Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Power of Positive Thinking

My son Will has wisdom beyond his years. He works very had at tennis, he practices 15 hours a week, participates in tournaments and loves watching it on television. He has a passion for it. At his age you see a lot of players who become very emotional on court, they get angry with themselves when their arms and legs don't do exactly what they picture in their minds. Rackets are thrown, they yell at themselves. Often a match is won or lost on whether they can keep their mind right.

Will almost always manages to keep his cool. He attributes it to a quote he read in Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking "a peaceful mind is power". While he hasn't read the whole book (he is 13!) he often picks it up and just reads a little bit for a shot of mental energy.

My Amazon Carrousel to the right has that book in it, it makes a great holiday gift for anyone no matter how old or young. Other sources for positive thoughts I like on the web. Rev Run delivers great daily words of wisdom, my kids like his esp! great inspirational quotes and stories that illustrate them.

Enter my book giveaway (more info here) by commenting with your own fave quote, or posting this link in facebook or twitter and coming back here to comment and let me know. No limit to the number of entries. Have a great week, Jamie.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Suzanne's Crazy for Collars!

I recently purchased a new collar for Cruz our Chihuahua from Suzanne's shop Crazy for Collars. My daughter chose the fabric but I think the blue looks great against his shiny black coat. She has some beautiful Christmas designs, take a peek for your little (or big) buddy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Janiece's Flower Shop

I grew up in a small town. Living in a place like that there are certain people who punctuate your life, the doctor and preacher are there at birth, death, and some events in between. There's others too that aren't so obvious though, like the florist. The florist was there for all your celebrations and sorrows, behind the scenes, helping. Birth, sickness, homecoming, prom, wedding, childbirth (again), and death. She eased your way with color and texture and sweet smells of pretty flowers that are there for and instant and then gone, or pressed in a book maybe.

My great aunt helped raise me and she was the town florist. I remember being little and sitting on the tall stools in her shop helping make picks from the crinkly and brightly colored cellophane. She was a business woman, strong, proper, concerned, loving and she had a great laugh. She was my grandmother's twin sister and they were the youngest of eleven siblings.

Yesterday she passed away, the last of the siblings living. With her goes the feeling I always had that I could go back to a place that was frozen in an earlier time. I will miss that.

Her oldest son survives her, she goes on to be with her husband, her youngest son, and all ten of her older siblings. I will miss her greatly but I wish her a wonderful reunion with them and all the others that await her too. Love you Aunt Niecey.

Janiece Hendrixson Springer 11/12/1921 - 11/7/2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review, Blogging for Bliss

I promised a month of book themed posts to support my giveaway, so here is the first! I have this book and love it, Tara Frey, the author has compiled a list of blogs from other crafter/creative types, that are inspiring as well as a list of tips that will help you get started. Some of the instructions are simple that a beginning blogger would find helpful, but other ideas are more sophisticated and can give you new ideas even if you have been at it for a while. She starts at as simple a point as choosing your blog's name, the platform you want to use to blog, etc. I found it really inspiring and well worth the read. Maybe you can win it!
General Entry Guidelines? Click Here
Earn extra entries by commenting with your own blog's link! Thanks and have a great day, Jamie.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Book Giveaway

I wanted to do something different and fun with my blog going into the holiday season. I thought about giving away some of my merchandise, but in the end that just is giving away my merchandise, maybe it doesn't appeal to everyone. I read around different blogs and got some ideas and decided on a book giveaway. I'm really going to theme the whole month around it.

I have added an Amazon Carrousel to the sidebar of my blog. In it are books that appeal to lots of different people and they are all books that I have some sort of connection with. Blogging for Bliss, The Power of Positive Thinking, The Road, The Vegetarian Lion, Friday Night Knitting Club, and Crazy Quilting the Complete Guide. One person will win their choice of any of these books. Three other entrants will win my best selling business card cozy from my shop DestinationHandmade.

How to Enter?
There are many ways you can enter and more will be posted throughout the month.
1. Follow my blog (simple!)
2. Tweet the contest, please include @retrochique in your tweet so I can find it.

Let me know by commenting that you followed/and or tweeted.

Stay tuned during the month for more ways to enter, reviews on all the books and book related gift guides!
Have a great day! Jamie.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Invasion of the Cave Girls!

My daughter and her best friend came up with a cute idea for Halloween, they wanted to be CaveGirls. Her mom and I split the costuming duties. Hannah's mom, Shay, is a very organic, hands on person so she made the clubs from paper mache with them and found bones at the Dollar Store. I did the "leopard skin" costumes. I got fleece from Hobby Lobby and drew the pattern from a camisole , adding panels to the sides and giving it some flair. Chloe went to Hannah's house to get ready and Shay did their hair with the bones in the top. I thought they turned out so cute!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Personalized Ipod or Phone Cozies!

Well most of you know I love to do embroidery and felt applique. I had a customer request personlized ipod cozies for her family last week and I finished the first one today. I thought it turned out so cute! Pictured is the finished item for the mom, I am making a little girl's and boys too, I haven't done the boy's but the girls is partly done. Her embroidery and the lining is pictured.. These are big enough for ipods, iphones, blackberrys, even some cameras. This design could be easily adapted for a glasses case too. Interested in one for a gift or yourself? Click here. Thanks, and have a great day, Jamie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Entertaining, Wine Gift Tags

I think during the holidays more than any other time we open our homes to entertain others. As the guest my grandmother always told me never to arrive empty handed and while handmade cakes, pies and cookies are wonderful most of us don't have the time for that. A bottle of wine is a lot of people's go to hostess gift. But what about those floppy fabric gift bags though, I mean do you really think you are disguising what it is? I came up with a solution I like better, the wine gift tag.
I took about 9 inches of an elasticized trim I had that was in fall colors. I sewed the ends together and added a handmade gift tag that coordinated with the trim. Add a personal message and you are ready to go! I'm not adding these to my etsy shop but if you would like a custom listing of them for the holidays email me, .
Sneak Preview I will be having a book giveaway next month to celebrate the holidays, Check back or follow my blog to make sure you don't miss it! Thanks, Jamie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Awesomeness of Craigslist

Craigslist has gotten somewhat of a bum rap with all the scamming, adult services and the infamous craigslist killer getting lots of publicity. You don't often hear great stories from there, but, I have one....
Sunday I was browsing the FREE STUFF. You would be amazed at what people give away for free. For some reason there are always 3 or 4 toilets in there, Hmmmm. But an ad caught my eye, Ebay Sellers, Boxes, no longer selling. So I called. Left a message. I got a call back from a very nice woman who said she was had opened an accounting business and it was going so well she was getting out of ebay and she wanted to get rid of her shipping supplies. We arranged for her to leave them on her porch yesterday and I picked them up. Wow! I would have paid a lot for these and now I have great boxes and mailers for the holiday season!
Thanks to Next Step Financial Services for a real blessing in boxes and mailers! (I don't even know her name.)
So I guess the moral of the story is be careful on craigslist but it can be useful!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Holiday Napkin Rings

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture on Facebook of some felt embroidered leaves I made. I loved them but was at a loss as to what to do with them. A friend of mine from high school that I talk to on Facebook, Ronnie Applewhite, suggested I somehow make them into napkin rings. Well I finally got the time to try it out, here is my result.

I also thought it looked good as a wine glass wrap. The how to? Super Simple. I make the leaves from three layers of embroidered felt, you could machine stitch them or even use silk floral leaves. I then attached them to a piece of bias that that I had inserted floral wire into. I twisted buttons onto each end of the floral wire so that they couldn't poke anyone or get stuck on anything. I sewed them onto the bias tape but they could be glued just as easily. So there you go Ronnie, Napkin Rings!

What do you think? Let me know via comments. Have a great week! Jamie.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Couples Retreat, at the Movies!

My husband and I went to the movies without the kids yesterdayl, a small feat for us, usually they go to a movie that coincides with ours. This was nice just the two of us for once! We are huge Jon Favreau fans and love Vince Vaughn so we decided to go to Couples Retreat.

The rest of the cast was great too, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, too many great people to list all! The buildup for this movie was huge so we went in hoping for a great show, but not expecting too much. The first thing we noticed were the huge numbers of couples there! Not only was the movie about a couples retreat, it was one!

But back to the movie, it lived up to the hype, it was funny, touching and like all good movies was rooted in the reality of everyday life. There was a little bit of something for everyone, and while it was an adult show, it had no gore, nudity, or bad language. So for a great time with your significan other, go to the "Couples Retreat"!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Don Draper, the Anti Metrosexual

I'm a picky television watcher but a serial one, once I get hooked on a series I'm devoted. Sex and the City, Sopranos, Entourage, they are all shows that my husband and I have been hooked on . I recently checked out Mad Men. I watched all the edisodes that On Demand had and I must say as a lover of vintage I was impressed. They styling both of the sets and wardrobe is fabulous. It may not all be authentic, but it is so stylized, it is perfect.

Recently Don Draper the main character was named by as the #1 influential man in America today. Any of you who watch the show may be shocked. He drinks constantly in the office, at home, in the car (yet almost never seems drunk). He smokes almost as constantly. He cheats on his wife. None of the attributes you would want influencing your man. Yet being the age I am and growing up in a very traditional southern area of the United States he is exactly what the men around me then were expected to be. He is chivalrous to women, he is hard working, ambitious, knows when to keep his mouth shut. He wants his word to be law in his house, even going as far as dictating "how things happen" to his father and brother in law. At the same time though he shows a tender deference to his wife and you know he is totally devoted to her even though he is a serial adulterer. He tries to do activities with his kids, he tries a lot of stuff. He seems manly, in control, doesn't wear makeup, doesn't talk about the way he feels, doesn't cry and in general comes off as pretty admirable. He is the antithesis of the metrosexual, comittment fearing, lotion using, weinie of a guy that has been around lately.

Anyway, take a peek at the show if you can, it isn't for the kids, so don't make that mistake. It is worth it for the wardrobe and decor alone! If you don't already watch it and think you might try an episode or so this wiki link will give you a little of the back story.

Thanks for reading and for vintage goods like the Mad Man-esque tie above, check out my vintage shop .

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Things You Gotta do to Have the Flu

I have just been through a week of sickness with my husband and daughter.

Husband comes home sick last week "ohhhhh, arrrg I don't feel good" rolls around bed making moaning noises, coughs on everyone, in general is a miserable human being, I was so sorry for him, but with time and care he is now back at work (thank goodness).

Sunday night daughter starts with the moaning, face hurts, fever.... ugh.

Our General Practice Doctor retired last year to do pro bono work at the county clinic, I applauded her for it. She is a fabulous doctor and we loved her. That doesn't help me find a new one though. After many calls to area doctors I gave up. No one, especially during flu season would see a new patient. I wasn't even sure it was the flu. Chloe acted like it was a sinus infection, something she has had in the past but her fever worried me. So it was off to the Take Care Clinic at our local Walgreens. We were on the waiting list for TWO Days! Eventually when we got in the doctor told me she did think it was the flu. One of the strains this year presents as a sinus infection. She did the swab and Yes, it was the FLU. She managed to get us the Tamaflu and wow it is fantastic! Dear Daughter is much better and asking when she can take her flu medicine again!

Well the flu is nothing to mess around with so try to be better prepared than I was! Make sure you have a doctor or clinic you can go to and even if you don't think it is the flu, go to the doctor, drink lots of vitamin C fortified drinks and other fluids, keep happy and healthy this Fall ! A few tips I got while there, I'm sure you have heard most of them.

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat or bathe ).

3.*Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5.*Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6.* Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

Tips Compliments of Dr. Vinay Goyal

Friday, October 2, 2009

Twitter and Branding, Casual Cottage

First of all Thanks ! to all of you at Creative Bloggers and your lovely posts regarding my blog last week. For those of you new to blogging it is a great group that really helps you out in the "blogosphere".

Next I'd like to talk a little bit about twitter and promoting your craft business. I just visited Marilyn's blog Cottage Reflections . Her current post is about her revamped website, Casual Cottage. The new graphics are super cute, but the first thing I noticed is that her twitter avatar matches the graphics on her website. She also is promising a revamp to her blog, so I bet that will match too! What does that have to do with twitter? Well she is being consistent in her marketing, I immediately made the connection between her, her website, her tweets and blog, it is a nice clean, consistent presence that is not confusing. Every time you see her avatar you are being reinforced with an image that will lead to familiarity, comfortability and hopefully more clicks and sales. So while it is essential on tools like twitter to give back to your audience, really we are all there to create our own brand, something that Marilyn is well on her way to doing and something yours truly needs to work on!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Review on Tuesday

My 11 year old daughter has been beside herself waiting for this movie to come out. Evidently it was heavily pushed in elementary school a couple of years ago and she had fond memories of the book. We couldn't go see it the first weekend so we went this past weekend. My 14 year old was too cool to go, so my husband suggested that they go to a scary movie together while I took my daughter and her friend to Meatballs in 3D no less.

We got our corny glasses and went into the theatre. I let them pick their own seats while I sat on the aisle near the top. Of course they sat front row. They loooooved it. I on the other hand thought it was typical Disney. Mom dies, dad has trouble communicating, "the man" is the villain. etc. I found the use of color a little over the top. First scenes are dull tones, food portion of the movie's candy colored. Almost nonexistent use of blue except for the heroes eyes. I also have to confess that food and I have a love hate relationship and I left feeling a little nauseous, the 3D effect not helping matters!

My son and husband used questionable judgement and went to see Sorority Row. In a surprise move my son got up and left the movie 2/3 way through and met us in meatballs, saying and I quote "Mom that movie was full of Ho's" (is that the right spelling?).

that was our weekend at the movies!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today is the first in a series of features on etsy shops open less than 6 months. I had a great response to this so I have quite a few to feature!

Excess Baggage Solutions is my first feature.

Why do you craft? I craft because I never quite feel right not doing anything. I always have to be using my mind and my hands, so I do a lot of multi tasking, like today I was finishing up season 5 of House while restructuring a bag for a friend. It gives me something productive to do with my time and let’s me enjoy my friend’s reactions when I can show a new piece I’ve created.

What is your shop theme? Right now it’s a bit jumbled. The initial theme of everything was quilted bags and other quilted items. I’ve got some photography in there right now, but I’m thinking about starting another account for the sale of the photography and it’s related items.

Why did you decide to open a shop on etsy? This summer when I decided “yes, I can run my own little business type adventure” I was sitting on my friend’s front porch turning some straps when his sister came home and asked what I was up to and after I explained and mentioned that I was going to try eBay because it was the only thing I knew, she mentioned Etsy. I checked it out the next day and set up my shop right then and there.

What has been the most challenging thing in setting up your shop? I think after realizing that in order to keep everything 100% legit I had to file all these things with the state first and so on it was realizing that I have to work really hard to get myself out there and noticed and have people want to pay attention to me.

What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had on etsy? My first 2 sales were a trade, my 3rd was a donation for a review. I was sitting in class a few days ago bored out of my mind and decided for giggles that I would check out my store front to see if any views had changed or anything (like I said, I was really bored). Well I was looking and numbers and saw that it said “sales: 5” and I’m sitting there going “I have 3 sales, what’s wrong with this number. Somebody bought something… OMG SOMEBODY BOUGHT SOMETHING!!!!” This was the first sale that I had that somebody just wanted my stuff and bought it and it made all the crap I’ve had to dig through to get to that point totally worth it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finishing the Sale, Etsy Tips

So you have a shop now and have made a couple of sales but things aren't going as smoothly as you thought?

Well you aren't alone! In some of the groups I'm in we are seeing an increase in the amount of time it takes for the buyer to pay. A lot of times it is because new buyers are unfamiliar with how to complete a sale in etsy. I recently came across a seller .

She sells wedding florals and sees a lot of first time etsy buyers. She includes in her listings the text

"If you're NEW to Etsy, here is a helpful link to guide you through the checkout process: Very Easy to Buy!! "

This link takes them to the super explanatory link that takes them step by step through payment. I loved this and thought it was a great solution to both welcome new buyers and guide them through the process and in return, get your cash! I just had to share, thanks AmoreVivo!

Also, when you ship internationally you are required to fill out a form 2976 or 2976 A . On those forms is an identification number. Keep your receipts! These have recorded on them the scanned id number and even though it doesn't work every time, if you need to track that package many times you are able to get a status by putting that number into the tracking number blank on the usps website. In addition if you need to investigate a missing package you can go to the post office and with that number send an information request. I know from experience that shipping internationally can sometimes be frustrating so every little bit of information helps! Well, all you etsy sellers have a great day and if you have a tip of your own, post it here in comments, I love new ideas!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Helpful Websites for Etsy Shopkeepers

There are soooo many websites out there that claim to be informative, helpful, etc, but which ones actually have good information? You hear through the grapevine about different sites here or there so I've listed a few, maybe you can find one that is helpful for you!

Etsy Price/Profit Calculator -

Heartomatic View/Heart Synopsis - You can also browse Front Page Treasuries there!

Craftopolis Treasure Hunt - search current treasuries to see where you might be featured. Also has a treasury clock to see when new treasuries can be created.

Poster Sketch for Treasuries - create a treasury here have it ready when they open!

Etsy Wiki - Tons of information from who are the top sellers to how to open an account

Etsy Hacks - home of the popular "copy listing" function

Lets-Ets - valuable tool to help you upload your items to google base so they
show up in google shopping search results, more helpful than you might think!

Google Analytics Setup - - read this post to find out how to set up google analytics for your

Okay if you are a new seller this is probably more information than you want, but each of these links provides valuable tools for both fun and in depth ways to help get your shop out there, so click a few links have a little fun and sell a little more! (okay, maybe sell a lot more we hope!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Everything Old is New Again, or New is Old Again?

Felt and Fabric are my mediums, Paint and Glue, ehhh, not so much. I've found some great artists/creative people lately though. Whether it is re-making an old bed to match new decor or taking new things and making them look old it is all great re-theming of items to match your purpose.

For example take a look at this refinished bed......

Robin in her blog Sweet Little Memories documents the transformation of this old bed and the room it goes in. She repainted it to go with new decor.

In the opposite vein Rosida of Handmade by Decoupage Art took new items from Ikea and remade them into shabby chic style items.

So as you can see whether it is something old becoming new, or new becoming old it is all beautiful and beautifully matched to it's purpose! Take a visit to their blogs for more projects and some great pics of items in shops in Greece!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of Character, Rant and a Call to Be Careful!

Usually I stay away from political, sensitive subjects, I'm never really tooooo opinionated about anything in my blog but the movies!

This week though my son had a rude awakening. He is 19 and if you have read some of my other entries got his first apartment off campus this year. Like a lot of students, he is somewhat nocturnal, getting a lot of work done in the evening and at night. He was leaving his studio space at school Monday night when he saw three people hanging out near the building. They were not students. About that time a girl student came out of the building and started to walk home as well. He decided to walk with her and that together they should be okay.

It is only a block to his apartment, near there the girl split off from him to go to her own apartment. He went into his parking lot and the three guys that he had lost track of during the short walk came up to him with a gun and asked for whatever he had. He immediately gave them his backpack and wallet and they left.

We were so thankful he was not harmed. Warn your kids, loved ones etc to be careful, in this economy people are doing desperate things.

I asked that the guys who got him be led down a different path. That same effort put into a positive goal eventually would lead to positive results. Raise your children in a positive environment, give them daily doses of uplifting words and actions. Make them the change and yourself the instrument that makes it happen, no government can do it for you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Woman Doesn't Love Shoes?

I had an especially successful day of vintage shopping this week. I found lots of different things, but, my most prized "find" this week were some 1960's pumps. I'm sure they were from the same original owner, since they are the same size and similar styles and she had great taste!

Classic pump style but they have huge amounts of 1960's personality, find them now in my etsy shop retrochique.

While I'll never know much about this lady and her life I read a blog post this week about another lady and her family and their quest for shoes and the wonderful friendships and connections it has created for them! Read about Shelley and her family and their quest for shoes here, it's an old fashioned story about the always special process of getting your back to school shoes!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Total Romantic Indulgence - Movie Review

I didn't feel great yesterday so I decided to take a Mom is tired and stressed break yesterday morning. I can't just do nothing though so I watched a netflix movie that neither my kids nor husband would watch, Twilight.

Okay I understand why my manly man husband didn't want to watch the vampire flick and also my 13 year old son, who told us it was a girly movie. My daughter is sporty too and not really taken to the whole fantasy thing either. But, I Loved It!

Totally self indulgent from the girls point of view this movie is about a girl and the guy who finds her special and will do just about anything to protect/love her. The whole vampire back story is just dark, appealing window dressing. And face it there is so much gothic, romantic aura about vampires it is natural. There isn't any sex or naked body parts, ever. The couple of kisses are so tortured, and full of want though the tension is huge! So Ladies, grab you a pint of your favorite Ben and Jerry's if you haven't seen this one and curl up for a totally romantic and entertaining evening.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movie Madness.....with a Cake!

All you guys know I'm crazy about movies. So Here is a Two For One, Kind of......

Rachel Getting Married - Wanted to see it because I love Anne Hathaway and I heard she was really good in it. Well she was but am I happy I netflixed it instead of going to the show. It is a very gritty, realistic portrait of what happens to a young woman who has spent a lot of her young life messed up on drugs and is looking for forgiveness/validation in the wrong way. It really sort of makes you feel hungover by the time it is finished.

So if you are an Anne Hathaway fan, see it, or if you like the rehab topic, see it, otherwise, pass it by.......

Now for the 2nd half.

Ever want to host one of those really cool themed parties like for a birthday or oscar party? Well at Piece of Cake Decorating you can get all sorts of great ideas. Her cakes are amazing. Click on the picture above to be taken to her blog post about the movie cake. You can purchase the reel, film and clap board as well as get directions for it and see the things needed. A hunt around her website and you will see a darling slumber party cake and tons of other cute things!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Organizing Your Etsy Day

Like most crafters/designers the part I love is the creating. I can piddle the day away shopping for fabrics, notions, sketching, sewing, cutting, etc. I also love vintage so a day running to resale and thrift shops is a real treat. The thrill of making a sale is fantastic too. What is not so great and what a lot of us don't like is listing, photographing and shipping. But they are necessary to having a good business so here is how I organize my etsy day, maybe it will help you organize yours!

1. Listing - First off I list, if it isn't listed it can't sell!
  • Check for expired listings first, an easy way to bump your store into recent listings.
  • Check sold items for things to Re-list, another easy way to bring your shop into the top of the searches.
  • List anything new you have (I don't include taking photos with listing, I'll get to that later).

Easy ways to make listing go faster - Install Mozilla Firefox (an alternate browser) and go to . Install this script and it will add Copy Listing to your etsy shop when you are using Firefox. It shortens the amount of time it takes to list items similar to ones already listed in your etsy shop.

2. Shipping - Nothing makes your customers happier than to get their order quickly!

I ship next, I detest shipping because it usually involves lots of busywork. But I usually do it next so I can get my items to the post office or carrier before the mail goes out. Tips to make your shipping go faster

  • Put all your shipping supplies in one central area, somewhere you can take your laptop or somewhere near a computer. Put envelopes, mailers, labels, whatever you need near there.
  • Use paypal shipping. Prints labels, can provide tracking at no charge, gives your buyer a notification that their item shipped.
  • Try carrier pickup, while it doesn't work for everyone, it can be very convenient not to have to go to the post office.

3. Now for the FUN Creating!

  • Have an area (it can be as simple as a cupboard) set aside for your supplies. Gather what you need and go somewhere you can be at your best for whatever inspires you.
  • If you are on the go a lot (mommy taxi) have something portable you can work on in a bag ready to leave when you do.
  • Be aware of inspiration in your daily life! Some of my best ideas come from something right in front of me!

4. Picture Taking and Preparation for the next etsy day

I save my picture taking for the end of the day, I take my pics indoors so light is not an issue if it is for you take your pictures at the time of day that works for you. But try to have a back up method in case it is rainy etc. You can get clamp on lights at Home Depot and either use those or even get a light box very reasonably.

Prepare for the next day, I mentally make notes of what I need to do next, custom orders that need to be done, new item inspiration, etc.

So there it is! The point is to make yourself as productive as you can with the little time you have. While my process may not work for everyone, maybe it can make you think a little about what can. Thanks!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inglourious Basterds - Shakespeare?

Okay my husband and I like Quentin Tarantino. We saw Reservoir Dogs way before all our friends even heard about it and Pulp Fiction ranks one of my all time faves, so when my husband walked out of Inglourious Basterds Saturday and asked me what the movie was about I had to think a minute.

I mean his expectation was a movie about the Brad Pitt character and based on the title and the movie trailers I think most people would have the same expectation. In reality it is about Shoshanna, the single survivor of a family that Landa, a high ranking Nazi, killed and her opportunity to take revenge on the Nazis.

Brad Pitt's character, Aldo Raine, is in effect a one dimensional caricature of a quality/action that is necessary to move the plot along. I've heard that some critics panned his performance, but I think he was quite effective at portraying the backwoodsman who psychotically and sarcastically is able to see that Nazi=death and enjoys carrying it out. He didn't need to be anything more for the film.

Taranatino's success in his movies many times involves layering characters in time around the main story line and magnifying character traits in them. It was quite intricate in Pulp Fiction. Inglourious Basterds boils it down to a science. Each side character really embodies a trait. The young actor is greed for flesh and fame, the black man is love, Hugo Stiglitz is hate. Okay maybe I'm being toooo literal, but you see what I mean. In this distilling of the characters you get the quirkiness that Tarantino is known for. So, Tarantino like Shakespeare? Well when you get right down to it Lady Macbeth is just guilt isn't she? College Professors spend whole semesters trying to make you realize that one!

Now I'm getting wordy but I really liked the movie. Gory, yes, for the weak of stomach, this one is pretty bad. And Tarantino does go some places that most wouldn't with some racial comments and his usual irreverence. So this movie is not for everyone. Use your own judgement, but don't go if you are looking for a movie that features a story revolving around Brad Pitt's character, you won't find it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School for Families of all Types

Looking around the blogosphere you can read about families of all types. Recently I became introduced to Carol Shwanda, she blogs about her blended family. Her blog is an interesting read about their travels and everyday activities, including recipes an more. Her latest entry is about back to school.

I'm dealing with back to school like every other parent right now too. Here is my current project for my daughter, a 6th grader. She wanted a tote bag instead of a backpack and chose the fabric herself. She also drew the pattern for the felt letters she wanted appliqued onto the bag.

So, I had better get back to work since I need to get it done by Monday! Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home Again....One Less

I've been gone all week, school starts the 24th so it was time to take my oldest son back to college and move him into his own apartment. He spent his freshman year in the dorm and was excited about moving into his own space. You always want things to be perfect for your kids and my oldest has not chosen the easiest path. He refers to himself as an artist and works at it every day.

The part of town he chose to live is near the school and he has 3 other close friends he is rooming with. They leased this apartment sight unseen off of the internet and it met all their criteria, mostly number of bedrooms, location and price. My husband walked in and was left with mouth wide open. The walls needed another coat of paint, the floors in the bedrooms were just rough wood, the front balcony needs some serious dry rot abatement on one end, and the whole place sort of slants to the rear. To be fair this is a 1930's 3 story apartment building and it is charming in it's own way, just not my husband's way!

We spent the next two days moving things in from storage, buying out Target, putting together furniture and on the whole very stressed out. My son was ready for us to leave, my husband was wondering what had gotten into my son's head and why he was choosing to live there and I had a serious backache! Well it's funny how little reminders come from the most unexpected places. The morning we were going to leave we were at breakfast. We were going to get a few last minute things and meet my son later at his apartment. My husband was still a little disturbed by my son's choice of living spaces. I got Rev Run's Daily Word on my blackberry and it said, "Criticizing is easy, Art is hard".

So, with renewed respect for my son's path we finished our job and left him to create happily in his new space. I'm happy for him and glad to be back home, minus one child, who is happy in his new one.

This is one of my son's pictures from several years ago, he won a competition with is and it is still one of my favorites.....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Amazing World of Beads and Gems

Most of you who read my blog know that I deal with felt and fabric and love vintage. Metal, gems and jewelry making are not my areas of expertise but I sincerely appreciate those talents. I'm blogging in this post about an amazing proprietess of a site full of information! She is Sylvia of Silver Rose Beads. Her site is huge, she is a wholesaler of gems and beads.

Her blog, links to her shops, and a wealth of other information. I really believe in the power of color, properties of metals and gems and the way they can affect your life. Sylvia has a section on metaphysical properties that I found really interesting.


Click on the picture to read the rest of the turquoise description and those of other gemstones too.

And for all you jewelry makers she has a huge assortment of beads, stones and other jewelrymaking products and inspiration!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Halloween and Fall Things......

As evidenced by the etsy front page yesterday all things Halloween are soon to be in everyone's mind (including my own). So I took a stroll through the UWIB etsy shops and decided to showcase a few of the items here. It is amazing the variety of things I found. Elena's knit items are amazing and she has just the right one for October.

Click on the pic to visit this listing and her etsy shop.

The sexy witch gets all the attention at Halloween, this little necklace from Susy at earthexpressions lets us all show our inner sexy witch!

And you can always rely on PolishedTwo for accessories that fit any occasion. Classic and simple pumpkins.......

And leave it to heartsnlaserbeams to have these classic felted fall leaves.........

So while it may be hot most places our minds are thinking "Fall" and that crisp weather that accompanies "Halloween".!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kandace of Kandio Designs

Today I'm blogging about a fellow etsy seller, Kandace of . She is soooo much more than an etsy seller though! I feel like I don't do much after reading her profile. Take a visit to her blog, and you will find out about the wonderful variety of talents she has. Fine art, jewelry making and interior decorating are all areas that she works in. Here are a few of her jewelry designs.

You can see why Kandio-o is such an appropriate name with the brightly colored candy looking drops she uses in her jewelry! I hope you enjoyed seeing her designs and projects as much as I did, have a great day!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Late Movie Reviews!

Okay I know it isn't Monday, but I've been super busy. We did find time as always to go to the movies though and continuing with the romantic comedy theme we say "The Ugly Truth" and we saw a kind of comedy, "Funny People".

First "The Ugly Truth". This was a cute show, very predictable but well done. Katherine Heigl has quite a following and she has a scene that really updates the famous "When Harry Met Sally" "I'll have what she's having" situation. Very funny stuff. Gerard Butler is cute in a kind of tight t-shirt but messier Simon Cowell sort of way. Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins area super funny too. Bottom Line - Harmless show to see with your husband that will make you both laugh.

Funny People, I either love or hate Adam Sandler movies but this one just kinda left me lukewarm. Don't get me wrong, some of it is very funny and touching. But when they try to deal with the messy parts of life it gets tedious and painful. The ending is predictable and unsatisfying. I loved Seth Rogen and some of the other more minor characters. Eric Bana in particular plays a schizo husband very out of character from his past roles. Soooo I'm of the opinion that unless you are a fan of this gang, apatow, sandler, rogen, wait until DVD. Oh, and by the way it is extra long, 2 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vintage Finds This Week

Posted last week on twitter that I was going vintage shopping and well, you know it got put off, but I did get to go yesterday and found some wonderful housewares! Here are a few of them.

Wonderful Russian Nesting Porcupine! I saw one of these on .

A mint set of glass bowls with such sweet pears on them and octagonal bases. I also got this set of 4 Irish Coffee Mugs below, such great items and as with vintage they have so much more character than many of the new things you find in the stores today. I love Vintage! I posted these and many other new items in my etsy vintage shop, .

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Movie Review - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Thanks to my 19 year old son I finally got to see Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I had it here at home from Netflix, but my husband was procrastinating. My oldest is here at home for the summer and when he saw it he said "Oh, I'd like to see that I heard it was good". And so my husband relented, seeing an opportunity to sit with my son for more than 10 minutes!

Being a person who spent most of the 80's along with my friends obsessing about different bands, I love the premise that moves the story along; finding the afterhours secret gig of a band that the two lead characters really love. The story only encompasses the span of one all nighter and follows them from club to club, place to place while they try to find the band. Michael Cera, the boyfriend/father from Juno is the male lead who is struggling to get over a popular girlfriend who has thrown him to the side. (For those of you who watch entourage the girlfriend is played by Alexis Dziena the new flame for E. ) Kat Dennings is the female lead, a romantically insecure but spunky and fiercely loyal friend. They spend the evening finding themselves, resisting temptation to take the easy path and eventually finding each other.

I personally loooooved this movie, but my husband found it a little young I guess you'd say. My son really liked it. So, I'd say see it. It is funny and sweet, well worth the DVD rental!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When We Played Little League........

......or any other sport when we were kids it was different.

There were no year round sports, you played whatever was in season.

There were no select teams. (you tried out and got on a team according to your ability to play, not pay).

"Intense" parents limited their participation to the stands.

It cost $30 or so to register for a team and maybe you had to buy a shirt or uniform. Not hundreds of dollars for home, away, and practice uniforms, plus travel bags, etc

Pressure was limited to that which your teammates might put on you.

Coaches were unpaid volunteers.

Some of you know my kids play competitive tennis. When they were about 8 years old we had them choose a sport to concentrate on and play since their friends were all starting to play on year round select teams in soccer and baseball. Both the time commitment and money made it impossible to play more than one sport. While tennis has been a blessing for them (I would never change that) and helped tremendously with their self confidence and taught them important lessons on perserverence, staying positive and self control; it is a comment on how sports has evolved that kids can't just go Play casually anymore. Or maybe it is just a comment on a mom reminiscing, after all my kids don't know any other environment than what they have grown up in !

Have a Wonderful Day!

Do you have a comment on kids sports? Leave it here, Thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Old Bag Vintage Featured Etsy Shop

Last week a fellow etsy seller featured an item of mine in a mosaic she posted on her blog . Well, that item sold as did a lot of others. It was such a blessing and blast of positive energy I wanted to return the favor by giving her shop some exposure. Here she is in her own words...

"I love yard sales, consignment shops and thrift stores. There's nothing like being able to handle the items and examine them carefully. And if you can get a great deal - that's the icing on the cake! "

She has some wonderful pieces and seems to be on the track of building a great store, but as anyone who deals in these treasures it starts with a true love of vintage and how it contributes to our lives. Again in her own words!
"There are so many benefits to buying vintage items. They're great for the environment, unique and have a history. I've always loved collecting vintage bags and clutches."
Hence the name, Old Bag Vintage. Visit her shop for some great jewelry and other unique vintage items. .

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bruno at the Show and Ghost Town at Home

Okay not a very satisfying weekend to say the least, deep breath.

Bruno. I saw Borat, I thought it was at times crude and inappropriate. However I did think it was an original concept, very funny in parts and worth seeing if you were not easily offended. Sasha Baron Cohen has gone over the line with Bruno though. It is both rude and crude and I have no idea how it escaped an X rating. It features full male member nudity, and even an animated penis. In addition there is an S&M feature, a swingers party, and lots of gay sex references and enactments. That is just the stuff that refers to sex. There are other controversial references to terrorism, gay conversion, interracial families and the list goes on.

In as much as Cohen's purpose was to push people's buttons he succeeds and parts of it were indeed funny. But if I want to see a movie with nudity and sex I know where to go get one and it isn't at my local AMC theatre.

Ghost Town features Greg Kinnear, Ricky Gervais, and Tea Leoni all of whom on their own I usually like. The premise is Ricky's character has a death experience and comes back to life able to see and hear ghosts. The spirits all have unfinished business and they ask him to complete these tasks and enable them to go on to their own afterlife. The story is predictable from there with Greg Kinnears character wanting to keep his wife Tea Leoni from remarrying. It could be super funny but for some reason it isn't.. The characters just don't gel. If it is the only DVD left get it, if not pass it up.

On another note I want to thank everyone UWIB and elsewhere that has given me a boost this last week. It has been a fantastic month. Special thanks to oldbagvintage and SuzanneinTX for mentions in their blogs. I can't help but think that this helped me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When I Went to College.....

When I went to college…….

If I needed to talk to my dad during the drive back to school I had to stop at a gas station and use a quarter in the pay phone.

If I got lost I stopped and asked for directions or asked the navigator in the passenger seat to look at the paper map.

Class registration meant standing in long lines in an auditorium, not waiting up until midnight to be first at online registration.

Eating at McDonalds meant actually having to have cash, not a piece of plastic.

Listening my favorite song in the car meant shoving a piece of plastic and magnetic tape into the hole in the dash and hoping that it didn’t get eaten.

Getting new “friends” didn’t involve facebook or twitter.

Turning in a term paper meant typing it on a typewriter and going to class and physically turning it in, not uploading from my laptop to a website.

Do you have a college difference? Leave it as a comment! Thanks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Appreciating Home - Tale of Two Kids Weekends

As many of you know my two younger kids, Will who is 13, and Chloe who is 11, play competitive tennis. Will is spending time in the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch Academy Program this summer. They live in the dorms there with other boys and get to practice their skills all day in an environment that is geared toward moving up competitively. Will went for the minimum amount of time 3 weeks. They get to travel with the group to tournaments and this weekend they traveled back home to Houston to compete. Will was responsible for getting his things and himself ready to leave the ranch by 1:30 Friday for the 3 hour drive to Houston.

Thursday Night 9:00 - Call from Will he is getting ready for the trip, doing wash.

Friday Afternoon 12:30, 1 hour till departure - Call from Will. "Mom can I wash towels with whites"

Mom - "Why are you washing now, it takes an hour to do a load of wash and dry it"

Will - "I have exactly an hour mom and I need socks and underwear"

Mom - "Okay Hurry and get the rest of your bag ready but don't wash the towel you won't need one at a hotel"

Will - "oh, Okay"

Friday Afternoon 1:05 Call from Will "Why are washers so slow"

Friday Afternoon 1:20 Hysterical call from Will ""Mommmmmmm I lostttt my tennis racquets!"

Mom tells him to get a hold of himself calm down and look for them, she will call the counselor and get him to help.

Friday Afternoon 1:40 call from Will "We're on our way"

Mom - "Did you get your racquets?"

Will - sheepishly "yeah, but mom I forgot my toothpaste, contact solution, and toothbrush, can we get some there?"

After all this I get a final call early Saturday morning, we are about to leave with my daughter, who is playing in the tournament too. We were going to meet Will and his group there and watch his match.

Will - "Mom, I got up late and didn't have time to put on compression shorts (for those of you unenlightened in 13 year old tennis lingo compression shorts = underwear!) Do you have any extra at home?"

My husband's take on the situation was that this was to show Will how much we do for him and how he has to learn responsibility and appreciation, I don't know if he did or not but I hope he remembers his underwear next time.

The champ tournament was a success and Chloe won the consolation draw, a great boost for her.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Scrappy Chic!

Good Morning, One of the things I find really fun is to look at the shops that have hearted mine and the things they make. You can cyber stroll etsy for hours, but if I limit myself to one of those shops I have a natural stopping point! Anyway it has led to some great discoveries for me and I like to share them, perhaps it can bring someone inspiration or give you a new favorite shop too!

This week I chose This shop is run by Bettina and her story is familiar to us all I think!

" I opened OneScrappyChic on Etsy to bring in a little extra money for my family. I am a mother to a beautiful 2 year old little girl! She really was the inspiration behind OneScrappyChic, which started out as a pregnancy/baby album idea and eventually evolved into much, much more."

Her paper goods are wonderfully colorful, whimsical and combine sewn embellishments as well as unusual materials like paper bags. Here is her comment on her goods.

"I like to make all types of paper crafts such as scrapbooks, notecards, etc., but I LOVE to make EXPLODING albums! I love the idea of someone finding all the hidden pockets and pages and the album popping open at the turn of nearly every page. "

So I hope you have enjoyed my stroll though . She is also having a giveaway on her blog . I know I'll pay a visit! Lastly here is a pic of her own favorite item, an exploding album.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two Extremes Public Enemies and the Proposal

Good Morning everyone, time for Monday Movie Reviews. With my kids gone this week we saw two in the theatre, an unusual occurence. My husband and I chose one together, (guess which) and I chose one.

I love Johnny Depp and have ever since 21 Jump Street so it wasn't hard to like Public Enemies. It was a spare, classic gangster drama complete with J. Edgar Hoover, G- Men and Johnny Dillinger. Johnny Depp has a restrained, nuanced performance. He was understandable and likeable even as a most wanted criminal. Marion Cotillard was fierce and defiant as his girl Billie. You almost feel sorry for Christian Bale's character Purvis the FBI man in charge of getting Dillinger. So I recommend it for adults, if you are looking for a compromise to see with your guy...

The Proposal on the other hand was super funny! I wasn't expecting a whole lot, you know it seems like the funniest bits of movies are usually in the trailers, but not this one. It was funny, sincere and sweet. My husband, who thought it was a Chick Flick, really liked it too. Sandra Bullock was funny but some of the funniest stuff comes from Ryan Reynolds too.....Betty White and the rest of the cast complete it and the locations are gorgeous. I recommend it wholeheartedly for adults.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Editing your Photo with Irfanview

As promised here is the piece on doing a few simple edits with irfanview. I chose a simple picture for the sake of the piece that had all straight lines. Irfanview uses commands that are familiar, after starting the program use the file open commands to open your picture out of my pictures files. First we will crop it.

1. If you move your cursor onto the picture you will see that it turns into crosshairs. Holding your left mouse button nails that crosshair down and dragging the mouse will create a selection in the picture. I imagine how I might want to crop this picture and choose a left top corner starting point, dragging my mouse to create the square. In the picture above I have started the process. In the picture below I have finished drawing the square.

2. In this picture you will notice that I have drawn my square, the lines barely show. In the top blue bar it also shows my pixels. I got them to be almost equal (555 by 544) since I wanted approximately a square. I then hit the control and Y keys, this cuts away the unwanted area outside the square. Below is my cropped picture.

Now we will give it a white background to float on.

1. Go to the edit drop down and choose show paint dialog. It will bring on the box shown in the right of the pic below. The commands are very similar to the pc paint program we all let our kids use.

2. Next we are going to choose our background color. In the paint dialog box on the right click on the one of the two small rectangles in the bottom. This will bring up the color selection box you see on the left of the picture. For each rectangle you will have to choose a color and hit okay. I chose white for both.

3. Now we will outline the picture. This keeps the fill color we will put in the background from "creeping" into the picture. It is important that there are no holes in our outline of the picture. In the paint dialog click on the box that has the diagonal line in it on the left above the circle. This will give you a crosshair like the cropping procedure. You can choose how wide the line is byusing the up and down arrows making the width px higher for a wider line, or lower for a more narrow line. I used a 14 px line. I find a wider one easier to use and see. Nail down the line start point with your left mouse button at one corner and drag it to the point you want your line to end. Release the mouse and you will have a line like this.

4. Do this for all 4 sides of the item.

5. Now click on the paint can that is tipping over. Touch it to the area outside of the square you drew and click your mouse. Now your background is the color you want! There may be a few areas of clutter that need to be cleaned up so just click on the eraser symbol and hold down the left mouse button while moving your mouse, this will erase anything with the new background color. Extra hint, if there is anything that accidentally got "erased" with your new color, you can restore it by using the erase tool and the right mouse button. When you drag your mouse then the original pixels of the picture are restored!

The last thing we will do is change the resolution for uploading. Close the paint dialog and hit control and r at the same time. This brings up the resolution box. On the right there is a drop down that includes defaults, or on the right you may put in your own choices. If the resolution you choose makes it appear all wonky (technical term) just hit edit undo and try again. You may also change the resolution of the original picture before you start editing the picture if that is easier for you. Edit undo will always take you one step back if you mess up.

I hope that this helps anyone who is getting started trying to make better pictures. There are lots of resources and programs out there for you to use and a lot of them are free. It just takes time to practice using them. These are just first steps, there are lots of things that you can do with this software. Best of luck, and please comment with any tips or resources you may have! Jamie.