Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Beat Goes On

I've added a few new items to my Etsy shop recently. Some new coasters and some photo trios. One of the trios can be seen here. I'll be listing a waterfall trio today, and possibly another one--not sure of the theme yet. Also, coming soon- bookmarks!

I'm taking a lot of my inventory to a show this weekend. It's a 5 day show, so most of the journals will be removed from my shop, as well as some of the pendants (depending on how many more I can get made in the meantime). So if you have your eye on a specific journal or art journal, now is the time to snag one!!

I have been exhausted recently. I have not had the energy to do the things I need to get done, let alone the things I want to do. I'm first trying some really good self-care, perhaps I'm just worn out from spring break, but if it does not get better, I will be going to the doctor.

On my to-do list though... besides making all those items for my shop... is digging out some of my writing so I can share it here. And I have a radio show thingy scheduled for next Sunday. I'll be doing a tutorial on making photo jewelry. I'll post the details soon.

So... I hope it's a wonderfully restful, yet productive day for all of you!

Monday, March 30, 2009


I added a dozen new items to my Etsy shop yesterday. Well, some Saturday night, some yesterday. I have been very busy! And finally I'm selling some stuff! I also woke up to find I'm in another treasury!

I have to say that I have been working my butt off. Marketing is a lot of work, and I probably don't work smarter, but work harder on it. Need to change that. Making notes to self, work smarter, Robyn, not harder. I had a talk about marketing with my boss the other day. I brought up the Twilight movie. After seeing it, I really didn't get what all the hype was about. It's all about marketing. There's a lot of things out there that are not so great... but do so well because they have amazing marketing. Just my opinion here, but a few of those not-so-great things are: Twilight, Hannah Montana, McDonald's.

And since I think I have the most excellent, most amazing products, I need to start thinking like the people marketing Twilight. I've paid for advertisements, I've listed on various websites. Now to fine tune what I'm doing.

I'm in a local craft show next week, and I sometimes show my items at work. I've advertised the craft show. Sometimes I'm a little too shy for local promotion, but I'm getting there. Ok, I'm not shy. It's just difficult to sell my self. I was taught to not be cocky.

I will check into the Saturday Market. Just not sure I'm ready for that yet. Oh, I'll be adding a product of the week to my blog soon. With a paypal button where you can purchase directly from here!

What have you tried? Has anything helped you to work smarter and not harder? What has been a failure?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ode to REM

REM has a, song that says 'It's the end of the World as we know it and I feel fine'. That one line comepletely sums up life for me. Every moment, every breath, changes life completely. We can never go back... we don't have an undo button.

A child is born. That's the end of the world as you know it. A friend dies. The world changes. The difficulty in life is accepting it with grace, and moving forward. We as mere humans cannot see what's around the next bend. There is a saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. Not going into my religious beliefs, just saying that there is a saying. Grace helps us to handle a situation, knowing that it will change again soon.

Buddhists have 2 main beliefs. Life is hard. Life is ever-changing. I believe those two statements encompass everything. Yes, there are times where all seems hopeless, but wait a minute and it will change again. I think that's why I view this economy the way I do.

I have moments in my past that shaped me. Moving in with grandparents when my mom was ill, my mom's death, my divorce. My children's births. Not in that order ;-). Each and every one made me who I am. And when I'm 80, I will be miles and miles away from who I am right now, because it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

I just have to remember to handle each obstacle with grace. Had my ex and I chosen to stay in war mode when the marriage ended, our children would still be suffering today. Instead, they now have four parents that love them greatly. My dad said something one time that stuck with me. He said he has no problem with any of his exes because he obviously loved them at some point. And now, instead of an enemy for life, I have a friend in my ex. Not someone I confide in every day, or even every month. But someone I can co-parent with, and who I can discuss our children with at any time. But oh how it could be different.

Don't get me wrong, I've had things that I have not handled with grace. They grew, and festered, and spilled their toxicity into other parts of my life. Even those, at this point though, are fine now that amends have been made. Sometimes you have to suck it up and admit you were wrong. Handled with grace, even that is do-able.

So... thank you REM, for giving me a catchy tune for applying to my life. Are there any guidelines you use in your life? Anything derived from pop culture?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Morning

Yesterday I had a wonderful day with my children in an area of Portland they'd never been in. The Hawthorne District is an eclectic, hippie style area with lots of restaurants and shops. We found a great place to eat. If you pass by a restaurant called "Rice Junkies" I highly recommend it!
We found the cutest little dollar store where the lady inside encouraged them to play. They really needed that because we had gone to a million stores that had the coolest things and I was constantly reminding my youngest to not touch. And it's so hard sometimes to not touch really cool things!
After we left Hawthorne, we went to a nickel arcade and then to Powell's books. No trip to Portland is complete without a trip to Powell's. It was a really good day, something we look forward to every year. It's the one guaranteed time when I will take the day off work and it's just us. I think traditions are so important with children.
My oldest son was encouraging me to sell my stuff at Saturday Market in Portland... He even said he would get up early and help me man the booth. I told him I would check into it. So, researching will begin. I hope that we all have a fabulous Friday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Meet Amy from Avlor's Imprints!!

What is your craft of choice, and how long have you been doing that?

Do I have to pick just one? It's a tough choice between photography, designing stationery and graphics and fiber arts.

How did you get started?

Photography - I wanted to take portraits of my kiddos. Started 2 and a half years ago and have been improving my photography since. My local camera club and have been excellent help, inspiring me to push myself in photography. two things I've done to improve as quickly as possible in photography - get a grasp on the basics and look at work (and how tos) from the best photographers.

Designing Stationery - just started in January. I've always liked printing my own cards and tinkering with design. This seemed like a good mix and I've been really enjoying it.

Fiber Arts - That started back when my grandmother taught me to crochet as a child. In college the local yarn shop had a class on knitting and I was hooked. Then when my husband and I moved across the state, I found the spinning and weaving guild here. Wonderful folks! Who helped start the spinning yarn addiction.

What is your inspiration?

Culture (popular culture, international culture, and style) seems to be the biggest inspiration right now. I keep a notebook with me at all times, because I always get ideas when I can't work on them! I often doodle in it when I'm waiting for my oldest to get out of school.

How long have you been on Etsy?

A few crafty friends goaded me into starting my shop in December 2007. I tinkered here and there for a year and decided in January that I wanted to do better and have been doing my best to put out a few designs a week.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would love to still be crafting and at home! My hope is to bring more recognition to printable stationery . I also want to encourage shopping for handmade locally. I hope to help local online shop owners with marketing and getting into galleries and shops.

What is the most challenging thing about having an online business?

Balancing my time! We only have 24hrs in a day, and there are so many things we can do! Have to pick the best and go from there.What is the most rewarding thing about having an online business?Being able to express myself artistically! There's not much of that in laundry and dishes. ;)

How does your internet business fit into your life? Is it your job or do you have another job as well?

I'm a stay at home mom, so I have to carve out time for it. I have my kids help more with the house now and I think it's a good experience for them. But they can't be expected to do everything!

When you are not crafting, how do you spend your time?

Being with my family and friends, playing the wii and games of all sorts, helping at camera club and church.

Are there any links you’d like to share? - one of the absolute best photography sites around!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy... oh crap is it only Tuesday?

A lot about my journey lately, then nothing. Sometimes life is like that. I'm still on that journey, still chugging along. I seem to have road blocks, but then who doesn't. This week, however, is all about Spring Break, and about poison oak it seems.

I've been on a mission to ease my children's pain associated with the poison oak. And so far, it seems to be working. I found a wonderful treatment, a wash, that even washes off the oils after it has settled in totally. It was expensive, but oh so worth it.

Thursday I'm taking the boys into a section of Portland that they've never been before. We always explore downtown, but this time we are taking a trip through a really eclectic section of Portland. I'm generally an over-planner, but this time the plans will be minimal. The destination is enough for me. The day will take care of itself. So... yes, the journey continues even when I'm not thinking about it!

Oh... I took the above picture during our road trip on Sunday. I will try to be listing more photos today, on both Etsy and Imagekind.

Now for a question. What lesson have you had to learn in life that you could not avoid? Like, what kept coming up no matter how many times you tried to avoid it. What kept hitting you over the head?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Monday

My weekend was spent cleaning all day Saturday then a 12 hour road trip on Sunday. It's Spring Break!! I still have to work, of course, but it's Spring Break here. This is another of Dad's photos... I love the texture of the clouds. Next to trees, I think clouds are one of my very favorite subjects.

Two out of my three boys have really bad poison oak. They are suffering. I'm treating it, but it's heartbreaking to see them suffer like that. If any of you know of any magical cures, I'd love to hear it!

I came home from the road trip yesterday to an Etsy sale! How exciting is that? I am utterly thrilled with each and every sale.

This week will be spent squeezing in every moment of quality time with my boys, as well as us working on a special project for Dad. Thursday I'm taking the day off for our Spring Break tradition of wandering through Portland.

Dad is home from the hospital. He seems to be doing ok. Continued prayers would be appreciated.

I hope today is the beginning of an amazing week for all of you!

Friday, March 20, 2009


This is one of my favorite photos taken by Dad. The depth of this photo is amazing to me, and the colors... what a gorgeous morning that had to be! I'm working on a project with Dad's photos. How could I not be? I brought home a ton of his photos. I sat at his computer one day and copied a bunch over to memory sticks. I also scanned in over 50 photos from his time in the Navy. Two of which are photos of him bent over a camera that's seated on a tripod. Wonderful photos.

I've talked about defining myself. And I'm an artist, a mother, a writer. Did you know that? I've had some poetry published. I need to dig it out and do something with that too. Today, I'm exhausted. But I'm going to be twittering with some Etsy pals and trying some new things. So it will be a good day.

I made more pendants and a couple more sets of coasters the other day. Stocking up for a show next month. I need to put price tags on everything, and I could basically be all ready for it. Perhaps I'll put the boys to work on it next week during Spring Break. Or maybe not.

I hope that no matter what, today you pursue some part of your dream!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Defining Yourself

Yesterday I read this blog post. It's written by Sarah, who I recently met on Twitter. Sarah is on a journey and I have been drawn into her story for about a week now. I will definitely continue to follow it, because she is making changes in her life! Sarah writes about how her illnesses have defined her. And about how she is changing that! I urge you to read it, there's such a sincerity in her writing.

I was watching something last week and the person had been diagnosed with HIV, maybe it was House. But, after years of living with it, they became depressed upon hearing they did not have it. It was explained that when you have a diagnosis you identify as that. Losing that diagnosis wipes the slate clean, and sometimes it just makes the person feel empty. That, along with Sarah's post prompted this post.

I was mis-diagnosed with MS for 6 years. It defined everything I did. Everytime I got dizzy, it was my MS. Everytime I forgot something, yep, the MS. Muscle aches, weakness, tingling extremeties. My MS was with me constantly. It affected many decisions I made in my life. I totally let it define who I was. When I went to a new doctor, he asked about my symptoms, and he filled pages and pages with everything I told him. Then he looked at me and said "I will run the tests, but it does not sound like MS to me." I thought he was crazy! Within the month, the diagnosis had been lifted.

There were decisions I had made during that time that I am still working to reverse. And, I was kinda depressed. I didn't really express why to anyone because what kind of insanity is it to be sad that you are not dying of an incurable disease? But I no longer had a crutch. I had no easy way to dismiss when I forgot a conversation. I had nothing that made me 'special'. Not rational thinking, no. But that's how it was.

I had not really thought about that much til I read Sarah's blog yesterday. My un-diagnosis came about 5 years ago.

When I think about it, I realize that we all need ways that we are defined. I'm a mother. I'm a woman. And something I've not been feeling much of lately... I am an artist! I am a photographer. Sometimes I'm a mentor. I am a friend.

I really don't think my dad let's black lung define him. Perhaps he lets his Harley define him :-). And I think his family may define him. He's a dad, a grandfather. He is not his illness.

So, reading Sarah's blog about the journey she is on... it made me realize that I've drifted off of mine. It's time to get back out there and BE. I need to be the artist I am. I need to express my vision and move forward with it.

What journey are you on? How are you defined?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Magickal Melissa Interviews Me!

Here's an interview from Melissa I urge you to go check her out! Just click away on her name!

1) If you could be any animal, what kind would you be and why?

I think I would be a ferret. Then the people who didn't understand me would stay away and leave me alone, due to their pre-conceived notions, and those who did have me in their lives would love me endlessly. I just re-read that, what a strange answer, huh? Can you tell I love ferrets?

2) This question is from a movie called To Gillian on her 37th Birthday: "If Life were like a big truck, what would be get run over by it or for it to just pass you by?" and why?

I think it would be worse for the big truck of Life to just pass me by. Without it, I'm going nowhere. I don't choose for it to run over me, I'd like for it to stop and give me a ride, but even if it runs over me, I'm still getting somewhere and it would be a whole new experience!

3) What is your best advice for raising children?

My best advice for raising children is complicated. Love them without smothering them, teach them without preaching, and when they are developing who they are, give them enough space to figure it all out, but remain close enough to catch them when they spin out of control.

4) I believe most of us are living as Earth-Friendly as possible. In what ways are you living Earth-Friendly?

I recycle, I use earth friendly, reusable grocery bags. I buy clothes from re-sell stores. I donate clothes and used items to the same stores. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could go exchange one used item for another? Like, I don't want these jeans anymore, but I would like that pair. I think even more people would recycle that way.

I kinda live within my own little bubble, and my family is in that bubble, but I stay so busy that not ver many other people get in. If I had a bunch of girlfriends though, I think I would organize an exchange night, say once a month, where we brought stuff over to exchange with the girls for other things we want.

5) What do you feel you are currently learning through you Earth Walk? (patience, boundaries, courage, self-love....) What wisdom can you share with someone who is also learning _____ (insert your answer)?

Wow... Melissa, I think you outdid yourself. I think my biggest lesson of the year is patience. I've written about it many times on my blog. Of course, I'm constantly learning boundaries, courage, self-love, motivation, etc. But patience has been my biggest struggle.

If you are currently learning patience, my advice is to breathe. And if you are waiting for something that can be worked towards, then take the first step, then the 2nd, etc. I'll use Etsy as my example. Waiting for those sales was the most difficult thing I have ever done. However, sitting and waiting (and clicking on my site 8000 times a day) was making me insane. So, instead of that, I began examining my shop. I revised prices, I listed more, I am currently redoing photos for the hundredth time, and working on better descriptions. In my spare time, I market.

Here's the instructions:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and a link to my blog.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

Melissa, thank you so much! Your questions really made me think and I totally enjoyed them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dad Update

This is a photo by Dad. I spoke to him last night, and he is telling jokes to the doctors. He will be subject to many tests and he may be in the hospital for up to a week. So... the war is not over, but he won yesterday's battle. He's a fighter. I know this, but sometimes I forget.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Please light a candle

My dad was hospitalized again today. He has coughed up a lot of blood and that's all I know. Please light a candle with me and send healing energy his way. I have not asked for his permission to post this photo, but I am going to go ahead and post it. This was my dad and I together on my last visit, a couple of weeks ago.

Thinking Outside the Box

In a past life, I was a job developer for developmentally disabled adults. It was my job to assess their skills and find – or more commonly, create—employment for them. My favorite story from that life was for a young man, who we will call Joe.

Joe was born with muscular dystrophy. He was very heavy, had an electric wheelchair, and had partial use of one arm. He could feed himself, but all of his other needs were met by others. Joe began having increased behaviors in the day program and when asked could tell us that he really was not happy. I struggled to think of something for Joe to do. Finally, I put him to work shredding confidential documents. Confidentiality was not a problem because Joe could not read. The staff would divide the paper into piles that weighed a set amount, and keep Joe supplied. Joe would move up in front of the industrial shredder and feed the papers in, a few at a time, with his good arm.

We paid Joe per weight shredded. At first he was very slow, and his first check was somewhere around a dollar. When Joe received that check, he got tears in his eyes. He came up to me and he was grinning wildly. He wanted to buy me a hamburger! It was the first paycheck that this thirty-something year old man had ever received and his self-worth had skyrocketed!
Joe’s speed increased, and he was a very hard worker. He began receiving larger and larger paychecks. For the most part, his behaviors stopped. Instead of sitting around, trying to amuse himself, or having staff try to amuse him, he was now a working man.

I think my past lives have a lot to do with my attitude about the economy. I made a living out of thinking outside the box. Recently I was speaking to someone who was laid off. He knew the lay off was temporary, but needed to come up with some sort of gainful temporary employment in the meantime. It’s all about keeping your head above water! We discussed skills he had and resources available. In the end, it was all unnecessary because work resumed quickly.
What I’ve recently learned is this: In this economy, we don’t have the luxury of wallowing in self pity or getting depressed. We need to act, and act quickly. It’s a very slippery slope anymore. I have several game plans to put into place if my job situation goes awry. I urge you to do the same.

Make a list of your skills. If you are a parent, don’t forget the day to day things you do. Things like budgeting, food prep, cleaning, caregiving, shopping, etc. Make a list of your resources. There is always unemployment, the food bank, welfare services.

Let’s say you are a parent who has made a living working as a secretary. Your skills include all of the above plus typing, filing, time management, conflict resolution, computer skills, 10-key, basic repair services, troubleshooting, and so many more.

I once got a call for an interview at a Mongolian grill type place. It was after 6 years of being a stay at home mom. When asked on the application what qualified me for that position, I put that I had kept my family alive all those years! They were impressed by my candor and called me for an interview. Luckily for me, however, I was called on the first day of my job that led to my job developer position. My husband took the phone call and told them that he was looking for employment. They hired him!

That was a side story . Back to you as a secretarial parent. Your skills qualify you for not only secretarial positions but a slew of caregiver jobs, personal shopper positions, food prep, office management, fast food (all positions, including management), and so many more. When you are forced into a corner, think outside the box. Not all are going to be your dream job. Some will seem like miles backwards.

When I got that job as a caregiver for developmentally delayed adults, I worked in a day program. The job was not glamorous, nor was it always rewarding. I wiped noses, I changed diapers, I spoon-fed people. But I also taught a girl who they said ‘had no communication’ some basic sign language. And it worked into a position where I became the job developer!
So that’s the next big suggestion I have. Don’t be picky. Go out there, take something that brings home a paycheck, work every day thinking outside the box and you never know where it will lead!! We can all make it through, despite the economy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mailing List

I will be starting a newsletter/ mailing list soon. I will update it 1-2 times a month with new products in my shop, interesting online items, and most likely some frugal living tips. Please comment here or email me at if you'd like to be added to the list.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Economy

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about the economy for awhile. The economy is affecting the bulk of us in some way, either directly or indirectly. I know a few people who have had to get second jobs, some people who are downsizing their living arrangements. And some people who seem devastated by the economy. I can honestly say those (who seem devastated by it) that I know… they are devastated by everything. So they don’t really count in this scenario, because even if life is going along swimmingly, they don’t get that either.

I have always been a survivor. Not necessarily one to make waves, or execute grand change in the big picture. But I will come out of things just fine, thank you very much. The difference, I believe, is my attitude. I have the ability to think outside the box, and to know that there’s always a little more I can do.

I read an article yesterday titled "It’s not the economy". It was one of the best messages I’ve read in awhile, totally pertinent to me—selling items online. Even if you don’t sell online though, I urge you to read it.

I am surrounded by negativity about the economy. I went on a news fast long ago, however when you live with someone who watches the news, tracks, etc. and insists on discussing it, it’s difficult to ignore (though I must admit I usually tune it out). Same thing at work, plus I’m in a construction field and jobs have dropped off the map.

So… negativity is swirling all around me. Lots of days my online shop has no sales. I have hours of idle time at work (really though, that’s just more time for me to market my shop). I hear on a daily basis both from work and from home what the stock market is doing. Yet, inside, I stay upbeat. I remain hopeful.

I honestly believe that attitude can bring on karmic retribution. If you are a downhearted, self-piteous bastard, I really think life’s gonna throw those lemons at you hard and fast. Why wouldn’t it??? You expect it. Conversely, if you can see that the economy is down right now, but still be thankful for each and everything you have, and be constantly working to improve your skills and work habits, then my belief is that you’ll be fine.

So… are you a glass is half empty kinda person? If so, I have a question for you. Why do you insist on talking about that constantly? Is it your goal to bring everyone down to your way of thinking? I can tell you right now that I won’t be joining you any time in the future. So, if you only want pity, keep on walking by. If you’d like to have an honest exchange of ideas (not some self-pitying rant disguised as a plea for help), please comment. That train of thought does not have to continue, really.

Are you a glass half full kind of person? Then I have a question for you. What do you do to counter the negativity? How do you think outside the box to compensate for what’s going on in the economy, in your jobs, in your homes, etc. I’d love to hear some ideas, some thoughts, and I can tell you already that I will be doing a follow up post to this.

I you agreed, or disagreed with anything I’ve said, please let me know. If you think this would be relevant to anyone you know, please link to it. Let’s get a conversation started, let’s network and band together. Let’s throw our ideas into the pot and cook up a stew, and then let’s serve it to all who need it. What say you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meet ablemabel

What is your craft of choice, and how long have you been doing that?
I do a little bit of everything. Paper crafts, sewing, jewelry. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember.

How did you get started?
I played along side my mother as she worked in her studio at home. She has dabbled in a few different areas of art over the years.

What is your inspiration?

I find inspiration all over the place. Most of the time, it's finding a neat piece of fabric or fun piece of paper.

How long have you been on Etsy?

Since December 2007

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still at home with my family, hopefully still "playing" around with my supplies!

What is the most challenging thing about having an online business?

Getting my name out there, getting noticed.

What is the most rewarding thing about having an online business?

The sheer numbers of potential customers!

How does your internet business fit into your life? Is it your job or do you have another job as well?
I love doing business online. It's so easy to fit it in whenever I have time. I don't need to worry about keeping the kids quiet or if the dog is barking when I communicate with my customers. This is my only job, if you don't count being a stay a home mom as a job.

When you are not crafting, how do you spend your time?

My family loves the outdoors! Camping, hiking, fishing, etc. On rainy days you'll find us gathered around a board game, reading books or horsing around.

Are there any links you’d like to share?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One of Dad's Photos

I wanted to share another of Dad's photos today. Another vision through my father's eyes. His world is pretty awesome. He showed me his old Navy photos and I was amazed. The experiences he has had... the places he has seen. I've always said that with age comes wisdom, and that statement is more true of him than anyone I know. Not to put him on a pedestal, because with living life comes mistakes, and regrets. I'm sure he has plenty of both. But the wisdom from all of that... the insight into why people do the things they do. Wow.

Trying really hard to keep the focus off of me today. I feel really blah. I have not slept well the past two days and all I really want right now is to go back to bed. But I need to go to work. Ugh.

Speaking of work, both of my brothers are coal miners in Utah. They have been laid off for weeks. They both got calls last night and they are going back to work today! I'm so relieved for them and their families. Times are tough enough right now without this added strain. So my hope is that they will both continue working, and they will be safe. It's difficult to be in a coal mining family. We've had family members die in the mines. It makes me nervous... but they are doing what's in their blood. What they love.

I'm opening a new shop on if you go there and do a search for robynsart you will find some of my photos. I'm sorta test driving it. I love the concept of it, but I'm not real sure that it's the best fit for me right now. If you have any insight once you look at it, please let me know. It's always appreciated!

Have a good Tuesday. I wish for you the same things I wish for me today. A relaxing, fulfilling, drama-free day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Storm

This photo totally depicts how I've felt over the last 24 hours. I feel like there's a storm brewing. I feel like everything's getting stirred up, and it's all going to come down soon. Not necessarily bad. I do have some projects in the works. But I feel very anxious, very unsettled.

I felt like this throughout the night and there was little sleep for me. And the strangest dreams. One of those dreams where you wake up thinking "WTF??" but can't remember any details. I hate that!

Today will be (hopefully) about working through this, about plodding through, and getting to the next level. I have been re-evaluating my Etsy shop lately. I've been toying with the idea of doing nothing but photography. I could either clean that one out, or open another dedicated to photography. I'm not sure where to go from here. I do not want to totally move away from journals... or pendants. I'm all mixed up inside.

When all is said and done though, I think photography is totally my calling, if I have one. And on the flipside of that, I've been thinking a lot about teaching bookbinding. When I was in Utah, I taught my neices how to make my small journals. Prior to that, I really did not think I could do that. However, it was one of the most rewarding times in my life. And if I could teach bookbinding to a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, and two 17 year olds, I think I could teach it to most anyone.

We will see where the future takes me. I feel like I'm already buckled in. Now to go!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day! All week, I've been thinking about all the amazing women in my life. When I was 4, my mom (who had just been diagnosed with MS) moved me and my two brothers in with her parents near Corpus Christi, TX. My brothers were 6 and 8. My grandparents owned a grocery store and were planning their retirement. And we got dumped on them, as well as an ill daughter. I put it in those terms because that's how I had always felt.

My grandmother was a very strong willed woman. And while she allowed no room for error (or any sort of learning curve for children), she did what she needed to do. They gave up all the traveling they had planned to do. They took my mom to the doctor, got home health involved, taught us what to do, and we all took care of her. Money was always tight, and we wore a lot of hand me downs. My grandfather was always the kind one, but my grandmother always got the job done. Yeah, she was a hard-ass. Totally. But if I look at her in another light, I can see that because she was kind enough to take us in (and they were the type of people that there was never any question), we were allowed a life. I can't view my childhood as woe-is-me blah blah blah. Circumstances were not good. But we were fed, we knew responsibility, and we grew up.

I remember at my mom's funeral... my grandmother lingered after almost everyone else was gone. She went up to the casket and completely broke down (I don't think I had ever seen her cry). It was an inhuman wailing, and it took all she had. Children are not supposed to precede their parents in death, and my heart went out to her as her other children assisted her out of the funeral home. She never spoke of it, I'm quite sure she did not know how.

About five years later, when I was 19, I moved away. My grandparents took me to the bus stop and they told me they loved me. It was the first time in my life that they had told me that. Sad. But to this day, I think they did the best they knew how. They taught me responsibility, good work ethics, and to not ever let my children go a day without knowing that they are loved!

There are many stories about my grandmother that I've heard, and I know that she was an amazing woman. Amazing never means without faults. It means they take all of the trials and tribulations in life and still make the best they can from it.

I challenge all of you to honour the amazing women in your life... on this International Women's Day, and every day.

Wordless Weekend

Some pictures from Utah.

Friday, March 6, 2009

TGIF... really

So this has been a pretty lazy week, besides work. I come home and the evenings and do very little. I've just been wiped out. It did make me realize something, though. Prior to my trip, I was busy every waking moment. Preparing stuff for my shop, getting everything ready for my trip... a not enough hours in the day kinda busy. Now, I come home and my shop is full... there have been no orders to ship... and I'm feeling lazy. But what it made me realize was that when I'm not busy constantly, I don't feel like I'm contributing.
The photo above was taken by my father. It's the awesome Utah sky, probably during a sunset. I love seeing through my father's eyes.
International Women's Day is Sunday. Two women I'd like to mention today are Rowena and Natasha. Natasha's blog can be found here. And that is also a link to an article she wrote about Rowena. I've been following Rowena for quite awhile now and she is amazing. She has 2 small children and is still the most productive artist that I know. Consistently productive... a LOT can be said about that! Natasha, I've just met recently, but her spirit shows through in all she says and does... Please go check it out, and after you read about Rowena, poke through Natasha's blog for awhile. There's a LOT going on over there!
So. I am very glad it's Friday. And, by the way, I've started adding some of my Utah photos to my Etsy shop. My shop can be found here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

International Women's Day

I learned from my friend Connie that this Sunday is International Women's Day. And in honor of that, I'll be mentioning amazing women that I know for the rest of the week.

I have met so many amazing women online, through Etsy and in blog land. You can read about them in artisan interviews, or follow my links at the bottom of this blog. I have been struck by their perserverance and creativity. In these times, I know we are all touched by this economy. Yet these women find ways to hold their heads high and trudge onward.

I never really knew my mom as a person (she was bedridden by the time I was 9), but I've heard many stories about her. I remember green pancakes and her dying her hair green for St. Patrick's day. My dad told me stories about her that reflected a cunning sense of humour. I am the youngest of 5 children and I will always think of her as an amazing woman.

When I was in Utah lately, I seemed to be surrounded by women... and future women. Each and every one of them had qualities that made them utterly amazing. Women seem (in my opinion) to be the ones to pick up the pieces. To mend things together when they fall apart. We bring life, we nurse the ill. Each and every one of us brings a different personality to the table, but in the huge quilting bee of life, we are there, sewing our stories, our families... right into our families histories.

I read a book about Anne Sexton a couple of years ago. She was a poet who committed suicide. The book was written by her daughter. Anne had been plagued by mental illness for years before taking her own life. Yet her daughter was able to honour her mother with this book. The book told stories, and the stories were not always in the best light... for Anne or for her family. But as women, we can see the ugly, the intolerable, the difficult-- and still see love, courage, awesomeness.

I encourage all of you to check out Connie's blog to read more about International Women's Day. And honour those women in your life.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meet Brigitta!

What is your craft of choice, and how long have you been doing that?
My craft of choice in terms of selling is jewelry (and rosary) design and creation. I’ve been at it for somewhere around two years. At the same time, I love to knit and have been doing that for over 20 years, although I’ve forgotten all but the basics it seems so I’m pretty much a permanent beginner when it comes to knitting. When it comes to my jewelry and rosaries I feel like I learn something new each and every day and hope for it always to be that way.

How did you get started?
I was stuck at my parents’ house (a definite downer when you’re facing your 30th birthday), recovering from what should have been “minor” surgery and suffering from the culture shock of having just uprooted myself from two years of living and working in Prague to an emergency move home for health insurance and the aforementioned surgery. Going stir crazy I needed something to occupy my mind, my creativity and my hands. I thought of making jewelry because my sister and an old friend both made jewelry and I knew I could call them for help and advice. And an obsession was born!Bold
What is your inspiration?
At the risk of sounding like a total cheeseball…colors, pictures of pieces that pop into my head, the smile that I love to see on the face of an in-person customer who chooses one of my pieces, seeing a piece I like but don’t quite love and trying to create it in a form that makes me love it, the desire to create a special gift for someone I love that then spins into a new idea or a new line (which is actually why I started handcrafting rosaries)…

How long have you been on Etsy?
It feels like much longer than Etsy tells me but, apparently, since November 2007. Although I didn’t open my shop then—that was when I became a user because I fell in love with some pieces from Montezuma Mudd ( and absolutely had to buy them as Christmas gifts. LOL, I ended up keeping one of the two pieces I bought!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
To be honest, I don’t. Despite being an obsessive planner and list maker, I’ve learned that my life rarely takes the direction that I expected and, as a result, planning more than six months to a year out can lead to disappointments, forgotten dreams, etc. So, instead I have general goals without time limits. I would love to live in Austria, either Vienna or Graz, to be fluent in both Czech and German, to be making a living from crafting, to be visited often by my nephews and parents and to be with my current boyfriend in whatever capacity life takes us to.

What is the most challenging thing about having an online business?
For me I’d have to say the marketing and dealing with the long dry periods without sales. I’ve had sales off of Etsy through craft fairs, co-workers and friends but never felt like my business has really taken off and this is something I am determined to work towards yet often feel stymied by my struggles with marketing and balancing my time. (And, lately, with a lack of cash flow to buy the new materials that I crave.)

What is the most rewarding thing about having an online business?
Hmmm…many thoughts are popping into my head. I love the interaction with other sellers, something that I have only recently discovered/tapped into. I feel like I would lack this if I had a bricks-and-mortar shop—or at least it would be harder to establish. Also, in many ways I like the anonymity of it. While I love chatting with potential customers at the few craft shows I’ve done, I hate “selling.” It’s easy for me to talk about my work but not so easy for me to push/encourage someone to purchase it. Ha ha, this obviously ties in to my marketing issues!

How does your internet business fit into your life? Is it your job or do you have another job as well?
With both great difficulty and great joy. I work full-time as the senior communications associate (read: editor, writer, project manager, thinker, nag) for a nonprofit philanthropic collaborative and my work often follows me home in the evenings and over the weekends. While I enjoy my “day job” it comes with the frustrations that all office jobs come with and well, it isn’t crafting. So, I find that my BrigaBauble shop on Etsy is both a creative outlet and a calming factor in my life. I can flip on the TV, wash my mind of writer’s block or frustration with a co-worker who ignores deadlines and wrap myself in colors and shapes and textures and testing ideas.

When you are not crafting, how do you spend your time?
Aside from working my day job…Both my boyfriend and I love to watch movies and are Netflix addicts so, we watch a lot of movies; I read—alternating between works of literature and spy/thriller/legal novels I think of as “brain candy”; spend time with my fabulous and adorable nephews, ages 4 and 10, and with my parents; when I have the time and the money I adore traveling; I watch some telly…wow, my life sounds so exciting, doesn’t it? I also do a variety of crafts for fun so, when I’m not working on my jewelry it’s not unusual for me to be crafting in some other way.

Are there any links you’d like to share?
Sure, thanks for asking! There are the obvious (and selfish) links…
My Etsy shop:
Flickr account:

And then there are the links to a few of my favorite Etsy sellers:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Home again

This photo is of my brother and one of his daughters on a photo day we had. I love how the tunnel framed them and you can just see dark figures. See the icicles in the foreground?

I had a wonderful time in Utah. I sat with Dad and looked at all of his old Navy photos, then I scanned in 50 something and put them on a thumb drive to bring home. I have some upcoming projects, using those, and others using the hundreds of Dad's photos that I brought home.

I had a relaxing time with Dad... there was never any rush, and we could just relax and talk. Most days that I was there, I was able to photograph the sunrise or sunset, sometimes both. I went on two photo days with my sister in law. We have the same camera, so I was able to teach her how to do macros and panoramic shots. And I had several photo times with Dad. The one day from the previous post, and another day we drove to Provo for a Dr. appt. I got so many shots from the vehicle of the canyon, and several that he pulled over for me to take a picture, like a natural arch, a frozen over waterfall, and an old gas station. I also heard tales from one of Dad's friends about how his family supplied Butch Cassidy with fresh horses (he even had an awesome photo album!).

So today it's back to work. In a way, I've missed it. And I will be posting more daily. If I can get back on track, I will have an artisan interview tomorrow.

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