Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exhausted, But Giddy

When I opened my Etsy shop on February 28th of this year, I NEVER imagined that I'd be sitting here the week before Christmas, on the tail end of the online holiday shopping season, having sold 142 items.

I came to Etsy first as a shopper. My first purchase was an AWESOME pendant by Adorapop called The Untidy Princess. I loved the idea of buying from individuals. Being a crafter myself, I knew that handmade items were often of even higher quality than store bought ones . . . and as for the unique, one of a kind, "wow! where did you get that?!?!" factor that I love in jewelry and accessories, Etsy is second to none.

As my interest in crafting and my crafty abilities grew, I started to seriously consider opening a shop of my own . . . mostly just to try to make a bit of the money I was spending on crafting supplies back. I spent most of last holiday season making gifts for friends and family, and shortly thereafter started the process of getting ready to open a shop. I spent all of February working on developing items, setting up my seller Paypal account, researching tax laws and shipping rates. On the 28th, I listed my first item. A pair of fingerless gloves accented with vintage buttons and appliqued on the inside with a felt cupcake. They sold in a matter of hours and I was so shocked to see the little "1 item sold" logo that I called all of my friends to make sure none of them had bought the gloves as a joke. They were bought by someone I didn't know though, someone who now has her own VERY cute and very successful Etsy shop.

Over the next few months I devoted tons of time to developing new items, seeking out promotional opportunities like contributing to The Sampler and being active on the Craftster message boards, improving my photo taking setup and skills, and learning new crafts.
Running my shop has been a ton of work; and there have been a few down moments, I won't bore you with the details of those though :) But let it suffice to say that the ups have been far more prevalent than the downs, and for that I'm honestly grateful. It is so immensely gratifying to know that so many people have liked my work enough to buy it. To wear it! The response I have had is so much more than I was expecting or even daring to hope for.

Aside from the satisfaction of knowing that there are girls out there wearing my jewelry, purses and crocheted items (in Norway! in Spain! in Australia and London and Italy!), I have also been able to put aside every penny that I've made from my shop. That little account is actually growing quite big, and the money in it is going to be used for something very special that I'll be able to share more about in the new year ;)

I'm so grateful to Etsy, both Etsy admin and the Etsy community, for building a place where I'm able to take my little, fledgling creative ideas and actually DO something with them. I'm absolutely going to be continuing to work on my shop next year . . .I've got a few ideas up my sleeve that I'm really excited about. I can't wait to see what my second season on Etsy will bring!

Listening:  Goldrush - "Wait For The Wheels"

Monday, December 10, 2007

If Only I'd Done This Sooner!!!!

I'd heard that switching from chemical housecleaning products to steam cleaning could help with allergy symptoms. I'd filed this info away in my head and hadn't thought much about it until lately. My allergies have been at an all time low (high?) (yep, in December . . . they're year round) and simultaneously, I'd hit my breaking point where scrubbing floors on my hands and knees was concerned. I went online browsing for a better solution and saw a bunch of steam powered mops listed with great reviews.

So, I picked one up at Target for $80, went home and cleaned my hardwoods, bathroom tile and kitchen laminate. The difference was astonishing. Within hours, my head felt a bit clearer. So much so that I ran right out and bought a steam sprayer for cleaning the rest of my home surfaces.

I'm still working out the kinks with how to use the steam and where it works best, but I love this new method . . . I spent $80 on the mop, $30 on the steam sprayer and $10 on a stack of 12 plain washcloths for wiping. Now, for the immediate future, I'm not going to have to buy paper towels (for cleaning at least), floor cleaning solvents, spray cleaners, tile cleaners, windex, upholstery cleaners, bleach . . . any of that. Its better for the environment twofold since I'm a) not using chemicals that can seep into the ground water and b) not using disposable products or packaging.

Best thing of all was how EASY the whole cleaning process is now. Steam mopping involves no bending over or kneeling down . . .the steam dries almost instantly and all of the bits of grime and slime are immediately lifted from my floors . . . like, immediately.

Cleaning is a huge pet peeve of mine . . . I'd rather do pretty much anything else. Dentist included. So for me to wax on about a cleaning method is pretty bizarre . . . but I almost want to go home and mop some more!!!

Listening:  Tom Vek- "If I Had Changed My Mind"

Friday, December 7, 2007

Whats A Girl To Do?

So, obviously, I love to cook. And obviously, I love to make things. But realistically, there are really only so many hours between getting home from work (6:30 on a good night . . . . much much later on a bad night) and getting into bed (12 or 1 is usually the latest I can muster!).
In this busy holiday season (crafting gifts! crafting Etsy store stock!), I haven't found as much time as usual for cooking. I've become something of an expert at throwing dinners together for myself in very little time, this is one of my favorites:

15 Minutes to Veggie Fried Rice (honest, 15 minutes)

1 package pre cooked brown rice (they sell these in most grocery stores now. They come in plastic packets which are meant to be tossed in the microwave for 3 minutes or so)
Veggies (I use whatever's on hand, but a mixture of frozen corn, frozen peas and finely chopped up carrots, celery, onion, snow peas and broccoli is a winning combo)
Chopped green onion
Soy sauce
Ginger powder and garlic powder
Olive oil for frying
1 egg

- Coat the bottom of your wok w/ olive oil and crank up the heat
- add frozen veggies first
- then the rest as you chop them (I try to chop the ones that take longer to cook first, like onions and carrots)
- as veggies are cooking, in a separate small frying pan, quickly scramble 1 beaten egg, breaking it up into small pieces
- once veggies are softened (frozen veggies are warmed through and onions are becoming transparent) toss in the rice
- stir fry until rice is warmed through
- toss with scrambled egg, soy sauce and green onions

Dinner is done. Twice actually; this makes 2 portions big enough to fuel anyone through a night of crafting . . . or whatever it is you do!

Listening:  Ravens & Chimes- "January"