture of my kitchen counter, but I’m too embarrassed to post it.  Between the kids’ school papers, signs, regular mail, iiwii mail, polka dot mail, dirty dishes…. yeah.  You can make a mental picture.  But it makes my top 7 because I’m loving it. 3.  We took a break on Friday night!  We took the kids to the Saugatuck/Fennville football game!  We met our good friends there, and they came over to our house afterwards.  It was good to hang out and catch up with them.  They didn’t care about the...

On A Whim

I just signed up to take the Lilla Rogers “Make Art That Sells” e-course.  It was a complete, last minute, never-really-even-seriously-considered-it-until-today kind of decision.   I learned about it originally from the e-book I purchased from Kelly Rae Roberts.  That book has been one of the best purchases I have made so far in this new career of mine.  It’s a wealth of information! Anyway, I never seriously considered taking the Lilla Rogers e-course.  I thought about it once or twice.  But this morning, while scrolling through Facebook posts, I saw a post from the Lilla Rogers facebook page, and I just decided to do it.  It just happens to start tomorrow, and it ends on November 10th.  November 10th just happens to be the day my submission is due for the Kelly Rae Roberts giveaway.  {I think it was meant to be!}  I’ve been having a really hard time deciding what to give away for that.  I have a bunch of pieces that I have created that I love, but I want the one for that giveaway to be extra special.  I keep trying to create something special for it, but I keep getting stuck!  This morning, I just had a gut feeling that this e-course might be the answer to getting me un-stuck!  ...

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Thank you all for your comments kind words yesterday!  It means a lot to me! We had 33 comments on the post, so I used random.org to choose the winner. The 5th comment was Jean, whose heart is in Aura, MI!  Congratulations, Jean!  Send me an email at katie@shopwhatitis.com so we can work out the details. I’m planning on doing little giveaways like this about once a month.  If you’re a blogger who is interested in linking up with me for a giveaway on my blog, let me know!  Send an email to katie@shopwhatitis.com Aside from doing giveaways on my blog, I will also be participating in a giveaway on Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog in December!  She does the best giveaways on her blog, and the prizes are amazing.  Look what I won from one of her giveaways a few months ago: I love her artwork, and she is so good at promoting other artists.   Stay tuned for more...

Out and About

Every once in a while, I like to share some of the facebook posts from other shops that carry our signs.  Check these out: Downtown Tecumseh shared their version of our subway art (available at British Tea Garden): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151749353469215&set=a.10150108674299215.286023.342392164214&type=1&theater Catching Fireflies has an Ann Arbor, Rochester and Detroit version: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151764630433320&set=pb.124666573319.-2207520000.1380049574.&type=3&theater Kean’s Store in Mason has the Mitten State subway art: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=572409559472791&set=a.135052289875189.20879.116854815028270&type=1&theater Paper and I in Marshall just received their order (and my mom’s family is from Marshall, so that’s exciting!!): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=514823941927583&set=a.390496297693682.93421.390485281028117&type=1&theater Allegan Community Pharmacy has a nice selection of our Michigan signs: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=400424636734885&set=a.378900722220610.1073741825.252558528188164&type=1&theater Lana’s Boutique has a Kalamazoo and St. Joseph version of our subway art: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151721760406357&set=pb.92327031356.-2207520000.1380050050.&type=3&theater La Dee Dah in Menomonie, WI has our very first out-of-state Subway Art! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151725922082930&set=pb.376990337929.-2207520000.1380050098.&type=3&theater Coyer Candle Co. has our signs (and It Is What It Is has their candles!! it’s fun to work together!) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151578603686712&set=pb.230335391711.-2207520000.1380050161.&type=3&theater And Two Fish Gallery in Leland has this ever-popular sign: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151591945757555&set=pb.319442492554.-2207520000.1380050233.&type=3&theater   If I missed someone, let me know and I will link it!...

Happy First Day of Fall!

Fall is by far my favorite season.   First of all, I am not a very good photographer.  Either that, or I just don’t know how to use the settings on my camera to their full potential.   I spent my Sunday evening getting out the Fall decorations: I just love our house in the fall.  It seems like it glows once I get out all the leaves and pumpkins and gourds and berries.  I have a lot of hickory wood, blues, grays, greens and reds in my house – and the orange and yellow in fall decorations just makes it all look so warm & cozy! This new print was inspired by Fall:   {it’s available here} and will be coming to the fall wholesale catalog that I’m currently working on updating.  The quote in the tree trunk says: “fall in love with every season of your life.”  Here’s another Fall tag that has been quite popular at It Is What It Is:   Happy Fall!...
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