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I'm transitioning my blog over to my own domain, so please come and visit there. For the time being, I will continue to update both blogs so I don't lose anyone, but please update your following status and bookmarks to my new page:

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.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mini duffel bag in grape

Just finished this little duffel bag/purse today. It's a special order for a's a Christmas pressie:-)

I love the black denim with the grape pouches and the soft flannel inside matches perfectly. Gotta have a cell phone pocket too!

I decided to make a shorter adjustable shoulder strap on this one- you don't want this hanging down too low. I think it's meant to be worn up high anyway.

Back to the earth

When we bought our house a few years ago, it came with a black plastic composting bin in the back yard on one side against the fence. We liked the idea, but didn't know much about it, so we didn't do anything with it for several years. This past year I decided to start using it and did some reading on the process. My only experience with composting was when I was a kid. My dad used to have a compost pile and would add the old leaves to it, and garden waste. I don't think we collected our kitchen waste for it though.
Up till this year, I was putting food waste down the sink disposal, which still decreases the garbage output, but after doing some reading I realized it puts a strain on the water treatment facilities.
So, I put a bucket under the sink (with a lid, to keep fruit flies away) and starting collecting all the raw scraps there. We still put cooked food and meat scraps either in the garbage or down the disposal (or into one of our little 4-legged disposals:-) You can't put cooked food or meat into the compost, or you'll attract rodents.
Some of the stuff you CAN compost: veggies, fruit and the peelings, paper (best if it's shredded and unbleached) coffee grounds and filters (we use unbleached filters), tea bags, egg shells, leaves, grass, garden cuttings...anything organic really.
At first I thought the bin would fill up too quickly and I would have to "take breaks" from collecting stuff, but the bin never seems to fill. As fast as I add stuff, it sinks down and gets transformed. Well, it's not really that quick, but it hasn't filled up yet and I've been using it for months now. Occasionally I take the whole lid off and use a hoe to turn it over a bit, bring some of the soil to the top and bury things more. If it gets flies on it, I cover it with one layer of dry leaves which seems to keep them off. To make the process most effective, you are supposed to layer fresh stuff with 'brown waste' (dried leaves or grasses, shredded paper) I am planning to try to collect a large bin of dry leaves this fall so I have them to use in the compost over the spring and summer next year.
The best thing about doing this is that our weekly garbage for the household has decreased to about one small kitchen bag. Hardly seems worth putting it out for collection some weeks, so often we go 2 weeks between collections. Composting is much easier than it sounds!

We've also gotten better at recycling and we check every package for a symbol before throwing it away. Nearly everything we throw goes into some kind of recycling now.
It's annoying to realize that so many people still throw so much into the landfills. It doesn't take much extra time to sort your garbage and take it to the curb in the blue bin or using a small bucket under your sink to collect the scraps. Lots of non-profit organizations take returnable drink containers to raise money, and they will pick them up from you too! One I know about for sure is the Developmental Disabilities Association. They have a program where they supply a bin and they come and collect your returnables periodically. Great for the workplace!

Here's some reading to get you started if you'd like to try composting:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Zippered pockets

Here is one of the bags I made today. I really like this one, because the pair of jeans I used for the denim material had these great back pockets with zippers! So, this bag got a zippered inner pocket. The colours are washed out on the inner photo because I had to use a flash to see inside. My photography skills are a bit lacking, as you can see.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Got my cards!

I picked up my business cards at the shipper today across the border in Point Roberts. Why doesn't overnightprints ship to Canada? So annoying! After paying the "user fee" at the border, the shipper's fee and the gas I used to get there, I would have probably done better just ordering them from the local Staples store after all.
Anyway, they are perfect and I love how they turned out. Thick card and very shiny on the front. Now I have an easy way to tell people about Juicybags when they ask about my bag or wallet.
I'm already planning for a discount I can stamp on the back for my craft fair customers. Perhaps 20% off their first purchase from my Etsy store....hmmm, will have to discuss with all the other Etsians about how best to do that.

Off for my pre-nightshift nap now.

World of Cool

Apparently I'm cool:-) Well, maybe it's just my Koolaid wallet! Somebody from Twitter did a small feature about it here:

Looks like a neat website idea. It says they will be up and running again in January. Looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

My first web feature....
I'm so excited!
Can you tell?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today's bags and my new tags

Here are the bags I made today. All totes and one of each size. I've been making lots of the shoulder bags lately, so I thought I try to get a few more totes done. I made another wallet for Jon cherry red this time and with the opening to the right side instead of the left.
Done sewing for today- it's time for a nap before work. Two long night shifts ahead, so I like to try to start with a little extra sleep-boost. I don't know if it helps, but it can't hurt.
Devon is off to Fright Night at Playland tonight with some friends. Jon was volunteering at FreeGeek today and then off to his night class tonight. Alison is out at a friend's it's just me and the doggies here for now. I guess everybody will have some of the Hoison Chicken (recipe from a blog I added to my list today- a woman who is using her slow cooker everyday for a year!) if and when they get home.

Here are my new product labels. I got a tip here for making my own using printable fabric sheets. I ordered the fabric from Joann's online. I just cut them to size and sew them into each item. They are fabric on the front and a kind of vinyl material on the back, so they don't fray. This picture isn't the greatest- I tried to use the macro on the camera and I don't think it worked, and then the batteries died....oh well, you get the idea. Cute, huh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Twitter- my new addiction

Twitter is fun! Kind of like something between a chat room and a blog. I know it's not new, but it's new to me! It's a good way to spread the word about my blog and my Etsy store too.
Check it out and follow me (juicybags) if you want to. I've got my Twitter updates posted in the left column here too.

I've been working all day yesterday and today, so haven't done any sewing. I've been cutting open and cleaning, and then drying the juice pouches instead. That's the 'dirty' part of the job. I found a little white plastic scraper that helps get the adhesive off the pouches more easily. (my fingernails were taking a beating before) It feels good to be making useful stuff out of something that would end up in the landfills though. Jon tells me there are stats somewhere that say that these little foil juice pouches have one of the lowest rates of return of all the returnable drink containers! Probably because they are usually taken to school by kids who just chuck them into the garbage when they are done:-(
I wish I knew a way to re-direct those empty pouches to me! Let me know if you have any ideas.
(although by the time these craft fairs are over I might be so sick of sewing that I never want to make another bag- we'll have to see)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why does this happen?

Experienced sewers...can you tell me why my machine does this? I'll be sewing along and everything looks great on the top side, then I hear a little telltale 'click' from the bobbin and I know THIS is what I'm going to find underneath. What I do then is re-thread the machine and the bobbin and it seems to work fine again...but then it happens again later...can't figure out

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rookies makin' cookies

Alison and her friend Hayley decided to make some cookies tonight. Aren't they cute? Wish I could get her to help out in the kitchen more often. Ah well...the cookies were pretty good. Not bad for a couple 'a rookies.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A wallet for Jon

Jon has been in need of a new wallet for a long time. He asked me to make him one so he could mention Juicybags when people asked him about it. I designed this wallet to his specs (using his current wallet as a guide) I think it turned out pretty good. It was a bit fussy to make because I had to cut the backs out of most of the juice pouches so that the wallet wouldn't be too bulky. It took 10 pouches to make this wallet!
It's got 8 card slots, and a large money/receipt pocket. It closes with a velcro strip. It was Jon's idea to add the black bias tape around the edges which turned out good I think.

Lots of sewing today. I decided I should try to make 2 bags, 1 clutch wallet, 3 coin purses and 1 pencil case everyday until my first craft fair. Some days I can probably do a little more, some less-- but if I can do that I will probably have enough stock for all the fairs. Sheesh-- what do I know!? I have NO CLUE how much stuff I'm going to need. Guess I'll just keep sewing until I can't sew anymore, and that will have to be enough.

Heading off to relax for a bit now and see if there's anything on TIVO worth watching.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here's the new verison- much better!

Draft of my business cards

Jon helped me make this graphic for my business cards. The background is part of a picture I took last year of my stargazer lillies in the front garden. It just needs some more small tweaks- I'm not thrilled with the font for the information text. The 'juicybags' font is fun, but it doesn't work for the rest of the card- not easily readable. I need to find something prettier and not so bold. I also need to move the text a little closer in towards the middle to make sure nothing gets cut off. I was planning on printing them at home, but our inkjet had other ideas. I printed one page and they came out with bands of alternating light and dark colours across them. So much for that. Jon tried a few fixes, but no luck.
So, as soon as I can figure out how to do the tweaks it needs, I'll be ordering a batch of these from instead.

I'm recovering from my 2 night shifts today, so didn't get much done. The garbage and recycling has been taken out for pick up, I went out to get dog food, we ate leftovers for dinner and I've made a clutch wallet and one coin purse. Not a totally wasted day anyway!
Jon is out at a class tonight and he's got a mid-term. He's been working so hard on these courses. I hope it goes well.

Later: Well, it's all tweaked and sent for printing now. Jon is a genius...I love the new version!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My supplier comes through!

Ingrid- the nice mom I met through craiglist who is helping her son raise money for his band trip to New York- brought me a HUGE bag of empty drink pouches today. She has been a great supplier! I don't know how she finds so many, but she did say her dental bills were going to go up with the amount of Koolaid they have been drinking:-) This is a photo she took of the pile of pouches before she packed them up to bring over today. There are over 500!
Believe it or not, I've probably already used about 300 pouches so far, and I'm going to need lots more to make all the items I need for the craft fairs. I'm nervous about not having enough stuff--- but then it would be worse if nothing sold-- hard to know which way to think about it, but better to have too much than too little.

Jon has been working so hard on his Java course assignments and labs this week, we have barely spoken to each other. I'm glad he's getting the courses he needs, but I miss I spend lots of time sewing. I'm working nights tonight and tomorrow, so we'll be ships passing in the night for a while longer.

Nessa- my email list buddy who has the shop in Maine received my package of the bags today and she says they have them up in the shop window! I'm so excited to hear about how it goes and what her customers think. She says there will be 7000 cruise ship passengers there this here's hoping somebody buys something!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Alison did some modelling for me

Alison agreed to model the bags for my Etsy shop. These 2 shots are really cute- one silly and one sweet. I swear, she gets prettier every time I look at her.

We went to my brother Brian's place tonight for his 50th birthday party. I'm not supposed to have siblings that are 50! How did that happen? Well, he'll be a grandfather for the 3rd time in a few months too. I heard his little grandson call hiim grandpa tonight-- that was weird! Saw my neice Samantha and her guy Keith. They seem really happy and Sam looks beautiful, as always. We are all thinking PINK for her. They will try to find out the baby's gender next month:-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Coin purses

I made a these little coin purses today. Aren't they cute? They have a snap closure in the front, which I like better than velcro, it's more secure I think.
I'm thinking about attaching clips to some of them- like the red one in the picture. Then you could easily attach it to part of your purse or backpack so it won't get lost, or attach your key chain to it.

Only 4 weeks till my first craft fair. Back to sewing now...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sewing Frenzy

Well, my kitchen looks like a factory. Piles of jeans and totebags and fabric everywhere. The kitchen table is covered in my tools and supplies. The ironing board is a permanent fixture. I'm getting nervous about having enough stock for all the craft fairs I have booked myself for. What was I thinking? Good news is that I've gotten much faster at constructing the bags and have figured a bit of a system to make it go more smoothly. For example, to make one tote I use 2 or 3 different colours of thread. I just have a basic sewing machine-- nothing fancy like Alison tells me they have at school where you can load in a bunch of colours of thread and then flip a switch when you want to change! Anyway, what I've started doing is sewing 4 or 5 bags at once, first sewing all the white thread parts, then the blue, then the black.
I have also been doing some steps when I'm between calls while working...pinning sections together, making the panels of pouches with double-sided tape prior to sewing them, etc. (I wished I'd found the double-sided tape sooner- it really speeds things up and makes it so much easier to make neat panels of pouches)

Today I decided I'm going to make up a bunch of fudge for the craft fairs. I can sell it in small bags and give out samples. Fudge should bring people to my table! I'll make a few different kinds. I found a new recipe that I'm going to try.. double decker chocolate peanut butter fudge...mmm. I had to steal the picture to show you because it looks sooooo good! I linked the blog I found it on. They have amazing pictures of food porn there:-)

I spoke to the owner of the craft showcase shop in Abbotsford and decided to postpone getting involved with that for now. I really don't think I can supply enough product and they are too far away to make it convenient for me. I'd like to go there and see how it looks and how it runs though. It's something to think about after the craft fairs are over...that's if I still want to continue making the bags by then!

I've been trying to figure out a way to be able to accept credit card payments from customers at the craft fairs. I don't want to set up a merchant account- it's way too expensive, with monthly minimums and monthly charges as well as a long commitment. Someone on Etsy forums suggested using Paypal to invoice the sales, taking the credit card info in person and entering the invoices through Paypal later. I think I'll give it a try. I think being able to accept cards makes a huge difference for sales.

Doing my second night shift tonight. It's a nice night so far. Thanksgiving is on Monday, so we're having a family dinner at our place Sunday (I'm working Monday) we have to go turkey shopping soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Craft store

I've been contacted by a someone who is opening a store that showcases crafts. They rent spaces (booths) in the shop out to crafters, who then stock their own area and the store sells the merchandise for them.
I'm concerned about being able to maintain the stock, but on the other hand, how do I know I will sell enough product to make the rental worth it? They are asking anywhere between $65 and $165 per month rental and they want a 6-month signed contract to start off with. I'm not sure I feel comfortable with making that commitment, although it's definitely the right time of year to start if I was going to do it. It's also nearly an hour's drive away, in Abbotsford, so that makes it a bit inconvenient for easily checking stock and stocking up.

Some other things I thought of:
-how will the store be advertised?
-What is their motivation to advertise at all, since they really aren't making much money off the sales of the products themselves?
-what kind of traffic is expected through the shop? I haven't seen it, so I'm not sure about the area.
-can I check stock over the phone, or do I have to physically come into the shop for that?

Might have a drive out there this week and check it out. They haven't opened for business yet- they are just signing the crafters now. I'd like to test the waters without signing a contract, but don't see that happening since there was no option like that mentioned. of course, they are going to want a guaranteed rent coming in from the crafters for at least the first few months. I just don't know that I'm willing to be one of the first!

On the other hand, I'm really excited to be sending my online friend Nessa some of my items to sell in her shop in Maine. She co-owns a scrapbooking/quilting shop called Fabricate. I've added a link to her shop blog here. It looks gorgeous. I hope her customers like my stuff! Once she gets my items, maybe she will take a picture of them in her shop so I can post it here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blue backpack

Here is a different version of the mini backpack. I added a buckle closure in the front (instead of a snap) and the shoulder straps are nylon webbing and adjustable. I put the cell phone pocket inside to make room for the buckle on the front.

I love this lining fabric. I found it in the scraps pile at Walmart, only 1/2 a metre left. I wish I had more of it. It looks like a sort of peach colour in these photos, but it's actually a very bright, deep pink.

I think this one is my favorite bag yet!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pictures of the duffel bags

Here's the large duffel bag. Today I was thinking how I could make it easier to put together, and I've thought of a few short cuts that will probably make it turn out better too, so maybe I won't write it off completely yet.
Here is a shot of the mini-duffel bag and one of the inside of it. There's a small cell phone pocket and a larger pocket with a velcro closure. This one is lined with denim from a pair of jeans.