Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve Everyone!

I am making guacamole and cleaning the house

(the thrills never end here folks)

we used to have movie marathons to keep our daughter up until midnight, but now we are the ones trying to stay awake -

(sigh)

hoping everyone has an amazing and safe New Year's Eve - tomorrow starts a brand new year and I have decided that it is going to be fantabulous for all of us!

*photograph by matt allen photography

Thursday, December 30, 2010

6 Business Lessons I Learned in 2010 - advice from one crafty maker to another

1. Deals with big catalog companies do not always translate into big dollars for little maker companies

(enough said)

2. Stores are not always ready to buy when we are ready to sell - repetition is a key to success with mailings and store contacts.

(maybe with everything now that I think about it)

Instead of moving on to new stores too quickly when a postcard doesn't generate any interest, I have found if I mail to the same store again (and sometimes again) I usually get the account.

(note - make sure your postcard is awesome,

< ---- mine is

the store is a good fit for your work and you mail directly to the owner, manager or buyer and follow-up with a phone call - I always call just to check in that the postcard arrived and let them know about a "special" I am having that week)


3. Store accounts need to be reminded to re-order.

When I started calling shop owners to see if they needed more stock (instead of just assuming my stuff wasn't selling because I hadn't heard from them) - my re-orders went way up.

(shop owners are as busy as we are)

4. Being in control might make us feel safe but that is pretty much the only benefit. Sometimes things fall apart so they can fall together.

We need to let go sometimes.

5. Some of this social networking has got to go. I am becoming less averse to automating certain things or just eliminating them all together.

There are only so many hours in the day.

6. I have been avoiding growth and change (partly because I want to stay small and personal, but mostly from pure exhaustion) but static, maintenance mode doesn't work - no matter how firmly we dig in and put in roots we will be uprooted -

Our business is alive.

It is changing everyday - whether we like it or not.

(we cannot stop this anymore than we can stop our toddlers from becoming preteens, although we would sometimes like to)

Static, maintenance mode will not work for long -

our income will drop, our work will become outdated, the competition will swoop in and undercut us, we will stop innovating -

for our business to survive it must be growing. The good news is we get to decide how that will happen.

It doesn't have to mean more work for us, in fact it has to mean more freedom and more creation because otherwise we might as well all get a real job with a 401K and dental insurance.

(if such things exist anymore)

There is a way to do this without putting in more hours (I don't have any), learning any more techno crap (my head will explode) or losing the personal nature of my handmade, upcycled business - I refuse to sell out.

We will find the way.

(I probably learned way more than this, but my head cold is still causing my noodle to be even foggier than usual and these are the first things that come to mind - hope someone finds them helpful)

*learn more things print by NayArts

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 7 Allowing


Now at first allowing seems like a backstep for someone who has chosen to make 2011 my year of deciding.

But I have enough living under my belt to know that there is an ebb and flow to this thing called life and I have never been an all or nothing, black and white, kind of thinker.

Making decisions and not settling doesn't mean I am suddenly turning my canoe upstream -

(I don't want to end up on that "I Survived" tv show after all)

but, I do need to steer my canoe, that's why canoes come with paddles after all, unless I want to end up crashed along a rocky shoreline.

(where I can imagine some kind of Tom Hanks falling in love with his volleyball future for me that would not be pretty)

Part of this deciding thing is about getting in touch with what I want, so that this all becomes alot more effortless - allowing things to flow in and out of my life as I make decisions based on my intention without second guessing myself with indecision or hanging on too tightly ....

And I should mention that even though 2011 is still a couple days away, I have already started making decisions:

hubby - "what should we have for dinner?"

old me - "I don't know - what do you want?" <--- this didn't happen

new decisive me - "egg and ham omelets with crispy rye toast" <--- this did

hubby - "mmm, sounds perfect"

(of course we are still shoveling out from our snowpocalypse and the cupboards are pretty bare, but see how yummy decisive action can make anything sound)

* free spirit print by the amazing Shira Sela

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 6 Reach

When I was a kid I was told that I asked for too much -

that I would never be happy unless I learned to love what I already had.

And there is some truth in this.

There is also truth in the fact that the passionate life does not settle.

It reaches. It stretches. It needs to know and see and feel those things that are just beyond its grasp.

At heart I am a "settler inner" - I get cozied in and cannot be prodded to make a change until life forces me to get moving.

But 2011 is my year of deciding and I need to start moving all those things that I am not passionate about out of the way to make room for the good stuff - the really, really good stuff that is waiting for me.

I am starting with my closets. I am starting today.

(well, maybe tomorrow, I am still kind of sick)

* grand reach print by the amazing cori dantini

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 5 Doing

"nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it” - Mahatma Gandhi

First we set our intention to change the things that are not working for us in 2011; then we take action.

This doing part is where things get a little scary and well, it is the part where I often get stuck.

This is the place where all the doubts come in because if this change thing was easy we would have already done it.

I started on Etsy as a way to make enough money part-time that I could go back to school full-time and find my passion.

My business took off in such a way that the money was there for me to go back to school, but I no longer had the time to do it.

And more importantly, somewhere along the way of figuring out how to find my passion, my passion found me.

I thought finding my passion would be all big and explosive, kind of like the love at first sight myth, when in fact, at least for me, it eased its way into my life sort of quietly until I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

This thing called passion was creating new levels of depth in my relationship with myself and the people and things around me

(unfortunately it was also creating a great sense of imbalance and feelings of overwhelm and underwhelm that now require setting new intentions and taking new actions to get things back on track)

So in 2011, I resolve to do the doing that needs to be done to get this passionate life that I have created and know I should be loving back into balance.

*strategic plans print by miriam dema

Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 # 4 - Encourage

"There are two ways of spreading light - to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it” - Edith Wharton

We are in the middle of a snowpocalypse here, but I caught a head cold for Christmas, so unfortunately am unable to help hubby very much with the shoveling ... otherwise I'd be out there with him right now, of course

(luckily, he did get a nice pair of snowpants for Christmas that should come in handy - thank you Kella and Chris)

So, back to my 2011 countdown. I think that if 2011 will be a year of DECIDING we will need to surround ourselves with people who encourage us.

(and we need to encourage people right back, of course)

We cannot do this alone and need our tribe, our peeps, our friends to help us stay motivated and on track - people who are truly happy for our successes - people who remind us how strong we are in the times when we have fogotten.

I have decided to become a more proactive encourager in the new year and draw more encouragers into my tribe. Encouragers don’t promise rainbows and eternally sunny days - they are not in our lives to splash pink paint over our problems and pretend they don't exist.

Encouragers promise presence, wisdom and positive energy. They reinforce us to ourselves. They tell our stories back to us in the strong voices our hearts need to hear.

In 2011, I am committed to encourage the people in my life and attract more encouragers into my life!

(even if I have to bribe them with upcycled jewelry and a free driveway shovel-out by a very good looking guy in new blue snow pants)

*you're doing everything right print by laura george

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas ...


and all through the house
not a creature was stirring

(mainly because they'd been drinking heavily all day, but what the hell- I need the corks)

not even a mouse

the stockings were hung
by the chimney with care

(well, slippers actually and I bought mine a couple sizes too big, choosing to wear really thick socks with them and a couple packets of that stuff marked "do not eat" and maybe some bubble wrap rather than pass up a deal on the size 9's)

in hopes that St. Nicholas
soon would be there ...

Merry Christmas - I hope everyone has the best Christmas ever - I've sneaked a peak at some of my gifts and think I will!

(well, except for the year I got the crimper AND the salad spinner, that would be a little hard to beat)

* gorgeous Christmas print by AVeryStory

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 3 - Release

“Three rules of work: out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

If 2011 will be a year of deciding there will be some things that have to be released to make room for the better things that are coming our way -

releasing resentments and anger and all the things that are cluttering up our cupboards and inboxes, minds and hearts to create the space we need for the amazing things life wants us to have.

I know someone who recently had an amazing opportunity for their craft and although I was truly happy for them I also felt a little of that green-eyed monster called jealousy enter my mind and heart.

What I realized rather quickly though was that I had not created the space in my life and my business for an opportunity like this and so I didn't attract it.

I was already overwhelmed and if I had been given this opportunity would likely have needed to lie down - in a big old wooden box if you know what I mean.

(this is not all law of attractiony, but two things cannot occupy the same space and my spaces were filled, I remember this from science - I think - I am not really a mad scientist, after all, I just play one on the internet)

Just as we can fill our days with a whole lot of nothing — splattering our attention on things that don’t really matter to us - am I the only one who never wants to see the words social media again — we can fill our homes and studios with heaps of junk we don’t really want, too.

It is a lazy way of non-deciding. Being a victim to incoming stuff is more comfortable than clearly asking ourselves what we want to have (or not have) in our environment.

In 2011 I am committed to RELEASE - the things (and thoughts and practices and habits) that I do not love and create the space for change.

release photo by zseike

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - # 2 Trust Our Instincts

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” -Rita Mae Brown

Since I have declared 2011 my year of deciding lots of decisions have already started coming up.

I sometimes find myself second guessing my original reaction and of course there are things that need some thoughtful contemplation before deciding, but I truly believe that since our subconscious is such a storehouse of remembered experiences and innate feelings that we need to learn to trust it.

(trusting our truest selves to have our back, so to speak)

I resolve to trust my instincts in keeping my decisions aligned with my truest intentions (and never hope more than I work - I love that one, too!).

*trust your instincts print by ashleyg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 Day WE CAN DO THIS Countdown to 2011 - #1 Be Brave

"I am not afraid ... I was born to do this. " - Joan of Arc

After 9/11 we packed an emergency suitcase in the trunk of every car and had a plan that in the event of a national emergency all family members would drive west and meet up somewhere beyond Hershey, PA.

We had no specific destination, but thought when we reached an area where people were familiar with Skoal tobacco, GEDs and fishing with dynamite we would be safe.

We kind of pictured ourselves becoming the kind of survivalists we knew from the Discovery Channel, Eddie Bauer ads and Stephen King books; creating a new world order in some rarely visited national park - living on dandelions and mole crickets.

After a while some of these fears subsided a bit, but it did leave me with the certainty that being BRAVE is an extremely important attribute.

Fear keeps us from making decisions and creating change and if we wait for the fear to go away, we may always be left waiting.

So in 2011, I resolve to be BRAVE.

(note- this does not include my completely appropriate fear of stink bugs, closed shower curtains and cats that don't blink)

*fearless card by happytimesco

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Gift Into Two - doing more with less through charitable donations for the holidays

If you are still looking for a last minute gift- charitable donations in someone's name are an amazing way to turn 1 gift into 2!

For as little as $5.00 you can give a gift that helps a child grow out of gangs in Honduras.

For $12.00 you can provide 20 pounds of multi-purpose soap through oxfam.

$20.00 provides art and music supplies and instructions to an impoverished child through worldvision.

$25.00 lets you sponsor a No Mo Chemo party at St. Jude's!

$50.00 gets you 50 trees planted in Brazil's Atlantic Forest through the Nature Conservancy.

200 dictionaries for students in Africa can be donated for $75.00 through Books for Africa.

$100.00 gets a family's new home a kitchen sink through Habitat for Humanity.

Justgive gives you the opportunity to make your donation locally.

Charitychoice allows the recipient to choose the charity.

Lots of great charitable ideas instead of buying Uncle Elmer another tie for his tie drawer this year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Upcycled Gift Tutorial Week # 5 - Repurposed Rubber Stamp Jewelry


If you are a crafty mama, you have probably rubber stamped a scrapbook page or two or rubber stamped something or other and now have a bunch of stamps gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

(or maybe things in drawers don't actually gather dust, but you get the idea)

I recently made this little bat necklace for a vampire freak - although I do know that today's vampires do not actually turn into bats (the vampire freak loved it anyway) and that the bat thing is just an old vampire myth that real vampires, like my girl Sookie (and yes, again I realize that Sookie is not really a vampire ... yet) are busy dispelling.

Anyhoo, this is a very quick and easy jewelry gift idea for those rubber stamps that you would like to use in a new way!

This would also make a great keychain with a keychain ring in place of the neck chain!

You will need:

1. an old rubber stamp
2. permanent markers (easiest) or paint, chalk, sealer
3. washers and eyehooks
4. drill for starter holes
5. some sort of chain, cording or ribbon, some beads and baubles



1. you can either permanent marker the stamp 'picture' or paint or chalk it (if painting or chalking you will need to seal it with a clear sealer) - you may also decide the back of the stamp is where the really amazing picture is and use it backwards
2. drill a starter hole
3. screw in your eyehook and washer
4. add beads and baubles
5. add chain or cording


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Decisions Without My Magic Eight Ball or how choosing one thing means letting go of the other thing and maybe that's why it's so hard - Part I

2010 is almost over folks and I for one am totally ready to let it go.

(bye bye 2010, don't let the door hit ya ...)

I am determined to make 2011 the year where I actually make some decisions rather than letting life make them for me through my amazing ability to procrastinate and "settle".

(ugh)

It could be all over in 2012 anyway according to the gazillion books in the 2012 section - yes, there is an actual 2012 section, I've seen it - at the Barnes and Noble, so we better get crackin' with all this 'make our lives what we want them to be' stuff.

(but I wouldn't run up your credit cards deciding that is going to happen)

The word 'decision' comes from the Latin ‘decisio’ which means “to cut off" and when we make a decision, we cut off that other option and this is where the deciding thing gets tricky and sometimes scary.

Like if we decide to eat that chocolate cake, we lose that time on the treadmill (a small thing) and if we decide to buy that new car, we lose our access to that money we saved (a bigger thing) and if we decide to quit that job we hate, we lose our steady income (maybe) and at the very least our ability to have an actual job title when we fill out one of those forms that requires it (a much bigger thing, trust me).

Deciding is about being strong enough in our choice to allow a 'cutting off' of those other options.

Our lives are literally made up of all the decisions we have ever made.

(remember that song about "years of bad decisions running down her face" - ugh, that's a depressing one, but yeah, those bad decisions make us who we are, too)

I usually make decisions with my gut and intuition. I don't think I've ever made one of those pros and cons lists that hubby is so fond of.

(he even weights the pros and cons on a lined yellow notepad and tries to calculate the value of every outcome - what fun is that, I ask you and it works no better than guts and intuition anyway, believe me)

Once we reach the point where a decision is needed, the game changes. This is when we move out of discomfort and into plain old fear. This is also when the universe sends things at us to test our commitment to our decision.

So, let's talk about deciding as we start 2011. What decisions have we been putting off? What do we need to decide to say no to, so that we can say yes to the important stuff? What is the 'important stuff' anyway? What are we 'settling' for because we are afraid to make that decision and cut something off? Is our comfort zone making us a little too comfortable?

Part II - The Game Changer

Decisions, decisions ... photograph by Urban Pink Photography

*FINAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - 12/15-12/19 ONLY - will bump up all U.S. first class shipping to priority mail plus a 10% discount with coupon code DECIDE in my Polarity shop and my Uncorked shop*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whining Wednesday - or a Christmas fable of a girl, her dog and the smelly guy at the post office

Actually, I know it's Tuesday because Tuesday is stinky guy day at my post office

(I send Olive in and look how excited she is about it)

Her sense of smell is, of course, about a gazillion times better than mine, so this is especially cruel

(please don't report me)

No clue how anyone could possibly cultivate a stench this powerful and still remain unaware of it.

This is not the smell of hard work and sweat - a totally relatable smell to us makers during the holiday season as we rush to get our goods into the mail

(so they can get smashed and lost just in time for the holidays)

No, not a hard work kind of smell just a very bad smell and somehow no matter how I time my Tuesday shipping I always meet up with this guy.

(the smell is what I would imagine it would be if dead animals threw up on his clothing and then he filled the pockets full of hard boiled eggs and left it all in his car trunk for a year ... in the desert)

On the other hand, I do get freaked out if a gigantic bodybuilder kind of guy smells like fabric softener.

(maybe the holiday rush is making me punchy)

When I was unemployed

(and that should narrow it down to, um, most of the time between 2001-present)

there was this huge guy at the gym.

He had a tattoo composed of about 50 human skulls inked on one arm and it was of lesser quality, if you know what I mean, like it could have been done over the course of a short prison term - say breaking and entering maybe - using a ballpoint pen and a thumbtack.

And, it was always unnerving to me when I'd see him throwing up in a trashcan after he'd dead lifted the equivalent of a Ford dealership and he'd still be smelling like a Care Bear ... yes, the pink one.

So, I don't like guys who smell bad and I don't like guys who smell good. No clue what this says about me. Luckily hubby is a kind of non-smeller who rarely even needs deodorant, but maybe this is too much information ... sorry.

(like I said, the holidays are making me punchy)

So, for everyone out there who is spending these last couple weeks leading up to Christmas running around like a maniac getting everything done and working up a sweat, I just wanted to tell you that I'm right there with you, I can feel your pain and frankly Olive can smell you from here ....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Giveaway on COSA VERDE - 10 Days of Nice - Enter by Midnight THURSDAY


Don't miss Cosa Verde's 10 Days of Nice Giveaway of my ladybug cork necklace and Metamorphosis locket with collage artist Jodie Hurt over on Cosa Verde today!

It's easy, peasy to enter. Just leave a comment on the post for your chance to give both these items to the recipient of your choice. Enter HERE!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Smile Because You're My Sister ...


I laugh because there's nothing you can do about it ...

my kid sister is in town from Portland for a few days so I am putting this little blog on break until next week so I can spend some quality time with her and give her all that big sisterly kind of advice that only mwah can provide ...

poor kid ...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Upcycled Tutorial - Week # 4 - Holiday Gift Countdown - Potholder First Aid Kit


I saw this tutorial in a book a couple years back and thought it was quite a clever and quick upcycle for those potholders that you get as gifts that do not really work for you -

(and by work for you I mean they are too ugly for your kitchen, but not too ugly for someone to stuff in their glovebox)

I seem to get alot of these.

(maybe because I know alot of people who do their shopping at Walgreens on Christmas Eve ... hello, yes, I've been there, too)

So anyhoo turning a potholder, some plastic sandwich bags and a cute button into a little travel first aid kit or some other little kit is easy, peasy -

just remember if you intend to turn a potholder and little baggies into an actual pot-holder (if you know what I mean) that this would be illegal (although quite clever) and not recommended, but just about any other little doodad holder would probably work -

(and not get you a 6 month suspended sentence and 30 days community service - not that this has ever happened to me)


Now I know you are all very clever and do not really need a step by step with this one, but I couldn't really call it a tutorial without a step by step so bear with me.

1. Sew your little baggies (the sealed end) into the center of your potholder
2. Add bandaids, wipes, etc
3. Sew on an appropriate size button
4. Add or sew on some kind of first aid symbol or add a hangtag

(and now that I think of it you could probably get everything you need for this project at 5:45 on Christmas Eve at Walgreens if you had to)

If you are going to make this project and would like a couple of these little first aid pins to add to your little pouch - just email me through the LET'S CHAT link on the right and I will pop a couple in the mail for you, for free, that's just how I am, plus it's the season of giving and all that jazz .... and I made too many.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whining Wednesday - please don't interrupt me when I'm talking to myself

Just a quick little Wednesday whine because I know everyone is busy and I, as usual, am a bit backed up and running behind.

Whine #1 - I may have totally lost my mind

Case in point - I had been enjoying some gorgeous late autumn weather a few days back

(you know, from indoors)

and thinking about taking the Halloween decorations down and putting the Christmas decorations up when hubby got all annoying about something or other and I decided to take myself for a little drive to the mall ... alone.

I wandered into the movie theater

(I have been posting quite alot lately about mall wanderings and I am really not a mall girl and not really much of a wanderer anymore unless you count my late night trips to the fridge)

and there was a Russell Crowe movie playing and since hubby really likes Russell Crowe I decided to stay and see this movie ... alone ...

(so when he would tell me at some point that he wanted to see it I would get to say -"too late bud, already saw that one, remember that day when you were being impossibly annoying and I went on a "wander" ... yup, that day bud, saw it ...")

anyhoo, I put on my big girl pants and resisted the snack bar and took my seat. There were maybe 20 other people in the theater. At some point during the movie

(that I should repeat once again I was seated at alone)

I suddenly yelled out

"GOOD SHOT"

at the movie screen.

*sigh*

Of course, 20 pairs of eyes were upon me before I had time to duck down in my seat and of course, I waited until the very last one of them left the theater at the end before I made my exit.

Now, when I told my daughter this story, she laughed very hard and most likely reported her mother's final slip into dementia to all her friends.

When I told hubby this story he said -

"you know you're going to have to see that movie again"

me - "did you hear me? I talked to the movie screen, I yelled out GOOD SHOT!"

hubby - "well, was it?"

Which of course, is why I love him.

(still think the days with my boat actually anchored to the dock may be numbered)

10% discount in either of my shops Uncorked or Polarity with coupon code GOODSHOT through 12/8.