Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions 2013

It's that time again...Time to make New Year's Resolutions! So, here goes ---

2013 Resolutions


Keep a daily gratitude journal.
Finish Erin’s graduation quilt.
Eat more veggies.
Walk more.
Read at least one really good book per month.
Drink less Diet Coke.
Visit my sons, Tim and Jeff  (one in NH, one in DC).


300+ sales.
Create 5 items per week, at least 1 “new” item (not previously listed).
Do at least 2 seasonal promotions.
Find creative uses for scraps.
Keep blogging.
More Facebook posts.
Limit computer time to less than 1.5 hours per day. (Good luck with that one, right!?)
Happy New Year!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Treasury Thanks and Happy New Year!

Greetings from the frozen prairie.  My return from my late Christmas in SD was delayed due to icy roads and minor but time-consuming car trouble.  I'm back safely, but a little late posting this week's Treasury Thanks!

I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to the curators who featured items from my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations, over the past week!

Nesrin of NesrinArt from Istanbul, Turkey featured my green chevron oven mitts in her treasury, 2013!..Green.  Nesrin makes beautiful hand knit items like this gorgeous dark forest green neck warmer, perfect for bundling up on a cold winter day:

Cynthia of AntiquityTravelers featured my red linen retro-inspired clutch in her treasury, Roses, Tulips and Poppies, Oh My!   Cynthia is known for her fine jewelry.  I just love these coral earrings:

Linda Pruitt of PruittDesigns featured my pillow cover in her beautifully-curated treasury, Silver and Gold Have I None.  Linda is having a 50% off sale at her shop, so now is your chance to pick up some beautifully-crafted items at a bargain price!   This shell pendant necklace is one of my favorites:

If I have missed anyone, I apologize!  My computer time has been sporadic over the holidays.  I hope everyone had a joyful holiday season.  I wish you all Good Health and Good Luck in 2013!!

Happy New Year!
LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Looky What I Got! -- BBA Secret Santa Reveal

This adorable, whimsical package sat under my Christmas tree for two weeks.  It was a gift from Deb Baroff of Storybeader.  I received it as part of the Blogging Business Artisans Team Secret Santa exchange. The grandkids LOVED that package! And although it was almost too cute to open, I did open it on Christmas Eve, to squeals of delight.

The purple (my favorite color) picture frame -- so cute, and with some bling in the center of each flower, was put to use quickly to show off the latest grandkid photo.

And the SEW Somerset magazine (Winter 2013) is chock full of eye candy and inspiration!!  It may just nudge me out of my comfort zone to experiment with mixed media!
This fabric collage designed by Sue Altman makes use of beautiful batik fabrics,  It reminded me of the family farm where I grew up.  
And I, who am always on the lookout for fun ways to use my heap of scraps, could not resist these adorable little dolls -- granddaughter-friendly, I'm sure! The dolls were designed by Danita.
Here's a closeup.  Aren't they just the CUTEST?!!  Painting the eyes could be a bit of a challenge, but I think I will need to give it a go.
And there were pages of these 3D art quilts, part of what designer Carrie Payne calls her Magpie Collection of Girl Quilts.  (Magpies are collectors of things that seem to be of little value.)  I just love her creative use of found objects to embellish the flouncy skirts.

So THANK YOU, Deb!  And thanks to all the members of the Blogging Business Artisans Team whose support and encouragement have been a major factor in the growth of my little Etsy shop over the past six months.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I'll be spending much less time on the computer this week as I connect with kids and grandkids and enjoy this precious time together.  

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Treasury Thanks

I spent a fun day Saturday making a gingerbread house and Christmas cookies with three of our grandsons.
And it will be a busy week as we connect with kids and grandkids Dec. 24, 25, 27 and 28.  But I want to take a few minutes, even at this busy time, to say a huge THANK YOU to the Etsy treasury curators who featured items from my little shop, Pasque Flower Creations, over the past week.

Stav Davidovitz of StavFineJewelry featured my yellow chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Happy Holiday.
Stav is a truly gifted jewelry designer.  This beautiful 14K gold ring is an example of her design and craftsmanship. 

Stav also featured my gray chevron oven mitt in another treasury, great designs--great gifts.  These 14K gold and diamond earrings from Stav's shop are so feminine!

Tania Sarunsiri from niaStore featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her colorful holiday-themed treasury, Green and Red Mean CHRISTMAS.    Tania makes unique bags and accessories like this versatile cross body bicycle bag.

 Alisa from principessabows featured my navy and white chevron oven mitt in her treasury, New Beginnings. Alisa makes adorable bows, like this festive red and white peppermint striped bow.  

Tara of waterwaif featured my purple plaid napkins in her treasury shopping for purple plaids.  Tara designs jewelry with a bohemian flair, like these fun red earrings, perfect for a holiday party:

Bonnie Sernesky of BonniesSewCrazy featured my textured brown pillow cover in her down to earth treasury, Earth Tones.  Bonnie's earthtones checkbook cover would be a pretty and practical gift.

Linda B. of lindab142 featured my funky stylist patchwork drawstring bag in her Blogging Business Artisans (BBA) Team Treasury, Superhero Artisans.   Linda B. makes exquisite jewelry, and many of her pieces celebrate her Jewish heritage, like this beautiful beaded kippah.

Michele of OutsideInArtStudio featured my aqua chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Christmas Aquamarine Style.  Michele makes charming watercolor art prints.  This colorful vegan-friendly print would be the perfect gift for a foodie.  It would brighten any kitchen:

Becca Koopmans from wearlovenow featured my yellow and white chevron oven mitt in her kitchen-themed treasury, Quick, before the timer goes off!!!  Becca's shop sells upcycled clothing, like this fantastic regal in red top:

Sigita from SijaFelt featured my gray chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Snowy Christmas.  Sigita is from Lithuania and she designs and makes beautiful felted clothing and accessories, like this gorgeous long felted scarf:

Cecilia Dyer of AnnabelleEveDesigns featured my navy and white chevron oven mitt in her treasury, The Ever Stunning Chevron.  Cecilia specializes in personalized moss and burlap designs, but she is
n vacation through the holidays: Here is a link to her shop:

Jamie of PoppyHillCreations, another BBA teammate, featured my bears in the woods bib in her Nature-inspired treasury, Nature's Inspiration.  Jamie makes wonderful paper and clipart designs, like these beautiful Nature-inspired butterfly clip art:

Thank you, all!  And have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mental Illness - Up Close and Personal

Mental Illness – Up Close and Personal

One of the blogs I follow faithfully is I'm So Vintage. On reading Laura’s post-Sandy Hook blog post entitled Breaking Free of Fear, these words spoke directly to me and touched a wounded place in my heart:

We can decide to pull away from the fear and anger and not become part of it. We can walk away from it.

No, that does not mean we are being disrespectful of the events that happened [at Sandy Hook]. It means that we choose to rejoice in our lives and work to change things so that events like the one at Sandy Hook last week don't happen again.

The things we do can be big or small. They can be as simple as sharing a smile with a stranger or kissing a loved one. Or they can be larger like writing about gun control and mental health access on your blog or contacting your representatives in Washington.

So, inspired by Laura’s words, I feel called to write about mental health access – a topic that strikes painfully close to home.  You see, my mother was schizophrenic.  Yes, certifiably mentally ill.  Crazy.

My pretty mom with wavy brown hair and red lipstick, who wore pedal pushers and blue jeans when most farm wives  in the 50s and 60s were wearing frumpy housedresses and full aprons, who danced and smooched with my dad in the kitchen when “their song” played on the radio, began to change. It was sad to watch.   My mom, the high school valedictorian, who could type 110 words per minute on a manual typewriter, who had been a second grade teacher until she married my dad, who home-schooled my brother and me through kindergarten because country schools did not have kindergarten classes, started hearing voices when I was 8 or 9 years old.

If you’ve seen the movie, A Beautiful Mind (2001), you have seen a realistic portrayal of schizophrenia.  If you have not seen it, I’d highly recommend it.  The film is a biographical drama based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.  It was inspired by a book written by Sylvia Nasar. The film won an Oscar for Best Picture, and Ron Howard, who directed the film, also won an Oscar for Best Director.  Russell Crowe played John Nash.

Thankfully, my mother was hospitalized at a time when the law was evolving to recognize a "constitutional right to receive such individual treatment as will give each [mentally ill person] a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition." [i]  When she was on her medication, my mother was more like Mom – the person I knew and loved as a young child.  When she was off her medication, the voices tormented her, or she would stare into space (catatonic).  At one point, she burned her pillow because she thought there was a device inside that was recording her thoughts.  When she couldn’t silence the voices, she attempted suicide one Halloween.  I was in 8th grade.  She was hospitalized from October 31 through May.  Nearly every weekend we drove 97 miles to visit her. 

Ten months after she returned home, my dad dropped dead of a heart attack.  I thought his heart was so broken, it burst.  But as an adult, I now realize the stress--- my mother’s illness, massive hospital bills, failed crops, single parenting, managing a farm, and dealing with a demanding widowed mother –undoubtedly aggravated a pre-existing heart defect.
After my dad’s death, we were essentially evicted from the farm which belonged to my grandmother, so we moved to a tiny apartment in town.  I assumed much of the responsibility for parenting my mom and my younger brother.  My mom was unable to hold a steady job, so we lived on Social Security Survivor Benefits.  One of the most beautifully-written accounts of what it is like to be a teenager caring for a mentally ill parent is in Gloria Steinem’s book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, originally published in 1983[ii].  The chapter entitled Ruth’s Song –Because She Couldn’t Sing it for Herself is a tribute to Steinem’s mother, who also suffered from mental illness.

Over the past 30 or 40 years, the formerly recognized “right to treatment” was replaced by a policy of “deinstitutionalization” of the mentally ill.[iii]   In theory, people like my mom would no longer be hospitalized in psychiatric wards of hospitals, or state mental hospitals.  Instead, they would be treated on an out-patient basis through community-based treatment programs. 

Sounds great in theory, right?  No more extended hospital stays.  The mentally ill would have the support of family while receiving treatment.  The problem was, those community-based treatment programs were never adequately staffed or funded.   Many, many mentally ill persons “fell through the cracks.”  And not all mentally ill persons have the support of friends or family members. 

According to the Mental Illness Policy Organization,” people with untreated psychiatric illnesses comprise one-third, or 250,000, of the estimated 744,000 homeless population in the United States.[iv]   And a very substantial number of mentally ill adults, an estimated 1.25 million, have been re-institutionalized in jails and prisons – which are funded, but often ill-equipped to deal with the mentally ill.[v]   The rate of mental illness in the prison population is five times greater than the rate of mental illness in the general population – and in women’s correctional facilities, the percentage of mentally ill inmates is even higher.  So much for offering treatment in the “least restrictive environment” as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act! 

My mother was spared these indignities, in part because she remained in the small town where she grew up after my brother and I grew up and moved away.  Most people in our little home town knew Mom was a little crazy, but loved her anyway.  So periodically, we’d get a call from her pastor, or her landlord, or her neighbor lady, letting us know that Mom appeared to be off her medication again.  Another godsend was that her doctor (a high school classmate of mine) also had a close family member who suffered from mental illness, so he was careful not to overmedicate, and he kept up with the medical literature, trying new medications with less devastating side effects.    The last 15 years of her life, my mom had monthly injections and led a fairly normal life until her death in 2005 at the age of 75.

So why have I written about my crazy mother?  Not as a personal catharsis.  It’s not something I talk about often.  But with all the focus on guns in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I think it is important not to lose sight of the other major contributing factor in this tragedy – untreated or inadequately managed mental illness. 

The pendulum has swung so far away from the “right to treatment” that we now have a “right to refuse treatment.”[vi]  As if the lack of adequate community based resources weren’t enough of a barrier to access to treatment, now a delusional person can refuse treatment.   The right to refuse treatment, in my humble opinion, is based on a fallacy.  It presumes (falsely) that a delusional person is capable of making a rational choice regarding treatment.  In truth, the reason treatment is an issue is because the person is irrational! The end result:  It is extremely difficult for many mentally ill persons and their families to obtain access to treatment, and many judges are afraid to commit seriously mentally ill persons to in-patient treatment facilities, even for as long as 72 hours.  

We need a saner approach to mental illness.  Deinstitutionalization has failed miserably.  So has the “right to refuse treatment.”  Now, while the memory of Sandy Hook is still with us, let us begin to break the silence and begin to talk about these difficult issues.

And for God’s sake, and the sake of innocent victims, please do not let chronically mentally ill persons have access to assault weapons.

[i] Wyatt v. Stickney, 325 F. Supp. 781(M.D. Ala.1971), 334 F. Supp. 1341 (M.D..Ala. 1971), 344 F. Supp. 373(M.D. Ala. 1972), sub nom Wyatt v. Aderholt, 503 F.2d 1305 (5th Cir. 1974).
[ii] Steinem, G., Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (2nd ed.), Holt Paperbacks (1995). ISBN-10: 0805042024.
[vi] O'Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563 (1975).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BBA December Challenge: Year 2 on Etsy - A Retrospective

(Photo:  "A Look Back Down a Snowy Road" by Rhonda Morris Schley)

The December Challenge for the Blogging Business Artisans team was to look back over the past year and assess my Etsy shop.  The challenge also poses this question:  Can you think of one thing to do that will help improve your shop?  This post is my response to that team challenge.


This is my second year on Etsy.  I opened my little shop, Pasque Flower Creations, in February of 2011.  It took me three months to get my first sale, but I'm now at 366 sales and counting.  (I had 1 to 4 sales per day every day in December until December 19.)  I substantially changed the focus of my shop by the end of my first year from children's clothing to  "fun and functional fabric items."

My biggest sellers have been boutique oven mitts. Who knew???  I've considered an all oven mitts shop, but I prefer to maintain a somewhat eclectic mix of product offerings.

As I look back over my second year on Etsy, I am generally pleased with the way my shop is growing, evolving and trending.  My goal at the beginning of the year was to have 200 sales with $4,000.00 in revenue.  I'm happy to report that I've met and exceeded that goal.  As of December 19, I had 251 sales and over $5600.00 in revenue.  Not enough to replace a full-time job, but not chump change, either.


1.  The Shop Stats are trending in the right direction:  views, favorites, sales and revenues are UP nearly 200% or more, and favorites have more than tripled.
2.  My new banner and logo reflect my shop's personality and emerging product lines.
3.  I now have over 100 listings in my shop.  My shop sections help Buyers navigate the site.
4.  My oven mitts have been included in Etsy Wedding Registries! Again -- who knew??
5.  I was able to reduce shipping costs by buying Tyvec mailers in bulk and shipping most orders by First Class Mail.  With postage rates going up again, I need to reassess whether I can continue to offer free shipping on domestic orders.
6.  I have had an increased number of treasury features, in large part due to my involvement with the Blogging Business Artisans and Baby Boomer teams.  Thank you! My photo editing has improved, although I still have much to learn.  Better photos = more treasury features.
7.  Direct checkout has been a godsend.  Many of my customers prefer to pay by credit or debit card, and I love getting little Etsy paychecks direct deposited on Mondays.


1.  My cost of goods sold plus fees leave me too little profit.  I need to reduce costs (without compromising on quality) or increase prices.  I'm working for less than minimum wage here.  Fabric prices and postage costs keep increasing.
2.  My sales dropped off precipitously in June, September and October. Need to fix that if possible.
3.  I'm spending way too much time running to the post office and restocking supplies.
4.  I underestimated holiday demand, so with inventories reduced after brisk November sales and two successful craft fairs, I found it difficult to restock supplies and keep up with orders in December - even working 16+ hour days.  My shipping costs also increased as I used Priority Mail to "make up" for the extra days it took me to complete and ship some orders.


I plan to try some seasonal promotions ( a coupon code emailed to people on my Customer List  or posted on my FB page and blog perhaps) possibly for St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, graduations, weddings, back to school/college, and Halloween in an attempt to fill in the "valleys" during the slow months.  I believe that is the single most important thing I could do to improve my shop.


I also plan to explore direct checkout shipping options that would allow me to print a shipping label with postage, even for international orders.  This would reduce my number of trips to the post office.

I also hope to create at least five items per week, one of them a "new" item, so that inventory stays fresh and so I have more ready to ship items throughout the year and especially during the 2013 holiday season.

I'll be looking for opportunities to buy supplies and fabric and product components in bulk or at a volume discount to reduce my cost of goods sold and increase my profit margin.

And last, but not least, I'll be looking for innovative ways to utilize SCRAPS!  I literally have a scrap heap in my Girl Cave.  Using scraps to make new products would substantially reduce my cost of goods sold and increase my profit margin -- not to mention reducing the clutter in my work area.  Hmm - patchwork pouches, doll quilts, rag dolls, crocheted rag rugs, garlands, Christmas ornaments??  Speak to me, scraps! What do you want to be in your next life? (I'd welcome any scrap-friendly suggestions from you, too, loyal readers!)


2012 was a difficult year for me personally and financially, but the substantial growth in my Etsy shop gives me hope for a better 2013.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wordless Wednesday

Sculpture at Lincoln Children's Museum

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Treasury Thanks

Once again I want to hop of the crazy pre-holiday treadmill long enough to say a huge THANK YOU to all the curators who featured my items in Etsy treasuries over the past week.

MeAndMomsCrafts featured my brown and white chevron oven mitt in a treasury, Treasury #344!
Their shop features cute crocheted items, like these wonderful little face scrubbies:

Jane Downing featured my custom walker bag in her treasury, Holiday Favorites.  Jane designs incredible jewelry, like this necklace in green.  Pantone's Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald, so this necklace is right on trend.

Sarah Beth of Magnolia Surprise featured my Christmas table runner in her treasury,Cardinals and Hearts, Snowmen and Flowers.  Sarah Beth's shop has wonderful crocheted items, like this cute and colorful gift card holder:

Lori Williams of LorisCraftySpot featured my gray chevron oven mitt in her holiday-themed treasury, Tis the Season.  These cute little tuxedo hair bows caught my eye (granddaughter-friendly):

Sarah Garcia of LeSnottyFox featured one of my bibs in her cute treasury, Oh Baby ... Ideas.  Sarah's shop is an electric paperie.  Sarah is on vacation until after the New Year, so I don’t have any items to show you, but here is a link to her shop:

Rebecca Adams of Bostons Terrier featured my poppies on teal oven mitts in her treasury, Last Minute Gifts.  Rebecca makes handmade buntings and garlands, like this festive Be Merry garland.

On that festive note, I'll sign off.
And sew on and sew forth . . .

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, December 10, 2012

Green, Green, It's Green They Say!

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and in celebration of Emerald, Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year, I decided to feature my green chevron oven mitts.  My chevron mitts have been my top sellers during this crazy busy holiday season.

Pantone claims the color Emerald enhances our sense of well-being and promotes balance and harmony.  It's certainly an extreme shift (like totally opposite on the color wheel!) from the 2012 Color of the Year - Tangerine Tango.

So emerald green it is -- not just for St. Patrick's Day anymore!

For my readers over 40, do you remember who sang these lyrics? "Green, green, it's green they say, on the far side of the hill.  Green, green, I'm goin' away to where the grass is greener still."

Give up?

The New Christy Minstrels!

On that happy note....


LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Treasury Thanks

It's been a hectic week (in a good way)!  I spent all day Saturday, December 8, at the Crestwood Craft Fair, which was well-attended.  I set a new craft fair sales record.  My neighbor was a fellow Etsian, Sibyl from Gypsy Dove.  Her crocheted items are incredible!  Every time I made a sale, she would slide her chair over and say, "So, how's it going, Moneybags?"  And when I came home and checked my Etsy shop, I had four new orders.

I do believe my increase in sales is due to more than uncommonly good luck.  The exposure I gain when items from my shop are featured in treasuries helps my shop from being lost in the crowd, and gets my products "out there" for prospective Etsy shoppers to see.  So I am VERY grateful to the Etsy curators who have featured my items.  So to this week's curators, THANK YOU!!

Judy of JNOriginals featured my music and roses table runner in her treasury, Fibers and fabric and felt, oh my!   JNOriginals specializes in crocheted and felted personal accessories, like these wonderful fingerless texting gloves: 

Judy also featured my bright flatware on white oven mitts in her tresaury, Home for the Holidays.  Wouldn't these pretty spa cloths be a wonderful gift?

Artful Rising featured my red and white chevron oven mitts in her holiday-themed treasury, Candy Cane Spirit.  The Artful Rising shop features wonderful handmade journals.  During this hectic season, this journal provides a daily reminder:

Bonnie Sernesky of BonniesSewCrazy featured my yellow chevron bib in her treasury, I Miss the Sun!  Bonnie's shop has wonderful sewn items, like this pretty and practical paisley shoulder bag.

Bestknitting from Ankara, Turkey, featured my red and white chevron oven mitts in her treasury, Red and White Gifts.  This beautiful ivory shawl (over five feet wide), would be a warm and snuggly wrap on a cold winter night:

Mandy of BeadsMe featured my aqua chevron oven mitt in her treausry, Last Minute Gifts Under 50.  Emerald green is the new Pantone Color of the Year for 2013 (and my birth stone).  So this beautiful emerald necklace will be right on trend:

Jocelyn Cube of Jocelyn Cube Designs featured my orange chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Orange Gifts Under 50.  This Augustine orange tangerine flower purse from Jocelyn's shop would also make a pretty orange gift:

Felicia P. Dadak from catwalk featured my aqua chevron oven mitt in her treasury, Now We're Cooking.  Felicia makes unique collages, art prints, and other magnificent paper creations.  I love this Marilyn in Washington Collage Print.

And there you have it!  Thank you, curators!  And thank you, readers, for stopping by.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elf Wanted!

The Christmas rush is getting a bit CRAZY!  I could really use an elf.  It wouldn't have to be one of Santa's elves -- I'm sure they're a bit crazy this time of year, too.  Any old elf would do.  (I tried to convince my hubby, who looks more like Santa than an elf, to help me cut out oven mitt innards, but he must have had his hearing aids turned off.)

One of my favorite stories as a little girl was The Elves and the Shoemaker, a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.  My mother used to read it to my little brother and me.  (Another favorite was A Child’s Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson.)

 As I remember the story, every night when a poor shoemaker went to bed, two little elves would come and sew the shoes he’d cut out.  With the help from the elves he was able to make more shoes, and attract more customers, and soon he had a successful little shop.  So to thank the elves for the private bailout, the shoemaker’s wife sewed them cute little elf outfits.  And they all lived happily ever after.

Hmmm -- When I leave unquilted chevron oven mitts on the sewing table at night, no little elves have shown up to quilt them for me. . ..

But actually, I have four cute little elves living in my girl cave at the moment.  Even though they can't sew, they do make me smile.  Their bodies and shirts and feet are fleece, so they are also soft and cuddly.

They’ll be coming with me to the Crestwood Craft Fair on Saturday.  They were made using the Wendy Witch & Ethan Elf PDF pattern  from Precious Patterns.  

The designer allows items made from her patterns to be sold in limited quantities.  (Probably one of the reasons she’s had over 15,000 sales!)

Well, since I don’t have a REAL elf, I’d better sign off and sew!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower