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.