Wednesday, November 18, 2009

affordable treats for world travelers.

I am in the middle of packing boxes and all of the other fun stuff associated with moving, but wanted to share some reasonably priced gifts for any friends or family who spend plenty of time traveling - whether for fun or work. Happy Holiday Shopping!

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

Monday, November 16, 2009

where, oh where did i go?

You might be wondering where I have been. The short answer is, in bed. I was feeling good and everything was going great. Then I got a little bit of a sore throat that quickly turned into a full blown lay-in-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-a-week illness. I couldn't be more grateful to be back up and running!

Time for some more exciting news. I'm moving to SAN DIEGO!! I was born and raised in the Bay Area and went to college in San Diego. As much as I've enjoyed my short stay in Connecticut, I think I'll always be a California girl at heart and can't wait to be back. I'm looking forward to Sunday mornings at the farmer's market, picnics in Balboa Park, and plenty of Mexican food.

Before I got sick I put together a few more Holiday Mixed Paper Journals. I have been looking forward to adding them to the shop and was finally able to take some pictures today. If you are interested, you can pick one up right here. There are only a handful and these will be the last ones for the season!

Sadly this will be my last week in Connecticut. I'll be headed home early next week for Thanksgiving, and taking off from there to take on the move to San Diego. As a result I will be closing the shop on Friday, November 20. I am hoping to reopen before Christmas but much will depend on how smoothly the move goes. Cross your fingers for me! If you have your eye on something for a Christmas present, be sure to pick it up this week in case the shop doesn't reopen up in time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

friday favorites.

1. SaysYou; 2. KisforCalligraphy; 3. honeyteacup; 4. metalsmitten; 5. BrightWallVintage

On the list for this weekend:
  • Email some old friends.
  • Little more Christmas shopping (almost done!)
  • Sneak in another Starbucks holiday drink.
  • Finish a few more Christmas Mixed Paper journals.
  • Organize craft room a bit (ongoing struggle!)
  • Perhaps cheap Sunday night bowling.
What's on your schedule for the weekend? Good things, I hope!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

first hint of the season.

I recognize it is ridiculous to judge the seasons based on what drinks Starbucks is serving, but having my first Gingerbread Latte of the season did make it feel like Christmas is just around the corner. I am in no way recommending you overlook Thanksgiving and the remainder of Fall, but some parts of Christmas do require you to think advent calendars!

While advent calendars are mainly reserved for children, I see no problem still enjoying the fun of counting down to Christmas as an adult. My mom and I take the advent calendar one step further. We buy each other 24 itty bitty gifts, wrap them all up, and exchange piles on December 1. For the next 24 days leading up to Christmas we each open up one present. It may seem a little excessive, but it is actually pretty easy to come up with 24 little presents without breaking the bank (especially if you shop at thrift stores and flea markets year round) and the time spent opening a gift together each evening is really special.

If you are ready to bring back to joys of an advent calendar this year, here are a few good options out there on Etsy.

Aren't the dolls on each pouch the sweetest? I also love how the traditional red and green is mixed in with teals and oranges and yellows.

pilosale, $76
This one reminds me of my childhood. We had a wall hanging with a little stuffed bear who traveled throughout the printed house in search of Christmas. Each day he moved to a new room. Ours was very bright and colorful, but this natural version would fit in perfectly with minimalistic decor.

jodii, $58
I love the primary colors used in this one as well. You could easily continue to use some of the pouches throughout the year for storage and organization.

Wouldn't it be fun to hide one of these bags each morning and your kids search for it? I think it would be a wonderful way to start each morning, especially if there was a little treat tucked inside each one!

If you are the crafty type and want to make one of your own, there are plenty of handmade supplies on Etsy to get you started.

Classic tags made famous by Ali Edwards who used them in her December Daily journal. A definite favorite.

halffullmartini, $3.50
I am a big fan of the kraft brown background and the variety of shapes.

ormolu, $4.50
A great deep red, and you could use the little blank space on the bottom to jot down a small special note about that day.

maythird, $4.50
Simple, but in the best way. Perfect if the rest of your design is a little more complicated.

Disappointed by the empty Mixed Paper Journals section in my shop and inspired by the upcoming holiday, I put together some Christmas Mixed Paper Journals. I have two completed so far, with a few more coming soon.

The journal on the right has already been spoken for, but the one of the left is available right here.

Update: Both journals are now gone. Thank you for your support! I have a few more journals in the making. If you would like to reserve one, feel free to email me at

After all of that Christmas, I feel like I need to surround myself with pumpkins and apple cider to soak up everything that is lovely about November before it's gone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

affordable treats for cooks and bakers.

For the month of November I'll be changing up the "affordable treats" feature a bit. Each week will focus on gift ideas for a certain person on your shopping list. This week is for the cooks, bakers, and anyone else who enjoys hanging out in the kitchen. I will admit that I'm not a superstar in the kitchen, but I'm slowly learning and still love that patchwork apron!

Be sure to share if there is a certain theme you would like to see in the next couple of weeks! Perhaps you always have a hard time coming up with gift ideas for your friend spends all of her free time traveling, or your cousin who constantly has her nose in a book. I'm up for the challenge!

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

1. pinupbetty; 2. Brookish; 3. monicaejewelry; 4. disconsolator

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

shop update!

I spent much of yesterday taking product photos to ensure a packed shop for the next couple of weeks! A small glimpse of what has recently been added and coming in the next few days.

One of my favorites is a new paper pack - Children's Illustrations Paper Pack! I put together these paper packs after coming upon many vintage children's books with torn up covers, but lovely illustrations saved inside. The illustrations come from 15 different vintage children's books. A few of my favorites - Katie the Kitten (1949), Nurse Nancy (1952), and Butterball the Little Chick (1955).

Monday, November 2, 2009

new week, new shop - holiday prep!

If you hang around the Forums on Etsy it won't take long for you to stumble upon a post from a new seller asking about the much talked about "holiday rush." If you sell a product that makes the perfect stocking stuffer and promote it like crazy, you may well find yourself flooded with orders. Other shops might not see such an influx of sales. Either way, now is the perfect time to prep your shop for the holidays. It doesn't take much to make the holidays run smoother for both you and your customers.

Get organized now! Don't wait until things get busy before you decide to get organized. You will save a lot of time, and your sanity, if you take a little time to get things in order now.

  • System for organizing products. Nothing will kill the excitement of making a sale more than not being able to find the product you just sold. Nor will you enjoy the next 20 minutes you waste tearing apart your home before you finally find it tucked away in some corner. Set aside a special area for your products - some shelves, a draw or two, maybe a whole closet. Once something is made and photographed put it in your special area right away. Label your drawers and boxes to best suit your product - according to color, by category, or divided by size.
  • Packaging supplies in one spot. You might not think twice about having to run to your office for scissors and grabbing tissue paper from your craft room, but that is a lot of wasted time going back and forth if you are packing orders a couple times a week. Think about everything you use to pack orders and keep it all in one place.
  • Routine for packing orders. What works for you might not work for someone else, but what is important is that you come up with a process for packing orders that fits into your schedule. You might want to split it up - print or address shipping labels in the morning, write Thank You labels during your lunch break, and wrap products after dinner. You may prefer doing it all at once after your kids get to bed. Either way, coming up with a routine will help keep you from becoming overwhelmed during the holidays, and may even allow you to have a friend or family member to take over for a few days if you get sick but don't want to have to close your shop.

Plan your packaging. Many sellers, myself included, often underestimate the time it takes to wrap and and package orders. Some pre-planning can cut down a little of this extra time.

  • Signature wrapping. I have mentioned before that consistent wrapping can help brand your shop. Take some time to experiment with a few different styles to see what suits your products best. Knowing beforehand how you will wrap your products allows you to make sure you have all of the necessary supplies on hand, and saves time if you can package assembly line style.
  • Research beforehand. Don't list an item until you have a box to ship it in and estimate the shipping costs! You might be really excited to list the vintage globe you just found at the thrift store, but hold off until you find a box to fit it in, track down bubble wrap/peanuts/foam to keep it secure, and weigh it all for a realistic shipping quote. If not, you may find yourself searching high and low for that perfect box before you can mail an order, or losing $20 when you charged $10 to ship but the post office charged you $30.
  • Consider gift wrap. If you like to keep your packaging simple, consider offering a little extra during the holidays. Add a note to your Shop Announcement and Product Descriptions that you offer wrapping with a gift tag if the customer is buying it for a present. Not everyone will take you up on it, but some may. It's up to you whether to keep it complimentary or charge a small fee.

Stock up. Time is always in short supply around the holidays and never a good time to run out of something. If you are able to put together extra inventory now, definitely do it.

  • Extra products. It won't be long until Gift Guides start popping up on blogs, magazine articles, and Etsy. If you lucky enough to be included in one you may have a surge in sales! It would be oh so disappointing if you weren't able to take advantage of this momentum because you don't have enough products to stock your shop. Always have some extra on hand, but no need to go overboard.
  • Extra photos. It doesn't matter how many products you have available if you don't have good pictures to list them in your shop. Getting good photos during the winter months can be difficult due to time constraints (parties, decorating, wrapping, oh my!) or bad weather / lack of light. Take advantage of free days with good weather to stock up on your product photography. (I need to take my own advice here!)
  • Extra shipping supplies. You don't want to have to delay shipping or pay $0.89 per bubble mailer at Staples because you ran out of shipping supplies and are waiting for your next order to come in the mail. Seriously consider purchasing your shipping supplies in bulk to save money and ensure you always have some on hand. Storage can be an issue so offer splitting an order with a friend or colleague who also sells online. A few good resources:

Communicate with your customers. Communication is always important when you have an online business and don't have face-to-face contact with customers, but even more so during the holidays. During the holidays keeping a customer informed on how long an order will take to arrive and how it will come packaged will likely mean the difference between a very happy and a very disappointed customer.

  • Custom Order Deadlines. Set a clear deadline on the last day you will accept custom orders with guaranteed delivery for the holidays. Be honest with yourself and your customers. You don't want to spend the next two months staying up until 2am cranking out custom orders. Don't be afraid to set an early deadline if need be. I have seen shops with deadlines in early November and it encouraged me to place my order already.
  • Shipping Deadlines. Make sure customers know how long before an order is shipped and the approximate transit time for your method of shipping. A customer may think 10 days before Christmas is plenty of time, but that gift may not have a shot of arriving on time if it takes 7 days for an order to be shipped and another 7-10 days of transit time due to Media Mail shipping. Keep in mind mail has a tendency to slow down during the holidays.
  • Packaging. A product that is wrapped and ready for gift giving may be a selling point for last minute buyers or those who simply don't like wrapping presents. If your packaging is strong, be sure to mention it in your Shop Announcement and consider including a packaging shot as one of your five item photos.
Make yourself a list of what you need to prep your own shop for the holidays, and try to mark off a thing or two every day. Best of luck for lots and lots of sales this holiday season!

Friday, October 30, 2009

friday favorites.

Half handmade and half vintage to start off the holiday weekend! Have fun, but be safe. Eat candy until your stomach hurts. Don't smash any pumpkins. (That's just mean.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

coffee made special.

Even though I can't imagine taking the time to decorate your coffee each and every morning, something about these coffee stencils makes me smile. Wouldn't you like waking up to a special cup of coffee with "I Love You" on top?

If you're up for the challenge, you can buy your stencils here for $10 each.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

affordable treats.

Another week of fun finds that won't hurt your pocketbook, inspired by Fall which seems to be in full swing by now!

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

1. EverythingLovely; 2. satisfactory; 3. roundabout; 4. madebyhank

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

wish list!

Most years I have no problem coming up with a wish list for my December birthday / Christmas. Truth be told, I love stuff. This year has been much different. I certainly don't need much, and there isn't even much I want.

My mom and boyfriend have been asking for a wish list so I sat down and forced myself to come up with a few ideas. I didn't come up with much, but everything on the list is something I could use and would really enjoy.

Typewriter Serviced
I found a vintage teal typewriter similar to the one above at an estate sale this summer. It is in excellent condition, but needs the space bar fixed and maybe a new ribbon. I haven't gotten around to finding a place to have it serviced, so this is a perfect addition to my wish list!

Vintage Mugs & Starbucks Gift Cards
Now that chilly mornings have arrived, I crave coffee each and every day. I would love a collection of special vintage mugs for coffee at home, and Starbucks gift cards for coffee on the go. My current favorite vintage mug says, "He Who Hoots with the Owls at Night Cannot Soar with the Eagles in the Morning." Love it!

Personalized Jewelry
I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but love simple pieces with a special touch. AlvinaAbramova has a lot of neat initial necklaces, and these stack rings from bddesigns are some of my favorites.

Hand Mixer
You know you are officially an adult when you start putting kitchen gadgets on your wish list. My limited cooking skills don't require much, but I could use a decent hand mixer for baking cupcakes and muffins.

Izze Sparkling Juice
Yup, there is also food (or drinks, rather) on my wish list. I am a big fan of Izze Sparkling Juice (blackberry and clementine in particular!), but don't buy them too often. It is more of a special treat. A stocking full of juice sounds good to me!

Warm Socks and Slippers
Warm, cozy socks and slippers are winter essentials that I like to replace each year. I don't have any specific ones picked out, but can usually count on Target and Urban Outfitters for good socks. This pair of slippers from Target has great reviews with an even better price tag. I might have to ask for them specifically.

That's about it right now. Have you put together a wish list yet? If so, share what's on it! I could use a few extra additions to mine!

Monday, October 26, 2009

new week, new shop - Sky Parlor.

Welcome to the last week of October! Another month that came and went in record time.

With the return of the "new week, new shop" series this week, I'm excited to introduce you all to Sky Parlor - a vintage shop on Etsy run by the most fun and interesting couple! Sit back and enjoy the interview with Ranessa and Jason, including a whole bunch of photos. Once you're done reading, check out everything that is available in their shop right here.

#1 - Who is behind skyparlor? Please introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about your vintage Etsy shop.
The dust bodies behind Sky Parlor are lovers Ranessa Allen (29) & Jason Moore (24). Sky Parlor was sprung into birth due to our mutual love of treasure junking whether it be thrift stores, salvage yards, estate sales, or antique shops. It is quite strange though, because neither of us like our home environment to be cluttered-we try and keep a minimalist yet eclectic look-so rather than continue to purchase things for our own keeping(which believe you me, is quite difficult) we decided to open up Sky Parlor to let our obsession run rampant without having to live in a perpetual treasure junk land. We chose the name Sky Parlor because of its 1940s origin- sky parlor is a jalopy way of referring to an “attic”. We found it appropriate.

#2 - What catches your eye as a good addition for the shop while shopping? Are you drawn to certain colors / certain eras / certain type of goods?
Well, we would have to say it depends on our mood. If we wake up feeling nautical, we are going to go on a determined venture to find some driftwood, or a seafaring captain's hat. There are days that are golden , where we find lovely peculiars at random- but it seems as though there is always a common thread that unites our purchases for a day, whether it be color, decade, or sheer oddity. We also like to ensure that everything we choose is mutually selected. There is a split of “okay, you pick your 5 treasures, and I pick mine”. we have never left empty handed! I couldn't bare to trudge home with a desire unfulfilled. I suppose ultimately you can say that we find ourselves resuscitating things that may be on their last breath so that others can enjoy them with an eye of renewed beauty.

#3 - Do you collect anything for yourself - something we won't find in your shop because you're keeping it?
The question we would have answered even if it hadn't of been asked! You have no idea how difficult it is to part with our findings. Know this: everything that we purchase for Sky Parlor is something that we want for ourselves! Our style code is so multi-dimensional that we feel that we will be able to net up people on all points of the spectrum. When we return from a shopping venture, we find a place for each item in our home. When guests come over, it is literally as if everything in our home is for sale! We find that if we are able to display the items, we are in some way allowed to revel in our quasi-ownership of them. It also aides us in not having to scramble to find an item once it is sold-it is simply right there-whether it be atop the mantle, or residing on the wall. We do, however, have a trunk for an over accumulation of junk-things that just won't fit in with our decor-as I mentioned before, we try to maintain a spacious environment that flows.

#4 - Many customers praise your packaging in your feedback. Would you be willing to share some secrets to your packaging? What makes it stand out in the minds of your customers?

Well, we attempt to treat each package as one would an overly doted upon child-we spoil it. We also draw up our own version of a letter of authenticity-much like you would receive at an auction. We tie in bits of truth with fantastical fiction and abracadabra!-the customer has a lovely backstory for their newly found friend. We feel that this might be what our patrons delight in the most. It is all so very personalized.

#5 - Skyparlor has gained significant success in the short time since it opened. [Congrats!] Any tips or advice for others who would like to start up their own Etsy shop?
Well, we know from our own standpoint that passion is essential. When someone has a fiery passion, they want an outlet for it. When one has a desire to paint, you need canvas. When one has a desire to make music, one needs a voice, an instrument. We have a strong desire to build a junk empire-and Etsy has been our canvas, our instrument to do so.

Special thanks to Ranessa and Jason for giving us a glimpse into Sky Parlor! If you are now a fan of their shop or enjoyed peaking into their home, be sure to leave a quick comment for Ranessa and Jason.

Friday, October 23, 2009

friday favorites.

1. modernradar; 2. roundabout; 3. meplusmolly; 4. Hettle; 5. CatherineMarissa

I couldn't narrow it down to just four, so there is an extra one for you this week! I have been asked by a couple of people for a birthday / Christmas wish list, so I think I'll spend part of the weekend picking and choosing fun things I'd love to receive. What is on your personal wish list? Any shops / items you think I should check out? I'd love to see what everyone else is asking for this year. Please share!

scrap pack challenge projects, part two!

This second set of projects comes from April. She can be found all over Etsy - with a handmade, photography, and vintage shop! Add in two kids and a dog and it becomes clear she is a very busy woman!

Mini Journal and Matchbook Notepad
> adorable stocking stuffer for doodlers and list makers
> would be fun to make inside pages from mixed papers / ticket stubs / mini photos

Square Thank You Cards
> perfect to slip in with orders if you sell on Etsy
> change up the greeting to match your needs

Vintage Paper Collages
> has plans to turn into Thank You notes for her vintage shop
> can frame for affordable and one of a kind art

Halloween Gift Tag
> attach with a clothespin to a brown lunch sack filled with candy
> secretly sneak in your child's lunch for a surprise Halloween greeting

Many thanks to April for her super cute projects! To learn more about April and her shops, check out her blog.

I was really excited when I came up with the idea of the Scrap Pack Challenge, but think I enjoyed it even more than I expected. If you feel the same, let me know and I'll put together another challenge. Perhaps a Game Pack Challenge or Found Paper Pack Challenge?