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!


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!


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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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.

Image result for jack nicholson joker
Not this crazy Jack Nicholson (though – yikes!)


Image result for jack nicholson the shining
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?


Cogs & Gears: It’s the Little Things…

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
    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
    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?


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?



Cogs & Gears: A Fairy Tale Month

A few days ago I told you all about my love of fairy tales, and how the genre inspires me, and exactly what I mean when I say “fairy tale” – which is complicated and interesting! Also, I directed you to our amazing “Fairy Stories” board on Pinterest (Check it out! It’s amazing! There are so many beautiful and unexpected pictures out there…). So – why all this talk of fairy tales?

Fairy Tales are my theme for this month. I’m working on editing my finished novel, which is a fairy tale. Etsy redesigned their shop site look, which I’m using as momentum to redesign my theme and “brand” – and since I’m “The Raisin Fairy,” what better look could I choose than a magical one? Plus, I decided to create a line of “Fairy Tale” Ephemeral Earrings. It’s all very exciting and wonderfully coherent. Have a look:

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My Fairy Tale – Reflecting on Curses

Remember when I told you about NaNoWriMo? There’s an easier, fun-themed version in April and July called CampNaNoWriMo, which has been dominating my life the last few weeks. A couple of years ago, I wrote (and finished! Yay!) a story of a cursed princess and an adventuring stable boy, whose paths fatefully cross. It’s called “Reflections – a Fairy Tale” and it’s full of magic and peril and perilous magic and romance and puns. And, since I wrote it longhand (with illustrations! those count as writing, right?), it has to be typed into a document to make it at all publishable. Excellent opportunity to edit and tidy up the storyline!

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The Raisin Fairy – Designing a New Look

I have lots of ideas for a new shop look. The Raisin Fairy is supposed to be about sugar and spice, and finding magic in the everyday. So originally I tried going with a brown and red color-scheme (still in place) – exactly the kinds of colors and motifs that make me happy in real life, but don’t exactly work on an Etsy shop. Instead, I might try drawing a little raisin fairy or something else magical, or possibly highlighting some of my products. So many options, so little time! Hannah and Sarah have both done beautiful things with their new shop designs, so I’m inspired to play a bit.

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Ephemeral Earrings – Castles and Magic and Keyholes and Such

And naturally I wanted to make some lovely earrings to match the theme. A little bit of beautiful paper, a few amazing die-cuts, embossing, beads, and a dash of magic – and there you are! They’re turning out stunning and enchanting, and will be up on my shop over the next week or two. I love them all – and I’m going to keep on experimenting with the idea even after my fairy-tale month is over.


So – any ideas? What kind of fairy tale image should I put on my next set of earrings? Which Etsy shop design is your favorite? What was your favorite fairy tale growing up, or now?





On Fairy Tales

Urban magic

I’ve always loved fairy tales. The genre is the defining one of my literary appreciation, which is curious since I had no more exposure to fairy tales than the average American child: Disney princess movies, the odd story book, and an ancient Atari computer game which Mad-Libbed “Little Red Riding Hood.” Oh, and “Chronicles of Narnia.” But I loved the style and adventurousness so much that I made up my own fairy tales, and eventually searched out classics.


But here’s the thing: I mean something a little different by “fairy tale” than the tropes – “once upon a time,” sparkly princesses, perky fairy godmothers, and “follow your heart.” This is because I’ve read a few books that stretch my understanding, like “Look to the Lady” by Marjory Allingham and “Father Brown” by G.K. Chesterton and a few interesting essays by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald. These argue that fairy tales can be found in unexpected places. Here are a few parameters – a fairy tale should:

  • A walk in the woods:
    Be bold, be bold – but not too bold!

    Start with a normal, everyday situation where ordinary people are just going about their business.

  • Something extraordinary happens.
  • Have a very great evil threatening which must be fought.
  • Involve some kind of unusual effort – often a journey. Anyway, adventure of some kind.
  • Have goodness, in an unexpected place – something worth fighting for
  • Involve growth and change in the main character; often, how to use their wits, or courage, or love, or rediscovery of something good that was lost.
  • Usually end in the main character doing something extraordinary to fight the evil and reestablish good.
From a book "At the back of the north wind" by Jessie Wilcox Smith:
At the Back of the North Wind

And I think that covers it! A fairy tale doesn’t need to have magic, fairies, “True Love” or even “happily ever after” (although it helps, of course). By these criteria, I have discovered beautiful and amazing fairy stories in places you wouldn’t expect, like “Wall-E,” some mysteries, the book of “Esther,” and “Doctor Who.” I love all of these, as well as the classics.


Why all this talk of fairy tales? Well, they’re sort of my theme this month and I thought I’d explain my odd reasoning about them so you know what I’m talking about!

Here are a few titles to check out, if you want to explore fairy stories by my definition:

  • “Lady in the Water”
  • “Brave”
  • “MirrorMask”
  • “Doctor Who: Series 5”
  • “Kung Fu Panda” (3 especially)
  • “The Chronicles of Narnia”
  • “That Hideous Strength” (A “fairy story for adults”)
  • “The Princess and the Goblins” and “The Princess and Curdie”
  • “The Magic City”
  • “The Crime at Black Dudley”
  • “The Secret of Chimneys”


Also, check out our totally awesome “Fairy Stories” Pinterest board. All of the pictures in this post come from there, and it might give you a bit more of an idea of what I mean!

Fight the Dragon:

A final thought from G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”


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!)