October 28, 2009

"Quotes + Notes" Giveaway @ Akane Designs!

I'm excited to share with you the giveaway Akane is hosting this week. It is a giveaway from Etsy seller "Quotes and Notes", an accidental artist with great products. I'm a huge fan of her coffee cozies with the caffeine molecule diagram. Science junkie here.

Anyhoo, take a peek at Akane's blog, not only for this giveaway - but for regular features that are fun, resourceful, illuminating, and of course, exciting giveaways!

October 26, 2009

Photo Tag, You're "IT"!

It's funny how powerful images are. They've the power to evoke moods, memories, nostalgia, and sensory details we thought we overlooked. This simple photograph is no different. From January 12, 2009 - only a few months ago - and yet, a lifetime ago. My daughter and I were on our afternoon walk from our cookie-cutter condo in Alameda, CA to the shoreline for the sunset. Sitting on a bench at the shore, Marley ate one of her first "solid" meals - homemade, pureed yams. We rested with the intensity of the falling sun warming us from the cool, crisp sea breeze. Gulls and other seabirds sang and chattered while diving through the air to their underwater morsels. As we sat, absorbing all of the wonders this ordinary winter afternoon had for us, I knitted the "softie" seen in the photo. I was moved by the way the light and the wind danced through the stitches of the rainbow colored stitches - and snapped this photo before gathering ourselves up for a swift walk home.

Since taking this photo, our family has moved across the country two times. We have lived in Brooklyn, NY with family, and now reside in Bend, OR. The story of this photo reminds me that while our surroundings have changed radically in this year, our simpler traditions such as afternoon walks - are truly what creates our sense of home.

This post is in response to Cabin + Cub's blog post about "Photo Tag", a game I didn't know existed; and am so glad now that I've played. If your name is below, or, if you just want to play - the rules are as follows:

1. Open your first photo folder.
2. Scroll to the 10th photo.
3. Post the photo on your blog and tell the story behind it.
4. Tag people to do the same.

Who's "IT":

October 23, 2009

Overwhelming Self-Imposed Pressure

Okay. It's time to admit it. I struggle daily with overwhelming, self-imposed pressure. Pressure to be a perfect mother, perfect wife, wildly successful business owner, prolific blogger, inspiring activist, etcetera, etcetera. These pressures rarely contribute to my success or happiness. In fact, they tend to have the opposite effect; and yet, while I know this - I continue to seek perfection. Why? Well, I think I have a few known causes, all extremely too personal for blogging...and likely irrelevant as we perfectionists must all have our own reasons. But what's not too personal to blog about is the release to be found in admitting it. Admitting to this need for perfection somehow releases me (at least momentarily) from seeking it.

I've found this is a common experience amongst all perfectionists. And, today, whilst catching up with a backlog of unread blogs - I came across this relevant post from Seth Godin. Seth interviews Diablo Cody, writer of film, Juno, about what it is to write after having such a successful first film. Her response was not at all what one might expect from an Academy Award winning writer. Moreover, I found her generosity to herself incredibly inspiring - so naturally, I wanted to make sure you saw this post. Whether you write, paint, mother, or entrepreneur - Cody's stance will beg you to question how you define success - for the better.

Thank you Seth, for another fabulous, succinct post!

October 14, 2009

Ode to Etsy Mamas

Last night, I posted a forum thread "Mommy HELP!", in the hopes that maybe a few of the women who sell on Etsy and happen to be mothers, could let me know their secret as to how they get it all done. If you've been following my blog, then you know I'm not the expert here - with Marley being an active, curious fifteen month old - I've really been wondering how do these SuperMoms do it? I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of women who were willing to give me a peek into their daily lives; and offer up some really useful advice for troubleshooting toddlers, schedules and routines, and finding some harmony and balance in the otherwise topsy-turvy existence that is being a working mother. And when I say "working mother" I feel a bit redundant, because the fact is - it doesn't matter how many hours/week you punch in or don't at a paying job - all moms know that "labor" doesn't end in a birthing room.

So after consuming all of this incredibly personal and useful advice, I felt it unfair to just leave it all sitting there in the ethers of the Etsy forums. I have selected some of the advice that was most helpful to me in the hopes that it will directly help some of you. Also, I've included links to each Etsy Mama's shop at beginning of each quote - so that you can see just how amazing, talented, organized and prolific these women are. I have to say, I left that forum thread feeling, "Wow, some of these women should take a stab at ruling the world!"...we'll see if I ever get there myself. Meantime, sit back, relax (assuming babes are napping), and read on for some maternal advice at its best:
  • underhercharm: Up until 1:00 am every night! Mine are 1, 3 and 5, and they go to day care and school while I work at my "real" job. Then I spend a couple hours at the computer and working at night. Hiring a maid was one of the best things I did to help manage. Coffee in the mornings helps too!
  • Overspill: Get up early, go to bed late! And yeah, coffee!
I get up an hour before my 2 yo so I can check email, print orders + get laundry on. Then my time is hers till naptime, though I'll cut fabric or knit for my handmades shop or package buttons etc for this one while she's playing - small jobs that I can drop at a moments notice. Naptime, I photograph + list stuff, then after she is in bed for the night I pack orders, prep pics for the next day, write out descriptions etc, so listing is quicker the next afternoon.
Okay, my kids are 2 and 5, so it's a little easier, now, but I was consulting when my oldest was your daughter's age, and finding the time to work was a challenge. Anyway, I did a bunch of different things:
-For things that I could do a few minutes at a time, I'd set myself up in the livingroom, and just work while I hung out with him. (I do most of my Etsy stuff that way,too, but it's crocheting, so I can carry it around and do it a couple of minutes at a time.) It's not a good way to do anything that requires a big block of time or a lot of concentration, but it did allow me to knock off the easier stuff and save my big blocks of time for more difficult jobs.

-Get housework and everything else done while he was awake, so I could spend his whole nap working, and so I could work for the first hour or two after he went to bed.

-My husband would babysit for bigger blocks of time on weekends, while I locked myself and the laptop in another room.

Above all, go easy on yourself. Putting it in bullet points like this makes it look simple, but it isn't: I found that I could do 8 or 10 hours a week pretty easily, but more than that was exhausting, and if I'd needed to consistently work much more than 10, I'd definitely have needed babysitters.
  • kotibeth: I have two toddlers so I feel your pain!
I turned our basement into a craft area and a play room. They are threatened with the time out chair if they go upstairs. I was spending all my time chasing them back downstairs! The basement is filled with "special" toys that are only allowed to be played with in the basement. They also have a full shelf of crayons, markers, paper, coloring books and more.

I don't work every day. Maybe 2-3 days out of the week. I was doing mainly evenings but I never saw the hubby so now it's more like 1 evening a week.
  • jayval: I also have a daughter, 14Mo..And I stay at home..
I take my photos, and list first thing in the morning, while she drinks her bottle, and plays..it takes me like 1/2 hr to 45 min...All else, I do after she goes to bed, and dinner, usually about 8:30 to 10:00 at night I start...Though Im tired, as soon as I start working I get my second wind, and I really really enjoy it...Otherwise I would be bored, and fall asleep on the couch :)
The entire thread of seventy-something posts is like this! It was so hard to select only a few to share here - but now you know where to find or offer more advice on this subject. All of these women who have posted are my personal heroes - also, the ones that didn't have a chance to post because they were busy juggling fifty balls in the air, you are my heroes too! Thank you all for sharing and being part of this fabulous community on whatever level you can.

October 13, 2009

Moth Written - Featured Etsyian

For those of you who know me and know me well, you know that I am a hopeless romantic. Also, I'm what you'd call crafty - not in that Beastie Boys way; more in the Martha way. As well, I am a relentless activist. One day, while cruising Renegade Handmade's Artist list, I found Moth Written's adorable and compelling banner. I had to learn more, and I am SO glad that I did.

Moth Written is the lovechild of Mary E. Robbins and Nabil Sibouih. At Moth Written, you will find simple, sweet, and yes! sometimes political graphics printed on t-shirts, bags, pins and the like. What makes Moth Written different from any other graphic/print shop I've yet seen, is that accompanying these wonderfully appealing graphics are the Arabic words for each image.

So take a peek into their craftivistic shop, and learn Arabic one word at a time! Don your favorite shirt or bag and, to quote Mary and Nabil, "create positive dialogue about the Arabic-speaking world".

It Feels Good, Yeah!

Last week it got pretty busy around here in my wee world of Etsy. It also started snowing here in Bend, OR. Snow, that's right, on October 4th. I'm a California gal, so I found this to be incredibly exciting. But I must say, I'm going to have to rework the studio and move it from our attached garage to our dining room until winter's end. It was a freezing time in the studio, producing some custom orders, and packaging some great vintage finds for my dearest clients. My hands were so stiff, at one point whilst cutting the cloth - I thought there was something wrong with my Mundials. Turns out if you are actually freezing, it's likely your fingers aren't working too well.

Keeping warm by dancing and singing to the beloved Beatles while sewing (yes, it is possible!), I was able to complete and ship all orders. That's my job, right? you may be asking - why on earth is she blogging about this? Because I am starting to receive feedback from my appreciative clients who have received these items produced in the chill - and they are ecstatic! I just had to say it feels so good to make other people feel so good with the items I produce or vintage steals I find for them.

Just a positive note of thanks to all of my clients! You really keep me going - even in the chill of a freezing garage studio!

October 6, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

Hello again everyone, I'm back from my short jaunt off the blogosphere. It's been busy busy busy at home and work - fortunately, the good kind of busy. I've adjusted my daily schedule to support my hubby's endeavor to get some money-making skills (you know, like nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills). Also, I've got my family visiting from out-of-state - sooo good to see them. This means I've got to get much more Etsy work done in far less time. Fortunately, I am blessed with understanding clients.

Speaking of my fabuloso clients, I have decided that for anyone who purchases a gift for the upcoming holidays, birthdays, etcetera - I will be making custom gift wrap which doubles as art. I've always really enjoyed wrapping presents, since I was a youngster reading Martha Stewart Living, I've tried to make my own wrapping. It's so much fun to do - and I believe my clients will really appreciate it. The photo is a gift wrap I just recently made for a client who purchased the last "Rex the Snuggle Pup" for her young son.

As my mind is numb from sewing, wrapping, emailing, tweeting, all the while entertaining family - I can't recall if I've brought your attention to Jordan Moore's Handmade Success blog. I definitely want to point out her blog right now, as she's having the best Etsy giveaway imaginable to Sellers. Jordan is giving away five free half hour consultations to assist the lucky winners with whatever areas of business/marketing strategies they most need help in. To enter the giveaway, just visit her blog - and post a comment about what your biggest business frustration is.