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: 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: 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: Whatnot

Ever have one of those times when you get busy doing this and that, manage to accomplish a lot, get distracted a bit by new tech or a holiday – and then look up to discover that you’ve totally neglected something that was kind of important? That’s what my last couple of weeks has been like! (Has it really been two weeks since I posted anything?!)

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Anyway, here’s a little glimpse of what we’ve been up to the last 10 days:

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One of our favorite place in the mountains. It’s called Capulin, and what it lacks in trails it makes up for in beauty

 

 

  • We went hiking Memorial Day! Hence all my beautiful pictures. Yes, recreation is relevant to crafting and running a business; it helps to get a little perspective and a bit of a challenge.
  • Sarah shipped one of her adorable mug cozies, to a happy customer!!! Hannah ran into a couple of problems with her shipment, but tackled them with strength and determination (and perplexity and outrage). Success all around!
  • Our wonderful smartphones got new operating systems, thereby generally causing trouble and upheaval to carefully arranged apps and stuff. Ah! technology!

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    A black dog learns quickly that shade is her friend!
  • I finished off some cards and earrings for my Etsy shop, and photographed them all! It took a while. I may have gotten carried away in the “Fairy Tale”-earring making…
  • And, the “Shopping Boutique (and Summer Fun)” that we were planning on participating in fell through. It’s a pity, because it seemed like just the opportunity that we needed to show off our shops and products and hopefully gain some more clients. But we’re praying that something else will open up instead.

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    Hannah! (I always forget to take pictures of people…)
  • Making an opportunity out of that disappointment, the next few weeks we will be focusing on polishing up our shops, making new items, and probably giving this blog a bit of an overhaul! It should be exciting. Sarah is making some patriotic cup-holders, Hannah is whipping out summery hats (like this one), and I am conjuring up some summery and playful earring designs (probably patriotic, too!).

And in the meantime, I’ve decided that I’ve

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New growth

reached frustration-point with Etsy shops and listings and products and promoting and…! One ought to forestall this by well-timed breaks: So, this week will be my Ladybug Week (so dubbed by Sarah – it’s a brilliant idea), and I will deliberately plan another down time seven weeks from now and start up a regular system of it.

I have two extremes in using down time: Either I meander and do nothing (unsatisfactory), or I fill the time with all the other things I could be

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Angle experimentation!

 

doing and end up busier than ever (exhausting). So for this Ladybug Week, I’ve decided to focus my time into one or two things only: Writing – I’m typing up my finished novel, and it needs some hardcore work! And, when I need a break from sitting around and fixing grammar, there’s some personal sewing to do. Let’s see… I need new walking shorts, a maxi-dress, that purse that I cut out, maybe a jeans skirt – No! Stop, Abigail! Limitations are good!

So – off to ignore crafting and business, and instead introduce the Shardovans and how they got into their recent dire straits!

-Abigail-

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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Cogs and Gears: Binge-Crafting!

It is surprisingly hard sometimes to make yourself sit down and get something done! No matter how important the project, other things just keep popping up that need to be attended to first – and suddenly you find yourself behind on everything! This is true of making items for our shops: What should be a couple of simple tasks that won’t take more than an hour are pushed to another day, until they’re forgotten. And then suddenly we wonder where those items are and why they aren’t ready to be listed and…

So, we came up with a solution (of sorts): Every week or so (or more often if need be), we all get together with a pile of projects to work on and a TV show or two, and Binge-Craft!

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With crafting-mascot along for the ride!

You’ve heard of binge-watching, right? When you watch way more of a given show than is good for you? Well, we decided to broaden the concept!

I always like working with my hands while something else is going on – usually entertainment, like TV or movies. It gives the mind something to do during the purely mechanical process of beading, sewing, crocheting, or gluing (or even doing dishes, but that’s not for a Binge-Craft session!).

And it happened that we had a couple of TV shows that we were watching that we needed to catch up on – so why not pair them up? That was how we started Binge-Crafting. And it’s been remarkably successful! It’s kind of amazing how much work you can get done in a couple of hours.

One of the shows we watch is “Arrow.” It has absolutely nothing to do with how hot the star is.
“The Flash” is another favorite. Again, nothing to do with the star’s gorgeousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also like “Call the Midwife.” Told you!
And we sometimes choose a movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is probably one of the most fun parts of our growing businesses! Pull out all our crafting, pop some popcorn if we’re feeling indulgent, make a mess, yell at the characters, and perhaps have something new for our shops at the end of it all!

-Abigail-

 

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-

3 Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas to all!

In honor of the day, I thought I’d share a few of our favorite traditions for celebrating the holiday:

Luminarias

So simple, so beautiful! You take paper bags and tea candles (cheap) and sand (ubiquitous), and put them together to make lights. Then, line Mary and Joseph’s path to the inn – and the path to Christmas Eve mass. This is a lovely New Mexican tradition!

Plum Pudding

Being Anglophiles, it was only a matter of time before we tried this Christmas treat mentioned in so many seasonal British stories. And it’s worth it! Full of spice and plums (raisins) and love, it is quintessential Christmas. (I use butter rather than suet, and it turns out fine!)

We don’t end Christmas on the 25th

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Seriously, try it! Some of the best fun is to be had after the stress and expectations of the day are over. Plus, if you’ve maybe forgotten a gift or two, there are the post-Christmas sales to hit. After all, traditionally, the season isn’t over until Epiphany (or 3 Kings Day), which is January 6th! I love Christmas so much that I would rather extend it than call it over after all the presents are opened!

I hope that you all have a blessed and wonderful holiday weekend!

-Abigail-

Thanksgiving Tree

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

On this point of stillness and gratitude, a holiday still strangely dedicated to family and togetherness even when you don’t have family or you are alone, I’d like to share some of our family’s favorite traditions!

First, and most important, here is a look at our Thanksgiving Tree (glimpsed in an earlier post).  WIN_20151126_14_58_17_Pro.jpg

WIN_20151126_14_58_37_Pro This is one of those traditions from childhood that has lingered, and deserves to be kept around! The idea is, you write something you’re thankful for on a paper leaf, and stick it to an empty tree on the wall. The tree fills up with thankfulness over the course of the month of November, until you cannot pass it without being reminded of all your blessings.

 I usually get carried away and write way too many leaves. But this year, I’m trying to focus; and not just remember my blessings and all the little things I have, but also the big things. And those don’t always fit on a paper leaf!

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And, of course, we also cook! We try to make everything we eat, because then we know what goes into it, and Thanksgiving dinner is no exception. It tastes better that way!

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Pumpkin pie, with homemade crust (it’s actually not that hard! Yes, it is…)
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I have been known to puree my own pumpkin, but this pumpkin (incredibly orange) is from a can
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Cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and bacon-apple Brussels sprouts. Yum!
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Cranberry sauce. I do it Manuel style. Manuel recommended using orange juice (and zest this time) and adding a dash of Grand Marnier. It transforms and uplifts cranberry sauce into something sublime!

 

One of our best cooking traditions is to let the menfolk cook the bird. They smoke it, which is a very manly form of cooking. The results are wonderful, if a little startling at first:

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A Goth Turkey. We don’t know why, but the skin always comes out blackened. Soot, or something. But we don’t eat the skin, so it’s all right. And don’t be alarmed:
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Inside, the meat is tender, more tasty than ordinary baking, succulent, and delightful!

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Thanksgiving is also a time to – of all things – be thankful. I know; radical notion, right? But isn’t it strange that amid all the demand for More! More! More! that swamps our lives (and especially the next major holiday) we stop for a moment just to be grateful for what we have? It doesn’t matter if you have family or friends to celebrate with, or not. It doesn’t matter if you can cook a turkey and all the fixings, or buy it from the store, or prefer some sushi. It doesn’t matter if you live in your own house, or in a corner; or if you can afford a new wardrobe and the latest tech every year, or barely manage to scrape buy. Because you still have many blessings.

Never mind all that I’ve been talking about, with our traditions and blessings: God has, somehow, abundantly blessed you.

So, pause for a moment, and give thanks!

-Abigail-