Thursday, September 29, 2011

Buyers Paradise - Two Left Hands

If it's one thing this seller does not have it's Two Left Hands. One of my favorite Etsy sellers, because she is unassuming and generous of spirit. Lefty, as her seller friends call her, is a multi-talented artist and crafter as well.

I decided to feature Two Left Hands today, because she offers so many wickedly adorable items for Halloween, like these little zombies. There is so much more you have to come see.




She Also makes The Sweetest Fairies and Mossies, Treehouses, Gnomes, Brooches and Embroidery. Right now her shop is just stuffed with sweetness and Halloween Goodness.
You'll be able to find something for every season and every occasion. And the detail is amazing. Just look at the detail on this wonderful Autumn Harvest Fairy. How wonderful is she?


Christmas is on it's way and there is a wonderful selection of Winter Holiday items too. Here's a little Hand Embroidered Elf Ornament. Would your little ones not squeal with delight at him?

I must say that I have a particular fondness for this lady too. She has supported me when I was a seller and when I was unceremoniously removed from that venue. Although we don't talk as much as we used to, I still count her as one of my very special friends. Please visit her shop, and tell her Cinders sent you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shops I Like - Autumn

I was going to add another Buyers Paradise each week, but I decided that I love so many shops, and there is sooo  few weeks in a year, that I will feature a few shops each week that have Season items I like.

Because it just became Autumn, I'm featuring a few lovely Fall items today. There are so many that I might just have to add another week of these.


      UpcycledPurpose        Twillypop       SunshineSight

      PipingHotPapers      DesertWindDesigns   Waterrose

      WishDaisy     TomlinsonPhotographyandDesign

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life on Mars - Port-a-Potty and Sponge Bath

Well it's not really a port-a-potty, it's really a bedside commode (look it up). That's what I had to use last week while we were waiting for the floor install in the one bathroom we have.

I'm a little late with this post, because I not only had to get my packages ready, but had to label Poppy's, because she has so much sewing to do. That and laundry and dishes. This is not the ideal time of year for us to gut and install a new bathroom, but this is when we have the cash to buy what we need.

Poppy's DH decided that we were doing it last week. He assumed we would get it all done in one day. I have lots of experience and I knew better. I'm really glad though that he was so optimistic, because I would have kept procrastinating if it was me. We bought supplies and he and his brother went at it.

Good we decided to put in a new toilet, because the old one burst into pieces as his Bro, the Hulk, pulled it off of the floor. It did, however take them two days to figure out how to get the tub out. It was cast iron, very heavy and part of the walls were built around it. Ugh!

The first night was when we had to use the commode. I was so glad we had that to borrow. At least it's kind of like a toilet. We would have had to put the old toilet seat on a large popcorn tin if not.

The next day we got half the floor in and I was able to put in the real flush toilet after I drywalled behind it. Then DH had to go back to work so the rest was on hold. And he thought he could get the whole thing done on his three days off.

I did manage to put in the rest of the floor and clean everything up myself. But there is no bathroom sink or tub yet. The kids and Poppy are showering next door, but I prefer to sponge bath, not really liking their bathroom and I often actually enjoy doing things primitively on occasion, just to prove to myself that I can survive without luxury. You throw my sorry butt on an island and I'll let you know that I could survive. I don't need no stinking reality show to know I'm a survivor.

We should be back in service on Wednesday. All things going as we hope, we should have the tub in and at least be able to take a bath. Shower will need Drywall and the wall finish. We've decided to put up beadboard with Spar Varnish. Easy, durable and cute.

Our bath was so very horrible that I just can't wait to see the new room finished. I'll let you see some during and afters in a future post. NO BEFORES! That would be just too scary.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's Cooking? - Macaroni with Ground Beef and Tomato

I found this recipe in an ancient cookbook that belonged to my grandmother. Some of the recipes have to be changed because some ingredients aren't available or have changed. This recipe is so darn simple, that if you  never had it you'll wonder why you haven't. It is simple fresh and delicious. Kids love it too.

This is made with Ground Beef. You can make it with ground turkey, but it really has a better flavor with the beef. I also use elbow macaroni for this, although you can use any other pasta.

MACARONI WITH GROUND BEEF AND TOMATO

1 lb Ground Beef (or turkey or veggie substitute)
1 - 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 - 12 oz box of elbow macaroni
salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and add macaroni. Salt will make water boil faster. Boil until just done. Be careful not to overcook, because they will cook a bit more when added to dish. Drain.

In a very large pan (or pot if you don't have) Brown the ground meat until crumbly. Drain some of the fat if you used beef that was high fat. Leave a bit in the pan for flavor. Drain tomatoes and cut into about 1 inch pieces. Add to pan of ground beef. Add cooked macaroni and season to taste with salt and pepper. I like a lot of pepper with this dish. Heat thoroughly and serve immediately. You are just heating, do not overcook.

You could add onions or garlic or other seasonings, but that would be another dish. The reason this tastes to wonderful is the fresh pure ingredients whose flavors haven't been mingled by hours of cooking, or overpowered with seasonings. It really is one of my favorites, and one of the rare uses of beef in our house.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Biz Buzz - Marketing and Loss Leaders

If you read my interview on Maiden Jane's Blog you would know that I was once a Marketing Major. Not that I am a pro, but I do have a lot of product and retail experience. And I do know what brings people to a site or store.

When I first heard that Walmart was removing all of their fabric from their stores, I thought they were, quite honestly, out of their freaking mind. Sure it might take more labor to cut the fabric, and the profit might be very low, but how many people, especially in this economy, come to Walmart JUST to buy the fabric at such great prices, and while they are there, pick up a few extra things. I know I'm not the only one.

That Marketing scheme is called Loss Leader. That link takes you to a wonderful detailed explanation, with great examples, but basically you offer one really good priced items to get people into your store or site so they stay to shop for others.

Of course if you have a jewelry shop on a seller site, or maybe a very specific item like kitchen cutting boards, buyers are not going to hang around your shop and buy lots of your merchandise, no matter how much of a discount you are giving on one item. But you never know.

Another great Marketing idea I use is a leader. Similar idea, just not down priced. The fabric at Walmart is also a leader, because people will come, even if the price is not low, just for the convenience. I always have a current trend item or two in my shop, even if it doesn't sell, just to get people into my shop through search engine. For example I have Halloween Jewelry in my jewelry shop and Halloween Aprons right now in my Apron's Etc shop. Poppy has costumes on her genre Artfire shop, and with links, she is also getting sales to her non genre shop.

Good leaders are holidays, seasonal (summer BBQ, winter skiing, etc), trends, birthstones, horoscopes, and color trends. Also, don't forget that seasons are reversed across the globe. You need to do whatever you can to get the buyer into your shop. Then offer such wonderful product, that they don't want to leave without buying a thing or two. And don't turn your nose up at Target or Walmart marketing ideas, because they make money and that's why you sell right?

As for the removal of the fabric departments in Walmart? Well I guess they should have hired me, although I'm sure they wouldn't have listened anyhow. I had a lot of bosses that didn't think I knew what I was talking about. Silly guys.

Look at this add from Walmart. They are now bringing back the fabric departments they removed. They could have saved themselves a lot of money and trouble if they just asked me

Friday, September 23, 2011

Putting it Together - Failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” ― Thomas Edison

I saw this quote this week and remembered how much I love it. I'm sure you all can relate, sellers and buyers alike. I know just recently in trying to remember how to make these lovely Halloween Cat charms, I just couldn't get the process right and I made them just last year.

I guess what I'm trying to say, and Edison was trying to say, is that there is no success without some failure.  Sometime it can be so frustrating, when you spend a day taking photographs and none of them turn out right, or you follow a recipe to the letter and your cake falls flat. I remember my first Angel Food cake from scratch. It was about 1 inch high.

Don't be afraid to experiment, that's where great ideas are born. Don't be afraid to fail that's where the genius lies. Don't you just know I fail at something EVERY day, but I still go on, because every day I succeed at something too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Buyers Paradise - GlitzGlitter - TheSlyFox


This week, I'm going to Ambush Feature one of my Oldest friends on Etsy. Well, she's not old, I am. But I think I've known her longer than just about anyone else there. I've known Celia for about 2 years at least. She is wonderful and makes the prettiest things. She is focused, and works hard at everything that is needed to be a successful seller.

When I first found GlitzGlitter, Celia was making wire wrapped earrings and pendants. She not only crafts beautifully, but searches for the most wonderful and unique stones and supplies. Celia does her own Photography, and it is outstanding.




I really love her Wire Wrapped Spring Green Leaf earrings.
I even have a pair.

Celia felt something was lacking in her offerings and she wanted more in her life and to offer her buyers, so she started taking metalworking classes. It's always inspiring to see how my friends have taken the time out for personal and professional growth. Celia started TheSlyFox as a result of her new skills. This shop offers more in the way of bezel set pieces and more metalworking intensive pieces.



Isn't this Green Blue Flash Labradorite Ring awesome. Beautiful Stone, Beautiful Setting.

Whether you shop at GlitzGlitter or TheSlyFox, both on Etsy, you will not be disappointed. Celia is a Fiend for Perfection.












This Rainbow Moonstone Floral Pattern Oxidized Sterling Silver Ring is another of my favorites. Well Maybe some day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Evah! - A Little Secret About Etsy

I've noticed a new rash of Etsy shop closings. They like to do it on Friday, so you can't contact them about it till the following week, not that they answer you back to let you know what you did and how you can remedy it.

I have a little secret I've been keeping. Silly me, I thought that someday I might get back on Etsy, so I didn't want to bash them too bad. Not that my secret is bashing, only the truth.

You can read about how My Daughter got her shops closed here in my post Etsy Shop Closings. It's been a popular post, I guess because others have had their shops closed too, without warning.

I must say, that I think almost everyone on Etsy has SOME violation of the TOUs, so if the powers that be want you off, you will be off.

Poppy's sin was copyright infringement in ONE of her shops. But if you read the post, there was no infringement. She legally reconstructs licensed product under the First Sale Doctrine. But Etsy didn't want to hear that, or that she had proof from the complaining companies, that what she did WAS legal. No, Etsy told her that she had had been accused (unjustly) too many times. There was nothing they could do.
they couldn't even leave her shop open. The even closed 2 shops that I had with her.

We did have a series of unfortunate events though, and I fell behind on my fees. All of my shops were closed and I tried in vain to negotiate with Etsy to make payment. You see that was my only income, and without the shops, it was nearly impossible to pay the fees. I was lost and struggling.

I was on a wonderful Etsy team and my fellow members suggested that I talk to one person in particular to find out what was going on and see if he could help. He had been very helpful to her and others. I tried to handle the situation myself, but got nowhere.

Finally after about a week I used my friend's inside contact and made a plea for his help. Now here is the secret I have never shared with anyone. Shortly after I sent the email, my shops and Poppy's shops disappeared off the face of Etsy, and our ISP was blocked. We could get to Etsy, but couldn't look at item details. I never heard a word back from that kind helpful person. I just got jerked around a little bit more.

I did find a few other places to sell, but my product had to change with the atmosphere of the site. Still struggling a bit, but things are looking up.  I wish you all well in your endeavors and hope your luck is a bit better than mine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life on Mars - Getting Acclimated to The Surface of Mars

WOW! I never thought I would be getting so used to it here on Mars. But I am. Maybe that's because as surrealistically as things got bad, things are getting better.

Not that there isn't still some crazy sh-t going on here. Like this week when Someone came to our door screaming at the top of her lungs that "THE DAMN WATER SOFTENER IS UNPLUGGED! MY DAMN HAIR IS FLAME RED! IT'S FLAME RED!!!" Poppy hates when I keep repeating that, but she wasn't here to hear it, and now it's permanently scarred in my psyche. BTW her hair is not even tinged red and the softener (for the well for both houses which is in our teeny house and not their BIG house) was plugged in and full of salt. She just saw the extra bags her DH bought sitting outside our door and freaks. She even made her 66 year old DH with artificial knees crawl under our TV to make sure it was plugged in, even though I assured them both that it cycles in the middle of the night EVERY night while I'm TRYING to sleep.

I've even gotten used to the kittens dancing on me at night. I found that if I cover myself with a thick blanket, their little claws don't dig into me so deeply. Thank goodness it's getting cooler out, or I would continue to be full of little tiny claw marks.

Now onto the Good. Last week we finally got our new (used) Dryer in the house, and yesterday I got it all hooked up. Mind you, I love to save by line drying, but a last minute towel fluff in the dryer, or a quick dry for blankets is so nice. And line drying baby diapers is not so wonderful. This was a donated dryer that is Huge and Powerful and economical and not that old. The former owner just wanted an upgrade to a fancier one. OMG this thing dries so fast and has the best lint catcher. Not to bore you, but it's almost like we have money again. Actually this dryer is the nicest one I ever had. <3 <3 <3

Although I never found the parts to the crib Poppy bought, I did find parts on line. Yay! We are going to try the hardware store first, then if not, I'll buy online. We should have a month and a half left, I hope.

Poppy is selling like mad, costumes! We are both picking up sales very nicely on Artfire and may eventually be able to get off of eBay. That would be so nice, because our fees there are ridiculous.

MORE GOOD NEWS and this is the best one. My DS FINALLY got a letter from the Government that his Disability has been approved. He has to call to get more details as he got the letter late Friday. But this is just wonderful news. He should be able to get his surgery soon.

So you see, the surface of Mars can be a little hot to walk on, and the gravity, makes it a little hard to stay in one place, but all things considered, it's a tolerable place to live.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's Cooking? - Pepperoni Bread

Today I give you the 8 year old's new favorite. I made this for his birthday, and his little buddy and he gobbled it up.

A few days later, I asked how he liked the pepperoni bread I made him and he said in total shock "YOU made that Gramma?" I guess he liked it.

This is mostly a recipe for assembly, the trickiest part is making the dough, but you can use ready made pizza dough too. It will work the same.

Pepperoni Pizza


Dough for one large loaf of French Style Bread
You can use my French Baguette Recipe or a Large Pizza Dough

Approximately 28 thin slices of pepperoni

Approximately 1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

This is so fun you can easily get your little ones to help prepare this. Oh and Adults love it too.

Prepare your bread dough until the final rise. Knead on a floured board and spread out on a baking sheet.
Spread Mozzarella cheese from the edge closest to you to one inch from the top edge. Now place pepperoni slices over the cheese. See picture. You will leave 1"of the top edge bare, that will be to seal the dough.





Take the edge closest to you and roll the dough in over the cheese/pepperoni, making sure they stay in place. Roll all the way up and push the edge into the "loaf" to seal. Pinch the two ends closed and push it all into a loaf shape.

Cover with a towel and let rise again in a warm place. Bake your loaf in a 350F degree oven until golden brown. It might take a little longer than usual because of the filling. I usually can smell when the bread is done, but it should be somewhere around 15 minutes.

Let the bread cool and slice in about 1" thick slices. Fantastic when dipped in warm marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bizz Buzz - Trends

Why are Trends important and What is Trend Forecasting? To make your product more desirable, you need to be up to date with current trend themes and colors. If you know what colors and themes will be on trend, you can design in advance. No repainting to match what's on your site's front page. It's kind of like if you knew that Harvest Gold refrigerator would be out of fashion, you might have just bought the white one.

Those of us that sell on Art sites like Etsy or Artfire know that our sites will keep us up to date with the latest trends, but where do they get their information? There are so many resources you can use to get this information, unfortunately, many have very expensive memberships. But there is some free information you can get.

I might also add that many of the trends today are started by you. Yes you! The trend forecasters are now looking to art sites like Etsy and Big Cartel to see what colors and themes are popular. These colors and themes will then go into the general marketplace. One of the many disadvantages of selling online is that your ideas are very easily "borrowed".

Here are some great places to get information. The Trend Curve, is one of the most watched publications in the home furnishing industry. Michelle Lamb is either truly amazing, does her homework well, or as many in the industry suspect, a self prophesier. In other words, she is so popular that people believe her and create the trends that she predicts. Either way, she is a voice that is wise to listen too.

Where do color trends come from? There is another group called the Color Marketing Group. They are a team of hand approved professional Designers and Color specialists that work together to forecast color trends. Members are from industries like home furnishing, automotive, paint companies and even Pantone. They not only forecast what colors will be in fashion several years before they are even available, but also suggest those funky names for them.

And speaking of Pantone. You can get some color forecasts from them directly too. Look, there's a free color forecast for Spring 2012. There are TONS of Pantone products available, but here is a page of Trend Forecasts

Because much of trend information is for industry, it can be difficult to get your hands on at a reasonable price. Reading the trend forecasts on your selling site and others is a great way to get that information. Another great way is to have a membership in organizations that fit your category. Some have information and are more reasonable than industry groups. Many also have student or junior memberships, just check out their sites to make sure that they DO have the trend information you want.

IDS or Interior Design Society has great info and an annual affiliate membership at $175
IDSA or Industrial Designer Society of America is for Product designers, and has several levels of  membership, but most annual profession fees are $375
American Craft Council does not have a wonderful site full of trend forecasts, but what they do have is a Membership that is $40 to $50, with library of resources, a wonderful Craft magazine (American Craft), great benefits and show resources.

There are just too many great associations for me to list especially with international and individual country. Just do as search of association in your industry and do a little trend forecast research.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Buyers Paradise - LoveArtWorks - LoveArtStudios

This week I'm going to Flash Feature the shop of one of the very First friends I made at Etsy Kristin of LoveArtWorks.

I'd have to say that I first fell in love with her sweet little bird ceramics, like the one shown here. Then I discovered Etsy Project Embrace. At the time, I had just lost 2 people close to me to cancer and wanted to be involved in a team that focused on helping. Kristin was the team leader, and I had communication with her because of that, but Kristin has always been a strong spirit and supporter of other sellers and friends.

You can see her spirit in her work. A kind, gentle, loving and joyous spirit. Kristin has gone through some things herself, but always focuses on the positive.

As for her work. If you can look at any of her ceramic pieces and not smile, well I just don't know what kind of sad life you lead. It brings nothing but joy to me.


I haven't had the funds to spend on too many of my friends works, but I was able to buy a small piece from LoveArtWorks and I am so glad I did.


You can find mugs, bowl, platters, and even wind chimes, and they are all full of wonderful quotes or images. Like these Beatles Inspired "All you need is Love" mugs.

Kristin also has some wonderful paintings, photography and ceramic wall hangings at
LoveArtStudios on Etsy. So you must trust me and stop in to see her work. If you need a spiritual lift, these shops are the place to get it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Life on Mars - A Good Week

It really was a good week, or actually week and a half. Poppy's PC is working and so is mine. The kitties are getting healthy. We really thought one was going to loose his eye, but it is almost totally healed. Poor babe, now he's finally seeing the world through both eyes.

It's been busy. Business has picked up, and I have a lot of stuff to make. My friend Jane from MaidenJane.etsy.com did a blog interview with me. That was really nice. I did have to take the time to write it and I'm such a procrastinator! It includes a giveaway, and I made a few extras for her and her family, and some friends. I'm giving away my Halloween Black Cat Charm necklace.

I don't remember those being so hard to make.Don't let anyone tell you, stamping polymer clay is easy. You have to soften the clay, get just the right amount. Flatten a bit, center the stamp, push evenly to just the right size, screw up and start over.

 These are a few of the Cats and Pumpkins I made. These were made into pins.

I don't even want to tell you how many times I had to redo. Then bake for the tight amount of time, cool and paint. Now I have the system, but I forgot what I put on first. I guess I did the mouth first and THEN the teeth, because when I did it the other way, I had to paint the teeth BACK on.

And people wonder why these things cost so much.Of course I can't factor in the screw ups into my cost, but all the time stamping and hand painting at least.

Poppy and I also got invited over to a friends house for lunch. It was so nice to spend time with her and her not so new adorable baby girl. Hope we get together again soon and with her mom too.

We found out recently that another of Poppy's good friends is expecting. We're so excited about that too. Their babies will even be in the same grade, only being about 6 months apart. Fantastic!

We're still looking forward to a flood of costumes anytime now. Thanks retailers for procrastinating in merchandising your holiday product. You must be worried that people will all be shopping online. Guess they will have to, because you have nothing out yet. What ever happened to playing up to impulse buyers?

I know this is a really boring post. So much more fun when our crazy neighbors are attacking us. We have had a few little silly incidents with the family next door, but I prefer to just soak up the sunshine and save the umbrella for a rainy day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What's Cooking? - Mary's Sinful Meat Spaghetti Sauce

My Aunt Mary was not the greatest cook in the world, but there were a few things that she really rocked. Her spaghetti sauce was one of them. For some reason, my ex husband made it one time under my direction, and from then on he thought t was his recipe. He went through the rest of his life referring to it as HIS special spaghetti. But it was my Aunt Mary's

It takes a long time and uses a LOT of ingredients, but is well worth it, and Oh, it is NOT for the health conscious.


MARY'S SINFUL MEAT SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Chicken equivalent to one whole, cut up (one whole, 6 breasts, 3 legs, or 6 thighs) skin on
2 lbs Italian sausage (hot or mild, or one of each) cut in 4 pieces in casing
8 Western Style Pork ribs (About 6 inch long meaty ribs)
2 large onions diced
one whole garlic head dice or crush cloves
2 - 28 oz cans whole tomato, crushed in hands, juice included
2 - 28 cans tomato puree
2 - 28 cans tomato sauce
one 6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dried oregano
Olive oil to saute

In a large roasting pan, saute the onions and garlic in oil until tender. Add all the meats uncooked and the remainder of the ingredients in the pot. Simmer on low covered for 4 - 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 4 hours the meat pieces should be very tender. Pull them all out (a few at a time is easiest) Rib meat should fall off the bone. Throw out rib bones and cut or break into bite sized pieces. Take out the cooked sausage and cut into bite sized pieces. Take out the chicken, remove skin and bones and cut or break chicken into bite sized pieces. Return all meat to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes uncovered, or however long it takes to make a nice thick sauce.

Your sauce is finished and can be served over any pasta. It will be dark, and on sitting will have some oils from the meat on top. If you want to be healthy you can remove the oils (not that what's leftover is healthy), but if you want full flavor, stir well to integrate the oils before serving.

Very large family serving or one or two extra meals when frozen.

Remember, if it's healthy, it's not sinful.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Biz Buzz - Web Selling and Monitor Color Variation

"This merchandise is not at all the color I thought it would be"

How many times has this happened to you? Have you ever walked into the Library, or classroom and see a bank of computers that all have slightly different colors, or brightness settings. I'm sure you know that all monitors show color variations, but do your buyers?

Every one of the three monitors we have in our house show my product differently and my laptop even varies brightness by tilting the screen at a different angle.

What's a seller to do?

I have two FANTASTIC ideas to help.

COLOR DESCRIPTION:

Make sure that you describe the color as accurately as possible. Not just Orange but Light Burnt Orange. Not just Blue, but Robins Egg Blue, of whatever description can help your buyer identify the color correctly. If you say that the color is Robin's Egg Blue and they see Navy, they may realize that their monitor color is off.

COLOR DISCLAIMER:

This disclaimer was borrowed from a very wise seller. It is on every listing. You can add a similar note to your listings to help prevent problems.

"Real colors may slightly differ from their appearance on your display, as it depends on your monitor settings and is not under our control."


Both suggestions are great ideas, but the real trick is for you to get your buyer to actually READ the descriptions. If they didn't, you at least have the description to show them when they contact you to say that their purchase isn't the right color.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Putting it Together - HTML

Oh how I wish I knew more about HTML. I would love to take a course some day. You could put what I know about writing HTML in a thimble. Then why the heck am I telling you about it?!?!?


I guess what I want to say is that it's really nothing to fear. You can work with HTML even if you don't understand it. I do. My eBay listings are all HTML. I didn't write them, but I alter them. I also make widgets from scratch, and this Post is rewritten in HTML, so sometimes I have to click on that little Edit HTML tab and do a little altering.


I'm going to tell you how to make an easy widget, how to change color, how to make your Blogger images clickable to another site, and how to "play" with HTML.


When I first started using computers, I was terrified of them, but I learned that if I "played" with software, nothing blew up. My computer didn't implode and the world didn't end. I rarely crashed my computer. Well actually, I was playing with computers I used as a work study while going to school, so I was a lot braver with the PC I didn't own.


That's how I learned to play with HTML. I bought a template from a seller for my listings on eBay. It had instructions written IN the template in RED. The instructions weren't HTML so I could leave them there. Nice.


HTML PRACTICE:
I wanted to add my own touch to the templates, so I found an HTML Practice Board. That link takes you to the one I use. There are others, just search HTML practice board. You type in your HTML, hit -see HTML- and voila. You can see how badly you screwed up, or succeeded. If it's bad, click clear and start over.


COLOR: 
You can change the color of text, borders, anything that has a color. You can find color codes by searching HTML color codes. You will get a list and hopefully a color Chart, like this nifty one from http://htmlcolorcodes.org/. Color codes are preceeded by a hashtag and have 6 letters/numbers following. The combination make the colors. If you are in a hurry, some basic color names will work #red #purple. Your HTML should read something like "color = #990099"

WIDGETS:
Widgets are so easy. Make your image, find out the size you need for your post (your blogger friend or site will tell you). Take your image to a photo hosting site. I use photobucket. Upload it in the correct size - you will be using the HTML version.

You will see text in the HTML that is between quotes listed twice, it won't be hard to miss, because you might think "why twice"? One is the image you see, the other is the clickable link "target" Like when you click and get a bigger version of your picture.

Copy your complete web address, the one that starts http or www. Paste it between the quotes of the first listing of your image, replacing the original text. And there you have your clickable image. Try it out on your practice board.

MAKE BLOGGER IMAGES CLICKABLE TO A WEBSITE:
If you can make a widget, you can do this.

Write your blog and place your images where you want them. Now click the Edit HTML tab. You'll have to hunt for the image, because it is now text instead of a picture. The one you want will have the same title as your file name, but inside quotes. Follow the instructions above, just put your web page link inside the first set of quotes, replacing the text that is there. Now your picture will open in a web page.

And I bet you thought this was going to be hard.

Now that you can work with HTML, I'll bet you'll be telling me how to design it in no time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Buyers Paradise - Poppy's Wicked Garden

I haven't done this post in quite a while. It's a lot of work contacting the seller and setting up dates. I've
decided to just Blitzkrieg sellers and not advise them in advance. Just too much extra work. So you may be surprised to see your shop here some wonderful Thursday. I'm not planning, I'm just posting.

I thought I'd refresh everyone's memory about my DD Poppy's shop today. She not only sells the Greatest Genre reconstructions, and now has her DH Optic's Airbrush designs, she has just so much more. Poppy also has the cutest and most awesome Costumes. Perfect time of year for this post.



I just love her Dr Horrible Lab coat, that is available in Adult and Child sizes and in Red, White, and even Black if you twist her arm.



How about her Cute Animals. She started with that adorable Panda and from that made the cutest Critters for a lodge that wanted them for their Youth Ski program.



I must say, the girl has quite an imagination. I think my favorite has to be the Little Red Monster. That she made for a special request. So freaking cute. 
But my favorite could be this New Harley Quinn Costume. It's so great and the Photography is so fun.

Poppy has a Cheeseburger Dress, Nyan Cat, Red Fox and Where the Wild Things Are Max Hoodie too, and more. You just have to go to PoppysWickedGarden.artfire.com to see them all.

And Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Life on Mars - Brotherly Love

I was going to write a post on Labor Day. You know, the day that we all celebrate...what was that again? Labor and Trade unions? The end of white clothing and Summer? The start of Football season? Why are we celebrating again? The invention of the Hot Dog and mustard?

Seeing as most of us are underemployed or  unemployed, and most of the rest of the World celebrates International Workers Day or May Day on May 1st. I thought I'd share something called Brotherly Love.

Things have been relatively quiet around the neighborhood lately. Not that we don't have issues here, but not ones I need to post at this time. There was this unusual whirlwind of cleaning that happened the day after Poppy went out with her BFF for lunch. She needs to get out more often.

For some reason yesterday there were also a lot of brotherly love photo opps too.

Look at these two brothers lying in bed together. Of course the older one is telling the younger one to "Get the hell out of here." The thing of it is, he's laying in the younger one's bed and bedroom.

Don't you just love how brothers adore each other.


These boys however, totally love each other. Well they are only 8 weeks old, I'm sure they will be tearing each other apart in another few weeks.

Poppy and I also had a great time photographing these little guys yesterday. We finally were able to flea med them and they are getting fat and healthy, and oh so cute.

They just got litter trained, we found the last of the hidden poop and pee, and now they are no longer hiding under the living room sofa.

But they did have a very busy day running around, climbing up my bare legs, climbing Poppy's fabric mountains, chasing mama's tail and wrestling in the Mystery Triangle (very cool net kitty house found for $3 at a dollar store)

Do any of you understand the concept behind having items for more than a dollar at a place called "The Dollar Store"? IDK



Well all of you in the US have a great Labor Day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What's Cooking - 20 minute Chili

Ever have a craving for Chili, but just didn't plan enough in advance to make it? When my kids were young, I was working and going to college. Talk about having no time.

I came up with this recipe one crisp Autumn day, when I really wanted a pot of chili, but just didn't have the time to make a pot to simmer all day. I called it Dump Chili, because all you do is dump ingredients, but because the term might be taken the wrong way, I'll call it 20 minute Chili.

20 Minute Chili Ingredients

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
2 - 15 oz cans of beans (dark and light kidney or kidney and red)
1 - 26 oz can of seasoned spaghetti sauce
1 - 28 oz can of whole tomatoes drained and crushed
1 - 15 oz jar chunky salsa (mild to hot depending on taste)
garlic powder to taste
chili powder to taste
Optional - sugar - cinnamon

Directions:

Brown ground meat in pot. Dump in all the other ingredients. Season to taste and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve with some shredded cheddar on top.

There, wasn't that easy? The really great thing about this is that it uses ingredients most of us have in our cupboards anyway. I never made this vegan style, but I'll bet if you omit the meat and add one more can of beans, you'll have a great vegan chili too.

The reason it works - Most of your ingredients are already simmered to perfection. Spaghetti sauce has seasoning that is used in real Chili, like oregano, and salsa has the right mix of peppers and onions (At least that's the kind I look for).

Optional ingredients: We love Cincinnati style Chili and always add a bit of sugar and cinnamon to ours.

Now of course this won't taste exactly the same as the Chili you've simmered all day, it's a bit fresher tasting, but a darn good quick substitute. Also the sodium content is sky high, so if you are watching your sodium, beware. I can't really eat this anymore. I have to make mine with low sodium tomatoes and reconstituted dried beans.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Biz Buzz - Handling Buyer Requests

Ever get a request from a buyer that is so out of this world that you don't even know how to answer them? I know you have, because I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I just got a request to change the red lace on an Apron to blue lace. I get a lot of these requests. Of course you could assume that I don't carry blue lace in stock, and you would be right. Now you know I am not about to go out and buy blue lace at $1 or more a yard when I buy the few colors I have at $.20 a yard especially for a customer that got a pretty good discount on the merchandise in the first place.

Here's a good one. A buyer has to wear a red apron to work, so could you please make this Star Wars Apron with a red background instead of white. Well I probably could if you would like to pay $500 for it instead of $39, because I will have to design fabric and have it printed. Or I could get a red fabric marker and "paint" the background red, but you could do that yourself for a lot less money.

I know all of you sellers get requests that just make you want to pull your hair out, or reach through the "net" and throttle someone.

I am always as sweet as possible when the buyer asks the next day to give them the shipping information for their hand made merchandise that says on the listing to allow one week for completion. I am always as understanding as possible, even though I just want to say, what and who do you think I am? and can't you just take 2 seconds to read the whole listing of items you are buying.

I sell on eBay and many buying off their phone apps which do not see the whole listing. I also used to get a LOT of really dumb questions about merchandise and I would sweetly reply that all the information they need is on the listing. They would reply that they are looking at it from their phone and can't see the whole listing. EBay has worked on that issue now though.

I bet you thought I had an answer to this problem. I really don't. All I can say is that you have to remain as calm as possible, and if your buyer has angered you, don't even answer until you have calmed down. You will be able to think a little better the next day and if you don't answer immediately it will not be the end of the world. Always try to let the buyer know that you are working hard on their order. If they ask where their merchandise is when it should take a week, I let them know that they will probably be getting it a little early. "You are in Luck, I'm going to be able to get this our sooner than one week"

As far as colors I don't have, I focus on something else, "You will love it just the way it is listed". And I'm sorry that I can't make the Red fabric Purple, Or make the Onyx centers of these flowers with Moss Agate rondelles that aren't available.

I really will do what I can to please a buyer, but some things, you know, are just not possible at the cost they are willing to pay. And often request are made after the item is paid for.

As I don't really have a solution for you. I wonder if you can add your suggestions in my comments. How do you handle unusual or impossible buyer requests?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Putting it Together - Collaboration

It's come to mind that I've never really mentioned (well once a long time ago) that one of the ways you can accomplish great things is through collaboration. Take these fantastic photos My DD Poppy just got of her Harley Quinn Costume.

This Costume and other Great ones can be found at PoppysWickedGarden on Artfire.

Poppy doesn't really have a budget for photography, but she does have friends. Her model loves the costume and sells the makeup to make the mask. She sells really wonderful mineral makeup at GothCupcake on Etsy. It's the best. She's on a little vacation but she'll be back soon.



The Photography is so fantastic. All the pics were done in collaboration with TharnPhotography on Etsy. The photography is so fun and fantastic. I think they all did such a wonderful job. Wow, these pics look better than the ones Poppy had of the clothes on her Mannequin.

If you're not the greatest photographer, make friends with someone who is. It doesn't even have to be a professional, although if you want pictures like these you will need one. Sometimes you can find people who will do great photos for a trade.

Modeling is often the hardest thing to find, but if you have jewelry or clothing, a plastic person is not the same as a real model. Look at the Front page of Etsy and see how many pictures of plastic people, or poor photos are there.

Is there any other way to get good photography? Yes there is. If you are near a school that teaches photography, you can often get some nice work done by students to add to their portfolio. A photographer needs to have a portfolio of good work to show to potential clients, just like you need good photography to sell your product. This goes for all product, not just modeled product.

Often it is very hard for students, or even professionals, to get their hands on product to add to their portfolio. If the merchandise will be sold on a web site, even better.

But what if you need a model? You can find great models (and even photographers) at a site called Model Mayhem. Poppy has found great models there who were willing to do shoots in exchange for clothing and photography for their portfolios. There are models all over the country on that site.

But don't forget your friends and neighbors. Many of them would be thrilled to model your product. Don't be afraid to ask, and don't feel hurt when some say no. If you sell children's clothing, many parents don't want their children's faces publicized, many do. You can use friends and children as models without showing their face. I do it for my jewelry photography.

So grab yourself some great pics. And don't forget to stop by Poppy's Wicked Garden for some Great Costumes and clothes, Goth Cupcake for Fantastic Makeup and Tharn Photography for some wonderful Prints.

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