Not a Time to Panic

OK, so the swine flu pandemic (yes, it is being called a pandemic - which sounds worse than epidemic and epidemic sounds pretty bad) has just been upgraded by the World Health Organization to a level 5 alert on a scale of 1-6 (this still leaves those of us who are a bit jaded from the Homeland Security Department's color coded alert charts maybe less fazed than we should be)- there is still no reason to panic.

There is maybe a reason to be careful though - so the little extra precautions like the hand washing we should all be doing anyway can't hurt. We need to take special care with our children, elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system; basically the people who would have gotten a flu shot if there had been a flu shot.

I am not a panicky type of person, but I do like to prepare for potential emergencies a little bit. After 9/11 our entire family drew up an emergency escape from New Jersey plan (yes, I know everyone living in New Jersey SHOULD already have a different kind of escape plan- like a 'get me the heck out of here already' plan!) including a place to meet up in case of a disaster (although it never got any more specific than west of Hershey, Pennsylvania)- we had packed suitcases in the trunks of our cars for a couple years. The suitcases slowly came unpacked though, as we needed the things that were in them and as the cars that held them were sold until eventually the suitcases ended up back in our closets.

During the bird flu scare we stocked up on water and the canned goods and boxed goods that we do not normally buy, but that stockpile, too, has slowly disappeared as we raided our stash during busy or lazy times when I didn't shop or midnight munchy sprees when we were desperate enough to eat stale boxes of cereal.

This time I am preparing with some Purell hand sanitizer and some common sense. With one eye on the news and one hand on my mouse because I know I can always count on Etsy and the internet to provide all that I need to get me through a pandemic.

1. Heidi Merrick Dress - Remember, there is not enough Tamiflu to go around, so it will be especially important that we look especially cute, even while we are tossing our cookies all over the waiting room, when we get to the hospital
2. RiskyBeads 'Soup' Bracelet- Absolutely equal to chicken soup in a pandemic
3. LoucheLab's Feel Good Pills - In case our little dress fails to get us the Tamiflu these should do the trick
4. AllysonHill's Tissue Carrier - We are much too cool to leave a trail of tissues everywhere we go
5. CutieCakePatissierie's Mocha Sandwich Cookies - No explanation needed - total deliciousness
6. A Private Duty Nurse from The House of Mouse
7. Earmark's Freak Out and Throw Stuff Print -
In case we need permission to do just that
8. Haleah Jet's Pig - To remember it is not the pig's fault - of course, if we really insist on blaming the pig a nice BLT with mayo might make us feel better
A. BumbleBellyDesign's Gorgeous Oink Pillow - So we can get some rest before the next disaster

Time for a Life Swap

Not the cheesy TV show (although if I had a wife, I'd definitely swap her because my house is a total mess).

This swap is a PARTY and we never need a reason to throw another party. With money tighter for many and most of us with more stuff than we need and still coveting our neighbor's turquoise cuisinart (now, I know she probably won't swap her turquoise cuisinart but maybe some hints tossed out pre-party about how orange kitchens are all the rage now, will help you get lucky) a party where you can reduce, reuse, recycle AND land some of your coolest friends coolest stuff - well, where's my invitation! A swap party will get your closets cleaned out and it's much more fun, and less work, than a yard sale!

The key is to set some ground rules for your Life Swap party. Invite friends with similar taste - 10 guests is about right, but if you have alot of cool friends, up to 20 should still be manageable. No hurt feelings if someone brings something someone else has given them- even the best, most thoughtful gifts may need a new home eventually. Be clear about what is swap-worthy. Clean goods, gently used. Guests should bring their own bags to take home their loot. This type of party is perfect for e-vites.

You can have each person bring some finger food or just serve up some easy goodies yourself. I'm going to set this up in the backyard- have the guests drop off their stuff a couple days early - and sort it by type so I can lay everything out like a backyard department store. Clothes, accessories, kids stuff, books, CDs, housewares; maybe nothing bigger than a breadbox (as long as this doesn't leave out that cuisinart!).
Give each guest a name sticker for each item they donate and then they take turns choosing items and attaching their name; limit the number of items per turn to keep it fair and to keep things moving along. Now the idea is NOT to take home a bunch of stuff you can't use and don't want, so have some plans for the leftovers. Plan for the Goodwill, Salvation Army or Dress For Success for clothing or houseware drop-offs. Newborns in Need with gently used newborn items. Books can go to libraries and book and CDs can also go to Books for Soldiers.

There are also some swap sites online if your friends goodies are lame and you want to just skip the party and swap your good stuff outside of your own circle!

Clothing: Rehash, Swapstyle Kids Stuff: Hand Me Downs, The Baby Chain Books, CDS: Bookins, Swaptree Anything Else: Freecycle, Neighborrow, Swap Thing, Title Trader

1. Jessjamesjake - Awesome Vintage Suitcase
2. Elinart - Stunning Fiber Art
3. June Shin - Gorgeous Icarus Earrings
4. ButtonEnvy - Adorable Go Fly A Kite Necklace
5. TwoLeftHands - Amazing Owl Brooch
6. Larimeloom - Dusty Blue Pirate Pants

Moms Gone (Almost) Wild

This may not be a big story everywhere, but in New Jersey whatever happens in New York is a big story and I live in New Jersey, so this is big news. A mom, fed up with her bickering tweens (ages 10 and 12), tossed them out of the car at a downtown suburban shopping district, three miles from their home, and drove off.

One kid made it home on her own. The other was picked up by a good samaritan who found her. Now the mom has been arrested and had a temporary order of protection placed against her. Today, the story gets a slightly different twist because apparently the kid who 'made it home on her own' was picked up by the mom who had circled the block. When the mom couldn't find the other kid, after circling a bit more, she went home, waited awhile for her to show up and then called the police, who were already all set to pay the mom a visit.

Now, this mom could be a wonderful mom who did a really stupid thing (yes, wonderful moms sometimes do really stupid things and our kids are resilient enough to survive those stupid things and not end up the human equivalent of dented cans of green beans) or she could be a bad mom who does really stupid things all the time - I don't know. This story does make most moms uncomfortable though, because we have all dreamed of doing something similar or dreamed of tossing the keys to our oldest (who happens to be eight at the time) and taking a nice leisurely walk, sans children, home ourselves, but of course we haven't actually DONE it.

This reminded me of an incident with my own daughter a ways back. She was about the age of the girls in this story and she was not home on time and it was not the first time she was late. I drove to her friend's house to pick her up- which was a few blocks from our own- and I was mad that she was late again. About half way to her friend's house I spied her, walking along the sidewalk in our small town, like she had all the time in the world.

She got in the car and quickly explained to me that her watch had stopped. I said, "give me the watch" and she did. I could see that the watch had stopped and I could also see that the little, windy knob was pulled out (she had the kind of watch that pulling out the little windy knob would make the watch stop working) and I knew that she was a very clever kid ... so I said "you're right, it's broken" and I tossed it out the moving car's window (I wasn't quite as environmentally responsible in those days). She sat there with her mouth open.

Now, this isn't quite the same as throwing HER out of the window and it is not one of my proudest moments but she did get home on time after that (at least for a while) and luckily there were no police around to arrest me for littering (I did, without telling anyone, go back to that spot that night with a flashlight and look for the watch, but never found it).
Almost Mother's Day - some gift ideas for a wild (or not so wild) mom
1. BarbaraGordon - Mom's Motel
2. EnveJewelry - Lavender Blue Earrings
3. PennyGlassGirl - Purse Hangers
4. SherryTruitt - Believe Necklace
5. DolaMakes - Child Silhouette Plate
6. TannerGlass - Key / Jewelry Holder

3 Things for Earth Day

I have always been a bit of an Earth Day skeptic. Being environmentally focused for 24 hours and then rushing back into our modern, fast-paced, disposal lives seems as fake as those 'green products' that keep popping up and are anything but.

Earth Day does, though, give us an actual date on the calendar to renew our commitment to saving this planet's amazing beauty and diversity for our children and for their children and it does help us to get focused.

Each year we try to commit to 3 new practices (last year we switched to compact fluorescent bulbs, gave up paper towels, paper and plastic bags -and take out containers- when shopping and started composting kitchen scraps more consistently).

This year our 3 new commitments are : 1. Reduce our garbage to 1 bag a week (with a family and two businesses we are continually challenged with this) 2. Send one letter each month to a politician -local, state or federal- concerning an environmental issue (this will also challenge us to be aware of these issues) and 3. grow more of our own fruits and vegetables and can them for colder seasons (I have never done anything even remotely like canning - no idea why this is even called canning when we use glass - we do use glass, right?), so this will be my biggest challenge yet. Hopefully I can do this without putting anyone in the hospital, or at least anyone I like in the hospital.

To celebrate Earth Day I am offering free shipping on any jewelry order in both my shops- Uncorked and Polarity through Friday midnight. Just write Earth Day in the comments to seller section of your order and I will refund your shipping!

1. Artwork by KD - Flower Ring
2. Pouch - Recycled Brooch
3. 2ReVert - Earrings
4. Infusion - Toddler Slippers
5. zJayne - Recycled Wristlet
6. Knitstorm - Tea Cup Cozy

NOT a Loser Part II

Ok- so the last time I was in an Etsy 'contest' it was called the Handmade Kids Contest and I entered my totally amazing (if I do say so myself and I am apparently the only one saying it) See Jane Run magnet board which was bumped from the competition by Etsy admin when the contest went from 35 entries to 30 and I am still kind of sore about it.

So- when I got an email today from an Etsy intern saying my Mother Knows Best locket is in their Mother's Day Contest I started to sweat. I mean I do NOT expect to win this thing, but I am hoping to stay out of the bottom 5 again, if you know what I mean. So, if you do not have a sister, cousin, best friend (or well even if you do and you do not really like them that much) in this contest- how about voting for my Mother Knows Best Locket to keep me from total Etsy hari-kari this time- so here's the LINK what do you say? UPDATE - Thank you to everyone who voted for my locket - I had a very respectable showing and no need for hari-kari...this time.

You are NOT a Loser ... (I am pretty sure)

OK- so I have some serious blog goodies to be given away on four blogs right now- that's right you are not seeing in quadruple - I said FOUR!

I know this is going to take you a few minutes to enter all of these, but these little lockets used to be cars (or car parts actually) and I think it would be worth a few minutes to win a car (uhm... part), right?!

Plus entering all four of these has got to increase your chances of winning, by what, at least a gazillion percent, right? I mean, if you enter all four of these and you don't win anything, well, I mean that still wouldn't exactly make you a loser ... but I would start to worry about you a little bit....

1. Noelle over at Xenotees in giving away my Kendra Zvonik Locket
2. Jen at IndixFix is giving away my Jess Gonacha Locket
3. Tia at CleverGirlGoesBlog is giving away my Unconventional Ida Locket
4. The amazing Helene at Helene's Dreams is giving away my Dilka Bear Locket

You gotta be in it, to win it, people!

Seed to Table

Instead of growing more and more of our own food, my hubby and I seem to be growing less and less. Partly because so much of it ends up in the bellies of the rabbits and groundhogs that get past any fencing we devise and partly because although our heads and hearts are green, our thumbs have not caught up. But this year we are determined to improve our output and get more home grown goodies to our own table.

We are hoping to get at least some of the the seeds into the ground this weekend. I am also planting a large cutting garden of zinnias. Having flowers to bring in each night with the veggies will make the effort more worthwhile for me.

When we can't grow our own it is often worth it to buy organic especially if the foods you eat most often are ones that tend to be the most heavily treated. More pesticides are found on apples than any other fruit (36!) - if you can't find organic- rinse them well, peel them and look for little produce stickers that saw New Zealand (they use about half as many pesticides as the United States).

You should also choose organic grapes, because grapes ripen quickly and tend to mold, growers hit them with multiple applications of various chemicals. The worst are Chilean grapes which are treated with as many as 17 chemicals (90% of the grapes eaten in the U.S. this time of year are Chilean). The key is always a very thorough rinse in cool or warm water.

You should even rinse your cantaloupes before cutting since your knife can drag exterior residues through the fruit as you cut it and cantaloupes often contain five of the longest-lasting chemicals including one banned in 1974 that still persists in soils and is taken up by the fruit. When you can - choose local and 100% organic.

Here's a few "organically" grown Etsy beauties:

1. Xenotees - Good Luck Fork T-Shirt
2. afiori - 4 Mini Pictures Il Giardino Segreto
3. SpoonerZ - Fork Top Family Necklace
4. Kootsac - Reusable Food Bags
5. BCStoneDesign - Mushroom Planter
6. CustomEyes - Vintage Egg Beater
7. BovineBubbles - Assorted Jams and Jellies

Newest Artist Collaboration Lockets

This week I am so fortunate to add four more amazingly talented artists to my Polarity locket artist series!

GollyBard - Holly's paintings represent a whimsical and peculiar narrative of both an everyday and make believe world. Watercolor scenes painted with detail and exactness, though filled with ambiguity. They are jumbled, untidy stories inspired by anything and everything that she is infatuated with for the moment.

Fricdementol - Ana lives in beautiful Portugal where life is her inspiration. She loves simple things like a smile, her dogs or cooking. She uses all her senses to live! She listens to alot of music and she also watch movies. She has no car so she rides a bike. Ana is fascinated by people's portraits and expressions. Portraiture is her obsession.

zJayne - Jane enjoys creating art with meaning. You’ll find her salvaging an array of found objects, metals, once loved jewels, costume and semi precious treasures to create one of a kind defining images. Jane has learned that being authentic and owning your talent brings a form of peace of mind that is well received and encourages her to live in the moment.

Brief Moments - Maribeth has always been fascinated by an artist’s ability to capture a brief moment of time, whether that moment was of clarity, of joy, of disappointment, or even chaos. All of her photographs and paintings strive to capture the brief moments that are quiet and sometimes overlooked, moments that she hopes speak to you as much as they have spoken to her.

Check out their amazing shops. The purchase of any locket from my new locket series gets a FREE set of extra lids this week!

This week's giveaway is at the amazing blog of Helene's Dreams for the gorgeous Dilkabear locket. This giveaway ends on Earth Day 4/22- so get over there and get entered! Also check out Helene's gorgeous Etsy shop!

These Little Girls Are Having a Birthday!

The amazingly adorable Kirsten Cram of Tollipop fame is celebrating her one year anniversary on Etsy with a SUPER GIVEAWAY.

The Grand Prize is three Tollipop original paintings in pretty blue frames, ready to hang! Kirsten is also giving away 3 more prizes of a Polarity Tollipop locket and a Tollipop print of your choice from her shop!

counting down ....

UGH, It is almost April 15th- there I have said it out loud!

My hubby and I each have a business and neither has an accountant so even though Quickbooks and Turbo Tax make it alot easier than it used to be, it is still a stressful few days (also because we procrastinate it until those last few days and hours and minutes).

Actually, most of the stress in my life has come through my incredible ability to procrastinate - this is almost a lost art in these hectic times and I pride myself on being a bit of a master.

I am offering 15% off in both my Etsy shops Uncorked and Polarity - now through April 15th- just note April 15th or Tax Day or some such something or other in the comments to seller section and wait for a quick refund!

Now let's just take a deep breath and relax ........................................

1. crystalindumentaria - yoga top
2. aprilhl - peace wall art
3. mountainmamaskitchen - yoga in a can
4. allthosethrees - traveling soul necklace
5. irenesuchoki - simplexity
6. hypnotransformations - relaxation hypnosis
7. uncorked - just breathe bracelet

Getting Ready for Show Season

Spent a rainy Saturday recently making two Polarity Locket display cases for the upcoming show season.

Since the lockets are made from little car parts I wanted my new displays to be industrial but totally practical and amazingly cool (if would also be best if the display surfaces had some magnetic areas).

I like to set up 'stations' within my 10X10 booth space that flow from one to the next cohesively but are at the same time eclectic and very visually interesting.

I decided to use metal toolboxes and incorporate my customer mirrors (recycled truck sideview mirrors) into the metal lids. I covered the inner drawer areas with some foam covered fabric and my little Craftsman/Craftwoman is almost ready for show time. I will get some pictures at my first show and post these babies stocked with lockets!

New Artists for Polarity Locket Series

This week I am so fortunate to add five more amazingly talented artists to my Polarity locket artist series!

TinyArtByJMullin - Jennifer is a high school art and art history teacher by day and collage and watercolor artist by night. Creating art keeps her sane and happy and she is thrilled to be able to share her passion on Etsy! We are so lucky to have her beautiful I Will Be Blue and Floral Improv. No. 8 artwork for your locket!

f2images - Emi and Mark started f2images as a way to share their photography with others. Their ambition is to capture and present images in a unique and engaging way. Although they enjoy fine art photography, the technical aspect of image capture is equally important to them. We are so lucky to have their beautiful Lazy Summer and Mare photographs for your locket!

blackoutwell - When she was young Amy wanted to be a mad scientist but quickly decided that her path in life would be accompanied by a notebook and pen, a yellow flask of semi sweet tea, a small orange fox, a slightly bent but empty birdcage and a rusty red lantern she found in the street. Unfortunately she has only 2 hands so she carries the leftover items in her backpack, alternating from time to time and picking up treasures and inspiration along the way! We are so lucky to have her beautiful Stripey Fox and Suspicious Cat artwork for your locket!

somethingwhimsical - Vinnie is an amazing artist who wanted to have some fun and walk on the wild side of things for awhile, well, on the whimsical side at least. His little alien lifeforms known as BOBs (bunch of bolts) have recently been leaving some marks and symbols that we will leave it up to you mad scientists out there to decipher. You can check out Vinnie's other, slightly more serious side at We are so lucky to have his little BOBs language for your locket! He also happens to be my amazingly talented brother....

Deadpan Alley - Liese loves to work with all types of media. Paint, ink, copper, beads, fabric, you name it. She shows work in a traditional art gallery but when she gets pen in hand nothing traditional seems to come out. Etsy is her outlet for the illustrations that like a hysterical giggle, she can't seem to suppress! We are so lucky to have her beautiful X-Ray, Devourer of Nations and The Innovator artwork for your locket!

Purchase any of these amazing lockets and you will receive a FREE set of additional lids.

I will also be doing a giveaway with each locket from now until the end of June- the first giveaway is on Andrea's awesome Anything Indie blog for the Jessica Doyle Locket shown here!

What's a 'Green' Sweater Girl To Do?

When my mother was young and Lana Turner was the famous sweater girl, my mother owned twenty seven sweaters. She told me this number more than once. Twenty seven. Even with today's walk in closets and over extended credit cards this is alot of sweaters.

I own maybe 5 or 6 sweaters that I wear regularly and this time of year as I am getting ready to put those sweaters away (or at least thinking about it, it has still been pretty cold here!) I am thinking about a trip to the dry cleaners.

Dry cleaning is not always necessary; clothing makers often place the “dry clean only” label on tags because they can list no more than one cleaning method and can be held liable if an item is damaged when the owner follows the listed procedure, so I handwash my sweaters all winter, but feel like they need that little dry cleaning magic before storage.

Now dry cleaning is not a green girl's friend. Most commercial dry cleaners (there is nothing dry about it by the way) still use a chemical called perchloroethylene, commonly known as perc. Exposure to perc depresses the central nervous system and can have long term effects on the liver and kidneys; perc can cause cancer. If not properly disposed of, perc contaminates groundwater. Many dry cleaners call themselves 'organic' but use of the word is unregulated and technically perc, being a carbon-based compound IS organic. Another dry cleaning method called green earth dry cleaning is a process billed as nontoxic but studies have shown that D-5, the silicone-based solvent used in the process causes cancer in rats.

The EPA has an eco-friendly cleaner guide and you can look for a cleaner that uses professional wet cleaning which is a water-based, nontoxic, energy-efficient technology that uses computer-controlled washers and dryers and specially formulated biodegradable detergents. There is also a handy little site called nodryclean that lets you easily search by zip code. I found one near me (well, near enough for my infrequent trips) and hopefully you can, too.

The other dry cleaning nightmare is the billions of hangers (return them to your cleaners), paper sleeves and plastic covers that end up in landfills and will still be in those landfills breaking down when your great-great-great-great-great (etc, etc) grandchildren are buying sweaters. I use a really handy Dry Greening bag that converts from a tote to a garment bag - they are only about $10.00 and I hand it off to my cleaner as a duffle bag, with my name written on it in black magic marker just like summer camp, and she hands it back to me as a garment bag. The key, I think though, is to dry clean as infrequently as you can (I have passed on many purchases to avoid it) and do a little local research before your next trip to the dry cleaner.

The Captain Always Goes Down With Her Ship

Ugh! Another rainy Monday morning and my blog post on social networking sites (the really good ones like Dogster) seems to be awol on my computer AND I am over my head with work AND my taxes are still not done AND little pup Olive is hiding under my chair from the thunderstorm, so let's just surf around and find some fun stuff! Dutch Tulip Fields! Yes, I am serious!
Life Size Dollhouse - Could Be Better Than Our Barn Renovation
Rethinking a Yellow Kitchen - Turquoise?
No One Will Ever Steal Your Lunch Again (of course, anyone who has ever seen my lunch would only steal it to prevent me from eating it- yuck!)
Recycled Wallpaper (the girl in the paper store told me that she had papered the inside of her doorways with scrapbook paper which sounded very interesting)
Now this is Camping! No more leaky tents - wouldn't this be amazing! OK, now back to work with me .....

Artist Collaboration Lockets

I am so excited about my new artist collaboration Polarity locket series. I had made some lockets for Jennifer Mullin with her amazing collages (her locket launches this weekend) at Christmas time and when Kendra Zvonik ordered a locket from me, I could not resist including some locket lids made from her work. Kendra was very excited and gave me the kick in the pants I sometimes need to start something new!

This week the first 8 lockets were listed in my Polarity shop and they are all totally amazing and totally different! I will be talking to one of the artists each week starting next week, so we can all get to know them a little better.

During the month of April any order of one of these lockets will include a FREE set of 3 extra lids- so you will have 6 lockets in 1! Here they are, in no particular order:

The amazing Stephanie Fizer is a curious girl and astonishing illustrator living in lovely but misunderstood West Virginia. We are so lucky to have THREE of her sweet Kokeshis for a locket!

Kirsten Cram is the amazing artist behind the creations of Tollipop. Her drawings are mostly about children who are lost in thought, the kind who daydream and press their noses against the glass. Little spectators with imaginary friends and sometimes the whole world on their minds, but experiencing the magic of childhood nonetheless. We are so lucky to have Kirsten's What Page Are You On and Jumprope Girl for a locket!

K, the amazing artist behind Unconventional Ida has created the gorgeous Ida, her townspeople, enchanted forests and the monsters that inhabit her world. We are so lucky to have her beautiful Katarina and Ellen the Daydreamer artwork for a locket!

Dilka of Dilkabear is an amazing Italian artist whose work is pure gorgeous fantasy! We are so lucky to have her beautiful Amelie in the Magical Forest and Dandelion Girl artwork for a locket!

Christy Zaragoza is the incredible mad scientist behind the creations of Peppermint Daydreams. Growing up, Christy tended to bond more with insects and imaginary creatures than children her own age. Little has changed since then and we are glad because her creations are totally amazing. We are so lucky to have Christy's Zebra Vision and The Low Tide for a locket!

Jessica Doyle is an incredible Canadian artist whose work is whimsically detailed and painstakingly created. She loves mini. Being able to hold something in the palm of her hand is just, well, precious to her! We are so lucky to have her gorgeous Sassy Sea Urchin and pretty fish George artwork for a locket!

Jess Gonacha works in a variety of mediums and her artwork is vibrant and quirky, delightful and full of soulful imaginings! We are so lucky to have her gorgeous Bird Lady and Backyard Swing artwork for your locket!

Kendra Zvonik is an incredibly bold and stunning Florida artist
who has recently created a new series of original works in her affordable abstract art gallery expressly for Etsy. We are so lucky to have three of her gorgeous paintings for a locket!