Monday, February 28, 2011

GIVEAWAY - Spring Cleaning at Olive Bites - Win Some Scrap-Fabulous Goodies!

AND THE WINNER IS- CHOSEN BY RANDOM.ORG

Karen L - congrats Karen!

So, last week was supposed to be all about cleaning

(it wasn't, unless you count the cleaned up look of my blog and website - what cha' think guys? - but only say good things because I'm feeling a bit .. uh fragile, ok)

I did manage to get my crafty closet cleaned out (and 4 bags of clothes to Goodwill)!

WHAT YOU WIN:

Photobucket

This giveaway includes a 78 count rubon book of monograms, 3 hero arts brand spankin' new rubber stamps (big ones), 8 journaling tags, 2 pks of funky vintage flower stickers from making memories, 2 pks of K&Company 3D florals, 6 metal ribbon labels, 1 pk of definition stickers and 2 mini photo bags.

One lucky winner is going to be in scrap heaven with this take!

HOW TO WIN:

It's easy, peasy - just leave a comment below with your contact information!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog
(5) Facebook this post

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to US and Canada only (sorry guys!)

DRAWING:
Enter by midnight, Sunday, March 6th! Good Luck!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blog Break - Back in a Week!

Of course, I haven't really gone fishing.

(you can exhale now Mr. Big Billy Bass)

I'm really still here, but I need to get my head and closets and inbox uncluttered and do some early spring cleaning.

I will be back next Monday with my -

1st Annual Spring Cleaning Giveaway

(this is not a lazy way of cleaning out my crafty closets ... really)

so mark your calendar!

* Gone Fishin' screenprint by DMeyerDesigns

(Mooza Designs Giveaway Extended 1 Week!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Marketing This Thing Part IV - strategy is not just for generals

Back to the basics of strategic marketing :

1. Identify an Opportunity -

look for holes in the market that might be opportunities to use our creative skills
.

At this point things like brainstorming, focus groups of creative peeps, talking to your current customers - there are great survey sites like surveymonkey.com and
freeonlinesurveys.com that you can use to ask your current customers questions before introducing something new or to find out what they are looking for.

Once you have customers it is a whole lot easier to sell new stuff to them than it is to sell to an entirely different kind of customer.

(I have used surveys a couple times and always offer some kind of freebie when sending something like this out - it is amazing how many people who have already purchased something from you will take the time to answer a short - I have a 3 question max - survey)


A few words about showing your early ideas to people - sometimes they will not be so receptive and sometimes you have to trust your gut with this stuff and totally ignore them.

When I found this drawer of old auto parts in hubby's shop and started talking 'locket', he thought I had lost my mind.

He said, "Cat, girls want to wear silver and gold and gemstones and stuff that is shiny and new."

but I was thinking ... well, maybe not all girls ...

2. Niche thinking makes this strategic marketing a whole lot easier because a. there is less competition b. it makes it easier to find the customers who will be attracted to us c. our stuff has a higher perceived value since we can position ourselves as an expert in a smaller field and d. we can charge more.

It's like the travel agent who specializes in cruises for college athletes (if there is such a travel agent) or the chiropractor who specializes in golfing injuries. Their success comes from the fact that they are not worried about leaving out 95% of the market - they are just focusing on being the go to girl/guy for this niche.

(and it totally helps if the travel agent is an ex-college jock and if the chiropractor plays golf because there will be a kind of passion and presence and energy from that that will be unique to them)

3. Strategic marketing is about fulfilling someone's emotional need with our stuff.

Marketing people will tell us that people buy stuff based on their emotions and those primary purchasing hot buttons are:

LOVE,
HEALTH,
BEAUTY,
RELAXATION,
MONEY

How are we solving some problem for other people around these needs?

4. Strategic marketing is about taking what you love and being smart and creative about making money with it.

No one can really teach us how to do this, because it will be unique to what we do but there are lots of incredibly clever people on Etsy doing all kinds of strategic thinking within competitive markets.

Littlebrownpen is an amazing photography shop that could be teaching strategy to generals in the Pentagon.


1. The passion they have for their subject jumps off their pages.

It is clear they have an amazing and developed skill set - composition, depth, perspective, technique - just gorgeous. They live in New Jersey (yay) but their hearts clearly reside in Paris.

2. They have chosen a subject that is not available to everyone with a camera.

(for example - if you are going to sell photos of flowers on Etsy, they will have to be some very special flowers and you will likely need some photographic techniques to set you apart from everyone else because everyone has a digital camera and access to flowers and by everyone else I mean your customers - also people probably don't want to buy pictures of your cat - if they like cats, they have their own cats to photograph

this is the same reason if you make jewelry and buy your supplies at AC Moore or Michaels or other places available to everyone your work is much more likely to look like everyone else's work)


3. They think in terms of how customers use their products.

Sometimes it is hard for people to see how a single photo or print they love would fit into their home.

People often have large wall spaces to fill and by offering the groupings they do by color I could see how customers (even those with no interest in Paris) could immediately see how this could work in their home and be excited to buy. It is, I think, simply brilliant.

They do alot of other smart things; based around the fact that they think their customers are smart, too.

They are a great example of makers creating things from their heart that people want to buy.

Now, we want to be creating our own brand and not copying anyone else's, but seeing someone else doing something really, really well can get us thinking of new ways of looking and thinking about our own work.

Traditional target market thinking doesn't always work for creative makers intent on exploring our own passions and some stuff we just have to make even though we know we will never be able to sell it, but by staying true to our own hearts and factoring in those "other people" that our business needs to thrive I truly believe we can create something totally freakin' amazing, real and make some money, too.

* failed opportunity print by the amazing Jenni Penni

Have a great weekend everyone - don't miss the last couple days of Mooza Design's totally fun bathroom door art giveaway here!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marketing This Thing - Part III - Grab a Breath Mint, It's Time to Cuddle

OK, now strategic marketing is going to mean getting very close to the customer

(not close enough for any type of disease transference, but close enough that we maybe could benefit from a wintergreen tic tac before proceeding)

and it includes market research although hopefully no trips to the mall with clipboards trying to make eye contact with people who are suddenly very focused on the shiny, tile floors.

Most makers -

(I am thinking all, but there may be someone out there who for some strange reason most likely having to do with trends is out there making things they do not love)

who are making a living with their makings are selling things that they are passionate about - things that you and I may not love - but things that they think are freakin' amazing!

They have also either taken the time to figure out that there was a market for their makings and where that market is or they got really lucky.


(and I totally believe in luck, but only beginner's luck - which life has a way of bestowing on us once as a kick in the ass to get us going, after that our luck is kind of like our face at 40 - we've earned it)

I think successful business owners need to have a personal passion for their business beyond paying their mortgage.

A friend of ours has a house alarm installation business that he started after his own house was robbed. Early on he thought marketing to new home owners would be a smart idea and he got lists of them and did mailings to them, but what he found over time was that his primary customer was not a new home owner at all, it was someone whose house had just been robbed.

At first he felt kind of weird to directly start marketing to them (even though this was the reason he got into the business in the first place) but when he really thought about what he is selling which is safety and peace of mind, plus he offers people all kinds of free services and advice, he started talking to these people and letting them know what is available and talking to their neighbors and he is doing really, really well. It is sometimes hard to sell the solution to a problem to someone who has never had the problem.

And strategic marketing is all about solving a problem for your buyer. It helps to be thinking - what problem am I solving and who and where are the people with that problem? And the earlier in your creative business start up you think about this the better.

When I saw Etsy I fell in love hard and fast - the head over heels at first sight kind of love that could have left me barefoot, pregnant and with high credit card debt if I wasn't careful ... luckily I was.

I was already a greenie (although an imperfect and sometimes lazy one) and remaker of all things remakable and I knew in my heart that there was a segment of the market - a pretty untapped segment - of people like me who were thinking about the impact of the things they were buying and who also wanted stuff that was modern and different.

I knew this would be my niche. Modern eco for people like me was what I was thinking. People who wanted to feel good about the environmental impact of what they bought, but who still wanted to buy really cool stuff.

People who wanted to own and wear things that were different - things that made a statement about who they were and that made other people ask them - what is that?

(but in a good way, not in a skin rash - is that contagious? - kind of way - or at least that was what I was going for)

This - "people wear things to make a statement about who they are" - is something everyone who makes wearables can think about when developing their line or planning advertising.

Now, I could see right away that there was alot of jewelry on Etsy, but I did not see this as a bad thing.

Think of how all the car dealers and furniture stores group themselves together on highways.

It would be hard though if you were a Honda dealer right next to another Honda dealer so you need to be working uniquely from your heart and you will probably need to be selling in other places - certain types of art will probably always do much, much better at shows and shops where people can really see them and touch them and hold them and walk away with that art in their hands.

Strategic marketing 1. Opportunity Identification

(this is more than I really love my stuff and so will they)

We need to be seeking holes in the market that might be opportunities.

Double Click Ad Planner
by Google is an awesome tool for some strategic thinking. It's free and based on the incredible amount of information Google collects from us on a daily basis probably very accurate.
We can use it in 2 ways:

1. by looking up a site's url and even better 2. we can search by audience where we can choose our own parameters

I LOVE to enter a site where I might want to sell my work or buy advertising, etc and then click around on the other sites the same people visited! It is addicting.

Checking out Etsy.com I can see that Etsy's average browser (and I say browser and not shopper and you will see why in a minute) is a female, 25-44 years old making $25K-$45K a year, with some college or a bachelor's degree living in the U.S.

The keywords they most frequently searched on the day I checked were: fabric, pioneer woman, land of nod, hancock fabrics, joann fabrics, ballard designs, I should add though that the most frequently searched keyword by far was "etsy" or some misspelled version of it -

other sites they visited that day include artfire, craftgossip, craftster, fabric.com, regretsy, twopeasinabucket (scrapbooking supplies) and firemountaingems.

So what does all this mean to us -

(other than the fact that alot of these viewers are makers, too based on the other sites they visited and the keywords they searched and this is ok because we sell to each other all the time)

well, the income levels tell us something about the upper price points that will likely sell well on Etsy (in general) but other than that I think most of us would find our general customer categories working within these profiles.

Now, this is once again getting way too long so I will continue this tomorrow with some specific things we can do. In the meantime if you have never played with the Double Click Ad Planner have fun thinking about the type of customer your work would attract and what kind of things they are looking for and what places they are looking.

* finger cuddle photo by Dancing Pancake Studio
* love is the new black print by The Love Shop

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Listening is Just as Important as Talking and why your target market may be able to avoid you - Marketing This Thing Part II


There are 2 types of marketing that those of us with maker businesses have to be thinking about - there is strategic marketing (this week's topic) and operational marketing.

Strategic marketing is about positioning our businesses to make money.

One of the ways to do this is to put the customer at the center of our core business thinking and decide what products and services to produce in the first place based on them.

This is no different than what any other type of business has to do to make money.

Now for makers this is not about selling just to be selling -

if we are not creating a business selling something that we are passionate about and is uniquely our own than we are not creating anything anyone will ever miss when it is gone and it soon will be ...

to make room for the passionate stuff that someone willing to put the time and energy and hours into discovering and working and reworking is dreaming up right now in their pajamas or their office suit or their McDonald's bright red shirt -

someone (to quote Will from Monday) who is not afraid to die on that treadmill.


A photographer who's soul yearns to roadtrip the country and photograph rusty cars in junkyards and battered old street signs should not be snapping birds on branches because maybe birds on branches are trending right now ...

(although I would totally hop on the hedgehog train if I were you - I had previously predicted the fox trend and am now predicting the hedgehog trend)

but a strategic, customer centered marketing focus would ask the photographer to think about just how infrequently most people change their wall art and maybe license her images for use on other products or maybe create a humorous 'junk in your trunk' greeting card line or package her photos in such a way that customers are more likely to buy them such as producing a Blurb coffee table book of her photos and selling that.

Now in one sense this does not really expand this photographer's "target" market (again I am picturing ducks in a shooting gallery) because her market is really the people who love her aesthetic (and the people shopping for those people) but it does give them more reasons to buy from her and more ways for her to operationally market her work.

Before I discovered Etsy I created and sold a line of scrapbook-type hanging boards that I called Graffiti Boardz.

I sold them in a few stores at the Jersey shore, but mostly I sold them at local craft shows, street fairs and music festivals.


I made them for about 3 years (it was a part-time thing) until I talked to the album frame manufacturer who fabricated the metal framing I used around the boards about resizing them just for me. I wanted them to make me a 12" frame (the size of standard scrapbook paper) instead of the 12 1/2" frame (the size of a standard record album).

Within a few weeks they had fabricated the special sized frames (yippee) for me and (not so yippee, maybe just a yip) for Michael's and A.C. Moore which they promptly stocked the frame department with and labeled scrapbook frame.

(yes, I am taking total credit for scrapbook frames in the craft stores ... as well as the Cheesecake Factory's crispy crab wontons ... I take total credit for those, too and possibly Obama's economic plan, but we'll see how that works out first)

Anyway back to the new (to me) Etsy marketplace because although these boards had sold very well at local craft shows where you need a broader appeal product with a high 'mom' factor (niche products will not make you the queen of the local craft show circuit) I knew instinctively they were not the right aesthetic for Etsy and that the big old internet, which was getting bigger by the nanosecond, demanded niche thinking.

(plus I thought hanging scrapbook frames were about to be everywhere - and I was tired of making them and my scrapbook store-owner friend, who sold me all her scrappy leftovers at below wholesale prices was ready to move on, too)

Of course, if my heart and my soul were still screaming Graffiti Boardz, I would still be making them (I am sure with a gazillion little adjustments by now) and truly if my heart and my soul were still needing to make them, then I would be making the selling part work ... even on Etsy.

So, what does all of this have to do with listening instead of talking and our so-called elusive "target market" - well, I knew that a successful creative business needed to be customer "focused" at its core -

putting the customer at the center of our business thinking in the beginning as hard and as much work as this can be -

is still alot easier than putting them at the center of our bullseye and "targeting" them later on by firing products at them and seeing what we can hit.

(due to the popularity of video gaming, customers are increasingly agile and able to avoid this type of 'targeting' anyway)

If we don't make what people want to buy

(note - I am not talking about things that everyone wants to buy - we'll leave that to Target)

then no matter how clever or creative our operational marketing is - it will probably fail.

Now, we have to do this without silencing our creative voice because if there is not a whole lot of what is uniquely us in our making then no amount of operational or strategic marketing is going to work for long anyway.

This is where alot of makers get stuck - they either decide to make what sells and it ends up looking an awful lot like what everyone else is making

and then spend alot of time looking for someone to buy it or get pissed or depressed if no one does

or they decide they want to make what they want to make no matter what


(which is, of course, totally ok if you are not wanting to sell it)

and then spend alot of time looking for someone to buy it or get pissed or depressed if no one does

but if other people are the center of a business, and I think they are, then it is just as important to listen to them in the beginning as it is to talk at them at the end.

Staying true to our own voice while seeing customers as active partners and not passive 'targets' is totally possible for all of us.

On Friday I will talk about some very specific ways we can do this in Part III of Marketing This Thing - Strategy is Not Just for Generals.

(I know you may lose some sleep waiting - please don't hate me for this)

*listen print by the amazing and uniquely herself elle moss

Monday, February 14, 2011

This is Not a Customer-Free Zone or why "other" people may be the whole point of our business - Marketing This Thing - Part I

Sometimes it is easy to confuse the things we need to do to make our art and the things we need to do to make a business with our art.

Making a business with our art sometimes requires a shift in our thinking from "what do I want to create?" to "how can I use my creativity to provide what people want to buy?" -

both questions are part of the making experience, but forgetting to transition that thing that you just have to make

(and I totally get that "have to" gut feeling of creation and do not want anyone to ever, ever lose it)

into something people want to buy can create a kind of customer-free zone where other people -

who I would argue are the entire point of our business (not the point of our making, of course, but the entire point of our business) in the first place - get lost.

(and we don't want them to wander off into a WalMart)

We can totally make things and never give any thought to selling them and I would agree that the most genius art is created in a customer-free zone, but not the most genius businesses.

If we are making our makings into a business we should already have a good sense of ourselves and what it is we love to do and need to do and what it is that we do really, really well.

If not, we need to take a step backwards and give ourselves some time to focus on this- this is a process after all, a marathon not a sprint, and although everything these days feels like it is going 1000 miles per hour - it really isn't - there are some things that will always take time and be worth putting the time into.

Our work must come from our heart and our soul and be truly unique and our own

(this stuff is hard or everyone would be doing it)

but to turn our makings into a business we need to focus outside of ourselves a bit or we may be left searching for some kind of marketing miracle to sell it for us.

I think if we have to spend alot of time figuring out how to convince people to buy our stuff something has probably gone wrong somewhere along the way.

This week I will be focused on marketing this creative venture of ours - and by marketing I do not mean some kind of uptown version of "selling" - it is much more personal and radical and important than that!!

Marketing is really about aligning our business and our brand and 'our world' with the stuff outside ourself, the living breathing two legged stuff - those other people in the world.

This is absolutely NOT a matter of trying to "please" all of the people all of the time, but targeting partnering with the people

(I hate the word "targeting" because it sounds like our customers are plastic ducks lined up in a shooting arcade and it is our goal to knock their heads off and we really, really want to win the 4 foot teddy bear for little Morgan or Megan or Melissa and it's every man for himself)

that we can connect with most powerfully and match their needs with our own creative skills - this big old internet has actually created a world hungry for the very real and personal skills that only us small maker companies can provide.

In fact the vastness of the internet demands that we not please everyone. It requires us to find our niche. And, if you don't have a whole boatload of people who would never, ever buy your stuff then you don't have one.

Staying true to ourselves while keeping an eye or an eyeball or at least an eyelash on what people want to buy is totally do-able!

Wednesday - Part II of Marketing This Thing - Why Listening is Just As Important As Talking (and why our 'target' market may be avoiding us)

* mini alphabet letters by lovemaestore

a little Monday morning inspiration from the fresh prince:



some stuff I am taking with me:

1. greatness is in all of us
2. when other guys are sleeping, I am working
when other guys are eating, I am working
3. I am not afraid to die on a treadmill
4. your life will become better by making other people's lives better
5. you don't say, I am going to make the perfect wall- you say I am going to lay this brick as perfectly as I can and pretty soon you have a wall

Here's to a day/week/lifetime of wall-making everyone!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

trouble in paradise? or wait I live in New Jersey so maybe I should call this trouble in anti-paradise

So, I am doing a little whisper-typing while hubby helps me rearrange some tables in my studio

(I have to whisper type this because he does not like me blogging about him)

but 2 things have happened within the last 24 hours that I find very alarming, especially with Valentine's Day approaching and I feel I must report on them

OK- he's left the room- I need to type fast ....

#1. Hubby ate the last cookie

now he has always been the kind of hubby who hardly ever takes the last of the milk, never the last bite of a shared dessert and would never eat the last cookie in the box

at least not the last chocolate cookie

so what is up with the fact that he ate the last cookie last night right in front of me and then proceeded to fold up the box, without even missing a beat in the conversation

#2. Hubby left his radio station

(I was briefly in country music hell - am I the only one who thinks country music is all about beer now - I still miss the Dixie Chicks)

and his seat position in my car when he borrowed it and he only drove like 4 blocks roundtrip

now normally I am not such a pain in the ass that I would even give this another thought, but when I noticed it this morning after last night's 'cookie incident'

I am left wondering if something is wrong here and how long this kind of stuff has been going on and I may have been too busy to notice.

(he's back, more whisper typing)

I mean, I know that I have eaten many a last cookie, switched many a radio station dial within seconds of buckling my seatbelt and sometimes forget to look in the mirror before I leave the house

(that last one is not related but it can drive hubby crazy and is for some reason coming back to me now)

but he doesn't ....

I guess I will have to see if all of this is leading up to a gigantic Valentine's Day surprise -

(hopefully not in the form of another girl - one who does not smell like E6000, always checks her face for respirator 'dents' before leaving the house and who will always save the last cookie for him)

will keep everyone posted ....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Back away from the mealworms ..... there's no love like hedgehog love

I am predicting ...
(without any psychic assistance although I may have made one spin with my magic eight ball)

the hedgehog (please don't call her a porcupine) is about to replace the fox as the trending critter you will be seeing everywhere.

The fox will not be disappearing anytime soon as evidenced by the fact that although the fox replaced the owl -

(the owl didn't stand a chance against this crafty devil)


there are still as many owls on Etsy as knitted caps lying on livingroom carpets.

My prophecy is based on the fact that although the fox, well-known for his cunning, has many strategies for killing the hedgehog - the hedgehog has only one strategy for defending herself.

Whenever the fox attacks, the hedgehog rolls into a tight little ball of spikes.

It works every time.

So, you read it here first folks - just as that sly fox outmaneuvered the wise old owl, the hedgehog is about to prove a good defense can beat a good offense anyday.

* hedgehog cork necklace available in my Uncorked shop here
* hedgehog locket featuring the gorgeous illustrations of Biliana available in my Polarity shop here

Have a wonderful weekend everyone - next week will kick off my new Marketing Series on Monday so stop by and pull up a chair! GG6HXSDWQTD9

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Upcycled Computer Key INITIAL NECKLACE Tutorial - great gift for your guy for Valentine's Day!


This is another easy-peasy tutorial

(my favorite kind)

that gives you something to do with that old keyboard you have in the bottom of your closet.

A computer geek will love to get and wear this one.

You will need:

a computer key (just pop it off with a flat head screwdriver)
a washer (not the kind with the tiny center hole)
a slip ring or jump ring
chain
super-glue
hand drill
1. drill a hole in your washer (this is actually super easy- be firm and fearless) 2. add slip ring
3. super glue your computer key to the washer (check in with your hole placement so your letter is upright and readable)
4. add chain

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No Whining on Wednesday or a birthday prophecy that wasn't, string cheese and electric cigarettes ...

Most people I know hate February

and even though I am not a snow person or a cold weather person and should definitely be living somewhere warmer than New Jersey now that I think about it -

I love February.

I think it is because my birthday is in February

(and hubby's birthday, too actually)

and even though I am not any kind of party girl and may soon require a stapler to keep my eyelids from interfering with my vision, for some crazy reason I still look forward to it.

Saturday was my big day and in the morning I ran out to get the newspaper because I needed to read the "if TODAY is your birthday" horoscope that I never miss

and it read:

"... use excellent judgement to formulate plans for the future this month and you can't go wrong"

(uh, am I supposed to just wake up with excellent judgement all of sudden - this one could be trouble)

and it also read:

"you are willing to claw your way up the ladder of success ..."

(which had me wishing for the gazillionth time in my life that I wasn't a nail-biter - this is definitely one de-clawed Cat - I climb my ladders one step at a time with both hands on the outer rungs hanging on for my life, thank you very much)

but it is nice to know there is some ambitious inner catwoman buried deep (very deep) inside me in case I ever have to scratch my way past any of you on my way to the top of the crafty world.

You may remember -

(I like to delude myself that someone is actually reading and remembering what I writing here)

that I go to a psychic every year around my birthday,

but ever since she asked me for a job I haven't been back to see her ...

and she is most likely a highly efficient, creative person and would be a tremendous help to me, but how would it be possible to work with a psychic -

I kind of imagine something like ...

me - Can you go the post office now and mail today's orders?

psychic Sue - I don't think that is a good idea.

me - What do you mean?

psychic Sue - I have a sense that this is something you should do.

me - Oh, ok ... well, while I'm gone can you ...

psychic Sue - Um ... I think it would be best if I just go home now. I am seeing that you need to be alone today for your best success


(of course, I can see a potential upside to working with a psychic, too - like maybe I will never launch another piece that doesn't sell ever again, but I'm just not sure I could handle thinking she knew something I didn't

although if I eliminated people who know more than me from my life that would leave me pretty much .. well, alone, actually)


plus she carries a huge nylon tote filled with string cheese and I get freaked out by dairy products that do not require refrigeration

plus
I saw that episode of Real Housewives with Allison DuBois

(the real psychic my favorite tv show Medium is based on)

and she was a real nutcase and most likely caused psychics everyhere to lose alot of psychic business, but I guess they should have seen that coming, huh?

(if you watch the tv show Medium and have not seen the Real Housewives episode you must google it now)

Bottom line -I did not get my usual birthday year predictions, although of course with my year of deciding upon me now, any predictions are out the window anyway except the one hubby made that I cannot get any more neurotic.

(trust me, I'll find a way)

* this ain't no disco print by jaimers
* psychic fortunes print by Emily Balivet

Monday, February 7, 2011

Etsy GIVEAWAY - Mooza Designs Fabulicious Acrylic Wall Art!


And the winner is (chosen by random.org)
True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 710
Result:
144

Monapete!


Mooza Designs is the amazing team of Jessie & Michel - full time moms working from their home based business located on the beautiful northern beaches of Sydney, Australia.

I bought a set of these for Christmas and they are totally gorgeous, super well-made, come with their own names

(I loved that)

and will look totally unique and welcoming on your bathroom door!
Mooza also creates names and house numbers and all kinds of other wonderful signage with their same techniques.

We are so lucky to have one of their amazing creations for this week's giveaway!

WHAT YOU GET:

One lucky winner will receive their choice of one of MOOZA's fabulicious bathroom couples!




HOW TO WIN:

It's easy, peasy - just leave your contact information below with your 2 color choices (one for your boy and one for your girl)

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog
(5) Facebook this post

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:
Enter by midnight, Sunday, February 27th! Good Luck! CLOSED

Make sure to bookmark Mooza for future purchases!

Friday, February 4, 2011

CruelTEA Over at Lipton - the year of the rabbit is off to a good start

With the threat of PETA's ad campaign set to launch next week, Unilever - owner of Lipton Tea has pledged to immediately halt all animal testing with their products.

(and before we go thinking I wish someone would test some tea on me- these animals are given diseases and then fed tea as a "cure" and even autopsied while still alive)


I am not always a fan of PETA

(not sure that turning half the population into objects is necessary toward getting people to treat animals ethnically)

but I am happy they convinced Lipton to join the growing number of cruelty-free companies.

Probably not all animal testing in medical research can be ended but as for the necessity of animals in cancer research (for example), Dr. Richard Klausner, former director of the National Cancer Institute, stated that -

"The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer ... in the mouse.

We have cured mice of cancer for decades - and it simply didn't work in humans."


That - added to the fact that only 3 medical schools in the U.S. (out of 150 plus) still use animals to teach surgery because there are better teaching methods available now says alot to me about the modern alternatives that can be used to alleviate much of this testing (about 200 animals are killed every minute in U.S. labs).

So, maybe have a nice cup of tea this weekend to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit knowing less rabbits are being tortured in the name of research - but maybe make it a Stash Tea, Luzianne Tea, Twinings or Honest - they have all been cruelty free without the threat of a PETA ad campaign.

xo

To see if a company you are giving your money to is cruelty-free, check PETA's database here

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

maybe Lucy (and Punxsutawney Phil) don't have no 'splaining' to do ....


My year of deciding has me sometimes thinking I need to explain my decisions to other people

(and of course, sometimes I do - I am not talking about thoughtlessness and selfishness here ... not exactly)

but sometimes this explaining thing has a bit of waiting attached to it - as in waiting for others to

A - pass their judgement

(so time and energy is wasted preparing to have to support my decision to others)

B - give their approval

(my choosing to explain myself allows others to mind my business instead of their own and I am not so into teaching them that)

C - voice their critism

which is actually a huge opportunity for growth

(can I love someone enough to allow them to not be happy with a choice I am making and make it anyway)

Making decisions creates important lessons in intuition and trusting our instincts - at least that is what my decision making right now is all about for me - and having to support my choices with explanations isn't embracing of this.

It is forcing me into the part of my brain that didn't make this decision in the first place,

so when someone is questioning my decisions

(lots of extended family time has brought this home to me lately)

- it is enough to say that it is the best decision for me right now or the best decision for my family right now and leave it at that.

Put a period at the end of that sentence and move on.

So that is what I have been doing the last few days and it has been working out pretty well for me.

(UPDATE - I have just been advised that Punxsutawney Phil has not seen his shadow which means spring is on its way - and I will support his decision and not ask him to explain himself since groundhog instinct and intuition is, I'm sure, at least as accurate as my own)