Saturday, November 7, 2009


The Wikipedia entry for 'lagniappe' (pronounced LAN-yap) defines it as such: "Lagniappe refers to a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th donut when buying a dozen), or more broadly, "something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure."

In other words, a little something extra.

I wanted to include a little lagniappe when I shipped out orders; something just a little more special than "thank you" written on the back of my business card. I also wanted something I could do with all of those fabric scraps that seemed too small to use, yet too big to just throw away. I needed something that wouldn't break the bank. Most of my merchandise is under $20, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to give something away unless I could keep the cost down to about 25¢.

I decided on fabric-covered button magnets. I'd always known about the fabric covered buttons you can easily make yourself, but was delighted to discover that you could purchase "flat back" versions of these; perfect for gluing a magnet to the back.

All you need is fabric scraps slightly larger in diameter than the button size you'll be using. I used a 1 ⅛" diameter button, so I cut out the fabric circles about 2" in diameter. This task was made extra easy with the second-hand die cutting machine I purchased off of Ebay.

Making the buttons is pretty self-explanatory. Lay your fabric circle, right side down, in the button mold. Place the dome piece in the mold, tuck the fabric edges in, place the button back on top and then press it in. Then pop your button out of the mold.
Glue a magnet to the back and you're finished! I used rare earth magnets, which are surprisingly strong.

I then use some removable glue dots to affix the magnets to a little hang-tag, also made with my handy die cutting machine.
I add two hang-tags to the product itself; one with care instructions, and a larger blank tag so that my customer can use it as a gift tag to write their own message on. The magnet hang-tag is affixed to the outside of the bag, with a little note from me written on the back of the tag.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Little Details

I just crawled out of bed, and while I was grinding the coffee beans I was struck by a thought, and then really surprised that the thought I was struck by didn't strike me much sooner.

A little bit of backup story: My dad busted his leg up pretty bad recently and required surgery. His recovery requires him to have the leg elevated for 6 weeks and daily physical therapy, thus ruling out any possibility of my mom being able to care for him at home during this time. Once he was out of the hospital, he was sent to what is essentially a nursing home type facility, but they provide him with the medical care and physical therapy he needs.

I haven't been able to visit him yet. I was on tour, then when I got home my mom warned me not to come yet; a week spent in the hospital and she had picked up something and was sick herself. She didn't want to spread it around to me and the kids.
Halloween weekend is my last free weekend before I leave for another tour, so I'd been talking with my sister about her Halloween plans. I could come down and we could take her kids and my kids trick-or-treating together, and the she could take the bigger kids to a Halloween party afterwards.

My sister emailed me the other day. She was going to go have lunch with Mom and Dad at the nursing home on Halloween day. "I'm going to let the kids wear their costumes. The old people there really like seeing the kids."

I've been so busy this week. Lots of band duties, meetings, a photo shoot, parent-teacher conference, volunteering at the school Book Fair, Etsy stuff. Whew! I'd been trying to think of everything I would need to do in order to get out of here early enough on Saturday to drive to Houston and meet up with all of them by lunchtime, and had been going through the mental checklist of everything I'd need to pack and also trying to keep track of everything I still needed to do over the next couple of days. All the time I'm thinking that it would be fun for my kids to wear their costumes to the nursing home too. Then I was grinding the beans this morning. Coltrane is dressing up as the Grim Reaper this year. I can't take the kid into a nursing home dressed as the Grim Reaper. My sister's words came back to me, and I'm thinking that the old people would probably be less than delighted to see a miniature Grim Reaper wandering the halls. Maybe he could just stick his head in their rooms and say "Boo!"

What strikes me most is how this didn't occur to me sooner. What if it had taken longer? I was picturing myself hastily stripping Coltrane's costume off of him at the entrance way to the facility; us standing in front of automatic sliding doors with me struggling with the knot in his cloak or pulling his mask off. Trying to hide the 4 foot long plastic scythe, while explaining to him the inappropriateness of his costume in this kind of setting. Well, the whole thing made me giggle a little.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little Sidekick Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is.... Cavan A!
Winner has 72 hours to claim their prize, or a new winner will be chosen.

If you would like to see a public record of this drawing click here.

Thank you to all who participated! I will be having more giveaways in the future, so check in soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Featured Etsy Artisan - Altered Beauty

Taking inspiration from the industrial revolution, the Victorian era and even Greek mythology, Ashely from Altered Beauty uses new and found objects to create truly unique jewelry. She was kind enough to grant me an interview.

Could you tell us a little about yourself, what got you started making jewelry, and your creative process?

I have been making jewelry for a few years. I initially became interested in creating jewelry when I was working overnight shifts at a domestic violence shelter. A woman there (a shelter resident) saw me working on something crafty and she mentioned that she made jewelry. I asked to see some of her work and it was wonderful! She showed me the basics and was very encouraging. I started making things for my family. Eventually I heard about Etsy and thought I would give it a shot!

I have been happily married since 2002. My husband is an artist who has worked in the movie industry and is currently working freelance. I work full-time in the nonprofit industry (I have a BA in Psychology and an uncompleted Master's that I don't plan on finishing :-D) I work overnight shifts, which I think would be difficult for most couples, but since my husband is freelance he just adapts his schedule to mine. We don't have kids but have a dog named Buddy.

I love making jewelry as a way to relax. (Sometimes it isn't relaximg lol, but most of the time it is.) I particularly love the Steampunk genre and Altered Art. I have always been inspired by the industrial revolution and victorian era. I don't have a very specific creative process; many times I see a beautiful watch movement or a particular finding and I just go from there. I love making custom pieces as well.

I have to admit that I had to Wikipedia the term "steampunk". Can you tell me where you first came across this term as it applies to modified objects, and what the term means to you?

I first came across Steampunk jewelry because my husband became interested in the Steampunk movement, especially as it is represented in movies. I started researching typical Steampunk attire, including jewelry, and fell in love with it. I have always loved anything pertaining to the industrial revolution and the Victorian era, so it seemed like a natural progression.

Do you find yourself looking at everyday objects in a different light since you started creating jewelry?

Absolutely...I am always looking for things to incorporate into my jewelry, such as mechanical parts, tiny boxes, and tiny bottles. I love jewelry that is functional and can be used to contain things.

Do you have any other crafting hobbies that you enjoy; knitting, sewing, painting, etc., or is there anything you would like to try some day?

I am hopeless when it comes to knitting and sewing, but I love textile arts. I am currently trying to teach myself wet felting and needle felting, and I love it. I also do watercolors and enjoy collage.

How has selling your creations, as opposed to just making them for fun and giving them to friends, affected your life?

Selling my jewelry has been an awesome way for me to make a little bit of extra money (much needed :-D) while doing something I love. So far, I have been able to maintain a good balance between work and fun, so while I handle all of my transactions professionally, I still get to have fun creating without it seeming like work. I am so glad I found Etsy, because I think it is an ideal venue for people like me who want to test the waters of selling their handmade and vintage products. I am now gearing up towards doing craft shows :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are you as bored as I am?

How boring is a Super 8 motel in Hartford, CT with two days off, crappy rainy weather and nothing to do except to
go and find some food a couple of times a day?


Hard up, I tweeted for suggestions for things to do and got "apple picking" and some place called Old Sturbridge Village. And I don't think these suggestions were given in any irony, and were presumably offered as legitimate alternatives to boredom.

Since I am not a middle-aged gay man or a senior citizen, neither of these options would have appealed to me much, even if the cold and the rain hadn't squashed any notion of it anyway. Anyway, I know my friends were only trying to be helpful.

Here's some amusing blogs I found while busy being bored.

Forgotten Bookmarks
No Telling
Weird Auction Listings
The always more than just a little disturbing Charlie Daniel's Soapbox
Thing I Found at the Thrift Store

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Featured Etsy Artisan - Lovely Gifts

Linda from Lovely Gifts was kind enough to grant us an interview. I learned a few new terms browsing around her shop; among them, fascinator, pomander and kissing ball, terms I may have been familiar with had I planned a wedding in the recent past.

Lovely Gifts specializes in bridal accessories, though I can easily picture her gorgeous pillows and baskets as home decor. Someone else's home, that is. Mine has children in it. Children and dogs and cats.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how you got started making bridal accessories?

I am married with a wonderful husband and daughter. I started making pillows after I saw a beautiful one at a store that was extremely expensive. I thought to myself, " I can do that", and my first one was so beautiful I kept going. First I made the larger ones for home decor, then the ringbearer pillows. I realized there was a market out there for unique bridal accessories. I started to sell them in boutiques and bridal salons.
I have always been creative, and once you start making things with success, you start to evolve into other areas; hence, the hair accessories.

Can you tell us a little about your creative process, and where you get your inspiration?

My creative process starts with me browsing around craft stores, picking out beautiful flowers, and thinking about what I can do with them. I have to be in that creative mood in order to make something beautiful. My favorite flowers to work with are roses and orchids. I am always trying to find the most beautiful flowers.

Do you try and stay abreast of the latest trends in the bridal world, or do you just go where your creative eye takes you? Do you find yourself browsing through the bridal magazines while in line at the grocery store or anything like that?

I do try and stay abreat of the latest trends in the bridal world. Right now fascinators are the latest rage. So I currently have a large amount of eclectic hair accessories. Whenever I have the luxury to hang out at a Barnes & Noble, I grab a couple of bridal magazines to see what the latest trends are and become inspired. Sometimes just flipping through magazines will give me an idea, coupled with some great finds, and a new item is created.

Do you still sell your items through boutiques and bridal salons, or has Etsy become an exclusive venue for your items?

I don't currently sell to bridal salons and boutiques. Shortly after I had started doing this, I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. It took me awhile to get back into the swing of things as I was not happy with the move. When things got back to normal, I found that I was too far from any of the bridal salons and boutiques that may have been interested. That's when I discovered Etsy!

How do you promote your work?

It took some time before I realized you had to list items frequently in order to get noticed. I try to participate in the blogs and forums as much as possible and make use of Twitter to help promote my shop. It is not near enough, but it has helped a lot since I have started doing these things. In addition, I am always making new items. I have been dragging my feet regarding other social networks like facebook, and I know having a blogspot seems to help a lot of sellers. Twitter is short and sweet and I find I do seem to drum up a lot of interest there.

Apart from your creative endeavors, what do you enjoy doing?

What I enjoy the most is hanging out with my wonderful husband and daughter. They are very supportive and helpful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Unless you are Scottish, or have happened to have spent a couple of days driving around Scotland in a van with the with words "Ned Car" proudly displayed on every visible surface in giant lettering, you may not be familiar with the term "Ned".
Now, just to clarify, a "Ned Car" is not the same as a "Tea Mobile" (pronounced like T-Mobile). A "Tea Mobile" refers to a Ned's car, but "Ned Car" is a vehicle rental company in Amsterdam, and although the proprietor wasn't previously aware of what the term "ned" means in Scotland, we gave him the lowdown when we returned the vans we had rented.
Now I'm going to refer you to the Wiki entry for "Ned", and then you can imagine for yourself what it was like to drive the Ned Car around downtown Glasgow late on a Saturday night, the streets teaming with post-game football (that's soccer to you Yank!) fans and drunken revelers.
You can click on the pic below for a screenshot, or just go directly to the Wikipedia entry.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This is Where the Title Goes.

Okay. So I'm not that awesome at adding titles for my blog posts.
And I'll have to go back and check, but I think I begin a disproportionate amount of blog entries with the word "okay".
But I'm really just looking for an excuse to post this funny picture of my son. My husband caught it with his iPhone camera, and says that Lennon was "making funny faces while experimenting with vocalization."
I just had a long, long day that began at the unholy hour of 5:30 AM, which would have been fine had I gone to sleep at 9:30 PM the night before, but alas, I did not. Lennon had rolled over onto his stomach and presumably didn't like being on his stomach but couldn't figure out how to roll back over. He was so upset, it took me long enough to calm him down to make it senseless for me to try and go back to sleep, as I would have had to get the other kid (the one who can easily turn himself over, and toast his own waffles!) up and ready for school half an hour later.
Now it's 2:30 AM, and I'm exhausted yet too wired for sleep because I drank coffee all day so I could get through the two gigs I had to play tonight.
When I got home and checked my email, I find a very, very exciting (there's got to be a better word; monumental? earth-shattering? life-changing?) one there amongst all the offers to increase my penis size or turn me into a Stay At Home Mom Billionaire. More on this later. There are other people I need to inform before I can just blithely blog about it to whoever's reading.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Really Irritate Me; A Step By Step Guide.

1. Say "hysterical" when you mean "hilarious", or "nauseous" when you mean "nauseated".
2. I.M. me EVERY SINGLE TIME you see I'm on Facebook, even though I have never responded back, because I don't really know you. Just keep doing it.
3. Name drop incessantly about famous people you had a chance encounter with and speak about them as if you're old chums.
4. Neglect to use any capitalization or punctuation in your correspondence with me, and misspell every third word.
5. Belch loudly and do not say "Excuse me".
6. Park your grocery cart in the middle of the friggin' aisle while you painstakingly examine every single peach in the bin.
7. Drive 5-10 miles under the speed limit.

To be continued...

Oooh! Pretty!

I can't quite recall how I stumbled upon jriede's Etsy shop, but these lovely knit stocking patterns were one of the first things to go into my favorites. Aren't they gorgeous?

So, in the first of a series of interviews with Etsy artisans that I admire, below are a few questions that jriede was kind enough to answer for me. Be sure and visit her store, and if you knit, I'd love these for Christmas!

(Photos are courtesy of Jen Wang.)

I see your location as Vienna. Are you from there originally?

No, I'm from Upper Austria originally. I came to Vienna to attend university and stayed.

You must be an accomplished knitter to have designed these lovely patterns; how long have you been knitting, and what inspired you to learn?

I learned to knit at the age of 5 and have not stopped ever since, except for a phase between 13 and 14 where I considered knitting to be rather uncool. :)

Do you remember the first thing you knitted? How did it turn out?

I think it was a scarf. It turned out ok but I have got no idea where it could be now.

What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?

I love to sew and to spin.

Assuming that knitting or pattern design isn't a full time job, what do you do professionally?

I'm a nuclear physicist working for the Austrian Armed Forces. Knitting and designing knitwear is recreation for me - together with sports.

I crochet, but have yet to learn how to knit. I so admire your patterns, but am I correct to assume they are for an advanced knitter, and not appropriate for the beginner? How would you describe the difficulty of your patterns?

It depends. As long as you are able to follow instructions and (in most cases) charts it should be no problem for an advanced beginner to work one of my patterns. I try to be as clear as possible in my instructions and have to say thank you to my test knitters for many good suggestions here. They are of great help.

I've noticed you don't have a lot of finished items for sale; do you not have a lot of time to knit these days, or do most of your finished products end up in your own closet or those of friends?

I just have one finished item for sale, a knitted lace shawl made from a gorgeous cashmere/silk blend laceweight yarn made by Posh Yarn (UK). I just loved knitting this item but am sure I will never ever wear it because it just does not fit my wardrobe. I therefor decided to sell it because actually there is no one I'd want to gift it to.

Usually my finished items get worn by me or my family. I knit gifts for friends seldomly (and am a proud member of the Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry ;)

If you could give one bit of advise to a beginning knitter, what would it be?

I'd say try to enjoy what you do. Knitting is supposed to be relaxing, not stressful!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Great First Week on Etsy!

Looks like I've hit the ground running with my Etsy shop. Of course, now that I've written that, it will be weeks before I make another sale.
I've sold a few things, some to friends, some not. I got a custom order today. In general I'm happy with how the first week has gone. I know some people have to wait forever for that first sale.
I should really get off the computer and go sew something!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spankers' Fan's Questionable Fashion Sense

A fan referred us to this article in yesterday's Seattle Times, about the first day of this year's Bumbershoot Festival. The article was accompanied by this photo. Note that the guy on the right is wearing an Asylum Street Spankers' t-shirt, a kilt, and an Hawaiian shirt. I find myself wishing I could see what kind of shoes he is wearing.
As our guitar player, Nevada, pointed out; he's wearing the exact same Hawaiian shirt that Nevada wore for our last photo shoot. Hmmm....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On the road again, and again, and again...

My year-long maternity leave from touring is, sadly, about to come to an end. I've done a few local gigs here and there but nothing farther than 3 hours away.

When I was pregnant with my middle son, I toured into my ninth month. When he was two months old he joined us on the
tour bus. I don't know how I did it. I was a lot younger, and the band was really struggling. We didn't have another source of income for the family, and it seemed the band couldn't afford to lose our momentum.

This time around I enjoyed the luxury of a third trimester spent at home, and 7 months being a SAHM.

I can still remember our first tour; how excited I was. I took pictures of everything. Everyday was an adventure, a new city, new people. The hours spent in the van flew by. Now the van feels like a rolling tiger cage. I've often described it as being like prison; you can't leave, the other inmates are nuttos, and the food sucks.

I had a women at a show somewhere (they do all blend together, in case you were wondering) tell me how exciting it must be to go somewhere new everyday. How things would never get dull or monotonous and everyday must be a new adventure. But it must be hard for you to be on the road with all those guys, she said. Funny, but it's really quite the opposite; I love the people I work with. They're smart, funny and entertaining. They feel like family. It is the monotony that can drive you nuts. Put your things in the van, drive, take your things out of the van, unpack them, pack them back up, put them back in the van, take them out and put them into the hotel room. Get up and do it all over again. Everyday. 150 days a year. The best part about being a touring musician is performing, but that takes up about 2 hours of your day. The rest is tedium, boredom and living out of your suitcase.

It's time to buck up, I guess. My first tour in a year starts October 7th in Philadelphia. I hope this time off that I've enjoyed will help me approach touring with a new fervor. People have been noticing my lack of enthusiasm. I feel awful about that. The most important part of my job is leaving fans feeling like they had as good of a time at one of our shows as I have. It will feel good to perform again. Now if I just had some Xanax for the van...

View the Asylum Street Spankers' upcoming tourdates.

Photo circa 1997.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Etsy Shop is Officially Open!

Well, I just posted my first listings on Etsy today; I think I'm going to take the rest of the day off! Within minutes of listing, I received a message that one of my items had been featured in Crafts By Ellen's blog! How cool is that?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Originally slated to make some new cloth diapers for Lennon, I couldn't resist making something out of it that wouldn't be ultimately be covered up; now I'm going to have a hard time parting with this set when my Etsy shop opens (September 1st!) I purchased the fabric from The Fabric Fairy. They carry an amazing selection of cotton knits. I may just have to order some more of this. I still have enough for a couple of diapers, but now I'm pretty sure Lennon needs one of these outfits too!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pretty Little Dress

This so makes me wish, for the gazillionth time, that I had a little girl. Sized to fit around 12 months, this was constructed from two prints from Laura Gunn's "Lantern Bloom" collection; painted polka dots in brown and tile mosaic in turquoise.
I adore the colors in this collection and wish I had ordered more than a half yard of each. Just enough to make a baby dress, not enough to make a me dress. The fabric covered buttons are so much fun to make too!
This little beauty will be in my Etsy shop when it opens in a couple of weeks.


And, in the 6 month size, from the same collection, using Climbing Lantern Pods in Turquoise and Textured Stripes in Turquoise: