Saturday, August 31, 2013

Slim Down Saturday

It's Slim Down Saturday and I am happy to report that I have lost another 4.4 pounds since my last weigh-in two weeks ago, before my vacation to New Hampshire.  My total weight loss is now 24.6 pounds!

I had not expected a big loss after vacation, so I was pleasantly surprised.  We stayed active, and Tim is a vegetarian, so there were always healthy food choices available.

It's a football Saturday, when over 70,000 people show up to watch the University of Nebraska Huskers play football.  Go Big Red!

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


Friday, August 30, 2013

New Hampshire Trip - Part 2

This is the continuation of my travelogue on my recent trip to southern New Hampshire.

Monday was a vacation day for son Tim (age 37), so we got to spend some "quality time" together.  Carrie was nervous about her first day as an adjunct faculty member at the University of New Hampshire, so she left early, and the grandkids were at Melody Pines Day Camp in Manchester.  The day camp is operated by Carrie's sister Erika and her husband Steve. It's been in his family for decades.

So Tim and I hopped in the pickup and headed north over hill and dale.

In the Midwest, most roads intersect at 90-degree angles, and it is easy to tell what direction you're going. As a flatlander, I am amazed how the kids navigate the winding wooded roads without getting lost.  It's also strange to see rock fences instead of barbed wire.  The rock fences remind me of Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall, which concludes "Good fences make good neighbors."

Here is one of the scenic highlights.

I can understand Thoreau's fascination with Walden Pond.  This isn't Walden (no tourists), but it is a tranquil New England pond or small lake.

We also stopped at a wonderful orchard where we bought apples, peaches, and wild blueberries.

In mid-afternoon, we picked up Garrison to take him to his pre-kindergarten doctor's appointment.
He was very brave, but his arm hurt a little that night after four immunizations, hence the ice pack:

Monday night, Madeline and I worked on her doll quilt.  Tim and I had stopped at The Golden Gese Quilt Shop in Concord, NH, because Madeline was anxious to sew.  After she finished hand piecing her first three patches, she gave me a panicked look and said, "You won't sell this, will you?"  I assured her that her first doll quilt was hers to keep! She was very proud of her 4-patches.

When she finishes all 12 patches, she will mail them to me, and I will quilt and bind it for her and mail it back.

Tuesday, it was Tim who had a big day at work, so daughter-in-law Carrie and I headed to Goffstown to drop off paperwork at Madeline's school, Garrison's kindergarten, and Garrison's Montessori school.  We also visited the Goffstown Public Library.  I found two children's quilting books for Madeline with excellent illustrations and photos to "coach" her in my absence.

We met Tim for a picnic lunch at the beautiful Fidelity Investments campus in Manchester before heading to the airport.

I miss my kids and grandkids, the trees, the beautiful lakes and streams, and the 70-degree temperatures -- but it's also good to be home.

This weekend my stepdaughter Jenny is visiting from Colorado to help her dad celebrate his 70th birthday (a day early).  I'm also anxious to hear about granddaughter Erin's first week as a college coed at the University of Nebraska.  Go Big Red!  

Wishing my USA blogging buddies a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!  And a wonderful weekend to my blogging buddies "across the pond" and Down Under.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Hampshire Trip - Part I

I was away from the blogosphere August 22-27, during my trip to New Hampshire to visit family.  (My three kids were born and raised in South Dakota, but all ended up on the East Coast - in NH, NY and DC.)  My son Jeff in DC was not able to join us.  He was slaving away at the Congressional Budget Office, catching up after being away for two weddings -- he was a groomsman two weeks in a row in MN. I hope we can tag up over Christmas.

The trip got off to a stormy start.  My flight out of Lincoln, NE was delayed for two hours because the airport where we were headed (O'Hare in Chicago) had a "ground stop" -- no planes could land or take off due to severe thunderstorms.  By the time we finally arrived in Chicago, I'd missed my connecting flight, and there were no other available flights to Manchester, NH until the following afternoon. So, I got to see a lot of O'Hare during my 19-hour layover.  But it's an interesting place to look at architecture, art, and people.

O'Hare International Airport

Neon Art in Tunnel Between Concourses at O'Hare International Airport

Once we were airborne, the clouds reminded me of the song Both Sides Now.  The version I remember from my youth was sung by Judy Collins (1967), but it was written and also recorded by Joni Mitchell.  One of the verses refers to "ice cream castles in the air."

I arrived late Friday afternoon (26 hours after my original ETA), on granddaughter Madeline's 9th birthday. Here is Madeline with her Auntie Al, my almost 26-year-old daughter, Allison, who lives in Brooklyn, NY.

The grandkids gave us a tour of the backyard.  First, their tree house:

Then fairy houses:

And finally, the beautiful babbling brook that runs through their acreage:

Little brother Garrison (age 5) was happy to see Auntie Al, too!  He starts kindergarten on Tuesday.

On Saturday, my son Tim, Allison and Garrison went to Concord (my favorite city in NH) to the Farmer's Market while Madeline and her mom Carrie went to a birthday party.  We visited Dos Amigos, a great little Mexican restaurant with lots of delicious vegetarian options, and had a picnic at White Park in Concord. Later that night we feasted on a yummy vegetarian meal prepared by Tim and Allison.

Sunday we took Allison to the bus depot early in the morning, then headed to the country where Carrie participated in a 16-mile Trail Ride and Tim did a 16-mile training run.

Tim is an avid runner like his Uncle Jeff.  (My brother Jeff ran in the Boston Marathon at least 3 years when he was in his 40s.)  Tim is in training for another 50K ultra-marathon.

To be continued . . ..


Fairy Houses

During my recent trip to New Hampshire, my granddaughter Madeline (age 9) introduced me to the world of fairy houses.   Fairy houses seem to be quite the rage in New England.  There is actually an annual Fairy Houses Tour in Portsmouth, NH.  This year the tour is September 20-21, 2013.  

Madeline showed me the beautiful photographs in her book, Fairy Houses…Everywhere!  (The Fairy House Series).   Yes, there is a whole series of books on fairy houses by Tracy Kane and Barry Kane!
And she also offered me a tour of the fairy houses she and her little brother Garrison (age 5) made.

I love their use of colored stones and twigs in this fairy house built between tree roots.

Below is a photo of Garrison.  He's not so keen on getting his picture taken.  But there is a fairy house built in the bank of the little babbling brook that is on their acreage.

My closeup of this fairy house was blurry, but Madeline used acorns, seeds, flowers and rocks to make a fairy "store."  (You can see the acorns under her left elbow.)

What fun to see the grandkids using their creativity as they hunt for natural objects –acorns, leaves, stones, twigs – and turn them into magical fairy houses!  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I'm breaking the rules and adding some words to Wordless Wednesday to let y'all know I will be away from the blogosphere (and Etsy teams) until the end of August.

The older I get, the more I have come to believe that life shouldn't be a forced march day after day, so I am banning TO DO lists and flying to New Hampshire to spend several days with big kids and grandkids in the beautiful Granite State.  (I'll have a big TO DO list when I come home, however!)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Treasury Thanks

It's Treasury Thanks time!

Today I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Anne Rodrigues of OliviaShirlee.who featured my fawn and birch trees baby bib in her treasury, Beautiful Birch.

Anne makes beautiful handmade accessories, like this beautiful Terra Firma Scarf, perfect for the chilly Fall days ahead!

Thank you, Anne!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Slim Down Saturday Report

It's Day 40 of the 90-day Nature's Sunshine Slim-Down Challenge, and I'm happy to report that I lost 3.8 pounds last week for a total weight loss to date of 20.2 pounds --- about 1/2 pound per day.

I walked more and I alternated protein days with juice days.  I also allowed myself "real food" one day this week.  I also watched a Weight Management Solutions Webinar which was informative and inspiring.

Next week will be a challenge because I will be in New Hampshire August 22-27 visiting adult kids and grandkids.  I'll just try to eat healthy and not gain any weight.   I'll also be away from the blogosphere while I am on vacation, so it will be two weeks before my next Slim Down report.

It's a beautiful day in Nebraska - sunshine and cooler temps. I'll be heading out for my walk soon.
Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

BBA Challenge - August 2013

The Challenge

Each month the Etsy Blogging Business Artisans Team challenges its members to create something around a theme.  This month the challenge was brought to us by jewelry maker extraordinaire, Linda of lindab142.  Linda said, "Fall is coming -- create an item for Autumn OR blog about what you like about Fall / Autumn."

My Response to the Challenge

My response to the challenge was the linen and patchwork pencil case shown above.  In making this project, I used the Patchwork Pencil Pouch Tutorial by Vanessa Hewell of LBG Studio.   Vanessa shared this tutorial on her Little Big Girl Studio Blog and on her Little Big Girl Studio Tutorials Flickr Group.   Vanessa allows free use of the tutorial to make gifts or to sell offline (craft shows,etc.), but sales on Etsy are not allowed.  I hope to make a few of these pouches for upcoming Fall craft fairs.  Granddaughter Erin, my part-time Design Consultant, has been pairing scrap fabrics for the patchwork segments.

For this pouch, I used L019 medium weight linen from Fabrics-Store.Com, my go to source for linen.  I love the nubby texture.  

I use the same L019 weight for my retro-inspired linen bow clutches, but I buy the softened linen for the clutches.  

The 2.5" patchwork squares are mostly scrap fabrics, including an upholstery fabric remnant I picked up at the 2012 Hillestad Gallery Rummage Sale.  The horse fabric, however, is from a treasured fat quarter by indie fabric desiger Katherine Codega.  

I've decided that I definitely want MORE of her fabrics!  The lining is a cotton-linen blend in a light forest green.  The zipper pull was made using leather cording.  I needed to slice it in half to fit through the hole in the zipper.  BTW, the zipper is from Zip It, my only source for high quality, affordable zippers in every length, color, and style imaginable.  I used a wooden bead to secure the cording, rather than trying to tie a bulky knot.

Overall, I am fairly happy with this little pouch.  If I make this pouch again (and I plan to), I will probably use fabric end tabs for the zipper, and use a contrasting thread for the top stitching.  I'll add one of my new sew-in tags, too.  I may also try some hand embroidery on some of the linen pouches in lieu of patchwork.  

So much fabric, so many ideas, so little time!!!

What do I enjoy about Fall?

Back to school time marks the beginning of autumn for me despite what the calendar says. As a child, I remember the excitement of brand new school supplies AND a new pair of shoes. Nowadays, I love the cool, crisp air, and the beautiful colors of Fall foliage.  

I will be traveling to New Hampshire next week (August 22-27) for some long-anticipated family time, and although I'll miss the peak of foliage season this year, I have fond memories of seeing the brilliant colors of the New England woods in early October.  

What do YOU enjoy most about Fall?



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Price War ... And Peace

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, but rather than feature an item from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, I decided to share a recent exchange I had with a customer about pricing.  It was a bit of a price war skirmish, but it ended peacefully.

Let me begin by saying I think pricing is one of the most difficult aspects of running an Etsy shop.  At least in my experience, there's a constant tension between my very real need to make a profit and the need to stay within the bounds of "what the market will bear."   So I recently increased my price on my chevron oven mitts by a dollar to offset the increased costs of fabric and the increased cost of shipping to get that fabric to Lincoln (since many of the fabrics I used in my products are not available locally).   The now charge $17.00 for a chevron mitt plus $3.00 domestic shipping.

So, a few days ago I received a Convo from a potential customer with a link to the aqua chevron oven mitt shown above, asking me to send a photo "with some reference or a hand size."  So, to provide a visual aid, in addition to inch and cm measurements, I took a photo with my hand on top of an oven mitt with a quarter beside the mitt to comply with the request.

Two days later, I received this response:

I appreciate the response.  I think your mitts are great, but I just can't justify spending $20 on one mitt.  I appreciate your help though. Thanks!

On a good day, I would have politely responded, "I am glad you like the mitts.  Thank you for visiting my shop."  And I would have left it at that.  But that day wasn't a particularly good day, and the little jab about pricing struck a raw nerve.  And so-o-oo I fired back this response:

I understand your position.

However, I have over $6.00 in materials in each mitt, and it takes me approximately 2 hours to make each chevron mitt, because quilting the zig-zag pattern requires many stops and pivots.  With the chevrons, I also match the design at the side seams, which requires more fabric.  I am already paying myself less than minimum wage for a quality handmade product using high quality 100% cotton fabrics, so I won't lower my price just to make a sale.

I'm sure you can find a mitt you like for $8.00 or $10.00 at Wal-Mart or Target.

Although it felt good to vent, I regretted pushing the SEND button.  But to my amazement, here is the response I received a few hours later.

Your unassailable logic has won me over. ;)  I will order one. Thanks.

As I prepare for Fall craft fairs, I will need to revisit local pricing.  The local market will not bear the prices I charge on Etsy, but my material costs and time investment are the same --- and the booth rental fees often amount to more than the Etsy listing fees + PayPal or Direct Checkout charges per item.

So, dear readers, I'd be interested in your thoughts on pricing.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Treasury Thanks

Each week I like to extend a big THANK YOU to the curators who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage, in treasuries over the past week.

Allison Beckwith of KeepMake featured one of my boutique baby bibs in her treasury, Grey and Orange. Allison's shop offers wonderful printables to keep you organized, as well as graphic art and greeting cards.
During August, Allison is offering 25% off on all items in her Etsy shop with coupon code AUG13SALE.
Such a deal!!

AND – when she visited my shop and noticed my header was a bit blurry, she was able to do some tweaking and it looks SO much better!  Thank you, Allison!!

Back to school printables seemed seasonally appropriate (and on sale-AUG13SALE)!  

Nesrin of ArtofAccessory featured my green chevron oven mitt in her treasury, AUGUST 47.  Nesrin makes truly unique accessories, like this beautiful white rope bracelet with beads.  

EcoNet from the Ukraine also featured my green chevron oven mitt in the treasury, Etsy Finds #11 - Green and White.  EcoNet specializes in eco-friendly accessories, like this green reusable string bag, perfect for the Farmer's Market.

Sian Whitehall of JanesApple featured my toddler sundress in the treasury, Count Your Rainbows.  There are a rainbow of colors in this Psychedelic 70s Greeting Card.  As we said, back in the day, "Far out!"  I love this card!

Gail from QuiltSewCover featured my aqua and tan oven mitts in her refreshing treasury,  Just Breathe.  This embroidered paperback book cover from Gail's shop sends an eco-friendly message.

And there you have it!  Another week of wonderful treasuries. THANK YOU!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Slim-Down Report

It is Day 33 of my 90-day Nature's Sunshine Summer Slim-Down Challenge.  I lost 2.0 pounds since last week for a total loss to date of 16.4 pounds.  So I've lost my first bowling ball.

Although my weight loss was less this week than in prior weeks, overall I have averaged a loss of almost 1/2 pound per day.  I walked less this week, and I went off the Reboot with Joe juice fast after 10 days. I felt I needed some protein and fiber.

I am hoping to walk more this week, and to alternate juice days with high protein days. I also plan to allow myself at least one day per week for "real" food, at least until the final push in October.  It's a beautiful day in Nebraska today.  I am anxious to finish some Etsy orders, and then get out on the trail to enjoy the cooler temps and sunshine.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet Me at the Fair

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday!  This is the time of year, at least in the Midwest, when 4-Hers and their families in rural communities come to town (usually the county seat) for 4-H Achievement Days or the County Fair.  Winners will advance to the State Fair, usually held around Labor Day in late August and early September.

I have wonderful memories of Lake County 4-H Achievement Days in Madison, South Dakota, and giggling the nights away in the 4-H dorms at the South Dakota State Fair -- many, many years ago.

So today I decided to feature this Ferris Wheel wall art from my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations. This 8” x 10” Ferris wheel wall art would be a perfect addition to baby’s nursery or a child’s room. Trefle fabric by Kokka, a Japanese fabric designer, was stretched over studio edge cotton duck canvas double primed with acid free sizing. Fabric was stapled to the back of the canvas frame. The back features slate colored wool felt backing for a neat finish and a metal self-leveling bracket for hanging.  There is also a coordinating
Carousel wall art piece.  Only $10.00 each.  Such a deal!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Treasury Thanks

This week I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the curators who featured items from my Etsy shops, Pasque Flower Creations and Aunt Pheba's Vintage,  in Etsy treasuries during the past week.

Sharla of BeadedTail featured my hearts zipper pouch in her treasury, Love is Beautiful, Cuddly, and Furry, Too.  This hearts and pawprints journal from Sharla's shop would be perfect for anyone with fur babies.

Piccolibijoux from Italy featured my Acoma Pueblo pottery in her pretty treasury, Color of August. Piccolibijoux makes beautiful handmade accessories, like this lovely summer crocheted sweater, perfect for those cool summer nights.

Whatupdoghoodriver featured my green chevron oven mitt in a CATHOUSE treasury.  I know some of my readers will love this cafe coffee cup mug art print - very PINK!

Speaking of PINK, Sarah Beth of MagnoliaSurprise featured my pink floral oven mitt in her pretty pink treasury, Pretty in Pink.   These pretty flower coasters from Sarah's shop are pretty in a variety of Spring 
colors, including my favorite, PURPLE.

Reese from PopFizzVintage featured my brown chevron oven mitt in her whimsical front page worthy treasury in brown and white, The Pin-Up and Her Date.  This vintage brown and white polka dot ascot would feel right at home in Reese's treasury!  I remember those "floppy bows."

Duni of PeriDotDesigns featured my tomatoes and herbs oven mitt in her treasury, Celebrating the End of Summer.  Personally, I'm a little sad to see Summer come to an end.  But it is almost back to school time! This pretty shabby chic laundry bag would be perfect for someone heading off to college.

Cari-anne Maule of DigiDownload featured my pink floral oven mitt in her treasury, Thank You.   You could add your own text in these editable flowers bottlecap downloads from Cari-anne's shop.

Donna Wolf of donnapaperscissors  featured my orange chevron oven mitt in her cute treasury, Thumbs Up. I love this vintage Philadelphia tole painted tray from Donna's shop.

And last, but certainly not least, Vicki Hutchins of ChlorisBoris (UK) featured my lions baby bib in her adorable treasury, Baby Love.  Vicki is an Etsy newbie, so if you get a chance, please stop by and giver her shop some Etsy love.   I immediately fell in love with this beautiful personalized linen cushion from Vicki's shop!  Isn't that gorgeous?  And it already has my initial embroidered on it!

Thanks, again, to all the curators for their wonderful treasuries.  And thank you to my readers for stopping by to visit.