Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trim the Tree...

It’s time to trim the tree and put up decorations! I love doing this, but for some members of my family, it sounds like an unpleasant task. So, here are some ways that make our Christmas decorating less complicated. Maybe they will help you too.

Rule #1: we don’t go overboard. Sure, seeing our neighbors home turned into a winter wonderland is enjoyable, but doing it ourselves is a lot of work! You don’t have to make huge displays to enjoy the holidays. In fact, sometimes the simple Christmas tree and a wreath look better. We go for simple and elegant, not over-the-top and gaudy. Don’t get mired down in a battle with your neighbor over who has the biggest holiday display.

Rule #2: we make it fun. Get the entire family involved. Kids love hanging ornaments and helping decorate. It can bring the family closer together and create wonderful memories.

Rule #3: we make it special. Get special, individual ornaments for each family member to hang, and use heirloom ornaments if you have any. Using decorations handed down through family is a great way of honoring the memories of those who aren’t here to enjoy the holidays.

Rule #4: we try to keep it all organized. This rule mainly applies when we’re taking down the decorations. Don’t just throw it all in a box and put it in the attic for another year. Get a divided box for ornaments and try to bundle your lights. You’ll be thankful next year when it’s less of a chore to sort it all out.

Rule #5: we try to be creative! You don’t have to do things the same way every holiday season. Try having a theme this year if you haven’t done that. Make your own ornaments with your kids (popcorn chains and edible ornaments). Put your Christmas tree in a different place and move the furniture. Use some of your ornaments to decorate the dinner table. The possibilities are endless!

Christine Heidema of Christmas Creation has lovely hand beaded ornaments in her Etsy shop. I just love the intricate detail and the beads selected for each design. They are very beautiful and sure to become family heirlooms passed down over time. Check out her work, it's wonderful. Happy Trimming!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

I've got Cabin Fever!

For years we have been saving to purchase a cabin in the woods. We are not yet ready to move forward on that adventure, but I've been collecting photos of what I'd like the interior to look like when our cabin is finished. I must have 'Cabin Fever' today, I just spent a couple of hours searching through Etsy Shops for the perfect accessories for the master bedroom. Take a peek at what I found.

This is the inspiration photo for our master bedroom...

I love the look of this room, I just need a little more color and pattern.  Here is what I selected for the table lamp and the fireplace tools...

I love this throw blanket and a small rug for in front of the bed...

The final touch will be throw pillows for on the bed and chairs...
I just love shopping on Etsy! What do you think of my choices? We're looking forward to the move!  
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Shipping...

A fellow artist mentioned that the price of shipping supplies is becoming outrageous for their framed art; luckily I’ve always managed to find cheap materials. While some of the following ideas don’t really support the ‘handmade’ mentality, they do help cut the cost of packaging:
  1.  Try your local dollar shop for packs of bubble envelopes, mailing labels, packing tape and bubble wrap. The big chains seem to have the best selection at the lowest prices but do keep in mind that since dollar stores have a little bit of everything, you may need to try more than one location to get the amount of materials you need for a holiday seasons worth of shipping.
  2.  Another great source of lower priced shipping materials (while not as cheap as a dollar store) would come from places like Wal-Mart and Target. While they don’t have prices as low as dollar stores, they usually have larger pack sizes (think envelopes in packs of 10 and gigantic rolls of bubble wrap) and more stock on hand meaning you don’t need to try more than one location to get everything you need.
  3. Visit the after holiday sale event, for tissue paper, tags, boxes and ribbon during this time you can find super discounted pricing on packing supplies and boxes.
  4.  Also, try your local shipping offices and see if they have any cheap shipping supplies. While most are overpriced, some shippers do offer very cheap supplies online to get you to use their online shipping tools, it’s worth checking into.

 I’m lucky - mailing jewelry is far easier and cheaper than mailing most other types of artwork. Most of my items are small, lightweight, fit in the smallest size shipping box and can be sent with a relatively small amount of postage. I hope this little list helps reduce your shipping cost!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Use a Coaster Dude!

Felt Coasters
We entertain a good bit and always start with drinks and appetizers in the living room. Our friends and family are generally well mannered and always respectfully of our home with one exception, the use of drink coasters. When guests dress up for an evening at our house, they’re expecting a sophisticated event: superb food, a relaxing atmosphere, great conversation, fine china... the works.

Red Elm Coasters
Our home is not a lofty castle, but it is our little castle. I’ve read that lack of respect for belongings is similar to dragging one's cashmere coat through the mud--the idea that if you can afford it, you can afford to have it maintained, abused, neglected, or replaced. Honestly, I can't afford to be cavalier about ruining the furniture. I love entertaining and enjoy our guests, I just wish they would be more mindful of where they leave their cocktail glasses and always use a coaster.

Fused Glass Coasters

Etsy has hundreds of fun, funky, and traditional coasters; I think I’ll purchase some before the holidays. All coasters pictured in this blog are available for sale. Just click on each picture to see the Etsy listing. Thanks for stopping by…cheers!

Very Cute Bear Rug Coasters

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Postcards a Lost Art….

Today I received a postcard in the mail, my only traditional postcard in more than a decade. It wasn’t an invitation, “Save the Date” or “We’ve Moved” card; it was a picture postcard from a friend traveling in Greece. I must confess receiving the card thrilled me. This piece of snail mail, possibly left at the reception desk of a hotel, dropped in a mailbox, or taken to the local post office, made its mysterious and most likely grueling journey by truck, train, donkey—or whatever it was— and finally by plane to Atlanta. Postcards are indeed a lost art.

The terrific thing about postcards was and still is their vast variety. The possibilities are endless: the Eiffel Tower, Carlsbad Caverns, or any other famous tourist attraction. It could have a picture of a donkey wearing a sombrero, the champion hog at the Iowa state fair, or even a kitschy motel in Kalamazoo. Almost every business in this country, from a funeral home to a fancy resort and spa, had a postcard once upon a time. Today postcards are no longer a first-class marketing tool. We use the phone or internet to communicate; sadly postcards have become rare beyond tourist attractions.

I believe that postcards then and now contain masterpieces of minimalist verbal art; since unlike letters, postcards provide a brief and concise glimpse into someone’s life. It marks a brief moment in time when the writer thought enough of you to share their journey. I love postcards and I will make a greater effort to keep the tradition alive for myself and loved ones. I hope you will too.

Here are some great postcard sets that I found on Etsy.

Hundreds of creative postcards are for sale in many Esty shops; make someone's day by sending a handwritten postcard. It only takes a minute or two..... Cheers!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

High Heels + Camping = Glamping!

Mention “camping” at a cocktail party and people bump into each other scurrying away with the sudden need to refresh their drink. Mention “glamping” and suddenly you’ve got an audience.

If the eco-friendly idea of falling asleep under the stars and roasting marshmallows around a campfire appeals to you, but the reality of pitching a tent and sleeping on bumpy ground does not, glamping, the new term being used for upscale — or glamorous — camping, could be your ideal green vacation.

Kelly Moore's Glamping Tent Design
I want to correct the misconception that camping is still about fighting bugs in a leaky tent with two sticks for fire and a tin of Spam. Glamping usually means a tent large enough to walk through replaces the pup tent, cozy bedding takes the place of the sleeping bag, a nice rug covers the cold plastic floor or even a hardwood floor, and campers use real barware instead of Dixie cups. In short, it’s more comfortable, civilized camping. Face it, we’re all getting older. Our fuse for tolerating the heat and bugs and lack of comfy slippers is short.

From the Glamping Girl Blog
Despite the fact that glamping is dismissed by hard-core leave-no-trace campers (who don’t so much as move a rock for fear of affecting the area), glamping can be an environmentally sound outdoor experience. It allows people who wouldn’t normally go camping to experience the beauty and joy of nature. I believe that once you have slept under the starry sky, you become more appreciative and protective of nature, instead of being distant and alienated from it. Glamping allows the chance to enjoy an eco-conscious back-to-nature vacation with the comforts of a classy hotel.

One of the Tents at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Don’t misunderstand — glamorous camping can be expensive. Really expensive. For instance, in the summer months two adults can pay about $8,500 to spend three nights in a tent at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort ( in British Columbia, Canada. The all-inclusive price of admission includes flights from Vancouver to the resort on a remote fjord, gourmet meals, drinks, massage treatments, horseback riding, fishing, whale and bear watching, kayaking, sailing, clay shooting, rock climbing, mountain biking and nifty day trips.

As heavenly as all of that may sound, a trip like that may not quite be in your budget for next year. Is it possible to go glamping closer to home for much less money? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Check out the picture below....a standard tent transformed into to a cozy glamping space complete with rugs on the floor, cozy bed, and a convenient wash stand.

Jan's old tent transformed into a classy glamping retreat.
Basically, it all boils down to putting plenty of thought into the food, drinks, bedding and other comforts you feel like bringing along with you into the great outdoors. You can actually make car-camping incredibly glamorous, and if sleeping in a tent doesn’t appeal to you, you can make yourself and your loved ones quite comfortable in a cabin, cottage, yurt, tipi, VW bus, vintage Airstream trailer — or, heck, even a covered wagon is available.

I did a bit of research and found some great locations for a glamping adventure in the US; check it out and let me know your thoughts….Is glamping for you?

• WOW! - Resort at Paws Up in Montana
• Cozy - Costanoa in California.
• Adventure - Teton Covered Wagon Adventures in Wyoming.
• Whimsical - The Martyn House in Georgia.
• Bathroom in Tent - Sinya on Lone Man Creek in Texas.
• Family - Black Canyon Ranch  in Colorado.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Tutorial: $6 Solution to Jewelry Photography

I’m sure you’ve read countless articles about taking great pictures for your Etsy shop.  Today, while I was browsing my favorite blogs, I came across an easy to follow tutorial for taking pictures of your Jewelry.  I’ve learned that photographing jewelry has its own unique set of problems; diminished light and shadow, reflection, out of the ordinary iridescence, and small details, making the process harder than other types of photography.  And don’t even get me started on photographing Pearls!  The tutorial written by “Via U!  It’s your shot gives an easy and inexpensive way to get great pictures of your product.

The Tutorial below is published with the consent of: Via U! 

A window and a piece of cardboard is all you’ll need to take pictures of silver jewelry with brilliant, even tones....

1.) Move a table as close to a window as you can.

2.) Make sure that the top of the table is a higher than the window sill.

3.) Tape a piece of tracing paper to the window. Sunny or cloudy skies, the paper will make light coming in to be even and soft. Hang the paper so it goes down below the table.

4.) When using white paper as a background put something white underneath to avoid the table coming through making it look dark.

5.) I used a 2’ x 2’ piece of foamcore to bounce back light from the window, you can use anything that stands upright without bending. A piece of cardboard covered with sheets of white paper will work great.

6.) Light will reflect from the white card and from the white surface as well.

7.) Silver is like a mirror, it shows whatever is around. The light and white paper will reflect on the metal making it look light and shiny.

8.) If you pull the white card away from the window it will create a dark area that will also reflect on the jewelry.

9.) Different tones of silver make a picture have more depth. You may like the way it looks, or you may not. If you prefer the silver to have even tones make sure that the card is flashed against the window.

10.) However, if you do want your background to have a gradation of tones try replacing the white card with a black one. Blocking the light will create a shadow with a clear edge.

11.) Then you can play placing your jewelry where the background shifts from light to dark to see what happens.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

She's on her broomstick again.....

Witches and black cats have become the standard symbols of Halloween.
But where did these traditions come from?

Legend tells of witches arriving on broomsticks and gathering each year on Halloween to celebrate at a party hosted by the devil. The superstitious claimed that witches cast spells on unsuspecting people, could change themselves into different forms, and caused other magical mischief. One superstition said if you wanted to meet a witch, you had to put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Halloween night, at midnight a witch would appear. When European settlers arrived in America they brought many superstitions with them, including their belief in witches and the mischief they take pleasure in on Halloween.

Original Art Available on Etsy:

The black cat has often been associated with a witch. One old tale said that a witch could shape shift into a cat. Other tales said black cats were the spirits of the dead. The most common superstition, "if a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck" still causes people to go in the opposite direction to avoid a stretch of bad luck.
Original Art on Etsy:

 There are many other superstitions associated with Halloween.

For example, the Welsh believed that when you sneezed you blew the soul out of the body. this is where “God bless you” originated. If someone sneezed on Halloween, it was especially dangerous because the devil could capture their soul.

Other cultures believed that owls swooped down to eat the souls of the dying. If an owl was heard hooting, the superstitious would get scared and believed that turning pockets inside out would keep them safe from Owls.

While eating dinner on Halloween, Africans brought to America as slaves would eat in complete silence to encourage spirits to come to the table.

There is also a lot to be said about babies born on Halloween. It once was thought children born on this day could see and talk to ghosts and spirits, it was called the gift of second sight. Additionally, Halloween babies are supposed to enjoy lifelong protection against evil spirits.

Halloween is one of the oldest and the second most popular holiday (only to Christmas) in America. Today it is portrayed as time for fun, friends and family. Some still see it's superstitious nature or ties to the deceased. Some religions even view it as an unholy holiday. But whatever your view, you can't deny the fascinating nature of Halloween.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quick Tip: Linking to Your Etsy Shop
This is most likely how you’ve been typing your etsy shop address. Simple to remember, easy to tell someone, uncomplicated to put on your business card… It looks great without the “http://” and gives your brand uniqueness. But: it’s not giving you everything it could be!

That etsy address has always been handy but it’s always resolved to another URL, the URL your shop is actually located at. Up until a few months ago, your actual URL involved a random user id number. Well, that has changed!
Now your etsy URL looks like this (above). That’s the URL your shop actually resides at, no resolving or redirecting. Whenever you’re linking to your shop on your blog, twitter, facebook, or anywhere that search engines may scan, use this URL.

If you’re telling people your shop URL in “real life” or using it in printed marketing materials – even in email marketing! – feel free to use the easier to remember URL (top).

Typing in and linking to your correct shop URL is a quick & easy way to improve your shop’s SEO and page rank. Hope this helps!

Author Credit: Tara Gentile -
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Break out the sewing machine....

Have you been working on Halloween costumes this week?
Have you ever wondered what brought about this Halloween tradition?

Halloween has long been thought of as the day when the dead can return to the earth. Even though the superstitions and customs surrounding Halloween have evolved over the years, wearing costumes on October 31 is still a tradition. Below you'll find a little history of Halloween costumes and fabulous costumes ready to ship today (just in case the sewing machine needle is mysteriously broken). Spooky!
The ancient Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is the present day United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France, celebrated Samhain (sow-in) on November 1. It marked the end of the autumn harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark, winter.

The Celts believed that on the night before Samhain (October 31) the boundary between the living and the dead was unclear. Ghosts of the dead were believed to return to earth causing trouble and damaging the community’s food supply. To protect themselves, Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes, typically of animal skins and heads, to fend off the wandering ghosts. When the celebration was over, the Celts lit their hearth fires from the community bonfire to protect them during the coming months.
 As European immigrants came to America, they brought their Halloween costumes with them. The early settlers had many superstitions and continued to believe they could avoid being recognized by the ghosts that came out on the night of Samhain by wearing masks. They would also place bowls of food outside their homes to satisfy the ghosts and prevent them from entering the home, which could be how trick-or-treating originated.
Today Halloween is one of the oldest and the second most popular celebrations (only to Christmas). Millions celebrate the holiday each year without knowing its origins. Some view Halloween as a time for fun, friends and family. Others still believe in the superstitious of the past or ties to the deceased. Some religions even view it as an unholy holiday. But whatever your view, you cannot deny the fascinating nature of Halloween.

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Friday, October 14, 2011


I’m doing the happy dance!  I'm not sure I have the words to describe the incredible dining experience at Bacchanalia.  I can say it's my favorite restaurant ever. This is a 10 star restaurant trapped in a 5 star rating system.  My wonderful husband is taking me there for my birthday tonight!  Counting the minutes…..

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Pin It" to your blog........

I was reading a great blog this morning, that pointed to another blog, which led to reading another, and on to another, ...(you know what I mean) until I landed on this great blog. Julie Ann's blog, Julie Ann Art, is a wonderful collection of DIYs, tutorials, and overall blogger inspirations. She even has cute puppy photos (I'm a sucker for cute puppies). Did you see my new "Pin It" button at the bottom of each of my blog posts?  Julie Ann's tutorial showed me step by step how to add the button. It was easy to follow her instructions and understand her screen capture images even with my limited HTML skills.  Check it out!
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Jack O’Lantern: The Story of Stingy Jack

Will you be carving a pumpkin this year? Carving Jack-o-lanterns is a tradition that came from the Celts -- only they used turnips instead of pumpkins. When the Irish came to America, they found pumpkins to be a lot more plentiful making the pumpkin the official Jack-o-lantern.

The legend of the Jack-o-lantern starts with a man named Stingy Jack, he was a notorious drunk and practical joker. Jack was said to have tricked the devil into climbing into a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross into the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil in the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that said he would let the devil down if he did not bother Jack for 10 years, and should Jack die, the devil would not claim his soul.

Legend says shortly after Jack died, he was denied entrance into the gates of Heaven because of his evil ways. Jack was also denied entrance into hell because of his deal with the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the cold, dark winter. Jack placed the light into a hollowed-out turnip to keep it lit longer. In the end, it was the Devil who had the last laugh. Jack was doomed to roam the earth for all eternity. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

The tradition of carving scary faces into pumpkins stemmed from those not wanting to be visited by Stingy Jack and other ghosts. They hoped that the ghastly carved faces would frighten ghosts away.  So, this Halloween don’t forget to light up your Jack O’ Lantern and place it near your door or window. If you don't, you’ll be getting a late night visit from your trusty pal Stingy Jack!

I'd love to see your pumpkin carvings, please comment and let me know where to view your pumpkins...
I Love Halloween!

Note: All the images in this blog post are creations from Master Pumpkin Carver Ray Villafane.  I think his work is amazing and I appreciate the skill needed to achieve these three-dimensional carvings.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Indian Summer in Saugatuck, Michigan

Take a peek at the Etsy Treasury I made to honor my fond memories of Saugatuck, Michigan.  Saugatuck is a lovely little lake side community that enjoys mild weather and stunning fall color. Saugatuck is also home to some very talented artisans. This weekend is the annual gallery stroll. At many of the galleries, artists work on-site, creating everything from wood and metal sculptures, original paintings, watercolors, carvings, art glass, garden sculptures, jewelry, pottery, leather crafts, and more.
So if you have a love of art stroll over to Saugatuck, noon—5 p.m. October 8 and 9.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Social Marketing: Facebook, Twitter, or Blog?

Are you still pondering whether or not social media matters for your Etsy business? According to a recent social media survey (by BlogHer, the women’s blog network) roughly 68% of the 79 million adult women in the United States who use the Internet participate in social media at the very least weekly.

Interesting Finding #1: Tweet Less....Women use social networks like Facebook more than anything else, with blogs their second choice. Forums and discussion boards come next, with Twitter bringing up the rear (remember this if you’re tempted to think Twitter is THE be all and end all of your Etsy marketing).

Women’s weekly internet participation by activity:
Social Networks (Facebook, My Space, etc.): 75%
All Blog Activity (Read and Write): 55%
Forums or Message Boards: 40%
Status Updating (Twitter): 16%

If you were looking solely at raw numbers above, you’d conclude the most important place to market your Etsy products is Facebook, right? Well … not necessarily.

Interesting Finding #2: Blogs Have the Most Influence on Purchasing…
It’s not just about how much time is spent in an activity; it’s what is accomplished in that activity. Do updating friends and family with the latest baby picture or recipe play into their purchasing habits? Probably not.

The survey found that women who read and post to blogs are the most actively engaged. They spend the most time online. Over 80% also participate in social networks like Facebook, and over one third of bloggers also participate in Twitter. But more to the point, those who blog are more likely to be tech savvy, on the leading edge of trends, and invest time searching for new products online. Those who participate in social networking sites like Facebook are motivated to spend time there more as a matter of staying in touch with family and friends.

The way I interpret this: you get the maximum reach in sheer numbers from social networks like Facebook, but you achieve the most influence from blogs.

Interesting Finding #3: Women Look to Blogs for Information…
The research showed that women are more likely to go to social networks like Facebook for beauty, entertainment, and dating advice. But for the majority of other categories, including product reviews and product gift ideas, they look to blogs.

Depending on the nature of your Etsy business, focus on Facebook or MySpace may be worth it — if, for instance, you are in the entertainment business. But for most things, such as if you are selling craft supplies or selling home d├ęcor items, blogs could give the best return on time invested.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fun Halloween Treasury....

My Halloween Spider Earrings are included in this great Treasury curated by "Creations By Alice" on Etsy. 

Yippee! Take a Peek.....
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fabulous Giveaway...

  • Ricki Shumacher has launched a new e-workshop blog. In honor of this, she's giving away a few tutorials, a kit, and the above awesome stash of goodies! All you need to do to enter the drawing is follow the new blog; bonus points for chatting about it on your blog. Good Luck!
Enter by midnight on Saturday 10/8/2011

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