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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Memories

Christmas is very important to me. I'm not very religious, so for me it's more about family and traditions and making memories. Every year at work, when we choose vacation for the coming year, my first priority is to make sure I have Christmas Day off. I worked a day shift once on Christmas Day when I was a new grad. It wasn't good:-( I have been very fortunate to have been able to get vacation or do a switch to get the day off every year since then.
Here are some of my Christmas Memories. Feel free to post yours!

1) When I was about 7 or 8, I got a Baby Tenderlove doll. The best part was that my mom sewed a doll wardrobe for her, (including matching pajamas for me and the doll) and made a box full of 'baby care supplies' for me to go with it. I still have that doll.

2) I think I was 9 when I got a 'new' bike for Christmas. I remember there weren't many gifts for me under the tree and then Mom or Dad said "I think Santa left your gift next door" and my dad went out and came back with my bike and brought it right upstairs into the living room. I didn't know it then, but it was a used bike that my dad spray painted himself and added new pedals and a new seat. I was so excited! It was orange with a sparkly yellow banana seat:-) Even though I had a cast on my wrist (fell out of my brother's tree fort) I took it out to the street for a test run.

3) One year my sister was sick on Christmas Day. I think she either had a terrible migraine headache, or something like mono. I just remember her being in bed and missing Christmas morning completely. I felt so sorry for her but she was so sick I don't think she cared much.

4) My sister and I used to share a room and at one point we shared a double bed. I remember waking up with her so early one Christmas morning because we were so excited. We knew we couldn't get up yet, so we turned on the radio and listened to someone reading a Christmas story. I remember it was still very dark, so it was probably about 4:00 AM. I think we held out till 6 or 7:-)

5) Every year when I was still at home with my parents, we had Denver sandwiches for Christmas morning breakfast. Now, I make a breakfast casserole and baked french toast so that there's no morning prep work, but Denvers (with ketchup!) always mean Christmas to me.

6) My dad used to get my mom a new Christmas ornament every year and he'd attach it to her gift, which was always beautifully wrapped in expensive paper (probably by a store clerk!) with a pretty card. I don't know where he found those gorgeous ornaments, but they were usually very unique and probably handmade. He wasn't the best at choosing gifts (a microwave oven one year--yikes Dad!) but those ornaments are treasures.

7) My mom's Christmas baking: Butter tarts (my favourite), shortbread, Paul Bunyan sugar cookies, rice krispie squares, nanaimo bars, mince tarts.....mmmm...

8) We always found a mandarin orange in the toe of our Christmas stockings.

9) In 1989, Alison was born on December 23rd. We brought her home from the hospital on Christmas Day. It was the only year of my life that I didn't have a Christmas tree and we didn't even exchange gifts. We got the most precious gift in the world instead:-)
My ex-husband's friends brought over all the food and made Christmas dinner for us. I just remember...all I wanted to do was sit and gaze at my baby. It was a wonderful Christmas.

10) My saddest Christmas was 1998. My dad was terminally ill. We all gathered at my parents' place and tried to have a normal Christmas for the kids and for my dad. He wasn't able to stay out of bed for long, but he watched us open presents for a little while. We helped him open gifts that we knew he would never use.

11) The first year Jon was here over Christmas, he gave me a digital camera. It was the best gift- a gift that preserves memories. 7 years later, I still love my camera and use it all the time.

12) I n 2004, we sold my townhouse in November and moved in to the apartment while we were looking for a house. It was the only time I have ever spent Christmas away from Alison. She was living with her father in California that year. I really missed her, but we had fun in the little apartment, with the Christmas tree squeezed into the living room and the 2 dogs causing havoc. Buster stole a chocolate orange off the coffee table when we weren't looking and we caught him hiding in the bedroom eating it! Frantic searching on the internet followed to determine the amount of chocolate that could hurt and 10 pound dog. Luckily it didn't seem to affect him at all.
Jon created a scavenger-type hunt with clues for Devon to follow to find his big gift. Each clue gave a letter and all the letters together spelled "dryer" which was where he found his Nintendo DS. It was so much fun watching him de-code the puzzle to find his present.

13) Last year, I wanted to send out pictures as a Christmas card. I found some really great ideas on the internet, and ended up coming up with this. The kids had fun with it, and everyone we sent the cards to had a laugh. Couldn't think of a better idea this year though.

Merry Christmas Everyone, and be careful out on the roads. I think this Christmas is going to be remembered as the 'Year of the Big Snow'

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 Reasons It Sucks Being a Teen's Mom

I could probably think of way more than 10, but I need to vent a bit tonight, and I don't want to slide over into complete and utter depression, so I'll stick with 10. I should probably be trying to think of 10 reasons that I LOVE being the mom of teens. It would likely be more productive, but I feel like whining. Feel free to join in. You know what they say about misery.

1) They think you are old, no matter how young you are.

2) They despise helping out around the house. It almost seems like you're causing them physical pain when you try to ask them to do anything.

3) They like to eat crappy food and they criticize your cooking. They view vegetables as if they were raw sewage (ok, maybe that's just my son. My daughter likes most veggies)

4) You cannot force them to do ANYTHING. Homework, studying, sleeping, eating well....yes, you can encourage but if they really don't want to they will find a way around it and thwart all your efforts.

5) They don't respect anyone else's property. They figure if it's in the house, it's fair game to be taken out and left at friends' houses-- never to return.

6) They think laws that they don't like are "dumb" They have no concept of the risks of things like driving without seatbelts or having 5 friends in the car with you when you're a brand new driver.

7) They lie....alot.

8) They don't crawl up your lap anymore and give you hugs 'just because' (not that you'd want them on your lap, but you know what I mean)

9) They stay in the shower too long and don't hang up their towels. Let's also throw in using too much shower gel and shampoo and never re-filling the dispensers. I don't think they know how to put the toilet roll onto the dispenser, never mind taking the empty one off.

10) Because looking at them reminds you that your sweet, cuddly babies are gone forever:-(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Only 9 Days Left!

I'm not really panicking. I've shopped for the most important gifts, and the tree is up and decorated. We aren't having Christmas dinner at our house this year, so all we have to do is bring potatoes (mashed for my kids, roasted for Jon) I've made the Christmas pudding (my first attempt)
So, why do I feel anxious that there's only 9 days left then? I think it's just mandatory to feel stressed in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. My daughter is having a stressful week too. She's been trying to plan a party bus and dinner for a HUGE group of friends, to celebrate her birthday and her friend's birthday. They are the last 2 in their group to turn 19. Look out-- they're all going to be 'legal' now. Why is she planning her own birthday, you ask? She says if she doesn't do it, something will go wrong and it won't happen. It has taken a lot of work to get money from each of her friends to come up with the deposit for the bus. I just hope they don't let her down after all this trouble she's gone to. They want to have a bunch of kids over here prior to the party bus for hot dogs and least I'm not working this weekend, so I can try to help and supervise a bit.

I've been wondering what happened to my sales in my Etsy shop for the past 10 days, but then I realized today that I've been getting emails from local buyers all week. It's actually been my best week of sales so far, and that's all overflow from the craft fairs I did, people who picked up my business cards or saw one of my items that a friend bought. It's been great! Even got a second order today from someone who received her first items and wanted more (thanks C!)

I'm working on plans to open my second Etsy shop soon. Jon is building me a light box because the first sets of photos he took weren't up to his standards:-) This next shop will be really fun because it involves doing something I really enjoy. Juicybags is fun, but I got a bit burnt out from all the pouch cleaning and sewing. I will keep it going, but on a smaller scale for a while- listing items on Etsy that I have in stock rather than doing custom orders.

I met someone briefly at the 'Best of 604' event last week. She's a local blogger with a very interesting story and I'm enjoying reading it. I especially enjoyed this post. It's a list of 20 memorable moments of her life. I thought it was a great idea, so I tried to write one myself this morning. Maybe because I've got about 15 years on her-- but my list is really LONG already and I'm not done. I keep remembering things and adding them into the middle. One thing I noticed while reading it over...sadly it seems to be the negative things that stick out in my memories the most. I must try to balance it a little before I dare post it. Everyone will think I've had a horrible life and that's definitely not the case!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Custom Order

Just finished this little mini backpack purse yesterday for a customer. It has adjustable shoulder straps, a drawstring top and buckle closure. There is a little denim pocket inside for her phone. The lining is made from soft flannel fabric. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. (even though I had to actually BUY Koolaid to get enough pouches for this:-) My supply of pouches is down at the moment-- not enough Blue Raspberry left.
Today I will finish another order and get that into the mail. Then I really have to get my Christmas shopping done! Yikes-- time is getting short.

I'm also working on something completely different, new and exciting!
Keep checking the blog as I'll be posting all about it soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Down With Big Box!

I have to whinge today (my husband is British- it's means whine and complain and be all cranky about something, it's a good word:-) about the crappy customer service at Big Box Stores. I'm gonna name names too!
The other day my friend told me that Future Shop was having a one-day-only Customer Appreciation Sale: 10% off everything (except Ipods of course, nobody discounts the mighty Apple, perish the thought)
So, I log in and find the cutest PINK Canon Powershot digital camera for my daughter's birthday. On sale already, plus the 10% off, cool.--- ok, I log in and order it. Ohhh....and LOOK- you can set it for pick up at your local store to avoid the shipping charges. Perfect. We have a Future Shop within spitting distance from our house. Oh, Not Perfect. They are out of stock at our store. That's ok, find another store about 25K down the road that has it listed in stock. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great!
Next morning I wake up to an email saying my order has been cancelled due to the camera not being available at that store. It says my credit card has not been charged and I need to start over and order it again.
But wait...that was only a one-day sale! So, I call up the customer service number on the website. Nice, friendly call centre guy says "no problem, just order it again and call us back and we will credit you the 10%' Ok, that's a bit annoying, but it will work.
Back to the website. Ordered it again, this time at a store downtown. We had plans to go to an event near that store 2 days later (last night) so I set it for pick up there. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great! This time, I get a "your order has been filled" email. Yes!! We're all set. It says "you have 3 days to pick this item up at the store" Perfect.
I call the customer service number back. "I'm sorry ma'am, but we can't apply discounts for online purchases. It will be up to the store to decide if they want to give you the discount" He says he will call the store for me and find out. He comes back and says "ok, they agreed to do it if you bring in the appropriate flyer mentioning that sale" I figure the flyer must be in the pile of newspapers I have waiting for recycling, so I agree. (of course, the flyer was no where to be found) I figured I'll just argue for the discount in person.

So, last night we get to the downtown store and line up in the (long) line at the Customer Service counter. I show the printed copy of my "your order has been filled" email, and the worker bee goes off to the little room around the corner to find our camera. We see an empty box for the same camera behind the counter and the other CS guy says 'this is what it looks like' and puts the box on the counter. We discuss how we are going to carry that around all evening (ridiculously large box for a tiny pocket camera) Our CS girl comes back out of the room empty-handed, smiles at us slightly as she walks by and out into the store "I'll be right back" she says. I realize she's going out to the camera dept to try to find one on the shelf and I KNOW she isn't going to find one. The website showed low stock and very few stores with any left.

She's gone for a while. (we are now late for the event we were attending) The other CS guy says "I know we have one of those locked up" and goes off after CS girl. We stand there for many more long minutes. We see CS girl across the store animatedly chatting to another worker bee. Obviously not work related. We imagine "yeah, I'm going out after work tonight, what are you doing? That's sweet dude, where did you get your nose-ring?" Blah blah blah. We shift from foot to foot.
Eventually, she saunters back over to the CS dept (empty-handed as we expected) and lays our paper on the counter. "It seems to be gone" she says flatly. Other customer service guy steps in as I say incredulously "Are you kidding me?" He starts tapping on his keyboard and brings up a list of stock. Negative 2. I say "someone sold my camera to another customer?" CS girl says "you have 3 days to pick it up" I say "this is day TWO--- here we are" CS guy says, "hmmm, it says there is one at Metrotown store, shall I call them?" I rant and rave a bit about "how could they sell an item that was clearly already sold to another customer?", etc etc. Jon says something about how they get commission for sales made in the store (unlike online sales) CS guy makes the call...."are you sure? No, Charles-listen- the PINK one. The one with case included....not on the shelf? not in the back? It says you have one left (we are now seriously late for the event we were heading to)....can't find it? Oh, ok"
He turns to us with a fake, sympathetic look and shrugs. I say "this is the worst customer service I have ever seen" He looks like he wants to shrug again, but restrains himself. He says "the best I can do is sell you a silver one for 10% off" I say "No. I wanted that camera" He mumbles something about throwing in a $25 gift card as well. I think he was scared that I was going to start shouting soon.

We take our USELESS order confirmation paper and walk out.

Today, we're off to our local PHOTOEXPERT to find the perfect camera. You know what? I really don't care if I have to pay more. I KNOW they will give me excellent customer service and will probably teach my daughter how to use it if she goes in after her birthday with it.

DOWN with the BIG BOX. Shop the little guy stores....they actually care!

Bonus-- Just checked their site and they have the SAME CAMERA there. SAME price as evil big box empire....yeay! Today is a happy day.

Update: Got an email from Future Shop online asking me to fill out a survey about my online purchasing and store pick-up experience. I can't say I've had more fun filling out a survey in a very long time. I'm sure I will not hear back from them, but it was a nice way to vent my frustrations!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Christmas Tree Lights Debate

Every year Jon and I debate our preferred lights for the Christmas tree. I like multi-coloured lights and he likes all-white. Up until he came into my life, our tree was always covered in coloured lights. That's the way it was when I was little, so it just seems 'right' to me. He hates it and thinks it looks overdone, and that all white is the way to go- simple and classic.
A couple of years ago, we noticed that our artificial tree was on it's last legs (last trunk?) and so we went shopping for a new one, armed with a 20% off coupon from Linens 'n Things. The perfect tree awaited us....pre-lit (yes!)....with strings of coloured lights AND all-white lights. It even came with a little remote control so you can switch them on and off easily. The best part though- you can choose to have all the lights, just the coloured lights, or just the white lights- at the simple flick of a button.
This is the best tree EVER. No light strings to fight with, although I do ask Jon to get all the strings plugged into each other properly and set up the remote for me every year. (that's his contribution to the decorating:-) I hate dealing with mini light strings, even if they are attached to the tree already!

So, my dear blog readers. The debate continues. What do you think, colours or whites?
(not the best photography I know....and that 80's is dusty rose? Someday my hardwood, leather or cork floor will come:-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Business Cards Work!

I got an email, then a call from a customer who had seen my bags at a craft fair recently. She picked up my card and ended up making a big order!
(Including a big beach tote like this one)

I just re-ordered my business cards today:-)

They really are great to have. When I'm out and someone asks about my wallet or my coin purse, I always have one of my business cards to give them. It's fun to see the hits to the website and where they come from. Really gives you the feeling that your cards are working!

Today will be spent going to my fave thrift shop that sells the $1 blue jeans to get more denim to make bags, then dropping off the above-mentioned customer's order. Then I've got to spend lots of time sewing. It's so hard to know how the craft shows will go in terms of traffic or sales, but I guess if I make lots of things and bring them home again I'll have lots of things to list in my Etsy Shop. I'm not listing any new items this week. No time! Next week-- listing frenzy:-) depending how things sell at the show this weekend.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ahhh- Coffee!

Just woke up from sleeping after my night shift last night. I've got a list here of the Gift Card Holders I need to get made today for my Etsy orders. These are turning out to be my most popular item! I guess it helps that I've posted them as a 3-for-the-price-of-2 special. Everybody loves getting a little something extra with an order:-)
One of the fun things about selling online is seeing how far and wide your items are traveling. Today, 3 sets of Gift Card Holders will be going out. One each to California, Wisconsin and Burnaby, BC (very close by) Once I get my website set up to be more than links back to here and Etsy, I'd like to have a map where I can show where I've shipped things.

Yesterday's craft fair was so different than the others I have attended. Very low-key. It was a dark, rainy, gray day. I'm not sure if that was the only thing that contributed to the low turn out, but it was incredibly quiet. Maybe lots of other things going on this weekend in the area? Hard to really say. Jon came with me which was much appreciated because we had a chance to spend time together and we made it fun. Turns out, I ended up making really good sales anyway-- mainly to other vendors! I sold my favorite little Blue Raspberry Mini Backpack, which was very exciting. I knew I would find someone to love it:-)

Actually, there were TWO buyers who wanted to purchase it, so I'm making another one for buyer number two. Custom orders are so fun because I can add features that the customer would prefer to make it just right for them.

On a different note completely: Jon sent me a link last evening to a site with recipes for making bath bombs. These look like fun to make and I want to try it! I really have to focus on Juicybags this week though as I have another show booked for this Friday/ Saturday.

"A Real Gem"
Jewelry and Accessories Gift Show and Sale

Friday, Dec 5 (6-9 pm)
Saturday, Dec 6 (10 am to 4 pm)

Ocean Park Community Hall
1577- 128th St, South Surrey

Friday, November 28, 2008

Busy week here

It's been so busy here. I've been working every day this week, and trying to get things made for my next craft show...tomorrow! This one is here:

Sunnyside Elementary School Click the link for info and address.

The other day I spent hours making a whole bunch of Gift Card Holders. These seem to be really popular. So many people are buying gift cards now. It's so much easier than trying to find exactly the right gift. Last year I gave my 18 year old daughter a Mall gift card which was valid for nearly every store in a HUGE mall near us. She was thrilled because she went shopping AFTER Christmas and hit all the sales! She ended up with things I wouldn't have been able to buy for her at holiday prices.

The holders are such a fun way to present a card and can be used as coin purses after 'gifting' or as an ID or bus pass holder.

I made another batch of bi-fold wallets and finished them last night. Today I need to try to get some more pencil cases done and maybe a few more clutch wallets. I have no idea when I'm going to do it though! I'm working 12 hours today until 8 pm and I have to be at the craft fair at 8 am for set up in the morning!

I wish I'd had time to get to my favorite Thrift Store this week, because I really need some more denim to use for making bags. They sell jeans there for $1 a pair. Can't beat that! Well, I didn't have time to make more bags this week anyway, so I'll be sewing next week when I'm off work. I have a 2-day show the first weekend in December, so I'll need to work on my stock for that.

After that- it's Christmas shopping time. I bought a nice second-hand TV for Devon for playing his XBOX games on at a good price from a co-worker. For Alison, I think she could really use a new digital camera. She is going traveling in January with a friend. They have hopes of ending up in Europe and then on to Australia. They are starting by going to Texas to see her ex-step-mom and half-sibs. (wow, their titles are getting really complicated) She says she plans to work there to save enough money to go on to Europe. At least she can legally work in the US since she was born there. I wish her luck- I say travel now while you're young and have the freedom! Of course I will worry, but I think it will be a great experience for her.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Couldn't Resist

I was picking up a few things at the store today, and there they were: the gigantic boxes of Holiday Rice Krispies. I don't normally buy Rice Krispies at all. My son is addicted to the worst cereals there are....Cap'n Crunch is his favorite. I used to stress about this and try to limit his intake, or buy Cheerios and Corn Flakes. He's 16 now- I gave up a long time ago. C'est la vie:-)

Anyway...this box was calling to me "rice krispie treats, rice krispie treats..." so I had to bring it home. Am I the only one that thinks it's weird that some people regularly buy packaged Rice Krispie Treats? This took me about 5 minutes to make--tops. The element on the stove took longer to warm up than it took to make these:-) Now, I can see buying Naniamo Bars, or even Brownies which take a minor amount of skill to make, but Rice Krispie Treats?? C'mon!

(The tray is half gone already)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Craft Fair + Etsy Gifts I Bought

The craft fair yesterday at Herbert Spencer Elementary in New West was fantastic! I was selling fast and furious and it was so nice to hear so much positive feedback on my work. The day was perfected by running into an old friend of my mine who I worked with for years at Children's Hospital. It was so great to see her again. Her daughter is 13 and she said she and her friends had heard that the "Juice Bags Lady" was going to be there and they were very excited...COOL! She was so cute, I let her pick out a present for free. She picked a Cherry wallet:-)

I sold so many things that I'm going to be scrambling this week to try get more things ready for the next one at Sunnyside Elementary this Saturday. Looks like there are going to be some other great sellers there too.

My Recent Awesome Gift Purchases from Etsy

I thought I would blog about some of the great giftsI found on Etsy. I can't post all of them, because certain people like to read my blog (ahem, my darling husband) but I will post a few anyway.

These first 2 are from one of my favorite shops called Nothing Like It. This girl is an amazing artist. Her stuff makes me laugh out loud:-) Here are the little ABC (already been chewed) Gingerbread Men for my Christmas tree. Hey- so I bought myself a couple gifts too, so sue me!
This reindeer ornament is hilarious too. I love the tongue sticking out, it just makes it perfect. I had to have this one. I justify these purchases because I misplaced (or maybe lost) some of my precious ornaments when we moved in 2005. That's a good reason, right? :-)
Check out her sold items. Everything she makes is one of a kind and she creates your items to-order. If you can imagine it, I think Robin can make it.

The next one are some amazing soaps I bought from Sunbasilgarden These are true works of art. Bacon and eggs soap with the scent of pancakes for my bacon-loving teenage son, and Gingerbread man soap with gingersnap scent for my sweet-loving daughter. This shop has lots of other soaps, not all novelty like this- many gorgeous colours, shapes and fragrances.

Next is a shop I found while reading the Promos forum on Etsy. There was a thread where you buy something from the last shop on the list and then someone else will buy something from your shop, etc. I clicked on JesseJanes Shop which happened to be last on the list at that time and YES!! I found the coolest pendants made from Scrabble tiles with images from the Twilight book series. My 18 year old daughter is a big Twilight fan, so I bought her this cool set of pendants that come wrapped in a tin box for giving. She is going to be so excited and thrilled when she opens this!

These are so neat! I found these Mario and Power-Ups Magnets by Spooons for my son who is a long-time Nintendo fan. (well, he's moved on to X-box 360 now, but he still has nostalgia for the mario-days) He will think these are really sweet. I found Spooons shop through this item which was running on OwnTheHour

Last one I can safely post....this is from Everythingsblue I think I found this shop through her a tweet on Twitter. This is the sweetest little Sweetheart pendant, it's made of resin and filled with real candy sprinkles. Another one for my daughter who loves cute stuff like this. Her jewelry is really interesting and fun.

Please check out all of these shops. They won't disappoint! Send me links to your fave shops too. I love to browse:-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Craft Fair

I made this wallet the other day in Christmas Colours. I think it looks really festive. Santa and Rudolph are just there to help create the mood...

Tonight I'm trying to get everything together for tomorrow's craft fair at:

Herbert Spencer Elementary School
605 Second St.
New Westminster, BC

10am- 4pm in the school gym.

It's been a hectic couple of days. I always feel pretty ragged when I'm working nights. I took my bags to the office the other day and left them there for yesterday's office craft fair. Only sold one wallet, but it's good to get exposure anyway. Besides, I've got 3 more craft fairs including tomorrow, and not much time for sewing. I'm working Tues-Fri days next week, then a craft fair on Saturday and then working that night as well. I have no idea when I'm planning to do ANY crafting.

I MUCH prefer online sales, even though they are less predictable. It's just lower maintenance. The craft fairs have been good experiences so far because it's so nice to get positive feedback on my work, but they take so much time and energy.

Well, back to my checklist now. Gotta make sure everything is packed and ready to go. Off to Devon's hockey game in an hour and I won't feel like doing all this when we get home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Warm and Fuzzy birthday

Today was my birthday.
I don't expect much from birthdays anymore, but it's really nice when something makes me feel special on November 19th every year. 7:00 am and a little knock came on my bedroom door. Jon was still up from the night before and was in his office, still plugging away on writing code for his evening class.
Devon (my 16 year old son) came in carrying a plate and a glass- Breakfast in Bed- with a little homemade tent sign on it that said "happy birthday mom" Before I could thank him and get my eyes completely open, he was heading back out the door saying "wait, that's not all!"
Across the hall he went and I could hear him plugging his guitar into the amp:-) Suddenly the strains of a very well-practiced "Happy Birthday to you" are filling the house!
Sometimes teenagers really surprise you, ya know? It was the nicest present he could have given me. I had tears in my eyes and the biggest smile I could manage before a cup of coffee.
Next, Jon brought me some presents to open and a card. Jon's cards are amazing. He must know of some special card shop that I've never been to, because the cards that he buys for me ALWAYS make me cry. Not just a tiny wetness that makes your eyes swim either. I'm talking full-on blubbering.
Now, whenever he hands me a card, my eyes start tearing up before I even open the envelope:-)
As expected, it was a beautiful card, a lovely verse inside and his own added wonderful. Birthdays are great because they remind me what a lucky woman I am.
Then, another beautiful card with heartfelt sentiments from my sweet mom came in the mail...more happy teariness.

The middle part of the day was filled with running some errands. Had to go pick up one of my Juicybags that I sold last night so I could get it mailed out, dropped off some more things at work where they are having a craft fair tomorrow, stopped at the post office to get my Etsy orders shipped out.

Alison was at home when I got back with more birthday presents for me and a cute and funny card. In her card she actually thanked me for always taking care of her, but secretly I think that means she can't wait to get out from under my eye:-) She got me some sweet mini Christmas ornaments of Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman and Herbie the mis-fit elf. ("Herbie doesn't like to make toys!") When we moved to this house a few years ago, I misplaced a box of Christmas ornaments that were very precious to me. I'm still not sure if they might be lost in the crawlspace somewhere- I cling to that hope:-(
She knows I love all the old Christmas cartoons, so she also found a collectors edition of the old 60's classics: Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the Little Drummer Boy (which still makes me cry everytime) and Frosty the Snowman. Will be fun to sit down and watch them one night with a fire going and some hot chocolate after we get the Christmas tree up.

Then tonight, poor Jon was exhausted and asleep by 5-ish, so I ordered sushi for all of us and went to pick it up. Now I'm working overnight. Not exactly my favorite thing to do on my birthday, but I had a very nice day leading up to it.

Feeling all warm and fuzzy now from birthday goodness:-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Be A Magpie!

Twitter is amazing. It's gotten me sales, contacts and sooo many views to my store and blog. In fact, I've sure many of you reading right now found me through Twitter:-)

It's very addicting. I've shopped myself silly through links I've followed from Tweets (shhh- don't tell my hubby...oh yeah, he reads my blog too*giggle*) Don't worry honey- I would have been shopping for Christmas anyway, right? :-)

Anyway, have you heard of Magpie? It's a way to advertise your shop or business through Twitter, but you don't have to do the tweeting yourself. Your magpie (me, or someone else who tweets about things that are relevant to your shop) will do the tweeting for you, automatically. You get to set the code words that are important to you. For me it would be things like 'crafts' 'etsy' 'ownthehour' 'handmade' and other craft related topics. This way, your magpie tweets will reach the people who are interested in what you offer.

Check it out. Email me and I'll show you their advertiser's guide which explains it really well.

Chirp, chirp!

Monday bits and bobs

Just picked up my stock from the craft fair they were on display at this weekend. Yesterday the traffic was so slow through the venue that the organizer didn't charge me the second days' table rental. I made a few sales though, and I didn't have to stay there, so I'm still glad to have participated. Next year I think I will have a better idea of the types of shows I want to be involved in. I think this year will be a good learning experience.

Today Amanda from Vancity Concierge is coming over. She is going to choose some of my products to use as sample gifts in her display for her table at the Mompreneur Holiday Tradeshow which is taking place at the Roundhouse in Vancouver Nov 22 (click the link for more info) Cool- I just noticed that she's got one of my bags on her blog.
Nice format on your blog Amanda;-)

I was contacted by Lynn this week, who has a company called Celebrate Green to do a Juicybags coupon for her coupon page. Email me if you'd like to be on the email list and I'll send you a coupon- 50% off one of my most popular products! Check out her website. They have amazing links for living green and healthy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greener bag for the brown-baggers

Here's a new little bag I made tonight. I've been trying to think of a way to make a sturdy, reuseable lunch bag. This one is made from tropical fruit flavour Koolaid Jammers and trimmed with black binding which gives the seams extra strength. It closes with a double fold at the top and a strip of black velcro. Just the right size to fit inside a bag or backpack. too!

Just posted it for sale on my Etsy store. I think I might be making lots more of these.

Interesting craft fair today. It was set up beautifully, with lots of Christmas decorations and music, goodies and tea. It took Jon and I about an hour to get everything set up for display. It was laid out without space behind the tables (they were back to back) so there wasn't any space for crafters/sellers to sit. Good thing I had followed the organizer's instructions when she said we should put shop name and price tags on everything. They had a central cash where they collected the payments for the sellers. We stayed around for a little while, but when it was clear we were just going to be in the way, we decided to head out and do some shopping and get a few errands done.
The show runs through tomorrow as well, so everything gets left there overnight. I've already made more than my table fee for both days today, so I can sigh a relief and tomorrow's sales are gravy!

The Tote That Started It All

Just a reminder: This weekend I'll be at the following Craft Fair. This one has been going on for 18 years, so it should be really good! Come and see me if you're in the area.

Saturday and Sunday, Nov 15 + 16th, 10 am to 4 pm

My Home for the Holidays Craft Show
Arbourside Court in the Piano Lounge
13751-74th Avenue,
Surrey, B.C.

Last evening was great at Annieville Elementary School. Lots of people were excited about my products and I made some great sales! Met lots of very nice people too. One crafter made barbie doll clothing that would make any little girl's eyes light up. Just beautiful stuff!
Jon and I talked up Etsy to everyone and I told a jewelry crafter about it and passed on the website info. They had very pretty items and I loved their shop name: SPLURGE.....perfect!

I also sold the very first tote bag I ever made. The tote that started it all:-) Pictured above- now being enjoyed by Brenda. Thanks Brenda!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm on NeatoStuff today!

I'm being featured on today!
Front page, Yippee!

This site has (you-guessed-it) the neatest stuff. It's a great gift finding site with lots of ideas for men, women, kids, babies....probably pets too

Snack bag pouches

This post is really for my promo girl in NC:-) She wanted to see my potato chip pouches. I made some of these a while back, but was never really happy with how they came out. Last weekend at the first craft fair- they were a big hit. I only had a few and sold them all, so I thought I'd try it again. They are a bit fussy to do, what with all the layers and turning them back out after sewing, etc. I figured out today while I was doing them that I think the reason I don't like doing them is that I can't see how well they have turned out until they are completely finished, and by that time it's kind of late to fix any mistakes.

Anyway, they are pretty cute. The inside is a soft red flannel lining and I added some wrist straps on the chip bags which are probably little-girl sized. There is a layer of strong vinyl sewn onto the outside, so it makes them quite tough.

My daughter Alison thinks these are my cutest products! I just wish I enjoyed making them more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Juicy Wallet

I made a new Juicy wallet tonight- trying it out with Capri Sun pouches. I hadn't made one yet because don't get very many of these (They are purchased in the US because I noticed there is no French labelling on them) and it takes 10 pouches to make each wallet.

I should make a bunch more wallets tomorrow because they seemed to be my 'hot' item at last Saturday's craft fair, and I've got 2 more fairs this weekend. One requires me to price and inventory tag all of my items because they have a central cash. Not looking forward to doing that, but Jon will help me with a spread sheet, etc.

Lots more to get ready for this weekend, and I just don't feel like doing any more tonight. Jon will be gone volunteering at Free Geek tomorrow and then off to class in the evening, so hopefully I will get things done while I'm without the car at home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Some Lessons Learned

1) Don't try to drive yourself to the pharmacy to get Benadryl when you're having a serious allergic reaction.

2) Keep some Benadryl in a secret stash at home for emergencies.

3) Wax your legs, even though it's the Fall and you aren't showing your legs much- you never know who might see them:-(

...I took the first dose of some antibiotics tonight, and within a couple of minutes, my legs started to itch, then my stomach, then my arms. Hives started breaking out on my skin all over. I dug through the medication cupboard and box and of course- NO benadryl to be found. Grabbed the keys and told Jon I was having an allergic reaction and was going to the pharmacy for some benadryl.
Traffic jam on nearby road leading to the store because it's rush hour. Itching is getting worse. Hives spreading. Heart pounding.....
Get to the pharmacy, run inside and grab benadryl package off the shelf. RUDELY butt in front of man talking to the pharmacist at the counter. Trying to be polite, try to ask for a glass of water as I am having an allergic reaction to a medication...but my voice is GONE. My throat is starting to close up. I can't talk but my breathing is still ok.
The pharmacist calmly asks over her shoulder for a glass of water. Nobody responds- I don't think they heard her. She goes back to helping the other customer.
Luckily, another pharmacist seems to notice I need help and comes over to to ring up my purchase. I croak out that I need a glass of water urgently to take the benadryl and that my throat is swelling. Somebody brings it quickly and another pharmacist is on the phone calling 911.
Within minutes, I am surrounded by paramedics and a stretcher and BP cuffs, etc. ALS (advanced life support team) has been called, but I tell them- no thanks, I don't think I need to be intubated today!!! Breathing is okay, just throat feels very tight. One of the paramedics wants to see the hives, so he pulls up my pant leg. OMG-- I haven't waxed in AGES. They must think I'm a mountain Why am I worried about my hairy legs when my throat is closing? Because I am a woman, that's why!

Off to the ER via ambulance. Called hubby: They are taking me to the ER, no-I'll be okay, yes- I forgot my cell phone, again, Yep- I'll call you when I need picking up.
Chat to cute paramedics about nursing and EMT-ing and stuff. One of them keeps asking to see the hives, cringe as I lift my pant leg each time. I think he just wants to see if my legs are as hairy as he thought the first time he looked...LOL.

Get to ER-get scolded by ER nurse about trying to drive to pharmacy alone- hang my head in shame... and wait about an hour for the ER doc. Falling asleep from drowsiness effect of Benadryl, but itching has stopped and throat is feeling better- whew. Called hubby to come pick me up. Nearly left before seeing doc, but he came in just in time. Now I'll take some steroids for a few days to keep the reaction from coming back and see my own doc about a different antibiotic.

Thinking about a medic-alert bracelet now:-)
Scary stuff, but lessons learned.

Prettiest Tomatoes I've ever seen!

I've just been reading some of my favorite blogs tonight. I have to share with you the amazing tomatoes that the girls from Modern Cottage grew this year. The pictures are making me salivate!
Pretty Tomatoes

The reason this is blog-worthy is because I grew my own tomato plants this year. In fact, they are pretty much the only thing I've ever grown successfully from a seed (apart from some sunflowers and maybe a couple of pea plants) My mom gave me a little gift-kit for growing heirloom tomatoes.
There were 4 types of seeds in the package, but I think only one type actually took hold and grew. I ended up re-planting it into a large patio planter, moved it onto the back deck, and it grew to about 5 feet high in no time. I was so excited when the first little green tomatoes appeared and took some pictures:-) They are little cherry tomatoes (not sure what variety as I don't know which of the 4 types survived) and they taste fabulous- store bought can't even compare! Here they are the first day we noticed them appearing.

Next year, I'm definitely going to try growing full-size tomatoes. We use lots of canned tomatoes in our cooking. Why not grow our own? I will use Beth and Meredith's tip with the red Christmas ornaments too- what a neat trick.

Now, if I could just get this darn Fall and Winter stuff out of the way so I can get started...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gift Card Holder

Someone just sent me a message through Etsy this morning and gave me this great idea!

This is a variation of my coin purse which holds a gift card perfectly. What a fun way to wrap it:-)

Just listed it in my shop.
Juice Pouch Gift Card Holders

Craft Fair Report- My first show!

I did my first craft show yesterday at a Secondary School in North Vancouver. Here is my set-up before the fair started. I tweaked it a bit, but this is basically what I went with.
It was an interesting experience and I learned a few things:

1) Be more selective: In future, I think I'll do ONLY shows with other handcrafters. I actually never thought to ask this when signing up for shows. There were so many re-sellers there. I was surrounded by them, and so naturally most customers assumed I was a re-seller too. One of the most frequent questions I had all day was "did you make these?"
This was something I never expected from a CRAFT FAIR. It makes me think that many people who didn't stop at my table may have thought my items were mass-produced:-( That's kind of disheartening.
I should have paid attention that it was advertised as a "craft fair and market"

2) Make better signs: I needed bigger, full-colour signs with my store name. My little signs were okay, but I think I needed a large, main sign. I might actually make a sign saying '' instead of just the name.
Also think I will add a sign about recycling. I thought it was obvious, but several folks didn't realise the materials were recycled.

3) Offer an incentive to visit my store: I am going to add stickers to the back of my business cards with an incentive discount for my Etsy store to help bring hits there after the show.

4) Tweak my set-up: I will make a better riser for the back of the table that can be easily set-up. I was kind of winging it yesterday and nearly wasn't ready in time. I'm not sure that I need both of the grid-walls behind the table. I found that most shoppers were focused down at the table and didn't notice the stuff behind as much.
Perhaps use some props to show the bags in use, what they can be used for, etc.

5) Pack better: I need to get a few plastic crates with lids to pack everything into for the shows. I had stuff in bags and it took me 5 or 6 trips back and forth from the car for set-up and take-down. Better yet- bring hubby along for someone to help and some friendly company when things are slow.

The day started a bit slow with only a trickle of traffic. Since it was my first time, I took a long time for set-up and was still tweaking things during the morning. The tables were set very close together and the 2 sellers on my sides also set things up beside their tables. Unfortunately, this meant customers couldn't come around to see the bags I had hanging on the grids. I hung them as high as I could to try to show them off.
As I expected, my smaller items did much better than the bags. I sold quite a few little wallets.

I was surprised to see that the potato chip-bag and candy-bag pouches were very popular. I only had a few to sell because I was having some trouble sewing on the vinyl surface. I got a custom order for 2 as well, so I'll have to make more of them for the fairs next weekend. I would say it was a pretty positive experience. I borrowed my friend's van (thanks Yvette!) and I'm not used to driving something so big. I felt like a delivery driver:-)

I'm sure each show is going to be different, depending on the area and the demographic. Should be fun to see how next weekend goes.

Friday Nov 14th, 5-9 pm I'll be at Annieville Elementary School
for their Christmas Craft Fair.

Saturday and Sunday, Nov 15 + 16th, 10 am to 4 pm I'll be at
Arbourside Court in the Piano Lounge- Home for the Holidays Craft Show
13751-74th Avenue,
Surrey, B.C.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First try at a laptop sleeve

I was attempting to make a laptop sleeve, but I ended up with it being exactly the right size for a MacBook. I'm just not sure I want to make lots of these- it was a bit challenging.
I do love the inside- it's so soft and cushy- I just want to curl up inside it. I used 2 layers of quilt batting so it's really nicely cushioned. Oh, and it's hard to see here, but it has a zipper across the top to close it.

I listed it for sale in my shop with more pictures here:
Padded Macbook Sleeve

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Table display needs work!

Here's my dry run of my table display for the craft fairs. This is just a coffee table, so I think the actual tables I will have will be larger. This isn't a great photo since I was doing this at night in a room with poor lighting. I will have a table skirt as well as the white cloth. I think I'll make some signs for prices for each type of item too. Perhaps I need the whole back of the table to be raised, not just the middle? (that's a box covered with a cloth)
The bags will be hanging from 2 grid walls that we had originally bought to hang our clothing items at the fitness club. I've been wanting to get rid of them for years but luckily (thanks to Jon who ignored my pleas to get rid of them) we still had them and the hanging rails too!
I am wondering if I'm going to need space on here for doing transactions, but I think I'll bring a clipboard for that instead. Let's hope I DO have some transactions!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Custom order laptop bag -it's done!

Just finished this custom order for a customer from Etsy. I think it turned out pretty well. She wanted a fun and colourful laptop bag. I made it with double layers of denim on the sides and bottom and reinforced the bottom with nylon webbing and extra stitching. I hope she likes it!

My shop is on Trend Magazine!

A writer found my shop through Twitter and she wrote an article about it for Trend Magazine online. I am so excited because today it was on the front page! This website gets about 8 million views per month.
This is the lead picture- Ally modelling one of my bags:-) Isn't she cute?

Here is the article Trend Magazine
It was written by Pearl, who is a crafter herself and writes a jewelry blog here Beadinggem

I also got my second Etsy sale yesterday (yeay!) and a custom order for a laptop bag which I'm working on today. It's so fun to create new products to fit a customer's needs. Will post photos here when it's done!
My first craft fair is this Saturday at Carson Graham Secondary School in North Vancouver. Feel free to come by and support me if you're nearby that day. I've got so much to get ready and lots more sewing to do. Luckily, I finished my set of work shifts last night, so I'm off now till Sunday night. Off to ship my order and get a few supplies now.

It's been a great weekend:-)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh, try this- it's cute!

I got this from

Try it- it's neat and fun!
Go to Google and click on Images, then search for a particular image (anything you want) Then once the search goes through, replace the text in the address bar with this:

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.getElementsByTagName('img'); DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=(Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5)+'px';*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5)+'px'}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0); what happens...!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Witches Fingers

We're having a Halloween potluck at work today. This just happens to be my bi-weekly work-at-the-office day. (I normally work from home, but I work at the office once every couple of weeks)

This is what I'm bringing: Witches Fingers (almond shortbread in disguise) My British husband still doesn't "get" Halloween. He says these looks so unappetizing! (but he did eat one...)
He's right of course- but that's the idea!
I'm also dressing up as a Work-From-Home nurse...jammies, housecoat and fuzzy slippers. At least I'll be comfy all day:-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Which wallet do you prefer?

I've got 4 (maybe 5!) craft fairs coming up in November and December (first one in about 10 days) and I am having a hard time trying to decide which items I should make more of. I have these 2 wallets I've made- different styles. Personally, I like the smaller bi-fold type because I carry mostly cards. The clutch wallet has a place for cheques, but I don't carry my chequebook anymore. I've had some nice comments about the bi-fold design too (even sold one on Etsy!)

Which style do you think will be more popular? Or should I make the same number of each? I think the price will be the same if that makes any difference.

Oct 29th- added another photo to show all the colours.