Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bobble Heads by Bobblenoggin

In a failed effort to find something related to his favorite Yankee's announcer for my father-in-law's Christmas gift, I turned to Etsy for assistance. Not many people on Etsy make bobble heads, let alone custom ones, but I found one seller who never had made a custom bobble head but was willing to help me out.

Bobblenoggin makes a lot of really cute sculptures and paintings using paper mache. Making clay and paper mache has been her passion since childhood, and as an adult her husband sounds really supportive of her hobbies. Whenever possible she uses recycled materials and things that would normally just be thrown away. She has a lot of adorable creations in her shop already, like this prayer reminder doll:

The Suzyn bobble head for my father-in-law, which he promptly placed in the nativity scene with excitement after he opened it, was her first custom order.

Using the picture of her great work she had done for me as an example, Bobblenoggin made a custom bobble head listing in her shop and was contacted not to long after for a custom cowboy bobble head of a buyer's husband.

Looks like we've started something! If you want to order a custom bobble head from her visit her shop to see if she has a custom listing available, or you can create an Etsy account if you don't already have one and contact her through Etsy. Advanced notice is needed for custom requests because it can take a several weeks to complete due to the necessary drying time and the addition of details.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Beginnings

I got a lot of cool things this year for Christmas to kick off the new year with. I got the Cadillac model of Kitchen Aid stand up mixers for cake baking which will save my wrists, fingers, and $7.99 Walmart brand hand mixer. I got a winter coat with fleece shell that can be transformed into four different ways of wearing. I got Gaiters to keep my feet dry and a new camera and tripod for my hiking trips and jewelry pictures.

I'm quite bummed that it is currently raining out, the near record December snowfall is melting and I still haven't had time to get out and snowshoe. I have a real burning to get out and do something wholesome like hike or snowshoe, but it just hasn't happened. I decided instead to make a "best of" film of my favorite hiking/waterfalls pictures from this year. And hopefully my new camera can make up for my lack of photography skills for an even better assortment of nature pictures next year! Anyway, all pictures (except the two that I'm in) were taken by me, and it's to the tune of Sixx Am's "Life is Beautiful".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wire Hugs

I'm not really a hugger, and when I do give them out they are quite awkward. People make fun of me all the time for the problem. However, I think I've finally mastered the art - not with two arms but with a little piece of wire and some beads.

Check out my newest creation. Like many of my ideas, my wire hug earrings came from an accidental detour from the original plan. These actually look better than the picture I had in my head as I was designing them, and they are a little more dainty and use less wire. My first thought was to make a large zig-zag with the wire, wrapping it around the center bead and a couple times tightly between the center beads and the ends. My wire piece was too short and the earring came out lopsided. I got the idea to do these instead, with the wire gently hugging the beads - but not too tight and with only one arm just the way I like it! The goldstone and onyx pair with copper wire have already sold, but I still have a red jasper and onyx pair in my shop, with many more varieties to come!

Speaking of the red jasper and onyx pair... they were featured in an Etsy Treasury! The screen shot of the treasury is below, my earrings are in the second row. Sorry for the blurriness, Thumbalizr was only catching the entire page, not just the screen shot so I had to crop and resize it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Recipes, Old Traditions

This week the Etsybloggers have a choice between Christmas recipes and traditions or Christmas spotlight of their shop. I've already bored you all, talking about the Christmas items in my shop, so I thought I'd go the recipe and tradition route.

I've enjoyed many Christmas traditions throughout my life. As a child I would spend Christmas Eve at Nana's house. It probably started to make things easier for Santa, but continued all the way through high school. We'd get in the car around 9am and drive across town back to my house where we'd have waffles and strawberries for breakfast and open stockings and presents. Then we'd have an open house style party all day, for people to come and go as they pleased, and stay as long as they liked. When I was little I tried to stretch out present opening all day, so I'd open one gift every hour or so, impressing the adults on my ability to contain myself and savor the spirit of Christmas.

We've aged, gained some family, lost some too. I have a job in health care that requires working some holidays. It seems hard to keep traditions going forever. A current holiday tradition for me is Christmas Eve at my in-laws' house. We have Chinese food for dinner (a nice variety including General Tso's Chicken which is my favorite). Their tradition for many years has been opening presents on Christmas Eve, then my husband and I save most of our presents to each other for Christmas Day.

I will end with a new holiday recipe that I made this year for a holiday party at work.

Chocolate Chip Fudge Wreath Cake:

Yellow cake mix
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding (3 oz.)
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. oil
5 eggs
1 pkg. (12 oz.) chocolate chips
Greased and floured bundt pan

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together the ingredients, adding chips last, pour into a well greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove cake from pan and allow to cool in pan for 1 hour before removing.

Apply a thin layer of green frosting (I used cream cheese frosting). Apply a thicker layer of the frosting wiping the spatula gently across the surface in a circular and outward motion to give it a textured appearance. You can decorate the wreath with candy or frosting to your liking. I used those expensive new Raspberry Almond M&Ms which have a foiled looking outter shell. I thought they looked like pine cones, the remaining candies looked pretty in a candy dish (for a couple days anyway). I took two rolls of strawberry flavored Airheads Extreme and tied a bow for the wreath. You could probably use fresh berries if you can find any this time of year to decorate it with as well.

Christmas tree ornament picture borrowed from Diane.

Spotted Cow Soaps

SpottedCowSoaps, or more commonly known amongst the EtsyBloggers Street Team as Ms. Moo, makes the most yummy looking soaps in Vermont, perhaps in the entire Northeast! I'm delighted that she is the featured seller this month for the EtsyBloggers Street Team because she makes great stuff, she has the best advice, and is an all around great person, just on the other side of the Green Mountains from me!

She is a self proclaimed fragrance junkie, and when she's not working hard as the School Food Service Director, she is busy making all kinds of pampering for you skin. Her obsession came about as a treatment for her own skin problems, and eventually turned into a booming business on Etsy.

Not only do her soaps, scrubs, and bath fizzies do magic for your skin, but the presentation is very pleasing to the eye as well. If only my pictures could come out as well as hers!

From now until 12/15/08 she is offering free domestic shipping! Not only that, but her usual store policies include a free sample with every purchase, international shipping, and refunds on excessive shipping charges.

If I could change anything about her shop I would ask that her yummy looking soaps be edible! I can't tell you how many of her items look like real food. My cakes and candies don't look as yummy as her soaps!

Be sure to check out her blog too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Death by Chocolate

This isn't just an ordinary brownie recipe!

Etsybloggers are sharing their favorite brownie recipes this month. I haven't tried making this, but I've sampled it and it is fantastic! Here is the recipe provided by my mother-in-law, Diane.

I don't have any pictures of the final product to share, I don't think it typically remains untouched long enough for picture taking.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Holiday Items

I'm trying to get the rest of my holiday inventory online before it's too late. My problem is mostly weather and schedule related. My pictures come out best in natural sunlight, but there was only one day this week that the sun was still up and shining while I was home.

I've added two more decoupage pieces, a snowman and a two cent postage stamp of Santa. The snowman piece comes on a ball chain necklace. The Santa stamp necklace comes on a gold plated choker necklace wire.

My Garden Gnome necklace isn't exclusively a Christmas piece, but will go nicely with a red shirt. I got inspiration from the pendant which reminds me of a garden gnome hat for some reason. It was made using turquoise howlite beads and coral chips. Sterling silver wire was used to make the bail, and the clasp is a sterling silver hook and eye clasp.

Search my Etsy shop for the keyword Christmas for all my Christmas pieces, and some things that would go nicely with red or green.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Baby Steps

"Baby steps onto the elevator. Baby Steps into the elevator. I'm in the elevator. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!" ~ Bill Murray, What About Bob?

One Step at a Time

Me baby-stepping across a narrow footbridge in big snow shoes on Hurricane Mountain

There is some "moving forward" that I want to do right now, it's just a matter of getting the guts, not to mention the resources, to do it. I'm getting there slowly. I reunited with a friend from high school on Facebook a couple months ago. She saw in my profile that I make jewelry, browsed my website and decided she wanted to host a jewelry party for me. I politely declined. I'm not a salesperson, there is a reason why I sell online, so I don't have to make a sales pitch to someone's face. She asked me a few more times and I finally caved in, deciding it would be a good way to break into face to face jewelry selling should I ever get the nerve to rent a booth at a craft fair.

It was such a nice gesture on her part that I wanted to make it worth the guests while. I came up with a few give away ideas... free holiday earrings with a minimum purchase of $10, and for every $25 spent would get the shopper a raffle ticket for a turquoise necklace drawing.

I scurried to buy some displays and busts, and I got my business card couch from Stormy. I purchased some black velvet fabric to cover the tables with, and a pretty glass heart shaped bowl to dangle the free earrings from. I made some raffle tickets on the computer, created a constructive criticism feedback survey, and printed out instructions on how they can shop on Etsy in the future (particularly my shop). I took some advice from my pre-party blog post and had a variety of different types of bags for shoppers to take their goods home in, and some pretty tissue paper for the fragile pendants.

The drive to the party was almost an hour and a half north, and I was hoping to make $150 bucks, as my hostess figured 15 people were going, and they only had to spend $10 to get the free earrings. Only about 10 guests were able to make it. Everybody bought at least something, and I had a couple of big spenders too, going well over what I had hoped that I would make! I tried to listen to comments while they shopped, someone liked the velvet cloth idea (thanks TiLTcreations). I put out a spiral notebook for an "email list" and got a few contacts. Lots of nice comments about my angel earrings. I heard a few admiring some earrings but mentioning that they were too long for their tastes.

I went through my confidential feedback surveys, and got perfect reviews on all my questions. I just hope that they really felt that way about each question and weren't being nice. Not too many handwritten comments.

I took some poor quality pictures while shoppers were breaking for snacks. I meant to get some shots before the party started but some were confused about the time and came early.

What I got from the experience:

  • Black velvety cloth
  • Free gift with minimum purchase is a good idea as everyone spent the minimum
  • Had enough cash and quarters to make change with
  • Sales tax included & rounding price to nearest quarter is easier than math, pennies, and nickels
  • Business cards
  • Saving price tags to keep track of income was probably faster than writing it down as I went
  • Having a holiday section
  • Large price tags allowed me to write shoppers names on them so that they could set stuff aside as they browsed and buy later
  • Mirror
  • I was a lot faster at checkout when I worked at Price Chopper with a barcode reader, computer, and a bagger
  • Large tied on price tags got tangled en route
  • Nobody commented but I thought the display looked a little sloppy with only 4 busts to hold the necklaces
  • Jewelry party for people that know each other were trying to shop for each other with everyone there
  • I still don't know how I'd bag up goodies for a large crowd with out spending an unnecessary fortune
  • I'm over analytical of everything I say and how its going going to be taken, so I probably came off as socially awkward, trying to find the balance between being helpful without being annoying
  • The survey didn't give much as far as constructive criticism, actually no criticism or suggestions at all, just niceness
  • Necklace raffle. It was a lure to get people to come, but they loved jewelry so much that I think they would have come anyway. Nobody appeared to buy a little extra just to reach the next $25 mark either. Ah well, my biggest spender won it, and certainly deserved it
Next step? Perhaps a jewelry party with people I know? I think it's too late to rent a booth for a holiday craft fair, besides, I'm still unwinding from this one. Maybe by this summer I can beef up my inventory and my confidence and rent a booth at a craft fair then...

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 1st, 2008 - An Outdoorsy Carnival

Welcome to the December 1, 2008 edition of an outdoorsy carnival.

Advice Column

One Family presents Frugal Living – Skiing Story posted at One Family's Blog, saying, "The post looks at how average American families can ski on a budget using frugal strategies."

Dereck presents Gardening in the Winter posted at I Will Not Die.

Jeremy Zongker presents 76 Ways to Save Money While Saving the Environment posted at Destroy Debt.

Aquatic Life

Marilyn Terrell presents Rafting on the River Salmon: Where Are the Fish? - Intelligent Travel Blog posted at Intelligent Travel Blog, saying, "Norie takes her two boys kayaking down the Lower Salmon River."

Ernesto Maitim presents Bass Fishing Lures: Bring Some on Your Next Angling Adventures posted at FlyFishingGreats.

Keira presents Antioch Marina, Antioch, CA posted at SF Boater. presents Trip to Kanyakumari: Chapter 1: Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari and Thiruvalluvar Statue, Kanyakumari: Part 4 posted at

GrrlScientist presents Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "There's plenty of fish in the sea, as the old addage goes -- but are there, really? I experienced a rude awakening at the peak popularity of Orange Roughy, which I loved. I learned that Orange Roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus, an extremely long-lived benthic species in the Western Pacific Ocean that doesn't even reach sexual maturity until 40 years of age, was being eaten out of existence by people like me. After I learned that, I never touched Orange Roughy again."

Lazy Man and Money presents Fly Fishing posted at Hike Camp Fish.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Vacation Verse posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.

Green Thumb

GrrlScientist presents Manhattan in Autumn at the Anne Loftus Playground posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "The Anne Loftus playground, which is located in the northeast corner of Fort Tryon Park in Inwood (Manhattan), was named in honor of Anne Loftus (1925-1989), who was a businesswoman and a neighborhood administrator. The park itself, which covers 67 acres, was named for Sir William Tryon, who was a Major General and the last British governor of colonial New York."

Lauren Rose presents Choosing the Best Plants for your Garden posted at Own Home Style .com, saying, "How to choose the best plants for your garden"

In the Woods

GrrlScientist presents Hietakannas posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This image beautifully captures the holidays. Image snapped while walking through Hietakannas, Helsinki, Finland, on 24 November 2008."

GrrlScientist presents Hietaniemen Hautausmaa posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "On my last day in Helsinki, my host and I walked through the northwestern portions of the city to visit several places, including Sibeliuksenpuisto (Sibelius Park) where the famous monument is located and Hietaniemen hautausmaa (Hietaniemi cemetery). This graveyard is the burial place for many famous Finns, including writers, artists, actors, and nearly all of its presidents."

GrrlScientist presents Tiny Gecko Species Discovered in Vanuatu Rainforest posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "According to scientists at France's National Museum of Natural History, a new species of gecko has been discovered -- after it hatched from an egg removed from a nest on a South Pacific island and carried 12,000 miles to Paris in a box lined with Kleenex. The island, Espiritu Santo, is one of the larger South Pacific islands of the Vanuatu Archipelago, east of Australia."

GrrlScientist presents Genius Bird posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This interesting National Geographic video shows how Bernd Heinrich designed an experiment to test the creative thinking abilities of ravens."

Lazy Man and Money presents Top Camping Strategies for Maximum Fun posted at Hike Camp Fish.

Mark presents No Place Like Home posted at My Quiet Cabin.

Kilroy_60 presents The Genius Of Frank Lloyd Wright Shines Through On An Autumn Afternoon posted at The Lives and Times... of Anthony McCune, saying, "In addition to the house, Wright created a planting plan which features 14 pin oak trees surrounding the house."

Open Air

Gil Ortiz presents gilocafe posted at gilocafe.

GrannyJ presents Kitchen table studio: goldenrod pods posted at Walking Prescott, saying, "Fall brings wonderful, beautiful seed pods to the photographer; in this case, little goldenrod puffs."

Peter Jones presents Switch Telemark Video: Early Season A-Basin Footage posted at Rocky Mountain Raider: Telemark Skiing, Bouldering, and Trail Running in Colorado, saying, "A video showing telemarking switch at A-Basin, Colorado."

Karen Shanley presents An Evening Walk posted at Karen Shanley.

GrrlScientist presents One of Life's Tiny Dramas Captured Forever on Film posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "There are many inexplicable and tragic events in nature, yet few are captured on film. Here is an interesting series of photographs depicting a pair of swallows, Hirundo rustica (known as the Barn Swallow in the United States). In this series of images, we watch the story that unfolds after one of the birds was fatally injured, yet the bird's mate remains nearby, delivering food or water and keeping its dying companion company."

GrrlScientist presents Evolving Tides posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This wildlife film shows the wildlife that can be found along the North Norfolk Coast of the UK during the winter. From Seals to migrating waders, salt marshes to shingle dunes, we are able to see many species and beautiful sights in this special part of Norfolk -- lots of amazing and interesting bird behavior!"

makingthishome presents Making This Home » Blog Archive » How to Celebrate Autumn in Germany posted at Making This Home, saying, "Thanks for hosting this carnival. Here's a sample of my favorite part of the outdoors in Europe."

One Family presents Lake Tahoe Ski Areas (Granlibakken, Tahoe Donner, Boreal, Homewood, Kirkwood, Heavenly, Squaw) – A Comparative Review: posted at One Family's Blog, saying, "A review of some of the most popular Lake Tahoe Ski Areas with a family orientation."

Mark presents Hawking posted at My Quiet Cabin.

Machione presents A Long Weekend That Turned Into A Week, Thanks To The McCain/Palin Ticket posted at Fear And Loathing - The Gonzo Papers.

Melanie McMinn presents BloKarting: Muriwai Black Sand posted at Fat and Sassy New Zealand Travel, saying, "Muriwai, New Zealand's black sand beach, 20 knots of wind and a cart with a sail. Welcome to heaven."

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