Archive for May, 2010

the people have spoken!

recently i took a moment to look back through my etsy sales, in honor of reaching a little personal milestone of mine–30 sales.  woohoo!  if you sell your handiwork and haven’t taken inventory of your popular items, i recommend doing this.  it was eye-opening for me.

as i lamented to my husband, more of my sales have come from my bigger fashion jewelry than my delicate semi-precious pieces.  don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining, it’s just that the delicate pieces are more ‘me’.  my husband reminded me–dutifully, as only a significant other can–that i had expressed this concern when first including my chunkier pieces.  basically: what if people don’t like the stuff i want them to like?  okay, you have to say it in a whiny voice to really nail this one.

i went back and forth.

i mean…i want to follow my passion, but i also want sales.  i believe that art doesn’t have to be pretty or popular, but there’s still rent to pay.  and then i read this etsy storque article by amanda steinberg of dailyworth.com.  the short of it: the important thing is not what you sell, it’s the plan behind the sales.

so.  my answer to myself after a few days–okay, a few weeks–of wallowing: wah.  sales were the whole point of starting this venture!  (i mean, other than having an excuse to buy more beads.)  but the goal of getting out there and reading up on how to do it right and working on branding and starting a facebook page and getting a twitter account: sales.  (turns out i like twitter, but i digress).

i don’t get to pick what other people like.  besides, i like all the stuff i make.  so *there* little ego.  and you know what one thing all my sales have in common?  i would love to wear any of them!  you all seem to like my favorites the best!

i can make what people want!

and i can still make what i want, whether or not it sells as well.  i think we can call that a healthy compromise.  after all that whining, the nutshell version is that you may notice an influx of larger pieces coming to my etsy store.

all i can say is, “you asked for it.”

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May 24, 2010 at 8:48 am 2 comments

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

making my own gluten-free flour mix: a little extra effort

being able to eat the cookies i made: priceless

i first noticed that wheat had a negative effect on me about two years ago.  when i cut out dairy and wheat for a two week trial, i lost the last few pounds that i’d been trying to loose.  read: bloat.  ever since that time, i can tell when i’ve had a source of gluten because my pants don’t fit!  don’t worry, i’ve been all kinds of tested, and i’m neither allergic to wheat nor have celiac, but i am *definitely* gluten sensitive.  in other words, i feel a lot better when i don’t eat foods with gluten in them.

i miss bread.  and pasta.  and beer.  oh beer, i miss you so much!  there are some gluten-free products out there, and i have tried them; some are good, but gluten-free baking mixes have left me less-than-satisfied.  i had given up baked goods until i found this recipe.

below is the high fiber flour blend i used to make my gluten-free cookies.  it’s from the magazine living without; you can link to their website for more recipes and substitutions, here.

according to living without, “this high-fiber blend works for breads, pancakes, snack bars and cookies that contain chocolate, warm spices, raisins or other fruits. It is not suited to delicately flavored recipes, such as sugar cookies, crepes, cream puffs, birthday cakes or cupcakes.”  i agree; the teff flour has sort of an apple sauce smell and taste, so you wouldn’t want to use this flour blend where that would interfere.  i make up a bunch and store it in a container.  i always have it on hand and use it just like wheat flour in any old recipe i want!

gluten-free high-fiber flour blend

1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1/2 cup teff flour (preferably light)
1/2 cup millet flour or Montina® flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/3 cup cornstarch or potato starch

then there’s the all important guar or xantham gum that you really ought to use when baking gluten-free.  they’re actually natural products–guar gum comes from a tree and xantham gum comes from seaweed–and they act as a binding agent, keeping your gluten-free baking mixes from being too dry and crumbly.  add 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour in baked goods; 1 teaspoon per cup of flour for recipes with yeast.

me, i used the recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag.  feel free to make additional substitutions based on your dietary needs.  make these cookies vegan by using an egg substitute and coconut oil instead of butter (it adds a delicious tropical flavor, too!).  here’s the *new* recipe, accounting for the gluten-free-ness:

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups high-fiber blend gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon xantham or guar gum
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (or coconut oil or vegetable shortening)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (or egg substitute; follow re-constituting directions)
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips
1 cup oatmeal, uncooked

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt and xantham or guar gum in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. add eggs (or egg substitute after following instructions), one at a time, beating well after each addition. gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips and oatmeal. drop by rounded tablespoons (or larger!) onto cookie sheets.  line with parchment paper for easy removal.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. take a peek earlier rather than later, as gluten-free baking seems to brown a little more quickly than wheat baking.  cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

then–enjoy!

May 22, 2010 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

it’s so cute!

i’m slowly moving up in the world: i am now the proud owner of a postal scale.

it’s so little, but it weighs up to 5 pound packages, which is really all i need for my etsy store.  i was tired of running to the post office every time i had to weigh a package for a box that wasn’t flat rate and now i don’t have to.  i may never leave home again!  it’s the little things, i’m tellin’ ya.

i had my options when i was choosing a scale, but i liked this old-school mechanical version over the digital ones.  no cords, no batteries, no possible electrical malfunctions.  true, it doesn’t hook up to my computer or print out it’s own labels, but it also only cost me $30.  and i think it’s just adorable to boot!

May 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

peanut butter and awesomesauce

the other day, i found out that the house my husband and i want probably needs a brand new roof–sad!  and expensive.  then there was a little bit of a fight about what we were going to do about it, and i just wanted to go curl up in the corner and suck my thumb.

but instead, i made awesomesauce.

“what is awesomesauce?” you may ask.  well let me tell you: awesomesauce is the easiest, quickest, most delicious chocolate fudge sauce you have ever made.  or eaten.  whether you drizzle it over ice cream or eat it straight from the jar, it’s chocolate perfection**.  and i’m sharing my recipe with you.  you only need two ingredients and a heavy bottomed pan.  a whisk is a good idea.

ingredients:

8 oz. chocolate and 8 oz. evaporated milk

step 1: chop up the chocolate.

i prefer dark and i like the pound plus bar from trader joe’s, but you could use just about anything you like.  use a large, sharp knife to chop the chocolate.  hint: if you have an 8 ounce bar, before unwrapping it, lay it flat on the counter and hit it solidly but gently with the bottom of a pan.  then you don’t have to chop it.  cool, huh?

step 2: heat and stir in the milk

warm the milk to almost boiling; you want it to be about the same temperature as the chocolate to prevent congealing, unhappiness, extra work, and the errant curse word.

step 3: enjoy

easy peasy and oh-so-good!

drizzle warm awesomesauce over ice cream atop a warm brownie, pour liberally onto pancakes or belgian waffles, stir into hot coffee for a diy mocha, slather onto bread, cover yourself with it and ask a friend to lick it off, dip warm brownies into it, dip strawberries into it, lick it off the spoon, or my favorite: peanut butter and awesomesauce.  who needs jelly?!

gosh gee, what can’t you do with awesomesauce?!

i’m glad you asked!  awesomesauce should be not smeared on walls, inserted into dvd players, or used in place of concrete.  it should not be used as a patch-all for mid-east conflicts or serious marital problems.  that being said, i leave you to your own devices.  if you come with a new and inventive way of serving awesomesauce, i hope you’ll let me know!

**the most common side effect of consuming awesomesauce is a general feeling of bliss.  other side effects include happiness, weeping with joy, and wanting to be nice to other people.  you may feel like you have more energy after you eat awesomesauce.  other rare, but possible side effects may include wanting to live in an awesomesauce-coated world; if this feeling persists for longer than a few minutes, please see your doctor.  if you feel the need to consume more than one batch per day all by yourself, please exercise heavily, as over-consumption of awesomesauce can lead to weight gain and the inability to fit into your clothes.

May 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm 2 comments

jujyfruit necklace

my favorite candy and now my new favorite necklace!  i love the saturated hues of these tumbled glass pebbles but couldn’t quite figure out what to do with them until recently.  i’m pretty proud of the finishing touches, too, like the knot in the tangerine silk cord:

and the funky button closure:

love it!  just wanted to share.

May 10, 2010 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

happy mother’s day!

how are you celebrating this special day?  my mom lives far away, so i had to send my love through the mail.  when i saw this cool message box tutorial by cathe of just something i made on the living locurto website, i knew i had my gift: inexpensive, handmade, personalized, and thoughtful.

for my version, i printed out cathe’s plain template on the back of single-sided printed cardstock.  the box is made to fit business card sized notes (2 x 3.5 inches), sooooo, here’s a hint: use a 12×12 sheet of cardstock and cut it down so it fits in your printer.  the 3.5 inch strip that you cut off the edge will give you 6 cards to use inside.  matchy-matchy and scrap-busting!

i took some pictures of how i put it together because it’s easier than it looks, just confusing at first.  okay, it was confusing to me, and i thought…hoped that i’m not the only one.  i promise it’s really easy, no mensa membership required.  hint: if you plan to add eyelets and brads for closures, you may find it easier to do *before* you glue the sides and bottom together.  it’s really hard to wield an eyelet setter inside a tiny box, let me just tell you.

as this was concocted during april, stash busting month, and, as i had foolishly promised not to purchase any craft supplies for the whole of april, i whipped up a few sentimental cards with stickers and stuff from the stash.  (don’t cry too hard: i used to work at a scrapbooking store and i’ve never had less take home pay in my life.  so the stash is extensive *and* in need of a little busting.)

i played off the pretty colors on the cardstock i used for the box and added orange for an accent.  (in the other box, shown in the first photo, i used turquoise as my accent color, both on the outside and inside.)  i pulled stickers and rub-ons in the same color scheme.  you could also embellish with buttons, ribbon, sewing on the cards…sky’s the limit!  then i wrote down a mix of sweet thoughts and memories with snarkier things like, “thanks for not selling me to the gypsies”.  yep, that’s how we roll in our family.  a few idle threats during the developmental years…

i closed the one for my mom with a piece of elastic (saved from a clothing tag) that i inserted through an eyelet and looped around a brad.  i helped my husband make one for his mom, too, which is actually the one i took pictures of here, and on hers we used embroidery floss and two button brads to make an old school office closure.  we embellished the outside of our boxes, as well. then sent our love via priority mail!

these great message boxes could also be made manly for father’s day or even used to hold a small gift.  they’re really just precious and tons of fun to make.  if you make one, let me (and cathe at just something i made!) know!  i’d love to see it.

May 9, 2010 at 7:05 am 2 comments

makeover: sewing machine cover edition

i had a sewing machine cover so hideous that i won’t even show you a before picture, lest it burn your retinas.  instead, let’s just say that it was your basic, cheap, all-purpose sewing machine cover.  that greyish, yellowish, see-through-ish vinyl.  it was also too short for my machine, so my sewing machine always looked like it was waiting for a flood.

behold: i have given my sewing machine a beautiful makeover with this gorgeous vinyl covered ‘ginger blossom’ by sandi henderson for michael miller fabric.  um, divine.  and it prevents dust from settling on my beloved machine.  by itself, it’s a little too *pretty* and pink, but when combined with this green ‘dumb dots’ fabric, also by michael miller, i felt like it was more me.  believe it or not, both fabrics came from the stash (heather at dollarstorecrafts would be so proud!) and had been purchased at two different times for who knows what exactly.  not only did they match, but i had exactly the right amount of fabric needed!  (half a yard of the ginger blossom vinyl covered cotton and a fat quarter of the dumb dots).  i know, cosmic sewing karma.  i whipped up a pattern by measuring my machine and sewing with only three main pieces: a long rectangle that draped over the top, and two side trapezoids; then added rectangular strips at the bottom based on how much fabric i could muster from the fat quarter.

i wanted the cover to have a boxy shape, so i incorporated reverse french seams.  they weren’t expertly executed, i’ll admit, and i tested the laws of physics as to how many times one can rip apart seams (attempt one: actual french seams. attempt two: realized i needed to sew the cotton band on the bottom *before* finishing the side seams.  attempt three: success), but it turned out alright.  you almost can’t even see the needle punctures from attempt one and two.  and it’s sooooooooooo much better than what my sewing machine was wearing before!

what does your sewing machine wear?

May 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm 2 comments

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