Monday, December 26, 2011

Five Post Holiday Goals Otherwise Known as New Year's Resolutions

Post holiday goals sounds so much better to me than New Year's resolutions at this point in my life.  In years past I would sit and dreamily come up with a huge list of resolutions on New Year's day.  I would feel so inspired and so motivated.  For most of those resolutions, writing them down was the end of it.

So I decided to try a new approach.  It's the day after Christmas.  I am excited to think about my business and to develop better and more effective approaches.  But wait, I constantly read about growing a handcrafted business.  I constantly look at what others are doing.  I can come up with multitudes of ideas for growing my little business!

Hm, not a good idea.  So I thought why not take just five of the most important goals, put them in writing here, and then track and monitor how well I do?  I work a day job that involves monitoring compliance, so why not do the same for my own handmade jewelry and lanyards business?  So here are my top five goals for the next year.

  1. Post on this blog 3+ times per week.  If you have been following this blog, you know that I am sporadic in my approach.  It's time for me to be reliable and faithful to my blog.
  2. Expand my outreach on Facebook.  This will require a lot of diligence from me, because I don't quite get the best way to use it.  Education will be required.  But in an shameless plug, please Like my facebook page.  That will help expand my outreach right away.  Thanks!
  3. Develop a website to market my handmade lanyards.  This is a niche I developed on Etsy, and I would love to grow that part of my business.  Hm, should I try Wordpress for that?
  4. Sell 12+ lanyards a month.  That is about double of what I have done in the last six months.  Yikes, .................................... S T R E T C H.........................!
  5. Last but definitely not the least important - DELIVER MORE THAN I PROMISE!  Great customer service is the most important thing. 
    • Time wise - be early not late
    • Quality wise - pay attention to details 
    • Value - provide an exceptional product for the price
    • Extras - provide extra service, specials, things that tickle the fancy
What are your plans to grow your business or whatever endeavors you wish to improve?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blessed Christmas Giving

Every year my adult children and I discuss what each other would like for Christmas.  Each year it becomes increasingly difficult.  Why is that?  We are so totally blessed, that we all have or can buy what we need and a great deal of what we want.  So this year, my son proposed that we spend the money we normally spend on each other to provide for someone else's need.  We agreed this was a great idea.

So my son, my daughter and her husband, my husband and I pooled our resources to give to a homeless shelter.   My daughter's church is sponsoring a homeless group for a week in December, and they are putting together packages that include a hat, a pair of gloves, and a pair of socks.  Living in Northern Colorado, warmth is a key factor when purchasing these items.

So yesterday my daughter, her husband, my grand-daughter, my husband and I went shopping.  We decided to descend on Jax, a store that carries clothing for farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen.  We piled up a shopping cart with warm wool/acrylic hiking socks that wick away moisture to keep the feet dry, and gloves with thermal properties and closure at the wrists to keep wind out.  We found some medium, some large and some extra-large.  What fun it was to load up a shopping cart with these items.

We cleared a whole section of gloves and socks out of the store's inventory.  After we checked out, my daughter asked the checker to place everything in one big bag.  She is taking that bag to the church today.  She was excited.  She said she feels like Santa Claus with this giant bag of stuff.

Already I feel the magic of Christmas, and I praise God that we can do this.  I won't miss the presents that I would have received from my children.  The experience brings us closer and makes us value each other and all our material blessings.

Of  course,  I am still giving presents to the grandkids!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Get People to Visit Your Blog or Website

I found some very helpful information on Google about what they are looking for when they rank your pages and websites.  All of us who write blogs or publish content on the web want it found in the searches as close to the top of page one as possible.  The mystery to many of us, particularly those of us who are solo entrepreuners focused on our artistic creations, is how does this happen?

I have read a lot on this regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, etc.  Today I found this Guidance to Building High Quality Sites with the help of a site called Social Media Today.  It is written by  Sharon Tisdale-Reis.  She talks about Panda, one of the newer releases by Google.  While SEO is important, many other things have gained in importance.  Does your site inspire trust, likeability, a concern for quality and fresh approches to topics shared?

If you write a blog or publish a website, I would love to know what your thoughts are.  Do you have any hints to share with us regarding getting your site seen by others? 

Oh, and I just had to share this delightful photo two pandas in the snow!  Aren't they totally cute?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Poudre Valley Hospital Craft Show

It's the time of year for holiday craft shows.  I decided to do one show this year, and that is the one sponsored by the Foundation at Poudre Valley Health System.  On November 18, they are sponsoring a craft show that will display the talents of the employees.  We will have our wares for sale there for that one day.

I participated in the craft show last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Many people I work with at PVHS visited my booth.  In addition many others stopped by as well.  The show is open to the public, and has developed a reputation over the years as a good place to find affordable quality gifts.

Here is my display from last year's show.

Come join the fun!  The show will open at 7:00 am for you early birds, and will close at 5:00 pm.

Poudre Valley Hospital is located at 1024 South Lemay in Fort Collins, CO.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Note Cards to Send Across the Miles

As the holidays approach many of us begin to think more about family and friends who live far from us.  I find that I think of experiences I had in the past with these treasured people, and wonder how they are doing.  Of course, I can hop on Facebook or Twitter and see if I can find one quick glimpse into their lives.  Technology has changed how we communicate.

But with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I get nostalgic.  I think of dinners together, cozy fires in the fireplace, playing games around a table.  Technology seems at odds with that.  One of our honored traditions is to reach out across the miles with a note card.

I found some delightful note cards recently sold by a delightful seller on Etsy.  The shop is Firegems 2010.  Heidi Erb is the creator of these wonderful note cards.  Heidi is a single mom who takes lovely photos and makes them into note cards.  She also raises Golden Retrievers.  Look at this cutie.

Heidi enjoys nature photography as stated in her own words at her Etsy shop:

"Take your time while you are strolling through my photographs. Imagine yourself watching a beautiful sunset, or hearing the waves come to shore, the leaves crunching under your feet or the sounds of nature all around. Gaze upon the beauty of a flower or see the details on a building and so much more. "

Here is one of her more spectacular nature photos.  This is her Fire in the Sky Landscape Print.  Heidi also sells her prints.  This one is an 8x10.  You can also get this photo as note cards.

Of course, as I was saying earlier, the holidays remind us to reach out to our family and friends across the miles.  Heidi has a number of choices with a holiday theme.  These penquins are cute.

Check out all of Heidi's goodies at her Etsy shop, Firegems 2010.  Then get to know her a little better by visiting her on Facebook at Firegems 2010 Creative Escape.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Fun at Harvest Farm Festival

The family took advantage of the spectacular Northern Colorado weather yesterday and drove up the road to Harvest Farm.  This is a farm right outside of the town of Wellington, Colorado. Harvest Farm is a unique place that serves men with drug and alcohol addiction.  It is a rehabilitation  center that serves 72 residents.  It provides them with the opportunity to work in a rural environment and receive counseling and help to transition back to society.  It is sponsored by the Denver Rescue Mission.

Every year they sponsor a Fall Festival that includes a big corn maze, a toddler corn maze, and various other small mazes.  There is a barrel train ride, pig races, a petting zoo, pumpkins,and other entertainment.  Food is available also.

We took Maggie, our two year old grand-daughter to this event.  She had such fun.
They said no throwing of the corn ~  But it's so much fun!
Fun on the Barrel Train
You back up, not me

Sittin' on Top of the World

Monday, September 12, 2011

Flores del Sur, Your Virtual Little Bazaar

This week I am featuring a very special Etsy shop named Flores del Sur. This delightful shop is the creation of Marisa Kraiselburd from Uruguay.  Her shop is bright, lively, and beautiful.  She designs and creates lovely handmade hair pins, hair clips, pins and brooches.

Marisa has developed a line of poppy pins that mix lovely colors together for a gorgeous design. My favorite of these is the Plum and Violet Poppy Pin.

She also uses brightly colored felt to make Felt Bouquet Pins, perfect for a coat or sweater.

You could get lost in the spiral swirls of color in Marisa's Ribbon Rolled Hair Pins.

You can read about Marisa on her blog, Facebook,and Twitter.

Marisa is a member of BESTeam, a group of creative artists who sell their work through shops on Etsy.  If you sell on Etsy and have a blog, consider joining this group.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Sparkle of Gemstones ~ The Luster of Fine Pearls - BESTeam Featured Artist

Jewelry by Jaynemarie is an elegant Etsy boutique that offers fine jewelry.  Jaynemarie has dedicated herself to becoming a jeweler who can create beautiful jewelry for every occasion.

Here are some of my favorite items from her shop.

Green is one of my favorite colors.  The Handmade Prehnite and Peridot Filigree Necklace
 is fabulous.

For everyday elegance consider these Handmade Sterling Silver Swirly Earrings.  Dress them up or down, they are just right for many different occasions.

For a bit of subtle drama, wear these Handmade Sterling Silver Bridal Pearl Chandelier Earrings.  They make a statement.  They can be worn for events other than weddings, and Jaynemarie will create these in other types of pearls if you would like her to do so.

Look for Jaynemarie on:

Jaynemarie is a member of BESTeam on Etsy.  She and many of us have Etsy shops, and we have joined together to promote artists on Etsy and to learn more about marketing our art online.  If you have an Etsy shop and write a blog, please consider joining us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CK Silver - Timeless and Elegant, Extraordinary Customer Service - BESTeam Featured Artist

I am so delighted to feature CK Silver a BESTeam member shop on Etsy.  Cindy and Marilyn, a mother daughter team, create classic pieces of jewelry that you will be proud to wear anytime, anywhere.  They use nature for inspiration and enjoy creating from what God has already created.  Their pride of workmanship carries over to their customer service.  They are always willing to work with you.

Enjoy the colors in this Southwest Autumn Necklace.  The beautiful turquoise stands out against the brown jasper and red garnet, a very pleasing combination.  CK Silver also has matching earrings and bracelet for sale to go with the necklace.

These Spring Tulip earrings feature lovely soft colored beads with sparkly crystals handwrapped with sterling silver wire to the earrings. They are lightweight and very pretty. CK Jewelry has a number of other earrings in different colors made in a similar style.

A different elegant style is featured in these Agate Sparkle earrings.  Notice the wonderful circular swirl of sterling silver at the bottom of the earrings.  Beautifully crafted, and there is a matching bracelet available for sale as well.

This next bracelet is dear to my heart.  It is a Fruit of the Spirit bracelet.  Each crystal represents one of the Fruits of the Spirit from Galations 5:22.  The sterling silver dove represents the Spirit of God.

Please make a visit to CK Silver at the Etsy shop or visit with them on their blog.
Are you a handmade artist who also blogs and has an Etsy shop?  If so, please consider joining BESTeam.  We promote each other shops and share marketing tips. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Creativity Bugs - BESTeam Featured Artists

Hi Everyone - This week I am featuring the shop of two sisters, Sandy and Sue, who enjoy creating paper crafts & gifts, handmade cards, paper craft kits and supplies, holiday gifts, doll clothing and accessories, plus a whole lot more.  The shop is Creativity Bugs.  Creativity Bugs opened its doors in January 2011.  Since then they have provided sweet, cute cards and other items for various occasions.

Whenever I need to write a thank you note, I am always looking for an appealing design on a card.  Look at the following two cards and the detail put into their design and creation.

Another sweet card is for your true love.

If you need a favor for a party or shower, consider a pretty Tea Light Flower.

Creativity Bugs is a member of the BESTeam on Etsy.  This team is a community of artists who support one another's business on Etsy, and teach one another about being an artist who sells online.  If you are an Etsy artist, and if you have a blog, please consider joining us.

You can find out more about Creativity Bugs at their blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ardent Reverie - BESTeam Featured Artist

"Two crazy sisters", Melanie and Meghan Mina, have put their "two crazy styles" together to create exciting handmade designs that grab your attention, and tempt you to buy.  Their Etsy store Ardent Reverie has lots of great items in a variety of mediums. Being a jewelry fanatic, I was immediately drawn to their garden mosaic necklaces and their solid perfume necklaces.

The necklace above features flowers, pearl, Czech glass and amethyst artfully arranged on a square pendant. This is one of the garden mosaic necklaces available from Ardent Reverie.

Another spellbinder, is this Solid Perfume Necklace.

This item is totally different from the jewelry and so beautiful.  This Crane Hairclip is an origami design in printed fabric designed to wear in the hair.

Wear this elegant sophisticated Holly Shawl to a party or an afternoon tea.  The crochet work in this is exquisite and the large buttons are a fabulous design element.

Melanie and Meghan also have a website, Ardent Reverie.  You can find out much more about these two sisters and their creations there.  They belong to BESTeam, an Etsy group dedicated to promoting one another's shops and helping each other learn more about marketing on the internet.  If you have a blog and an Etsy shop, please think about joining us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jewelry with an Oriental Flair - BESTeam Featured Artist

My featured artist introduces her shop on Etsy as "a modern version of East meets West".  Her shop Blue & White Wear is truly a meeting of the orient and modern USA.

One of the things I find truly delightful about this shop is the unique descriptions of each piece of jewelry that tells the story of the piece. This Tibetan Mandela Necklace is an example. Look at this piece in her shop and learn of the significance of the brass mandela.  This one was purchased by the artist on her recent trip to Tibet.  Fascinating and beautiful!

Fans are frequently decorated and used in oriental art.  The fan in this Oriental Fan Necklace has Chinese characters on it, but is soft and subdued and goes well with the smoky quartz and bronze color chain.  I see this as an east meets west piece.  Casual but very unique.

If you make jewelry representative of the orient, then you will surely include pieces made with jade.  The artist did just that with this colorful jade necklace, Burmese Beauty Jade Necklace. The soft green jade elephant pendant is wonderful, and notice how the artist continued with the soft green for the beads at the front on the beads that are close to the pendant, and then changed colors as she moved up the sides, then back to the green to provide balance.  The artist explains that jade has a balancing and harmonious effect.  This necklace certainly elicits such a response.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't share one of this shop's blue and white pieces of jewelry with you.  This gorgeous necklace combines blue and white porcelain beads with white freshwater pearls.  Click on the link to this Pearls and Porcelain Necklace and learn about the porcelain beads, how they are made, their history, and their meaning.  I think you will be glad you did.

There are many more treasures to capture your heart at Blue and White Wear.  Shop for something special there today.

You can find Blue and White Wear at the following locations.

Blog                   Twitter              Flickr             Squidoo

Blue and White Wear is also a member of BESTeam on Etsy.  This team promotes and supports the Etsy sellers who belong to the team.  If you are an Etsy shop owner and also have an active blog, we would be happy to talk to you about joining our team.  We are a friendly group, but we are also serious about developing our Etsy business and promoting it to people everywhere.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Queen of Redeem! BESTeam Featured Etsy Shop

Connie Haskell refers to herself as the "Queen of Redeem" in her profile of her Etsy shop, Redemption Art.  Connie specializes in recycling, upcycling and redeeming especially items with a Hawaiian theme or history.  Connie is located in Hawaii, and much of what she does reflects the Hawaiian spirit and culture.

Enjoy this cookbook which provides Hawaaian recipes gathered together.  It was published as a band booster for Kalani High School and includes many Hawaiian dishes.

This beautiful red Hawaaian hula newborn outfit is enchanting.  The rich red contrasts with the white flowers for a beautiful set.

Another lovely vintage piece is this Hula Apples Product Label.  It brings back an earlier era.

Connie and others join together for fun and to promote one another's Etsy shop through the BESTeam, and Etsy team of sellers and bloggers.  If you like to blog, sell and create, please join us at BESTeam on Etsy

You can read more about Connie and other crafter at her blog.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creative Grandma Dreams of Retirement - BESTeam Feature

Her name is Agnes, and this lady is a busy person who crafts, spends time with her six grandchildren, works a full time job, and is doing a countdown for the time in a few years when she can retire and do the HAPPY DANCE!

This week I want to take you to Beader Bubbe's creative world.  Her shop on Etsy reflects her style and love of crafts.  She makes jewelry, and she finds that much of her jewelry goes to family and friends before she has an opportunity to post it on her Etsy site.  Here are some of her pieces that made it to the Etsy shop.

The first one caught my eye right away.  I like hearts .... a lot!  When I used to do decorative painting, I found myself painting hearts into many of my designs.  This Hearts of Glass pendant is simple and elegant.  It features red hearts on a pink background encased in smooth glass.  Beautiful!

This Unakite Accent Beaded Bracelet will accent your wardrobe any season of the year.  The oval unakite beads are rich with both greens and oranges.  So nice!  Sometimes unakite semiprecious stones are mostly green and don't offer the contrast that this bracelet has in it.

Beader Bubbe is also featuring the work of SuzieQ.  SuzieQ has hand painted this tote bag with Dora, and the bag is loaded with goodies for the sweet little girl you buy it for.

Agnes of Beader Bubbe also has a blog and a facebook page. Visit her there.

                                  Blog                                             Facebook           

Join Agnes and others as a member of the BESTeam (Boosting Etsy Shops Team) on Etsy if you have an Etsy shop and a blog.  We are a nice group of people who take seriously promoting one another's creative endeavors through our blogs and other social media.  Stop by our BESTeam blog for a preview of our work.                      

Oh, and by the way,  I am also one of the wannabe retirees on the countdown.  I could create jewelry and write blogs all day long if I had the opportunity. Happy arts and crafting!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Featured on ArtFire Daily Collection

I am so excited.  My Aqua Necklace was featured prominently today on the Artfire Daily Collection.  This is an email collection that is sent to subscribers each day.  I feel very honored.

Have you ever been featured when you did not know it was going to happen?  How did you feel?  Did it help your business?

I welcome your comments.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Welcoming Place - Our Home to Yours ~A BESTeam Feature

Our Home to Yours is a welcoming and inviting Etsy shop run by the mother/daughter team of Debbi and Amanda.  Each of these ladies bring special talents to their arts and crafts.  They both like to try different crafts, and hence have sold different types of items.  All of their crafts are one of a kind designs.

I enjoyed looking through the things for sale at this shop, and also looking at the things that have been sold in the past.  They are happy to recreate something that they sold in the past, if possible, should you like one of those items.  I noticed that they made some lovely crocheted items that they sold, but now they are focusing on jewelry.  So please look at both the sold and for sale items in their shop to get the full picture of their talents.

A number of the pieces of jewelry stood out to me.  Debbi created this lovely Orange and Pewter necklace.  It is so appealing with its cool pewter pendant and the warm orange beads.  There is something so engaging about placing cool colors with warm colors like Debbi did here.

Have some fun with these Funky Fuzzy Lime Green Fun Fur Flip Flops.  Very affordable!  Kick up your heels with these!

It's wedding season, and we all enjoy watching the child who is the ring bearer coming down the aisle.  The pillow on which the ring is laid will have even more significance if it is a hand crafted Crocheted Ring Bearer Pillow.

If you explore Debbi and Amanda's sites further, you will find on their blog page, All About Us, that their faith and relationship with God is extremely important to them.  One of their creations that expresses that is this Beautiful Blue and Gold Cross Necklace.  This lovely large blue cross features gold detail on a blue background.  The beads in the rest of the necklace are a perfect match to the blue and gold in the cross.

Amanda and Debbi are members of the BESTeam (Boosting Etsy Shops Team ) on Etsy.  This is a team that mentors one another and promotes one another to help us be successful with our Etsy shops.  If you have an Etsy shop, please drop by and see our team on Etsy.

 You may also catch up with Amanda and Debbi at their following websites.
Blog            Twitter             Facebook

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sparkly Bedazzling Crystals

For many years I have been designing jewelry, and often include a bit of sparkle in the design because I think it perks up the jewelry and adds a bit of drama. Do you ever use Chinese crystals when you make jewelry?   For most of my pieces of jewelry, I used Swarovski crystals.  However, recently I have seen a vast improvement in the quality of Chinese crystals.

Swarovski crystals are known to be just about the finest crystal to use in jewelry. The crystals are leaded glass that are precision cut. The facets of these crystals catch the light and sparkle with a gorgeous fire.

I continue to use Swarovski crystals in my fine quality jewelry usually in conjunction with sterling silver and other fine gemstones and pearls.  This necklace features Swarovski crystals.

But what about Chinese crystals?  Are they inferior and unacceptable to use in our beaded creations.  I say resoundingly that they are wonderful to use in our jewelry.  Due to the improvement in quality and the affordable price, I use them frequently, and the sparkle is bedazzling.

The green and yellow Chinese crystals in this strand add lovely sparkle.  The blue Chinese crystals are a little softer, not so much sparkle.

Fabulous rich red Chinese crystals add beauty to this Dragonfly Necklace.

There are many lovely strands of Chinese crystals available for purchase on Etsy.  I created a treasury with some of those crystals on it.  Please leave your comments below.  Do you prefer to use Swarovski crystals or Chinese crystals?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Majesty of the Mountains - Inspiration for Creativity

Have you ever heard of the San Juan Skyway in Colorado?  It is one of America's scenic byways.  I had the pleasure of driving the San Juan Skyway on Sunday and Monday last week.  It is breathtaking and beautiful.  If you ever have a chance to do this, please take the opportunity.

This drive through the San Juan mountains refreshes the soul and allows us to put the world into perspective.  The loop winds through towns that are quaint and historic.  We drove through Durango, Colorado, a thriving western town, at the south end of the loop.  As we headed north out of Durango on Hwy. 550 we went through Silverton, an historic Victorian mining town, and then up the "Million Dollar Highway" to Ouray, a quaint town called the Switzerland of America.

I posted some of the pictures we took.  However, I have no pictures of the "Million Dollar Highway".  That's because I was driving the car on a two lane road with lots of switchbacks.  Driving north I was fortunate to have the mountain side to my right, which was rock cliffs going straight up.  I know not how high because I dared not remove my eyes from the road.  The traffic heading south had the excitement of hugging the edge of the road with no shoulder and no guardrails and a drop down into a canyon of I do not know how many feet.  This 23 mile drive was through a beautiful rock canyon.  But no pictures!  Nowhere to stop to take them.

Enjoy the beauty of these mountains in my pictures below.

San Juan Skyway Heading North on Rte. 550

Molas Pass

Heading North Again on Rte. 550

We're Almost in the Clouds - Rt 550 headed north

Oh Gee!  We're Driving in the Clouds!

Oh Lord, Oh Lord, How Majestic Is Your Name in All the Earth!

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