Cogs & Gears: Craziness!

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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-Abigail-

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A Trip to the Mountains

Sometimes, quite irrationally, things become irksome. Like blogging, for instance. One loses focus, gets stuck in a rut, forgets a time or two and then feels so guilty about it that one forgets again, other things get busy. And so on. You know how it is!

So, yeah, I think we’ve kind of fallen into one of those times here in “Ribbons”-world. So sad – because we’re actually really excited about what we’re doing and what we want to share!

As we figure it all out and prepare for what I hope will be a grand re-entrance into the blogging realm, here is a gallery of our most recent excursion into our local mountains!

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A venerable tree, upon which I will base a bonsai (when I get into bonsai-growing)
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A wonderfully climbable rock face
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Sarah (who will climb anything climbable – she’s the most adventurous of us!) coming down the rock
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Me! Also on the rock, right before the incident when the boulder that I was leaning from fell down on me. Adventure has its perils! The boulder mostly broke up, so rather than being squashed like in one of those cartoons I just have a few scrapes. It was still a very climbable rock face!
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The falls for which the trail is named! (we live in a desert – we’ll take what we can get)
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It’s a beautiful spring, satisfactorily cool and verdant!

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There’s a little cave nearby
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I always love looking out at the green through the black!
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The lovely path
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(as you can tell, no lasting damage from my mishap on the very climbable rock face!)
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Annie our dog likes to be in our pictures!

A very pleasant Labor Day hike! It’s always good to step away for a bit, when things get too irksome, and do a little relaxing.

What recreation have you attempted lately?

-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: 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-

Cogs and Gears: Rebellion

Have you ever had it up to THERE with something, and just can’t go on with it no matter how hard you make yourself? Maybe you have a task in hand that seemed interesting and full of promise once – but is now nothing but boring, tedious, irritating, and a total waste of time?! You’ve made yourself work past several problems, squeezed out solutions to a flock of difficulties, troubleshot lots of trouble – but there seems to be more and more issues coming up and you can’t get to them all and they’re little but insurmountable and you can’t get anything done and – !

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this happens to everyone.

And more often than not, that includes me! Etsy, of course, is included among those tasks and projects: Getting a shop started and then running efficiently is a complicated effort (and sometimes doesn’t seem to produce much); so every once in a while – especially after a big push to make new products or a list and promote them – it just seems like too much work. What was inspiring and exciting 3 weeks ago becomes almost loathsome!

With our “Cogs & Gears” feature, we invite you to see what goes on in the machinery of our Etsy shops – how we make stuff, new ideas, even business. How it all works. And – well, every once in a while it just doesn’t work. That’s what I call Rebellion!

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At times of Rebellion, one takes a stand against the tyrannical forces of overwork – sometimes by doing fun stuff like making a random new costume. These things must be done!

It’s when my mind revolts from the thought of writing another listing, my heart sickens at the touch of a crochet hook, my hand refuses to reach for a camera, my mind will simply no longer apply itself to the intricacies of promotion! So, without meaning to, I rebel: I might do something else totally unrelated for a few days – like sew, or read, or get involved in a new form of social media, or (most dreadful and destructive of all!) do nothing but potter about.

 

The irony is that I find these times of Rebellion almost as frustrating as the fatigue that drives me to them: I’m not productive, though I feel like I should be, and often not even relaxed and refreshed as I might have been if I’d taken an intentional break.

And that’s probably why Sarah’s “Ladybug Week” is such a good idea. Maybe we should stop pushing ourselves so hard – making ourselves work, forcing ourselves to problem-solve. It might not be such a bad thing to take a little intentional time off to do other activities or simply relax – before we hit the fatigue!

I might try it. How about you?

-Abigail-

Frustrations

Ever had one of those weeks, when things just keep going wrong?

You know what I mean: Those times when what ought to go smoothly hits a rough patch – the most ordinary of tasks is complicated by interruptions – a new Something isn’t as easy and awesome as hoped – a relationship gets jumbled by moods – an immediate service is hit by a delay – the perfect weather is broken by a storm (or by sunshine, if you happen to like rain)…

Everybody has these times; the new, shiny, hard, red zits on the forehead of life. Even the most saintly people have doubtless encountered frustrations. Surely the most successful and efficient have trips where all the lights are red and there’s a traffic jam on the freeway!

Last week was like that for me. Frustration met frustration like kissing dominoes until I finally gave up and took a couple of Day Off. It was tremendously refreshing, but has left me where I was last Monday – with work to do and problems to solve that I still have no idea how to address.

Pre-last Monday, I had hoped to put all of the items I made for our Etsy Boutique up on my Etsy shop; in fact, I really wanted to do that before the Boutique, though I didn’t have time. But things kept coming up, one after another, until I finally just settled on Monday as The Etsy Day.

Then along came Microsoft 10!

10 has dominated my week. My laptop PC was older and still on 7, so it’s been a big change for it as for me. I have to fix this, I have to fix that…

And my laptop battery officially died. Now I can’t unplug it without it totally crashing, which means I can’t move from place to place, which kind of defeats the reason for laptops…

ITunes changed and experienced unexpected problems…

Hannah got a cold…

My loving family talked me out of the adorable, and discounted, orange and hot-pink swimwear set that I really wanted to buy – entirely for my own good, since I shouldn’t be buying frivolously and I don’t look good in orange…

I lost the $20 I was paid by putting it into a temporary Clever Place. Never trust Clever Places!…

Did I mention my camera? It was the worst on all! I have a good (though unremarkable) digital camera which takes quite serviceable pictures for Etsy etc.

A butterfly from our Botanical Gardens trip last weekend
An example of the gorgeous pictures I can get with my camera

But it and Windows 10 do not get along. 10 won’t download pictures from my camera; and when I burrow in and extract them by careful mining, it refuses to save any edits.

I didn’t edit this; the butterfly was just that beautiful – and upside-down by its own choice! I’m not sure what that look in its eyes means, though…

My resident tech guy (aka my wonderful dad) couldn’t figure out what was wrong anymore than I could – and had his own computer issues to deal with…

For the last reason, although I took pictures of my new items, I can’t yet put them up on my Etsy shop. Frustration after frustration! What I had hoped would be a quick appearance on Etsy to tie in with the Boutique, has turned into more than two weeks.

As I said above, eventually I just gave up. I’m learning that I need to actually relax and recreate occasionally.

Well, now that I’m a little rested, I can return to the fray and try to struggle out a few solutions. Maybe I’m pushing the wrong button to edit and save things? Maybe a little patience is needed to get Windows 10 to work right? Maybe I should buy a new battery? Maybe I should just get that silly bikini? Maybe that butterfly has it in for me?

But I found my $20, right before I wrote this post. So things might be looking up at last!