Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New fish in the sea...

Here is a picture of my latest fish (that I promised you in an earlier post)...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New! New! New! or should I say Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

Yes, I'm sewing so fast that fuzz is flying through the air as I zoom along fleece bag after fleece bag. Last week, I decided to try a chick-shaped I Spy Bag. This is after my mother told me I should do an egg. Yes, easy enough to do an egg, so I wanted to try something even harder. I didn't have time to go to the fabric store, so I just tried to use up some periwinkle solid fleece that my mom had passed along to me. Why not a purple chick? I had some leftover coral/pink ribbon from way back in the days of my card making business, and so I added a beak. Here is the first prototype:

I thought it turned out pretty cool! My mom pointed out, however, that maybe some people were not so "edgy" and might prefer a chick in more traditional colors. So, I traipsed out to the fabric store to purchase some yellow fleece and orange ribbon. Lucky for me, I spotted some yellow fleece in the remnant bin right away! Even luckier, they were having a President's Day sale, and all remnants were half off! Yahoo! I tweaked my pattern a bit to make the head bigger, and cut out 3 yellow chicks. It was at this time that I came up with the *brilliant* idea to make the viewing window (hole) shaped like a wing. Here is prototype #2:

Actually, both kinds have been selling rather well. I've already sold 2 purple chicks and 3 yellow chicks. In the next "batch" I'm making the wing window a bit smaller so you can tell right away that it is a wing. Also, I've noticed that the beaks turn out a little different each time, but it seems that the smaller beaks are cuter, so I'm making an effort to make them nice and small. I'll post some pictures soon once I've finished!

Recently I've had many emails regarding I Spy Bag requests for boys. It is harder than it seems to find "boy" fabric that is the right scale for an I Spy Bag. I'm always on the lookout, but rarely come across any. Today I cut out some stars and fish out of my polka-dot blue fabric -- hopefully this will help fill the "boy void" for Easter basket stuffers. Again, not quite finished, so I'll post pictures later this week.

My sitter has been on Spring Break this week (actually her kids).... Absence DOES make the heart grow fonder. I can't wait to see her bright and early on Tuesday morning!

Oh, and the only other thing I've been busy with lately is preparing my taxes. All kinds of new things for us this year! New business, first house! After several hours of looking through receipts, downloading figures, and creating lists, I promptly ordered this software to help me during tax season next year...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Three more treasuries have included our works!

I can't help but post when we get featured in a treasury. It is so exciting. What a great feeling that someone chose one of our products to put in a list of only 12 out of the thousands of products on Etsy. Here are our latest inclusions:

Thanks to Crowley Manor for including our insect stickers! And thanks to
The Intuitive Garden for including our fan envelopes. And thanks to PK Fairaday for including a different set of fan envelopes! (I guess the fan envelopes are a success... now if someone would just buy some...).

Happy Day-After-Valentine's Day!

Valentine's day is one of those holidays that, in my life, is either completely understated or completely over-the-top. My husband's birthday is on the 14th. Some years, I make a huge effort to downplay Valentine's day so that his birthday is not overshadowed. I mean, he has to buy ME a gift on HIS birthday? Other years, I miss cupid so much that I totally blow it up so that BOTH holidays have a huge bash.

Before we had kids, we lived in a cool downtown city loft and had a bunch of cool downtown city friends who liked to get together. One year, I submitted to my urges to buy Valentine related party-ware and an addiction was born. I found myself frequenting the downtown TJ Maxx on my lunch break looking for red and white stuff, and since I have a long history with polka dots, I was especially drawn to red and white polka dot stuff. That year, there was such a line of tableware, and I had to have every piece. I planned a huge birthday party (with a Valentine's Day theme). I made heart-shaped cookies, heart-shaped cakes, a heart-shaped pan of brownies. We ate off of the most darling red and white polka dot plates, and I set it up on this fabulous red tablecloth.

This year... was not so dramatic :)

I managed to make a carrot cake (my husband's favorite), and some cupcakes, which the kids helped decorate. Overall, it was a simple day, and was just perfect. My polka dot plates can wait for another year...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Multiplying like bunnies

Uh, I guess I've become an "occasional" blogger. I don't know why sometimes I want to blog like 5 times in a day, then I'll go for a week (or two) without anything. I imagine it is like when you wait too long to thank someone for something, then it becomes embarrassing to thank them at such a late time and you just keep putting it off, but the longer you put it off, the worse it gets.... Wow - was that a run-on sentence or what? Holy cow, I'm tired.

So, back to what I originally was going to post about: bunnies. My mom was visiting last week (hooray!), and we got a lot accomplished! She brought her original watercolors she did for these baskets, and I scanned them into my computer. I used my uber-cool new printer to print some amazing stickers from her artwork.

We decided that we should make a set of stickers featuring 5 different bunnies - kind of like a
sampler of our work. So, she got to work the next day doing more watercolors, and I got to work doing some sketches. Well, that is not totally true. My mom dutifully did some new paintings while I napped with the kids.

But, while the kids were coloring later, I snuck a crayon and some scrap paper and sketched a crazy edgy blue bunny. Then I started cutting shards from my kids' scrap to glue on. You know how you have to craft "with" the kids to keep them interested. I didn't think it was anything, but then my mom liked it, and then I liked it, and voila! I scanned it in and played around with the colors, and came up with this even cuter pink and white hare:

Mom was only visiting for a few days :(

But, she got my creative juices flowing! I came up with the following bunny after she left, which I am rather proud of! Since I don't have any live bunnies to draw from, I googled "hare" and found a photograph I liked to sketch from... I've never had a line drawing come out so nice! I originally drew it on the back of used copy paper with a black ink pen. Then I used some clean copy paper to draw over it again and tweak it. Then I scanned it in and cleaned up the white spaces. I started deleting lines until I liked what I had. That is a trick one of my best teachers in college taught me. Do something you like (over the top if need be), then subtract from it. He was right - I really like how this turned out!

I spent a good amount of time on Saturday and Sunday taking photos of new stuff. So much time, however, that I was too tired to list it. Also, I think my kids have screwed up the settings on my camera. I went to download all the new photos, and they just didn't turn out as great as they usually do. I had great overcast natural light, and I used the same angle I usually use, but for some reason the photos look terrible. I spent a lot of time trying to "fix" them in photoshop just to make them look true-to-color. Looking back, I probably would have done better to use my time to find my camera instruction manual and fix the darn camera.... then take new photos. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Besides - tomorrow is my day with my awesome babysitter, so I might actually get some work done!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snagged my first Etsy Treasury!

Well, after that crazy day yesterday, I found myself hanging around the forums on Etsy trying to promote and what not. I needed to go to bed, but here is my theory on going to bed: Once I go to bed, then the next day is already beginning. Sometimes I'm just not ready for the next day to begin, so I selfishly stay up too late because I get to be alone... then of course I complain about not getting enough sleep. Hmphft.

So here I am in the forums, but I'm bored because no one is saying anything too interesting. I'm wondering what I should do, so I pop into "chat" to see if anyone else is up. Holy cow, the chat rooms are bursting with avatars. Do you know what an avatar is? It is that little picture next to your shop name. On Etsy in the chat rooms, your picture is shown at the bottom of the room so everyone can see who is in there. It's also a place for you to click if you want to see that person's shop. Along the side of the room, you can post pictures of other people's listings. Sometimes I hang out in there hoping someone will put one of my products up. Heck, why not? Free publicity!

Sooooo........ I notice that there are no pictures. No one is really saying much of anything. This is odd since usually a full room means the conversation is moving at the speed of lightning (or at least as fast as a crawling baby heads for an open cabinet), and you can never figure out who is talking to whom. Hmmm, I wonder what is going on? This is what the conversation looked like:

2 minutes
yep, can't wait
*stars falling in the room*
I hope I get one
did you do a poster sketch?
oooh, 1 minute

So, I'm like "hello!"

So. I figure out that the Treasury list is approaching that time when the number of lists drops below 333. When that happens, you get to add a new list. What is a treasury you ask? I could not explain it any better than this. Apparently there is some magical formula you must follow in order to "get" a treasury. This means that you get the chance to create one yourself. I never understood the glamour in creating a Treasury. I mean, you aren't supposed to put yourself in the list, so you aren't promoting yourself. Etsy has said on multiple occasions that they won't put your Treasury on the front page if you put yourself in it. Plus, even though I love to browse through them (there is some great stuff out there!), I *never* click on the curator of the treasury. Hence, what benefit would it be for me to fight to get one and then get NO exposure for my own shop? I know, I am SO shamelessly selfish....

So I think, HMM, maybe I'll go to the Treasury and see what happens. Who knows? Maybe I'll get one. Lo and behold, I sat there and waited for about 20 seconds (no joke) just staring at my screen waiting for the infamous box to appear, and THERE IT WAS! Well, pickles. WTH was I supposed to do now? I didn't 'design' any group of things. I didn't think of a great topic or theme. I didn't know what to write. So, I just came up with a topic that has been on my mind lately.... Spring. {I think it has been on my mind because I've been hoping that I can plan a trip down to see my mom at Easter. I miss her :) }

It was official. I had gotten a Treasury, and the title was "SPRING is just around the corner." Now what? It was empty. I was afraid to leave the page. What if I left the page to do some searching and I "lost" it? I promptly opened another browser window, and typed in "spring." Yep, only 659 pages to sift through.... "How about 'spring bunny,'" I thought? Here we go! 19 pages is much more reasonable. I ended up with like 7 bunnies added and it was looking a little odd. The bunnies were multiplying like, well, bunnies. I got up to get a glass of water. This was going to be harder than I thought. Maybe I should get up to get a glass of something stronger....

I came back to the computer, and HOLY CRAP! I already had a comment. I HAVEN'T EVEN FINISHED YET! I wanted to scream at the person who left a comment. Then I was like "oh no, can they see me working?" My game is up, I have been caught. Yes, I got a treasury and I don't even have the decency to have a list of items waiting to pop right into it. What was I thinking? I'm such a newbie.

Well, after only about TWO HOURS, I decided it was time to go to bed, and I was happy enough (or tired enough) to let it be. I have to say that it was truly SO much fun to do. It was really amazing to realize how the sketch changed as I added and replaced and moved around images. I was having so much fun. It was like an exercise in color psychology or color theory. Then there was the content to think about, not just the colors. I wanted people to "feel" spring in the air when they looked at my treasury. So you're thinking, "show me the treasury already..."

Ta Da!

Does it make you feel like Spring is just around the corner? I hope so. It is Groundhog's Day, afterall...

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am now Treasury-addicted.

10 minutes

Yesterday, my kids didn't give me a moment to myself ALL day. Even though I carefully plan their schedules and tediously prepare them to all take their naps at the same time, apparently they collaborated yesterday to stagger their naps and not give mommy even 10 minutes of kid-free time. Understand that I have 3 kids, and the oldest is 3 yrs old. I knew I should have broken up that whispering huddle they were engaged in after snack time. Oh well.
On days like this, I find myself standing near our front door with my forehead pressed against the sidelight window. Waiting. Waiting for my husband to get home. He usually arrives around 5:30. I am so lucky that he is VERY good about coming home on time, even occasionally early. It is 5:20. Sometimes 10 minutes feels like an eternity. Kid #1 is running in to tell me that kid #2 is standing on the fireplace hearth. Sigh. I'm holding kid #3 in my arms because he can't see out the window otherwise. I walk into the family room, conscious that if I move slower, more time will pass, thus getting me closer to the light at the end of this long tunnel. Kid #2 is not only ON the hearth, but he has somehow reached the fire poker that we keep on the mantel (out of children's reach, ha ha) and is wildly swinging it about not unlike a western cowboy might let loose a lasso. I am so tired. I put down kid #3, who immediately begins to cry. I take the poker. Now kid #2 is crying, too. Sigh. 5:25. Please be early today. Please be early today. I walk into the kitchen to get a glass of water and fetch #2's pacifier. And there in the middle of the floor is. a. puddle. of. pee. Thank you, #1. My day is complete. I thought you were potty trained?
When DH finally arrives I retreat into my "room" - otherwise known as the den, the office, the studio, mommy's workroom, or simply mommy's room. I shut the door. I may never come out. Sigh...