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!

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-

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-

I did it! 30 Items in My Shop!

Hello everyone! I said I would be back – and with the good news I hoped to deliver! I made it!

30 items in the shop! Want to see them?

Another painting! Like I said earlier, the first one had to have a bit of company!

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What about another painting? More pumpkins? Yeah, I like pumpkins!

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But what about a painting that isn’t a still life? Something that’s totally different!…. Oh dear, I just realized I can’t give you a picture of that one… You’ll just have to check it out for yourself right here! 🙂

Oh, and what about the card? Oops, I can’t give you a picture of that either. But here’s the link to my new card.

And the last thing, another hat, the teal one that I finished the other day and showed you a picture of. Here’s the link to that one. Oh look, I actually do have a picture of it! And I’ll tell you a secret -it’s not washed and blocked yet, since I didn’t have any time today to do that, and we girls don’t do any work on Sunday. But maybe I’ll show you how I block the hats sometime soon! 🙂Teal Hat (2).jpg

Well, I was all excited all day long, getting everything done that now I’m kind of tired. I’ve got to go now, but I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

~Hannah

22, 23, 24… 25 Items!

Well, I don’t really have time to be doing a quick post right now, but I’m all excited! I just reached 25 items! I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I think I will actually!

Just 5 more items and I’ll reach my goal! Woohoo! Totally excited right now! 😀

Let my show you the items that I listed since the last time I wrote a blog post…

First there are the two hats, the cotton (or maybe cotton candy!) one:

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And then I did a wool slouchy hat! Which I have totally fallen in love with… I might have to take it for myself if someone else doesn’t like it! 😉

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And now I come to the painting… I blogged about this one before, and I was all excited about it, but after having it on my shop all alone, the only painting on the shop, I just had to take it down again. It just looked too lonely! But it’s back again! And it has some company!

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Here is my other painting that I have up, which you might remember seeing before from a previous post, but I’ve decided to put them both there now, and they’ll be all one big happy painting family in just a few hours!

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So there you go! A couple paintings, a couple hats, and in no time at all, I’ll be having more…Hopefully I can post again and show you the last of the 30 items on my shop! But till then, but dash off and do a bit of Saturday household stuff and more Etsy listings!

~Hannah

Running out of time!

Oh boy! I am so running out of time! Only 4 days left!

I meant to give you guys an update before now! I did get onto here about a week ago, but then a couple things came up and I never finished the post… But here I am, back again from the vague unknown of the non-blogging world. But just for a quick update, because I really have to get back to making new items! 😉

I just put up a new listing! Woohoo! Which officially makes my shop have a grand total of 21 items! Yup, didn’t even break my own record. But that’s ok, because I have quite a few items lined up, just waiting for me to put the listing together.

Here’s a picture of the newest item – and this time it’s a scarf!

And here are pictures of a few things that have been happening with me lately…

Me at Starbucks (thank you Sarah for the mini photoshoot! :D)… I’ve been thinking about it – I go to Starbucks a lot, and I love trying out they’re new drinks, so why not combine a couple of the things that I do? So you might be seeing a few more pictures of me a Starbucks – with some of my very fun-to-wear hats! 😉

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Three hats that I washed and blocked… but only two of them are going to make it to my shop, because the other one – the maroon one – I made as a commission for a friend of mine. And the blue one pictured here is wool! It feels soooo soft!

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And here I am, working on another hat! It was almost complete here, and now it’s finished and waiting to be all washed up and blocked! So fun to block it – I’ll have to do a blog post on blocking things to show you all.

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Well, that’s all for now. But I promise you, more items will be coming soon! I’m off to knit a little head scarf!

~Hannah

 

 

 

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-

Saturday Random Recipe: Ice

It’s hot outside. Actually, it’s not too hot right now. But it will be hot. And this year, I’m trying to embrace that.

IMG_1072I’m getting more annoyed at the heat than I usually do, possibly because it seems a little more humid than some times. But I’m trying to figure out ways that make me happy with it being hot.

There’s the practical side, such as the fact that, I think, grapes – and therefore wine – taste better when it’s a hot year. So this year should have some really good wine!

Also, there’s more reason for you to take Annie’s example – on the left – and get wet and have fun.

I’m also trying to figure out other methods of having fun being hot, as well as figure out ways to keep cool.

First of all, the worst way to cool down when you’re out in the sun is to fume and moan about how hot it is. It’s easy for me to do that, even if it’s just in my head. But it just makes it worse. So I’m trying to embrace it- lizard style- with cicadas chirping mildly in the background and an occasional butterfly fluttering by.

IMG_1060  I’m also trying to figure out what this one style of music is, which we have only a few songs of, that reminds me of a certain kind of temperament that allows the sun to pass over you in golden downpour while you enjoy the doze of a Summer afternoon. As Abigail put it recently: “People have been sweating for years.”

So, one way I have to keep cool, which practically contradicts everything I just said with the fact that it’s so cool, is Icicle Tea, pictured on the right.

I was inspired to try this when I had some snow cones. It’s like iced tea, but hardcore.

IMG_1051Basically, I can’t give any specific instructions for this ‘recipe’, because it depends entirely on what you want. Personally, I suggest you make some tea, preferably with tea bags and extremely strong. I like mint or green/mint best for this, with some fresh mint leaves on the side.

Crush ice in a blender, with some of the tea – I like enough ice to have a small iceberg, as pictured.

Note: this is surprisingly messy, and you will need a lot of ice if you’re doing this for several people. Also, you will have to make the tea a little in advance so it has time to cool and get stronger.

Icicle Tea is surprisingly, wonderfully refreshing and extremely simple. Serve it in a pretty, clear glass, with a spoon, for people to enjoy the ice, which is gently flavored with tea. I also recommend that you sit and enjoy the beverage, under a patio or back porch if you prefer, for a few minutes, to properly enjoy the flavor.

I hope everyone’s having a good Summer so far! If you’re anywhere near where we are – at least in temperature – then it’s far from over. Summer’s still one of my favorite seasons, although we’re in the dull part, so I’m not too sorry. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the heat, or beat it, and I’d love to hear what everyone has to say!

Hope you continue to have a good weekend!

Sarah

P.S. I just remembered! Another way I’m enjoying the Summer is by having sort of desert animals as my computer background. Backgrounds are very important for me, and kind of signify what I want to do, how I feel about the month, or just simply to add a bit of fun in there. For instance, August is a very dull month, so I’ll probably have some funny backgrounds.

This second half of July, I decided to go with giraffes, because they’re so cute and fun and embody the meaning of having fun in the sun. Well, one of the embodiments…