Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

What New Mom Doesn’t Love a Freebie?


The following is a guest post from Cara Terreri.


New moms and moms-to-be have their hands full. Whether they’re in the throes of caring for a new baby or spending days, weeks and months playing incubator while trying to maintain energy, stay healthy and plan for the impending birth-day, suffice to say that motherhood brings with it a whole new set of life challenges (oh, and joys!). Moms are entitled to a “freebie” every once in a while, which is why Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze blog written for women and by women to support each other during pregnancy, birth and parenthood, is hosting a WEEK OF GIVEAWAYS for moms and babies!

Everyday this week, the blog is giving away a new baby, mommy or maternity product. Each giveaway is open until Sunday, August 15. So far, here’s the line-up:
Monday: 4 sets of Lamaze toys and teether bundles
Tuesday: Belle Baby Carrier ($109 value!)
Wednesday: $25 gift card to Maternitique, an online baby and maternity boutique that promotes natural and organic products
Thursday: 2 Discover the Sea Carousel Soothers from the Lamaze toy line ($54.99 value each!)

There will be two more giveaways featured on Friday and Saturday. The giveaway is free to enter and open to anyone worldwide and will close on Sunday, August 15 at 11:59 EST. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 16.
Are you past the new mommy stage? Then consider entering to win on behalf of a friend, or share the Web link (www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org) with your friends and family. While you’re at the Giving Birth with Confidence blog, check out all that there is to offer… articles, tips and stories covering all topics related to pregnancy, birth and parenting, as well as online discussion forums.
Cara Terreri is the site administrator and blogger at Giving Birth with Confidence in addition to working with Sherean at New Thought Marketing. She’s a full-time mom to two busy boys and part-time blogger, writer, editor and social media maven extraordinaire.

Friday Random Ramblings


My best friend’s 10-year old daughter is in the Nutcracker this weekend and I’m going to see her perform today. This is her fifth year (or maybe sixth?) performing and it’s been fun to see her move up from hopping across the stage in a bunny costume to performing in two scenes this year. I’m so proud of her!

Last night, my son “cruised” for the first time, pushing his wagon walker across the living room. Very exciting!

And yesterday, we met with both the builder and decorator for our home. We made a few minor changes to the floor plan, like moving windows around, and made a lot of color and finish choices. We selected the exterior color (a blue-gray) with light tan accents and a dark Chestnut wood for the doors. We got the inspiration for the color palette from one of my son’s outfits!

I was at a marketing association lunch the other day and sat at a table of folks who work for a staffing company. They tell me that their business is growing and orders are up. I’m hopeful this means the economy has turned the corner since jobs are a lagging indicator.

What’s open in my browser? Well, I’m still shopping so Amazon is up, Red Envelope is up, and Toys R Us is up. Later today, I plan to do a holiday card so I imagine I’ll be spending some time on Shutterfly. But in terms of what might be interesting to you, check out these sites:

DesignPublic – a great site with modern furniture, accessories, and lots and lots of gifts. Plus kids stuff! You’ll find everything from Jonathan Adler to Thomas Frank to Dwell to Amenity here. Happy browsing!

CoolMomPicks Holiday Gift Guide – I always think I have good gift ideas until I check out their gift guide and realize I am SUCH an amateur. They have such great ideas and discounts on a lot of them. If you’re stuck for someone on your list, check them out.

Parenting.com’s Toy Contest – You may enter twice a day until Dec. 14th to win $900 worth of their selections for toys of the year. Get all your relatives without kids to enter, too, and increase your chance of winning!

Hope you all have a great weekend! We’re going to take the tot to Gymboree tomorrow and hit up some showrooms for interior house ideas (cabinets, tile, etc.). Atlanta’s supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow, though, so that may put a damper on activities. What do you have planned?

Win a $30 “I See Me” Personalized Name Book


I See me books Contest 1109

Hi there! I’m helping my Ob-Gyn group with a contest on their Facebook page. This is the fabulous group that delivered my baby. They hired my marketing company to redo their website (what do you think of the design?) and now we’re helping them with their Facebook page.

To kick off their Facebook page, we’re doing a series of contests all month. Right now, you can go to their page and register to win a personalized name book for your child (or any child) from I See Me. I’ve blogged about I See Me before because I think their custom name books are unique and make very special, sentimental gifts.

Anyhow, wanted to let you all know so you can hop on over there and register. And be sure and check back all month. We’ll have other great contests!

posted under Contests | 1 Comment »

Announcing our Zutano Giveaway Winner


Congratulations to Andrea T., who won our $75 Zutano shopping spree. Her comment — # 100 — was selected by Random.org as our winning number. Andrea, I hope you love your Zutano stuff as much as I love mine! In fact, I just placed a big order yesterday for fall clothes from Zutano for my baby. I can’t wait to put him in some new prints and those DARLING hats!

posted under Contests | No Comments »

Meet the Creative Mind Behind Zutano


When I first discovered Zutano shortly before my son’s birth, I was SO excited! My husband and I hated all the baby boy clothes we’d seen in the chain stores. Too much powder blue. Too many trucks and puppy dogs. I work in a creative field. I wanted big. I wanted bold. I wanted bright colors! Enter Zutano.


Zutano began 20 years ago, the brain child of a designer/art director, Uli Belenky and her photographer husband, Michael. Frustrated with what they saw in the stores, they took matters into their own hands and began designing colorful, high-quality clothes. Zutano is headquartered in a beautiful farmhouse in Vermont. One of the things I love about the brand (besides the cute clothes) is that they let their employees bring their babies to work. Why don’t more companies do this?

I had a chance to ask the founder, Uli, a few questions. Here’s what I learned:

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your new designs?

A: The inspiration for our new prints come from so many different things! Mostly things found in the world around us: color schemes, gardens, little gum wrappers, urban landscapes and trees changing colors in the fall. Constant observation and investigation are integral to the creative process. A great regard for playful and humorous situations and a focus on happiness is the place from which we approach our work. At Zutano we always try to challenge our boundaries and look at everything from different perspectives.

This fall’s collection was inspired by the Vermont countryside, forest jaunts, cozy afternoons baking bread by the warm kitchen hearth and natural autumn landscapes.

Q: How many prints do you release each year? When and how do you roll them out?

A: Zutano divides our year into two seasons: fall and spring. We divide our clothing into three categories: Newborn (Itzy Bitzy), Baby and Toddler

Each season our Itzy Bitzy collection for newborn grows since we introduced it in 2006 and we usually release two new print families with coordinating candy stripes and solids and retire one or two. The total is now up to 10 print families. Itzy Bitzy sizes are currently available on in cotton Interlock (newborn and 0-3m). This collection is made for newborns and preemies and will fit babies starting at a mere 4 lbs.

Our Baby collection (3m-24m) contains a very large selection of cotton Interlock stripes, solids and prints in addition to Cozie fleece, French Terry, Velûre and a number of Woven fabrics. Our cotton Interlock pieces (also known as Baby Basics) is what we are most known for, and many of the styles we offer these pieces in (footies, t-shirts, pants, etc) have been Zutano staples for years.

In Toddler (2T-4T) we offer styles in all the Baby fabrics, but with a slightly smaller selection and in different silhouettes for older children. Again, we add a few new styles and silhouettes to the mix each season and sometimes retire a few.

Overall we add about 20-25 cotton Interlock prints to the line each year and retire that same amount.

Q: What are some of the most popular prints?

A: Some of the prints that have become Zutano customer favorites and have been in the collection a long time are Circus, Monkeys, Zoo Crew, and Good Dog, and Chocolate Five Stripe. New prints are released over time throughout each season on a month to month basis.

Q: Why don’t you make footies in sizes larger than 9 months? (This question was just for me cuz my puddin’ pop outgrew his Zutano footies at 6 months old.)

A: We will take your request to heart about making footies larger than 9m!

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a $75 gift card to the Zutano Itzy Bitzy boutique. Deadline is Wed., Sept. 30th.

posted under Babies, Contests | 2 Comments »

Maternity Shirt Winner Announcement


Congratulations to Melissa who had comment # 36. That was the winning number in our maternity shirt giveaway (selected using Random.org). Melissa will get TWO maternity shirts from Apple and Eve.

I loved reading all your comments. You all clearly liked the shirts and had your own funny stories to share. Thanks for participating! Make sure to enter this week’s contest to win a $75 shopping spree from Zutano.

posted under Contests | No Comments »

GIVEAWAY: $75 Shopping Spree from Zutano!



Eeeek! It’s Zutano, Y’all! I am beyond excited to announce this week’s giveaway . . . the final one in our month of giveaways! You all know I love Zutano, right? Literally, about 2/3 of my baby’s wardrobe is Zutano.  They have been kind enough to offer one of my readers a $75 gift card to spend in their online store. Their online store features their Itzy Bitzy line, which comes in two sizes, from 4-8 pounds and 9-13 pounds. Perfect bring-home-the-baby from the hospital outfits — and beyond! (My little one lived in his footies for the first few months of his life.) In addition to the generous prize, I also got to ask the founder, Uli Belenky, a few questions. I’ll post my interview here tomorrow.



1. To enter, go check out Zutano’s Itzy Bitzy Boutique and report back here with a comment on your favorite Zutano outfits or accessories.

2. To gain one more entry, follow us on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me that you’re a follower.

3. To gain yet another entry, follow Zutano on Facebook and leave me another comment to let me know. They have a great FB page!

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Entry deadline: midnight PST, Wednesday, September 30, 2009. The winner will receive a $75 gift card to Zutano’s online store. The winner will be selected using Random.org and announced on Thursday, September 30.

I am seriously obsessed with Zutano. They make such great, vibrant, bold, graphic prints. Totally appeals to my inner designer. They come out with over 20 new patterns a year. It’s easy and fun to mix and match their prints, stripes and solids. Here’s my little bean in some choice Zutano clothes. I just stocked up on new prints for fall (love the moss stripe!) and am already formulating my plan on what to mix, what to match, what to layer and where to take him to show off his cute clothes!

Two days old

Two days old

Three months old

Two months old

Three months old

Three months old

First snow, four months old

First snow, four months old

Six months (and getting some hair!)

Six months (and getting some hair!)

Q&A with Lynnie from Apple & Eve Maternity


Have you entered this week’s contest yet? We’re giving away two maternity tees from Apple & Eve Maternity to one lucky reader! I had a chance to catch up with Lynnie, the creative mind behind the designs at Apple & Eve. Here’s what she had to say:

Where do you get your design inspirations?

I actually get most of my inspiration for designing my tees from my children! For example, my very first design came about with the help of my son Codi back in 1994 (when he was 3 1/2).  I was pregnant with baby #3 (Clay) and my son asked me, “Mommy, why do you have a ‘bump’ on your belly?” I told him, “The bump is there to protect the little baby inside.”  That innocent question from my child gave me the inspiration for “Baby Under Mommy’s Protection” (aka BUMP).  I now use that phrase on every mommy tee that I design as my signature logo! It is located at the lower corner of each of my mommy tees. To make the logo even more special, I had the footprints from my two youngest sons birth certificates replicated and incorporated into my logo, with the phrase “Baby Under Mommy’s Protection” arched above the newborn footprints.

I also try to keep things humorous (I’m well known for practical jokes around my house!), which you can probably tell from the “OMGIMPRGNT” tee. With baby #4 — better known as Colten – I was 37 years old and, bless his heart, he was an “OOPS!”  One of the first things I said was, “Oh my God, I’m pregnant!” My daughter Christina came up with the text version for the design of this tee! I guess you can truly say this is a “family” business!

How often do you release new designs?

I try to release a new design or two every six months. I will be releasing another Christmas design by mid-October.  I am also adding long sleeve and tanks to my collection! I love designing my maternity tees, it really is so much fun. And it certainly helps that the feedback from my customers is wonderful!  One of my customers even used the OMGIMPRGNT tee to announce that she was pregnant.  She had her husband and parents/family meet her at the local Olive Garden.  She wore the tee and as everyone figured out what the “text” message said, well, let’s just say, there were a lot of happy screams coming from a certain table in Olive Garden. Stories like that are what make this job so much fun!


Do you have a favorite tee and why?

I would have to say my favorite is the classic Baby Under Mommy’s Protection maternity tee, because it was my first design and is very sentimental to me.  I also am partial to my design “Watch Love Grow” – the detail in the artwork for this tee is just beautiful!

Ready to win TWO of your own Apple & Eve Maternity tees? Check out yesterday’s post, follow the rules and enter to win by midnight on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. We’ll randomly select a winner using Random.org. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for a whole other contest – a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

posted under Contests | No Comments »

Winner of the Splat Mat and Matching Bib


Virtual drumroll, please . . . the winner of the cute splat mat and matching bib is Nicole with comment # 10. I used Random.org to select the winner. Congrats, Nicole. I hope you love your set as much as I love mine!

We just announced this week’s contest: Win a mod mom maternity shirt from Apple and Eve. LOVE their shirts, Y’all. Please tell your friends!

posted under Contests | 1 Comment »

Mod-Mom to Be Maternity Shirt GIVEAWAY! (Win TWO Shirts!)


I wish I’d seen the maternity t-shirts from Apple & Eve Maternity when I was pregnant. I found that most of the maternity tees out there were too cutesy, or in some cases, too in-your-face. The shirts at Apple & Eve are really clever and have a simple, understated modern design. I just LOVE the “OMGIMPRGNT” shirt and totally wish I’d had that one. I also like the “did a little dance, made a little love…” shirt — that shirt really hits the nail on the head!


And the best part about the shirts at Apple & Eve Maternity is that you have the chance to win one TWO shirts from her shop!


1. To enter, go check out Apple & Eve Maternity and report back here with a comment on your favorite screened maternity tee.

2. To gain one more entry, subscribe to my RSS feed and leave me a comment telling me that you’re a subscriber.

3. To gain yet another entry, follow me on Twitter, then leave another comment and tell me your Twitter name.

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Entry deadline: midnight PST, Wednesday, September 23, 2009. The winner will receive a maternity t-shirt in your choice of size and style. The winner will be selected using Random.org and announced on Thursday, September 24.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for a whole other contest – a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Check back here tomorrow to read my interview with Lynnie, the originator of the phrase “bump: baby under Mommy’s protection” and the woman behind Apple & Eve Maternity.

UPDATE: Lynnie just informed me that the winner will get her choice of TWO maternity shirts from her shop, not one. Wow! That’s an almost $50 value, Chicas. Not pregnant? Win some for a friend!

posted under Contests | 57 Comments »

Don’t Forget Our Giveaways


Have you entered our Splat Mat and Matching Bib giveaway yet? This whole contest thing is new to me here on the blog and I’m having a blast reading all your comments. I had to share this photo from last night. This is why you need a splat mat. I bought mine months ago (from ColorMeCute, the shop providing the prize) and thank goodness I did. You could win this exact set, or another one of your choice from her shop.


You can also win a $50 Amazon gift card over on our Facebook page. We just need to get to 150 fans and then we’ll draw another winner. As of this morning, we were about 20 fans short of our goal. So tell a friend and come share random thoughts with us on Facebook, too!

Great GIVEAWAY: Win a Baby Splat Mat and Matching Bib!


When we started feeding our son solid foods, it soon became apparent we would need something to protect our lovely bamboo floors. I needed a “splat mat” but wanted something with some style. I’m just not ready for cartoon characters. There will be plenty of time for that later when he’s older. Enter Etsy shop ColorMeCute. Not only did she have some stylish designs, she had a black and white damask that went perfectly with my black and white kitchen. See? Doesn’t it look great?

splat mat

And lucky you, Random Neural Firings is giving away one splat mat and matching bib, courtesy of ColorMeCute!



1. To enter, go check out ColorMeCute and leave a comment telling me about your favorite things in her shop.

2. To gain one more entry, subscribe to my RSS feed and leave me a comment telling me that you’re a subscriber.

3. To gain yet another entry, follow me on Twitter, then leave another comment and tell me your Twitter name.

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Entry deadline: midnight PST, Wednesday, September 16, 2009. The winner will receive a splat mat with matching bib in your choice of available sets. The winner will be selected using Random.org and announced on Thursday, September 17.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for a whole other contest – a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

About the Woman Behind ColorMeCute

Heidi is a stay-at-home mom of three kids. Where she finds the time to sew is beyond me, but thank goodness she does. Her aunt taught her but she really started sewing like crazy with her third child, who, like mine, was a spitter and a drooler. A woman after my own heart, she hated covering up the cute outfits with ugly bibs so she designed some cute bibs and the rest, as they say, is history.

Check out her shop, leave us a comment, and you could win a set for yourself. One final shot of my munchkin in his matching bib:

splat mat bib

posted under Contests | 76 Comments »

Q&A with Renee from Candy Stick Lane and The JumpOff


Have you entered our contest yet? You could win an outfit from either Candy Stick Lane or The JumpOff. I’m so excited about this contest because I bought this cute custom onesie from Renee months ago (and previously blogged about it here) and I think it’s the greatest thing ever. I was thrilled when she agreed to do a contest and I was dying to know more about her so I asked. She answered. Here’s what I learned:

How long have you been sewing?
~I started sewing clothes for Barbie in elementary school but I really took interest after my daughter was born- 16 years ago.

How’d you learn?
~I bought a pattern and cheap fabric, cheap machine (all from Wal-mart) and went to town. I made over 300 pieces of clothing my first year and kept a journal – making notes about what worked and what didn’t.

What inspired you to start?
~I was antique shopping in Greenville, SC and saw this adorable Christmas jumper made from gingerbread man fabric – I bought it for a dollar and decided I would make one for my daughter for every holiday and occasion – and I did – I even made matching ones for her teachers when she started school!

You have two Etsy shops? What’s the difference between the two? When did you open them?
Candy Stick Lane (9/28/06) – is a clothing boutique mainly for little girls – its full of things that I would still be making for may daughter if she would wear them. I only make things that I would put on a child. I never make things just because they’re easy, quick or big sellers – no trendy-ness in CSL – all about classic style.

The JumpOff (11/16/07) – is a recycle shop I opened b/c I love tees! Good will has so many awesome ones – I just had to. I acquired a Luellas BBQ tee before I even opened TJO – cut it up and used the pieces for patches on a denim jumper – it sold as soon as I listed it- so then I did a Hard Rock tee into a onesie and it too sold as soon as I listed so – I knew there was a market.

What are some memorable custom designs you’ve done?
I think the most touching custom design was a woman whose brother died tragically and she had me make two of his favorite tees into onesies for her son.

I also transformed a grandfather’s work shirts into jumpers for the granddaughters to pass down.

How did you get the idea to recycle the t-shirts into onesies and baby dresses? What’s your creative process? Where do you get your ideas?

Well, I started making onesies forever ago for our local hospital – the issue with that is – there just aren’t cute knits out there – I mean there are ‘babyish’ ducks and sheep – but being an 80’s dweller – I needed some pop culture flair – and t-shirts were an obvious choice – they are knit – they have great graphics and b/c you’re making little clothes from them, you have plenty of fabric! My creative process is I find a tee a like and just start cutting! LOL!

Ready for an outfit for your little one? Win one! Click on yesterday’s post, follow the rules and enter to win by midnight on Wednesday, September 9, 2009. We’ll randomly select a winner using Random.org. Be sure and include an email address in your comment so we can notify you if you win. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for a whole other contest – a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Win Your Choice: an Outfit from CandyStick Lane or a Custom-Made Piece from The JumpOff!



il_430xN_86269553I’m so excited about our first contest! I first discovered Renee’s Etsy shops, CandyStick Lane and The JumpOff, last year before my son was even born. CandyStick Lane is her original designs boutique; The JumpOff features clothing made from recycled t-shirts. You can win your choice of an outfit from CandyStickLane or a custom made onesie, t-shirt or dress from The JumpOff. I’m going to tell you more about Renee in just a minute. First, here are details on how you can win.


1)      Go check out her Etsy shops (CandyStick Lane and The JumpOff), then come back here and leave a comment telling us what your favorite thing is. If you win, you’ll win that!

2)      Subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter, then come back and leave another comment telling me you have and you’ll get a SECOND entry.

3)      Follow Candystick Lane on Twitter, leave me another comment and you’ll get a THIRD entry.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only. Get your entries in by midnight Wednesday September 9, 2009. We’ll randomly select a winner using Random.org. Be sure and include an email address in the comment form (which only we can see and we never share; see our Privacy Policy) so we can notify you if you win. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for a whole other contest – a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

All right, now let me introduce you to Renee. She has, like, four jobs: 1) a single mother (which counts for two right there); 2) a “day” job in healthcare and 3) kids clothing designer for two- count them -TWO, boutiques. Her first boutique, CandyStick Lane, was started in 2006 and features clothing mainly for little girls (but I’m working on her to add more things for boys). Her other shop, The JumpOff, started a year later and features designs recycled from t-shirts. She also makes custom shirts, dresses, and onesies from your favorite t-shirt. Cute stuff!


I loved that whole recycle idea so I sent her one of my husband’s softball team shirts to make into a onesie for my son. It turned out AWESOME and that’s what he wears to go watch his dad play. He’s the little team mascot! (I love it when people ask me if I made it. Ha! I took Home Ec in 8th grade and sewed my skirt to my jeans when I was trying to hem it on my lap. Noooo, I do not sew.)


I asked Renee about some of the most memorable custom outfits she’s ever made. “I think the most touching custom design was a woman whose brother died tragically and she had me make two of his favorite tees into onesies for her son. I also transformed a grandfather’s work shirts into jumpers for the granddaughters to pass down.”

How awesome is that? What special t-shirt have you been hanging onto that might be perfect to turn into something “new” for your little one?

Tomorrow, I’ll have snippets from my interview with Renee. In the meantime, be sure and check out her  shops (CandyStick Lane and The JumpOff) and leave us a comment telling us what you’d like to win. You must have your entries in by Wednesday, September 9th, at midnight. Good luck!

September is Contest Month


Good morning! September is contest month here at the headquarters for all-things-random. Each Thursday this month, we will be announcing a new contest. We have GREAT prizes lined up from some of my favorite brands and close friends. We also have an additional prize of a $50 gift card from Amazon to one random person on our Facebook fan page. Our goal is to get to at least 100 fans. Once we do, we’ll give away a gift card. When we get to 150 fans, we’ll give away another card. So help spread the word. All you need to do is become a fan!

OK, to recap. Come back here every Thursday this month for a new contest. In the meantime, join us on Facebook and you’re automatically entered to win Amazon loot. Tell your friends to join us on Facebook; the more we have, the more Amazon loot we’ll give out.

posted under Contests | 1 Comment »
« Older Entries

Favorite Posts

 Subscribe via reader

 Subscribe via email

Follow Me on Pinterest