Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby's First Super Bowl

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and today I'm featuring this cute baby boy bib -- perfect for Baby's First Super Bowl, Baby's First Winter Olympics, and baby's First March Madness basketball tourneys.

Cartoon character boys frolic on a steel gray background, chasing orange footballs, basketballs and baseballs. Your littlest sports fan will be ready to watch the big game with Daddy, Grandpa and the big guys in this cute sports themed bib.

This 100% cotton fabric was designed by David Walker for the Boys Will Be Boys collection for Free Spirit Westminster Fibers. The reverse side features a multicolored cotton stripe in shades of orange, cream, steel blue and olive greens by Timeless Treasures.  


Monday, January 27, 2014

Scrap Management

One of my goals for 2014 is to make better use of my growing pile of scraps.  

I had a scrap management epiphany when Bonnie K. Hunter visited the Lincoln Quilters Guild and explained her system of cutting scraps into squares of varying sizes.  You can learn more about Bonnie at her website: 
http://www.quiltville.com/.   We (my hubby is also a member of the quilt guild) eagerly snatched up copies of two of her books.

She also authored a second book, Scraps & Shirttails II: Continuing the Art of Quilting Green, which is on my wish list, along with her 2012 book:  String Fling: Scrappy, Happy and Loving It!

We also bought Adventures with Leaders & Enders: Make More Quilts in Less Time!  How could we resist after reading this promo?

If you have ever found yourself paralyzed by your stash, overwhelmed by scraps you just can't bear to toss out, arm yourself with a new rotary blade for your cutter, make yourself a cup of tea and start reading. This book is not only full of beautiful scrap quilts that can be made in between the lines of other sewing, but also contains many ideas for getting your ever burgeoning scrap stash under control, into usable sized pieces that work well with one another, and ready to be sewn into quilts you've always wanted to make.

That was ME!  I was paralyzed by my stash and overwhelmed by scraps I couldn't bear to toss out.

I have also read books by Joan Ford.  She dubs her scrap management system "Scrap Therapy."  Her leading book on the subject is Cut the Scraps!

But alas, the road to ... um.... you know where ... is paved with good intentions.  So, after a quick read, the books sat on my shelf and the scrap pile continued to GROW -- exponentially, it seemed.  

But with my new resolve to tackle the scrap heap in 2014, my hubby volunteered to help.  Bless his heart!  

He's been "whittling away" at the scrap heap, armed with his rotary cutter, for a few hours each day. We now have nicely-squared scraps ranging from 2" to 5" and every 1/2" increment in between!

They're temporarily being stacked in a fruit box, but it is filling up fast.  We'll soon need to transfer them to large ZipLoc bags or medium-sized clear plastic tubs, sorted by size.

I think it's fitting that the box has a halo, because Jerry is an angel for helping me manage the scraps.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Treasury Thanks

I'd like to extend a huge


to curators of Etsy treasuries who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, during the past week.  Romance is in the air, and many of this week's treasuries included Valentine's Day themes.  

Today's features are like a box of chocolates -- treats at every turn -- so sit back and enjoy the no calorie eye candy!!

Sharla of Beaded Tail featured my retro-inspired red linen bow clutch in her treasury, Love Includes Hearts, Kitties, and a Couple of Bears.

These beautiful amethyst earrings from Sharla's shop would be a lovely Valentine's Day gift.

Jas amd Jean from Resinholique featured my custom walker bag in their treasury, A Walker Bag Pamper.  Finding the right gift for an elderly or disabled relative can be a challenge, and this treasury offers a variety of walker bag options.

This unique black and zipper heart pendant gives Valentine's Day a modern vibe.

Kadriye Sevim of Special Fabrics featured my red and white chevron oven mitts in her treasury, Valentines Day!   This gorgeous lace scarf in fuschia would be a colorful Valentine's Day wrap, with a fashion forward nod to Pantone's Color of the year, Radiant Orchid.

Nurhancanpulat of MyNeatKnit featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in a colorful treasury, Poppies.  This adorable hand knit baby dress would be perfect for baby's first Valentine's Day.  

Libi Fadlon of libisjewelryart also featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, The Teal Plenty. Libi designs truly unique jewelry. This three dimensional round pendant is a beautiful statement necklace.

 Nitzan Linton  of bellegemsjewelry featured the vintage hearts and flowers Valentine handkerchief from my vintage shop, Aunt Pheba's Vintage, in her treasury, Peaceful.   As most of my readers know, purple is my favorite color, so I was immediately drawn to this beautiful Spring amethyst necklace while browsing Nitzan's shop.

Nitzan also featured my heart baby bib in her treasury, Children's Valentine.  Here's another beautiful amethyst necklace from Nitzan's shop, this one with red accents.

Nitzan created yet another treasury this week, Simple Gifts for Valentine's Day, which included my Art of Chokin trinket box.  Here is another beautiful amethyst necklace from Nitzan's shop:

Nitzan was in a treasury-making mood this week -- and I am so happy that she featured one of my two unique Acoma Pueblo pottery pieces from Aunt Pheba's Vintage in her treasury, Some Finds.  

Moving from amethyst to its opposite on the color wheel, here is a beautiful yellow Autumn amber necklace.  

Anna Ragland of baublology featured my vintage hearts and flowers handkerchief in her treasury, Vintage Valentine.  Anna's vintage shop is a fun place to browse.  I love this vintage Avon dangling heart brooch, and don't you just love the way she styled the photo!

Bonnie Sernesky of BonniesSewCrazy featured my Valentine bib in her treasury, Be Mine.  Bonnie is a fellow sewist and a Baby Boomer teammate.  This cosmetic bag in pink and green paisley would be a pretty and practical Valentine's Day gift for someone (like me) whose makeup bag has seen better days!  

Katz Corner of KatzCornerBoutique featured my pink floral oven mitt in the treasury, LOVE Me.  This fun  hot kiss lips bunting would spice things up on Valentine's Day!  

Alisa Design featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Crazy Floral Valentine.  I know thou shalt not covet, but I truly do covet this beautiful orchid hand knit maxi dress -- beautiful, warm, and stylish!

StripyKite also featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Poppies.  (The fabric I use for those popular mitts was designed by Karen Tusinski.   Sad to say, it is now out of print and virtually impossible to find, so these mitts are truly available in limited quantity, and when they're gone, they're gone.)  

StripyKite has such fun and colorful knit items -- like these rainbow pixie mittens -- grandkid-friendly!  (Love that cute stripy kite watermark!)

Deborah of moonlightphotography featured my hearts and flowers vintage handkerchief in her treasury, Be Bold.  I love the way Deborah has used one of her photos to create a stunning Heart Beats iPhone Case.  

Marina of marina826 featured my hearts and flowers vintage Valentine handkerchief in her treasury, Red Gift.  This original painting - orange ball exercise woman - made me smile, perhaps because the chubby woman looks a lot like me, and many of my Baby Boomer friends who constantly battle "middle-aged spread."  

And there you have it -- sixteen sweet treasuries!  


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pin It!

It’s Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and today I’m sharing a marketing resource – Pinterest.  I love using Pinterest as a digital scrapbook, a source of eye candy and inspiration, and as a big girl’s picture book.
But Pinterest also has tremendous potential as a marketing tool.

I was amazed when I reviewed my year-end Etsy stats to find that I had twice as many views from Pinterest as I had from blogs, treasuries, Facebook or Twitter ---and I hadn’t even been “trying” to market via Pinterest!

So my curiosity was aroused when I received a solicitation an invitation to view a FREE webinar:  Power of Pinning by Melanie Duncan.  There were practical tips on how to create powerful pins using infographics, text over graphics, links and price information.  The webinar also provided valuable information on how to increase visibility of Pins by timing them to appear at peak viewer times and how to optimize captions for greater SEO (search engine optimization).

I’d encourage you to watch it during a lunch break – or during the LAST football game of the season (finally!!).  

The first action step I intend to take is to create a business Pinterest account (or possibly convert my personal account to my a business account).  Here's the link: www.business.pinterest.com

The second action step is to very consciously choose to Pin some of my favorite Favorites on Etsy, and to Pin all Etsy treasuries where my products are featured.    I urge my Etsy teammates to do the same. 



Monday, January 20, 2014

Tax Tip: Etsy Tax Resources for U.S. Sellers

Did you know Etsy offers several tax resources for Sellers?  

For a basic tax overview, check out Tax 101.  

For Sellers making over $20,000.00 in gross sales with over 200 sales, more information on the 1099-K Form (new last year) is available in the article Talking Taxes:  1099-K Forms for U.S. Sellers.   

And for those crazy few of us who actually like the mental challenge of crunching the numbers, there are actually tax-related teams on Etsy.  I recently joined the  U.S. Tax, Bookkeeping and Business License Topics Team.  

The tax season is still young.  Don't panic.  Breathe.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Treasury Thanks

I want to take this opportunity to extend a huge


to the curators of Etsy treasuries who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations, and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, over the past week.  Please visit the treasuries and Like or Share if you can.

With Valentine's Day less than a month away, many of the treasuries had Valentine-inspired themes.

Sarah Beth of Magnolia Surprise featured my pastel pink floral oven mitt in her treasury, Romantic Valentine.  These cheery crochet apple coasters would make a great Valentine's Day teacher gift.

Natashalh of Stalking The Wild Snark featured my purple chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Purple Love.  Natasha showed a little purple love herself when she designed this beautiful zentangle inspired wrap bracelet.

Debby Nijpjes of Dumpies featured my argyle baby boy bib in her treasury, Boys Will Be Boys.  This cute cuddle toy from Debby's shop would be a wonderful gift to welcome a baby boy.

Sarah Leonard of ACatLikeCuriosity featured my red and gold accent pillow in her treasury, Romance and Whimsey.  Sarah's Art With Love 3-Month Package would provide a lovely surprise in your mailbox during the dreary winter months.

Nitzan Linton of bellegemsjewelry featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Poppy.  This royal green glass necklace would be a lovely gift for a special Valentine.

And there you have it -- another wonderful week of treasury highlights.  Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 17, 2014

My 2014 Word of the Year

Sarah Leonard of ACatLikeCuriosity challenged the Curiously Gorgeous Sisterhood to choose  a word for 2014.  My word is ---

My thesaurus lists the following synonyms:

I want to focus intently on certain challenges and problem areas in 2014 -- monetizing scraps, expanding my vintage shop, Aunt Pheba’s Vintage, adding new items to Pasque Flower Creations, and re-focusing my efforts to exercise and eat healthy foods. 

In order to focus, I will need to limit distractions.  I will try to limit computer time to scheduled times each day (eventually), so that I can focus on production for uninterrupted blocks of time, and not be sucked into the vortex by tantalizing posts on Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs.

I’m afraid my focus may remain a little blurry until after tax season. 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blustery Day

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory through today.  Howling winds rattled the windows all night, and they continue today.  I captured this photo on my post office run earlier today.  It's a good day to batten down the hatches and sew!  But I'm off to the tax office.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tax Tip - Estimated Payments

For the past 16 years I have worked as a seasonal tax pro, preparing individual tax returns.  I am an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA), which simply means I passed a two-day comprehensive exam on tax law (34% first time pass rate back in the day), and I am allowed to represent tax clients in audits all the way to the Tax Court level, if necessary.  There are strict mandatory continuing education requirements and ethical standards that one must meet in order to retain EA status.

So, during this tax season, I'll be sharing some of what I've learned over the years by offering occasional tax tips on the blog.

Today I'll be discussing Estimated Payments.  If you were making estimated payments for Tax Year 2013, your 4th quarterly payment is due January 15, 2014, so this seemed like a timely post for my USA readers.

What Is Estimated Tax?

Estimated tax is a way to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding --basically, any income other than wages reported on a W-2.  (Although unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, and pensions and annuities (1099-R) allow recipients to elect withholding).  

Since Etsy shop owners are self-employed, that income is not subject to withholding, and you may want to consider making estimated payments.  (Self-employment income is also be subject to SE Tax, which means you pay both your individual share and your employer's share (YOU are your employer) of Social Security and Medicare taxes on 92% of your self-employment income.  That's roughly another 15% added to your tax bill.  Yikes!!

SO-- Let's say you net $5,000.00 in Etsy sales, and your other income pushes you into the 15% tax bracket. You could owe 15% in income tax, plus approximately 15% in SE tax on that 92% of that income -- roughly $1500.  Ouch!  

Why Make Estimated Payments?

Since the U.S. tax system is a "pay-as-you-go" system, if you wait until April 15 to pay all of your balance due, you may be subject to penalties.  Estimated payments are a way to avoid the risk of penalty, and to avoid the unpleasant shock of a big balance due.

So, instead of scrambling to come up with an extra $1500 on April 15, you could pay four quarterly payments of $375 -- OR, because most Etsy sellers have an income surge in the 4th quarter, you could make smaller estimated payments for the first 3 quarters, and a bigger estimated payment in the 4th quarter.

Why NOT Make Estimated Payments

There are certain situations where there is really no need to make estimated payments:

If you expect to owe less than $1,000.00 in tax after subtracting withholding from your day job and refundable credits.  Refundable credits generally apply to lower income taxpayers with children and to undergraduate students who are not claimed as dependents on their parents' tax return.  Earned income credit, additional child tax credit, and a portion of the American Opportunity Credit are refundable credits.


If you increase your withholding on your W-2 income in lieu of making estimated payments.
Let's say you expect to owe $1500.00 in taxes on your self-employment income.  If you are paid weekly at your day job you could have an extra $30 taken out of each paycheck and you'd cover that tax and have a little cushion.  If you are paid bi-weekly (every two weeks) you could have an extra $58 to $60 taken out of each paycheck.   You can request additional withholding by submitting a Form W-4 to your payroll office at work.  Simply complete that form and write the additional amount you would like withheld on Line 6.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

When Are Estimated Taxes Due?

Although I've referred to the payments as quarterly payments, the due dates are not spaced 3 months apart. So if you plan to make ES payments for tax year 2014, print off the vouchers, preaddress your envelopes, create an Estimated Payments file folder, and mark these dates on your calendar:

April 15  (double ouch)
June 15  
September 15
January 15

For more information, consult IRS Pub 505 - Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, or ask your friendly tax professional.

Disclaimer:  I do not claim to be a tax expert.  The general information provided is not personalized tax advice -- individual situations may vary.   The views expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my employer.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Treasury Thanks

I'm not sure whether it was the bitterly cold weather, or a sudden creative surge, but this was a BIG week for Etsy treasuries! I want to take this opportunity to offer a huge


to the curators who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage during the past week.  Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and sit back and enjoy some wonderful items from these curators' shops.  If you love their work, please Like and Share.

Linda B. of lindab142 featured my red linen retro-inspired bow clutch in her Blogging Business Artisans (BBA) Team treasury, Valentines Day Gift Ideas the BBA Way.   Linda is a talented jewelry designer.  This necklace would be a perfect gift for a special Valentine.

Kathy of Tapestry316, another BBA teammate, featured the blue Pfaltzgraff vase from my Aunt Pheba's Vintage shop in her treasury, and my purple chevron oven mitt from Pasque Flower Creations in her treasury, Cool Blue Winter.   One double feature deserves another!   I love this mustang quarterhorse and baby artwork:

And this Country Morning painting is another one of my favorite's from Kathy's shop:

Linda Pruitt of Pruitt Creations, another BBA teammate, featured my BBQ oven mitt in her treasury, Black, Red and Beautiful.  This triple yo-yo hair barrette from Linda's shop is red, black, and cute, cute, cute. 

Paige of OhNostalgiaDesigns featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Ignoring the Snow. Paige recently closed her shops to focus on finishing her studies and launching her career in interior design.
Thank you, Paige!

Maria Steko from Germany (buyer only) featured my teal and brown fabric-covered journal in her treasury, Teal Loves Brown Loves Teal.   Thank you, Maria!

Natashalh of StalkingTheWildSnark featured my retro-inspired red linen bow clutch in her treasury, Looks Like Love.  This Come Away With Me bangle bracelet would be a lovely Valentine's Day gift.

Stacey A. Whetlow of PoppyWallflower curated a wonderful Valentine's Day-themed treasury.  She featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury,  Poppy Valentine.  This Express Yourself inspirational card would be a lovely accent for a creative workspace.   This reminds me of my blogging buddy Edi. 

Dana Elfert (vintage boutique) featured my green chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Less is More.  This vintage metal-trimmed bag is a simply elegant statement bag.  

Kadriye Sevim of SpecialFabrics also featured my green chevron oven mitt in her green-themed treasury, Fashion.  This beautiful dary grey scarf is one of my favorite items from Kadriye's shop.

Kadriye also featured my black and white chevron mitt in another treasury, Accessory.  This leopard and lilac infinity scarf would be a perfect accessory for me.  I wear a lot of black.  Black slacks with a black turtleneck (to hide the age spots) is my "go to" work ensemble.  And purple is my favorite color.

Kadriye featured my baby boy sports bib (perfect for baby's first Super Bowl)  in a THIRD treasury, Heart!!   This lovely black and white pareo is another one of my favorite's from Kadriye's shop.  

Amanda of LifeScooped (buntings and banners for any occasion) featured my hearts and flowers vintage handkerchief from the Aunt Pheba's Vintage shop in her treasury, Deep in the Red.  This Valentine bunting from Amanda's shop is perfect for a Valentine's Day party. 

Sandy of SanmarnaStyle, a Baby Boomers teammate, also created a Valentine's Day-themed treasury.  She featured my pink floral oven mitt in her treasury, Gifts for Your Valentine.   This lovely hand embroidered nursery rhyme baby quilt would be a wonderful gift for a special baby boy or girl.

Last, but not least, Emma G. (buyer only) featured my green chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Green.  Thank you, Emma!

Thanks for stopping by.  I'll be signing off now to sew 15 oven mitts!  


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hearts and Flowers

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and with Valentine's Day only a month away, I decided to feature this pretty hearts and flowers vintage handkerchief from my vintage Etsy shop, Aunt Pheba's Vintage.

This handkerchief belonged to my Great Aunt Dot.  I always loved looking at all the pretty hankies she kept in a special box.

I must have been 4 or 5 years old when I wrote my name on her handkerchief box, because once I started school, I no longer made backwards N's.  

Although I've saved some of her hankies to give to family members, there are several more from her collection listed at Aunt Pheba's Vintage. Vintage hankies could be used as pretty liners for gift baskets or photo props, given as gifts, or used as a green alternative to disposable tissues.

I remember Aunt Dot as an "old maid" who lived with her bachelor brother, my Great Uncle Martin.  Aunt Dot collected Royal Copenhagen plates and pretty hankies, and made cookies with date filling. (I wasn't fond of dates.)  I wish I had known her in her younger days, when she was a happy and somewhat eccentric milliner.