5/31/2009

Thanks!


So I've been feeling a Depression coming on the past few months slowly. Nothing major just a dip in energy and general ennui. Well, I had an emotional crash this weekend. As a trained counselor I have to know when it's time to throw in the towel and bring in reinforcements. I also don't believe in hiding my problems as if they are something to be ashamed of. If I had diabetes I'd complain to you guys when things were bad so why not this disease that I've been battling for my entire adult life.

I think it's time to find a new counselor. For the past 10 years I've seen the same counselor as needed. I just call her up when I need a tune up but I think it's time for a change. We've gotten to the point in our relationship where I know exactly what she is going to say and she really has used up her resources on me. I need some fresh eyes and ears. I'm also at the point where I think I need to talk to my psychiatrist about my meds and whether or not they are doing all that they should be doing.

This blog has been so good for me and helping me to stay connected to the world. One of the first things I normally do in depression is isolate. My blog has really helped me to stay a part of the world and even when I feel like burying my head in the sand I have found encouragement from your kind words.

I want to thank the two lovely bloggers Cherry Tart Design and Tile Me Beautiful for giving me the Lovely Blog Award above this week.

Here are the rules for the award:

Here are the rules to receiving this award...
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Please forgive me if I don't have energy to contact 15 people today. But please check out the two lovely bloggers who passed it my way, they really are some cute and creative blogs that I'll be adding to my daily rotation.

5/29/2009

Handmade Father's Day


I will not lie to you, buying handmade for men is always harder than women but it definitely can be done. The past few years I've gotten my Dad some manly artwork and other miscellaneous items from Etsy. I've got some fun ideas for you today if you want to get your Dad a personal handmade Father's Day to let him know you care.

There are all kinds of handmade cards available that will allow you to avoid the Hallmark generic sentiments. The above card is by Urban Impressions and is simple yet lovely.














My Dad is a big history buff and I often end up getting him a book if I don't plan ahead. Well, this copper bookmark by KaleidaEclectics would make a great personal touch if placed inside a book about his favorite obsession.





















The most traditional of all Father's Day gifts is the lowly tie. My Dad being a farmer pretty much ruled out this easy out for my Dad but I often get them for my Uncle Jack. TieOneOn has hundreds of silk ties to choose from in every shade and pattern you can image. I love the richness of this green silk. You can personalize the tie by adding a custom label with your own message.








My Dad also likes all kinds of toys and gadgets. This handmade Laminated Yo Yo by CREATIVE ADDICTIONS was made with a mix of gorgeous woods. She also has some wood pens that would make a great gift for Dad.








Fellow St. Louisian A Breath Of French Air makes some manly hunks of soap with beer as the base. They would make a great gift when wrapped up with this wooden soap deck. It is functional as well as lovely as it will keep your soap dry and fresh making it last much longer.

5/28/2009

"The Dying Woman in Room 401"


I had a post planned for the day but I just don't have time to get it all in place today. It's getting super busy at work so my posts are going to be getting shorter for the next few months I'm afraid. I want to share a story by By Marc Gellman that was in Newsweek years ago but that I have saved and reread periodically. I didn't paste all of it but the beginning is about how the writer is a rabbi whose best friend is a priest that is going to the hospital to minister to a woman dying of breast cancer. I really love the message of this story and I think of it often. I promise it's not a downer. You will see how the Happy Bluebird scarf relates after you read it

The Spiritual State: The Dying Woman in Room

The woman in room 402 was alone and sitting on the edge of her bed staring blankly out the window as if in a daze. Tommy said hello and I hung out by the door. I was thinking, "Mushroom, extra cheese, onions ..." OK, I admit it: I need work on the compassion side, but as I said before, it was Saturday night.

Tommy quietly and respectfully sat down on a chair next to the woman, held her hands gently in his hands, and said, just like this, "Dear, you are going to die, but you have nothing to fear because God is going to hold your soul in his hands like a little bird."

I was stunned. I had never seen such courageous honesty in talking to a dying person. My personal technique up to that evening watching Tommy, was to breeze into the room, smile and say, "Hey how ya doin? You look great! Well I have to be going now." Tommy just went straight into the truth without hesitation and without fear. It took my breath away.

Then Tommy asked her, "Dear, are you still afraid?" She was crying her eyes out and could barely blurt out the words, "Yes, Father, I am afraid now." Then Tommy repeated his healing spiel complete with the reference to God and the little bird (which he pantomimed for her by cupping his hands to show her just exactly how God was going to hold her soul in his hands like a little bird). Then Tommy asked her again if she was still afraid and all she could do was nod her head and breathlessly say, "Yes, I am still afraid." Tommy then asked her, "Why are you still afraid dear? Why are you afraid?"

The woman in room 402 then recovered enough composure to answer my best friend. She sobbed, "I am afraid because I just came into this hospital for a hernia operation! What are you talking about? Why am I going to die? "

Tommy, without missing a beat, rose and said to her, "Well then, you are not going to die!"
I was on the floor laughing so hard I thought I might die, repeating over and over, "Like a little bird ... like a little bird."
Tommy came over to me and said in an urgent voice, "Marc, I think we have to leave now."

The woman was pressing the call button like it was a detonator; Tommy pulled me out of the room by my feet. We ran down the hall outracing the security guys; we laid rubber screeching out of the parking lot. Over several beers and no pizza, Tommy looked at me quizzically and said these words which have sustained me personally through many screw-ups. I offer Tommy's words now to everyone everywhere who has done the best job they can, but even so it all just went to hell for some reasons they should have known and for some reasons they could not have known....

Tommy said, "Maybe the dying woman was in room 502."

5/27/2009

Fiber Artist Mandy Greer





I was just over in the campus bookstore getting my $10 copy of Microsoft 2007, one of the perks of working on a college campus, when I saw the latest edition of Fiber Arts Magazine with the breathtaking cover seen above. I literally stopped in my tracks and picked it up immediately. I have never really ventured to call my self an artist, I'm a crafter making utilitarian creations with whatever flair I can come up with. Mandy Greer is a true fiber artist in the fullest sense of the word. She uses crochet, knitting, and sewing to create sculptures and create epic visions. Her current installation is called Dare alla Luce and can currently be seen at The Museum of Contemporary Craft.

She collaborated with dancer and choreographer Haruko Nishimura to create a multimedia performance and film that has been shown in Seattle. The Silvering Past focuses on the Slug Princess seen above. She takes myths or stories and artistically interprets them with her work. The blue is a poster for her latest installation and is without a doubt one of my favorite shots of fiber art I've ever seen.



Here is how Suzanne Beal, the magazine writer, summed up her work, "This kind of transformative touch marks Greer as a rare artist who aims for material immortality through the recycling of myth and meaning. A prolific alchemist, she fervently strives to make the worthless, worthy, and the old, new." What a beautiful sentiment to try to live.

5/25/2009

Kawaii?


For those of you who don't know what Kawaii means, it's not an island in Hawaii, it means cuteness in Japanese. There are lots of handmade sellers who specialize in Kawaii and all things whimsical and cute. Before I get to them let me explain what got me thinking about Kawaii to begin with. Kate turned 7 this week and had a puppy themed party. She and her friends all painted little puppy dogs at the party. I painted the little kitty seen above in her new home in between two eerie and beautiful prints by 18-year-old Madelaine.

I got a little crazy with the colors which inspired a few of the other girls to let loose but others were stuck in a literal mindset and painted grey spots on their black dogs. They had fun teasing me and one girl came over when I wasn't looking and painted my heart black. She said it was because I think dark thoughts. What does a 7 year old know about dark thoughts is what I want to know. It was interesting that some of the girls could let their imagination go while others were so locked in on not making any mistakes that they didn't really enjoy it.

I don't know about you but I think my little kitty has a very Kawaii look to it. A few bloggers that I read are specialists in all things cute and whimsical. Strawberry Anarchy from Scotland made this adorable pendant or cell phone charm. Her blog always makes me smile with her bright colors and cute pictures from around the world.





Meekiyua create these wonderful little paper dolls and she also has lovely prints as well. I love this set depicting a headache and aspirin. As you can see Kawaii isn't just for little girls but for anyone who loves a touch of whimsy in their lives.

5/22/2009

My Handmade Wedding Part 2



So when I left off yesterday Mike and I had just gotten married. That evening was the main event. My Uncle Jack, Mom, and I spent countless hours getting ready for it and the entire day before getting it set up. We chose to have the reception at an Eagles's Lodge since it was a completely blank slate that we could transform into a medieval castle. There were blank walls that we hung several rolls of flagstone patterned gossamer like this that they use to decorate for proms. We hung over 30 banners from the ceiling and walls that we handmade from green and purple felt, ribbon and tassels. My Uncle Jack made the huge hanging banners above that were behind the head table. They were the actual George and Lenox family crests that we found on-line. He used an overhead projector and laid it out and drew it out to scale and cut out the pieces. I have no idea how long it took him and his friend but I literally gasped when he unrolled them to show me.

My florist had columns that he painted to look like flagstone. We put them up around the cake and around the head table. He also helped us with the centerpieces. We laid out glass and I handpainted little votive cups in a marbleized pattern and those were all lit up. The centerpieces were an urn looking bowl with grapes and some wheat and flowers that we had on each long table. There were other large candles all over the place and some little lights with no florescents on to set the medieval tone. Yes I am drinking a Bud Light in this snapshot, not from my medieval goblet. All class I know.

My caterer got into the theme and we had a huge fruit and cheese display with a water feature. My favors were little placecard frames of castles and scrolls. I printed out my favorite John Donne (1572–1631) love poems and put those in the frames at each setting. I also made programs from parchment paper and rolled them up like a scroll that we passed out as people came in.

A good friend of the family sewed the Wench's costumes. We had one of my younger cousins and some neighbor girls dress up and help serve and welcome people. We pieced together jester costumes for several of my younger cousins who juggled and hammed it up. I hired a harpist from the local Ren Fest and she came in costume and played while we ate. We had a DJ for the dance afterwards. We invited people to come in costume and a large group of Mike's former students came in some wild outfits that they had put together.


One of our friends made Mike's majestic cape. He wore it during the Handfasting ceremony we did. Since most of the people had not been at the wedding I wanted to have some sort of ceremony that they would be a part of. I used a ritual I found on-line and had my brother who dressed up in his kilt perform. She also made herself a costume and since she reads tarot cards she did readings for people throughout the evening which was a lot of fun.

















It took us some time to find someone willing to make the castle cake I had envisioned. Mom called people all over my little hometown and one place said they would try but were going to charge an outrageous amount. She finally called this sweet older lady who said she loved challenges. She worked out of her house and came up with the design by covering pieces of foam board with the icing and created a structure that way. She also made the guitar groom's cake and charged us under $200 for the whole deal. My Mom borrowed the knights from a shop in town that used them as decorations.

My sister Angie volunteered to create a kid's area. We had a cardboard castle for them to get inside and color with puppets that they could perform shows with that we got at Oriental Trading. We had medieval coloring books for them to play with. The girls could use ribbon and lace to create a magic wand and the boys had blow up swords. I couldn't find a good picture of the play area in action but there was this shot of Angie cleaning up from the chaos at the end of the night.

All in all a good time was had by all which was my goal. I wanted it to be an event and something unlike any other wedding my guests had likely ever attended. Thanks for indulging me as I reminisced about the big day.

5/21/2009

My Handmade Wedding Part 1




Wedding season is almost upon us and I like 90% of the world have an anniversary in June. It will be our 5 year on June 19. In some ways it feels like hardly any time has passed but when I look at the pictures and see how young all the kids look it makes me realize how important 5 years can be. When I got married I was not the raging handmade addict you see today. But we were working on a relatively conservative budget to create the sweeping vision I had for the day so there was a lot of handmade details I would love to share.

It was a two part celebration so I will break it up that way as well. We had a small ceremony with just our closest family and friends at the historical Victorian home near my hometown called The Dent House. The owners also sell high end antiques and occasionally allow special events there. My Mom knew the owners and was able to get us in and I couldn't have been happier since it was already so elegantly decorated that we needed to waste none of our budget on decorating there.

Most of the handmade elements and budget was in the huge reception we had later that evening. We had a Renaissance themed reception which was like a mini Ren Fest, which I will describe in detail tomorrow. But I added as many personal touches into the ceremony as possible.

I should say that the biggest chunk of our budget besides food was spent on our photographer. Kim the true artist from Collins Photography was absolutely the most amazing photographer that Rolla had to offer. As I was just perusing her portfolio of weddings there is a shot of Mike and his twin brother in there. We could have gotten a more traditional photographer for much less but I was so happy with her artistic and creative shots that it was well worth it. I wanted to be able to look back at my pics without thinking how fat I looked and she got shots that are so aesthetically pleasing that I don't even think about it. She did 90% of them in black and white and so any of the color shots you see were taking by someone else.
This picture shows a very nervous Mike sitting next to my now passed Nana. It was just about 20 minutes before the ceremony started. I was still upstairs getting myself together. I worked pretty closely with the florist to create a unique bouquet and hair pieces for all the girls. They were all done in a round wreath like way with lots of wheat and a few purple flowers. I told him I wanted my bouquet to have the highest fiber count he had ever arranged, with only non-scented flowers to keep my allergies at bay. I went in as soon as the flowers came in and did a sniff test to make sure there was nothing that would cause me to sneeze in the middle of my ceremony. When I was scanning pictures last night I didn't get any good ones of the flowers but I promise they were gorgeous. I got a little carried away scanning pictures from the reception since that was really my baby so there will be lots to see tomorrow.

My "wedding planner" and main source for creative input was my Uncle Jack. He is my mother's only sibling, a "bachelor" and like a second Dad to me. He once owned a flower shop years ago that burned to the ground in the 80's. I still have very fond memories of afternoons in the flower shop watching him in his true element. I think that was when he was most happy and the tragedy was that he didn't have the will to start from scratch to rebuild.

Jack also has a lovely voice and sings at funerals all the time as he now runs a funeral home. He and Mike were in charge of the music for the ceremony. Mike recorded the wedding march on his classical guitar that we used as I came down the spiral staircase with my Dad. He also recorded the Beatles song In My Life and Jack sang it live which you can see in the picture above to the left. There wasn't a dry eye in the house after the song was over.

One of my Mom's cousins is a Lutheran minister and she did the ceremony for us. It was personal and sweet just like I wanted. I had several of my closest friends do readings of poems that I had picked out. One of them was this passage from The Prophet that I think pretty well encapsulates Mike and my marriage and love:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread
but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts,
but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together;
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other's shadow.
Kahil Gibran, The Prophet

5/20/2009

Full fledged Twitter Convert


So a few weeks ago I did a post called Twitter Doesn't Suck. I thought I would update you on all my twitter discoveries and thoughts since then. The above vinyl wall decal would be perfect for the twitter lover or a future twitterer in a child's room. It is by Old Barn Rescue Company from St. Louis. I have seen their work at a show and fell in love with their recovered barn hangings.

When I last updated I was at 1,300 followers and hoping for 1,500 by the end of the week. As you can see I'm now at close to 2,500 followers. It's really not all about the numbers. But just for fun if you want to see my twitter counter stats showing my progress you can see them here.

I've continued to follow interesting people and then dropped anyone who hasn't followed me back after a few days. I refuse to feel guilty for unfollowing people who don't follow back and I am the queen of guilt. I have given up the rule of following everyone that follows me however. There are just too many "marketing specialists" that were following me and I just couldn't stand it anymore, not to mention the "Asian beauties" and smut pushers. But any legitimate people will still get my follow back.

I also just had my 500th tweet last night. I enjoyed the moment with some other tweeters that were around at the time, although Mike had nothing but scorn for it. So what have I been tweeting about since my life really isn't all that interesting. Besides the twitter feed updates from my Etsy shop and blog there has been a lot of tweets about interesting things I find on-line. I post articles and sites that would primarily be of interest to other creative types since those are my main audience. I also retweet (RT) things that other people have posted that catch my eye. I always give them credit which will generally garner a retweet by them of something for me to keep the love flowing. I also post a lot of quotes that I like or see on my blog surfing. I recently found a great tool to help me with this called BigTweet. You just add it to your bookmark toolbar and whenever you highlight something from a page & click on the bookmark it will update your twitter and give credit to the site. It also says that it will allow you to tweet up to 240 characters, bypassing the 140 rule but I haven't experimented with that yet.

And finally I've relaxed some and started interacting with other people and making some "friends". When you are following over 2000 people you aren't going to get to know each one of them personally but there are definitely some that you will find similarities with and who will be fun to tweet with. Just like with blogs that you feel a kinship with you will find twitter profiles that feel especially inviting to you. I haven't gotten any sales from twitter yet but my hope is that when it gets cooler people will think of that nice girl they tweeted with and will check out my stuff when looking for cool weather accessories.

The truly lovely thing about Twitter is the simplicity of it. There really aren't a lot of bells and whistles on the site. Leave it to the ingenuity of its users to come up with some cool applications and tools though. I found a great article that outlines 62 of them by Skyje Weblog. I have tried using several of them and they make the tweeting experience all the more enjoyable.

TweetDeck appears to be the most popular app but I haven't tried it yet. It requires a download which I don't like to do on my work computer. It appears to allow you to keep up with both twitter and facebook and post to both at the same time. You can create a personal dashboard and create groups to show certain people's updates in real time.

I just signed up for TweetLater which allows you to schedule tweets for a later time (great when going on vacation to keep your status updated), you can vet new followers to see if you want to automatically follow back, and my favorite tool is the ability to purge your Direct Message box and stop Automated DM's from coming in. I get really sick of the welcome DM's clogging up my box so this is a great find.

I also really like FriendorFollow which tells you who you are following that isn't following back and who is following you that you aren't following. It will also tells you when they last updated so you can see who isn't very active and will take you directly to their profile so you can remove them.

There are also a few twitter directories that I have submitted to that I believe have brought me quite a few followers. Twellow calls itself the Twitter Yellowpages and is a good way to search for profiles by categories. WeFollow is a user generated directory of profiles.

If you have any other twitterlicious finds please share for all of us to enjoy!~

5/18/2009

Handmade Fail



My husband has been on a real Fail kick lately. I am getting pretty sick of fail this and fail that but I thought I would see what handmade fails there are out there out of curiosity. If you are wondering why everyone is using the word fail all of a sudden you aren't alone, there is a good article in Slate about its origins. I am a huge handmade advocate as you all know but there really are a few things that I would rather buy mass produced, and condoms are one of those things. I'm rather confused by this homemade baby for sale that is clearly perishable and stocked with the salmon for some reason.

I also found some hilarious sites that showcase handmade failures in all of their glory. Craftastrophe's tagline is "because handmade isn't always pretty" is so true indeed. Homemade Hilarity's latest find is a crocheted camo blanket with boobs randomly placed throughout. Absolutely hilarious and perfect for a Monday morning much needed laugh. Craft Fail is for those crafters who want to showcase their own crafts with good intentions that somehow went drastically wrong. My favorite post here was the baby socks that somehow ended up as a Knitted Vibrator Cozy. Hmmm, I think I'm seeing some sort of theme in my favorites this morning...

5/15/2009

Color Quizes


41
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

First, I just wanted to say that for the first time ever I saw myself on the first page of the search results when I googled for color quiz. Kind of cool but completely irrelevant to this post. I obviously just really like doing color quizzes and talking about them. I found this one challenging but fun about how many colors you can name in 5 minutes. It took me 3 tries to get over 40 to be honest. You have to think creatively and try to come up with some exotic ones. They say there is over 200 colors which seems bizarre to me. I love the color wheel someone took the time to make out of leaves above.

This color personality quiz was kind of interesting too. I agree with most of it, except for the conservative part. I particularly like this line: You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up. So there is my contribution for the day. A few colorful diversions for your weekend!


you are steelblue
#4682B4

Your dominant hues are cyan and blue. You like people and enjoy making friends. You're conservative and like to make sure things make sense before you step into them, especially in relationships. You are curious but respected for your opinions by people who you sometimes wouldn't even suspect.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people's. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

5/14/2009

I've been tagged



I've been tagged twice this week and since I had nothing else planned for the day I figured why not. The Creative Queen and Joyuna both tagged me and if you haven't checked out these creative ladies you really should. It is a rather contemplative tag which I like, so here goes.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to:
1. My summer vacation to New Orleans and our cruise to hopefully Mexico.
2. My road trip with Leslie to the World's Longest Yard Sale in August.
3. Not having to cook this summer, since Mike will be off work he picks up the slack.
4.Visiting Uncle Jack in June.
5. Taking Kai and Ani back to the farm in July.
6. Doing the Strange Folks Festival again in September.
7. Going back to the Roller Derby.
8. Taking a photography class.

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1. Slept in since it was my late day at work.
2. Ate lunch at my desk while blog surfing.
3. Ate chocolate gelato for dessert, yum.
4. Knitted a bright yellow scarflette in my new fav Chilean cotton, in a cool honeycomb pattern.
5. Watched the last two episodes of Chuck on DVR while knitting.
6. Posted on my blog and did my daily drops on entrecard.
7. Gave a presentation to nursing students in a room I was unfamiliar with, totally not my fav part of the job.
8. Had appointments with students all afternoon.

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1. Have the patience to knit sweaters, this was Joy's answer but I totally agree.
2. Draw and/or paint.
3. Quit my job and focus on my business.
4. Keep the weight off for good.
5. Decide whether we want a family or not.
6. Go off my antidepressants without a relapse.
7. Be more organized.
8. Spend more time with the girls before they move.

This one has been floating around for the past few weeks and I can't remember whose done it and who hasn't. If you haven't and would like to play along please consider yourself tagged!

5/13/2009

New Avenues



I mentioned that I was thinking about donating some handmade items to some different charity auctions this year. I got an e-mail recently about donating to a cause that sounds worthwhile. Here is what the e-mail said: "Prison Performing Arts is seeking artists, graphic designers, architects and creative-types to donate a piece of locally-made art to be displayed at an event on August 14, 2009…. New Year's In August - St. Louis Style! The event – a benefit for Prison Performing Arts – will happen at MadArt Gallery. Your donation will be displayed as part of a silent auction during the evening’s festivities. We are looking for work that says St. Louis!"

I made the above scarf with some fun Budweiser beads and I have a matching little pouch. What could be more St. Louis than Budweiser, so I'm thinking about donating them.

One of my other goals for this year was to look into consignment/wholesale opportunities. I have been thinking about it for the past month because I know that shops are on a different cycle and they are likely planning their Fall merchandise right now. I am really intimidated by the thought of approaching boutiques to be honest. I found a good article on the Craft Marketer about selling crafts on consignment here. I know that I would want to start with a low key place that would be close so that I could check in on things regularly.

Last night I was stopping by the Italian deli on my way home from work and noticed a new shop right next door. The name really intrigued me, The Curvy Diva Boutique. It is a cute little shop specifically for plus size with new and resale clothes and accessories. I hit it off instantly with the shop owner and we visited while I shopped and tried things on. She had a small display of some funky handmade jewelry which I remarked on and that got us talking about consignment. We talked about me bringing in some pieces later in the year to see and we could look into setting something up. I think it would be a good first step for me into this world. I don't know how it will work until I try it as they say. The good thing about this place is I could stop by whenever I want and see what is selling and she would probably be willing to let me pull things out to take them to a craft show if I wanted to. The negative is that it doesn't have a really broad appeal and doesn't specialize in handmade. I would love to get into a relatively upscale boutique but I think that I probably need to take baby steps. Has anyone tried consignment before and if you have some words of wisdom I would be happy to hear them.

5/12/2009

Scarflettes In Bloom



I hope my last post didn't offend anyone. I normally don't get so personal but I have been more emotional lately than usual and if you can't share with your blog buddies who can you share with. It seems whenever I am feeling vulnerable I always turn to scarflettes. There is something soothing about them to me. I have been popping them out like crazy the past few weeks as you can see in the batch above.

I really hope that they are as popular at Strange Folks as they were last year. They were my hot item there last year and I sold a slew of them. The one big comment that stopped people from buying was that they didn't want something itchy that close to their neck. Most of my really nice ones last year were wool or wool blends. Some people just don't like wool next to skin I have found. I have made them with synthetic blends but I really prefer working with natural fibers. I am so glad that I found the Chilean cotton yarns that I used in the 3 scarflettes in the front row of the top shot. They are kettle dyed and so incredibly soft. I don't normally like working with cotton but these are unlike any other cotton I've ever seen. And they come in a bulkier weight than you normally find with cotton or linen. Most of these non-wool natural fibers just come in sport weight or worsted which really are not ideal for scarflettes. I have been using all kinds of different stitches to keep it interesting too. I've been cabling, lace, and the pink and green is a fun chevron pattern I just discovered. This cotton actually shows the stitch definition really well too.

I have been letting my shop dwindle away again. I am letting most of my winter items expire unless they have some hearts already. I haven't been inspired to take pictures of anything lately either. I have quite a few Spring scarves and whatnot that I really should get listed. Hopefully I will be able to motivate myself this weekend to get some pictures taken.

5/11/2009

Crazy Aunt Paige

Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead. → Aldous Huxley


I have talked about how my sister's husband is being transferred and they will be moving in late July to Dallas. The picture above is from the last trip home to the farm. The impending loss of my sister's girls has been really hard on me. I think that I have cried more in the past month than I have in the past 3 years combined. One of the things that I find most troubling is the lack of diverse influences the girls will have down there. My sister and her husband are extremely conservative. While the girls were here at least they would always have their crazy Aunt Paige, which is how my brother in law considers and often refers to me, to give them a healthy dose of other creative inspirations.

My sister and I got in an argument yesterday. The girls are currently in a parochial school. They are going down to Dallas this week to look at schools and neighborhoods that they are considering. It seems that the areas they are looking at have very good public schools and very few parochial options yet they are still leaning towards sending the girls to private schools. I just don't get it. With Jess I at least partially understand, she is pretty emotionally needy and they want a small school where she will get plenty of attention and experience less change with the transition. But Kate is extremely advanced and was literally being ignored in her current class. Private schools are great for students who fall somewhere in the middle but in my opinion they just don't meet the needs of students on either end of the extremes.

I know that is clearly not my decision but I feel very strongly about this. Angie's argument was that she felt that there was much more moral teaching in the private schools and that there is less exposure to media influences, whatever that means. I just see them being completely sheltered and having no exposure to differences which to me is a bad thing. I don't want them to get a spoiled rich girl mentality which is already starting to show a little in Jess. I don't want them to be surrounded by all privileged white people with no idea what it is like for the rest of the world and no exposure to other ideas and ways of thinking.

My sister said that if they could afford it and they thought it was the best thing for the girls than why wouldn't they do it. I couldn't really argue with that, since it is their decision and they have to do what they feel is best. My sister always fights dirty though and had to throw a punch at my weakness. She said that she thinks that Anh and Kai, my niece and nephew on my husband's side, are much more influenced by the "media" and are so much more worldly for their age. I spend a lot more time with them as they live just a few blocks from us and their mother has progressively worse health problems as well as other reasons. Ani actually goes to a Montessori school so there really wasn't an argument there to be made, she just wanted to get a dig in. Yes, Kai and Anh have a very unique style and are much more aware of the world but to me that is not a bad thing.

I'm afraid now that my arguments probably just strengthened Angie's convictions. When I said that they would have no exposure to any diversity I got nothing but condescension. What do you think, should I just keep my nose out of it? I know it's not my decision but I also know I will continue to fight for the girls and try to keep them from being completely sheltered from the world.

5/10/2009

Celebrating Moms


I know it's a little late but I got to hang out with my Mom today and we all went out to brunch. Believe it or not it was terribly crowded and took forever, who would have thought on Mother's Day. Well I thought I would celebrate some of my favorite Mom bloggers. I really don't know how you ladies do it. Some of you are crafters, some of you work outside the home, all of you somehow find time to write about your adventures and share your thoughts with the world. If you haven't read these ladies I highly recommend that you check them out and experience their unique take on the world. The above artwork is from RiverCityArtworks and comes with the lovely frame.

Kristin from
My Art and the Mom in Me is one of the sweetest bloggers you will ever come across. She is always there to give a fellow blogger encouragement and is a dedicated member of the blogging community. She is Mom to two beautiful girls and makes some darn cute crafts to boot.

I really don't know how Julie from Momspective does it. She keeps up not one but two very active and informative blogs and looks great doing it. On Momspective Reviews you'll find product reviews, giveaways, and all kinds of other ideas for women.

My Kids are my World is one of my favorite true Mom blogs. You get a real sense of what an all encompassing job motherhood is but yet she still has time to express herself and her thoughts.

Tiff from Three Peas in a Pod has a very visually stimulating and fun blog to read. She has lots of crafts and humorous posts that definitely keep me coming back.

You know how you have those blogs that you read and try to live a little vicariously through. The absolutely drop dead gorgeous Katherine from Katherine Unabridged has an absolutely gorgeous husband, beautiful baby, and is a really amazing writer to make me even more envious. She writes about the good and the bad so poignantly that I feel like I know her and I promise you will too from practically the moment you start reading.

There are so many other amazing mommy bloggers out there. I hope you all had a Happy Mom's Day and that you got an extra helping of desert and at least one slobbery kiss today.


5/09/2009

Roller Derby Girls


So a friend of Betty's from work is a roller derby ref and we all went out to check out the Arch Rivals tonight. Not only was it a rockin' good time but we actually sat right next to Phyllis Smith from The Office. It is one of our favorite shows and one of the few shows that Mike and I always watch together. She is originally from St. Louis and was there to check out the action with her niece, who looked like she was on one of the other teams in the league. Phyllis was very sweet and totally patient with all of the people wanting pictures and autographs. The shot to the right is how close I was to her for the game. Mike was totally into the action and even has a new crush on Keligula from the M-80 Rockers. I don't think the kids were as into it but Ani approved of the fashion.


We were on the first row right in them middle of all the action, but this is the best shot I got of the game. Next time I'll bring my different camera lenses to get some better angles.

5/08/2009

RU an Etsy Bitch


I've been reading Etsy Bitch religiously for the past 9 months or so. Since I don't read the forums hardly at all anymore it is my real source of gossip and news about Etsy. You will get the 100% no holds barred, honest to God truth in their pages. I'm sure those who are still in the honeymoon period will probably say they are just a negative bunch of whiners but trust me your day will come. My rose colored glasses were rosier than anyones but the glow is definitely faded.

If you are unfamiliar with the site here is their mission statement:

EtsyBitch is a communal blog of likeminded Etsians who are tired of the demeaning treatment, abuse, and general mismanagement of the Etsy.com site. We want Etsy to improve so we bitch to call attention to the unfairness and general stupidity of its admin and the unprofessional way they treat their sellers.

We're bitching because we care, dammit. That's right. It's snark for a cause. Crabbing for progress. Whining to make the handcrafted world a better place.


A recent post gives 8 Etsy propagated myths that should be required reading for anyone interested in promoting their craft. Myth 7 cracks me up and makes me sad all in one:

"ETSY IS REALLY ABOUT THE SANCTITY OF HANDMADE IT'S JUST CONFUSED SO LOOKS LIKE A CRAFT MAGAZINE SPINOFF WITH ALT-CRAFT ONLY. IT ONLY PROMOTES HOT GLUED TOGETHER NEON HOODIES WHEN IT'S DRINKING - ONE DAY IT WILL WISE UP AND LOVE ME BECAUSE IT ALWAYS TELLS ME IT KNOWS NO NICHE, AND IT LOVES ME, REALLY IT DOES!
"

Of course Etsy has every right to target whatever market they want with their front page and gift guides, but don't tell us that you are for all things handmade when you are really for all things handmade in Brooklyn.

Leave it to them to point out here how New York Magazine actually said this about Etsy in a recent article, "The Etsy lifestyle has a recognizable aesthetic, which looks remarkably like that of skinny-jeans-wearing, Slow Food–eating, bike-commuting hipsters." So if you live in the Midwest and haven't worn skinny jeans since your were 8 years old than you will never belong. Clearly this hipster image cannot be denied any longer when the media is taking it as common knowledge.

And then quite possibly the funniest post I've read ever was the Etsy on Sunday Morning. Leave it to Etsy to put a dirty Brooklynite peddling handmade hoodies and underwear to the Sunday Morning crowd. And to actually have Martha Stewart point out the flaw in the workmanship. Wow, talk about great press.

So RU an Etsy Bitch or do you still think they are the greatest thing since handmade bread?

5/07/2009

Random Thoughts




I'm feeling rather random today so here goes. First my ever honest sister in law, Gray eyed Scorpio, left me a comment in my last post saying that since my blog makeover my page is taking too long to download. I haven't noticed a difference but I don't know if it is because I check it so regularly. Has anyone else noticed an abnormal download time since beautifying the blog? If so I will have to rethink some things. UPDATE: I just removed the Linked Within widget which I had a feeling was slowing things down. Let me know if that makes a difference, please.

To add to the randomness I just included the picture above which is currently listed in my 1000 Market's shop here.

Next I wanted to solicit some thoughts on a new selling venue I just discovered on Twitter. It's called Twolia and it is really new. It is just for women but it also includes music and film and all things creative and indie. I like the idea of it and I see some real potential. The fee structure is exactly the same as Etsy and the categories are very similar. I am really wanting to find a place I feel at home and Etsy just hasn't been making me feel welcome lately. I feel like I'm lost in a sea of sellers. I have some other thoughts on Etsy right now but that is a whole other post. I have never felt comfortable at 1000 Markets either. I love the look of it but it's kind of like going into a really high end boutique. I like looking around but I don't feel like I can relax and be myself there. I just can't get behind the fee structure of Artfire. I like what they are doing over there but I can't justify the $7 or $12 fee each month when there are around 6 months out of the year when I'm not really selling much of anything. Any other suggestions for me from you crafty folks? Should I just pop the cherry and set up my own site since I bought my domain name already? That sounds like so much work though.

I also wanted to give a shoutout to The Soap Seduction. I got my Mother's Day gifts in the mail the other day and I'm absolutely thrilled with her work. Everything was amazingly packaged and made, and they look even yummier in person than in the pictures. She has a MOTHER'S DAY GIFT BASKET with FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING listed right now. It may not get there by Sunday but it is totally worth being a few days late. I particularly love the Black Currant Rose scent. She also included a whole fugly soap pack for me that has some great new scents I'm excited to use.

I also am thrilled to have won Two Strands Soap Works spring basket contest. I can't wait to see what goodies she includes. She has some amazing spices, soaps, and other bath products you should check out in her etsy shop here.

Any thoughts random or otherwise would be appreciated.

5/06/2009

Google Me


Someone last week asked me how I knew how many visitors I had each day to my blog. There are lots of tools you can use but I, like most use Google Analytics. I am not going to go into details on how to install it but if you need help here is a good beginner's guide from Mahalo for getting your account set up and figuring out how to initially use it. I rarely refer to Google's help section since I find it to be geared towards a user with a much more techie vocab than myself. When I need help I just google the question I have and usually someone else has translated directions it in a more user friendly way than Google itself. The above Google Love print is by MARCOART ONLINE and combines the Beatles Dynasty with the Google dynasty.

You are going to want to eliminate your own ISP address from your statistics if you are anything like me and check your blog over 20 times a day. You can add a filter from as many computers that you use, I have one for my work and home computers. WeepingWillowyOne on Artfire did a good step by step guide for how to do this here.

Last month I noticed a very alarming trend in my blog stats. I was experiencing a negative % change for the first time ever. I knew intellectually that it was because I had such a huge increase in numbers the month before while running the Lose the Winter Blues Contest. I had done tons of promoting and was linked on all kinds of contest blogs and was still seeing some residual effects of this throughout March. But it was so depressing to see my losses there, especially as they actually got as high as 18% at one point. That is when I jumped into action to try to stop the bleeding, so to speak. I threw myself into Twitter and StumbleUpon and was recently able to turn the corner. I thought it might be interesting for some of you to see where my traffic comes from. If you don't even like looking at your own stats then feel free to move along.

One of the first things I always look at when reviewing my Statistics is where my traffic is coming from. I think this is the most important resource since it helps us to see where we should or shouldn't be putting our energy. To find the whole list you go to your Traffic Sources Overview and click on view full report. I usually have over 70 referring sites, with some of them only referring a few but every one counts as a potential new follower.

Here are my top 10 referring sources from the past 30 days. The first number is the total number of visitors from that site, the second is the average number of page views per visit, The third is the average length of the visit, and the last is the percentage of new visitors.


1. 2,678 1.06 00:00:25 30.96%
2. 1,217 1.11 00:00:36 54.31%
3. 358 2.61 00:08:32 11.45%
4. 266 1.06 00:00:30 43.98%
5. 179 1.12 00:00:49 41.90%
6. 146 1.58 00:03:50 73.97%
7. 80 1.12 00:00:22 81.25%
8. 74 1.19 00:00:31 98.65%
9. 72 1.58 00:01:17 93.06%
10. 33 1.03 00:00:39 33.33%


It's no surprise that my biggest source is entrecard. I put the most amount of time into promoting my blog with them. Even with all of their bumps and advertising debacles during the past month they are still the best way to promote your blog that I know of. I no longer do my drops on the weekend since it was taking away too much time from creating so I do have a pretty big drop in viewers by Sunday but I'm ok with that.

The twitter stats are very interesting for me. Those are actually very solid new numbers since I really just started working the twitter last week. Before that I had less than 20 views from them. What is promising from those stats is that they are actually spending some time here, with an average of almost 4 minutes.

The StumbleUpon numbers are about what I thought they would be. A lot of new visitors but not necessarily the same quality. They had an average of only 31 seconds. I will continue to submit some pages to them and it is a good way to search for interesting diversions.

I have been using the etsy forums to promote my blog some the past few weeks too which is where the etsy views are coming from. I'm not real impressed with the quality of these views as the average time is only 22 seconds but I think I will continue to do it as I have time. I also find some great blogs by participating in those threads which is part of the fun.

Do you have any interesting trends or thoughts on Google Analytics you would like to share?

5/05/2009

Public Service Announcement


I don't know how many times my mother has told me "you don't get something for nothing in this life my child" but I am the eternal optimist. I just included this recent pic of my nieces since they have that fresh faced look of innocence here. I've joined every music or book club out there at least once, gotten my free stuff and then ended up paying for stuff I didn't want or need when I forgot to return a card or some other requirement.

Once again I've been roped into one of these programs. The Creative Home Art's Club sounded too good to be true in the literature they sent me, which should have been my first sign. I sent in the card and was then billed for $24. When I didn't pay immediately I got a threatening letter saying that I was to be sent to collections, I guess they are a bit gun shy as people are probably quick to regret their purchase. I got my first magazine which was one of the big perks and it was a total bust. It was less than 100 pages and not a single idea or project worthwhile.

The other big perk was the opportunity to test craft items and send in reviews. Well, I got a box from them last week and I thought perhaps they were going to come through after all. To my great disappointment there was a home decorating book in it with a letter explaining that I had been chosen to receive the book and I could keep it if I sent in $11 and I would be sent other lame books in the series every month. If I didn't want it I should return it to them using the paid invoice attached. Thanks a lot for sending me an errand to the Post Office. In the fine print it says you have 14 days to get it back to them, but it doesn't say if that is the post marked day or what so I had better get it back to them this week. Either way I get to keep the tiny gift bag that is made to look handmade, with a great big 'Made In China' sticker on the packaging.

Lesson learned, probably not. If I'm still getting suckered at my age it's unlikely I will ever learn...

5/04/2009

Summer Adventure

I'm not talking about the July cruise to Mexico, God willing and swine flu epidemic all over. No, I have another possible summer adventure to look forward to. My good pal, Leslie and I are planning a trip to the world's longest yard sale this August that starts in Alabama and goes through Tennessee and follows the 127 corridor. Not only do I have Leslie to thank for meeting Mike but she also introduced me to the love of junk. I leave you to decide which is more important to my life.

She bought a camper recently and we immediately started scheming for the perfect road trip, and what could be better than 3 days of yard sales I ask. Leslie is one of the few people in the world that I can truly let see the real Paige. She once gave one of the nicest compliments when she said that she felt like she was more herself when she was with me than any other time. She has an amazing eye when junking and can spot a jewel that I would have walked right by.

The biggest problem is that we are both absolutely directionally challenged. My biggest concern is that we will get hopelessly lost on the way home Sunday and I will absolutely have to be at work on Monday since it is a week before the Fall semester begins. We have gotten lost together going someplace that we have both been to 10 times before and we always factor at least an hour into our adventures for detours. Her sister is thinking about coming with us and she could be the designated navigator. I've gone Goodwilling with her a few times recently and she too has a great love of junking.

I was messing around this morning and found the most amazing site with ideas on turning all kinds of junk into treasures called RoboJunker. She has some really creative ways to use the kinds of things that are easily found at any flea market. I have a favorite quote that I overheard once between one junker to another at a flea market. In a great old drawl he said, "People will buy any old junk these days." This website will help you use this junk to create one of kind pieces for your home.

Has anyone ever been to the 127 Yard sale and do you have any suggestions for us?

5/03/2009

Weekend Wrapup


The items above are the miscellaneous, and weird assortment of items that I accumulated this weekend. First I went to Hobby Lobby Friday night to get a new white display board to use for pictures and they had a whole assortment of colors so I also got a great red and black. I once again didn't have the time or energy for a photo shoot of my new items but I hopefully will get a chance to put them to use next weekend.

Last night Mike and I went down to the Delmar Loop, ate a nice dinner and walked around. The Loop is an interesting part of St. Louis, at the epicenter of the colleges and universities, with lots of funky shops that sell tie die and tobacco. When I was in high school and craving to get out of my little town I told myself that someday I would be able to hang out at the loop whenever I wanted. Well, since living here for well over a decade, I've probably been there no more than 3 dozen times, but such is life. Mike isn't crazy about it since parking is a nightmare, it's no more than a stone's throw from a really bad part of town, and he says it's full of pretentious wanna-bes. From the Vintage Vinyl store I got the Margaret Cho used DVD. From a graphic novel and comic book store I got a couple of cool goth graphic novels.

Today my sister and the girls came to St. Charles and we spent the afternoon shopping and walking around down on Main Street. Jess was so cute as we were walking down the old cobble stone, she said, "Is this their mall?" Not exactly but it is full of fun independently owned shops and restaurants. To the right are a couple of street performers that thoroughly entertained the girls, and me too. We went to my favorite local yarn store, Knit and Caboodle, and I was able to support the girls burgeoning yarn habit. There was a whole wall of buy 3 get one free and I let them pick out whatever they wanted, within reason. My sister couldn't believe how much yarn cost, and I told her that you get what you pay for. I got myself 4 skeins of Antuco's cotton variegated yarn. I just bought a bunch of Chilean yarn on-line on sale in some single shades but I couldn't pass up these gorgeous colorways, and they were on the BOGO wall. I also got the huge size 35 Bamboo needles. The girls asked me if I knew how to use them. I told them that they are just like normal needles just a lot bigger. I will use them to make some wild scarves with four or five yarns held together. Talk about fast knitting.

The belt/scarf of many colors is a finger knitting masterpiece that Jess gave me. My sister said that she's been working on it for weeks. She used up all of her scraps and sewed them all together by herself. She said she knew I was the only one who would appreciate it. I couldn't have been more pleased. Oh, and the troll doll is something the girls got me at a garage sale. They are always giving me trolls because they say they remind them of me. I can't argue with that. This last shot is one Kate and I took of ourselves while we tried to stay entertained during Jess's soccer game. I am going to seriously miss those girls when they move...
 

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD