Sunday, October 3, 2010

Infinate Sorries

I'm so behind on all of my blogging stuff! I have 3 features to post and I will (hopefully) have them up soon! So so sorry to anyone waiting for a feature, my life is absolutely insane right now. If you need to contact me, email me at

thanks for understanding

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Etsy Shop Feature- Vegancraftastic

Sorry for the delayed feature! Busy holiday weekend! Anyways....

I'm proud to present to you today a lovely Etsy shop by the name of Vegancraftastic.

There's just something about this shop that makes me so happy (more then just the lovely photos!). Vegancraftastic is just a great shop to go into and look around, and so today I'm going to share a couple of my favorite items.

The first items being the awesome journals. I have a super soft spot for office supplies and note books, very much so a weakness and so I couldn't choose just one as my favorite.

I love this Halloween themed one, it reminds me of the Boxcar Children for some reason (did you ever read those books? they were my favorites when I was little!)

and then there's the Window to the Soul notebook

My final favorite notebook sold before I could write this (yay!) but here she is anyways, Her Majesty is Knitting notebook

Moving past the notebooks (so hard!) The next items that caught my eye were the fabric overed buttons (both in magnets and pins)

Even though it's time for fall now, I love the citrus summer colors of this pin-backed trio.
I'm totally nuts about this pin (eckkk that was corny :/)

And there's honestly nothing I couldn't like about this darling bird pin AND it's awesome photo!

Vegancraftastic's selection of accessories etc aimed at yarn crafters (crocheters and knitters alike) makes me sad that I don't have the patience or time to knit/crochet as much as I would like to.
If I did I would totally be wanting these AWESOME stitch markers (who am I kidding, I still want them even though I would probably lose them before I used them)

Although they're not meant exclusivly for knit/crochet-ers, I love how the drawstring bag is presented in this photo as a yarn/project bag.

And last but not least I absolutly this PDF pattern for this gorgeous bird nest!

Are you interrested in Vegancraftastic yet? if you are, you can:

check out the shop here

follow vegancraftastic on twitter

"like" vegancraftastic on facebook

and check out her blog

And now more about Vegancraftastic from it's owner:

How was Vegancraftastic started?

Vegancraftastic was started when I finally worked up the courage to start selling my handmade goodies. Friends and family told me for years that I should start my own business and I'm glad I finally listened :)

Looking back on the day you first opened your shop on Etsy, what is one piece of advice you know now that you wished you knew then?

Probably the importance of tagging my items so that people can actually find them, I had no idea how search on Etsy worked back then so it took me a while to find the best tags for my stuff.

Your shop contains a wide variety of items; do you have a favorite item to make?

My pins are really fun to make, and it's a challenge to find fabric that will look good on a 1" pin. But drawstring bags are also really fun to choose fabric for, mayve it;s the fabric shopping I like best, ha!

What do you think the future holds for Vegan craftastic six months from now?

Hmmmm, hopefully I'll have done at least one craft show, that's my next big goal

And that's all for this week's feature, be sure to check back next week, or look at the previous features. As always, contact me with a comment or other forms of contact is you're interested in being a featured shop.

Until then


Friday, August 27, 2010

Etsy Shop Feature- Wilde Designs

Today I am happy to be featuring Wilde Designs.
Wilde Designs is a shop full of interesting pieces. There's so much variety and so much to love, so I'm just going to start introducing you to my favorites:

From the Limited Time Prints section, I chose this photograph as my favorite. I love the shapes and shadows on the wall.

From the Art Prints section, this piece is my favorite. I LOVE the colors and for some reason it reminds me of a good friend of mine. It was definatly the first thing I saw when I first looked at Wilde Designs shop.

The next section features The Barbie Murders. A very interesting set of artistic photographs depicting the Barbie in various murdered states. I've chosen to show the least "graphic" of the collection for those who may not like this, but I'd encourage you to go and look at the others.

From Wilde Design's Original Artwork I've chosen this art card

I love this heart necklace from the Punk Princess section

You'll find colorful magnets in the Stuck Up section. My personal favorites are these blue lovelies.

The colors and shapes in this Dallas Skyline notecard, from the Texas Treasures sections, are fabulous.

And finally I love the quotes on these Oscar Wilde bookmarks from the Wilde and Wonderful section.

Wilde Designs also has two sibling shops Tacky Fab and Power Ups

My Favorite Item from Tacky Fab are these earrings

And my favorite item (and picture!) from Power Ups is this coaster

Check out Wilde Designs Blog
Follow Wilde Designs on Twitter
"Like" Wilde Designs on Facebook

And now read more about Wilde Designs from the owner:

How did Wilde Designs get started?

I have been crafting alone and with my grandmother and mom since I was a little girl. I even used to hold my own little craft sales in the house. In 2006, I started hearing about Etsy, and after giving it some thought, I decided to try my hand at a shop of my own.

You have an interesting array of items, where do you find you inspiration?

It's as simple as making the stuff I want to make. Certainly I think about my customers and what appeals to them, but if I don't think something is interesting, I won't make it or put it in the shop. I like to experiment with my art and crafting. It thrills me to know that there are people out there who enjoy watching me do it!

Looking back on the first day you opened your shop on Etsy, what is one piece of
advice you know now that you wished you knew then?

I probably would have had quicker success if I understood how to promote myself online a bit more expertly, but I don't think that's something I could have been taught. I needed to learn it through trial and error and tips from other awesome sellers - and I'm still in the process of doing that. I find ways to improve all the time, and it's a lot of fun.

Aside from Etsy how do you promote or sell you items?

I do sell some prints through DeviantArt ( and other miscellaneous designs through CafePress, but most of my selling is done through Etsy. I use my Twitter Account (, Blog ( and Facebook page ( to promote myself and what I sell. It's fun getting to know other sellers - and potential buyers - through social media. I also make use of free ads through Project Wonderful, which has brought some nice additional exposure.

With three shops total, how do you manage keeping up with everything?

Carefully. In all seriousness, it can be hard. I try to keep my craft room organized and everything in its place so that it's easy to get orders ready. That means having ready made items organized, my shipping supplies all together, and photo paper and ink ready to run new prints at all times. I also have a spreadsheet on Google Docs to keep track of what I've sold each month so I can compare it to past performance. My goal is to increase sales over the previous year every single time - and I usually succeed if only by a small margin.

In your own words, how would you describe each of your shops?

Wilde Designs is probably the most eclectic, and I'd have to say it's probably also the most "me". It's where I give people a glimpse into what excites me in terms of art, design and jewelry making. I make no promises about what might show up, so it surprises me too sometimes. Power Ups is a collaboration with my fiance where we both exercise our geeky demons. I'm a huge "fannish" sort of a person, so doing the items for this shop is sooooo much fun. Tacky Fab is my place to share the overflow. This is where jewelry, clothing, and other vintage goodies that I just don't have space for or opportunity wear/use go. The items are all great, I just unfortunately can't keep everything or I'll drown in my own stuff!

At the moment, what is your favorite item in your shop?

My Barbie Murders photos in Wilde Designs are a perennial favorite for me, but at the moment I'm especially proud of my Doctor Who prints in Power Ups. They amuse me, so I hope they amuse everyone else too.

Is there anything about yourself or your shop that you want to share with us?

Just that I'm really excited by the connections, the possibilities, and - obviously - the extra income that have sprung from running my shops. Imperfections, errors and all it's been a truly amazing experience for me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Last Day of Summer and Already Falling Behind

It's here at last, the last day of summer. Gone are the days of carefree mornings, afternoons AND nights. Tomorrow begins the ins and outs of yet another school year. I'd be completely and utterly lying if I didn't admit that I've been secretly waiting and wishing for this day to come. Don't get me wrong, I love the lightened work load and the slightly alleviated stress levels, but I miss the rhythmic motions of everyday life. I long for the time of year, when my schedule is constant, blacked and mapped from sunrise to sunset. I (almost) long for the pains in my stomach when I inevitably stretch myself to thin. It's comforting to me to be able to organize, arrange and shape every moment of my life. And it's probably the most unhealthy part of me.

There is one demon that always catches my summer fun. He's a lovely man by the name of procrastination and he has yet again caught me. Yet again I finish my summer in a frenzy, writing and reading frantically, and yet again the school year will start with me balancing on my toes. It will take a few days, (I'm aiming for next Wednesday) for me to firmly plant myself back on the ground, ready to journey forward. Though I know the road ahead will be absolutely crazy, and sometimes downright scary, I firmly embrace the decisions I've made for myself for the next few months. But for now, I need just a few more hours, maybe a day or two, to hang in summer/school year limbo. I need to throw somethings around, catch them if they fall and just plow through until I land on the other side.

That all being said, I feel the need to apologize, mostly to myself, for my near failure to yet again follow my blogging plan. One day soon, I'm *hoping* I'll get this all to work out. I suppose in time we shall see.

But for now I leave you with the knowledge that there will be a tomorrow, and either the tomorrow, or the tomorrow after that, I will be posting another wonderful etsy shop. :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Etsy Shop Feature- Garland and Grace

I've kept to my word, and found a pretty fabulous shop to share with you today by the name of Garland and Grace.

Filled with gorgeous items from personalized Hair Bow Holders to Christmas decorations, Garland and Grace is really an awesome place to spend some time in. Everything is beautifully hand painted with vivid colors, bold designs and exciting fonts. The great thing about Garland and Grace is that there are so many ways to personalize the items. In addition to alphabet bow holders and plaques, you can also custom order a sign or holder with the name you want or in different colors. Definitely a great place to look for gifts for that perfect little angel.

This is one of my favorites. Something about the rich black “A” against the pink and white polka dots is just absolutely perfect. Not to mention the picture just jumps out at you in the shop.

There's also a “M” for Mary (in Button Bags colors no less!)

And what little girl wouldn't want their wall decorated with one of these lovely wall plaques?

Get ready to deck the halls, because Garland and Grace is stocked up for Christmas with and assortment of ornaments and decorations, including my favorite, this lovely “Peace” ornament.

Along the same lines, my other favorite item in this shop (which I discovered my second time through) is this peace bow holder. I love it! A bright blue peace sign with green polka dots inside (matching the grosgrain ribbon no less!) and pink in the background. Fantastic!

Perhaps rather then kids, you have pooch more stylish then a three year old in a tutu. No worries, Garland and Grace has you covered with this fabulous leash holder.

All in all, Garland and Grace is a perfectly happy shop for both you and your kids. Full of bright, colorful pieces and a gorgeous banner, kick off your shoes 'cuz it's a place you'll want to stay for awhile.

In case you haven't clicked already, you'll find the link to Garland and Grace right here.

Read more about Lisa, the mastermind behind Garland and Grace, in her profile here.

Check out the Garland and Grace blog here and watch every Wednesday for her 6 featured Etsy shops.

You can follow Garland and Grace on twitter here.

And “Like” Garland and Grace on Facebook here.

And now, read a more about Garland and Grace from owner and designer, Lisa.

How did Garland and Grace get started?

Garland and Grace, LLC developed out of a personal need. I have a mom that enjoys buying bows and a daughter that loves wearing them. The problem I was faced with was, where do I put all of these bows? I started looking for bow holders in stores, and I couldn't find any. I looked on the internet and was inspired by what I found. I knew in my mind I could make my own hair bow holders and eventually have my own business. The timing just wasn't right. After a trip to Tuscaloosa, AL to visit a friend, a future business possibility seemed like it could turn into a present reality. That area is saturated with hair bows and boutiques but no hair bow holders. I felt like there was a niche market there for the product that I wanted to create. Since the University of Alabama is there, I wanted to incorporate the two, hair bow holders for University of Alabama fans. When I returned home I gathered all that I thought I would need to begin and started designing and painting. A couple of months later my friend called and said that she had a friend that would love to sell them for me in her boutique coffee and tea house. That was the motivation I needed, and in July I sent my first shipment to the shop in Tuscaloosa and opened my Etsy shop a couple of weeks later. Today is my one month anniversary of being on Etsy.

Looking back on the first day you opened your shop on Etsy, what is one piece of advice you know now that you wished you knew then?

Since I have only been a part of Etsy for one month, I feel like I am still on a huge learning curve. The one thing that I have found to be most helpful is to be a part of Etsy through the forums. I have had more people look at my shop on the days that I post in forums than any other day. What I have been pleasantly surprised about is what a fun community of people there are on Etsy. People have been so encouraging and helpful. The fun thing I discovered yesterday was how to create a Treasury. I have already created two. It's a great way to promote other Etsy shops using a common theme.

Aside from Etsy how do you promote or sell you items?

I would say overall, this has been the hardest and most time consuming. Hardest, because you don't know if what you are doing is working and most time consuming trying to cover a lot of territory so that Garland and Grace is recognized. I have a Facebook fan page that is set up as a shop. You can click on the “Shop Now” tab and purchase right then and there with out ever leaving my fan page. I also twitter, and I have a blog, I have some of my University of Alabama hair bow holders for sale at the Heritage House Coffee and Tea in Tuscaloosa, AL. For the holidays they will be selling my Christmas d├ęcor. One of my favorite signs I created specifically for

Alabama fans says, “May All Your Christmases Be Crimson and White.”

At the moment, what is your favorite item in your shop?

My favorite item would have to be the “Bella” hair bow holder. It has a green background with the name Bella in black and the border is a zebra stripe pattern. It makes me smile when I see it, and it was fun to paint.

What do you think the future holds for Garland and Grace six months from now?

I hope that everything I am doing now to promote my shop will be paying off. I would hope that I would find a rhythm that works to be able to mass produce. My problem is that I have so much fun coming up with new designs, it's hard for me to create the same thing over and over. I hope that in six months I will be steadily busy and that my designs will continue to evolve and be the best out there.

Is there anything about yourself or your shop that you want to share with us?

I have a wonderful, supportive husband that has been my right hand through this process. If it weren't for his encouragement and support, I don't think I would have an Etsy shop. I also have two wonderful children, Brayden (10) and Elle (6). I am going on my sixth year of homeschooling. It should be an interesting year juggling family, taking care of the home, homeschooling, and maintaining a business. The children are already learning about economics. I am looking forward to a wonderful year. I am blessed.

And there you have it! I hope you all enjoyed my first etsy shop feature. Let me know how I did or leave your thoughts on Garland and Grace in the comments below. Look out next week for a new etsy shop feature. Do YOU want to be that next featured shop? Send me a convo on etsy or email me at


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Failures and Do-overs

So since I basically dropped the ball on the whole blogging thing, I'm making it my new school years resolution to stay on top of it. So here's the plan.

Once a week (probably early in the week like Monday or Tuesday) I'll post something lifestyle-y. Photos, crafting ideas, tutorials, things I've seen or I think are interesting.

And then at the end of each week (I'm aiming for Friday but it may end up being sometime over the weekend) I'm going to talk about a shop on Etsy. Not too many frills or whistles, and I won't ask for anything in return, but it's just a nice way to connect shops. So maybe I'll talk about what I love about the shop. Maybe I'll talk and then post a little owner interview. If you struggle with your shop, I can put up a critique of your shop and then let others weigh in. Basically I want it to be a fun way to learn about others shops. And once your featured, I hope you'll continue to stop by and support the other shops that are in my blog.

So I'm going to start the "lifestyle" bits now, and once I hunt down and etsy shop willing to be my guinea pig, I'll start the shop profiles. (Send me a convo or an email at if you want your etsy shop featured )

Ok first picture blog!

The picture above is from last week in glacier bay Alaska, where I was fortunate enough to be vacationing with my family. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I literally have close to 500 pictures of the bay because everywhere you turned there was a breathtaking view. It's deffinatly a vacation I will never forget.

- Mary

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Photography Tutorial

Here is my first tutorial. Welcome to the joys of taking photos for Etsy!

For my pictures, I use a GIANT lightbox that I built with 5 sheets of foam board (my pieces are larger then the foam poster boards, and are from the mounting section of my local craft store, you can build what ever size works best for you) and white duck tape. All the sides are tapes and there is a hole at the top to take pictures looking straight down. I have two lights (these) with clamps from the hardware store. It's important that the light bulbs are natural light or daylight bulbs. Because of the size of my box, I probably need at least two more lights but at the moment I can make do with what I have.

This is my original picture from my light box. Ick! I obviously need more light but I can do a lot with this and make it work.
To edit my photographs, I use Picasa which is a free program created by Google. It is really easy to use and is great for making your photos look awesome.

I start off by clicking the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. Sometimes this helps, sometimes it makes things worse. If I don't like what it gives me, I just click undo and continue with the following steps. If it gives me something decent, I use this as my footwork, but follow the following steps to make things perfect.
Increasing the highlights to increase the brightness. Generally I move this just about a quarter of the way before it mess the color up too much.

Adding fill light. Fill light, in my opinion, adds so dimension after the first round of editing. It makes the texture in the fabric more prominent and makes the background just that much whiter. Generally you can't add too much fill light without distorting the image. To correct background color, use the color temperature button. If your picture has a blueish hue, slide it slightly to the right. If your picture has a yellowish hue, slide it slightly to the left. Be careful not to adjust this too much or you may reverse your problem.
Use the "retouch" button to get rid of lines or soften shadows.
The retouch button allows you to select a spot to be "patched". You then must choose what you want it to be patched with, i.e. a pure white spot. Picassa will then blend the old and the new to create a soft change. If dramatic lines or "impurities" cannot be fixed by doing this, I save my progress, switch into paint and use the paint brush to paint white over this blemish and then go back into Picassa to blend the area.
Cropping the picture because their is too much negative space
Finished Product!

Too much highlight will make your pictures look like this;
Too much fill light will make you pictures look like this;
Too much shadow will make your pictures look like this;
Too far to the right on color temperature will make your photos yellow like this;
Too far to the left on the color temperature will make your photos really blue like this;
Different stagings:

Staging is really important, especially for your first picture. The first picture should have what I like to call "thumbnail appeal". Remember that this is the picture that will be seen in your shop, in searches, and treasuries. It should clearly show the product but also have some interrest to increase the potential of it being clicked or put into a treasury. Ideas for great "thumbnail appeal" :
-angles: a great way to make your first picture interesting without taking away from it or hiding it among other items is to take it at an angle; take pictures looking down, looking up, sideways etc.
- household items: Basic household items can be great props for photos if used in the right way. These props should not hide the item, or out shine them. Great props include simple books ( similar or plain colors and covers), tea cups or china are great for jewelry, scrapbook paper can add a simple, and cheap, background but make sure it's not too crazy.

For more staging ideas you can look at my other photos in my shop. (please excuse the one horrid listing that I haven't had time to re-shoot yet)

If you have questions or if you need help you can leave a comment here, send me an e-mail at or convo me on etsy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Signs of Summer

There are always those tell tale signs of summer. Windows are thrown open to let fresh breezes waft in, the whirring buzz of lawnmowers can be heard at almost every hour, and the sound of children laughing mixes with the excited barks of neighborhood dogs and the melodies of chirping birds.

Last night, we experienced the tell tale sign of summer at our household; the lighting of the fire pit and tikki torches.

Marshmallows were brought out on a tray next to perfectly squared graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate. Long metal sticks protected us as the marshmallows slowly turned to golden brown (and then burned on more then one occasion).

I, unfortunately, am not the best at marshmallow roasting. I completely burned two, sliding them off into the fire in defeat, before completing one worthy of being s'mored.

The two charred marshmallows were soon accompanied by two more and my marshmallow roasting stick was retired.

Despite the lack of more delectable s'mores, I sat back and watched the fire crackle and dance in the summer night sky.

it is now officially summertime.