Burlap and Autumn

I just realized I haven’t done a blog post about my latest listing! So, here I am to show you the first of my Autumn items.

IMG_1509  I was just about to get some different Autumn fabric, which I wasn’t really sure about. Then I caught site of some interesting burlap, with Autumnal happiness written all over it:

Autumn, Harvest, Fall Time, Give Thanks” as well as leaves and sunflowers.

I decided there was no better time to explore the craze of burlap than fall-time.

I was pretty sure of what I wanted to make out of the burlap – either pillows, unusual wreaths, table runners, bags or even banners. I decided to go with pillows. I almost went with square accenting pillows, since the pattern is definitely square. Then I decided it would be fun and different to do round pillows.

IMG_1514So, I found some nice contrasting brown fabric and cut out three Autumnal pillows.

I have to admit,  I really like the way they turned out. They’re kind of elegant. (and, unfortunately, the photos don’t do them justice! I just couldn’t quite get the angle right)

So, I pulled out a little of our fall décor – scarecrows and some ribbon – and took some photos. The pillows really seemed to pull it together. It added a bit of proper, furniture-ish decoration, which apparently we lack.

This is only my first Autumnal item for my shop. I thought I’d have tons of golden leaves and fat pumpkins running around in various forms, but I’m not sure that will happen. However, coming up for my shop: a skirt, a possible front door banner thingy and an Autumnal looking bag!

For the time being, here is my Burlap Autumn Pillow!  I invite you to take a look.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sarah

Cogs & Gears: Things You Can’t Do In a Day

The phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day” refers to the empire, of course: But what if it referred to the city itself? If, at the height of the Roman Empire, everyone in its domain came along and built with gusto – Rome still wouldn’t be done in a day; cement and mortar and things need time to dry, after all.

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Such complex beauty!

 

I’ve been thinking about this lately; there are a lot of things in life that need more time than a day to finish – distressing as that is to someone as optimistically ambitious as I am. I always thought it would be cool to tackle something and solve, construct, or master it all at once. A few things like this:

  • Languages. Seriously, you only learn French in a week in ads.
  • Fitness. Did those Olympic athletes decide to become amazing at what they do, and then do it? No – it took years of training!
  • Writing. Interestingly, some books work better if you work on them slowly.
  • Any Skill or Art. I probably should have put this first! But first projects in cooking, sewing, woodworking, mechanics, and so on are always almost terrible. You have to keep at it!
  • Breaking Bad Habits, and Building Good Personality.

Some clever scientists have even recently decided that procrastination can be a good thing, because it allows you time to work things through rather than forcing a quick decision!

The same principle of steady but prolonged effort applies to Etsy, too:

  • Much as I would love it if my shop became a roaring overnight success, honestly that would be really overwhelming. It’s been much better for me to slowly build a foundation – learn my way around the site, figure out how the business works, become an expert in listing. So when I start selling at a regular pace, the shipping and billing side won’t come as another straw on the camel’s back.
  • Making lovely little items to fill my shelves takes longer than I’d like – after all, I’m not a machine, and my hands have other things to do. But that’s ok; producing things steadily has built up a good inventory, and I’ve had time to find designs that will last for many seasons.
  • Taking time to think about the layout and look for my shop has allowed me to see what other people are doing, and think about what I really want, and come up with some fun ideas.
  • I admit it; I’m terrible at promotion! But going slow on that has let me get a little more comfortable with pushing my things out there, as I get a feel for the market and the community.

As you may guess, we’ve been focusing a lot on Etsy! And sometimes neglecting other things (oops!). But the nice thing about doing things slowly is that gradually one task becomes easier and you can add in a little more – just like a weightlifter starts at 20 pounds and works his way up!

Every journey, after all, begins with a single bite of elephant!

Next week, I’ll have to post about the opposite problem – which Sarah has reminded me of; sometimes it’s possible to take too little of a bite!

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What all my small incremental projects look like after a while!

 

-Abigail-

p.s. Did I mention that I sold something? YAY!

Friday Featured Thread: Social Media

I didn’t really expect to feature too many threads from the Etsy forums, but in this case I thought this thread ought to be featured. Although, right off, I should say you should just check out the thread for yourself.

The very nice Etsy people occasionally do Q&As on the forums, and this time it was all about using social media and all that confusing stuff. This time around I realized I could ask my own question, so I did, and got a wonderful answer. So, I’ll feature the answer Jessica, from Etsy, gave me, among a few others.

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Basically, I asked what would be the best way to attract attention on social media, and how to get people to look at your products.

I loved the answer she gave, and it has truly inspired me:

“…I would suggest thinking of your social media presence as an extension of how you view your brand. Social media is a great way to tell a broader story about your creative process: what inspires you? What makes your products unique? If you think of your social posts as telling a story about your work, you may find it easier to come up with posts (rather than just using social media to ‘sell’ your product)…”

The next question, and answer, I found very helpful was from Michelle, owner of the Etsy shop Trendy Hedgehog. She uses Instagram, but they have apparently made recent changes that make it harder for people to promote their business. I was interested in this question because Hannah uses Instagram, and I’ll be trying it soon too (really, I have set up an account!)

The answer Jessica gave was: “…Look at the posts you’ve done to see which ones have generated the most engagement (likes and comments) from your followers. You can use tools like Iconosquare to help determine your most popular posts. The more your followers engage with your posts, the more likely they are to be seen. By know what draws the most attention, you can do more of the same type.”

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The next question, from the owner of the Etsy shop StoneLush, was also related to Instagram. The question was if there was a place that could keep track of which hashtags work best for likes/followers. The answer was as follows:

“…You can research the popularity of hashtags on Instagram by going to the Explore tab, type the term in the search bar and selecting tags. You’ll see the number of posts associated with that hashtag under each result. You could try this for each category you use…”

Iconosquare was again mentioned, so I guess this is something I should check out.

I took a final look at the questions, and found one I have been wondering about. This one is from REupped (which I sadly could not find)

The question was whether or not discount promotions and coupons worked on Etsy for drawing business, and which social medias would allow coupons and giveaways. Here’s the answer:

“Many sellers have found success using coupons and giveaways to driver up traffic and sales in their shops. You can post about discounts and giveaways on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social channels, and there is no fee to do so. You may find this Seller Handbook helpful, it’s full of tips for boosting sales with coupon codes.

I found these questions I highlighted helpful, especially since social media isn’t really my strong point. So, I’m off to check out a few of the things mentioned here, as well as look at the thread again.

Again, if you’re selling online, like we are, I’d definitely suggest you take a look at this thread. It’s long and helpful, and totally awesome that the Etsy people – as I always refer to them – took their time to do this. There was a whole team of them helping out in the case!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’ll probably be back pretty soon to show my latest creation, soon to appear on my shop, or else talk about quinoa

Happy Friday!

Sarah

Random Recipe Saturday: Applesauce Muffins

So, as you might have noticed, we’ve been slightly distracted lately – not posting as often or as consistently, getting sidetracked, forgetting all about stuff that we meant to talk about. Sigh! Poor readers… There are all sorts of reasons: Olympics, visiting neighbor-cats, sales on Etsy (yay!), forgetfulness, etc..

One of the biggest distractions is that this month we are trying out gluten-free! Many people talk about how healthy it is to cut wheat out of your diet, so we decided to do a scientific 31 day attempt at it to see how we do. With a couple of minor slips, so far so good! No miraculous cures, but it’s been fun.

We’ll talk about this experiment in more depth later. Meanwhile, here’s a lovely gluten-free recipe that I made up, which is really good! (I think I forgot to take a picture before we ate them all…):

Gluten-Free Applesauce Muffins

Grease two muffin tins and preheat the oven to 425 F. In the same cup, pour and allow to sit:

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup milk

Mix together:

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup other flour (I used quinoa, which has a distinct flavor and therefore might not be to everyone’s taste)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional): add at after mixing everything else

Mix in a large bowl

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup apples sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • The milk and vinegar mixture
 

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stir thoroughly, and allow to sit for about ½ hour (which helps the flours to absorb the moisture). Divide the dough into the muffin tins, filling each cup about ¾ way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, switching the tins’ places about halfway, until golden brown and the tops spring back when dented lightly with a finger.

Makes about 24.

  • Dairy-free: Substitute extra apple sauce or apple juice for the milk. Doesn’t have to sit, of course
  • Nut-free: Leave out the nuts! (ok, that was a little snarky…)
  • Substitute wheat flour (half-white, half-whole grain) for a non-gluten-free version
  • Substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar (though the muffins might burn easily!)
  • Add raisins or chopped apples

Enjoy by themselves, or with a bit of butter or jam or cream cheese. Or with a steamy mug of hot cocoa for an autumnal treat (I keep telling myself it’ll be here soon)!

-Abigail-

Medallions and Paisley Flowers!

I can’t believe it – I almost forgot!

I made a couple new listings recently! They’re different (again) since I’m still trying to figure out what works.

il_570xn-1020771522_pf0eI’ve been meaning to try seat belt covers, but for some reason never got around to doing it.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I got a wonderful gift card for my birthday, and with it, among other things, I got half a yard each of blue-green fabric and pink flowery fabric, both flannel.

I always imagined making the seat belt covers out of regular cotton. But my Mum very sensibly pointed out that something softer would feel nicer. So I took a look at the flannel fabric.

Fortunately, there are a lot of very fun, beautiful flannel fabrics. There’s a lot of variety, including puppy paws, which attracted my attention. For the time being, I like the pretty medallions and flowers.

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These were really fun to make, and they’re very soft. I managed to get five out of the fabric I got, which seemed like a good amount for a test.

I can’t decide which one I like better, but I think I like them equally.

I love the pink and blue one, on the right, and it reminds me of a garden, or just something flowery.

The blue and green one I just think looks cool – like a pool in hot summer or, as I mentioned in the description of it on my shop, it looks like a tropical beach. I actually looked up tropical beaches, just to be sure of the description, and the colors are surprisingly the same!

Here’s a link to my Blue and Green Medallion Seat Belt Covers. And a link to my Paisley and Flowery Seat Belt Cover. I invite you to take a look

So there we go, and I got it out before Saturday. Barely.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sarah

 

 

 

Patriotic Popcorn!

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We love playing with popcorn recipes, and this is one of my personal favorites! Popcorn is already a distinctly American food, so we added a kettle-corn flavor, and some red-white-and-blue:

  • Popped corn, about 1/2 cup (see basic recipe here)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. red sugar sprinkles (approximately)  – the kind used to decorate cookies
  • 1 tsp. blue sugar sprinkles (approximately)
  • 1 tsp. salt (or less!)
  • A grind or two of fresh white pepper (optional)

Drizzle popcorn with butter and oil while still hot. Then sprinkle generously with salt and sugars, creating an awesome patriotic look.

Enjoy!

-Abigail-

 

Cogs & Gears: Play

I was going to name this post “All Work and No Play,” but on consideration decided that that might conjure images of a really crazy Jack Nicholson, which would be regrettable.

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Not this crazy Jack Nicholson (though – yikes!)

 

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This one! (Haven’t actually seen this movie, but you get the idea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And anyway, I think I’d rather examine the idea of play all by itself.

It’s my Ladybug Week again! As Sarah was saying recently – a planned time to step away from all Etsy stuff before it totally overwhelms me, to step back and get some other stuff done, to relax and not worry about things like business: Sort of an every-seven-weeks vacation.

Now, I’ve always had trouble with the idea of play and recreation – an occupational hazard for someone whose work is what they love: I like crafting – but should I stop making stuff this week? I love writing – but having just finished July’s CampNaNoWriMo with a lot of hardcore writing time, should I take the week off? What do I do instead?

I came up with a very depressing list of things To Do every day this week:

  • Yard work for 2 hours – weeding, digging, bug control, etc. – even if its 90 degrees outside.
  • Attack the mending pile.
  • Clean and declutter an increasingly chaotic house, for 2 hours.
  • Study really hard for 2 hours, to get back into regular schooling.

This excellent program is probably something I actually should do some week, to kick-start several projects that need doing. But, while it would be different work from Etsy-listing and novel-editing, it would be anything but relaxing and restful.

What makes this Ladybug Week harder is that, 1) I feel like I didn’t get that much Etsy-work done in the last few weeks, and 2) CampNaNo gave a lot of momentum to my writing that I don’t want to lose. However, 1) I did manage to establish a routine of listing a new item on my shop every day almost – and that’s quite the accomplishment, if you think about it! And, 2) I generally find writing very recreational.

I was telling my helpful sisters about all of this, and that helped me realize that I should make this time off into a restful thing and not fill it up with extra stressers and hard labor. I do need this, to put myself back together or keep from falling apart, to get some perspective, to refocus on where I’m going rather than floundering about, and to enjoy some random things!

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So, here’s an actual list of the fun things I want to do this week:

  • Put some music on my phone (which is smart! yay!)
  • Create some art, which I began last year. It’s time to bring it together!
  • Sew a purse for myself out of some very fun Parisian fabric (again, I’ve had this project hanging around for a while, and it’s a little daunting – so it’s the perfect time to take it on!)
  • Figure out and blog my goals for the month
  • And blog about what our theme this month will be (spoiler: it’s gonna be fun!)
  • Watch some “Daredevil” (probably while sewing)
  • Continue writing – this chapter is exciting!
  • Play some Taptiles and other games

There you go! It still looks busy – but it should be fun rather than arduous work! Bonus: the New Mexican monsoon season has begun, so it looks like it’ll be gloriously stormy for the next few days.

What are your plans? Do you have any fun-and-frolicsome ideas that might spice up my relaxation?

-Abigail-