Our Art Fire shop is having a huge after-Christmas sale to clear out all of our older inventory to make way for all the AWESOME new items coming up this year!!
We'll be discounting blankets anywhere from 50 - 75% in our efforts to clear some space in my home -- you simply can't beat these prices!! Today alone we listed six items up for clearance in our shop -- check out the links and descriptions below... Don't see something that strikes your fancy? We'll be adding quite a few more blankets over the next few days -- keep checking back :).
Blue Flowers Medium Snuggle Blanket -- Reg. $20, Clearance $10
Red Trains Medium Snuggle Blanket -- Reg. $20, Clearance $10
Flowers and Minky Blanket -- Reg. $25, Clearance $10
White Butterfly Brocade and Minky -- Reg. $40, Clearance $18
Blue and Green Mod Dot Silk and Minky -- Reg. $35, Clearance $15
Large (43" x 62") Green Swirl Quilt (channel quilted) -- Reg. $80, Clearance $30
If you have any questions about these blankets or their prices, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Take care and happy shopping!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Our Art Fire shop is having a huge after-Christmas sale to clear out all of our older inventory to make way for all the AWESOME new items coming up this year!!
Just thought I'd pop in and wish every a Happy (and safe) New Year! Tonight is low-key for us -- playing penny ante poker with the family, eating food and drinking beer with the various siblings. Nothing wild and crazy, but that's the way we enjoy New Years!
I figured I'd take today and reflect over the past year while focusing more on what I'd like to do in 2009... I can't believe how far we've come -- we did our first little farmer's market in March, started selling on Etsy in April/May, and I really feel like we've come a far way. We've refined our products, morphing through different styles, shapes, sizes and prices before we settled on something we truly think is a great deal. We're diving into the world of online advertising -- first with this blog, then with getting our banners posted on other blogs -- though we've got a long way to go.
Above all the changes, though, I think my photography has definitely been the one thing that's improved the most. I definitely don't have an eye for photography -- I'm lucky I can get my objects centered, nevermind in focus. Lighting? Pshaw, yeah right.
Let's laugh a bit, shall we?
First disasterous attempt at photography -- full sun... in the spring... in Florida... Notice the hand shadow and camera cord in the picture? Notice the blindingly white backdrop? Oy vey.
Then, I took it inside and tried to set a nice area up in my spare bedroom. There isn't a ton of natural light in there, so I imported a bunch of lamps and tried to focus them on the black backdrop. Throw in the fact that my camera was a very mediocre, not very good in poor lighting, Nikon and you have a photograph that might actually be slightly worse than the first photos outside. The colors in the blanket are all off, there are shadows everywhere and, well, it's just bad.
Finally, there's this one. It's still not the *best*, but it's heads and tails better than the first two. The lighting is better -- it's in indirect light in my office. The props are nicer -- an antique wooden chair -- and the overall ambience (with the window in the background) is much improved over a flat backdrop. It showcases the sheen and colors of the blanket truthfully without too much glare and the angle seems nice. Plus, I have a better camera so the actual picture quality is improved. It's not perfect, but it's improved.
I'd like to think I've improved a lot of things this year, from my designs to my descriptions on Etsy to my photographs, but I also acknowledge there's a long way to go before I can say that I've done well.
Anyway, after reflection I realized how much work I'd like to get done this year... Just as a treat, I'll let you know what's in store for Made By Moms in 2009 (this is, of course, if the CPSIA gets amended)...
1. We'll be putting out a catalog (like Avon's catalog) that will be distributed to teacher lounges and hair salons throughout the Central Florida area. If you're interested in one, just let me know and I'll mail it to you when I'm done. This is set for release early February!
2. We're starting our organic line of bibs, blankets and burp cloths. This is set for release early February!
3. We're designing a line of plush blocks that will have a ton of stimulating activities for baby -- including rattles, doors and crinkly noises -- they're going to be awesome. We'll be releasing those sometime in May (if this sounds interesting to you, keep an eye on the blog because we'll be giving away a few sets for FREE to those who are willing to review them!).
4. We'll be working on a line of baby loungewear that'll include applique tops and matching pants. This is set to be released sometime near August!
5. We'll be increasing our exposure and advertising by networking with mommy blogs (especially Mom Dot and Mod Mom), increasing our consignment opportunities in Central Florida and working more craft fairs.
So, even with the economy down, we've got an eye on growth!
Thank you to EVERYONE who has helped support our business, either by frequenting our blogs, making us a favorite on Art Fire or Etsy or purchased from us, in 2008. We look forward to meeting so many more people in the upcoming year and hope you'll stick with us as we move along our journey.
You all rock!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Way back in October, I was searching Etsy and the internet to find someone to custom create two purses for me. They were for my two second-cousins and I needed something cute and fun for two college-age women who had completely different senses of style. One is an upscale college student and the other loved California chic. Boom, I found Vicki, owner of Keetacollection and a good relationship soon ensued. I loved the first two purses so much, I ordered three more for my mother, mother-in-law and stepmother-in-law for Christmas. It wasn't only me who loved it -- every single person who received them as gifts were ecstatic *and* there have been a few people who have contacted Vicki about special orders.
So, let's get into the review, shall we?
Where you can find KeetaCollection:
Her website: http://www.keetacollection.com
Her Etsy Site: http://keetacollection.etsy.com
Communication and Customer Service:
Vicki is definitely a 10 on the customer service scale. Her email replies are fast, her completion time is short and she's willing to go the extra mile for her customers. She makes it easy to pay through PayPal and her website is fantastic!!
Her Eye for Style:
Both of my orders were custom and both orders involved vague ideas like "my mom is more classic in style," or "my stepmother-in-law is a fan of Thomas Kincaide." My first order involved the UCF bag and the California-chic bag, and she knocked both of them out of the park. I was so impressed with her ability to match the fabrics with the theme/idea proposed that I ordered the next three bags with the same vague style ideas. She created bags that matched the idea perfectly. She's definitely someone who can create fantastic styles for those who aren't quite sure what they're looking for.
Her eye for style gets a 10.
Quality, Value and Workmanship:
As one sew-er to another, her workmanship is top-notch. Her stitches are straight and even, the seams are matched well and her bags are ultra-sturdy. The quality of the fabrics she uses is second-to-none and she even includes special little touches like a key clip inside the purse. When you look at the quality of fabrics she uses and the care she takes creating her items, I'd say her items are worth every penny she charges. When you look at the cost of even purses and totes at Target, which can easily reach $50 - $70, her prices are absolutely affordable.
Quality and workmanship get 10. Her value is definitely a 10.
Her Overall Score:
I don't know, what do you think her overall score should be? I'd say she's the best seller I've dealt with on Etsy and the internet in general -- and that's high praise, as I've purchased items from some amazing sellers and I'm not trying to take away from them... I'm just saying that she's amazing. She has a great combination of friendly customer service, fantastic quality and value that is lacking when you shop at even the high-end large-scale stores.... *plus* her items are all handmade!!!
Take care and have a great day
PS: I don't have pictures of all the purses because I forgot to take them on Christmas!! Ha Ha! I'm dumb!!!
I just wanted this to be a quick post letting everyone know that our Christmas went well! It had some highs and lows -- with the lows being that my aunt, who rocks, is in hospice care and is not going to make it much longer -- but we came through it ok. We visited with her on Christmas Eve and she enjoyed seeing my son... :-/
It started out with a fun family dinner at a restaurant for Christmas eve (always a tradition to eat out on Christmas Eve)... You can see how seriously I take life in this picture taken by my three-year-old (that's my brother on the right, with the evil red eyes... yeah, I always knew he was put on this earth to torment me... now I have proof he's evil!!!):
He's actually pretty good for 3 -- I think he takes better pictures than I do! I got a nice new camera for Christmas (actually, I got it last month but it was my Christmas present), so he got my old Nikon Coolpix and he was more than thrilled. I have so many close-ups of his nose, lips and cheeks that it's not even funny.
Santa, mommy and grandma were all very good to my son -- he was inundated with all things Pirates. My brother got him a dress-up kit from Disney, which grandma and child immediately used to dress up...
Anyway, we hope your holidays have been the most merry, the most bright and the happiest that any season can offer. From our home to yours, Happy Holidays!!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Just thought you guys would want to be the first to know -- it's official. Starting in mid-January we will be offering products made with only 100% certified organic materials (with the exception of the snaps we use to close our bibs). We'll have our snuggle blankets made out of flannel, sateen prints by Harmony Art, sherpa, fleece and terry cloth. They are going to be amazing!!! The organic fabrics we're purchasing are truly top-notch, premium quality, you're going to be astounded.
I can't wait to get them on the market!
If you'd like to pre-order, the two prints from
Harmony Art we're getting in are Fields of Honey (a sateen)...
Both will come with matching onesies, burp cloths and bibs, and all are available for pre-order. The reason we're offering pre-orders is to gauge the desire for these products. We only ordered a small amount of the fabric, so there will only be limited quantities available (at first). If the demand is high enough, we'll order more fabric. The pre-order will just be a reservation system -- you won't pay anything until I send you pictures of the completed items (**unless** it's something that I will only make on custom, like a large blanket). If you're interested in reserving yourself a blanket, bib, burp cloth or full set, check out the prices below!!
The prices for pre-orders will be a little less expensive than our regular price:
Small Snuggle Blankets (17 - 18") -- Backed with organic flannel, with squares of sherpa, fleece, and two panels of flannel/sateen print -- $27.00 (Reg Price = $30)
Medium Snuggle Blanket (20 - 21") -- Backed with organic flannel, with squares of sherpa, fleece and two panels of flannel/sateen print -- $32.50 (Reg Price = $36.00) ... These are custom orders only!
Large Blanket (30" x 36") -- One side flannel/sateen print, one side regular flannel -- $40.00 (Reg Price = $45) ... These are custom orders only!
Receiving Blanket (38" x 38") -- One piece of flannel bound by a binding of sateen or flannel print -- $48.00 (Reg Price = $55.00) ... These are custom orders only!
Premium Receiving Blanket (38" x 38") -- Two-sided blanket with one side flannel/sateen print and the other side regular flannel -- $60.00 (Reg Price = $70.00) ... These are custom orders only!
Bibs (large -- 8 x 12", snap closure) -- One side flannel/sateen print, one side flannel, fleece or terry cloth (won't be in until late February!) -- $10.00 (Reg Price -- $12.00)
Burp Cloths (11" x 18", eco-friendly batting inside instead of cloth diaper) -- One side flannel/sateen print, one side flannel/fleece/terry cloth/sherpa -- $11.00 (Reg Price = $14.00)
Organic Onesies (natural color, sizes 6-12, 12-18 and 18-24 in stock... name brand Bella onesies) -- Appliqued with either 100% recycled felt in an Earth design, the Moon flannel in a crescent moon, or the Fields of Honey in a flower design -- $18.00
All fabric will be pre-washed to prevent shrinkage at home (as organic fibers are rarely treated against shrinkage), in an all-natural wash from Seventh Generation. They will come shipped to you using the USPS's boxes made from 100% recycled materials with no tissue paper (unless requested) to save waste.
As always, your products will be handmade in a smoke-free (but pet-friendly!) home.
For our local customers, we hope to have these in the Evolve store (these will be a bit more than we charge online to cover consignment expenses) on Thornton Ave, by the end of January!
Take care and Merry Christmas :) :)
Monday, December 22, 2008
Hey everyone -- I don't have much time this morning, but I wanted to post a new poll...
Would you (or do you know anyone who would) purchase 100% organic baby items if they cost more money?
The reason I'm asking is that we recently had some requests for more organic items, but the expense of purchasing organic fabrics like terry, fleece, sherpa, flannel and sateen prints is astronomical (we're talking in the ballpark of $20 a yard). This would mean our "Snuggle Blankets," which usually retail for $15 would have to retail for $30 - $35, our bibs would be $12 - $14 and our burp cloths would be around $11 - $13.
Even with the added expense, would you purchase those items? Is that important to you?
Please log your vote to the left and comment here with thoughts or suggestions!
Thanks a bunch and take care, all!!
PS: The poll will close on 1/01! Thanks :)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Whew! That really sums up today -- busy, stressful, long, but so rewarding! This was really a great show, one that I look forward to visiting again next year :).
First, I got there at 8:45 to set up, by myself! I didn't know where half my stuff was (as we haven't done a show since October), couldn't find my table cloths (I purchased two holiday cream ones on clearance from Target for $7) and was generally frazzled as I tried to get everything set up and looking pretty before showtime... I don't think I did too horribly bad on my own...
So, I get myself set up and decide to wander around and who do I see but some of my fellow Orlando Arts Team members -- Pinka, Le Petit Poussin, Raven's Repose Soaps, Baby Bow Madness, Bollinger and Surpreyes !!! Yay :), I love hanging out and chatting with friends :).
Since everyone but Surpreyes were across the way from me, I chatted with them first... their shop looked awesome when completed ! I love them all! I've used Raven's Repose soaps and they are fantastic -- the quality of Le Petit Poussin and Pinka's items are so high (oh, if it were only socially acceptable to stick my son in cute skirts... I'd have blown all the money I made. My husband is thankful).
I went down the hallway to where Surpreyes was creating her craft -- she was recently honered with a POW award and selected to go to the Craft & Hobby Association’s Indie Crafter booth!! Awesome! Her work truly is marvelous, I'm seriously in awe of her mad creating skills. This is Heather humoring me in her booth!
Oh, yeah, this is my Santa. Back off and no one gets hurt.
Anyway, pretty much at 11 am, people starting coming. In droves! We were busy pretty much all day long. Not overwhelmingly, pull-your-hair-out busy, but pleasantly occupied. Everyone we met was fantastic -- from the fellow vendors to every customer. I've never been to a craft show yet where there wasn't one negative nancy, but *not* today. Maybe everyone was in the holiday spirit, the stars were aligned properly or the clientelle at this event draws from a happier segment of the population, but everyone smiled... many shook my hand, everyone stopped to chitchat, and no one was rude! Amazing! Anyway, we did really well today. The hubby stopped by with little man, and they played around with the "soap snow" and listened to the musicians and entertainers over by the Dandelion Cafe.
At 7 pm, it was time to close shop after a long 8 hours there. Honestly, I *wouldn't* have closed up, but my toddler was there and he was getting a little hungry... so I made the executive decision to close. We could have stayed open til 10 pm but the area we were in closed at 7 because the drum circle and dancing started next door.
All in all, a wonderful day. I got to sit outside in beautiful weather, meet fantastic people, chat a bit with friends, pet some fun dogs (including an adorable welsh corgi) and make some money. You can't ask for a better day than that, now can you?
Take care all and Merry Christmas if I can't get back to blog before then!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Thanks to the kind people over at We Love Art Fire, I've decided to put some thought into my business goals for 2009. I figured that if I put it on my blog, for all to see, it might spur me to accomplish it!
Here we go:
**Streamline my record keeping by creating an inventory database through Excel, and sales data through Quick Books.
**Create a catalog to distribute (like an Avon catalog) through hair salons, teacher's lounges and other places that target women.
**Spend more on online advertising and get advertising for my blog, which will then enable me to get more online advertising ;)
**List everything through Art Fire and have as much of my inventory as possible online.
**Have 50 followers to my blog by the end of the year (I have 2 now)
**Do one craft show or farmer's market per month and try out some medium-sized craft fairs this year (I have done small, one-day and huge four-day)... perhaps branch myself out to go a little farther away to get better craft fairs
**Get into some sort of buying co-op or agreement so I can purchase my fabric wholesale
**Create an actual business "plan" and get more organized overall. Right now everything is spread to the high hills in my house... nothing is centralized and my sales folder is a disaster. I keep accurate tax records, but I need to be better organized!!! I feel to be more profitable, I need to become more organized.
I can say that I'm already done with inventory and I'm working on the catalog... so I'm, at least, getting some important things done. Now I'm off to go and create some sales logs with QuickBooks.
Take care all and thanks for reading :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'm bored (actually... technically, I'm avoiding housework), so I thought I'd write a tribute to Art Fire and why I love the new site so much...
** Oh Art Fire, you only charge me $7 a month and I can list and sell an unlimited amount. You are giving me access to a blog and the ability to attach 10 pictures to every listing... you are a great deal.
**Oh Art Fire, you allow me to see who (like Google or Yahoo) is referencing both my shop and my specific items. I can see how many people view my studio, not just individual items.
**Oh Art Fire, you not only published my article on craft fairs, here, but you also visit my blog and comment. You make me feel like a valued member of a community, rather than seller number 1,052.
**Oh Art Fire, your search function makes me swoon! While there are always room for improvements (such as a list in ABC order function), the simple fact that you have a search function by PRICE is amazing! I love it!
**Oh Art Fire, you make it so easy for me to sign up new customers. When I only listed on Etsy, all custom orders that we received from friends and previous customers never got listed -- why pay their listing and selling fee if they didn't find the customer???!!! By not charging us listing or selling fees, I can list an unlimited number of custom orders and get my friends, family and previous clients signed up. More buyers means more purchases all around!!!!! YAY!
**Oh, Art Fire, your selling process is fantastic! I love how I can add the tracking information right to the invoice and I love your "Recent Sales" box on the front page. It makes everything so organized and easy to manage! I love your karma system that allows you to mark your experience on a 1 - 10 scale instead of relying on "positive, negative, neutral" system that Ebay realized was inadequate on the selling end years ago. I love how I can add notes about the progress of an order !!!
I know that Art Fire is a new site, I know they're still working on kinks, and I know that the best is yet to come... I guess that's why I'm so excited! I already feel more at home, and happier, at Art Fire than I ever did at Etsy. At Etsy, I felt like an insignificant number and, truthfully, I was. I didn't spend the ridiculous amounts of money needed to update or add my products constantly, attempting in vain to stay at the top of the search, so I just wasn't important. At AF, I feel valued and that makes me feel good as an artist. I hope it succeeds -- in this type of economy, success isn't even assured for the most rooted of businesses -- because I truly like the people working for Art Fire. Can't say the same for Etsy.
Ok, so I promised you pictures and here they are:
The elephant burp cloth and bib set:
The University of Florida burp cloth and blanket set:
The paisley burp cloth, bib and blanket set:
Enjoy and let me know what you think!!!
See, this is why I love Art Fire (and their employee, Sara) -- grassroots who care about their members. They feature their verified vendors and you can write for their Art Daily magazine.
Anyway, we wrote a featured article here:
Art Daily Article
It's on the basic differences between craft shows and online, so definitely take a look at it even if you're a craft show veteran. Post comments there to help me, because it's intended to be a series. If I left something out or there is something I should touch on, please let me know! Any feedback is highly, highly appreciated :)
Take care all
Monday, December 15, 2008
Whew, has today been productive! I've sewn:
Four UF burp cloths and one UF snuggle blanket
One paisley burp cloth, one paisley bib and one paisley snuggle blanket
One pink elephant burp cloth and bib
All for custom orders! Plus, I've started on my catalog that I'm going to start distributing to local hair salons and in teacher's lounges.
I won't be able to post pictures of my custom orders until tomorrow, since I have just enough time to shower before I pick up my son.
Just thought I'd let you all know how good I've been today!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Ok, I'll admit it... I have the soul of an engineer. I'm very artistic in my own way, but my true heart and soul belong to logic, reasoning, mathematics and science. Forget art class, I wanted Physics.
I'm weird, so sue me.
Anyway, I've never understood the whole "family recipe" thing... as in "this stays in the family and you can NEVER, NEVER EVER give it out to anyone... ever. Period." To me, there simply is no rational to it and it feels selfish (I have something that's mine, all mine, and I won't share it with you... nahny nahny boo boo). Why am I discussing this?
Well, I was baking anise biscuits with my cousin... it was my grandmother's recipe that we've spent two Christmases perfecting. Why? Well, her measurements aren't really 6 cups of flour, it's 6 cups of flour more or less. It isn't 8 oz of juice, it's a "glass of juice." It took us a while to discover her glasses were 10 oz, not 8. A handful, well... her hands are bigger than mine! A "demitasse cup of baking powder" but we can't find her demitasse cups... ACK.
Cooking might be an art, but baking is definitely a science (which is probably why I prefer baking). If you add too much liquid, your cookies won't set... too much flour and they'll be dry rocks.
Anyway, we think we've hit on the correct amounts of everything (perhaps a bit more anise next year) and I laughed about how I wanted to take grandma's recipe card and scan it to put it on the internet... just so people could see what we were working with. She was scandalized -- put Grandma's recipe on the INTERNET so EVERYONE could see it? Holy jeez, you would have thought I was proposing putting nuclear secrets on the internet. This shock and adamant refusal started a discussion as to WHY it's taboo to share her biscuit or butter cookie recipe (which, oddly enough, doesn't include butter... go figure)... All we ever got to is because "it's a family thing."
Yeah, I'm sorry, not good enough. Sentimentality doesn't trump logic, which to me is "If someone appreciates something of yours enough to ask for the recipe, use what you learned in kindergarten and share." It's the right thing to do. I share every single recipe I have -- from my mother's tomato sauce to my eggplant parmesan, lasagna and chicken salad recipes -- when people ask. My best friend shared her grandmother's tea cakes recipe with me when I told her how much I liked them.
So what if people make them for their family or make it to bring to parties? The rational was: "If you give out the recipe, everyone will bring the same thing." What? With Food TV, AllRecipes.com, Epicurious and the thousands of websites and blogs devoted to recipes... everyone will bring my grandmother's anise biscuits to the same party? Not rational. Not logical.
So come on, blogosphere... are you like that? Do you not share "secret" family recipes? Why? How about the other coin -- why do you share? I share because it makes me feel good that someone liked what I made (same reason why I sew stuff for people... I like the appreciation). I can understand not sharing a recipe you make money off of (like if you owned a bakery!), but if you're not profitting from it... uh....
Help me out here, give me your reasons!
Friday, December 12, 2008
I have traumatized my dog. Poor Molly, I really do feel sorry for her. She won't eat, won't drink and when I put the collar around her head this morning, she stood up in her crate, staring straight ahead for a full hour.
Then I took her outside to go potty, brought her back in... and she did the *same* thing while we ate breakfast -- just stood in the doorway, drooling on the floor and staring into nothingness. Now (four hours after we woke up), she is standing in my son's playroom (I moved her in there so she could be with us while we played) and she did the same thing.
It's like the collar puts her into a trance... I think she truly is traumatized. I would feel bad and take it off *BUT* she's a hardcore licker. You can't imagine the number of bladder infections she's given herself because she licks ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Darn it. And she's got toys and we have an acre she runs around like a crazy dog daily plus a toddler who tires her out, she's not bored... she just likes to lick.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Ok, so two things... the first is that I pulled a ridiculously large dog tick off one of my cats today. She's an indoor/outdoor cat (out during the day so she can molest and digest small woodland creatures and inside at night so she can sleep on my head) and I was petting her when I felt a large pebble lodged on her neck. Now, usually pebbles don't lodge themselves on a cat's neck, so I inspected it a little further and saw what appeared to be a greenish-grayish pebble the size of a penny. I managed to pop it off (freaking out the ENTIRE TIME) and called my vet to find out that dog ticks don't carry lyme disease. Whew. I have her on Advantage, but apparently the kind I use doesn't cover ticks. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
THEN, I go to pick up my toddler (who spent a wonderful week with his grandparents at Disney) and they gave me back a defective model. I gave them a healthy child and they returned a child running a fever with a clogged nose. No thank you, I don't accept returns for defective merchandise!!!
I'll be honest when I say this is the *second* time in his three years that he's been sick. Of course, they stuffed him with *way* too much junk food (well, I'm an organic nutjob... so any junk food is bad), took him to Disney way to much and he didn't sleep nearly enough -- no wonder he got sick! I think he went to bed at 7 pm tonight he was so sick, the poor kid (though the sickness didn't stop him from running around my house like a maniac a few hours earlier).
Molly, our Great Dane, came out of her spay surgery just fine... but she's not liking the Buster collar one bit -- the first time I tried to put it on she freaked out and started running around like a crazy dog... and she's a licker... I don't know how I'll be able to keep her away from her stitches. She's been mopey and tired today, though, so I'll try the collar again tomorrow.
Anyway, before the chaos of the tick, sick toddler and mopey dog, I managed to finish up our latest custom project -- a memory blanket that will be a Christmas gift (don't worry, I know they don't read this blog... Hey... does anyone read this blog?). I did it without sashing (which, in my opinion, is *harder* because tshirts have a tendency to stretch and it's hard to get the corners to mesh nicely). I tried to get the green and gold of USF, but the gold was a little off -- it was either this or yellow... I think the mustard is more "gold" than yellow, I so chose a nice soft fleece to match with the hunter green snuggle flannel.
Let me know what you think!
Oh, AND, I added new items to my Art Fire listings:
Amy Butler Coriander and Paisley Blanket
Heather Bailey Pop Garden Blanket
Winnie the Pooh Blanket
"Pretty in Pink" Burp Cloth and Bib Gift Set
I'll be adding MORE items over the weekend *and* I'll be writing a few articles for their "Art Daily" newsletter... I'll post the link when I'm published :)
Take care and have a wonderful day !!!
PS: We'll be at Homegrown for the Holidays -- a local artisan-based craft fair in Orlando on December 20th. More info tomorrow :)
Today will be a busy day... I have to finish up the latest memory quilt -- pictures to come -- start on a few other projects, my son is coming home from grandma's house and my puppy is off to get spayed.
Whew... I'll post pictures of the FANTASTIC new fabric I've gotten lately and my finished projects soon.
Oh, and I'm going to be the featured artist on Art Fire soon... so keep your eyes out!!!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Ok, I don't really know how accurate her "facts" are, but this is an interesting video that makes a *lot* of sense when you sit down and think about our culture.
Story of Stuff
At 20 minutes, it's a bit long... but it's fast-paced and fascinating. These concepts are really a large part in why I've gone more organic through the years and stopped buying so much *stuff* ...
Take care and let me know what you think!
I am seriously stoked about a new place I have found lately -- it's a handmade website called Art Fire. They seem like they took everything I dislike about Etsy and fixed it -- creating a whole website with a great search function and a fun atmosphere. The admins are very active and the whole place keeps getting better and better. I really like the people there.
You can bet your bippie that I'll be adding a whole schmeal of stuff to that site soon!
I did jump right in and buy a Verified Account badge -- they're offering around 4,000 more at the discounted price of $7 / month for the life of your membership. It entitles you to 10 pictures, a blog, access to the guilds and *so* much more! It's really not a bad cost when you think about it -- plus you get a Charter Member badge for your profile. Oh, and did I mention there are no fees? No listing, no selling, no fees at all. How refreshing!
If you do decide to join Art Fire and become verified, please let them know that you heard about it from me. Why? I'm not shy -- if I refer 10 people who become verified members, I'll get a free membership FOR LIFE. I think it's a great way of drumming up interest in a fledgling online venture. My link for referrals is below, or you can simply type in my user name: MadeByMoms.
Also, I have a new marketing and promotion site at My Craft. If you're on My Craft, come and be my friend!
Anyway, what do you think about Art Fire? Positives? Negatives? The traffic is low, but it's a new venture. I feel with the right amount of marketing and promotion, traffic will be up in a bit.
Please, everyone, spread the word... talk to your congressman or woman and help save us small handmade artisans !!
Why the plea for help? Apparently, back in August 2008 a new law was signed on to the books -- the Consumers Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). It mandates that EVERY single manufacturer of items for children under the age of 12 must test every component of their items at certified testing labs for levels of lead and phthalates. This means that every ribbon, every fabric, every button, every bead -- everything that goes into my items will have to be tested for lead. This will cost hundreds of dollars per test and would effectively put me, and most other small businesses catering to children completely out of business. We can't even rely on suppliers testing their materials (which, it should be THEIR responsibility ANYWAY), the onus of certification is on our head. The cost of noncompliance? Thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time.
My choice is between completely shutting my doors or violating the law.
Please check out the following websites for more information :
http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/ (this site has an option to sign a petition! Sign it PLEASE)
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/ (has good information in their Recent Posts)
If you like buying handmade and supporting local artisans, please rally to this cause. While I am the first one to admit that there are far too many chemicals in our lives today, it shouldn't be the job of small business manufacturers to test. Testing should be done in batches by the large-scale manufacturers. It's sheer stupidity that if I and three friends go to a fabric store and each buy three yards of the *same* fabric, we'd each be forced to run the same tests for lead and phthalates. If the manufacturer batch tests their fabric to conform to the new safety regulations that SHOULD BE ENOUGH. No need to shift the onus to July Seamstress or Bobby Wooden Toy Maker.
This is far-reaching regulation. It impacts everyone -- you make hair bows? Wooden toys? Felt toys? Stuffed animals? You crochet baby clothing? Make blankets? Bibs? Burp cloths? Knit baby booties? How about child's clothing? Stockings? Socks?
Do you make, or know someone who makes ANYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY BE USED BY A CHILD UNDER 12? They will be impacted by this.
Please help, fixing this legislation is the only way to keep reputable businesses from choosing to close down or operate outside the law.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Ok, so I've held off on doing this for a while... but I feel like I need to try and sell on Ebay. I know, I know, the dark side with crushing fees, but so much stuff sells on there... I figured I'd splurge about $3.00 in fees and list two items.
One is my satin and cream blanket, listed here.
The other is a burp cloth, bib and blanket gift set in Michael Miller's Retro Rocket print, here.
Both auctions end around the same time -- December 16th at 12:50ish EST. So about 6 days and 22 hours, lol. With the satin blanket, we'll donate 10% (or minimum of $5) to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and with the gift set we'll donate 5%. We are also still doing the "Donate 1 can for every $5 you spend" promotion, so make sure to keep us in mind for holiday gifts.
Have a great day and don't forget to check those auctions out!!!
Ok, so I know I promised some major recipes when I started this blog and, months in, I have yet to deliver. Bad Jennifer, I know! Anyway, I thought I'd post a holiday favorite in my household -- my rum cheesecake. It's an old recipe that I've adapted throughout the years and goes wonderfully paired with either a chocolate or caramel sauce. If you're a novice cheesecake baker, make sure to read up on both cooking methods to see which one you'd like to try (you should always read the whole recipe first, but you already know that ;) )...
Anywhere, here goes...
1 c finely crushed chocolate wafer or shortbread cookies, (about 10 - 13)
3 T dark brown sugar, packed
2 T unsalted butter, melted
5 packages cream cheese, softened (40 oz)
1 1/4 c sugar
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
1 T rum extract
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
*You can usually find chocolate wafers in the ice cream aisle of Publix, next to the hot fudge sauce and marashino cherries. Some grocery stores don't stock these cookies and some only stock them around the holidays, so call around to find them -- the brand is Nabisco and the name is "Famous Chocolate Wafers" . Worse comes to worse, you can find them online.
*You'll be able to find "Imitation Rum Extract" in the baking aisle near the other extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint. Don't use real rum because it's not concentrated enough to pack in the flavor and if you use too much rum your cheesecake won't set.
*It's always best to use fresh, whole spices -- grate a cinnamon stick and put nutmeg through a mill.
*Best way of cooking? I'll give two directions, one for normal bake and one for a waterbath. The difference? Waterbaths don't produce the heavy, dense cheesecakes that normal baking does. They are a little lighter and a little more moist, with a less intense flavor -- which is better? Personal preference. Also, water baths have a tendency to avoid the cracks along the top (which are caused by overbaking and cooling too quickly) -- it's not a guarantee, though, just less likely to happen. Also, your crust won't be as crisp (as it's been almost steamed) in a water bath vs. the traditional cheesecake cooking method. So, in all? The waterbath method makes it easier to produce evenly baked cheesecakes with no cracks *but* it will yield a softer, more moist cheesecake that occasionally lacks the deep, intense flavor that many people love about cheesecakes!
* If you're doing the waterbath method, wrap the cheesecake with ONE PIECE of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly. DO NOT USE TWO PIECES IF YOUR ALUMINUM ISN"T LARGE ENOUGH, go out and buy extra-large foil. It needs to reach all the way up every side to prevent water from seeping in and ruining your cheesecake. You might even want to double-wrap to ensure no water gets in. This is the biggest problem people have when making cheesecakes and it'll even happen if you're careful if you accidently break a hole in your foil (yes, this did happen to me).
*If you like crispier cheesecake crusts you can bake your crust first. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding filling.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and take out a 9" Springform pan. If using the water bath method, wrap with foil now.
2. Mix cookies, butter and brown sugar by hand. Press into the bottom of the pan. Follow directions above if you'd like to prebake your crust, otherwise set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer, beat your cream cheese (medium-low to medium speed) just until smooth (only a minute or so, as it should be softened already). Scrape the sides and add in the sugar, cream, rum extract and spices. Beat on Medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 1 - 2 minutes), scraping the sides to avoid lumps. Beat the eggs in on Low speed, one at a time, until well blended.
4. Pour over crust and smooth the top.
**NORMAL METHOD: Place pan on a baking sheet (this will make it easier to hold and it'll catch the grease that will escape from the pan, making your oven less messy) and put into the oven (middle rack, please). Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set, but the center still jiggles a little when the pan is tapped (about an hour but start checking the cheesecake at 50 minutes to avoid overbaking... can be as long as 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on your oven). Be careful not to overcook or your cheesecake will crack. Prop the door open a little and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour or so. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. Put on a rack and let cool completely before unmolding.
**WATERBATH METHOD: Set the wrapped pan in a large roasting pan or baking dish and place in the oven (middle rack, please). Pour boiling water (or extremely hot water) into the baking dish, being careful not to get it on your cheesecake, enough to come 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for around 55 - 60 minutes, or until the edges look puffed but the center still jiggles a little when pan is tapped. Waterbath baking is a little more forgiving than normal baking, so don't worry if you think you've left it in too long. Prop the door open and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour or so. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. Put on a rack and let cook completely before unmolding.
5. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, at least, but 24 hours is best.
Cracked your cheesecake? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us... cheesecakes are finicky creatures and don't believe anyone who says they can produce a perfect, non-cracked cheesecake every single time -- they're lying. I've been baking cheesecakes for eight years and I *still* get cracks occasionally. IF you crack your cheesecake, don't worry... steal a trick from professional bakers and cover the cheesecake with something. Chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, fruit -- no one will notice because your cheesecake will look fantastic!
So, how was it? If anyone tries this recipe, please let me know. How was the recipe? Easy to follow? Clear and concise?
Let me know by rating and happy eating everyone!
Monday, December 8, 2008
You know, the more I sit here and sew... the more I realize I really want to go to the BCS Championship game in Miami. I didn't really feel this way about the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago because it was out in Arizona... but this is in Miami.
Seriously, how many times will I have the opportunity to go see MY TEAM play in the Championship game mere hours away from where I live? No travel expenses, only one night at a hotel... Overall expenses not so bad... but those tickets!?!
So, here it is... I have only one month to find the money so I can make it to the game. $1,000 for tickets for my husband and I. While we can do it, that money just doesn't fit into our budget and I'm not willing to break the budget in this economy... SO, instead of budget busting...
I'm going to reduce all of our prices on Art Fire and Etsy by anywhere from 25% to 75% (on NON-CUSTOM ITEMS to clear our inventory). It's a huge fire sale with the money dedicated to getting me to the BCS Championship game on January 8th! Buy Christmas gifts, shower gifts or "welcome home" gifts for your friends, neighbors and family members and help a Gator fan out!!!
PS: I will still be donating 5% of every sale to the Second Harvest Food Bank AND I'll still be doing the "Spend $5, donate a can of food" deal to help the hungry in Central Florida... So you'll be helping my community out as well!
Go to my shop: http://madebymoms.etsy.com or http://madebymoms.artfire.com
For the specials and deals!
Man, the end of November and start of December have been crazy busy in the Jen Household portion of Made By Moms! My son turned three at the end of November, we had Thanksgiving, we took my son ice skating for the first time, the Gators played in the SEC championship and we went to Disney.
And I have a MyCraft Site:
The MyCraft site has another blog where I'll post favorite recipes and reviews of toys, etc. Plus... keep tuned for our newest line... the Jolly Rogers!!!