Cogs & Gears: Craziness!

Sometimes, in the midst of all the insanity, you have to find a moment of rest.

That’s what we’re up to this week, and it’s definitely time!

 

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A few props from a recent item photo shoot. They looked so perfectly Autumnal that they deserved a picture of their own!

 

What with one thing and another, things have been really crazy around here – as evidenced by the fact that we keep forgetting to blog! It’s been something like this:

  • Finally found a way to increase visibility on Etsy – which is wonderful, except that it means spending a lot of time and attention.
  • The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and there are so many ideas that we want to make and put out there on our Etsy shops!
  • The dryer isn’t drying, which makes laundry days slow. And then –
  • The washer developed homicidal mania (apparently), which makes laundry days impossible!
  • And the oven door won’t close.
  • And I stepped on a thorn! (Ok, that one’s a personal complaint!)
  • November’s coming, which means NaNoWriMo! and also:
  • Craft Fairs!

So – with all of this craziness happening and requiring urgent attention and lots of work – we’ve decided to take a week off from Etsy!

Counter-intuitive? Yes! But it’s a good time to step back and get a bit of perspective on where we’re going, which projects actually require our attention, and where our emphasis should be.

It should be interesting: No Etsy work, or talk, or shop work, is allowed. Instead, Hannah and Sarah and I will work on sewing some personal Autumn and Winter clothes, and focus on planning the novels we’re writing in November.

Sometimes, you need to step away from it all and take a break!

 

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Some of the very fall-like earrings that I have been feverishly listing!

 

(Of course, you can also use the coupon code “Halloween” for %15 off anything in my store, where I also have free shipping on Autumnal items. I’m really pleased with how my Autumn Ephemeral Earring line came out! Please feel free to take an inspiring look!)

And here is a slideshow of our recent excursions, for a bit of distance-recreation:

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-Abigail-

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Cogs & Gears: Sunflowers!

Around this time of year, an explosion of sunflowers hits the arroyos around our neighborhood. They’re everywhere! It’s a lovely small variety of sunflower, which started somewhere (either in somebody’s yard, our from a wild area of the Bosque) and then seeded and spread year by year. They’re also very pickable, and make for the most amazing arrangements.

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Inspired by all of this amazingness, I created my very first Etsy Treasury!

(Here it is)

It was surprisingly easy to make, since sunflowers look beautiful and make for beautiful jewelry, shawls, vases, and too many other things to mention! I discovered that having a strong theme is an asset for a Treasury: It turned out beautiful and vibrant, please take a look!

Hannah’s stunning painting of sunflowers made it on the Treasury, of course (Here’s a link to it)

 

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I also put a pair of recent earrings from my own shop on it. (Technically, you’re not supposed to do this, but they turned out so perfectly that I couldn’t resist!)

(Please have a look!)

Sunflower Nuno Felted Scarf. Summer Silk Scarf. Flower Felted Shawl. Artistic Accessories. Felt Clothing. Nuno Felt Wrap. Black Summer Wrap
Here’s another of my favorites – though you should really check out the Treasury to see them all!

(Voila!)

I couldn’t fit these two items on the Treasury, both from new lines on my shop which I will have to introduce in a later post! But here is a link to their listings: Sachets, and Fingerless Gloves.

Bumblebees, also out in full force in our neighborhood (and landing disconcertingly in one’s hair), made it onto my Treasury too. So here are a couple more pictures to take us out on the sunniest of notes!

-Abigail-

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!

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-

Cogs & Gears: It’s the Little Things…

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I love these earrings! They were a bit problematic to photograph, though…

Here we are, working hard at our different projects! I’ve been trying to focus and get a lot of work done, and to that end I mapped out some specific goals for my time last week. Using my handy (and, alas, often neglected) day-planner, I set 1) Daily Goals, 2) Aims for the Week, and 3) Dreams of Things That Could Get Done. How did this work out? Well…

 

  • One of my daily goals was to get a new listing up on Etsy every day (which is fairly easy, since I have a back-log of items to list). This went pretty well – until I discovered that I hadn’t taken pictures of the backs of four pairs of earrings. So I took the extra pictures, went back to finish the listing I had started, and – My computer ate all the pictures on my camera (except for some of English Muffins). This was very sad, since I had taken some shots of
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    Sourdough English Muffins. Yes, a recipe is coming soon!

    Hannah and her papier-mâché project too. And that derailed the rest of the week. (Here is the Etsy listing)

  • It’s been really hot, which slows me down. But – No matter! I attacked promotion and blogging! Housework and cleaning got rather lost (it’s not easy to clean when you feel like you’re leaving a melted trail), but I got some other stuff done! Except for another Popcorn post. I keep forgetting about those.
  • Writing hard for CampNaNoWriMo! My goal is to get 75,000 total words done this month (have I mentioned that I tend to set impossible
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    I find this random and slightly nonsensical picture very inspiring for “Reflections,” which has lots of mirrors and mountains!

    goals?): 50,000 editing and typing “Reflections: A Fairy Tale” and about 25,000-words-worth of work on various other projects. Well, this week, I sorta got sidetracked when I thought of an interesting series of twists for a story I’m not even contemplating working on any time soon. It’s been exciting, and distracting!

  • A few other things got lost in the crazy shuffle of life. In fact, after the first day, I forgot to even look at my goals for the week! This is (ahem!) kind of a bad habit of mine.

Oh, well! Life is always busier than I anticipate it will be, and I tend to underestimate the time it will take to do stuff. It’s a pity, because I actually did get quite a lot finished last week, babysat some fun-to-watch kids, and got an energy boost in my writing world. Oh, and “Star Trek Beyond” was really a lot of fun!

So, now I refocus on what’s really important to accomplish, and this week set some new (and hopefully sensible) goals for myself. What are your plans looking like? Do you set impossible bars to reach?

-Abigail-

Cogs & Gears: Update, and What’s Next

It’s time for a another look behind-the-scenes at our Etsy shops. And – I haven’t been able to think of anything new and amazing to write about! This last couple of weeks has been working on projects, finishing items, listing stuff, experimenting with promotion, and business as usual. Not terribly scintillating!

So, here’s a simple update about what we’ve been doing – and a glimpse at what’s (hopefully) to come.

Sarah, having a FrappuccinoSarah has just had a Ladybug Week! She ignored all Etsy stuff, wrote madly (it’s CampNaNo this month), and made herself some adorable house slippers. This week, she’ll be putting a custom listing on Etsy, and will be working on something for a new line!

Hannah has been working away at her goal of having 30 items in her shop by the end of July. This has been slightly hampered by selling a couple of hats in person – which is exactly the kind of problem you want to have! Also, she (almost) finished a new painting, which she will be debuting soon: It’s awesome!

Abigail… Well, to be honest, my focus hasn’t been on Etsy in the last couple of weeks: I’ve been typing my book, it’s really, really hot outside, and I’ve been revamping my health-routine. However, I’ve made some really cute butterfly Ephemeral Earrings (coming to my Etsy shop IMG_1527.JPGsoon!), and I’m thinking of getting back to some neglected ideas and lines.

What’s Next: In general, we’ll be posting some Popcorn recipes this week, and I (literally!) just thought of a really cool idea for a blog series. On Etsy, we all have some new items and lines that will be popping up on our shops soon, and we’re getting serious about promotion (that seems to call for a wild war cry or something…). In cooking, we’ve been playing with overnight oats, chia, quinoa, and other healthful stuff. It’s surprisingly yummy. Maybe we’ll share some recipes!

Anyway – that’s a few random things from our life! What have you been up to this July?

-Abigail-

 

Cogs & Gears: Holiday!

Happy Independence Day!

It’s a day late, not all of our readers are American, and this isn’t even exactly a “Cogs & Gears” post. But it’s a time of celebration – so have some fun anyway!

Actually, we were thinking that maybe this month of July we will kick back and post a lot of Summer fun stuff: We have a few big and not-so-fun projects happening in our lives, so using our blog to have a little fun will be a good way to relax! Here (I hope) are some of the wacky and enjoyable things that will show up over the month:

  • Popcorn! We love making our own popcorn with an air popper and flavoring it ourselves. Lately, we have pushed it up a level and made themed mixes. Come back for exciting recipes!
  • Movies! ‘Tis the season for big (and sometimes a little mindless) action/sci-fi films. I kinda love it! We’ll run down some of our favorites – and why we don’t find them totally mindless.
  • Hannah’s Challenge! Hannah’s trying to get 30 items on her Etsy shop by the end of July: Check for updates, and help us cheer for her!
  • Abigail’s Earrings! I have some humorous and unexpected Ephemeral Earrings in the works, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
  • Saturday Random Recipe Fun Summer Food! No explanation needed.
  • Redesigned Blog! If we remember, we’ll change the look of things around here, and maybe put up a random quiz or two. And water balloons! (If I can figure out how to send them through the blogosphere…)

There you go! It should be fun, and crazy!

Any ideas for kick-back-in-the-sun stuff we can do?

-Abigail-