Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Craft Show Experience

Earlier this month I participated in my very first craft show.

I spent so much time preparing. I pretty much neglected everything else. The blog. The antique booth. Cleaning the house. Showering. Ok, I jest. I showered. But everything else was pushed to the back burner while I prepared.

Paint and varnish! Order business cards! Buy a receipt book! Get the Square set up to work on my phone! Figure out how to display everything! Put price tags on everything! Pack everything!

It took a lot more work than I expected to prepare, especially since it was a fairly small craft show.

And it went horribly.

Please excuse the horrible phone pictures!

Everyone around me was selling things left and right. 

I sold 4 bowls. 4 of the smallest bowls I had too.

But that's not what bothered me.

What really bugged me was that this "craft" show had about 25-30 vendors, and probably 5 of them were selling things they had actually made.

I was literally surrounded by resellers. Mary Kay in front of me. 31 to my right. Manufactured oils and vinegars to my left. Scentsy, Avon, Advocare, Origami Owl, and so on. Not that there is anything wrong with those brands. I just don't think they belong at a craft show. A craft show.

How am I, a small maker of handmade goods, supposed to compete with these mass-produced products? Quick answer - I can't. Those other products are rolling off production lines at super speeds. I spend hours finishing one bowl. Everything they make is perfect and without flaws (read: machine-made). Mine are handmade, and yes, have an errant dot or two. When placed side-by-side like they were at this show, nobody wanted to even look at the handmade products. 

It was really disheartening, but I learned a good lesson.

I should have done more research.

A friend of mine talked me into this show. She makes awesome scarves and they sell wonderfully wherever she goes. She was convinced I would do great too, so I took her advice and signed up without really reading the fine print.

I should have paid attention to the vendors who have participated at this show in the past. Had I seen all of the resellers, I would have run the other direction.

But I didn't.

I jumped in with really high expectations, only to be crushed in the end. Crying-on-the-ride-home crushed. 

But I picked myself up. I reactivated everything in my Etsy shop right when I left the show and moved on, realizing that craft shows like that are not my target market. And when I heard a "cha-ching" from my phone that same afternoon indicating an Etsy sale, I knew I had found my place. Etsy's the way to go for me.

Thanks for reading through and listening to my little rant! I felt the need to explain why posts have been scarce lately, with all of the preparation and the catching up that followed. But now I'm back on track!

The New Year's coming and the posts are scheduled!

Happy New Year everyone! Hope 2014 is a wonderful year for all of you!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday's Seven - New Year's Eve Decorations

I can't believe it's almost 2014. I still haven't gotten used to writing 2013. Sad, but true!

What is it about New Year's Eve that makes me want to put glitter on everything? I haven't figured that out yet, but apparently I'm not the only one. New Year's Eve decorations tend to be sparkly, shiny, metallic, shimmery, and glittery. And I love it!

I've found seven fun ideas to add some bling to your New Year's Eve celebration. They're all fairly simple and quick, so you can definitely make a few before the new year!

Be sure to check out the sites for instructions!

1. Starburst Decor  |  Examiner
2. Glittery Wine Bottles  |  Linen, Lace, & Love
3. Wrapping Paper Streamers  |  Martha Stewart
4. Tinsel Drink Stirrers  |  A Kiss of Colour
5. Tinsel and Glitter Party Hats  |  Heart and Craft
6. Pop, Fizz, Clink Champagne Flutes  |  Tiny Prints
7. Paper Bag Luminaries  |  DIY Weddings

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday's Seven - DIY Christmas Trees

Christmas is almost here!

And where have I been? Not blogging, apparently. Between craft show prep (total fail - post next week) and Christmas prep, the blog sadly took the back burner. Time to get everything reorganized for the new year and back to a regular posting schedule!

Anyways, I have a few more days left to get everything ready for Christmas. And that means more decorating! I absolutely love having Christmas decorations everywhere, and if you can make them yourself and save some money in the process, that's a big plus. So I've found seven fun little Christmas trees you can make yourself. Pick one (or all!) to make and spread some extra Christmas cheer around your home!

Be sure to visit the sites to find out how to make these beautiful trees!

1. Pine Cone Tree  |  I Don't Know How She Does It
2. Pipe Cleaner Tree  |  Lady Behind the Curtain
3. Linen Tree  |  Urban Vintage Soul
4. Tinsel Tree  |  Home Life Abroad
5. Wire Tree  |  My Home My Style
6. Pallet Tree  |  Accidentally Wonderful
7. Book Page Tree  |  Organized Clutter

Monday, December 2, 2013

Etsy Shop of the Week - Gift Ideas

Ready for more gift ideas?

I'm really happy to suggest some more beautiful handmade items today. The days of running into a crowded department store to pick up gifts are over. It's so easy now to stay at home and shop on Etsy. Plus, you get to find some really unique and truly one-of-a-kind gifts - something perfect for everyone on your list. And as an added bonus, you know you're supporting the individual who lovingly and carefully made your product, not a giant corporation.

On to the gift ideas!

For the nature lover, bring a little bit of the outdoors in with this gorgeous tree sculpture made from wire and gemstones. Marilyn at Marilyn's Trees has so many beautiful colors to choose from - her work amazes me!

I love these earrings from Gilgulim. They're so unique and fun, and I love the combination of the copper and the turquoise.

Here's another pair of earrings, slightly more traditional, but equally as beautiful! One of my favorite color combinations in turquoise and orange, so these earrings from The Astral Charm are perfect. Plus they're a great deal! A perfect stocking stuffer!

For the babies and toddlers on your list, be sure to check out the adorable wooden puzzles at Aksel Arts. I'm partial to the octopus!

Also from Aksel Arts is this adorable fox. He's quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen!

For the little boy (or the boy at heart) on your list, be sure to check out Kimmeen Shop. There are some awesome handmade models of planes, helicopters, cars, tanks, and more. They're really cool-looking, and they're made without nails or screws! 

Have fun shopping!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday's Seven - DIY Wreaths

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

I have to admit, for as much as I love Thanksgiving, I'm super happy when it's over. Mainly because I can pull out the Christmas decorations without being judged! The inside is all decorated now, and I'm moving on to the outside. But sadly, I'm wreath-less. So I've found seven fun wreath tutorials, ranging from pretty quick and easy, to a little more complicated and show-stopping. So surely I won't stay wreath-less for long!

Be sure to visit the sites to find out how to make your own gorgeous wreath this year!

1. Red Burlap Wreath  |  Little Birdie Secrets
2. Peppermint Wreath  |  Gwynn Wasson Designs
3. Acorn Wreath  |  Little Things Bring Smiles
4. Snowflake Wreath  |  Homey Home Design
5. Ornament Wreath  |  The Homeless Finch
6. Book Page Wreath  |  Creations by Kara
7. Paper Roll Wreath  |  A Cultivated Nest

Sharing at Thrifty Thursday

Monday, November 25, 2013

Etsy Shop of the Week - Handmade Monday

Happy Handmade Monday!

Today is a day dedicated to supporting handmade artists and craftspeople. So have fun browsing through all of the wonderful handmade shops you can find on Etsy! I'm cheating a little - no featured shop today.

Instead, to help you out, I've found a few fun handmade items from a variety of shops - they would all make wonderful Christmas gifts!

There are lots of great sales happening today, so be sure to check them out!

First up are these gorgeous earrings from Stella Ziganti Designs. I absolutely love the color and shape of these - they're beautiful! 

Of course I go straight for the Aggie-colored Texas map print from LadyHonsa. There are numerous states, countries, and colors - you can even order a custom print and get it exactly the way you want.

After getting sneak peeks of this piece for the past week or two, this gorgeous print from Smart Designs by Stacey was finally revealed this morning and I love it! There are so many gorgeous colors and the detail with the hundreds of dots is amazing. Stacey is unveiling a lot of new work today, so be sure to check it out!

How beautiful is this necklace from Earth Jewelry? I love the colors and the wire wrapping. This would make a perfect gift for anyone on your list!

Stocking stuffer time! Flaherty Naturals has so many wonderful scrubs, lotions, body oils, lip balms, and more. I'm partial to anything chocolate, so I picked these - but there are lots of other scents available.

Here's another sweet gift idea from CreativeTreasuresUK. I love this compact - it would also make a great stocking stuffer or the perfect Secret Santa gift. There are other shapes and colors available as well.

Shameless self-promotion time! I've currently got a sale going on as well - FALL15 saves 15% on all purchases. Be sure to visit my shop for some unique gift ideas - perfect for those people who have everything and are incredibly hard to buy for!

Have fun shopping and supporting handmade today!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday's Seven - Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

Thanksgiving is almost here! By this time next week, we'll all probably have a fridge full of leftovers that we're wondering what to do with.

No worries! I've found seven delicious recipes to use up leftover turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and even sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. They all sound wonderful, and will definitely put a fun and different twist on your leftovers.

Be sure to visit the sites to get the recipes - and make sure to pin this so you can find it easily once you're in a turkey-induced daze!

1. Sweet Potato Biscuits  |  Home Cooking Memories
2. Slow Cooker Turkey Chili  |  Cookbook Meals
3. Slow Cooker Mashed Potato Soup  |  Sweet C's Designs
4. Cranberry Sauce Muffins  |  Two peas and Their Pod
5. Leftover Stuffing Croquettes  |  CBSOP
6. Sweet Potato Pound Cake  |  Country Living
7. Thanksgiving Casserole  |  My Recipe Magic

Sorry I've been missing in action on the blogging front lately. I've been focusing more on painting - my first craft show is in about 10 days, and I'm trying to get a lot of bowls painted before then! I'll be back in full force after that!

Sharing at Thrifty Thursday

Monday, November 18, 2013

Etsy Shop of the Week - Ma'at Silk

Welcome to the eighth edition of the Etsy Shop of the Week! Each week I choose a wonderful Etsy shop to share with you all. We can all have fun finding new products for our homes and lives, not to mention some wonderful gift ideas for our loved ones (or ourselves!).

Today we are lucky enough to meet Maisie of Ma'at Silk, an absolutely gorgeous shop! Maisie creates beautiful abstract designs, then hand-paints them on silk scarves and cushions. She also uses her designs on fun pin cushions and note cards.

Probably my favorite piece - 
I love the gorgeous colors she chose 
and the pattern is beautiful!

So, let's meet Maisie!

1. Tell us about your products and your Etsy shop.

My shop sells mostly hand painted silk scarves and cushions.  At the moment my design style is the realm of patterns. Swirls, lines, circles, and various shapes of all kinds. I am inspired by all forms of nature, plants and weather formations in particular. The other big inspiration would be ancient art, I only have look at a book full of Minoan temples or Egyptian tombs and I am reaching for my sketch book. I tend to draw whilst watching a film; I think that explains why by the credits, I don’t always know the plot.
It all started when I was bought a set of silk paints for a birthday and well the rest just happened. It took many experiments and horrid looking scarves before I came up with one I was happy with. Now I have a system worked out. When I design a pattern for a scarf I usually plan a set of three colour ways. I don’t know why but I like working on odd numbers. Then with each scarf I write a narrative piece of writing. Trying to explain this is harder, but I’ll give it a shot. For me painting on silk and for that matter all my work is art and more, it’s a thought, an idea, a feeling and most importantly is a story. Words accompany me as I design and paint the patterns. They are part of it all. The colours and design blend in my mind and an idea forms: of an image, a place, a time. Why?  I’m not sure but the narrative writing that accompanies each scarf is as important to me as the colours themselves.  It’s the setting and completes the scene. So each set of scarves tells a story and the narratives fit really well into three. Every story had a beginning middle and end after all. Each scarf is a limited edition and I only make five of them. It can get a little complicated and I have to keep careful track which number I’m on. I do sign and number each scarf so that helps. At the moment I am working on completing my scarf sets, most the ones in the shop are lacking a third and I am also beginning to use my designs on paper, for gift cards notebooks and writing sets.

Maisie's beautiful notecards - 
what a beautiful thing to receive in the mail!

2. What is your favorite thing to make?

I do like painting the silk, choosing the colours and watching them spread on the fabric, although it can be nerve wracking, especially if the paint dries too quickly! However what I really love to do is create custom orders. I like working one to one with the customer and creating the perfect design. I’ve done a couple so far, all of them gifts. It’s really important to me that the customer is 110% happy and I take it very seriously. I will involve them as much as they want, going back and forth with sketches and colours until we have it right. It can sometimes take ages but I find the end result really satisfying Of course sometimes they leave the design completely up to me and that's fine too. I have all the information about creating a custom order set up on my policy page.  

I love the darker colors on this scarf -
very beautiful!

3. What are some of your favorite pieces currently for sale in your shop?

This is a hard question because I like everything. I suppose one of my favourites is “Along the Nile”. I love the soft blues and Egyptian design. 

This is such a gorgeous color combination!

My other favourite is “Arizona Morning” silk cushion, just because it was the first cushion I made and I love the bright colours.

Such a bright and cheerful cushion - 
it really adds a beautiful pop to that chair!

4. Can you tell us 3 fun facts about yourself?
  • I always walk around carrying a notebook.  I do mean everywhere, even from one end of the house to another.  If I don’t write down my ideas right away they get lost in my head, so that probably explains that habit.
  • I love old movies, musicals in particular.  The singing, the dancing, the sets, the costumes. Silly maybe and not very cool but there it is. “Wizard of Oz”, “American in Paris”, “Gigi”, my list of favourites goes on and on.
  • I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I like to try out complicated French deserts and stews (not too often however, as it needs working off!) I also really like American heartland cooking (I always thing we don’t cook enough pies in Europe) and of course Spanish, with lots of olive oil (my favourite).
Pin cushions featuring Maisie's designs. 
They'd also be adorable hanging on a tree 
this Christmas - stocking stuffer time!

Thank you so much Maisie for give us a peek at your beautiful work! Be sure to check out Ma'at Silk on Etsy to get your own beautiful hand-painted silk scarf, cushion, or more!

To keep up with everything Maisie is busy designing and painting, be sure to visit the sites below:

If you have an Etsy shop and would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, feel free to send me an email!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday's Seven - Thanksgiving Decorations

Thanksgiving is getting closer and it's finally getting colder in Dallas! We actually got below freezing one night this week. Hence the reason everyone is completely bundled up in heavy jackets, boots, hats, and gloves. We're a little overeager though, since it did get up to the 70s today...

We might be a little early on winter-wear, but it's not to early to start decorating for Thanksgiving! I've found seven fun and beautiful decorating ideas, ranging from pretty much free (#6) to slightly more complicated (#5). They're all doable though and will certainly add a wonderful touch to your home.

Be sure to visit the sites to get the instructions and start creating!

1. Give Thanks Mantel  |  A Diamond in the Stuff
2. Pheasant Feather Centerpiece  |  HGTV
3. Easy DIY Fall Wreath  |  My Blessed Life
4. Flaming Foliage Candles  |  Martha Stewart
5. Reclaimed Wood Centerpiece  |  Bunches and Bits
6. Pine Cone Garland  |  Twig and Thistle
7. Thanksgiving Silhouette Pennant  |  Cottage in the Oaks

I was the featured artist at Smart Designs by Stacey this week! Be sure to check it out here! The sale at my shop is running through November! Use coupon code FALL15 to save 15% on all purchases - time to start thinking of Christmas gifts!

Sharing at Thrifty Thursday

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thrifting Haul - A Whale of a Time

I think I have a new favorite find every week. Apparently I'm very fickle when it comes to thrifted treasures. This week is no exception! And here they are...

I spotted a dirty zipper bag stuffed towards the very back of a shelf at a small store this week. When I pulled it out, a group of whales was staring back at me. This little guys are adorable wooden Mid Century napkin holders. I love their little faces and they have the best shape. I probably wouldn't use them as napkin rings - I would love to just tuck them all over the house in random places. They're so cute! See them closer here.

This set of silver leaf glasses were too pretty to pass up. It was a set of eight until I unfortunately broke one yesterday while cleaning them. Those suckers are slippery when wet. Seven is still a good number of glasses though. I love their frosted finish and the leaves are perfect for both fall and winter. Check them out here.

I found these two stacking mugs this week and picked them up, expecting them to be heavy. They're surprising light though. It throws me every time I pick them up after handling all the heavy stoneware. They have the most wonderfully retro pattern and colors and a really pretty crackly glaze. They're already on Etsy.

I thought these yellow glasses were really pretty. They're made by Anchor Hocking and are so cheerful looking. Perfect to serve your juice in the morning. Find the squatty ones here and the skinny ones here.

Same yellow color, but different pattern on these two. Of course I was drawn to dots! I'm able to ignore clear glass, but when it's colored, I have a problem resisting it. Maybe I should work on that! See them here.

I got excited when I found this little baking dish/ramekin, thinking it was Pyrex for a steal. The bottom says Pyr-o-rey, which I thought might be some offshoot of the Pyrex brand. Apparently it was a company that appeared in the 50s or so attempting to compete with Pyrex. It's still adorable though, and would be perfect to serve nuts or candy. Check it out here.

I have one more amazing find that I'm not showing you yet! I don't mean to be a tease, but my computer is refusing to import the pictures I took of it, and I refuse to post the crummy pictures I took with my phone. I'll just say leather, Mid Century, and rolling, and leave it at that. You'll have to come back next week!

Be sure to share your great finds!

Monday, November 11, 2013

ModCloth Gift Ideas

Started your Christmas shopping yet? 

Me neither.

But we should! To start off your shopping on the right foot, head over to  ModCloth for some fun and unique gift ideas. They have an awesome gift guide which you can check out here: ModCloth Gift Guide. Browse through fun gift options by recipient, price, interest, and more. I rounded up my top five budget friendly gifts for everyone on your list - everything I chose is under $20! Head on over to ModCloth right now and pick out some perfect gifts for this Holiday Season!

For your mom:

Help her add some fun to tea-brewing time with 
this adorable tea-infuser!

For your dad:

Help him keep that mustache and beard
in check with this fun grooming kit.

For the guys:

Who needs a Rubik's tissue box cover like Sheldon
when you can have this awesome desk organizer instead?

For the girls:

Honestly, who cares what the fox says when
you're wearing this adorable ring?

For yourself:

Because you deserve to be cozy and warm
after all that shopping!

Have fun checking out ModCloth's Gift Guide, and enjoy all the fun gift ideas you're bound to find!

Can someone please buy this for me?
You'll be my new best friend!

This was a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Etsy Shop of the Week - Smart Designs by Stacey

Welcome to the seventh edition of the Etsy Shop of the Week! Each week I choose a wonderful Etsy shop to share with you all. We can all have fun finding new products for our homes and lives, not to mention some wonderful gift ideas for our loved ones (or ourselves!).

Today we have a special shop owner to feature! Not only is Stacey the owner of Smart Designs by Stacey, a shop specializing in graphic design and digital art, she is also the creator and fearless leader of the rapidly growing Etsy team, All Handmade by Me. And she spells her name with an E too! Yay!

Beautiful autumn colors on this
printable notecard. Perfect to send out
Thanksgiving invitations!

So, let's meet Stacey!

1. Tell us about your products and your Etsy shop.

The art in my Etsy shop is pretty all over the place. I have a lot of nature prints, holiday cards, and superhero geek prints. I also sell artwork for other Etsy sellers - banners, logos, advertisements, and so on. I think the one thing that unites my shop is my style. I design my artwork in minimalist style because I like the elegant simplicity of it. When it comes to artwork for businesses, I think the simplicity is especially important because it does not distract the eye from the products being sold. The same is true for my photo cards. They are fun and festive, but I don't make them too over the top because then the photo would be overshadowed. I know that the untrained eye probably thinks my artwork is juvenile because it is so simple, but I really think that overly complicated designs do more of a disservice than a service.
How awesome is this print?
It would be perfect in any boy's room.

2. What is your favorite thing to make?

When it comes to art, my favorite thing to work with is trees. I'm not really sure why, but I've been doodling and sketching trees for as long as I can remember. I even have old notebooks from elementary school with drawings of little fairy tree houses.

This tree has such a beautiful shape.
And of course I'm loving the green dots!

When it comes to design, I really love custom projects. There's really just something so exhilarating about making artwork that will represent someone's business. I am always so humbled when people trust me with the responsibility to help brand their business. It is not a task I take lightly. 

A few of Stacey's custom banner creations - 
be sure to have her design one for your shop!

3. What are some of your favorite pieces currently for sale in your shop?

My favorite piece is "A Life for All Seasons." It is the piece that first made me realize that I'm an artist. I never went to school for graphic design, so I never expected anyone to be all that impressed with the things I make. When I made this piece, people started calling me an artist for the first time. It's the piece that brought me to Etsy. It will probably always be my favorite.
This is a gorgeous piece. The colors are
all amazing and I love the contrast
between the seasons. So beautiful!

As for the pieces that are the most fun, I would have to say my holiday banners. They're just so much fun to make! I actually had the song "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" stuck in my head for an entire day while I created several of them!
Be sure to get your holiday banner
before the Christmas rush!

4. Can you tell us 3 fun facts about yourself?
  • I am a diehard Mizzou football fan. I wait all year for college football season and it's without a doubt my "most wonderful time of the year."
  • I am pretty obsessed with the TV show F*R*I*E*N*D*S. I can find a Friends quote for just about any situation. My bedroom door is painted purple with a gold frame like the one in Monica's apartment. And the piece "The Big Orange Couch" in my Etsy shop was inspired by the show.
  • I tell people that I'm still about eight years old at heart. I love coloring books and Disney movies and love to goof around. I work as a nanny part time and I just love playing around with the kids and building pillow forts.
Love this! Love the color, love the couch,
love Friends! Could this piece BE any more perfect?

5. Can you tell us about the Etsy team, All Handmade by Me?

The All Handmade by Me team began because of something negative. I was appalled that Etsy had completely abandoned its handmade sellers and had essentially thrown them under a bus. (To read about the policy changes Etsy made, check out this article on Yahoo that Stacey is in.)

I say "them" and not "us" because I realized that these new guidelines really wouldn't affect my shop all that much. I mean, now I have to compete with people who can afford to sell mass produced printed versions of their artwork for cheaper than I can afford to sell only the digital files, but overall, I'm one of the lucky few who (hopefully) won't be completely overrun by the opening of the floodgates.

That fact aside, I was still very deeply hurt by Etsy's decision and chose to start this team. I thought it would be a way to fight back against this injustice and band together under a handmade badge of honor. I guess mainly I did it because I didn't want to lose the beautiful sense of community I had found on Etsy.

The handmade badges that Stacey designed.
Get specialty badges here and assistance in
adding the badge to your banner here

Now, a little over a month later, the team has over 1,250 members and I am completely shocked. This thing I have created has become its own revolution and I'm at the helm. It's hard for me to really explain how incredibly life changing this whole experience has been so far. I wake up every morning expecting that this whole thing has been a dream. It hasn't!

Captaining this team has been a lot of work. And that's probably an understatement. I spend at least 12 hours a day glued to my computer, answering messages and reading applications and designing specialty badges for team members, while also juggling my own business. It's been pretty overwhelming at times to be completely honest. But I love it and the members really make everything worth it. 

In the future, I'd ideally love the expand things even further. I don't want to promise anything I can't deliver, but I see a lot of possibilities for this team. What I thought would only be about 20 people has become 1,250. So the possibilities really feel endless. I never dreamed that I could accomplish so much in just over a month! It has really made me stop and think... what else am I capable of? I might have a few ideas up my sleeves. ;)

A beautiful pointillism sunset
done in gorgeous hues.

Thank you so much Stacey for give us a behind-the-scenes look at your shop and team! Be sure to check out Smart Designs by Stacey on Etsy to get some beautiful art, note cards, or a custom piece for your business!

To keep up with everything Stacey is busy designing and creating, be sure to visit the sites below:

If you have an Etsy shop and would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, feel free to send me an email!
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