Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time to recognize some fantastic blogs!

Thanks, Katie (you know, from Brown Dog Boutique... the place with the cute pups and the great doggie and people treats), for recognizing my blog with a Blog Award! What a cool surprise! :)

Here are the rules: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbon of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

For the Blog Award, I choose (in no particular order) . . .
1) Like Kittysville
2) Mango Tango Designs
3) Behind Mytutorlist
4) Brown Dog Boutique
5) The Artsy Crafter
6) Bakerella
7) Wee Sweet Marie
8) The Card Tree

I always find something interesting, beautiful, amusing or helpful on these blogs. Please check them all out!

Monday, April 27, 2009

An overdue update

Wow, I haven't really been blogging long enough to neglect it yet. My apologies... So, in a nutshell, here's what's been going on in no particular order:

Last night, I finished up a custom bracelet order that has been hanging around for a couple weeks. I have to get it in front of my customer and see what she thinks, but I really like the colorful chunky look of it. Lots of different smooth tumbled stones, some agate, some carnelian... a nice mix. And the focal point is a sterling silver oval with the Gandhi quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I picked that up from another Etsy seller, tropacopy. The style is a bit of a departure for me, so we'll see what happens.

Also this past Saturday was the Dixie Heights Band Boosters 2nd Annual Craft Show. They had a great crowd, so they must have done some publicizing. For me though, it was nearly a flop. My excitement turned quickly into disappointment. I was really thinking it would be a good venue for me, but, eh, I've been wrong before. I ended up with one sale, for which I am thankful, but am a little bit in the hole for the day. On the other hand I received plenty of compliments on my jewelry and my set up, which is always nice. And I got a lead on a show from a shopper, who told me she thought my pieces would be great in the upscale setting. Nice!

I had a bit of a shock when I walked into the place and everyone had these massive set-ups. Mine was still small by comparison, but I ended up scrambling the night before to get another table and dressing for it. I still didn't cram a bunch of stuff on them though. Some of these tables I see at shows... it looks like a bead store threw up on them. And yet, they still get lots of sales, it seems. I don't know, I don't really get it. I still think it's better to not overwhelm the eye. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong. lol Okay, I guess I'll add more pieces next time. Sheesh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Is it wrong to allow a cat set your goals?

This is one of my little furries, Zoey. For the last few months, the papers, supplies, cords and other junk on my desk have been closing in on me. Poor Zo-zo, trying to get comfy, has designated a Michael's bag for her bed away from our bed, which I tossed on the corner of the desk on top of who knows what after buying a magazine. I think. It makes me sad that she doesn't have much room to sprawl out on my desk. (I can feel my husband cringing as I type that, which makes me laugh. He thinks the cats run the house.)

So, I guess Zoey will end up with more surface area sometime over the weekend. This is perhaps the encouragement I need to get this desk cleaned up and organized. Although, if I know her, she'll end looking for her missing bag bed. Maybe I'll put something there that is softer and more comfy for her. I mean, how much room do I really need for a mousepad and keyboard? Yes, he's definitely cringing again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax (headache) day

I sat down and actually did our taxes about two weeks ago now. It took me two weeks to come to terms with the thought of owing so much, though, and actually filing. I'm positive my situation is not unique. This is what happens when you're a freelancer and you don't hold out enough on your own, thinking you'll just double up on the next check you get. That just never happens...

I'm not sure really what I saved by waiting until now to finalize everything. I could just kick myself! Now I have to write checks and rush off to the post office and compete with the other sorry saps who did the same thing I did in waiting until the last minute. At least then it will be done and out of my hair, I guess. I've come to the conclusion that I've really got to figure out a way to break my procrastination habit. I'll get right on that later.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A tribute to the bee

I've never been one to try to rid our lawn of weeds. As long as the yard appears green and healthy from a distance, I'm not too concerned about it. Besides, a brown patch is just begging to be replaced by a perennial bed if you ask me. In this world of perfectly manicured and watered, weed- and crabgrass-free lawns, I'm the one out there embracing the blooming dandelions. 

Yesterday I mowed the grass for the first time of the season. We just got a shiny new lawn mower. It's bright red and self-propelled, which is new for me. It dragged me around the yard a bit at first until I got the hang of it. But as I was mowing and looking out for fallen sticks in the tall grass, I saw a glorious site: the first honey bee of the season! Yep, that's right, we have honey bees! And it's because we have weeds – no herbicides here! I happily steered around him. Then today I went out looking for more and managed to catch this guy in the bee act. He was just covered with pollen... and then Caesar tried to eat him. Don't worry, I didn't let him get him. I distracted Caesar and the bee moved on to another spot in the yard. 

The siting made me think of my homage to bees. It's a cute little number called "Busy Bee" made using sterling silver, amber, a freshwater pearl and, of course, a tiny little bee charm. There are a couple pics below, or you can click the link to visit it in my store.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eight paws up for Brown Dog Boutique!

A couple weeks ago I stumbled on the blog of Brown Dog Boutique through Etsy's forums. The blog is great and being a dog owner, I had to go check out the shop for myself! I ordered a Brady's Hand-Dipped Biscuits Treat Kit. I've never made dog biscuits before, but it sounded pretty simple and I do love giving our pups wholesome treats. 

The kit was as cute as could be when it arrived! Inside was a bone-shaped cookie cutter, a cute recipe card, peanut butter chips, personalized bags and a nice note from Katie, the owner of Brown Dog Boutique. I chose the small cookie cutter, the silhouette of a sporting breed and peanut butter chips. Peanut butter is like the ultimate treat around here. As soon as I opened the package, the dogs were circling like vultures to try to get those chips! 

There are only a few ingredients needed to make the dough and it was very easy to mix up and then eventually knead by hand. I just rolled it out on wax paper on my kitchen table, cut out the bone shapes, popped them in the oven for 45 minutes or so and they were done. Easy! I threw the whole cookie sheet into the fridge overnight and then this morning melted the chips in a double boiler and dipped one end of each bone into it.

As you can see from the action shot, Connie (orange, blurry one nabbing the treat!) just couldn't "leave it" any longer!

This was a fun little project that I'm positive any dog-lover would enjoy. And the finished treats make great gifts to friends in the personalized bags! Along with a variety of awesome treat kits, Brown Dog also has a fun line of personalized stationery. Please stop by Brown Dog Boutique and check out all the neat doggie things they have to offer. Tell them Connie and Caesar sent you... Woof!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A sale and a facebook test

So I've had a facebook fan page for a few weeks now. I have 19 fans at the time of this entry and I'm not sure if my etsy views are coming from there, from twitter or from this blog. Google Analytics tells me my views, for the majority, are from outside sources, so it's got to be one of them, I'd imagine. I thought I'd conduct a little experiment to maybe jump-start my sales and see where they're coming from. Of course, by posting this here, it may just confuse things more. It's a chance I'm willing to take. If you're interested in seeing the items I have in my spring sale, please stop by my facebook fan page. Do become a fan if you want future sale and special offer notifications on your facebook page! Thanks, we'll see how this goes!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Slow shows can still pay off

Yesterday I was out working in the yard with my mom. I came in to a blinking light on the answering machine. I played the message and it was a lady who had seen my jewelry at CraftMafia this past weekend. She was calling to say she'd like to buy a pair of silver earrings I had there Saturday. I tried to call her back a couple times and got no answer and the recording said voicemail was full. So I panicked a little. Then I tried her again this morning. Still no answer, same recording. A little more panicked. My husband told me not to call her (or, stalk her, in his words). I was skeptical. Then I was sitting here early this afternoon and my phone rang and it was her!

I made arrangements to take my jewelry to her house later this afternoon. When I got there and met her, I remembered talking with her the day of the show. She spent quite a
bit of time shopping around there. She told me mine was the only business card she picked up and that she remembered talking to me about the earrings at my booth. It turns out I think I sold the earrings she wanted, but she said, "I'm sure you have something I can buy!" I showed her basically my entire store. She ended up buying "Calling on the Sun" pictured here. She also asked me to come up with some custom designs for her, one of which would be a bracelet the other a wall plaque (? - lol). I told her I'll see what I can come up with and get back to her soon.

I do have a point here other than just talking about a sale. It is that no matter how slow sales are going at a show you never know who will remember you, your jewelry, or whatever it is you're selling. So smile at every potential customer to draw them into your booth, when they get there, engage them. And please, please hand out business cards!

The show circuit - on the look out!

So, I've been spending a fair amount of time looking for shows and fairs to try to get into for the year. I've had some luck, so that's encouraging. One is coming up on April 25 and is a high school band boosters event. I believe this is their 4th annual, so they should have a decent amount of people in attendance, I'd imagine.

After that, I don't have another one until November, which will be my first juried show. I'm very excited about that one. Maybe they really like my work, or maybe I just got my submissions in early enough, who knows? I'm going to go with they like my work for the sake of argument. It is also at a high school, my husband's, in fact. It's pretty large – over 200 vendors – so we'll see how it goes, but it sounds very promising.

There is another in the beginning of October that I am trying to get into. From what I've heard, it's a tough one as far as competition goes. I have missed the official submission deadline, but they allow late entries up through April 18 for an additional $10 fee, so I figure, what the heck, I'll give it a whirl. The worst they can say is "no", but I'm kind of on a high from the afore mentioned acceptance, so I'm choosing to be optimistic about it. I put that stuff in the mail today and won't hear anything on it until May 12. Maybe I'll forget about it and be surprised. Hmm, not likely...

Other than that, I've got some beautiful new beads to play around with. I'll be working with them later on this evening and over the weekend. Check some of them out below... there are some silver pieces, hemimorphite, rock crystal and prasiolite. 


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Springtime around the yard

Well, it's hard to beat a day like today. The sky is the perfect color of blue, it's sunny and it's about 66ยบ right now. Now, I will always take it a bit warmer given the choice, but I can't complain about a day like this. I thought I'd go out and snap a couple pictures around our yard while I had the dogs out this afternoon. They always appreciate the company, or audience depending on how you look at it.

There are lots of things popping up lately around here, which is a sure sign of winter's retreat – finally! This first image is a tiny bright violet color primrose that appeared just in the last day or so in one of my front flower beds. Just a punch of color out of nowhere. I posted the hellebores (or lenten rose) a few entries ago, you might have seen it – they're always first to appear and I love them for that. This little guy is in close proximity to it. It's nice to see some color out there. My mom and I spent the better part of a day last week clearing out all of fall's spent blooms and foliage. I think I had 9 full yard waste bags! At least everything in them was dried and light weight, so the trash collectors couldn't get too upset at the volume. At least not after they lifted one. Only one bed left to do...

Along with a few flowers coming up, the trees have been blooming like crazy. Unfortunately for me, it was rainy for days after my magnolia blossoms opened. The flowers aren't very pretty when they start to turn brown, so I'll spare you pics of those! We do have a Cleveland pear tree in our back yard that is an explosion of white blooms right now. It's pictured to the right.

And of course, a warm sunny day around here always brings out the crazy in our dogs. They were out for a nice spring romp. Connie has the upper hand on Caesar in this pic, but it gets traded back and forth all day long. Seriously, all day long. They don't usually stop rough-housing until around 9 pm. And that's because they've worn themselves out and are ready to recharge for their next match. They just love each other. And if nothing else, they are entertaining!

We will be making treats (Brady's Biscuits) for them in the next couple days using the adorable kit that I bought from Brown Dog Boutique on Etsy. I will have an entire post devoted to that, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, do check out her shop!


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