Month: September 2010

Think Outside the Box

machine applique and embroidery patchwork quilt

The quilt pictured above is a custom order quilt that I’m making for a young girl.

And I hope for her, the same things I hope for my own daughter…

Be proud of what makes you different.
Embrace those differences.
Develop your own style and make good choices boldly.
Don’t follow the crowd.
Set trends instead.
Be proud of your uniquenesses.
Think outside the box!

machine applique and embroidery quilt

machine applique and embroidery quilt

Reaching Your Goals, One Day at a Time

A guest post by April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle.
 Honeycomb Lace DAY PLANNER(Picture from Oh Pangaea Books on Etsy)

I always have ideas swimming in my head. I think that’s part of the creative mindset–you always have more ideas than you could ever implement. For the past year and a half, I’ve been my own boss for my own business. The first year I struggled with to-do lists, trying to meet unrealistic goals, and putting my ideas into action.

When I read a recent post by Angela on The Artists’ House, I completely related to her overwhelming feeling of wanting to do EVERYTHING. Some days I’d be so overwhelmed by the amount of ideas I had that I wouldn’t get anything done. At the end of the day, I’d be so frustrated with myself, feeling guilty about my lack of production, and wonder what I was doing wrong. I’m not an unmotivated person. I’m pretty much the opposite. If I need to work 12 hours in a day, I’ll do it without complaining. So, why wasn’t I reaching my business goals?

I knew that I needed to figure out a system to set realistic, measurable goals and break them down into specific tasks. I’ve tried a lot of organizational systems and planners. I’ve read books, magazine articles, and blog posts about being more productive and organizing my life.

Finally, I figured out a system that worked, so when I read Angela’s post, I asked her if I could share my system of setting and achieving goals with her and her readers. I’ve been using this system for about six months, and it has changed the way I structure my time and my ability to actually achieve the goals that I set for myself. But, this system is also super simple, so anybody can do it.

4 Steps to Reaching Your Long-Term Goals

1. Write down 3 to 5 long-term goals. These are goals that could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years to reach. I’ve found that if I list more than 5 long-term goals things get really scattered when I’m trying to plan out my weekly goals and daily tasks. Once you’ve reached one of your long-term goals, you can replace it with another one.

You must be able to measure to measure these goals. One of the errors I made early on was making generalized goals such as increasing sales or applying to craft shows. To make these goals measurable, I changed them to making 50 sales in one month and applying to 12 craft shows for the next year. When you make them measurable, you can check them off once you’ve reached them–which is always fun! Check out Angela’s post on S.M.A.R.T. goals for an in depth guide on setting attainable goals. If you’ve never heard of smart goals, it’s a must read.

2. Break down each long-term goal into specific tasks that will help you reach those goals. For the craft shows, I’d include: making a list of all the craft shows in my area, narrowing down that list to 12 shows, compiling a list of requirements for those craft shows, getting pictures developed to include in the applications, filling out each application, and sending in each application. Put this list of goals with the specific tasks on your desk/at your work station.

3. On Sunday nights, review your long-term goals and set realistic weekly goals that will help you reach your long-term goals. This takes me about 10 minutes on Sunday evening, and it prepares me for the week. At this point, I’m pretty aware of how much I can do in one week, and I don’t schedule more than I know I can complete–but I always push myself to be really productive. When I’m setting these goals, I also remember that I have other things that I do on a daily basis such as blog posts, listing new items on Etsy, and cleaning. For one week, I might give myself the task of making a list of all the craft shows in my area and narrowing down those to 12 for the next year.

4. Each evening make a list of no more than six tasks to complete the next day. When your to-do list looks like it’ll take you 48 hours to complete without sleeping, eating, or spending time with your family, you’ll become overwhelmed. Instead, make a realistic to-do list for the next day. I have a planner that has six lines for each day, so I put one task on each line. Some days, I only list 3 tasks, because I know those tasks are going to take a lot of time. Remember, you want to be realistic. I always include my cleaning tasks on this list, because that consumes a good 45 minutes out of my day. If you have personal tasks {such as picking up the dry cleaning or grocery shopping} for the day, include them as well.

Start with your weekly goal list when you’re determining tasks for the day. This will help you to stay focused.

Here’s the major rule about this step: each task must be a task–not a project. For instance, you can’t list design a new jewelry line as one of your daily tasks, but you could list sketching a new ring design as one of your tasks.

Extra Tips to Making This Work For You

Start with the task that requires lots of concentration, because you’re fresh when you start your work day. Whenever I have writing to do, I always start with it, because if I leave it until the afternoon, the words become jumbled–sometimes resembling another language. In the afternoon I do things that require less effort such as listing new items online.

If you finish your tasks early, you can either continue working or stop for the day. Some days, I finish my to-do list by the early afternoon, well before dinner. I love what I do, so I usually want to keep working. At that point, I’ll make my to-do list for the next day and then I’ll work on a project that doesn’t feel like work. I might work in my art journal, make some new jewelry, or start a new mixed media art piece. This is when I can be the most creative, because I’m not thinking about other things that need to get done.

Don’t knock it before you try it. I’ve shared this system with people who run their own businesses, and some have told me that they couldn’t possibly limit their tasks to only 6 per day. They wouldn’t get enough done. That’s what I thought at first, but I actually get more done this way. Why? Because, I have a specific plan for the day, and there’s no time wasted thinking about what I should do next. When I finish something, I move on to the next thing. Also, I get so much more time doing what I love the most: creating. And that’s really what it’s all about. My mind is completely clear when I’m creating, because I’m not worrying about the other crap I have to do–it’s done! This allows me to fully concentrate on my art or jewelry.

You might already have a system that works for you, and if you do, I don’t suggest you change to mine. I just wanted to offer an alternative for people who feel stuck–like I used to feel.

April Bowles-Olin works with creative women to lead more fulfilling lives while they make money doing it. She also attempts to add a little prettiness to the world with her art and jewelry. You can learn more about her at Blacksburg Belle or follow her on twitter @blacksburgbelle.

Alice in Wonderland Themed Party Ideas

Back in June, Josh and I threw Monet an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party?  And last night, while making a treasury on Etsy, I was noticing tons of cute Alice in Wonderland party and Halloween items for sale.  So today, I thought I would share with you the treasury I made on Etsy, along with past photos from Monet’s Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party.  Hopefully these beautiful pictures will inspire some Halloween party and costume ideas for you.  Enjoy!

What do you think?

‘Alice in Etsyland’ Treasury by The Artists’ House

















Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Alice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed Party

Alice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed Party

Alice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed PartyAlice in Wonderland Themed Party

A Crafty Holiday Blog Hop Event

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the “crafty” talk on the web these days– talk from people just like me trying to make a living doing what they love with their crafty and artistic abilities, talk about the importance in supporting crafters and artists, talk about “mindful spending” and buying handmade or local when appropriate.

machine applique christmas tree with presents and button ornaments

I believe in this “crafty talk” and as a result, personally I am vowing to buy handmade this Holiday Season.

But I don’t want to stop there.

My desire is to really make a difference outside of me, to challenge all our readers, family, and friends to think about the way they buy this holiday season.  I want to encourage, rather inspire, everyone to buy “crafty” and handmade, and to help people realize that by buying from artists they are buying from real people.

Won’t you help?

I’m running a blog hop event called, “A Crafty Holiday”.  Participating blogs will join together and share a ring of posts linked to this cause.  We will jump from blog to blog, being able to both link forward and back much like a chain letter.  We’ll start on November 1st and continue on until we loop it back around to the start, making it all the way to mid-December.

Each participant will be assigned a day, and on that day they will post two things on their blogs:

1)    Why are you vowing to have “A Crafty Holiday”?

2)    What’s on your “Holiday Shopping List”?

(Note:  This should be a list of handmade items you want, need, plan to buy, along with handmade items you plan to possibly purchase for others.  Make a list with photos and links. This list is to be made up of handmade goods from other crafters and artists.  This is not an opportunity to promote ones own goods, rather an opportunity to promote all the wonderful talent out there.)

Also, if you feel inspired to do so, give your readers at least one tip that makes buying “crafty” a little easier or offer logistical reasons for why they should consider buying “crafty”.

  • You could suggest a local holiday craft shows in your area.
  • Or offer advise on buying things off Etsy.  For example, you might suggest people signup for the “Etsy Finds – Daily shopping guide to the best of” emails.  It’s awesome looking at all the “eye candy” they send out and it helps keep hand crafted gifts in mind on a regular basis.
  • You could mention things like, “Avoid the crowded stores and shop online in the comfort of your own home”.

Would you like to participate?

Please leave your name, blog, and an email address as a comment below.  Then grab a button to place on your blog, showing your participation.  (Code for two different buttons can be found at the end of this post.)

The deadline to enter your blog for participation is October 14th.

All participants will be notified by October 25th, via a page on my blog.  On this day I’ll post a schedule, announcing all the participants and their assigned blog day.  This event will run from November 1st – December 20th.

(Note:  If you have a specific time frame for when you would like to post your entry, you can mention that in your comment below.  I’ll try to accommodate everyone’s needs, but please realize that’s a lot of variables.  I’ll try my best though.)

So what do you say? Are you planning on having “A Crafty Holiday”?

A special thanks to Linda  at A La Mode Stuff and Tara from Scoutie Girl, for helping support this event.


A Crafty Holiday on The Artists' House<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ width=”125″ src=”” height=”125″ /></a>


A Crafty Holiday on The Artists' House<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ width=”125″ src=”” height=”125″/></a>


Baby Steps

When I was away last weekend, attending The Creative Connections Conference, I was sure my daughter Monet was going to take her first steps, just to spite me for leaving her for three nights and four days.

I’m happy to report that just the opposite happened.  I arrived back home on Saturday evening, and the very next day Monet took her first steps.  What a sweet homecoming!

You can view a video on my family blog if you’re interested.

(Note: The video is both sweet and terribly cheesy.  Consider yourself warned.)

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Choosing Social Media Platforms

I have some really good news for you!  Do you remember when you were just a kid, and often when receiving a gift from a care taker you were told, “Go ahead, but take just one.”  Take just one?!

As a child, this use to kill me.  Even as an adult I can’t take just one of anything.  Cookie?  Why yes please!  May I have ten?

social media facebook twitter flickr(Picture from She’s So Crafty Goods on Etsy)

The good news about social media platforms is that you don’t have to pick just one.  In fact, my recommendation is the exact opposite.  I recommend that you try a few out –not too many, but definitely a few, and especially the popular ones.  Give them a spin, like dating, and see which you prefer.  And because this isn’t a marriage, if a certain social media platform isn’t complementing your style, you’re not committed to it.  That being said, I also don’t recommend giving up on a specific social media application too soon. Let me explain.

Social media, like a shy person, sometimes take a few conversations to get to know.  Currently, I’m not completely acquainted with facebook.  We’re still getting to know one another.  I have a feeling that in the future we might become better friends.  On the other hand, and quite to my surprise, I adore twitter.  We hit it off right from the beginning.

When choosing social media platforms, my recommendations are this:

  1. Get on board! Yes, it will take extra time out of your day, but the reality is that this is where we are and where we will continue to gather in greater numbers.  The goal of your business should be to get your products and/or services out there.  You need to go where the people are. And believe it or not, the “If you build it, they will come” motto doesn’t work on the internet.  The competition is fierce and even if you are stumbled upon, without a link to the “person” behind the product, or a recommendation from a friend, most likely people won’t buy from you.  Social media builds both a presence and a reputation, so get on board!
  2. Use your technological devises. Smart phones, ipads, and other portable gadgets are great when it comes to creating a face online when you literally have just a minute here or a minute there.  I carry my iphone with me at all times and just chime in online when I can. It’s natural, enjoyable, and genuinely doesn’t seem like work.  Rather, it’s fun, like texting a friend.
  3. Find a system. It has taken me a little while to find a system that works for me.  And honestly, I’m still tweaking this system, keeping both my personality and the needs of my company in mind.  My iphone apps are an example of one “system” that has helped my situation.  Since I’m also a stay at home mother, my twitter app allows me to “be present” online while I’m also at the park with my daughter.  It’s easy, quick, and over time has big results with little effort.  Another system that works well for me is that I participate in the social media scene during the day when my energy and productivity level is low.  I try to keep my most alert hours for more important tasks, which brings me to my last point.
  4. Know when to turn it off! Another practice that I’ve put into place is that when my daughter goes down for her nap, all my electronic devises are OFF.  Instead, I use this time for more focused tasks like sewing and product development.  Social medial, just like dating, shouldn’t take up all of your time. Those type of relationships just aren’t healthy.

What’s my recommendation?  Just try it! Start “dating” and over time you’ll know what’s right, the good news being that you don’t have to pick just one.

Nine Amazing Woman Share Their Secrets

Angela Flicker, Tara Gentile, Jessica Swift, Imaginative Bloom, Madeline Bea, Miss Malaprop, Heartmade, Meredith, Blacksburg Belle

Good morning.  I have some exciting news for you today.  Over the next two weeks, a fabulous group of women (including myself) will be blogging about how social media has helped them and their businesses.  You don’t want to miss this!

April, from Blacksburg Belle, has organized this fabulous event.  Check it out by clicking on the link below…

Introducing “Get Connected” – A Social Media Blog Series

Here’s the schedule…

Tuesday, September 21st: Meredith will write about the importance of relationships on Smaller Box.

Meredith says, “Social Media has been a great way to connect with our fans daily. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and our blog to share funny content we find online, photos, videos and stories from behind the scenes of our business. It’s a great way to get to know our customers, let them get to know us and quickly get feedback from them on projects we’re working on.”

Connect with Meredith on Twitter @smallerbox and on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 22nd: April will write about creating useful content on Blacksburg Belle.

April’s thoughts on social media, “When I first started using social media, I was skeptical, thinking that I was entering high school again. Once I realized I could make connections with other mixed media artists I’ve admired for years, Twitter, Facebook, and blogging opened new doors for me. At this point, I couldn’t imagine my business without social media.”

Connect with April on Twitter @blacksburgbelle or Facebook.

Thursday, September 23rd: I will write about choosing social media platforms on The Artists’ House.

My thoughts on social media, “Social media is important because it tells the story behind your products and business.  When selling online, you’re at a bit of a disadvantage concerning personal interactions.  When people come into your “shop”, physically they aren’t greeted by anyone.  Through social media, you can create a face and a narrative behind your online business and the products you sell.  Along with that, you’re able to connect with like-minded individuals.  Together, using social media, you can learn and support one another.  These two factors have transformed my business in a valuable way.”

Connect with me on Twitter @TheArtistsHouse and on Facebook.

Friday, September 24th: Tara will write about building a following on social media on Big Thinking for Small Businesses.

Tara says, “Social media has given me something that I – as an introvert – has never had before: a window into the world. Instead of living in a bubble of my own creation, social media has given me a platform for building a successful business, meeting influential people, and introducing me to innovative ideas. Social media, for me, is not something separate from my daily life but an opportunity to live my “real life” to its fullest.”

Connect with Tara on Twitter @scoutiegirlblog and on Facebook.

Monday, September 27th: Mayi will write about blogging on heartmade.

Mayi says, “I like to engage in social networking. It’s a fun + effective way to stay in touch with my clients + fans of my work. I like to use the tools that I enjoy most (Facebook + Twitter + Stumble Upon) + can commit too. I personally like to share healthy glimpses into my indie business + snippets of my personal life + bits of the things that inspire me + I’m passionate about.”

Connect with Mayi on Twitter @mayicarles and on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 28th: Mallory will write about twitter on Miss Malaprop.

Mallory says, “For me, social media has been instrumental in building a successful brand. I started my blog in 2006, always with the goal in mind of building up to an online store and later a brick-and-mortar retail boutique. Through the use of my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, I’ve found a community of like-minded people, and having that network already in place when I launched my online store earlier this year has made that process so much easier than if I had to start everything from scratch.”

Connect with Mallory on Twitter @MissMalaprop and on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 29th: Maegen will write about Facebook on Madeline Bea.

Maegan says, “I had been sharing my life and my journey through motherhood, creativity, and photography for years online through my blog and Flickr. But when I opened the doors of my portrait photography business this past summer, my substantial online connections weren’t helping me get local people interested in me and my photography. Facebook has allowed me to connect my online and local worlds and therefore has expanded the reach of my online messaging into my town and community…my potential clients!”

Connect with Maegan on Twitter @MadelineBea and Facebook.

Thursday, September 30th: Irene will write about email newsletters on Imaginative Bloom.

Irene says, “One of the most popular strategies that has always been essential to reach new readers, is advertising. Since all these social media platforms were born, we are able to easily, quickly and virally interact with hundreds and thousands of new – and old – contacts and spread content maintaining a constant connection with them. And it’s free!”

Connect with Irene on Twitter @ImaginativeB and on Facebook.

Friday, October 1st: Jessica Swift will write about Flickr on Jessica Swift.

“Social media is important in my business on a variety of levels. On a personal level, I work at home alone every day, and social media allows me to stay connected with others and have mini conversations throughout the day. On a business level, I’m able to use social media to connect with my customers and grow my audience and community. And on yet another level, social media allows me to stay tuned in to and learn about what’s happening in my world by following and listening to other people. The importance of social media just can’t be exaggerated!”

Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessicagswift and on Facebook.

I’ll leave you with 10 reasons you need to follow this blog series and use social media:

  1. It is estimated that over 50% of new business will come from social media and internet marketing efforts over the next five years. That base number could triple by 2020, according to the Microsoft Small Business Summit 2008. (from Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars)

Head over to April’s blog to read the rest…

The Creative Connection Event

I just spent the past four days in Minneapolis attending The Creative Connections Event created by Nancy Soriano and Jo Packham of Where Woman Create.  I truly had a wonderful time and was inspired by many passionate and creative woman.  Jo and Nancy did a great job planning this event!

angela flicker and heather tollers

My old college roommate, Heather Tollers, attended this event with me.  We picked up right where we left off.  It was nice being able to catch up with an old friend who I hadn’t see for five years.

vanessa and danielle from Etsy

I really enjoyed meeting Danielle and Vanessa from Etsy. They were kind, funny, and generous with helpful Etsy advise.

Camille Roskelley, Paige Hill, Jana Nielson, and Angela Flicker

I took a great “Retro Kitchen” class taught by Camille Roskelley. I sat at a table with some fellow Utah twitter friends: the sweet Paige Hill and the funny Jana Nielson.

I also enjoyed Betz White’s class where I made some adorable felted ornaments and Ruth Rae’s class where I started making a family keepsake album.

The highlight of my weekend was meeting the lovely and down-to-earth Amy Butler.  She spoke at the opening dinner.  Afterward we briefly spoke and she embraced me with a hug.  Truly, she is an inspiration!

Amy ButlerAmy Butler

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend.  I gathered lots of business cards from awesome vendors, artists, and crafters.  I’ll be sharing some of them with you as a part of my “A Crafty Holiday” event.

Garden Salsa with Black Beans and Corn

It’s that time of year again, where the harvested vegetables from the garden are more than we can handle.  And lucky for me, my husband likes to can.  Lately, he has been canning garden salsa with black beans and corn.

(Note: If you don’t garden, check out your local farmer’s market, they will have everything you need for the two recipes below.)

Canning Salsa

Garden Salsa with Black Beans and Corn


20-25 tomatoes
8-10 peppers (we used about 4 small Bell peppers, 2-3 Anaheim, and 2-3 Jalapenos)
2 onions
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
6-8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons cumin
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
2-3 teaspoons red pepper
3 cups corn (cooked and cut off the husks)
1 can black beans drained
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar


  1. Cut the tomatoes, peppers and onions in half, and roast them on the grill.
  2. When the vegetables are fully grilled, and lightly blackened, pull the vegetables from the grill.  Place the tomatoes in their own separate bowl to let the juices drain.
  3. When the vegetables from the grill have cooled, in batches, food process the drained tomatoes and grilled vegetables, along with the olive oil. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic until fragrant.  About 1 minute.
  5. Add the chili powder, red pepper and cumin and cook for another minute or until fragrant.
  6. Add the corn, drained black beans, and the food processed garden vegetable mixture from before.  Stir well.  Add the sugar and salt, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

The salsa is now finished.  From here you can eat it fresh, can it, store it in the fridge, freeze it, or use it in your favorite Mexican recipe.  I’ve included our favorite veggie skillet burrito recipe below.

When canning I use the boiling-water method.  Basically you ladle the hot salsa into hot jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space.  Put on the two-piece caps and boil for 15 minutes in a pot of boiling water, the jars should be totally immersed in water.

Here are some helpful links…

Leaning how to can

16 Homemade Salsa Recipes & Canning Tips

Making and Canning Homemade Salsa
.Veggie Burritos

Veggie Skillet Burritos


1 quart jar of garden salsa with black beans and corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 eggplants
2-3 squashes (yellow crock-neck and zucchini)
1 yellow onion
1-2 peppers
8 flour tortillas
1 bag shredded cheese


  1. Chop the veggies (eggplant, squash, peppers, and onions) into small bite-size pieces.  Heat a skillet with olive oil and butter.  Cook the veggies and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Mix in 3/4 of the quart jar of garden salsa with black beans and corn.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is hot.  Set aside and keep warm.
  3. Heat up a clean, non-stick skillet.  Throw in a handful of shredded cheese.  As the cheese starts to melt, put a warm tortilla on top and press the tortilla down into the melting cheese.  Keep spinning and pushing the tortilla into the cheese until the cheese is sticking to the tortilla instead of the pan.  Flip the tortilla over and cook briefly, warming it and toasting it lightly.  Repeat this process for all 8 tortillas, making just one at a time.  Set the tortillas aside and keep warm.
  4. Fold each tortilla in half and fill with the vegetable mixture.  Top with a tablespoon of left over salsa and a handful of cheese.  Toast in the oven and serve immediately.

You will not believe how good this recipe is.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!  Enjoy!

Let the Fabric Speak

Six years ago, I bough my first house and immediately I fell in love with being a home owner.  When those golden keys touched my hand, I unlocked that front door and walked into a space that was truly mine –mine to design, mine to manipulate, mine to care for and turn into a cozy place.

Well, ever since that day, fabric has spoken to me.

“Won’t you please make me into a table cloth!”  “I want to be a soft pillow!”  “Oh, oh, I want to hang over your windows!”

Recently, when listening to the fabric speak, these few art pieces have emerged…

machine applique and embroidery lemons“When Life Gives You Lemons” by Angela Flicker
machine applique and embroidery couch and clock“Time is Precious” by Angela Flicker

machine applique books on a shelf“A Great Escape” by Angela Flicker

It’s funny!  I now realize that the fabric is not necessarily telling me what it wants to be, rather unselfishly the fabric is communicating directly with me, giving me advise and acknowledging my feelings.

I know I’ve said it many time before, and I’ll say it once again…

Sewing is therapy!

These prints are available for sale in my Etsy Shop.