Rock N Roll Show Wrapup

As I mentioned yesterday the Rock N Roll Craft Show was my best show yet. I took a few quick shots of the accessories area with my pocket camera. The table behind the two ladies in the 2nd shot was mostly my knitting and there were also scarves hanging from every available means with my scarves mixed in among other vendors. I like the department store style show for the most part. It's much easier on me and my time. I dropped my stuff off, they did the displays and I showed up on Sunday to work my shift and then took my stuff home.

Both of the shows that I've done like this I have scheduled myself for the last shift which has its pros & cons. I don't have to make another trip which is nice since these shows are mostly in the city. But it is always the hardest shift to work since it includes the breakdown and separating by vendor. I ended up working more than an hour over my shift helping them get things separated and displays broken down. This really isn't such a bad thing since it makes me look good with the organizers and they will hopefully remember me when jury time comes next year.

Everything was well displayed and professional. RRCS is probably the most well known of all the indie shows in the area. I think my style goes pretty well with their aesthetic. My wire wrist cuffs were a big hit and I sold all but a handful of them. I had several other vendors comment to me about them and their popularity over the weekend. Making them smaller definitely helped I'm sure. I was making them between 7 or 8 inches, which fits my big wrist, but I started making them between 6 and 7 inches this time around.

The other hit was wool scarflettes. I sold 11 of them and a few other fiber ones as well. I sold a few $30 scarves and a ton of $15 ones of course. They almost cleared me out of my low end wool inventory, over half of the acrylic low end sold, and just 1 cotton. I need to time my production better for next year and have all the cotton ones ready for Strange Folk in September and then focus on wool for the later shows.

I am definitely going to make hats for next year also. The organizers said that there were many people asking for them and just a few from one of the other vendors available. They also said that the 2 sets of fingerless gloves from another vendor sold almost immediately so I will be looking into expanding into that territory.

I really need to spice things up in my knitting this year and not let myself get stagnant. I have generally avoided making hats since I don't really like knitting in the round but I did the baby hats for the shower with a flat pattern with a seam that I could adapt for adults. I can do some different embellishments to hide the seams like buttons or bobbles or who knows what all.

The main disadvantage to these kinds of shows is that you don't get the interaction with customers or the instant feedback. During the first hour of my shift I got to just hang out in the accessories section which was nice. I chatted with a few customers and get some of the compliments that make doing shows so reaffirming. My favorite customer was the woman who bought 2 of my scarves that day and then asked me if I would be doing the show next week. She said that she would be getting the coat colors down this week and then come next weekend prepared to shop for Christmas presents for all of her friends. I also enjoyed watching a group of women spend over an hour trying things on and playing with all of the accessories. They walked away with at least 4 of my items and several things from other vendors.

I'm actually looking forward to this weekend's show. I've done the Big Ass Indie Show before so I'm not as nervous about how it will go. If I do as well as I did last year at it I will definitely be able to splurge on the DSLR camera that I've been coveting.


Getting Back To Normal

The past week has been absolutely crazy for me, mostly in a good way. The Rock N Roll Craft Show was a great success. I'll post about it tomorrow. I have to get my inventory to the Big Ass Indie Show tonight after work.

Thanksgiving was a real Lenox reunion event. There was close to 70 in attendance which is wild enough with 70 sane people with a normal gene pool. It was great to see all the cousins and second cousins. I can't believe how grown up the second generation is getting, it's amazing how that happens. And of course, spending time with my nieces was thoroughly enjoyed. The top picture is by one of my cousins who is becoming a real photographer with his fancy Nikon DSLR. Yes, I had lots of camera envy. He took the top shot with the lake in the background as the whole immediate family stood in the backyard. Mike has his stupid sunglasses on his head which somehow no one noticed. Mom says it looks like he has a toupe on which I thought was hilarious. The next shot is one that I got of the annual spoons game. The Lenox's have a highly competitive streak and we are the only people I've ever heard of that turn the card game spoons into a contact sport. There is usually at least one all out brawl with bruises and scratches for everyone. I sat it out this year and let the second generation of cousins have their fun.

As much as I love my family they do make me crazy sometimes. This shot is me with my 2 sisters and Dad. It's so funny how easy it is to slip into our designated roles. Mine is of course the troublemaker. Even when I know I'm doing it I can't help but push people's buttons. We gang up on each other in different configurations and tease and taunt the entire time we are together as if we were still teenagers. It never used to bother me at all but I guess I'm to the point were I think we should be able to have more mature relationships, whatever that means. I was sensitive about my weight the whole week even though no one overtly referenced my weight gain from the past year. It's definitely something I will be working on but that is a whole other post.


Rock N Roll Show!

If you are in the St. Louis area I hope you will come out this weekend for the Rock N Roll Craft Show. I will be working it Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. if you want to come out and say hi. I'm hoping that the great weather and holiday weekend will bring in lots of sales!

I posted pics of my most rockin' accessories. Yes I am old. But I guess I'm still cool enough to make things that the young people like.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your families didn't drive you too crazy. We are heading home this evening and I must say I'm ready to sleep in my own bed tonight. I'll share some pics tomorrow of the weekend.

Here is the musical lineup for the rest of the weekend: Saturday: 3:00pm - Sleepy Kitty 4:00pm - Beth Bombara 5:00pm - Robb Steele 6:00pm - Via Dove
Sunday: 12:00pm - Ryne Watts and The Campfire Club 1:00pm - Paper Dolls 2:00pm - Pretty Little Empire3:00pm - Fire Dog

Cameras for Everyone!

I really regret that I didn't start taking pictures until the last year. There are so many events of my past that I really wish I could go back and photograph now. I'm hoping to keep that regret from happening to my nieces and nephews.

I let the girls take my cheap camera and explore the yard while they were here this week. They call my back yard a jungle with all of the overgrown trees and bushes. The picture quality isn't great but I like the above shot I got of the two of them. Jessica's shots were all of inside something else. She kept saying I wonder what it looks like inside this bush or behind this fence, etc. This was my favorite of her shots.

Kate is like my little clone and she too was obsessed with getting up close and personal. I turned the camera on macro and let her go at it. I particularly like this shot of one of my Buddha statues eyes.

So I've decided that they should all get a camera to record their lives. I've already talked about the nice camera we got Kai for his birthday this year. Well I found some pretty good deals on cameras on Amazon this week for kids that I thought I would share.

First the most expensive, (Olympus FE-46 with 12MP Digital Camera Pink Crayola Kit with 5x Optical Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD and Silver Case, 64 pack of Crayons and Storage Box) which is going to go to Ani now. I got it on Monday on a deep discount of $89 with the intention that Jess and Kate could share it. The more I thought about it I realized those two sharing anything right now is a really bad idea so I went back and got each of them an Argus Bean 5MP Dg Cam, one in Pink and one in blue. They appear very rugged and easy to use but are not specifically for kids which I thought would be better for them than a "kid camera". The Olympus is more camera than I would have originally gotten Ani but because she is here I can help her with it unlike the girls all the way in Texas.

I just picked out a great kid camera for my 4 year old nephew, the
Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera. I looked at all the kid cameras and this is really the only one that got consistently good reviews.

I can't wait to see the pictures they take. I think it will be a good way for the girls and I to stay in touch better. They can e-mail me their pictures and share their adventures that way. Hopefully at least a few of them will show some inclination towards photography but if nothing else they can have some pictures to remember this time in their lives.


60 Wristcuffs Rock N Roll Here I come!

I'm sure you've always wondered what 60 wristcuffs all together would look like. Well, today is your lucky day. I just put the finishing touches on my remaining cuffs for the show next weekend. I now need to get them tagged and I'm ready to go. I will have to make my way down to the city tomorrow after my sister picks up the girls to bring all of my inventory to the Rock N Roll Craft Show. The last time I did a drop off at the Big Ass Show last year it took forever. I had each of my items individually itemized so during check in when everything had to be verified it was a nightmare. I had convinced Mike that I needed his help and he was not happy about the experience so I don't expect any help this year.

It shouldn't be quite as painful as I have things inventoried by type this year. I have 30 wire wristcuffs and 30 fabric wrist cuffs as seen above. I also have 3 large tubs, one for $15 scarves, one for $30 scarves and one for $25 scarflettes. I do have different inventory numbers for different fiber content but it should still go much faster to count out the different items than to frantically search for the Orange Crush Scarf which could be in any one of 3 tubs like I did last year.

I'm bringing some of my display items for them to use like my quilt rack and mannequins but all of the display work and selling is in their hands. It is a little bit stressful to be leaving several thousand dollars worth of inventory in their care for a week but that is the price you pay for one of these types of shows. I've heard that this show has a huge turnout and with the gorgeous weather this weekend it should be a big draw. I'll be putting my four hours of work time in on Sunday afternoon and will then check myself out. Then I will have to get home, do a new inventory count, and get it all ready to drop off the next day at the Big Ass Indie Art and Craft Show. Oh, the busy life of the crafter!

I'd love for you to check out my pal Kristin's post on her first craft show this weekend here. She had a good first experience and I think it's a great read for everyone out there contemplating their first time. She very sweetly told me that I was her inspiration but I think her ability to juggle her family and her art is the true inspiration.


A Lot to be Thankful For.

Today is my last day of work for a week and I probably won't be checking in here much during that off time. I have lots of preparations still to be made for the Rock and Roll Craft Show next weekend and my sister and the girls will be getting into town tomorrow. We'll be having a slumber party Sunday night and then heading to the farm on Tuesday. It's been since July since I've seen them so I'm very excited to catch with them and here about all of their Texas adventures.

I thought that I would share some of my thankful thoughts that I've been posting on Facebook this week. I haven't been as diligent as some but I've tried to post something I'm thankful for every day. Here is the top five things I'm thankful for:

1 my husband. I'm very lucky to have found someone whose quirks so nicely match up to my own. (this shot was from a happy day on our big vacation this summer) 2. my family, they may all be crazy and a bit too enmeshed sometimes but that is what makes us interesting. 3. stable jobs for me and my husband. With so much uncertainty for so many I'm thankful for our nice, safe education jobs. 4. yarn, I'm so thankful to have found a hobby that I love and that is self sufficient. ( the Autumn Envy wrap at the top is felted and done in great fall colors) 5. the Internet. I'm thankful for the connections I've made through my blog and facebook, etc. It's much harder for me to stay isolated with all the social outlets at my finger tips.

And some more: 1.
I'm thankful for my in-laws today. The George's may have their own way of communicating, but they have taken me into their family and accept me for who I am. 2. I'm thankful today for my friends who put up with me and my craziness, even when I go into hermit mode and have a hard time getting myself out to see them. 3. Today I'm thankful for my DVR. When the lightening blew our box a few months ago it made me realize how much it has revolutionized my life. I can watch what I want, when I want. OKay, it's not the same as being thankful for my health but coming up with something everyday is hard.

I can't remember the mommy blogger that posted about how when she asked her daughter what she was thankful for all she could come up with things. When she asked her besides her toys what she was thankful for she said bangs. That just cracked me up. It really is those little things that make life worth living.

I'm also very thankful for all of you and each and every follower/friend I've made through the past year of this blog. If I don't have a chance to post it later I hope everyone has a great Turkey Day and that you enjoy your time with family/friends no matter how dysfunctional they may be. I believe the Lenox clan is expecting close to 75 people with every cousin but one in attendance. I can't wait to catch up with my family both extended and immediate.


Handmade Holiday Gifts for Kids

So the holiday shopping season should be starting up in earnest next week. I thought I would share some of my own favorite handmade sellers in my own personal gift guides over the next few weeks. I'm only including sellers that I have actually bought from and can vouch for their quality and customer service. I thought that I would start with the littlest ones on your list.

I love the funny bib above from Fun2Wear on Etsy. They have personalized tees, onesies, bibs and sets. The ipood/ipeed set I got for my friend who had twins last year was a real hit at the shower.
I absolutely adore the bright colors and soft, cuddly monkeys from The Monkey Shop. You can pick 3 in the listing above for $60. I gave my niece one for Christmas a few years ago and loved it so much I went back and bought one for myself. They are baby safe and machine washable, but I think kids of all ages, including mine, would love them.

I think the Sushi Roll - Flannel and Terry Cloth Wipe / Washcloth set above is the most creative gift idea ever for a baby. It's from Enchanted Dandelion and she also has all kinds of handmade gifts for naturally-minded babies and children. I bought a flax seed hot and cold pack from her this summer when my sinuses were really bothering me and it helped sooth me through a number of throbbing headaches. This one also includes lavender so it will help calm kids with the soothing scent.

And for the toddler on your list this coloring tote from WHIMBRELLA with crayons and coloring book including for only $12.50 is a great choice. I bought one for my littlest niece last year and my sister said it was a life saver with all the traveling they did this year with the big move. Savannah could carry it herself and Angie didn't have to worry about locating it when she needed it to distract her on the plane or on the long car rides. She also has some great quilts on sale right now and lots of other fabric creations.


Handmade Thanks!

So one of my primary roles as crazy Aunt Paige is to instill an appreciation for all things handmade. While Ani was over tonight we started making some Thank You cards for her birthday gifts. I got on a card making kick 5 years ago and still had some card stock and stamps. We embellished with ribbon and buttons. She didn't really like the one I made with buttons so we compromised by agreeing that it was for Grandma Lenox and not one of her friends.

She cracked me up when she said "What is happening? We must be growing apart." This was because she liked doing it one way and I liked another. I think it's a sign that she's growing up and has her own ideas which is actually a good thing. She can't just like what I like forever or that would be pretty boring.

I've started doing some Christmas shopping for the nieces and nephews and my main focus for this year is going to be on buying things they can make with their hands. I got Kai some drawing supplies and I will be getting the younger ones some kits to explore different creative outlets. Any suggestions for such gifts would be appreciated.


Random Monday Thoughts

So it's another dreary Monday morning. I don't really have enough for a cohesive post so here's some rambling thoughts for you. The video above is a song I rediscovered when putting together a playlist last week. It's by Spirit of the West and it never fails to make me smile. To quote the song, "It always leaves me laughing and feeling but of course..."

I'm really glad that the birthday week is over. With my difficult birthday and all the Ani birthday celebrations it was very tiring. The house is as clean as it's been for awhile and I'm really going to try to keep it that way, or at least the front of the house. I'm thinking about having a little New Year's Eve party as an incentive to keep it together.

I'm excited about the RRCS coming up in a few weeks. I just e-mailed them my inventory list. It had 219 items on it. I'm going to focus on getting another 20 wrist cuffs done in the next week but everything else is already done. I'm pretty happy with the amount I've knitted this year. That is not including the 50 or so items I sold at Strange Folk and a few things I'm not bringing to the show.

It looks like Michaels has all of their sketch books and kits on 40% off this week. Kai is getting into drawing and is needing a sketch pad. I'll be getting him a variety of pads and pencils for Christmas too. Any suggestions from the artists out there for what is good for a beginner would be appreciated. I obviously want to encourage all of his creative endeavors. He came over to help with the party which was much appreciated as I certainly wouldn't have blamed him for being as far away as possible with 6 tween girls in the house.

I'm so excited to see my sister's girls in a week. They will be here for the whole week of Thanksgiving. I haven't seen them since they moved to Dallas in July. It feels even longer than 5 months.


The Diva has her day!

So I survived the birthday party. Ani was so excited which made it all worth it. I think the girls all had a good time but I learned something about Montessori kids. They are the best behaved and focused kids I've ever seen when in a group. When they started their craft project they were absolutely silent which the Moms said was perfectly normal since that is how they are trained from preschool. When I started in trying to get them to use the sequins and beads I had laid out they all looked at me like I was crazy. Ani put some on just to appease me but they all had their own visions and nothing I said would get them to stray from it.

The giant cupcakes are from the daughter of a coworker of mine who is a baker and candy maker. Her business name is Crave Confections. She also made me candied apples that were decorated for the girls which not surprisingly were an even bigger hit with the adults. The girls loved the cupcakes and after eating them they actually became the wild little girls I was expecting and had fun running around the yard. They also liked the glittery scarves and had fun decorating each others hair with glitter and pink temporary highlights.

I just had to show off the shoes I got Ani for her birthday last weekend. They are the coolest shoes ever and I couldn't not get them for her.

Ani had the honor of actually breaking the guitar shaped pinata. I had to share this lucky shot since it captured the moment of the candy escaping into the yard. Chaos then insued with the girls all gathering up their share of the loot.


Scarflettes in the Wild

I have gotten over my etsy rage from yesterday. Sometimes I just get a wild hair and can't help myself. As I replied in my comments I really don't have anything against the gift guides per se. I've been in them twice that I know of and it was great exposure but I just didn't like the idea of people being redirected out of my shop after I've done the work to get them there.

I'm staying home today and tomorrow to get the house ready for Ani's birthday party on Saturday. I'm starting to question my sanity for offering to do this. I still have no idea how many girls are going to show up. I've only had 3 RSVP to me but there could be as many as 9 actually show up for all I know.

I also need to get my inventory lists in order for the next two craft shows coming up. They are both boutique style shows so I don't have to actually be there but I do have to let them know weeks in advance what I will be bringing. I have everything tagged, counted and folded nice and neatly in tubs by type. I need to do the spread sheet and I should be good to go. I think I will focus on getting some more wire wrist cuffs made between now and then since my supply of those is pretty depleted and they go pretty fast.

I thought I would leave you with a few shots of scarflettes growing in the wild. I took these in October on one of the few moments without rain right before all of the leaves turned brown and fell. They were both made with an amazingly soft mercerized cotton that I love from Chili. If you are interested in them let me know as I don't have them listed in my shop.


Another Epic Etsy Fail!

Update: The Gift Guide Debacle seems to have run its inevitable course and the big bright orange beacon out of our shops has now been removed. I'm going to leave this post up though as I think the thread that I copied here is still very relevant. There is just a real lack of understanding of the needs of the community by Etsy that is highly troubling to me and many others.

Really Etsy, what were you thinking? For those etsy sellers who haven't checked out their shop in over 24 hours I will give you a moment to go see if you can spot any changes.... How long did it take you to see the giant orange elephant in the room? Etsy in their infinite wisdom has once again decided to promote their one size fits all Gift Guides on not just the front page of the site, but on every single shop page. So why is this a bad thing? For the short answer I quote GreenMamba from her very clear thread on the topic here,: "While that button is there, at the top of every shop page, every moment that passes is another lost or diverted sale."

So we as sellers are spending our time and money to bring buyers into our shops to hopefully convert into a sale. In the meantime etsy is trying to actively divert our buyers attention and draw them into their handpicked Gift Guides to hopefully have them spend even more money meaning higher fees to them. Is it any surprise that all of the top GG's are all items that go for far more than the average item for sale on the site. I think not. What is really sad is Etsy tried this same stunt in 2007 and the after a month of nonstop complaints they finally took it down. Does no one in Brooklyn have any type of long term memory. Did they think that we would be fine with it this time. I just don't understand their mentality.

I really haven't spent much time or energy worrying about my etsy sales or shop this fall since I have my craft shows to be preparing for but this rubbed me the wrong way. One look at the Etsy Forums and it is obvious that I'm not alone. Clearly the admin are taking the day off as there has been all of one response saying that they are reading our opinions and they will be discussed.

The supplies seller Pickle Valentine who sells the cute orange beads above along with lots of other great finds, has written an eloquent and well thought out response to this latest etsy fail. I am reprinting it in it's entirety with her permission. You can see the entire thread here.

"I see the Etsy brand idea as getting in the way of performance. You don't get successful, become a household word, without stellar performance. You can pump up the Etsy name all you want, but you need to make sure that the idea of brand is not interfering with service.

Etsy is a venue, like eBay. Etsy is supposed to perform a service. Let me explain. Did anyone ever go to eBay to buy the eBay brand? Did anyone go because of their logo. No. Buyers and sellers came because the eBay venue supported the widest and most astonishing raft of items on the planet. It became a known brand because of the outstanding way it performed. It performed an incredible service for millions of people. Like Amazon, it became a household name. Then eBay blew it, which is why you have some of the sellers you do, including me. Amazon has not forgotten what it does, thank God.

I am not sure Etsy has figured out its raison d'ĂȘtre.

You can't tout your so called Etsy brand when you are not performing. And Etsy is not performing very well at all. As a seller, I do not feel well served much of the time. As a buyer, I have trouble finding things. If you read the forums, you can hear the unhappiness with the service.

"What can the Etsy venue do for me?" is the question of EVERY person, buyer or seller, who comes here. We don't care about the Etsy brand; it could be the "Woohoo" brand...we only want service. If we get incredible service each and every time we are on the site, if our items are findable, if we show up in searches, if we can find what we are looking for, if we are treated as if we are important, then Etsy will grow to be a brand, a household name, like eBay. But it won't get there without some mighty big changes.

At this point, buyers and sellers have been doing most of your advertising for you. That is terribly inefficient and it could turn on you. It may become negative advertising if Etsy continues to misunderstand that its brand-worthiness is only as valuable as the services it performs.

Etsy just announced they will not refund our fees for items that are returned. That makes Etsy unaffordable for some of your very high end sellers. It also makes you brand look greedy and grasping and cheap. No other venue does that.

The second issue is the so called Etsy look. Many of your sellers are extremely disaffected because Etsy only promotes a certain look and certain sellers. If you look at the front page, you will see the trend and the same sellers again and again and again. This is a HUGE point.

Neither eBay nor Amazon selected one demographic as being more important than others. Etsy rates a huge fail in that regard. Etsy needs to dump the idea that a certain look has anything to do with brand.

Not all shoppers and sellers are hipsters from Brooklyn, or those who aspire to be, but if you want to appeal only to those people, you are doing a GREAT job. Not everyone loves owls, cowls, felted fake beards, matte silver jewelry, clothing with unfinished seams, grey backgrounds, waifs wearing sheer clothing, etc. The emphasis on that so called Etsy look is a turn off to many people who love handmade, vintage, or are looking for supplies.

You also need to keep resellers of stuff we can find at Target today off Etsy and off the Etsy front pages. That means you need to make much wider and much wiser choices for your front pages and gift guides. You will need to advertise on sites and publications that appeal to different age groups.

The treasuries that we sellers put together are wonderful resources for you, but the same people's items and the same Etsy "look" are featured over and over again on the front page. Get some knowledgeable people to pick the front pages to start with. Take it out of Brooklyn altogether. Take it away from admin. Otherwise you are going to get what you always got with an appeal to a limited demographic.

I'd love to see more traditional crafts for instance. I'd like to see an emphasis on different age groups. I'd like to front pages full of vintage jewelry and gorgeous supplies.

You may have to cough up some money to use your sellers items in advertising. God knows I would rather look at some beautiful objects as an enticement to go see what Etsy is about than the Etsy logo.

You need to advertise loudly and boldly that you have a venue for ALL sorts of handmade items. Equally important, you need to advertise loudly and boldly that you also serve buyers and sellers of vintage items and supplies here.

Vintage and supplies do not take anything away from handmade. A lot of people are not even looking for handmade when they come in here, but may buy something handmade later if they can find what they came for in the first place. Make it easier for them by changing the search NOT to default to handmade. You need to change the front page banner too. Etsy makes money from handmade, supplies, and vintage, so why not make it easier for everyone?

What category is giving you your bulk of revenue?
Look at the bottom line. Who makes you the most money? Is it supplies? If so, you could be doing lots better. You can advertise in places like Bead and Button, Knitters, Threads, where you can reach crafters.

As far as handmade, you can advertised gorgeous hand made objects in Ornament, for instance. You can ask artists and vintage sellers magazines or sites they would suggest. And then don't rip off your sellers. Pay them for the use of their items. Get their final approval on photos, too.

Now, as a seller, I don't want that gift guides button in my shop and I am hoping that you will get Etsy to undo another boneheaded stupid move and perform the service of getting that button out of my shop. It is a distraction and it is placed right in the way of the path of the mouse. Very easy to click on. In fact, even though I have been using computers since 1983, I clicked on it by accident whilst looking at someones shop. That is a total lack of service on Etsy's part."


Happy Birthday To Me

So today is my birthday. I woke up to the phone ringing and utility workers pounding on the door. I still am not sure what it was that they were checking for but it didn't seem to be an emergency that all the commotion implied. I'm not feeling as emotional as I thought I would. I guess the train wreck of emotions from the past week have settled down.

I scanned some old pictures last night. I was probably 3 in the top picture. I don't know why I like it so much. I like the off centered nature and the expression on my face is quite typical. I have a number of pictures of my toddler self in the dress from the second shot. For some reason I was most drawn to the one where you can't see my face. The prototype 1974 calender on the wood paneled wall adds a nice element to the shot I think. My panda bear birthday cake from my 1st birthday warranted 2 pictures from 2 different angles but I couldn't find any pictures of me actually eating it. I don't blame Mom, it is a very cool cake.

I was also humming the song Die Alone from Ingrid Michaelson the whole way to work. The lines below have always resonated with me but particularly so today.

I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my head.
Spackled some butter over my whole grain bread.
Something tastes different, maybe it's my tongue.
Something tastes different, suddenly I'm not so young.
From Die Alone by Ingrid Michaelson


Fall on the Farm

After a full day on Saturday including a tea party/fashion show and some birthday shopping with Ani and Grandma we made it home right before dusk. Ani and I headed out with my camera to try to get some pictures of Fall on the farm. Unfortunately the lighting didn't corporate and my flash photography skills are not too strong so I gave up after it got too dark. But I got some okay ones that I thought I'd share. The top one is an impromptu hay ride that Ani got minus all the hay as Dad was moving the trailer. The next one is the best I captured of the foliage. Mom says that they really didn't get very many great color displays this year. In mid October there were a few weeks of vibrant colors which happened to coincide with the stretch of everyday rain so there wasn't much time to enjoy it.

This one is just a shot of the sky that I liked through the trees. It wasn't the best sunset to photograph either but you work with what you are given.

Ani was enjoying setting up my shots and finding the right angles. She kept calling out look at this old abandoned tire, or this old abandoned log, or the old abandoned fence. When she pointed out this weed and called it an old abandoned flower I thought she must be joking but it is the best example of an old abandoned flower I've ever seen.

Mike says that he is over the macro shots but I'm not yet. I just love catching the details and having the crisp image against a fuzzy backdrop seems arty to me. I know I'm definitely a beginning photographer but that's okay. I really didn't start to take pictures until the past year so I'm just a baby in the hobby. I think that macro is a cool way to develop my skills. It forces me to pay attention to all of the details, find the right backdrop, and really pay attention to the composition. As my skills improve I'm sure I'll be able to apply those things to the big picture too but for now I'm happy with capturing the little images.

Old Fashioned Hootenanny

So we made it back from a full weekend of fun at the farm. Friday night was my Dad's annual hunter's party in the hunter's cabin on the farm. He hires the same old blue grass band that plays like they've been playing together for 40 years, probably because some of them have been. He builds the world's biggest bon fire each year. This year's was supposedly the most beautiful yet. He had two hollow logs standing straight up with flames shooting out from each end in a perfect display. It had fallen just 3 minutes before we made it there. If only we hadn't gotten stuck in that second round of traffic I would have the pictures to memorialize it, instead I only have it in it's sad fallen state.

But there was plenty of chili left and cold beer so who could complain too much. They held the hay ride up for Ani and she enjoyed it although I don't think she was too crazy about dancing in front of everyone with Dad. But when they played Rocky Top, his favorite song, for him he drug her around the dance floor like only Dad can.

I was the only one of my siblings home for the party this year, probably because I'm the only one left in Missouri. I was talking to one of my cousins about the total irony of that fact. I was the one that was bound and determined to get as far away from the farm as possible. And here I am, the only one within driving distance for a weekend visit home. There really is no way of predicting how our lives will turn out that is for certain.


Birthday Turmoil

This is probably going to be a rambling post of a more personal nature so feel free to move along if you are uninterested in what is going on in my brain today. Next week is my birthday. I am now squarely in my late thirties, which just boggles my mind. Mike and I are in the process of getting life insurance set up and I was talking to my Dad about the different options when he said, "I'm glad that you doing these things now that you are middle aged." I know that he said it to get me worked up and it worked. I said that middle aged is not until your 50's and he pointed out that unless I'm wanting to live into my late 100's than I'm probably approaching the mid point which is what middle aged is after all. (The picture above is of Kate and Ani this summer on the last day that I saw Jess and Kate before they moved. It's one of my favorite pictures of either of them that I've ever taken. It's actually not staged. I caught them sitting on the sidewalk in their matching vests, they looked up at me and I snapped the shot.)

I think that late thirties has a more powerful meaning to a childless woman than anyone else. I've talked about our decision making about parenthood before but never in that much depth. For one thing I wasn't really able to talk about it even to friends until the past 6 months. I saw a counselor earlier in the year when the girls were moving to help me get to a point where I was more sure of our decision. I say our decision but honestly it was my decision. Mike always said that he was happy with whatever I decided. He would be happy to be a father but he was perfectly content with our life the way it is. And I knew that he wasn't just saying that which actually made it harder on me.

We tried off and on for 3 years to get pregnant. I never pursued any outside help since it was not a driving need for me to reproduce. There was a year in the middle when just seeing a baby could cause me to go in a tailspin though. My sister got pregnant with her 3rd child in the middle of this time. I know that I wasn't nearly as involved as with the other two girls and feel much less connected with Savannah because of this.

Some friends of ours are having similar problems and we were talking recently. She is actually 5 years younger than me and they were only trying for about 9 months before they headed to the fertility specialist. He is a lawyer so they have the funds to make it a priority but there is also a difference in her need to have a child. Even when we were in the middle of trying and I would be really hopeful about a particular cycle I still was never as devastated as she is. I sometimes wonder if that makes me seem less compassionate or "less of a woman."

The one thing Mike is very solid on is not wanting to adopt. That is my biggest hurdle. I'm very open to pursuing adoption or even fostering but Mike has various reasons for why he doesn't want to consider it. I'm accepting the fact that he's not going to change his mind and that pretty much closes off the future of us being parents. I have started to tell people this and let them know that I'm okay with it. We both have lots of outside interests, jobs, and other roles that fulfill us so we do not have to have children to make our lives complete.

One of those important roles for me is obviously the beloved Aunt. I'm very lucky that I have Ani and Kai that live so close to us. Because Mike's sister has some health issues whatever time and resources we are able to provide are always gladly accepted. I am able to build a stronger connection than is normal without too much worry of crossing a boundary with the parents, although this is something that I am always aware of and considering. Kai and Ani call my parents grandma and grandpa and consider the girls cousins. Having this enlarged extended family is good for them as Mike's sister and her husband don't have a very large family and they have only ever known one grandparent in their lives. Kai told me last time we were at the farm that he considers us his second family which I thought was very sweet. When I told Mike he said that we are his actual family but I knew what he meant.

But no matter how close my relationships may be to my nieces and nephews I know that it will never be the same. I will not have that lifelong bond with another person as a mother. I'm okay with saying that now but I do wonder if I will regret the decisions we've made in ten or twenty years from now. I really didn't want to just wait until I was 40 and let the decision be made for me. I wanted to be proactive about the process and commit to our path which I think I have.

I'm still unable to use definitive language when I talk about it but it is more a matter of how I'm afraid of being perceived I think than anything else at this point. We have made the commitment to live our lives together and to support each other's passions without children. Because we don't have kids we have more expendable money to pursue our interests and to travel than we would otherwise. Even though Mike is not crazy about traveling I've got him to commit to a nice long vacation every other year.

We are going to the farm for the weekend with the kids and Ani and I will be celebrating our birthdays together. My Dad is also having a big bon fire party tonight for the opening of hunting season and there will be a blue grass band and a hay ride for the kids tonight. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures from the weekend to share next week. If you made it to the end of this post thanks for hearing me out. I guess I just really wanted to get this off my chest.


Thoughts on Entrecard and Top Droppers

So I haven't recognized my top EC droppers in quite awhile so I wanted to give props to those in the community that have stuck it out through all the craziness. Thanks for continuing to drop in on my blog daily and I'd love for you to check out the others on the list. They are some great bloggers and creative minds every one of them. I just chose the Bumble Bee Wristcuff for this post because the colors reminded me of EC's yellowish and black logo.

DigiVickie's Word Art
digital scrapbooking, tutorials, inspiration and free word art designs

A Rose By Name
The beadweaving process, jewelry, art, ideas.

Winesworld's blog
a friendly wine guide for amateurs, by amateurs

We give you Roots and Truth 24/7

The Beadings and Buttons of Randomcreative
I have always enjoyed making random creative projects using all different colors and materials.

Recycled Frockery
Recycled Fashion and How to Do It Your Way

My gypsygoods
Life, creative moments, saving money, nature, eco-friendly tips

The Sweet Life
Every little thing that make life sweet.

anns snap edit scrap
mixed bag of my digital photography, photo editing, digi scrap designs, freebies and rambling about life

Mother by Design
Encouragement from a Christian perspective for mothers of all ages

So all of us in the community are well aware of all the turmoil in Entrecard over the past 6 months. I watched as some of my favorites have decided to abandon ship and I certainly don't judge anyone for their decisions about who they affiliate their blog with. I personally have been taking a wait and see stand throughout all the changes and rechanges in management and policies.

I too was thoroughly annoyed when they decided to add paid ads to our widgets even if it is just 15% of the time. But has anyone else noticed that the only ads that have been put up have been for Entrecard and over the past week even those have disappeared. It seems to me that it may have once again been a big todo over nothing. I read on someone's blog that they thought they no one would want to do paid advertising since they would be looked down upon by everyone in the community and it might actually hurt their business rather than help.

There was also an offer for us to pay them a yearly/monthly fee to have our ad box remain with only approved ads. I'm really glad I didn't take them up on this offer as that appears to have been more of an attempt to turn it into a paid service. Which got me thinking about whether I would pay to use EC like they do at Adigitize. I just don't think I would despite all the great benefits it has brought to my blog. It's kind of like that Kraft magazine that has always been free and is now charging $7 for a years subscription. I've always gotten some of my favorite, easy to make recipes out of it but when I had to decide whether I was going to pay for it I thought not unless they really up their game.

She put some real time into quantifying whether the time she puts into EC is worth it. I also really enjoyed her follow up post here where she really captured my own thoughts about what I have gotten out of EC and why I decided to stick with it. Here is the crux of it which I am posting with her permission:

"When you sign up for EC, you are basically a nobody in the blogging world. Not because no one likes you, but because no one knows you are there. So, you get on EC and start dropping like crazy. You buy some ads and the next thing you know, people are dropping on your blog. Even better, people are beginning to follow you and subscribe to your RSS feed. So, you keep on dropping and dropping. Eventually, you become disenchanted with EC and contemplate leaving. You may decide to stay, but not drop quite so much. Whatever you choose, what is the one valuable thing you didn't have before EC? Followers and subscribers. Wow...that's pretty big. Especially considering that the only one reading your blog before you joined EC was yourself! Mull on that for a while."

So I have been continuing to drop but not with the same energy I did in the beginning. If I get over 100 drops on my lunch hour I'm happy with that. I'm dropping on the blogs I enjoy for one reason or another and not feeling like I have to reciprocate every drop just because. My numbers have gone done some but I'm not really concerned. I want the people that visit my blog to do so because they want to not because I'm just another drop through.

If you have any insight into the whole EC turmoil please share as I'm always interested to hear others opinions.


Giveaway Results and Pet Peeves!

So I just remembered that I hadn't bothered to post the results from my blog contests. Bad blogger! That got me thinking about my blogger pet peeves which is the result of the rest of my post below. I had 117 entries into the contest via joining my newsletter. I had 46 when I opened it up to my blog readers so I guess that means I had around 70 entries from the blog.

But without further ado let me announce that the winner of my Fall Newsletter contest was none other than Carole from Carole's Thoughtful Spot! I was thrilled that the gift certificate went to a fellow blogger partly because I knew that it would be going to a good home and also because she let me know that she would be blogging about it. A little extra dose of publicity out of it, you can't beat that. Carole has impeccable taste and chose to spend her $40 on the luxurious cashmere scarflette above. I hope she loves it!

And now for a few of my blog pet peeves. Lord knows that I'm not perfect but I just wanted to share those little things that drive me crazy as I go about my daily blog reading routine.
1. Confetti throwing up all over the place on your blog or any other graphic that just distracts from the blog content.
2. Too many widgets or ads. I am constantly reevaluating what widgets I can get rid of and I know that my 3 column design can tend towards the cluttered side but when half of your blog is ads I think you have a problem.
3. Too many or not enough pictures. There really is a sweet spot when it comes to pictures. Too many means that it will take forever for your blog to download, too few and your blog looks dull and uninspired. I know sometimes I fall on the too many side but I try to hit the middle ground as best as I can.
4. Pushing your agenda. I really don't mind an occasional ideological post but when a blog completely switches gears and becomes all about one agenda that has nothing to do with its title or original intent it really annoys me irregardless of what side of the aisle they are on.
5. Where did you go posts. I understand life gets in the way but I hate it when someone just pops in and says sorry I've been gone for 2 months, etc. Especially when they keep promoting their blog in ways like dropping their EC card.

So what are your blogger pet peeves? And please feel free to share even if I'm guilty of them!


A Needle Woman

It's Monday morning but at least the sun is shining. I have a cold/flu and am still not feeling entirely human but I made it to work today, so that's a start. I spent most of the weekend horizontal on the couch, sometimes knitting but not pushing myself too much. Sometimes you have to step away and look for inspiration other places. I was watching a lot of PBS and caught the latest episode of Art 21. It's a series on art in the 21st century and this weeks episode was on Systems. You can watch the entire episode here and any other episodes from this season.

With my Masters in Counseling I've done a bit of reading and study in systems. Systems as it applies to psychology is different but it's all related to how things interact with each other and the different parts of a whole. All of the artists in this episode are creating their own systems and logic through their work. The most fascinating to me was Kimsooja who is a Korean artist who works primarily through videos and installations. She is also a textile artist and her roots in sewing show through in my favorite of her work "A Needle Woman". You can watch the clip of the show that absolutely mesmerized me above or you can see a slide show of her other work on Flickr here.

In "A Needle Woman" 1999-2001, she stands with her back to the camera, facing the flow of people and records the reaction of those who cross her path. She is the fixed needle in the metaphor, and the people are the flow of the object that she interacts with and changes in some way. She has stills on her website from all the different videos from all over the world that she has done.

One thing that Kimsooja talks about in her interview on the Art 21 blog is how she discovers “artistic questions and answers from our daily life activities.” I can't fully explain how this helped to inspire me but suffice to say that it gave me some renewed vigor in my work. I'm thinking again about how I can combine different fibers and textures in my knitting and I'm also thinking about some different artistic avenues using fiber. I'll talk more about this later after I've had time to think about it more and have a better visual picture of what I want to create.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD