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-

 

A Celebration of Accomplishment!

I thought this was the best place for me to congratulate my fellow Ribbon Bloggers – and sisters – for making this blog twice as good as it would have been if it was just me. That, and: “Woo-hoo! We’ve been blogging for a whole year and a bit!

Durango Street 2

You might remember – especially you, Hannah – that we had a whole plan laid out of what we wanted to do with our shop. We discussed the style we wanted to go for, we deliberated over the name – the three of us and separately. I even put together a couple photo albums where we could have some stock photos! And I might have vaguely thought of putting together a playlist (still something I want to do, actually)

As usual, the project swept us off the ground and we got carried away. Not that we’re so far off anything we planned, but it does seem like we were aiming for a few container gardens and ended with a whole garden. Which I am completely happy with, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job! I just have to stop thinking small and limited – be a bit more flexible!

Chocolate Dipped

A few of my favorite things about our blog:

Food. Food is important to us (probably a little too important) but it’s really fun. Food is just the sort of thing we should do, and share what we do here. (by the way, the recipe to the right is: Pretzels and melted chocolate)

Discovery. Having read several blog posts from my sisters, stating what I’ve basically figured out, it’s really nice to be able find out more about my sisters. I think I know more now than I used to!

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Marketing. That sounds weird, but the main point of the Ribbons blog was to help sell what we have on Etsy. I appreciate that we can do it, because I like the way we do it. I am very happy that there is a way to sell something, show what we’re doing and what’s behind it, without being blatant and vulgar!

It would be very hard for me to figure out just one of my favorite blog posts that’s been published here. However, there is one blog post that comes to mind, which I think deserves more attention:

Hannah’s Tips Blog post. Unfortunately, I can’t find the blog post! Somewhere back there, Hannah wrote a blog post with some tips for getting things done, or something. It was extremely helpful and I’m going to go on looking for it!

If you want to see what else we’ve accomplished, take a look at our Etsy shops!

The Raisin Fairyby Abigail

The Work of My Hands – by Hannah

SallySewing – by me!

I’m pleased with what we’ve accomplished so far, and I look forward to seeing what we do in the coming year!

And, once again, to all our readers – thank you. We couldn’t have made it here without you

Sarah

Gasp- An Anniversary!!!

CIMG1861So – we just discovered that last week was the anniversary of our first post! That’s right; May 4th marked the first complete year of our blog!

It’s kind of amazing!il_570xn-914924690_ckg7

Ok; not just “kind of”.

Incredible.

IMG_1258We’ve come a long way in this year; figuring out this whole blog thing, developing our shops, pushing ourselves in a lot of different ways. We’ve discovered so much about what works and what doesn’t, we’ve put on Boutiques and Craft Fairs, we’ve realized how much commitment this takes…! And, yeah… I think we still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. There are still so many things we want to try!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week, we thought we would have a bit of fun. We’ll (try to!) put out a new post every day about what we’re up to, our plans for the next year of blogging, revisit favorite posts, and maybe even share our favorite cake recipe! In the meantime, check out the last retrospective post I did, and maybe take time for a celebratory look around at our blog.

It’s been such an amazing, crazy, busy, chaotic, wonderful

Four Ladies Visiting the Camp

year – in life and here in blogdom! Where shall we go next, I wonder?

-Abigail-

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A Look at 2016

It’s a new year! And, sorta feels like a new us – since Christmas brought all three of us new cameras, and amazing sales on smartphones! So here we are, entering a new era:

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Our new tech tools (or toys) are identical!
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So, naturally, we personalized it

And we’ve been talking about the future, so I’m excited about our plans and what’s ahead! Here’s a look:

For Ribbons in Our Hair –

We’re thinking of making a few changes to the look and content of our blog. In my last post, I looked back at how far we’ve come; and now that we’ve settled on style and a few features, it’s time to take the next step and make things more official. So, you’ll be seeing some new stuff in the next month or so:

  • Different banner and colors. I love customizing things to fit my mood! And my sisters have agreed that a new banner to match each new season would be a fun way to keep things lively and beautiful. Of course, color will change to coordinate.
  • A revised intro page. Now that we have a definite style, it’s time to update our greeting to anyone stopping by. Plus, we’ll be putting links to our Etsy shops up there where they will be easy to find (that should’ve happened a long time ago)!
  • We will aim to have at least 4 or 5 new posts up every week. This includes short updates, lots of pictures, and the occasional longer post. It also includes, of course:
  • Regular weekly features! We have two right now – Friday Feature Favorites, showcasing some of our favorite Etsy shops, and Saturday Random Recipes, which we’ll start doing on a more regular basis. But we’re also going to start a new feature soon:
  • Weekly looks behind the scenes at our Etsy shops! We will take turns showing new projects, talking about our process, and introducing new lines of fun products. Keep an eye out for this new feature! I’m excited to see where it will take us.
  • Expanding our audience. We’ll be experimenting with ways to find new readers.
  • Polls. This should be fun! We’d love to start the conversation, and get feedback from you guys on our products and direction!
  • More ongoing glimpses at our creative projects. For instance, I started a boho prairie skirt awhile ago (and haven’t gotten very far; sometimes other things become more important!). Like this, we will be showcasing other things in the same vein: Perhaps Hannah will talk about her developing steampunk outfit, or Sarah will take us through the process of designing a teddy bear.

 

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and I’ve decided that I like cappuccinos with honey and cinnamon!

 

Etsy

 

  • Now that Christmas is over, our shops will be transitioning to The Rest of the Year! We will be making and listing new items for the winter, as well as preparing for the next major holiday – Valentine’s Day!
  • Sarah has suggested that we stay on top of all seasons and holidays and always list our new products at least two weeks in advance. This is very sensible!
  • Exploring promotions and even (gasp!) advertisement, as we attempt to attract more customers.
  • Revising and polishing our shops so that they look as nice, attractive and professional as possible; including expanding About pages, putting up more photos, and designing logos. For me, this will also include making a Facebook page and Twitter account exclusively for The Raisin Fairy.
  • Creating and exploring new products and designs.
  • Streamlining our process and approaching our crafting more professionally (and perhaps therefore in more serious and efficient ways).
  • Looking for other venues,  in the line of Craft Fairs and Boutiques, to bring our shops more local attention.

 

Elsewhere in Our Lives

  • Tackling some of those that’s-so-huge-it’s-terrifying-but-once-it’s-over-it-won’t-be-that-bad things that have been piling up for awhile. Like the next educational step, boring finances, buying a car, professional networking – that sort of thing.
  • That includes (for me especially) pursuing publication for some of the things I’ve written – not to mention simply being more consistent about writing.
  • Simplifying and streamlining schedules. As in – being more consistent about getting places on time and doing stuff in a timely manner. This is kinda important.
  • Simplifying and streamlining workspaces. This means cleaning (which is also boring). Our Stash – though helpful, inspiring and challenging – makes this difficult.
  • Relationships. As in – well, relationships! (I shrivel and crawl away in embarrassment…)
  • And, working on health and weight. While we have a very healthy diet, relative to a lot of modern eating, we still would like to get to a better weight. At least so that we feel better about how we look! But it would also help to improve our health long-term.

 

So, there you are! The year ahead already looks full and busy, and exciting since Life is bound to come along and test our good intentions! Please come by often to see how we’re doing!

-Abigail-

 

 

A 2015 Retrospective: A Year of Transition

Welcome to 2016, and may it be a happy and blessed year for you!

I thought that, with a new year ahead of us all bare and clean, it would be a good time to look back and see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. 2015 was a breathless year! But, aren’t these retrospective things for the end of the year, you say, not the beginning of the next one? Yes – but a few days in and we have a little perspective! So here goes: A year of new beginnings, and Ribbons in Our Hair!:

In May, still reeling from a long-term unemployment in the family and working on beginning our Etsy shops, we three sisters sat on the floor for a few hours arguing over format design and what we wanted our new blog to say and look like. (Was it only May? How far we’ve come!) We finally put out our very first post, introducing ourselves and our blog. After that, we posted several times about our shops and our lives – showing you (our dear readers!) around and playing with a new creative outlet!

In June, we volunteered at the memorial for a local tragedy,

when our city lost its first officer in the line of duty. It was a reminder that sometimes all the Big Things in the world sometimes come close and effect our lives.

Here is the memorial, that grew quickly to overflowing.

We’ve continued to introduce you to all sorts of things from our shops (and crafting obsessions!), like cards and hats and clever little garden pockets.

And then in July, everything went crazy as we threw an Etsy Boutique to show our projects and creations to friends (and the world) at a local park. We crafted, panicked, planned, panicked, set things up, and then panicked some more! The Boutique was hectic, fun, and a wonderful way to get a lot of projects done. Everyone was really supportive, and all in all we had a great time!

It seems like August was even crazier! That was the month I got hit by a load of frustrations, and when we decided to up the game on our blog a little: That was the month when we (still recovering from the Boutique) decided to go through “25 Blog Post Ideas for New Bloggers!” This was a challenging idea, and we have had a lot of fun going through it – not too fast, and trading off so that we have a look at each of our different styles and perspectives. It has forced us to grow and find new ideas, and we’re still not all the way through to #25! We have looked inside a purse, at our favorite things and what inspires us, and at our guilty pleasures and goals.

In September, we shared recipes, a birthday, and new projects (still in the concept phase!). And then in October we introduced a few new regular features, which have really enlivened our blog! First was the Friday Feature Favorite, where we (mostly Sarah, who initiated the idea) talk about some of our favorite Etsy shops. And we also try to put out a Saturday Random Recipe! I tried self-motivation through goals and incentives, and Hannah talked about her first art listing, a direction she wants to take her shop.

And then came November, with Craft Fairs and NaNoWriMo! Oh, Thanksgiving might’ve come that month, too, with an extra effort at gratitude.

December came and with it, of course, Christmas! We put up as much as we could on our Etsy shops, and talked a lot about what we do to celebrate the holiday. And of course, none of it was as much as I wanted; but we had fun so that’s all right! Sarah came up with a clever way of reviewing classics without saying what they were, and toured Old Town, Hannah shared our fudge recipe, and I shared some favorite music of the season. Christmas came, and went, in a happy blur!

And here we are in the new year! I’m excited to see where we go. We have put out 95 posts! (95!!!) That means we’ve kept it up very well, and had a pretty decent level of consistency. I’m amazed, and a little proud of all our hard work!

Tomorrow, a look at where we’re going! (Not that I know. You can’t do retrospectives at the beginning of something – I’ve tried. But we have plans!)

-Abigail-

Top 5 Creative Tips

Blogging Challenge Number 18.

Top 5 Creative Tips!

Quick intro here. By Creative, I mean any creative activity that I work on – like painting, or writing novels, or card-making, or crochet, or knitting, or cooking and baking, or other fun things like that. By Tips, I mean a few things that I’ve found out help me while I’m working on aforementioned creative activities.

  • Audio Input

I love music. Music can be so inspiring! It might not be healthy for my eardrums, but I love listening to it pretty loud while creating – Hans Zimmer is really exciting that way, but it doesn’t have too be loud to be inspiring. Also, podcasts and audio books really help. All of these are good for keeping my mind focused, since my thoughts go off into weird places. Annoying thoughts… weird thoughts… not productive thoughts. The audio input just keeps me focused on being creative.

  • Munchies
    This one is totally true. I create better when I have something munchie for me to eat. I thought it was just a NaNoWriMo/writer thing, but it’s not – while painting I have discovered it helps me to get motivated, while feeling like I’m being pampered. And it doesn’t have to be naughty stuff like candy or fatty foods or a mug of Chamba Chai – I love having a small bowl of homemade granola, a piece of fruit, or one of Sarah’s wonderful homemade popcorn bowls (recipe coming soon!). Having something fun to eat can help to fuel your creativity.
  • Keep a Creative Notebook

I have done this for many years in one form or another, but recently, I’ve found the need to have a notebook handy at the weirdest of times. Inspiration does not wait for you to be sitting comfortably, about to do your creative work – inspiration comes when it wants to. I was in the middle of a Bible study the other day and an idea for a painting came to me and I had no available notebook, so now I have a couple of pages to write down painting ideas right when they come to me. You probably won’t remember the idea later, so have that notebook, sketchbook, or sheet of paper handy for when creativity finds its mark in your brain!

  • Find Your Creative Time Old Chair

This is sort of like the morning vs. night person concept. I read this idea on an Etsy Success Email over a year ago, and I thought it was such an interesting concept.

The idea is to look at the times you find are more productive, more creative, more active, and pay attention to them. Take those couple of hours, and carve out that time specifically in your day, and don’t let other things get in the way of this time. Like, if you’re an late afternoon/evening creative person, then get other errands and chores out of the way earlier in the day so you can keep that time empty for getting creative. And if you get up in the morning fresh with ideas, brimming with energy and pep, then don’t waste that time but use it first thing in the morning! Pay attention to your most creative time, and carve it out in your day.

  • You Don’t Have to Have a Devoted Studio Space

    Bike, City Alley
    This picture inspires me to go out and paint the outdoors – not in a studio space!

This one is a hard one for me – I’ve wanted a special studio space for a while now, and haven’t really been able to have one. But during this last year and a half, I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone, and into admitting that I don’t absolutely need a creative space of my own to actually be creative. I’ve done work in many different places – like our kitchen table, the back porch, out in nature (for painting outdoors) and most often recently, the living room. I need to get the work done, so making the excuse that I don’t have a space of my own just doesn’t cut it – just go somewhere and make stuff, and you’ll find you can get a lot done before you someday get your studio space!

So there you go! Five creative tips. But there is one more tip that I have to add – please go and have fun. If it’s a pain in the neck to make things, than you’re doing something wrong – I know, because I do that all the time. My sisters and I are going to do a craft fair this weekend, and I’m freaking out over it. So I have to keep reminding myself to step back, breathe, let go of my perfectionist ideas and just have fun.

So here’s to having fun and making lots of creative stuff!

-Hannah

Friday Featured Favorites

Well, the next in line for our 25 Blog Ideas, I am to start a weekly feature. I had three options (probably a lot more, but I didn’t wait to think it over or I’d be stuck in indecision) and all of the options may still show up, though they might be a monthly feature.

Hannah in the Distance Friday Featured Favorites is our new feature on Friday (it’s self explanatory I guess) although I’m not sure if it should be Favorite Friday Features or Featured Favorites on Friday. It will probably be all of them.

We’ll feature one of our favorite shops from Etsy here on Friday, and hopefully it won’t always be this late in the day!

Our first featured shop on Etsy is CreationOvation.

What caught my attention with this shop was its beautiful Paper Flower Boutonnieres, which can be custom made for weddings, and the options are quite impressive. I appreciate shops that allow such flexibility. With my own shop I have bags available, and I am more than happy to do options, variations or custom made in general, but I don’t have as much flexibility, especially with the finished product.

I definitely recommend you take a look at CreationOvation, where you can find lots of Bible verses set to some beautiful pictures. As I said, the Flower Boutonnieres are available for weddings – they’d be perfect for a Boho Chic wedding!

The shop owner, Rachel Dye, is a photographer, has a love for nature and animals- all of which sounds like things I love too! She is also a blogger, and I invite you to check out her blog.

Here is a link to her blog, and again a link to her shop on Etsy. Take a look, and welcome to the first Friday Featured Favorites! (practically Saturday where we are)

I hope you have a great weekend!

Sarah

Our Etsy Shops

Amid all the craziness of being new bloggers, putting new stuff out there, and hoping people will find it, it suddenly seems as though we have (sorta) lost sight of what this blog is really about: Our Etsy shops – what’s there, and what to look forward to.

Of course, we haven’t really forgotten about it. Etsy and our shops and where we’re going with our creative careers is never far from our minds, hearts and imaginations! But we do need to start highlighting our shops a little more. (This is a little embarrassing, since I’ve been neglecting my shop far too much lately!) We’ve been talking about making a couple of changes to our blog so that it ties in with Etsy a bit more, but until then here’s an introduction to each of our shops (in alphabetical order!):

Annavania

Hannah’s shop features beautiful crocheted hats. She designs her own original patterns (which she says is easier than following someone else’s) and works primarily in cotton thread. Each creation is unique, and wonderfully wearable! She also has a line of Victorian-style handcrafted cards (paper and downloadable versions) which she is expanding all the time with new original designs. Keep an eye out for Christmas cards, sets and individual!

TheRaisinFairy

My shop is about small things to charm and light your life, and add a little bit of comfort and magic to even the most mundane days. At the moment, you will see several cards (downloadable and hard copies), and adorable little woodland ornaments. But my shelves are going to fill up soon with crocheted fingerless gloves, colorful and bright sachets, more cards, and some fanciful earrings that I am in the fun process of designing.

SallySewing

Sarah’s shop is all about bags. Her designs are clever, creative, and lovely. From handbags to totes, each creation is unique – I don’t think she’s used the same design twice yet. She uses fabrics from our Stash, which encourages outside-the-box thinking, with occasional additions specially purchased to make the bag come to life. She’s planning some Christmas bags, which will probably show up soon. But her bags are all-the-time useable. Gorgeous and chic!

So come and check our shops out! We are always reinventing, renovating, and experimenting with new ideas – and it would be wonderful to have you along for the journey.

-Abigail

Things We Love

It’s my turn again! We seem to be going through this very quickly! It seems like it was my turn only a few days ago. Not that I mind- it’s great to have something to talk about, but I’ve never exactly been sure what to do with the topic today: listing a few of our favorite things. It seems like a fairly simple post, except trying to figure out, out of all the things we love, enjoy or appreciate, what’s actually our favorites.

The example on the original list was to list our favorite TV shows, music, books and movies. Then Abby pointed out I could list some of our favorites of anything- which certainly broadened my perspective. And then I could always go with the wonderful song from Sound of Music, and list some things that make us happy.

So, without further delay, I will begin, and try a bit of all of them, narrowing it down by mentioning things we’ve probably never referred to before (Doctor Who is obviously a favorite so I won’t include it)

One of our favorite (American) TV shows would definitely have to be Journeyman. It’s about a normal guy- who time travels! It’s amazing. It’s interesting. It’s fun. It was cancelled way too soon! And now it’s only available by DVD (and that’s not available except in the UK) so obviously this is a bit of a tragedy.

Another favorite TV show is Person of Interest, which I still wish was on Thursdays. It was such a nice way to start finishing the week.

And I could mention several other TV shows we love, but that would take a while. One of our favorite movies- mostly based on my dad commenting that it’s a nearly perfect movie- is Batman Begins. It’s at least my favorite of the recent trilogy.

Another favorite would be- Pixar. I won’t even bother trying to figure out which one is our favorite, never mind which one is the best!

 And then there’s Prince of Persia, and Signs, and the mass of Avengers-ness! Yeah, I’m not even sure if I’ve got our favorite movies yet. It depends on the mood actually.

Moving on to books- I’ve decided to list a few of our favorite cook books, just to be different. There’s the Joy of Cooking, of course. Hannah owns a Provencal cookbook we enjoy, and we use More with Less Cookbook often. We have a few Test Kitchen cookbooks too, as well as our numerous (and occasionally accidental) Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Italian cookbooks!

Our favorite music to listen to on a rainy day is Man of Steel, The Village or a good combination of Little Women, The Village, Da Vinci Code and various moody things. My dog’s favorite music during firework season is Battleship.

My favorite music to sew to is something I can sing along with, such as Give Us Rest.

Path Overlooking LakeAnd just to round up this post, which has turned out to be a bit longer than I meant, I will list a few random favorite things that make us happy.

Of all the days of the week, I think Sunday would probably be our favorite (with Friday close behind it). Of the two main paths in the Bosque near Sagebrush church, the path to the left is probably our favorite. Of all the wild flowers in our arroyos, Chocolate flowers are probably our favorite. And of all our clothes, our favorites to wear when it’s a hundred degrees outside is probably made from our Bangladesh fabric.

Clouds and LightAnd things that make us happy (these are a few of our favorite things): clouds, walks in the mountains, snowy days, popcorn, apple crisp, going to the Botanic Gardens, whiskers on doggies, sleepy kittens, Carey Mulligan, gardening, finishing sewn garments and God.