Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Birthday!

It's my beautiful daughter Claire's birthday today. I can't believe she is already 14.

She was a surprise baby (found out about the pregnancy on my 30th birthday! A double whammy). I wasn't happy about it, but had I known the gift I was being given, I would have been overjoyed beyond words. She is my proof that God knows what I need more than I do, ten times over~

She has been such a blessing in my life and the source of so many happy moments~ I love her more than I can express!

Happy birthday my precious girl!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year End Sale

After the first of the year I will be concentrating on my sterling silver designs and am clearing out my bead and charm jewelry.

All items in my shop are now 50% off. Most have one available.

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Christmas!

This month has been extremely busy and, now we are down the the wire, I find myself exhausted at the end of the day.

My etsy shop exploded this season and one weekend I sent out 20 packages, not just items, but packages! I can't explain what happened but I was looking forward to the day I would close down. Between trying to get orders out and trying to prepare for my family I needed to be three different people.

Well, all worked out, and, on this eve of Christmas Eve Eve (as my kids call it), I am now finished with my shopping, have purchased all the necessary groceries, wrapped (almost) all the presents. I am greatly looking forward to spending the next few days with my girls, making cookies, watching christmas movies, and playing games.

I hope this finds all of you with peace and happiness this season.

Merry Christmas~

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow Day!

Here are some pictures of our snow day here in Pearland, Texas.

While some of you may be up to your knees in snow, this is a once-in-a-year-if-we-are-lucky type occurrence.

Although they didn't cancel school they did let the kids out of class to play in it! Yay teachers!

This is now BIG the flakes were. They were like mini snowballs hitting the ground.

It all melted off within a few hours. I would have taken more pictures but I thought it would stick longer. It was amazing while it lasted.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Funny

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wisdom from the Aged

When I was younger I was afraid of the elderly. I have no idea why. Maybe it was from not being around grandparents and those that were much older than my parents. I never got comfortable around those much older than me until I met my husband and spent time with his grandparents.

Since then I have developed and appreciation and, dare I say, love for the elderly. Not in the way that would lead me to work in a nursing home, but I love to talk to them, loving their perspective on things. I love the fact that they rarely mince words. I don't know if it comes from their lack of inhibitions, feeling life is too short, or a little dementia in some rare cases. However, when I meet an elderly person, I love to talk to them.

I believe we can learn a lot from the elderly. They have seen so much. Just think of how the world was just 75 years ago and all the advances, changes, wars, and wonders that have occurred. Someone who has seen all of that, lived through raising a family, jobs, life, death has to have more wisdom than me. I feel I'm much wiser than I was 20 years ago so I KNOW they have to have wisdom I would love to have.

This brings me to my encounter today in the post office. I entered the post office behind a very elderly gentleman. Kind face, larger than necessary dentures and slightly stooped. He smiled with those glassy, watery eyes and offered for me to go ahead of him. "Ladies first" he told me. I declined since I had a few international packages to mail, but he insisted.

He then began telling me "ladies first" is what his mother taught him. "She taught me a lot of things" he said and then chuckled to himself, seeming to think fondly of her. The slight gleam in his eye gave me the impression that maybe she wasn't quite the saint I would picture teaching her son chivalry. "Good things I'd imagine" I quipped back fishing for a little more. "Oh, yes," he said thinking and remembering.

Then came the gem of wisdom I always look for. He then added "She also taught me 'It's better to watch women wiggle, than to hear them rattle' ".

I laughed out loud, really loud, and had to cover my mouth. I absolutely love that! He didn't say much more, but I believe that was enough wisdom for me today.

Oh, and btw..when we got to the front of the line, HE went first.

I love old people!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Tradition

This movie has become one of our family's favorite Christmas traditions. Unfortunately last year our VCR (yes, we still have one) ate our VHS tape of the movie. I am so excited that I received a new DVD copy in the mail today. Just in time for the holidays!
This movie is true to the Muppet's genre of bad puns, bad jokes and completely unexpected humor. It follows the Christmas Carol story through the narration of Gonzo (the one with the long nose) as Charles Dickens. Kermit, of course is Bob Crachet and Michael Kaine is Ebenezer Scrooge.
I am practicing some restraint, however and won't watch it till after thanksgiving. But I can't wait!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Visit from Jack Frost

My latest treasury was inspired by the crisp and cold weather that we almost never have here in Houston. We can dream though, can't we?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fabulous Friday Find

This is a little item that caught my eye this week. It is too cute and I have added it to my list for christmas. Hopefully my family will be quicker than you.

You can see from the pics it's a cute little snap purse. It's a little bigger than a change purse and you can find lots of others at antiquebasketlady.etsy.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I've Already Made My New Years Resolution

...and it's to focus on my metalsmithing skills.

While I love the jewelry with charms, lockets, and vintage jewels. I have decided to focus on my sterling designs.
So, while Christmas Shopping is getting into full swing, I have put lots of my items on sale. I have reduced all of my "whimsical collection" by 20%. I have marked down my "jewel collection" and have made the jewel earrings two for $20. AND, if you spend over $50 you get free shipping in the U.S.

None of these items (unless I currently have them made) will be duplicated. So, once they are sold out, I won't be making more.

I will have a HUGE de-stash at the first of the year and my shop will become solely metalsmithed items.

No, I won't sell as much but I get such a reward making something from scratch and it's time I focused on that.

So...good deals are to be had while they are there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saying Thank You Doesn't Seem Enough

How do you say "thank you" to someone who has left their family behind for you? How do you say "thank you" to someone who has feared for their lives daily for you? How do you say "thank you" to someone who has lost a limb for you? How do you say "thank you" to someone who has seen a friend die for you? How do you say "thank you" to someone who sufferes from depression and PTSD for you? How do you say "thank you"?

I have no answers but my heart is full of "thank you" even though it will never be adequate for what has been done for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Good Laugh

I love Christopher Walken.... OH, OH, OH!! rofl!

Temptation and Addiction

I heard an interesting quote today that said "your addictions teach you that you will never have enough of what you don't need". When it comes to fabric, I am afraid that completely applies to me.

For those of you who know me, or know my shops, or just take a look around here on my blog, you can see I make jewelry. I am not one that sews or even likes sewing. I have, on occasion, and only because of desperation or boredom unpacked my sewing machine to dabble or create something only to, in VERY short order, pack it away again out of disgust at my abominable sewing skills.

That being said, I have a weakness that you would not expect. I absolutely LOVE gorgeous fabrics. Fabrics of all textures, colors, patterns, I just want to have it dreaming (though as previously explained not likely) to create something wonderful.

There are so many shops on Etsy that have gorgeous fabrics and, yesterday, I came across another. I must say it is good that I just paid my etsy bill or I would have purchased way too much of this fabric! However, I am still contemplating purchasing some and, once again, being deluded into thinking I can complete a project.

The shop is: MaterialGal and here is only a small sampling of Stephanie's fabrics.

These are all fat quater collections she has put together for a project called "Scarf Along" that is going on at another blog.
Julie from JoysHope.com is being kind to many out there like me who for some reason feel the need to sew but lack the necessary skills. She is taking some brave souls by the hand and leading them through a journey of sewing-self-discovery.
So, there you have it. They have made it very easy for us. Perfect little gorgous bundles of fabric that are impossible to resist, and someone kind enough to guide us in a sewing journey.
If you are a reluctant sewer like me I encourage you to take the plunge and join in! Click on the pictures above and they will take you to Stephanie's MaterialGal shop to get your fabric. Then go to JoysHope.com and follow along. I am still on the fence about joining in, but keep an eye out, you never know.. I just might surprise myself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fangs are the new Black (Jacob Black that is)

A fun treasury celebrating the new movie coming up. I haven't read the books but my daughters are so excited!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Romantic Treasury

I snagged a treasury at the last minute yesterday. See the title? When it came up I had no idea what I was going to do. I thought that would be good for whatever theme I wanted. I built it off of a few things in my favorites and some of my facebook fans and then went from there. Nothing like a mental challenge to get the creative juices flowing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Well after about 10 attempts at getting this glass bezel set without the design discoloring or air bubbles appearing I finally got one!

I love trying new things. I browse supply shops and see wonderful pieces I just have to try out. Sometimes I love working with them, sometimes I don't. Ergo....this will be an one of a kind piece in my shop! lol. I have a few more I will be making with different designs under the glass, but this is it for me.

But, as Franklin Roosevelt said "take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all try something." I wouldn't say it failed, but I am going to be moving on!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


My Ring was featured on the Front Page of Etsy today, at least I think it was. It was included in the original treasury, but craftcult said it was an alternate ( I guess admin moved it) however, I received over 300 views and 17 hearts on it, so I'm pretty sure it was on there for at least a little while.

That made up for the weird weekend I've had. Ah well, this too will pass.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adding to the Collection

From time to time I have shared with you little pieces of my salt and pepper collection. While I love the old I also embrace the kitchy and quirky new pieces that I find. I choose what speaks to me and, of course, those wonderful pieces I receive as gifts.

I was lucky enough this week to add two sets to my collection.

First, while trolling through an amazing and huge antique store near my house I came across this little pair. I was very excited because not only were they salt and pepper, they were also dogs, another one of my quirky little loves.

I don't believe this pair were ever used because one still had packing material inside. As you may be able to see in the picture, one of these had lost it's head in the past and had been crudely re-attached. I don't mind. I think it adds to it's charm.
This adorable second pair was a gift from my Mother. She knows just what I like! (hi mom!)

She spent the last two weeks on a cross country trip with her sisters. All the way from here in Houston to Portland, Maine, criss-crossing amish country, seeing the fall leaves, visiting lighthouses. And she was so sweet to pick up this endearing little lighthouse and it's adorable keeper. Thanks mom!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tripple Threat

I am having one of those stuggle times where I just sit back and say "why can't I just make stuff? That should be good enough." Unfortunately, when we sell online it isn't that simple. We have to be a crafter, photographer and a writer.
First, great photos are a must. This is something I constantly am working on. When one of my items isn't getting the views and, most important sales I retake the photos with different lighting, positions and backgrounds.

Here is a wonderful collection of articles to help us all with our photography: http://www.etsy.com/storque/search/title/photographing-how-to/

Writing is also something we have to be good at. Coming up with titles can be a daunting task if you like the more creative titles. I do, and sometimes I just have to rely on the "sterling silver ring with ....." At the point I am listing the item I have photographed, edited, uploaded and now, I'm pooped. Any time I get writers block I go to this group of articles and get tips and help.

A bright spot is that we belong to a great community of fellow artisans who are creative and can give a little help when we need it.

I would love some help naming my new ring (pictured above). It is a chunky ring with a jade green aventurine stone. The band is thick hammered sterling silver. (see? not too creative today)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Isn't Big, but Should Be.

We've all seen them, the shops on Etsy that have thousands of sales. Great product photos, interesting products, fantastic everything. We've also seen other shops with few sales but equally fantastic photos, products, and everything. In my mind I am always wondering what makes a shop soar while others, equally fantastic, seem to grow slowly?

In a new series of posts I am going to be highlighting shops that are small for whatever reason but deserve to be HUGE.
My first pick is none other than Burntmill Candles and Soaps at Burntmill.etsy.com. I have personally tried several of her soaps, plus a generous offering of samples I received with my purchase. These soaps are wonderful. The way she swirls the colors in her soaps makes them so interesting (and you should see them wet!) and the scents are wonderful. Not too strong but enough for a wonderful experience. My skin, which by the way is sensitive, loves them. It feels soft, conditioned and pampered.
(summer medley ~wonderful scent)

She has a mixture of cold process soaps as well as melt and pour. Both types are equally amazing in color, scent, lather and softness.
(jack frost vanilla mint)
For a sneak peek into what she is working on, what is coming in the future and even to add your input into names of new products check out her blog at http://burntmill.blogspot.com/
(new gnome candy garden)

Her talents aren't limited just to soaps. She also has a selection of bath bombs, candles and scented tarts. If her soap is any indication these products are amazing as well.

I have tried other soaps on etsy from the larger shops and I can honestly say that I prefer the soaps from Burntmill.

(rootbeer soap, yum!)

If you are looking for bath and body products for yourself or for gifts this holiday season, I highly recommend Burntmill.etsy.com.

(coconut lime, my favorite)

This is definately a shop that should be Big!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marketing Strategy vs. Being Unique

I made these rings today and I am very pleased with how they turned out. While it wasn't my intent, after I created and paired them I realized how they could be considered a "twilight" item. The moonstone I understand is synonymous with Bella (apparently she wears one) and the garnet is such a gorgeous deep red ring that reminds me of blood, aka Edward.

While I love making these rings, one of our goals is to sell our items, right?

So the question is, do I market these as "Twilight" inspired to reach more buyers? I really don't like to do that but isn't that what marketing is all about? Appealing to the masses, and the bigger mass the better?

How do you feel about mass appeal vs. just offering your items as you made them?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Item

I've seen statements lately in the forums regarding keeping the personal out of shops. Regardless of what it is from religion to animal rescue, vegan-ism to international human rights, if we truly believe in something, how is it possible separate ourselves from it? Isn't that what we do, as artists, put ourselves into our work?

I've been designing in my head items I want to put in my shop that reflect my faith. I finally finished my first piece this morning.

It is subtle, yet, encompases my beliefs entirely. One symbol, the cross, one word, love. I think that says it all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Favorite Tweet

I've been on twitter for less than 48 hours. It's been interesting and easier than I thought it would be.

I'll post later on the results of my "twittering" "tweeting"???

but I want to share something I saw there today:

"Famous last words : Hold my beer and watch this"...

rofl!! Love it!

Dream ~ Denied...

For the longest time I have been a fan of French Bulldogs. Long before Martha Stewart got hers, long before they were the "it" dog, long before most even knew what one was.

I never seriously considered getting one because of the two amazingly hairy Australian Shepherds that now occupy my house. One more dog seemed too much.

Lately, with seeing them more and more in pictures, media, etc. I thought I'd look into getting one.

Researching breeders was my first step but I was stopped DEAD in my tracks. These adorable puppies are, on average, $2000 each. Yes, Two THOUSAND dollars, each.

Well, simply put, NO WAY! I expected them to be a little expensive, but, no matter how blessed I am, how poor I am, how rich I am, I would not, will not pay that for a dog.

I am a little disappointed, but still chuckle to myself...two thousand dollars!?! um, no.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Comfort Food Time

I recently came across this recipe at Cookstr.com. It sounded like the perfect meal for a crispy cold fall evening. Pair it with some squash or potatoes and, yum, it's fall!

Pork Chops with Apples and Brandy


8 boneless center cut pork loin chops (4 to 5 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 sweet apples, such as Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, and sliced
½ cup brandy
½ cup nonalcoholic apple cider
½ cup whipping cream

Using a meat mallet, pound the pork chops until they are ½ inch thick. Generously salt and pepper.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a separate bowl.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the same skillet. Brown the chops on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Do it in two batches if necessary, adding another tablespoon of butter for the second batch. Remove to a separate plate.

Deglaze the pan with the brandy and cider. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cream. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the apples and any accumulated juices. Return the pork chops to the pan, cover, and cook until chops are cooked through, about 4 more minutes.

Place chops on plates on Mound apples on top of chops and pour sauce over all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kris Allen New Song

I watched American Idol this past season and was so happy that this guy won.

Here is his new released single, I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Holiday Wrapping Ideas, Resources and Tips

Although the temperatures are barely cooling down (or warming up depending on which hemisphere you live in) like it or not, the holidays are coming, and coming fast. It’s time for those of us with shops to start preparing for the little details that will help us stand out this season.

As hectic as the season has become, shoppers are looking for ways to beat crowds, check off to do lists faster, and make the gift giving as easy as possible while still giving great, memorable gifts. I think we, as shop owners, can do a little something to fill this need.

One of the ways I am filling this need this season is to send all my items pre-gift wrapped. Now, this presents a unique problem because my, as well as most of your customers shop over the internet. They cannot see, feel or try on the items we sell prior to purchase. If I send their purchase pre-gift wrapped, how will they know the item is something they want to give? What if they want to see it first? I have decided to develop my wrapping style with this in mind.

As you can see from my picture, a gift does not have to be wrapped in paper to be gorgeous. I have made my packaging so that all that needs to be done if desired, is to untie the ribbon to see the item, and then tie it back. I plan to include instructions on how to tie the bow back (yes, men will need this).

The boxes I have decided to use are very heavy duty Kraft boxes from Uline.com. They come in so many shapes and sizes. I have larger boxes for my necklaces and smaller for the earrings. These boxes come with fiberfill pad already included. I keep this in as extra padding for my jewelry.

Inside I will be adding a piece of hot pink tissue paper. You can use any color you want. I would recommend cutting it to match the width of your boxes so that it can be slipped under the fiber fill, and it will fold nicely over your items. You can also purchase tissue paper in bulk from Uline.com

Etsy has so many wonderful graphic artists. I have purchased some designs from Lulydesign.esy.com to use as my jewelry cards. I feel they match my shop’s nostalgic elegant feel. She customized the size for me so that they would fit the larger boxes. The work is gorgeous and she had a fast turn around. Pre-printed scrapbook tag paper would also work nicely. Personally I like the look of the nostalgic prints better than using the printed cards. Although not all of my pieces are vintage, they have the look of vintage or nostalgic pieces and I feel the papers match my overall theme perfectly. You can figure out what works best for your shop.

In developing my packaging I felt it is important to create an overall look that is consistent that way there are no surprises when your customer receives their package. I have used a gorgeous satin ribbon in my signature color of sage green to tie a generous bow on the box. The sage green matches my banner in my shop as well as my business cards. A tip on cutting ribbon for a bow that I learned when working at Williams/Sonoma: Cut the ribbon five times the width and height of the box and it will be long enough to tie around with length enough for a full bow.

I have also included in the packaging a tag on the outside of the package. ! I am stamping the back of these tags with a “To: From: “ stamp I have and will slip it under the ribbon on the outside of the box.

I buy tags from the most wonderful shop on Etsy. Txbutterfly74.etsy.com. She uses nostalgic and vintage images to make hang tags. They are classic in shape, the images are clear and the tags are sturdy. Each has a complimentary color thread. Her tags are reasonably priced; you can get a dozen for less than $5.00. She also ships very quickly. I highly recommend her!!

Now, for product identification. Most people buying this holiday season will be buying for others. The recipient probably won’t know that their gift is a handmade item from your shop on Etsy. So how do you let them know these things without blatantly advertising in their gift? I have decided to do it subtly and with a look that fits the overall style. A few months back I had stickers designed by PaperJunkie514.etsy.com. These have my shop name; again, match my banner and business card in my signature sage green theme. Usually this sticker is front and center on the boxes I send, but since this is special gift wrap I want to keep this information secondary to the gift giver, but still have it present. . I am putting these stickers to identify my shop on the bottom of the box This way the information is available, yet subtle. I also won’t be sticking my business card in the gift package, but I will include it in the shipping box.

This gift wrapping is going to be standard for all my packaging from now until the end of December. This will streamline processing orders when the holiday rush starts. I won’t have to wait for convos saying yes or no, or if I don’t get a preference I won’t have to contact the buyer and wait for a reply. I’ll wrap it up and out it goes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour through gift wrapping and hope that I’ve given you some ideas and resources to spiff up your holiday packaging and make your packages very special for your customers.