Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! We had a very quiet holiday at home and are now stuck in a blizzard! Luckily I am not working this week, since school is closed for the break. I'm back on the job hunt again....this time not sure what I am looking for. But for now, I'm just enjoying my break.

Skinky is enjoying her new toy...The Wave! It's the only thing she's ever gotten excited over besides food! And today she is super curious, sitting outside the bathroom and meowing for us to open the door because....

We have a new addition to our family! Sapphire (might be changing that) came home with us today from the ARL Boston. She is longer and thinner than Slinky, and much more timid. She was very frightened to leave her cage at the shelter, but she is quiet and mellow, which we think will fit in well with Slinky. She is a calico, which is nice because my boyfriend wanted a gray cat and I wanted orange. She has a little cold, so she is staying in the bathroom until her runny nose goes away. This will give her time to adjust (she hasn't left that carrier yet, except to take a few bites of food) and for Slinky to get used to the idea. She's been hovering around the bathroom door meowing, so I think she will like her new friend.

Welcome home Sapphire! :) I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas as well, and I hope to at least finish one sewing project over the break. What are you up to this week?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Been A While But I Have An Idea

Well, it's been busy, busy, busy over here. We went to Orlando for Thanksgiving and had a great time at Sea World, Universal and Disney. I even enjoyed the super scary Harry Potter ride, which I agonized over while in the 90 minute wait, then went on anyway and it was my favorite ride EVER! If there was a shorter line, I would have gone again and again. Unfortunately, there was a line to get into the Wizarding World, then to get onto the rides, then to get into the restaurant, and finally, a long wait to get into the gift shops. One word, Universal...expansion!

We loved Disney, as always, especially all the Christmas decorations. We got a bunch of ornaments....again. We bought some last year when we went too, so most of our tree is somehow Disney related. Yet, we still managed to fit the rest of our ornaments. That's why I love our 11ft ceilings. Big. Christmas. Tree.

The whole tree. Not very impressive in this shot. We chose red and white lights. I absolutely LOVE Christmas, and this tree is really lifting my spirits. And I need it, because my last two checks have been small, and my job runs out in two and a half weeks. *sigh* My back is getting pretty cranky from all the hours I am working, so I'm going in for an acupuncture appointment tomorrow. Wish me luck! I do not like the idea of someone putting needles in my tush, but that's where a lot of my pain radiates from...I've got a little sciatica going on. Yuck.

Well, what are you doing/did you do for the holidays?? Any crafting? I'm looking forward to doing my Christmas gifts this weekend...all handmade. Or at least that's the goal.

Oh yes! I forgot about my idea. Matching totes to carry your plushie along on your outtings. Opinions????

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2nd Craft Fair = Fail.

Driven by my impossible idea to not only work 12 hours a day planning/correcting homework/working on report cards/teaching 2nd grade, I decided to do a craft fair and go for my driver's license in the same week. There are not enough hours in the day. *hangs head* The good news? I passed my driving test! I drove myself to work yesterday and everything. Hooray! The bad news? I did not sew enough to add the huge holiday selection I wanted.

Here is my table, all decorated for Christmas (the fair was at a Catholic School). My loving boyfriend made a supply run to the fabric store to get me more stuffing, and also got a little garland and a stocking for the table, as well as some delicious coffee and breakfast. Since I had my drive test on Thursday and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in Imax on Friday (SO AWESOME!!), I woke up at 5:30 this morning to try to sew those two holiday bears, and had to finish stuffing and hand sewing them shut while I was at the fair.

And here they are! My friend Tess bought the Holly Christmas Bear for a dance performance...she'll use the bear in her piece and then donate it to charity. Yay! These are two more holiday bears (which I must say I love!) and I have a third fabric, which is the same as the green but in red. I am LOVING these bears!

I had my custom order sheet out again, with some fabric samples, but no one even paused. I think they thought the bears were too expensive, and here's why that is very wrong. I read a blog entry on Etsy wherein the author described how you should price your items, and if I followed her advice, my bears would be over $50 each. Another crafter took a look at my bears and said I should charge $150 since they take so long to make. Very nice of him, but that would definitely be overcharging.

I love how the garland looks with the green and red cute.

"Don't you know someone who would love to get me for Christmas?"
I'm totally shameless. I was silently cheering for the 10 kids who were begging their parents for one of my bears. I know...horrible. But I didn't even make my table fee today. I did, however, sell the first successful bear, Yellow Bear. That's a milestone. He went home with a little boy who loves stuffed animals and the color yellow. I know he will be well loved. :)

So, I had this idea. If I don't get a job by January, I want to start a party hosting business. With my bears. Here's my idea: Parents book me to host their child's birthday party. I take care of age appropriate activities, manage the children and provide supplies, and each child goes home with a personalized stuffed animal of their choice. The parents would need to book a month in advance, have the style and colors picked out, as well as children attending and names. I haven't figured out how much I would charge, but I think it would be manageable and I could set my own hours. What do you think?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Penni Panda Finally Comes to Fruition

Today I finished Penni Panda. I think I will make the black circles behind her eyes a little bigger next time, but overall, I'm really happy with how she turned out! Like the Dalmatian puppy and Ruby 'Roo, Penni is made of soft fleece and is finished with a red polka dot bow. Her tongue is sticking favorite touch. I've been planning her for a while now so it's nice to have her here at last!

She's extra plush and chubby too. :) I'm going to start on my next holiday bear, and I think I will make either a koala or an elephant. I've been avoiding the elephant because it means creating a new pattern for the head and ears. And I still want to make a zebra...perhaps that will come before the elephant. I think I have the pattern already in my head. Either way, I want to have a lot more variety at the next craft fair, which is on November 20th, not far away. November is a busy month. I am now subbing for maternity leave in a second grade class (I think I may have already mentioned this) and we filled out our calender for the month. We have 5 days off of school this month, plus my boyfriend's birthday is on Wednesday. Lots to do...I'm sure vacation will come sooner than I think with all the activity! I put my updated resume back on Monster and School Spring and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for something in January. Crossing my fingers that the right place will be available.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My First Holiday Plushie Is Here!

It took me several days of short spurts of sewing, but here is my first holiday bear of the season! She has a beautiful green and gold holly pattern and red accents. I did a quick little photo shoot outside today, and surprisingly, she didn't show up very well because she blends in. Who would have thought the indoor pictures would look better. In any case, she's the first of several, and I hope to have several more by the time the craft fair rolls around.

This was the best outdoor one, but I had to do some editing. In other news, I start my long term sub job tomorrow. I went in to shadow her on Monday and I think I'm really going to like working in the room. I'll be planning the lessons myself, so it will be great experience for the future. And I will be looking for another job for January....but at least I have a job through the holidays. What do you have planned?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bright Pink Kitty is Here!

Here she is! Bright Pink Floral Kitty is the first plushie to be made with my new fabric. She isn't holiday, but she'll be making her debut at my next craft show in November. Can you tell why I love her fabric so much? *peeks around at the page* When I went to the fabric store, I was just looking for holiday fabric. When I came across this, and several other generic fabrics, I couldn't help but yank it into my cart! Instead of going for the soft, cute fabric, this fall/winter I'm going for vibrant, colorful patterns! Don't worry....more to come!

On the employment front, a long term sub position covering a maternity leave opened up in my school. My current position is finished on Friday, but if I get hired for this next sub position, I will be ok until around January. Then I will begin my job hunt again. What a long year this has been! I thought I wouldn't be writing about job searching anymore, but here we are. I am feeling a lot better this week, and I'm glad I had some time to work on sewing. I've got a lot to look forward to next second craft show, my driver's license test *finally!* and a trip to Disney World and Universal (for Harry Potter!!!!). It's going to be exciting, I just hope I can keep up.

Monday, October 18, 2010

You will not believe what happened today....

I got laid off. Again. *sigh*

The position I took last month is a grant funded position, and for some reason, the superintendent has eliminated those positions. Even though they were just added this year. I'm not sure why this happened, but (if I can toot my own horn) I am taking it very well. Especially considering the new car and the vacation we just paid for. Perhaps it's because this year has been so wild. Perhaps it's because I was nervous that I would be let go eventually (since it was just a one year position). Perhaps it's because we've been able to survive that past year with me on worker's comp and unemployment. Or maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. For whatever reason, I have shed no tears and am not seriously worried.

Tomorrow, I may feel different. But for tonight, I'm ok. 

Regardless, any good thoughts, encouraging anecdotes, or holiday orders *wink!* would be greatly appreciated.  Take care everyone.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Custom Mini Silver Bear

I finished my custom order from the craft fair last week, and here she is! A mini silver bear with a purple bow. Again, this fabric is very tricky to work with and made a huge mess all over my black pants, but well worth the frustration. I bought some new fabric to get myself started on the craft show next month. I have some really fun fabrics to work with, and this time I only bought a yard each, just to see which one will get some interest. I've got a lot of things planned, I just hope I have time to get it done. I'm so tired when I get home from work, but I can pace myself. How are your projects going?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My First Craft Show

Today was my first craft show with my friend Melissa from Sew Sustainable. She makes reusable gift bags, wrapping paper, Trick-or-Treat bags and much more! We shared a table and had a pretty fun day. We got a lot of interest in our products, met some pretty cool people, and even made some sales. I was hoping to sell all my products, but I think that was a lofty goal. Many of the people who stopped by didn't bring cash, so hopefully those who I gave my business cards to will find something on my website that catches their eye.

The event was actually a music festival in celebration of the grand opening of Bowditch Field. My favorite part was the Beatles cover band, although I was hoping that they would play some of the later stuff, but it was mostly early Beatles hits. I made cupcakes for the occasion, my Pumpkin Cupcakes for the occasion. I offered them for $1.50 each, or free with a purchase. I also put out a custom order form, and got two custom orders. I think it was a successful day.

If you haven't checked out Sew Sustainable yet, definitely head on over! She has some really cute seasonal bags available, on top of her regular stock of cute reusable bags. I am ordering a wine gift bag in pink. :)

I apologize for the lack in posts lately. Now that I am working full time, I have very little time to sew. But, now that I have a goal of a future craft show to look forward to, I have a reason to make some new products. I hope that this will push me to do at least one item a weekend, but we'll see how it goes. Until then, Happy Crafting!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feature Friday - New CreatioNZ

There hasn't been much going on over here on this blog...I apologize for the lapse. I've been waiting to hear back about the start date on my new job, and I must say, I've been a little bit lazy because of that. Call me a turtle, but I had to retreat into my shell for a while. The good news is I start my new job on Monday! Hip Hip Hooray! It is nice to feel secure again, though I'm sure it will be a bit of an adjustment gettting back into the swing of things. This means, of course, the blog will probably be a little bare for a while, but don't worry...I'll still be sewing, even if it is infrequently. :) Of course, you can always check out my new weight loss blog, Skinny or Bust! I've already lost 4 pounds! Come join me on my challenge!

Today is Friday, which means a new feature. This week, we get to know Jocelyn from New CreatioNZ. New CreatioNZ is full of wonderful pieces of art incorporating Jocelyn's photography in many creative ways. The shop features magnets, paintings, cards, jewelry, stationary, banners and more! Head on over to check it out, but first, the interview.
How did you get into crafting?
I have loved to create since childhood. I have dabbled in all sorts of crafts but always come back to painting. Photography is a newer passion but just as much fun!
How did your Etsy shop come to be?
I heard of Etsy through a friend. I had never done online selling before so it was a big step to open my shop!
What is your favorite part about being creative?
I love that it is never the same. Every new painting or photograph is different and that keeps me inspired!

Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
I have a job at my children's school as a teachers aide. My hours are the same as theirs which fits in very well, plus I get the holidays off with them. It does mean though, that my time for creating is limited.
If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
Jewelery, stationery, or handbag.
How do you create your designs?
I cannot start a painting without inspiration. It can come through a song, a scripture or an experience I have had. My paintings will often turn out very different to what I first imagined. With my photos I try to find new ways of using them. Examples are my cards, digital stationery, boxes and my latest, calendars.

Favorite spots for inspiration?
I have a lovely beach just down the road from where I live. I take my dog for a run there most mornings and watch the sun rise. I never get used to it. Each day God shows me another amazing facet of his creation. I am so humbled by what he has created for me to enjoy and if I can show even a small part of his glory in my art, then I am happy.
Who inspires you?
If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
This is so hard. But this is one of my recent paintings inspired by a walk on the beach one morning. It reminds me of what God has blessed me with

Thanks so much to Jocelyn for taking part in Feature Friday! You can also check out her blog to find out more! Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Purple Polka Dots

I found some time to sew this weekend, between apple picking, trail walking, and posting on my new blog, Skinny or Bust! I made this cute little Purple Polka Dot bear for a high school friend who had a baby....perhaps not so recently, as I've put this project off for a bit with all the craziness that has been going on.This one is a mini, since she is for an infant, and I added some new purple ribbon around her neck. What do you think about this fabric?

I have just enough fabric left to make one more mini, so I will be adding a Purple Polka Dot bear to my shop. I'm going to do an elephant next, thanks to the suggestions from my last post! And tonight I am making a butternut squash soup! Yummy!

This is a short post today...still waiting for my start date. I'm going to work on the elephant tomorrow, since (hopefully) I won't have many more days filled with extra time to work on projects. I'll be taking the bus system home from the new job, which will take about 2 1/2 hours to get home...with transfers, wait time, etc. I've been practicing my driving, so it won't be long before my commute is under 30 minutes! least heading home. I can't wait to drive on my own. Not because I love driving (because I really don't!), but because of all the freedom that comes with it. It's kinda silly, but going to grocery store and starting dinner on my own is something I'm kind of looking forward to. Lol. What are you looking forward to this fall?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

News and Fresh Starts

I started my weight loss blog! My goal is to lose 52 pounds in 52 weeks not by dieting, but by eating right, portioning, staying active and making the foods I love in a way that cuts sugar and fat. I'll write about what I eat, post recipes I try, track my progress, and hope to hear about your journey as well! Come follow Skinny or Bust! and share what you're doing to get/stay healthy.

I heard from the university today about the question I had with licensing. I am currently licensed in Early Childhood: Prek-2 for students with and without disabilities. In order to be licensed as a Reading Specialist, I must also be licensed in Elementary (through 6th grade) as well. I may be able to get my license after a few courses in the program, or I may need a few additional courses. But, by the time I am finished with my master's degree, I will hold two professional teaching licenses, an initial license for Reading Specialist, as well as my license for lead teacher preschool, infant/toddler. Whoa! I'm going to have a fun time keeping track of my professional development!

I am going to try to do a sewing project tomorrow. I told an old friend that I would make her daughter a plushy as a baby gift, but it has been months and it is still not done! Tomorrow, I am going to tackle that project...thinking about a mini bear in lavender polka dots. I also want to make at least one of the other animals I have been planning...what should I try first: koala, elephant, panda or zebra?

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank You Ikea!

Yesterday, we took a trip to Ikea to finally purchase some shelving for our living room. I am so sad (though saved of embarrassment) that I don't have before pictures of our "behind the couch/office/storage" area. It had become the catch-all area in our living room where we could "hide" unsightly cardboard boxes full of who-knows-what, the litter box, my dead plant, and basically any number of stacks of papers that I just couldn't be bothered with shredding. We've been looking at shelving options for months, and I do mean many months...I believe it began when I was still at work! We never found anything that felt right, until last night. Thank you to Ikea for having a new, updated line of mix and match shelving with doors. We chose one that would fit under our window and would hide whatever was behind it. This is what we chose:

It does has a glass panel, so you can some things, and hopefully I clean up the right hand side. I like that my books are protected from dust now. And those boxes to the right of the cabinet we bought to be placed in the glass panel part, but unfortunately....they were too long. :(

We picked up these square mirrors (4 for $5!) and some votive candle holders, along with matching vases to decorate the top of the cabinet (and hopefully deter from just stacking things in that corner again). I added some pictures and things as well. I love the way it looks!

We also picked up a tall shelf (right) to put our gaming things, and between everything that fit in the two shelves, the desk/storage area can actually be used! Before you had to navigate around random things just to access the printer.

I also picked up this drawer organizer for my sewing cabinet. It is full, BUT it is organized and neat and I won't accidentally stick myself on pins or needles trying to dig out ribbon. Hooray! And because Ikea is so cheap, it was all very affordable. The tall shelf was from the As-Is section, and when we opened the bottom door, there was a full bathroom set in there! $83 worth of toothbrush holders, soap dispensers, toilet paper stand, toilet brush and soap dishes! I love free stuff!

In other news, it looks like I got a full time job! Still waiting for official confirmation, but I should start on Monday! I will work as a permanent sub in the school I had mentioned last. This position opened up and it was a way better option than the part-time position, even though the part-time was more related to what I want to do in the future. With the full time job, I can afford to go back to school, so this week I met with admissions at a local university to talk about applying to their Specialist Teacher in Reading graduate program. It would fit into my work schedule and I really think it is time. Lots going on! So, as you can imagine, no new projects this week. But I did make diet banana bread this eggs, Brummel and Brown instead of butter and Splenda. Can't wait to taste it! I've been motivated to start a second blog, where I will try to lose 52 lbs in 52 Weeks...I haven't started it yet, but I plan to track my progress and include recipes that I try along the way. I'll let you know when it is up and ready.

Oh! There's my bread beeping! Have a great evening everyone!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Laughing Cherry Blossom Bear

August has been such a crazy month! My newest creation is finally here after an entire month of nothing new in my store. I've been planning her for quite some time and she turned out great! She even has her head tilted back a bit to show off how she is laughing. What do you think of her face?

I just love the fabric that I made her with, but boy, is it hard to work with! Just like my Olive Bamboo Bear and Special Occasion Bear, Cherry Blossom Bear is made of an Asian print brocade, and no matter how much I sew, I never learn my lesson about cutting on the bias...I want the pattern to sit right! My tiered skirt and this bear have the same issue, although the bear's fabric is much more likely to fray. Therefore, it takes a little more effort to tidy everything up in the end. But I really like her! How about you?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Feature - Missouri Bend Studio

I know, it's after midnight, so it isn't really Friday, but I blame it all on Hurricane Earl! We had to drive to Rhode Island today to save the car from the impending storm (and our license plates FINALLY arrived today! Three whole weeks of waiting!). We were just driving away when some heavy rain started, so we made it just in time. And so far haven't had any issues up here. Anyhow, I wanted to share with you an Etsy Shop that I've really enjoyed following, both through her shop, on the Etsy forums, and on her blog, Missouri Bend Studio. Patti makes some amazing pieces of art out of mixed media. Each one is unique and oh-so-beautiful! I just love the creative and expressive designs and landscapes she makes...I wish I had half her talent! So let's get to know Patti from Missouri Bend Studio.

1. How did you get into crafting?
I think of myself as an artist, rather than a “crafter” per se, but having said that, I don’t know where the line is, between those two pursuits. Perhaps for me, being an artist goes beyond an activity to an identity and a way of being in the world, if that makes sense. I graduated from art school in 1980 and have been making art ever since, even alongside my job as a cataloger in the academic library of the school I attended, Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. I left that job after 25 years when we moved to South Dakota in 2005, but have never had a time when I was not making art. I get pretty cranky if I’m away from the studio for too long!
2. How did your Etsy shop come to be?
Well, my husband and I moved to South Dakota 5 years ago—he is a printmaker and now on the faculty at the University of South Dakota. The idea when we came here was that I would be in the studio full-time, which was what I did for the first year, but then I broke my leg and was laid up for a while and had time to think. I found I missed interaction with people and being in a library. Just then a ½ time position opened up at the university library. I worked there for three years, but let’s just say it wasn’t a good fit…not anything like the job I’d had at Ringling for 25 years! I was looking for some way to move on from that and heard about Etsy in early December of last year. I took the leap and opened my shop in mid-February and “retired” myself from the job in mid-May. I love this new Etsy life—am learning a lot about the on-line world, meeting new creative people and making a lot of new work in the studio. Etsy didn’t exist when we first moved here, I don’t think, and my time alone in the studio had no real focus or outlet, which is something that is really important! Now, I’m totally driven and immersed in this whole pursuit.
3. What is your favorite part about being creative?
My art-making practice is the way that I come to terms with my understanding of the world and of my place in it. I find that I think through my hands and as I make the work and watch it emerge, I learn what it is I’m actually thinking deep inside. And I’m never, ever bored…on the contrary, my biggest frustration in life is that there are not enough hours in the day and one lifetime is hardly enough to do everything I’d like!
4. Are you a full time crafter or do you have a "day job?"
As I mentioned before, I quit my ½ time day job…it was a leap of faith, as we are now on one income. While I have had many exhibitions and been in many juried shows up until now, my focus has never really been on sales. It’s a bit different now as I’m actively pursuing sales with my Etsy shop. Things are still very slow, but I am still working hard to make the numbers improve. I surely don’t want to go back, so I’m moving forward, wherever that takes me!
5. If someone were to buy you a birthday gift on Etsy, what 3 words would they use in their search?
This is a really great question! And really hard!!! I’m very interested in encaustic, which is a medium I haven’t pursued (Yet!) even though I work with beeswax. So, “encaustic” would be one word. I don’t think anyone could go wrong with a “mixed media” search and I would also choose “whimsical”…there’d be some tough choices from what would come from those searches!
6. How do you create your designs?
My work is very intuitive, so I never make sketches ahead of time. I keep playing and making marks, layering paint and drawing, until things feel right and I begin to understand what the work wants to be. This often means that there are many layers to the work that are buried, but they become part of its history.
This doesn’t mean there is no struggle or frustration…I’m often at battle with myself. I’d have to say that lately, things are becoming more fluid in some of the work and it just comes without much struggle. That is especially true of the new work in the Pearls on a String series. I really love working with the drawings on teabags dipped in beeswax. Now, I’ve also found that I can collage the teabag drawings with gel medium and this allows for a different way of working, so I’m playing with that as well. I often have several things going at once, all at different stages and move from one to the other. I’m really best when I’m in a flow and things come from deep inside and not from “thinking”….if that makes sense.
7. What's in your Soundtrack to Sewing?
If you are asking about what I listen to in the studio, it’s a wide variety. I’m most interested in folk and traditional music, fado, and classical. Here’s a sampling of what’s been on in the studio lately…Amalia Rodrigues, Abigail Washburn, Uncle Earl, Steve Martin, Philip Glass…the list goes on!
8. Favorite spots for inspiration?
We live right on the Missouri River overlooking the Nebraska bluffs and we absolutely love the landscape here and even though I don’t work directly from life or from the landscape, it is always a source of inspiration.
9. Who inspires you? I’m discovering many, many wonderful artists just here on Etsy…here are some that come to mind right away….with their shop names.
Olivia Jeffries (restlessthings)
Karen Turner (hodgepodgearts)
Cathy Nichols (cathynichols)
Amand Blake (thisisalliknow)
Cathy Cullis (cathycullis)
but there are so many more…you could look at my “favorites”…they’re all inspiration!
10. If you had to choose one item in your shop as a signature piece, what would it be and why?
I suppose I might say Pearls on a String no.6…it’s definitely one from the Pearls on a String series and I suppose that might be the defining one. I think it’s because those pieces practically create themselves….I’m really able to get out of the way and trust in the process. They have meaning for me in that they are about the idea of pearls on a string, which for me, alludes to moments of truth that occur throughout our lives, or the way that, through language, words are strung together to create meaning and magic. That piece also has the spoon which is probably the first utensil man created in order to keep himself fed…so it serves as a metaphor for me and it’s such a beautiful simple shape. I love working with the teabags dipped in beeswax, drawing with ink and sewing on paper.
It’s all there!

Thanks so much to Patti for given such detailed answers!

If you would like to be part of Sensation Shops, from which I choose my Friday Features, let me know. I'd love to see your Etsy shop and get to know you a little better. Have a great weekend everyone!