Friday, January 23, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday

Every Friday I feature a Fabulous Find. These are artists and crafters that I have seen their work on Etsy, but i have also had the pleasure to view their work in person, either because I have seen them at a show or I have bought something from them. This week I want to introduce you to April of April's Originals.

Now, April is VERY busy and didn't have time to send me a little write up on herself, but here are a few things that I know about her! She is the mom of a precious little boy who is the same age as my youngest son, 5. She is a homeschooling mother! The patience that she has with her husband, son, and customers is absolutely amazing! And, she makes the most wonderful mommy bags, purses, and other sewn items that I have seen!

I secretly admire her bags from afar, and I am hoping that I get the pleasure of buying one of her fabulous bags very soon. She is so good at picking out fabrics, and she is always happy to help her customers find a fabric that is perfect for them!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

No, I didn't drop off of the face of the Earth - I am just a mom!

Gosh, I haven't blogged in days, but no I didn't fall off of the face of the earth! The kids have been out of school this week for MLK day and for teacher workdays. But, the big news is that we got 3-4 inches of snow!!! Probably not a big deal for lots of people, but since we live in central North Carolina, snow falls are few and far between. We just don't have the equipment available to keep the streets cleared, so most people just have to rely on mother nature to get rid of it. The kids are out of school again today!! I am sure they will have a productive learning week only going one day this week (I am just praying they will go to school tomorrow!). The good news is that I didn't have to do any grocery shopping!!! I had stocked up so much that I really didn't need anything from the store! So, no grocery game to blog about this week, and unfortunately, no new products have gotten made.

However, we have had a lot of fun playing in the snow, looking for animal tracks in the snow, sledding, and eating snow cream!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sssslllloooowww Start

It's Monday - and I am having a really slow start today! Maybe it is because the kids are home from school for MLK day, or maybe it is because I cleaned endlessly over the weekend. Or maybe it is because nothing seems to be working right!

So, what to do when you are having a hard time getting started? Well, here are a few things that I do!

1st - Take a break and brain storm. If you have read earlier posts you know that I am not a really good list maker, but if I am having a hard time getting my day started I find that a little list can really get me motivated. I like to include a bunch of little things on this list - things that I can get done in 5 minutes or less. Being able to mark some things off the list helps motivate me.

2nd - Laugh a little - or a lot! I usually do this by playing a silly game with the kids. This morning we had a very involved game involving nerf guns and hiding around corners. Anytime I play with the kids I get a pretty good laugh and it really helps give me perspective to what things are really important in life.

3rd - Call a friend. So, I didn't do this one today, but when the kids are off at school I will usually call a friend and just have a good 30min chat.

4th - Go for a walk. Usually mine is a walk around our property and making a mental list of what I would like todo in the flower beds, and garden.

5th - Clean up my workspace. Most of the time I have a hard time getting motivated because I have a stack of paper staring me in the face. Just going through the stack and getting it off of my desk helps get me going.

I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday

It's Friday again! Time to bring you another great artist who sells on Etsy, but I have also seen this person's work in person either because I have seen them at a craft show or because I have purchased something from them.

Kelly of Gone Doggie is a friend of mine, a great artist, and an animal activist. Kelly makes cool dog collars, leashes, plushy doggies, and fabulous reversible tote bags. I asked her to tell us a bit about Gone Doggie and herself.

Gone Doggie was developed by me, Kelly, because of my love and passion for dogs.
Having three dogs of my own it was very expensive to go out and buy fun collars for all of them not to mention it wasn't always easy finding fun collars. So I set out to figure out how to make a fun, strong, quality dog collar.

Once I figured it out and my dogs began wearing their collars people where asking me where they got their collars, when I told them I made them they would then ask if they could order one for their dogs, that is how my little business began. The name was help from my husband who was always making comments about how I have "gone doggie" and my name was born.

I am actively involved in animal rescue and pet education. One of my three dogs is a certified therapy dog. He is a reading buddy. We go into schools and children will come and read books to him. I have a second dog in the training program right now who will hopefully become certified in March.

I also have a second business which is pet sitting. I am a local pet sitter and have been pet sitting for going on 4 years now.

When creating new items I am not just thinking of the dog, I am also thinking of the dog lover. My newest item my reversible tote bag was developed when I was in search of a new tote to carry all the things I need to bring with me when doing my pet sitting. I decided to sit down and try to make something on my own. I came up with a size that worked perfectly for me and it has just enough pockets inside. Well, because I didn't put any closure on it my husband pointed out that the bag could be reversed so I changed the handles so that it is now a reversible bag. Most of the totes I have done have been in a dog theme but, I have since added some cat prints and a few various prints that I thought were fun.

My newest venture is embroidery. I am going to be offering name embroidery on my collars and will soon be doing some of my own design. So lots of fun stuff yet to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CPSIA - Will it keep us safer?

So, if you go anywhere near the Etsy forum you have probably heard about the CPSIA. If you don't you should know that CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) is meant to keep products being sold in the USA safer. It was passed into law in direct response to all of the lead tainted toy recalls in 2007.

So, as a parent, my first reaction is, good - Congress is doing something about the problem. However, as I read more and more and think about this, really I don't think we will be any safer. Why, you ask? First of all we already had laws in place that banned lead paint in the US, but there were still millions of toys recalled for lead paint. Companies who broke the law voluntarily recalled the said items, but if they hadn't recalled them, they would have faced fines. So, why didn't the old laws stop this from happening?

The problem with the old law was that the penalties for breaking the law were not harsh. If a company put a toxic toy on the market they basically faced bad press and a slap on the wrist. Probably no consolation to the parents who had very sick children because of lead tainted toys. If the law had real consequences in the first place - you can bet your bottom dollar that the QC (quality control) departments of these huge toy companies could have prevented this mess in the first place.

So, you still may be thinking - Well, good, they fixed the law. Partly, yes and partly no. Instead of fixing the old law and placing harsher penalties on the companies that break the law, the new law will be placing penalties on consumers. The new law requires that all items for children under the age of 12 require 3rd party testing of items and lowers the acceptable amount of lead in any product for children 12 and under. The costs for this testing are approximately $300 - $1200+ per lot made. The testing required is not a simple lead testing kit you can buy at a hardware store, it is a comprehensive test that requires items to be destroyed to test all components of a product except for the components that are inaccessible to children. A new lot is created ever time any material or process is changed in the manufacturing process. Therefore a red bike with a 20in frame would be one lot, a red bike with a 24in frame would be another lot, a blue bike with a 20in frame would be another lot, a blue bike with a 24in frame would be another lot, etc... Also, lots are changed when manufacturing stops, and starts again. Therefore if a company was making red 20in frame bikes and ran out of red paint the lot would end when the paint ran out, and when the paint was refilled a new lot would start.

So, for each lot created you sacrifice one item for testing, and add to your costs the cost of testing the item.

This cost is easily spread out when manufacturers make thousands of items in one run. Say you make 15,000 widgets in one lot - if your cost of testing is $1200 for one widget - your are only adding 8 cents to each widget. For a medium manufacturer who only produces 1000 items per lot, you are adding $1.20 to the cost. For a small manufacturer who only produces 50 items per lot you are adding $24 to the cost, and for a micro manufacturer who only produces 2 items per lot you are adding $600 to the cost.

If you suppose that that this item retails for $50 you can see that large and medium manufacturers could easily pass this cost onto a consumer with very little notice, but the small and micro manufacturers would most likely be pushed out of the market.

But, ensuring that there is no lead in products is a good thing!

I am certainly not saying that we need to allow lead in toys in order to let small and micro manufactures flourish. However, the a small and micro manufacturer would be devastated under the current laws if their toys were to contain lead. A civil lawsuit from a sick family, the mental anguish, and the bad press would be enough to devastate them. However, the large manufacturers have insurance policies and PR departments to protect them. So, when it comes to lead tainted toy recalls the majority of items that have been recalled are from large manufacturers who really don't feel the effects of the problem, and did not take precautions to ensure that their toys did not contain lead.

This new law may ensure that we have less problems with lead poisoning, but it will also ensure that we have fewer products to choose from when shopping for our children.

Also, please know that most cases of lead poisoning are in adults who work in environments where they are exposed to lead, and most cases of lead poisoning in children are due to lead paint that still exists in the environment where they live. Neither of these scenarios are addressed in the new law.

About 25% of my business comes from items made for children - On February 10th I will loose that 25%. My business will survive, and I will just change directions. However, all of the cute handmade clothing, toys, and accessories that is made for children will disappear. Most of these items do not currently pose any lead poisoning hazard for children.

You can be confident that you will still be able to buy a toy from a company that recalled thousands and thousands of toys due to lead paint violations. But a single mother who sews clothing for little girls will join the line to collect food stamps and ask for additional government assistance.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grocery Game Week 2

I didn't make it to the grocery store on Monday or Tuesday morning. So, unfortunately I had to go yesterday afternoon after the kids were home from school. Not Pleasant!

So, we didn't need as much stuff this week as last week since we got so much great stuff during the first week of Grocery Game, but we did buy a couple things that were not on the Grocery Game list.

Here are the results: Total Bill: 105.45 - Coupons/Discounts - 35.88 - Total After savings: 69.57

So we saved 34% this week! Not as good as last week, but 34% is not too shabby!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Make Over!!!

Well, I am not getting a make over - although I probably need one! Stacey and Clinton would be horrified!

But, the siding is finally going up on my workshop (here is a picture with no siding), and I am giving my shop and website a makeover. Kinda strange since I just bought new banners for my Etsy shops not too long ago, but I am going for a more modern look than what I have.

My new ad button is on the right, and my new banner will have the same feel when it is done. I am also getting new buttons and things for my website and giving it a total makeover. My website is long overdue for one as it has been the same for 4 years!

I will link to it when all of my changes are complete! Yeah! So exciting!

Tomorrow Never Comes!

So, last night I was making a list of all of the things that I needed to do today. It was starting to get really long and I finally succumbed to the fact that I was never going to get that much stuff done in one day. So, I thought, "Hey, this is a great time to plan out my week!" So, I moved some of the not as urgent stuff to Wednesday. Then I realized that I have a meeting tonight, so I moved some more stuff to Wednesday. Then I realized that some of those items really needed to get done on Tuesday so I moved different items to Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday were still pretty empty, so I decided that I could move some things to those days. Only to again realize that there were yet more things that needed to be done on Tuesday - that HAD to get done. Also, I remembered that I had a Dr. appointment on Friday, and that I completely forgot about the kids activities. Oh, and don't get me started on scheduling some time for me to do shopping, clean up, cooking, working on my website, completing craft show applications...

I think I felt better when there was no list - I feel even more overwhelmed now! Sheesh!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fell off the Wagon!

I was doing so good keeping the house cleaned up! But, alas, I have fallen off the wagon. I have gotten so sidetracked with a couple orders, the new option of Google Analytics on our Etsy shops, and several great new blogs that I have found that I completely neglected housework the last couple days. I did manage to get laundry done and the dishes, but I am not as on top of them as I would like. It is so easy to find something else fun to do or at least more important than dishes right?!!!

I don't feel too bad about it though! I did take some time out this afternoon to play a very important game with my 5-year old, Nick! Funny how they change isn't it! He used to hate posing for the camera, but now he just loves it! It still amazes me that he has the patience to play something like Jenga though. He has always been very careful and meticulous.

Okay, off to get back on the wagon! UGH - the whole 21 day thing to form a new habit starts again!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I am so scatterbrained today! I have so many ideas swirling in my head, things I want to make, places to advertise, and the fact that I hate my ad that I currently use. This is all in conjunction with the fact that I need to work on my grocery game list, cleaning the house, laundry, cooking dinner, and other projects around the house. I guess I should make a list, but I am really not a good list maker/follower.

Can someone please make a device to suck all of the thoughts out of your head and put them in a planner and make you do them! That would be just great!

Okay, so coming this week on the blog! Pictures of some custom boards I have been working on! Grocery Game week 2! And other Ramblings from me!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday!

So, I decided to post some fabulous finds every Friday. I am going to start the first ones with pieces that are on Etsy, but pieces that I have also had the pleasure of seeing in person. Some of them I will have purchased, and some of them are from people that I have seen at craft shows.

My first fabulous find is Ruth of AlloverArt. I first 'met' Ruth because she started buying my wooden shapes, and then she contacted me to tell me that we were going to be at the same show in Holly Springs, NC.

Her pendants and artwork are just amazing!

Ruth, tell us a little about Allover Art:

I started painting when I took a general visual arts class in high school. The class covered a wide variety of mediums, but I fell in love with painting, specifically oil painting. After high school I studied Art History in college and painted as a hobby. I never took any other actual art classes. My senior year in college I had in internship at "The Art Newspaper" in NYC. After college, in 2005 began work at a gemstone company, where I spent the majority of my day behind a desk. I still painted on occasion in my spare time. In November of 2007 a co-worker saw a painting of mine that I had given to my sister and asked if I would paint a portrait of his cat and dog for him to give to his wife for Christmas. After I completed that painting the entrepreneur/artist bug bit me hard and I started researching how I could run my own art business. In February of 2008 I quite my desk job and created Allover Art! I paint because I love it! I love to create something unique that brings joy to other people.

Tell us a bit about you!

I'm a former NC high school state swimming champion and record holder in the 50 and 100 freestyle. My senior year I was the state MVP. I'm pretty sure the records have since been broken, but it was nice while I held them. :) I went to Rutgers University in NJ on a swimming scholarship. From age 5 to 21 my life was pretty much dedicated to swimming.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I am it! I got tagged!

AAAHHHH!!! I got tagged!
tagged me and I thought this one might be fun, so I am playing along!

Your supposed to tell everyone 6 random things about yourself! HMMM - that might be everything!

first... here are the rules:
  • Link to the person who tagged you
  • Post the rules on your blog
  • Write six random things about yourself
  • Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
  • Let each person know they've been tagged
Okie Dokie - Here are the random things about me!

1. I hiked 600 miles on the Appalachian Trail in New England.

2. I have been a certified scuba diver since I was 12.

3. I love to garden, and have dreams to turn our 7 acres of land into a mini farm.

4. I am totally not a girly girl, but I went to modeling school and used to do runway modeling.

5. We don't have cable or satelite TV, and the only show that I miss is "Deadliest Catch".

6. My mother thinks I am the most organized person, and my husband thinks I am the most unorganized person. I am still trying to figure out which one I am fooling!

Okay - enough about me! Here is who I am tagging!

Ruth - Your it!
Meekiyu - Your it!
Amy - Your it!
Zenabu - Your it!
Tranquility Knots - Your it!
April - Your it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Groceries Everywhere! What's for dinner?

Thanks for all of the comments!

1st - I love the suggestion of making a weekly menu and only buying what you need for the week! That is exactly how I was grocery shopping before, but I was never very good at coordinating that menu with the store specials and coupons that I got. So, my new method is to take advantage of those store specials and coupons, and then plan my meals around what is in the house.

2nd - Did you save $78 bucks using coupons?!! - I saved $78 bucks by combining the store specials and coupons. I didn't do the work though - that credit goes to Grocery Game!

So, yesterday, after looking at the 18 cans of soup that I just bought - I was trying to think what in the world I am going todo with all of this soup?!! So, I googled Campbell's soup and found their great website . I was able to search the receipes they have for the kinds of soup that I bought and got some great reciepe ideas!

But, tonight I am not making one of those, I am going to make baked chicken and rice with the cream of mushroom soup and chicken that I bought, and have the steamed broccoli that I got. We are also going to have some butter beans that I cooked during the Christmas holiday from our freezer. YUMMY!

Later this week I am going to try taco soup from the Campbell's website!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Results from this week's grocery game

Drum Roll Please.....

So, just got back from grocery shopping - Not so bad today since I didn't have children with me who would normally be running in the isles and begging me for treats.

So I spent $143.17 and Saved $78.30! Wow! I didn't expect that much for my first week! But in a nutshell I saved 35%. I did buy a lot of soups that I have NO idea what I am going todo with, but perhaps it will motivate me to pull out my cookbooks and try something new, but other than that I didn't buy anything that we would not use. I will most likely have to go back to the store and spend about another $15 or $20 on some additional fresh veggies and possibly some more juice for my son, but overall I got a lot.

Here are a couple pictures. The first is my coupon organizer and the coupons I used today clipped to my grocery game list. The second is the table full of the groceries that I bought. Some of the highlights of my trip were - A pack of 4 NY strip steaks, and two pounds of large cooked shrimp (41-70 per pound).

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons

So, like most everyone I know - I am trying to save money left and right these days. So, I signed up for the Grocery Game. (If you decide to sign up please, please, please say that I referred you - leave a comment and I will send you my email).

Anyway - I have spent 2 hours this morning going through old newspapers that haven't gone to the recycling center yet and clipping coupons and organizing them in hopes of maximizing my savings at the grocery store.

Unfortunately I can't take full advantage of the Grocery Game yet because they reference coupons for the last twelve weeks, and thank goodness I don't have 12 weeks worth of papers laying around my house.

I have found a few things on the list that I am going to get - I will report back my savings when I return from my shopping excursion!

So, why did I do this to myself? Well, one of my resolutions is to cook more meals, and eat at the table more often when my hubby is gone. So, all of this requires grocery shopping - a task that I HATE! I have also vowed to save as much money as I can - So, all of this leads me to the grocery game. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a cook to actually use all of the stuff you buy, but I am bound and determined to give it my best shot!

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Fabrics!!!

Nothing excites me more than ordering new fabrics online and waiting for them to come in the mail! I ordered 3 Amy Butler Fabrics, 2 Micheal Miller Fabrics, and one Robert Kaufman fabric! Here is a picture!

I have used the Robert Kaufman fabric before and put it in a magnet board with a brown frame for a custom order. It looked so great that I just had to get it again!

The Amy Butler Fabrics and Micheal Miller fabrics are completely new! Oh, I just can't wait!

I hope that someone else will love them as much as I do!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Habits - Breaking old, and Forming New

UGH! I really hate trying to break old habits and forming new habits. I remember reading somewhere that it takes 21 consecutive days of doing something before you form a new habit, and I am really not looking forward to the next 20 days of cleaning, blogging, promoting, and all of those other things that I have vowed that I will do on a regular basis.

However, it is breaking the old habits that I find more frustrating! Especially since the habits I am trying don't bother me, but only my husband.

Oh, well, it is a new year, and I guess that I will know February 1st if I have been successful! And hopefully my husband will be less grumpy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can not believe that 2008 is over! But, alas it is, and it is time for a new year, new things, and resolutions. I am long past making hard and fast resolutions to change things that seem far out of my reach, so this year I am making resolutions that can possibly lead up to those changes that I need to make. For the last two weeks I have been cleaning like a mad woman. I wanted my house and workspace to look fresh and new for the new year, and I will be trying to keep it there. Or at least tame the messes before they become monumental!

There will be several business changes for me this year. I will be adding some new magnet boards to my line that have some new features to make them super functional! I won't tell you what they are yet, but I am hoping to have the first ones finished before the end of January. I will also be adding some other super functional items that are NOT magnets or magnet boards, Those are also a surprise, but I hope they will be popular with teenagers and moms who are always looking for new places to stash stuff!

I have also opened up a shop on artfire. You can find me there at I am planning to re-open my store at too. Hopefully that will be opened by mid February. I was accepted to Lollishops, but I have currently decided not to stock a store there due to cost.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year!