Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on 2008 & Looking Ahead to 2009

Wishing all my friends, family and new acquaintances a very Happy New Year!

We had lots of bumps in the road during 2008, but I was able to reach so many goals despite setbacks. In April I finally earned my bachelor's degree (B.S. in Marketing) after being out of college for about 20 years. That was my very best memory of the year and I can't even describe the relief I felt to have that behind me. And I finally started a blog, which I've wanted to do for a long time too, but never had the opportunity when I was focusing on school and my day job. Lately, I have been working hard on marketing my jewelry and have spent a great deal of 2008 being creative & making stuff, which makes me very happy!
Thanks to everyone for reading my thoughts and for following me. I really appreciate it and value all the new friendships made.

I hope that 2009 is a great year for everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's in a Name?

This is a fun site just sent to me by my friend Mary. Click here to find out the history behind your first name.

Hopefully yours will be more exciting than mine! If you learn anything cool, leave in a comment for me. Otherwise I will just be typing in random names until I find something more amusing than the Olde English version of Kimberly! I may have to re-write mine so it's more interesting.

KIMBERLY
Gender: Feminine

Usage: English

Pronounced: KIM-bər-lee [key]

From the name of the city of Kimberley in South Africa, which was named after Lord Kimberley (1826-1902), whose surname meant "CYNEBURGA's field" in Old English. The city came to prominence in the late 19th century during the Boer War. Kimberly has been used as a given name since the mid-20th century, eventually becoming very popular as a feminine name.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award


I have been awarded the 'Kreativ Blogger Award' by Elayne of ChezChani and Teri with S&T Creations. Thank you ladies for thinking of me. I value our friendship and admire your jewelry designs and talent!

I need to pass on this award to 5 other bloggers.

These are the rules:

1. The winner may put this award on their blog.
2. Please put a link to the person that presented you for this award.
3. Nominate 5 blogs.
4. Put links to all their blogs.
5. Leave a message for your nominees.

I now pass the Kreativ Blogger Award crown to:

Rachel with Kentucky Captured & Wilmoth Farms
Becca with PurrPrints
KK with AllHorseStuff
Chelsea of Paper Cakes
Anna from TheHouseofMouse

Please check out their blogs!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bourbon Brownies - Yum-O!


I made these tasty bourbon brownies for a party on Christmas Eve. It was a new recipe, which is always risky, but I was not disappointed! I am already thinking about making these again next year and making the recipe my own by making a few tweaks. I plan to soak the pecans in bourbon next year and it might be tasty to add a little bourbon to the icing. Also I plan to make a Maker's Mark version of this recipe with some red chocolate drizzle to represent the red wax dipped Maker's Mark bottles. I think this would make a great gift. Yeah, I agree, it's early to think about next year. They would be good for Derby parties too.

Kentucky Bourbon Brownies

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powder sugar
2-3 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

1. Grease an 8x8x2" pan. In medium saucepan, combine 1/3 cup butter, the granulated sugar & water. Cook & stir over medium heat just until boiling. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of chocolate chips, stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in eggs & vanilla, beating lightly with a spoon until combined. Stir in flour, baking soda & salt. Stir in pecans. Spread batter into prepared pan.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

3. Using a fork, prick the warm brownies. Drizzle bourbon evenly over brownies. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack.

4. For frosting, in a small mixing bowl, beat the 3 tablespoons of butter with a mixer (at med-high speed) for 30 seconds. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 2 teaspoons of milk and vanilla. If needed, add the rest of the milk to desired consistency. Spread over brownies. Drizzle melted chocolate over frosting.

Enjoy!!

I had to share this photo too. We received these last week at work as a gift from a vendor. They are pretzel rods, rolled in caramel, then rolled in heath toffee bits. The others are rolled in M&M's. They are then drizzled in chocolate. And I must say, they tasted as good as they looked. They came with a business card and I immediately emailed the creator of these treats, Debbie Friedman. Unfortunately, she does not have a website, but can be reached at mainleyprezel@yahoo.com. Also, she can mail a brochure out upon request.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Custom Holiday Wreaths





Check out these gorgeous wreaths created by my friend Lisa Willman of Anne Todd Designs in Louisville, KY. It's not too soon to think about getting your order in for next year. Lisa can be reached at annetodd1@bellsouth.net. Most wreaths are about $48 and all can be customized with your color preferences. If you saw my earlier blog post (It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas) you saw her beautiful work on my front door. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What the Heck are Springerles?


Springerles are are love/hate kind of thing. Much like black jelly beans at Easter, which by the way, I love! I do like licorice, but the real stuff, not the cherry flavored Twizzlers.

Springerles are a german tradition and they are pretty labor intensive. That's why I buy mine from Heitzman's, a local bakery. But back in the day, my grandmother would make them and I would help her. She would roll out the dough and have a white tablecloth draped over a card table. The cookies were rolled with a special wooden rolling pin with a design carved into it. Then they would sit for 24 hours before baking. I love the texture of these cookies. They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

If you love black jelly beans, give these a try!

This is a set of very old springerle molds that belonged to my grandmother. Somewhere in my house there is a springerle rolling pin that also was my grandmothers. I am going through boxes trying to find it!

Here is a recipe I found on the web if you are interested.

Springerle Cookies Recipe

4 large eggs
1 pound fine granulated sugar
4 drops pure anise oil
4½ cups sifted cake flour
1¼ tablespoons crushed anise seeds (optional)

Beat eggs until thick. Add sugar gradually, beating well between each addition until all is combined and then beat for about fifteen minutes. This will make for a light finished cookie.

Add anise oil and blend. Fold in the flour lightly.

Roll out dough about one-half inch thick. Flour Springerle mold or rolling pin (with each use) and press firmly into dough. Cut cookies along line of imprint.

Place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle anise seeds of the sheet, if desired, then place cookies on sheet. Let stand overnight in a cool place to dry.

In the morning, place in a moderate oven (375° F.) to set the shape, but reduce immediately to a slow 300° F. When done, in 12 to 15 minutes, cookies should be only lightly colored, with the appearance of being iced.

Keep cookies in a tight can for 2-3 weeks before consumption to develop best taste. To soften, place a cut apple in the can two days before using.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's starting to look like Christmas at my house, albeit slowly. I feel so far behind on things this year. We almost didn't put up a tree and I am pretty close to calling it quits on the Christmas cards. I have mailed only one. I hate to do that, but it's not been the typical holiday for us this year so I just need to adjust my standards.

Nevertheless, I did manage to shop for the family that we adopted at work and I finished shopping for my senior citizen. I bought everything on her list, including the red socks she wanted! (which was why I picked her) And she got several surprises too. The only part that is hard is being anonymous. I wish I could meet her.

We went to Chick-fil-A the other day which is one of my favorite fast food places. While I was staring at the ad for their new chocolate chip peppermint milkshake and telling myself I did not NEED it, a guy walks up and hands me a coupon for a free chocolate chip peppermint milkshake. Talk about divine intervention. LOL! I think this is the coupon karma coming back to me as I am always handing out coupons to people in line at Hobby Lobby and Michael's when I have an extra one.

Here are some pictures of a gorgeous wreath that my friend Lisa made for me in "grinch green" colors. I took these at night and wasn't sure how they would turn out. I love the glow of the lights in the first picture. And aren't the red spirals in the wreath cool? She did a fantastic job!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Earring Giveaway - Bluegrass Team Contest


It's time for the Etsy Team Bluegrass monthly giveaway! The prize this month is donated by Whimsy by Mari. All you have to do to win this fabulous pair of earrings is visit Mari's shop then leave a comment on our team blog. Visit our team blog for the contest details.

One comment will be chosen at random on January 1, 2009 to win these beautiful earrings.

Remember, you can't win if you don't enter!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All is Calm


Cute picture of Jack and Tucker sleeping on our bed. Like babies, they are so cute when they sleep.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas in Anchorage - Holiday Boutique

Pictures from the Christmas Boutique (at Christmas in Anchorage) this past weekend. The weather was bad and there were several other big craft fairs going on, but we had a nice crowd and a lot of fun!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting Ready for the Holidays

For lots of reasons, I have been a little slow in getting into the holiday spirit lately. My friend Lisa and I went out to lunch for our very favorite salad and did some retail therapy shopping last week. She gave me some fun holiday socks and a beautiful gold fleur de lis ornament for my tree.

I found a really fun item to keep me in the spirit at work. These star lights plug into the USB port on your computer. The lights change random colors every few seconds. I love having these plugged in all day at work! I think they are the coolest.
My friend Mary suggested that I adopt an elderly person off the Christmas "angel" tree at Kmart. What a great idea! I always associated that with kids during the holidays. But what a great idea to help out an older person. While I was in WalMart last night, I spotted a tree just for the elderly called "Be A Santa to a Senior." I read every person's name and list at least twice, then selected a lady named Patricia. It was interesting to see what types of things they listed. Most were necessities like house slippers, sheets, towels, postage stamps, etc. The lady I selected asked for a pair of red socks (which made me smile), postage stamps, red dish towels, thank you cards and a Kroger gift certificate.

We also adopted a family that is in the same part of town as our office. My coworkers and I have been busy buying for those children and their mother. We do this every year and it's always a good feeling.

We finally put up our tree with the assistance of our new kitty Jack, who has the energy of a toddler on Red Bull. In the picture below, he is actually up in the tree, adjusting an ornament. Well, actually playing with it. I think he feels each ornament is his own personal playtoy, put there for his enjoyment. I am amazed each day that there are not piles of ornaments on the floor.


Our tree finally set up. It will look much better when I get all my gifts wrapped!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Enter our Bluegrass Team Ornament Contest!


I recently won a contest sponsored by our Bluegrass etsy team. Here is a picture of the necklace I received that is created by Corinne Sullivan of Daydream Art Studios. Just received it in the mail today. Thank you Corinne! I loved it and the packaging too. Your stamped muslin bag is a nice touch!

Our team is hosting ANOTHER contest if you would like to participate. It is an ornament contest and all you have to do is vote on your favorite, then leave a comment on the team blog for your chance to win! The prize is $20 in BEST bucks, redeemable at participating bluegrass etsy shops. Here is the link to our team blog. Good luck!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cute Handwarmers & Craft Show


I bought these handwarmers/fingerless gloves from the show I did at St. Gabriel a couple weeks ago. They are too darn cute and I like them even more because they don't exactly match. There were two ladies next to us knitting away during the whole event. These went with the sweater I was wearing and I just love them. My hands are always cold and they get chapped in the winter. The best part was they were only $8. Since buying them, I have priced similar (but not as cute) handwarmers and they run from $25 - $40 at local boutiques and on etsy. I got quite the deal!

Here is a picture of my table too, with some of my holiday decorations displayed on my table with my jewelry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reflections on my Grandmother


Friday my cousin and I went to pack my grandmother's things at the nursing home. She sure had a lot of stuff in that room. It was very hard to do and all of grandma's friends and caregivers came by to see us and express their condolences. For some reason I thought that people in jobs like that, exposed to sickness or death in hospitals or nursing homes, didn't get too attached. I was so wrong. They cried right along with us.

I had to chuckle when we opened up the last drawer in her dresser to find a drawer dedicated to candy. Marshmallows and suckers and chocolates. Oh my! I am sure I will have a candy drawer myself someday. If you talk to my friend Lisa she will tell you stories of the shoe box I kept under the bed as a kid, filled with candy. The sweet tooth gene certainly runs in our family. Dessert was always mandatory when you went out to eat with my grandma. Even if you couldn't finish your meal, you could finish a dessert.

************************************
Sunday and Monday were very, very long days for us. When I woke up on Sunday, I just wanted it to be Tuesday morning.

Sunday was visitation. We were able to share a lot of funny stories about grandma with our family and friends. They knew my grandma but they didn't know how in the past year she started eating stuff she never ate before in her life. Her appetite totally changed. She started eating things like chili and cheeseburgers and put ketchup on everything. She told me she had her first cheeseburger earlier in the year. I am not sure if I believe that or not!

She also learned how to operate an elevator by herself at age 88. She and her sidekick Margaret decided they wanted to go downstairs and they did not need assistance. Margaret is in a motorized wheelchair and she gets on the elevator first. It takes awhile for her to get the chair inside the elevator. Meanwhile, the elevator door closes and my grandmother never made it on the elevator. Margaret is alone and she is gone. She cannot reach the buttons and is terrified. When the elevator comes back up to the 2nd floor and the door opens to Margaret's very upset face, my grandmother is laughing. This is just one of many stories we have from her time in the nursing home.

When you think of nursing homes, you tend to think of all the bad things. Like bad nurses or poor care. My grandmother's home was anything but. She loved the staff and they loved her. She had (in my opinion) the best year of her life in 2008. Margaret and my grandmother would like to sit outside when the weather was nice and they would giggle like school girls when they would greet everyone walking by. They were always together. They never missed bingo games and I enjoyed sitting with them. My grandmother was always very lucky and would win frequently. Granted, the stakes weren't high. Regular bingo paid 25 cents and the coverall paid $1.00. One of my family members counted up all her change from bingo winnings and she had over $100!

My grandmother loved to play cards. She and Margaret would put on their floppy hats and sit out on the balcony and play cards all the time. They recently dressed up for their Halloween party and my grandma won a prize for scariest costume. She was dressed up as a devil. Also our state fair has a contest for the Ugliest Lamp. It can be a lamp you create or something that was just butt-ugly in it's original unaltered state. My grandmother decorated a lamp for the contest and it certainly qualified! It didn't win, but she enjoyed the contest and we got to see it on display at the fair and a local restaurant. We were so proud of her.

We were able to share some of these stories with our friends to keep us from crying too much at the funeral home.

***************************************

Monday (yesterday) was the funeral. It was very cold and were were hoping for some big fluffy snowflakes as she loved to watch the snow fall. We did get a little but it was mostly sleet. The music my mom picked out was lovely and the acoustics of the very old beautiful church made the music even more powerful. The Ave Maria sung in latin was something that would make me cry, even if I was not at my grandmother's funeral. Very powerful.

It was an overwhelming day.

Tonight I was getting out some Christmas decorations and set up the nativity scene. My grandmother made them in ceramics many, many years ago and I think everyone in our family has a set that she made. They were special to me before, but now, they have even more meaning.

I think of all the things my grandmother created and I know I owe my creativity to her. Thank you grandma for such a wonderful gift.

Your loving spirit will always live on in us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Tragic Loss

Last night was a busy "before the holiday" kind of night. I was busy making a cheesecake, some jello salad and an appetizer. The counter was covered and dishes were everywhere. I enlisted my son's help to wrap up birthday gifts for my grandmother, whose birthday is today. He picked out the gift bags and coordinated tissue and wrapped up each item with love. Earlier in the afternoon, I wrote a blog post about Thanksgiving to be posted today and mentioned how thankful I was to have my grandmother.

During all this activity, I received a call from my mother just before 11 pm and I could immediately tell something was wrong when she said my name. The nursing home had called her to tell her to come right away. Then they called again to say my grandmother had already passed away. It seems her heart may have stopped. She passed away quickly.

About 14 months ago, she had a heart attack at home (she lived alone) and then was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. At her age (late 80's) she was not a candidate for any surgery to repair her heart. She was admitted to a nursing home when she was discharged from the hospital. In the past 14 months she had a rebirth of sorts. She made lots of friends and participated in all the activities. She made a best friend in another resident named Margaret who is a sweetheart. They played cards all the time and talked about drinking a beer together, although I don't think they ever did. Her group of friends were known as the "Lollipop Gang" at the nursing home for their routine of eating DumDum suckers during bingo each Sunday. She never wanted to miss any of the bingo games. We had photos of her smiling! It was a side of her we had not seen before. And we basked in it. The staff at the nursing home loved her and treated her wonderfully. She was determined to walk without a walker and she did. We were so happy to see her happy. There were times recently that she expressed a desire to leave and go back home, but I think she knew that would not happen as she could not live alone. I think she missed her house and neighbors.

When my paternal grandmother passed away many years ago, I had deep regret. Mostly that I had selfishly not spent enough time with her. I was younger then but that's no excuse. That pain stays with me to this day. And I learned a hard lesson from her passing. With my maternal grandmother I can honestly say that I have so many happy memories with her and she knew how much I really loved her. I have no regrets this time.

It is amazing how many tears can come out of one person. My eyes are so swollen and puffy and my head hurts. One of the things I wish I could change about myself is my depth of emotion. I am so emotional. I couldn't sleep and have been writing a eulogy in my head for hours so I thought I would get up and start typing away. When the pain is not so fresh, I will write more. I just had to get this off my chest.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is planned for 2 pm today but I don't know what we are doing yet. I think grandma would still want us to get together. I am just not sure we can handle it. I have not talked to anyone yet this morning.

When you are with your family today for Thanksgiving, hug them tight!
And give thanks that you have them. Don't have regrets for things unsaid and undone.

Love to you all.


Grandma, Mom, Me - October 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to You!

What are you thankful for?

I hope everyone can think of many things to be thankful for this year. My grandmother is celebrating her birthday on Thanksgiving Day and I know I am very thankful that she is alive and well! Also, I am happy to have a wonderful husband and son, a close knit family, my health and a good job. I realize that I am lucky and I count my blessings.

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving, however you chose to spend it. And lots of leftovers!

Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays

If you need ideas for the holidays, please visit my etsy shop for the perfect gift!

Most items are priced under $20.

Beginning today through Cyber Monday 11/30, I will offer a free gift with each purchase.

Click here to visit my Creative Eye Studio shop! And thanks for looking!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ulta.com - Poor Customer Service

If you go to ulta.com you will see at the top of their webpage they announce that you can choose three free samples with every order. This offer and the free robe for buying perfume made me want to make a purchase.

I ordered and selected my samples. Rec'd my order and no samples. Tried to contact ulta customer service. They do not answer the phone when you call their 800 #. You die on hold and they suggest you go to their webpage. Sounded like a good idea. Went there clicked on "contact us" and the maze began. When you click the "email us" button, you don't get an email. You get a list of 50+ questions that maybe you can read through instead of emailing them. Yeah right. They make it very hard to communicate with them.

So I disregard all the roadblocks and finally send an email which is actually a thread on their page.

Here is the chain. It's not so much about the samples, it's that they tell me I am one of thousands of orders and they don't have time to ship them out. That's after they suggest that maybe I never added them to my cart. That's funny, they were listing on my packing list!!

Customer 11/21/2008 09:38 AM
I received my order today. Order #A105365160. Everything looks great, but I did not receive my 3 free samples. Can you send those to me?

Kim Ries

Auto-Response 11/21/2008 09:38 AM

*********************************************************************************
Response (Christine B.) 11/21/2008 04:26 PM
Novenber 21, 2008

Dear Kim,

Unless you had added the 3 samples to your shopping bag, we are unable to send out any samples due to number of orders coming in at this time of the year. I do apologize, but if you did not add them to the original order we are unable to send any out. This is coming from the Director of Shipping.

Sincerely,

Christine
Guest Services

*********************************************************************************

Customer 11/22/2008 04:43 PM
I did add these items to my bag. They show up on my packing list. It seems you should be able to see them on my order. I did not receive them and would like them to be shipped. That was one of the reasons I placed my order. Thank you.

Kim Ries

**********************************************************************************
Response (Christine B.) 11/22/2008 05:38 PM
November 22, 2008

Dear Ulta Guest,

I sent an email to the shipping department asking to ship out the samples that are shown on your order. The shhipping director apologized that the items were not placed in your order. Unfortuantely, because we are receving thousands of orders. He stated that we are unable to ask to send out samples to guests.

Unfortuantely, I am not able to send out those samples at this time.

Sincerely,
Christine
Guest Services

******************************************************************************

Customer 11/24/2008 08:37 AM
It seems very misleading to have on your website that you can choose three free samples. And then you don't send them. It was Ulta's mistake and you are not doing what you said you would do. That's bad business. I don't really care that you have thousands of orders. In fact, if you treat customers this way, I would think that your "thousands of orders" will be dwindling.

You can advise your shipping director that I will take my business elsewhere in the future. Your customer service is very lacking. And I plan to post this to my blog and let everyone know.

*************************************************************************************

Response (Christine B.) - 11/24/2008 12:43 PM
November 24, 2008

Dear Ulta Guest,

I do apologize; however, these are the corporate rules coming from the
Shipping Director. I cannot override his decision, especially since they are
free items. I do apologize, but I am following the corporate rules.

Sincerely,

Guest Services

************************************************************************************
Obviously those in charge (namely the "shipping director") don't care much about keeping their customers happy.

Long story short, I'll be taking my business to Sephora in the future!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Retreat Gardens in Nassau


Two weekends ago my job took me on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas. When I told people it was for work and reminded them I would be working, I didn't get much sympathy. We did manage to have some fun too and ate and drank quite a bit in the process! I brought home 7 of those mini rum cakes from Tortuga rum. (they are gifts mostly!) I made the horrendous mistake of stepping on the scale when I returned home. Talk about sticker shock. I will be adding sweatpants to my Christmas list I am afraid. And so close to the best food holiday of the year - Thanksgiving. ay yi yi!

While in Nassau, we went to a place called the Retreat Gardens which is a national park. They have a great collection of palms and lots of other tropical plants that we don't see here in Kentucky. I wish I knew the names of these to identify them, but thought I'd share a few of them with you. I just love nature photography.




The conch shells were for sale for $5.00 right at the water's edge in Nassau.


You can see the rest of my photos at my flickr page. Click here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cool Find in Phoenix


Continuing in the theme of "I try not to buy jewelry from stores since I make jewelry...blah blah blah," I broke my rule again. I have decided it is quite okay to buy something that is out of my range. Lampwork glass is out of my range. It's harder than it looks.

A couple weeks ago, I found this necklace in a giftshop at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ. I saw it the first day and thought about it for 24 hours, then went back to buy it the next day. Figured I would regret it if I didn't buy it. I love colors of the glass and the wire wrap. Isn't it cool?

The colorful card that came with it says it was created by Eye Candy by Chelsea. I googled and found her site. Check it out. She is based in Prescott, AZ. Cool stuff.

I just love this necklace. Very original.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cool Find at Pier One


Since I make jewelry, I try hard not to purchase jewelry from stores. I want to be wearing my own creations if I do get a compliment. However, I found these cool cuff bracelets at Pier One for only $6. What a bargain. They came in several different colors and I could not decide. So I bought two! It was a bad sign that I had my arms full with cool holiday stuff and had not made it past the front counter of the store.

I am powerless over Pier One!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Member of the Family - Meet Jack!

After 48 hours of grieving about Cosmo, we adopted another cat. His name is Jack.

We went back to Shamrock, the rescue organization, and told them how Cosmo was diagnosed with FIP and that we only had him for one year. They said we could pick out another kitty and they would waive the $85 adoption fee for us. That was very nice. We found an adorable tabby with white patches that stood out from the rest. They had named him Jack which seemed to fit his personality.

I always like to hear the story behind the kittens and how they came to be rescued. Jack's story is interesting, but sad. It seems a couple came into the pet store with three kittens (Jack and two litter mates). They said the cats were living near (or at) a reformatory in LaGrange, Kentucky (don't know how they came to be there) and they could no longer care for them. The couple actually walked out of the store and left the kittens behind. And it gets worse. Then they came back to the store shortly thereafter and tried to adopt a younger kitten. The lady from the rescue organization recognized the man and he left quickly. How awful is that?

When we held Jack we knew he was the one. We were hoping for a younger baby and Jack is 5 months old. However, it only took a few minutes to realize how sweet and affectionate he is. He purred incessantly, nuzzled in my hair, nuzzled around my neck, put both paws around my neck and bit on my nose (we call that a love bite). He knew all the things to do to win us over. Actually, I think HE chose US!


This second picture shows our cat Tucker giving Jack a stare down. Seconds later there was a long, low growl and then a hiss and they scattered. Jack is being submissive to Tucker, which helps. I hope it doesn't take too long for them to bond!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nunnlea Craft Show


Susanne and I set up at the Nunnlea House show this weekend. The show was Friday and Saturday and they served a great lunch both days. The ladies of the Beautification League run this show and they were so nice to work with. There was a steady crowd both days and everyone was pleased with the turnout. We had a good variety of vendors too. My mom came by on Friday and helped me work the show. It was fun to have her join me!

I learn something new with each show. What seemed important this weekend was the type of earwires on the earrings. I mostly use sterling silver shepard's hooks but someone wanted posts, so I changed them out for her quickly. I had a nice pair of specialty earrings that I put on lever backs. The lady that bought them had trouble with lever backs and wanted them on shepard's hooks. I changed those out as well. By day 2 of the show, I had every kind of wire available for anyone who asked. I even brought clips. I may make up a sign that earwires can be changed upon request.

I did get an inquiry about some custom earrings and taking some sentimental clip earrings from deceased parent and reworking it into something more modern. I hope she contacts me as it sounds like a fun project.



Here is a very cool purse I purchased at the show from the vendor next to us. The colors are great for fall and went well with the sweater I was wearing. I put it on my shoulder and was encouraged by everyone to purchase it! There was only one like it, so I bought it. I would post the creator's name, but she stopped making these due to time constraints and it was her mom that was selling them at the show. The beads and cool fibers at the top of the purse are a total cat magnet. I know this from experience!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Busy Week & Farewell to Cosmo


It's been a crazy week. I was in Phoenix earlier this week for a work event and flew home Wed night. I had to rush to get ready for another craft fair that started today (Friday). Kinda slammed!

The show started today and runs through tomorrow. I'll post pics later in the weekend. I am not sure why, but everyone was buying today. We had a good crowd. I wonder if the election has some people feeling more confident about change? Who knows. Maybe it's just getting close to Christmas.

We had to put our kitty Cosmo down tonight. He was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis almost two months ago. The vet said he might last about two months and she was right. We had been giving him meds to keep him comfortable but about a week ago he just quit eating. He would not even eat his treats anymore. And that was what he loved most in the world was treats. My husband took him into the vet's office and I sat in the truck and cried. Such a baby. They said the inside of his ears were yellow which meant his liver was failing. The disease (FIP) attacks their organs and is always fatal. My husband came out with a Nike shoe box in his arms. Cosmo's breath these past few months had been wretched so I gave my husband a breath mint to slip in the box before he buried him. Just me being silly. We kept his collar and tags to hang in our hallway with those from Smokey and Sassy. We've had a bad luck streak with cats in the past 5 years or so. I hope the next one will be healthy. I wonder if our older cat Tucker will miss him.

I have another work trip coming up which will take me out of the country. But I hope to look for a new kitty when I return home.

Now I have to put on a happy face for the show tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

First Etsy Sale


Still reeling from the great turnout at the holiday show on Saturday, I opened my email on Sunday morning to find that I had my first sale at etsy. I did a happy dance down the hall and gave my husband a high five. I have been listing my inventory slowly and working hard on promoting my shop. I wondered when/if a sale would happen. I realize it takes time and considered that maybe people don't want to be your first. (For example, at ebay I would hestiate to buy from a new seller) I was so excited when I saw the email. A pair of my holiday Christmas tree earrings sold. Woohoo!

Not long ago I made some purchases from etsy to see how the process works when you are a buyer. What I noticed is there wasn't a lot of communication. I didn't get a confirmation from the seller when I placed the order, when I paid for the order, etc. This was a good exercise because I realized how important it is to communicate with buyers. My first buyer may get tired of hearing from me, but I certainly plan to keep the lines of communcation open.

I was curious about how she found my shop. I am in KY and she is in PA. I asked her about it and she told me that she likes shopping with etsy and she had purchased some holiday earrings last year from a particular shop. Her friend wanted a pair like them and she went to the original artist and found the shop was no longer on etsy. She then did a search for "Swarovski crystal" and "Christmas tree" and found a bunch to look through. She told me that mine were the "nicest and a good buy." And because they had a green bead at the top and all the others were red, her friend liked those the best as green is her favorite color. I thought that was a cool story!

Part II

The buyer received her earrings on Wednesday and emailed to say she wanted a pair for herself too. So Wednesday night I made another pair, posted them and sold them. Thursday I shipped the second pair to her.

It reminds me of my friend Lisa. When we see something that we love, we buy it for each other. And then we buy one for ourselves too. I know if I love it, Lisa will love it too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My First Show of the Holiday Season


On Saturday I set up at my first holiday show! I was excited and nervous about it. I wasn’t sure if I would have enough things, if there would be a lot of competition, if people would buy because of the economy, if my prices were right, etc. Things started out a little slow as this was a new venue for the show. But then it picked up and stayed steady the rest of the day. To the point it was hard to get a bite to eat or take a bathroom break!


Here are some photos of my setup. I received lots of nice comments on my table and display. Several people picked up my Halloween/fall displays and I wondered if I should have had a price on those! People were fascinated with the little battery operated tealights that flicker like candles. Those were a hit, so I plan to use them in my Christmas displays too. I had a matte glass votive from Big Lots with a skeleton leaf and twine tied to it that people loved.

I was told by one buyer that my prices were too low. That was flattering and something to think about. I like to have a variety of items, with most of them moderately priced so that the jewelry is affordable. On the other hand, there were people that really deliberated spending $5 on a cell phone charm and $10 or $15 on a pair of earrings with sterling earwires. So there were all kinds. I think you’ll have that at any show.

I received lots of questions about how to care for sterling silver and keep it from tarnishing. Based on that I plan to have polishing cloths available at the next show and have a little care sheet put together on how to store sterling and clean it.

It was fun meeting everyone and helping them with their decisions on which bracelet to buy, etc. Several of my friends showed up to support me which meant a lot. All of the vendors were really nice. Some were willing to barter which is always fun. We traded business cards and discovered new friends by the end of the day! Overall, it was a fun experience. My next show is on November 7-8 at the Nunnlea Craft Fair. I am looking forward to it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting Ready for a Holiday Show

I am trying not to dwell on it too much, but I am almost in panic mode. I'm sure I'll be up late tonight working on finishing touches. I have a show tomorrow and it's my first holiday show with lots of competition during a less than stellar economic time. Realizing this, I have made my items affordable. I have invited lots of friends, family and acquaintances, so the pressure is on for this booth to look great! I am using all my marketing skills and know how to make this table look really festive and professional. Watching Sandra Lee on the Food Network create "the perfect tablescape" hopefully did not go to waste on me. I have all my kraft bags and boxes stamped with fleur de lis and tied with pretty ribbon and have lots of promo items to give out to promote my etsy site. I don't have a banner so I printed out a small sign for a clear upright holder. And I have little handouts with my other holiday shows listed. Who knew this would be so much work. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Featured on Bluegrass Team Blog - How Cool!


On our team chat this week, we were on a roll and brainstormed on lots of great ideas to implement in the next few months. It's exciting to be on a team that is regional, as I have the opportunity to meet most of these ladies and gentlemen. Somehow there is more of a connection. Maybe it's that we all live in the great state of Kentucky!

Corinne, our team leader sent me a note today letting me know that I am featured on the Bluegrass etsy team blog this week. Click here to take a look!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bernheim Forest ColorFest and Geocaching


This weekend was the ColorFest fall festival at Bernheim Forest in Clermont, Ky. We had planned to go hiking at Bernheim and packed a lunch. We managed to get there before the big crowds and do a little hiking. We stopped at the gift shop/visitor center and there were booths set up with food vendors and Ky crafts. Inside the center I found the coolest "fairy" scarecrow by artist Wren Smith. Isn't this cool? I love the 2nd picture as all the light from the windows illuminates this wonderful art. Next year they are asking individuals and organizations to create their own artistic scarecrow to be on display at Bernheim. (click pictures for a larger view)






A woodturner from Kentucky demonstrates his work as a crowd gathers to watch. Everyone loves to see an artist in action. It really seems to draw them into your booth.



A nice view from the trail. And a pretty birch tree.


We also went geocaching that day. If you unfamiliar with geocaching, it's great fun. Basically you get the coordinates for a hidden item (the cache) and enter it into your gps. You also get clues, sometimes they are in code and you have to decipher them. Most of the time you have to go off the trail to find what you are looking for. The coordinates give you the general area and are not exact. We tried for four yesterday. Three of them were microcaches which means they could be as small as an altoids tin or a film canister. We never found those, and I was pretty discouraged. We gave it one last try for hunt #4. This one was described as a tall rubbermaid container wrapped in camo tape. The clue also told us it was in a hollow tree. It was quite a steep climb to make it to this one and you had to turn around as you were climbing to see the hollowed out part. My husband spotted the tree, as I had passed it up. This picture shows the location after removing the ground cover.

Inside these containers (which are often metal ammo boxes) you will find a log where everyone that has found the cache signs in and lists the date. Some people leave calling cards, like a business card that has their geocache name. There are usually trinkets inside the container, and if you take something you leave something and list it in the log. There is usually a pen inside unless it's a micro cache. You then go online when you get home and post to the person that created the cache that you found it. This info is listed for all to see. We normally print these out as they give clues about how to find them and if other people had trouble with the coordinates.

It's great fun if you've never tried it. All you need is a gps for trails(not a car gps). You can then type in the zip code of where you are traveling to and it will give you a list of the caches in the area! We try to do this whenever we travel.