Saturday, February 28, 2009

I've been tagged !!

As most of you realize, I don't usually blog on weekends although I do usually read quite a few over these two days. (I follow about seventy of you which can be quite time-consuming but thoroughly enjoyable!)

Well, I sat down tonight and found Christina at had tagged me in a photo blogpsphere game of tag. In this one, you must post your 4th picture file on your computer and blog about it. You then tag 4 others to follow suit. (Please bear with me, I haven't really accomplished this linking procedure real well, so I hope I do something useable here.)

Okay, here's my 4th picture! This is The Big Guy taken at the River City Roundup in Omaha in October 2007. We had just finished judging the BBQ contest and were wandering around checking out some of the other exhibits and displays.

This event used to be held at the Aksarben facility but has since been moved to the Quest Center in downtown Omaha. Quest is a fantastic facility and very accessible although we definitely ran into problems that morning as most of the roads had been closed down to allow the rodeo parade to take place at the same time we needed to be checking in for the judging.

(For those who live anywhere near Omaha, there are two HUGE craft shows held at this facility each year - one in July and the other is the first or second weekend in November. Really great stuff and reasonably priced!)

Well, back to the pic. The family had met up with us after the judging and he stole our little niece's hat just to tease! She doesn't rattle easily and was happy to share but definitely wanted to pose for her own modeling of the hat Daddy had just bought her. (The girl has good taste. The first hat she chose had a price tag of about $400!!) Daddy convinced her she looked better in this one. Did I mention she's gullible? Flattery will get him everywhere with her!

We weren't able to judge that contest in 2008 as The Big Guy was still recovering from knee replacement and was not up to the 22 hour drive (one way!) Maybe this year. We'll see.

Okay, now to tag four of my lucky friends.... I choose:
Rose at Life,Love, Yarn ( )
and finally
Violet at A Little Bit of Violette ( )

I'm looking forward to seeing your 4th pictures.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quick, name 5 things that make YOU smile.

Yesterday, Rose, over at Life, Love, Yarn posted "5 Things That Make Me Smile" and encouraged the rest of us to do the same. (

Once I got to giving it some thought, I had trouble limiting my list to only 5. Know what? Thinking about what makes you smile actually makes you smile and smiling, well, that leads to feeling good.

What better way to enter the weekend than starting a chain of smiles!!!

Here's my list:

#1 - Fun Times With Family

I can't help but smile when the family gathers over good food and lots of talk. In our case, talk leads right into hearty laughter. Some of my best memories are of just sitting around the table chatting and giggling with the family!!

# 2 - It has to be CHOCOLATE!
Yep, chocolate in most forms makes
me smile. (No, I didn't just copy Rose's answer of chocolate.) It really is one of the best ways to make me smile!

#3 - Balloons always make me smile.
I love balloons in all shapes and sizes. They can be one on a string from the Dollar Store or the kind you climb into a basket and ride in. I think they are beautiful! We took these pics last Memorial Day in Simpsonville, SC at the annual Freedom Festival. I had never seen that many balloons in one spot! It was a gorgeous day and we spent hours just watching the balloons come and go.

#4 - Picnics in the park...
We have a great park near our home that overlooks the point where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Susquehanna River. It is an absolutely beautiful view and very relaxing. We love to take our lunch (or sometimes dinner) and our books and just settle in to watch the herons, seagulls, ducks and boats glide by. Just gotta' smile at these moments!!!

#5 - Parades
I love a good parade. How can you keep from smiling at all the great sights? There's not just the floats and bands and such but the ohhs and ahhs and looks on all the little children watching it all roll by can't be beat to coax a smile out of you!

Well, I hope thinking about my reasons to smile has brought a little smile to your face and has gotten you thinking, too. Thanks Rose, for making me smile, too.

So, tell us what brings a smile to your lips and keep the chain of smiles going.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crafty Beginnings

Okay, I'll admit it. I do dabble all around the craft world! I've tried most, even sold quite a few but I do keep going back to the painting end of the realm. For laughs today, I took a pic of everything crafty within 20 feet of where I was sitting. Now, should I admit I was in the living room and not my craft room?

So, how did all this start?

A few months back, someone asked how I got started “crafting” and, ultimately, selling my craftwork. I came across the answer I’d written for her the other day and thought I’d share it with all of you. This is how it all began for me:

I think it was inbred. Like a bird just knowing it has to fly. I grew up in a crafty and artistically talented family surrounded by various art supplies. My mom's supplies resembled a well-stocked craft store. As far back as I can remember, I was painting, drawing, sewing, crocheting, modeling something from clay, gluing, pasting etc.

When we were bored, Mom gave us a handful of supplies and glue or such and we went to work creating. My mother was always involved in making craft items to sell at the church bazaar (Back then the profits all went to the church from such events - space rentals had not come into fashion. People simply volunteered time and donated the creations.) As soon as I was capable, I helped in those endeavors.

By junior high, I was making bouquets of tissue paper roses with wrapped stems and silk leaves, arranged with baby's breath and wrapped in green tissue. I think that may have been my first effort at earning money from my crafts. By high school, I was sewing clothes for friends. Once I started driving, I was doing my own booth at craft shows. I always seemed to be selling something I'd made.

After college, I opened my own gift shop featuring all handmade merchandise - both my own and others on consignment. I continued doing craft shows throughout those years. After a few years, economics and the need for a steady paycheck and benefits forced me to give up my shop but I continued doing shows and personal sales.

I've always made most of the gifts I've given. In the midst of a busy career, I needed to give up doing shows but I continued to craft and design for myself and friends. I “retired” two years ago and am again selling. Over the years, the merchandise has evolved. the particular craft has changed a number of times but it has always involved designing my own creations.

So, if you are “into crafts,” what got you started?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring is coming - flowers are sprouting, at least in my workroom!

"Spring is in the Air" --Okay, I'll grant you, today looks like a COLD Spring, but the daffodil sprouts have broken the ground and there are actually little bumps of buds forming on the trees (if you look verrry closely)! All this made we want to paint flowers yesterday.

I sat down and started to produce some cute little "mini plaques" with catchy sayings and lots of little flowers, hearts and stars to adorn them. I got a little carried away and had turned out at least thirty of these little pieces before taking a break. I'll be adding them to my shop a few at a time over the next week or so.

The first three are garden themed and I plan to list these in the shop later today. Sized at 4"x4" and 5"x3", they'll fit just about anywhere!

At $5 each, these are great for just a little touch of cheer to hang in a small place. I like to keep one near the sink and another near the computer to brighten my day while I work. They make fantastic little "token" gifts for aunts, teachers, neighbors, etc. - anybody whose day can use a little sunshine. They're very lightweight and can even be hung on a bulletin board using a push pin.

***As a "mini special," I'm offering free S & H on these little guys.



I"ve been promising to tell you about Handmadeology. Today's the day. Let me start by saying, there's a lot of information on this site and it will take you a while to go through it. I'm still checking it out and learning something new each time I stop in.

The creation of Timothy Adam, "Handmadeology: The Science of Handmade" is designed for anyone looking to sell handmade goods online. If you are new to selling online, Tim can take you by the hand and guide you step-by-step with easy to follow instructions and suggestions to get you up and running in an efficient and, hopefully, successful way. If you've been out there marketing online for a while, Tim has a myriad of suggestions and tips for refining your site, finetuning your promotional efforts and optimizing your sales.

Many of us are familiar with Timothy Adam from his great helpful and informative comments in the various craft related forums and the tutorials he's known for creating. For those who have never stumbled upon his words of wisdom, he's a metal artist who makes his living selling online. After opening a shop on Etsy in March of 2007, Tim began a blog in July that year journaling about his online selling experiences. It quickly became the place for fellow crafters and artists to study and learn online marketing techniques.

At Handmadeology, Tim has created a central directory of dozens of tutorials for dealing with Etsy, Artfire, Twitter, Facebook, etc. If you don't take time to check it out, you are limiting yourself and your sales.

WARNING: Have a comfy seat and a beverage handy. You'll want to stay awhile when you stop in to look at this site!


So, go out there and be creative today!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Mardi Gras!!!!

It's Mardi Gras!!!


("Let the good times roll!"

There are over 750,000 people partying in the streets of the French Quarter tonight. A little smaller crowd than usual but a crowd nonetheless. It's party time!!

So, Eat, Drink, Party, Celebrate and Enjoy!!!

See Y'all tomorrow!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Of This and That ....

I received a chain e-mail this week that actually was very informative. Did you realize that the fiesty, outspoken, blunt old woman that we’ve all come to think of as one of the decades’s greatest sages is actually manipulated by a man? Yes, in essence, Maxine is a Dude!! I don’t believe there’s a woman out there who, at some point, hasn’t read at least one Maxine cartoon and thought something to the effect of “Ain’t that the truth?”

Turns out Maxine was the brainchild (or maybe “brain mother”) of John Wagner, a Hallmark artist, who combined various traits and comments of his mom, grandmother and a couple of spinster aunts to create Maxine back in the late 80’s. She’s become so popular that both John and Maxine receive fan mail and consumers have demonstrated a personal identification with her. John likes to think, “Putting a smile on someone’s face is what it’s all about.” There are many people out there who thinks she’s just like them .. Or Mom … or Grandmom ….or Great Aunt Sadie…etc.

Hallmark and John named this wise old broad Maxine based on a contest among Shoebox Greeting employees. Asked to suggest a name, three out of thirty entries came up with “Maxine” -- and, thus, an old lady was born!!

May she keep on philosophizing for years to come!!!


My shop, was mentioned in an article in the online shopping magazine yesterday. They did a short article on ByHand and mentioned of few of the member’s shops. Check out the article when you get a chance.


For those who have asked, yes, we are still living oven-free. We miss brownies and oven roasted potatoes the most. We’ve made do with items such as bbq chicken on the electric grill, grilled marinated shrimp on the Foreman, a ham slice with brown sugar in the microwave, chili and jambalaya on the stove top, hot sausage sandwiches using the grill again and even “breakfast for dinner” (pancakes and breakfast links) one night. We’re quite tired of microwaved baked potatoes, though.

Only 4 more days until delivery of the new stove!!!


Some new green leaves are starting to sprout in the front garden - we’re ¾ of an inch closer to Spring and our annual display of jonquils! That's putting me in a Spring-like mood so I've been busy creating some new Spring merchandise. Hopefully, I'll have a few pics for you here in a couple of days.

In the meantime, go forth and be creative!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Under the Etsy Sea" -- My first Spotlight!

Okay! I promised more information concerning some of the features on --specifically the Spotlight feature. For those of you who are familiar with Etsy Treasuries, Spotlights are similar. They allow you to curate 9 items in a gallery format. Unlike an Etsy Treasury, you can pull from multiple venues to create one display, you don’t need to wait for one to “become available“, they never expire, You can make them using your own items or a mix of various crafters and you can pull from a number of sites including Etsy, Artfire, 1000 Markets, and more. I believe there are now 7 sources for listings.

Spotlights are extremely easy to create and you can arrange the photos to your heart’s delight. The instructions are given in an easy to follow, step-by-step manner and takes only minutes to do once you’ve decided what items you wish to feature. (That part took me the longest!) You can create as many Spotlights as you like and you can transport them to just about anyplace you’d like to show them off. (For example, on blogs like this one!)

I tried my hand at Spotlighting tonight and created this “Under the Etsy Sea” collection featuring three of my own items and five from other Etsy shops that caught my eye. (The three clothing pieces are mine.) I did a format featuring only eight items as it would fit better in this blog formatting.

So, go ahead and try your hand at making a Spotlight. They're really easy and lots of fun!

Friday, February 20, 2009


How can it be Friday again already? There’s still a lot on this week’s “To Do” list. Didn’t we just have a Friday a few days back? Now, I’m scrambling to get things done on the list!

By now I wanted to do at least another post or two about and all it’s wondrous features. I’ve been meandering around the site a little each day getting to know it. There are just so many good things there. I’m working on what they call a “Spotlight.” It’s a lot like the Etsy treasuries (for those who are Etsy fans). I hope to put one together by the beginning of the week for you to see. I’ll have to give you all those spotlighting details next week. If you get a little impatient and have some time on your hands, check it out for yourself.

Next week, I also hope to tell you about Timothy Adams’ new site, I haven’t had as much time to explore there yet but I’m working on it. Both sites seem really informative, easy to maneuver and fun to use. Check them out at your leisure.

My next in-depth crafter profile should also appear next week.

So, what did I accomplish this week? I actually did some painting and produced some new merchandise soon to be seen in my shop at! I filled some orders and began sketching out some Spring ideas. One whole afternoon was spent traipsing about trying to locate one particular, somewhat evasive, supply I need for a gift I’m working on. (Phone calls to various stores just weren’t going well and had sent me on a couple of wild goose chases!)

I took a long look at a few stragglers in my shop that just hadn’t garnered a lot of interest and began re-working them a bit. They’ll soon reappear the listings in their new forms. I changed my Beach Bum Denim Set from a 3 pieces to 2 and lowered the price when I relisted the other day. (The denim jackets have just gotten too pricey and hard to locate.)

The biggest time drain has been planning and working on my new Spring promotionals, both online and hands-on. I have the opportunity to participate as a supplier for items for some swag bags this Spring and I’ve been busy brainstorming and producing prototypes. I have to come up with items that are fairly quick and inexpensive to produce, eye-catching and interesting enough to make these folks check out my website. I’d also like it to be something they’ll keep around for a bit and actually use. That way, they’ll have an occasional reminder to check out my stuff. The monkey wrench in all this is -- I’ve got three events to do swag items for and a fair number of the recipients will be at all three events. I’d like to have different items for each event. As soon as I get some of these together, I’ll present them here and get some opinions from all of you.


Tuesday is Mardi Gras. We’re not having a party but we’ll celebrate anyway. Got my door decorated and beads hanging around the house. The zydeco music is sitting atop the entertainment center, ready to pop it in. I’ve got a tub of jambalaya ready to give to my neighbor and a grocery list for my gumbo supplies. Gumbo takes a while to brew properly so I’ll be cooking over the weekend. (Still no oven!) Want’a make some, too?
Here’s my recipe:

Gumbo, a Cajun specialty, can be many things. There are almost as many variations out there as there are cooks.. I pretty much took all the things we liked in many different versions and put them together to come up with this one. It makes a ton, freezes great and keeps our crowd happy ! The downside: it will take you the better part of a whole day to make the pot. (Remember, you can eat this for a long time, it does make a lot !)

1 ½ cups canola oil
1 ½ cups flour
3 cups chopped sweet onions
2 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped bell peppers
1 lb. smoked spicy hot sausage - cut cross-wise into ¼” slices
(I use andouille, but chorizo or kielbasa also works.)
3 tsps. salt
2 tsp. cayenne
6 cups of beef broth (I use low sodium)
1 medium-sized chicken, cut up (I use about 1 ½ lbs. of boneless breast cut into large bite-size pieces.)
3 cups chopped okra (fresh or frozen)
Cajun seasoning
3-4 Tbsp. of parsley flakes
2-3 Tbsp. file powder
1-1 ½ lbs. peeled shrimp
2-3 sliced jalapeno peppers (partially de-seeded)

Making the Roux -
(The roux is the most important part. Get this right and the rest simply falls together.)

First, make a chocolate brown roux. Heat oil in heavy -bottomed pot (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat. (I found my club-ware pot - although heavy - did not work real well. I use a cast iron Dutch oven bottom for this and it is perfect. I do, however, need to switch to the bigger pot once the roux is working. This makes a big pot full!) Gradually add flour (about a ¼ cup at a time), mixing with a whisk or wooden spoon until each addition is well integrated.

When all flour has been added, constantly stir over medium heat (lower heat slightly as necessary). Roux will gradually change from light caramel color to peanut butter color to a rich brown. This process should take about 20-25 minutes.

If black, burned specks appear in the roux, throw it out and start over. Be careful, this substance can splash easily and does stick and burn any skin it touches.)

Now that you have a good roux, add the onions, celery and bell peppers and continue to stir for several minutes until wilted. Add the sausage. Add about 4 cups of beef broth. Stir until the roux and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Season the chicken with Cajun seasoning, being sure to coat it well. (I put this in a plastic bag and shake it well, then let it sit in the bag soaking up the seasoning until the gumbo has cooked with the sausage for that hour.) Add the uncooked chicken pieces at the end of that hour. Add the okra, parsley and file at that time, too. Let simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Taste test occasionally during that time to determine if you need to add more of the spices to suit your own taste. (Remember, the spices “expand” and get a little richer while the gumbo sits in the fridge overnight or the next day!)

Finally, add the shrimp. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn heat off. Shrimp will finish cooking in the residual heat.

To serve: Prepare a bowl of white rice. Fill a soup bowl about 2/3 full with the gumbo and top with a spoonful or two of rice in the center of the bowl. Add a good fresh crusty bread will for a complete meal.

Makes 8-10 servings.
***This also tastes better when shared with friends.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Parking conflicts and shiny red balloons...

So there I was, sitting in my van on the shopping center lot Friday, addressing an envelope. I had made a last minute run to pick up Valentine's Day cards for my two elderly aunts and needed to get them in the mail - pronto. I was mailing them at their local post office so I had faith they would arrive the next day. "Wump". The car door next to me rammed against the passenger side of my van. I sighed deeply but decided not to react. "Wump". "Wump". Twice more! Okay, time to fire up .

I was formulating what I intended to say and reaching for the window button when I looked over and realized there was a very small girl struggling in a stiff wind to get her bright, shiny heart balloon into the back seat as she climbed in. She was so excited. I melted. She really didn't know any better. The wind was blowing at like 35 mph and she was so focused on keeping that balloon safe. Dad was busy arranging things in the trunk and hadn't noticed. I could have said something to him but chose to just suck it up and let it go. After all, Daddy had just bought her a balloon. A shiny red balloon at that!

Of course, as he climbed into the front seat of his car, I heard yet another "Wump"! Kids do learn what they see.

So why do they design parking lots the way they do? Good thing so many vehicles come with sun roofs, or perhaps we should call them "escape hatches." The spaces seem to be designed to the exact measurements of the average car without any allowance for opening the doors. The operative word here is "average." While I do drive a minivan, it is actually narrower than my friend's Honda Accord, an "average" sized car. It is merely higher and longer than the Accord. They (the parking lot engineers) also assume folks will take the time and effort to exactly center their vehicles in those spaces. How many people do this?

I came out the other day to find a Hummer parked next to me on the driver's side. It's a wide vehicle so the driver, needing room to open the door, allowed space on the driver's side when they pulled in. This meant their passenger side cleared my side view mirror by about 2 inches. I couldn't even walk between the cars let alone open the door. Obviously, they assumed I'd simply crawl in from another door - maybe the backseat - after all, the sliding doors don't need any room to open out. My guess is, they never gave me any consideration at all. Everyone seems to just be concerned with their own comfort and convenience these days. I got in on the passenger side and climbed over the console. I'm really getting too old for such acrobatic maneuvers.

It's not all the drivers' faults. Our state code actually does specify the number and size of marked parking spaces on commercial lots which, as written, would be sufficient. However, every new shopping center that is built or expanded around here requests "exceptions" to the parking requirements. There are almost always two requests made. The first is to alter the size of the spaces by "just a few inches" so as to get an extra space or two into each parking lane. (These are apparently those few inches we need to open our doors.) Once they've added those extra couple of spaces, they then request an exception to have fewer spaces than recommended. (Recommendations are based on the type of business and the square footage of the establishment.) After all, by adding two extra spaces on each row, they come "fairly close" to the suggested number. They've made a good faith effort. I've never seen any of these developers get turned down for such requests.

It almost makes me understand those folks who purposely take up two spaces on the lot. After all, they are special and unique people. Rules don't apply to them. I know this because I've seen them at the grocery store, the dry cleaners and the pizza shop. They're the ones that pull up at the curb and park in the fire lane or the loading zone. You know, the ones blocking the cart ramp in front of the grocery store door. They can do this as they are "just running in" to get a few dozen items and, after all, they did put their flashers on. I have nothing against drivers stopping to drop someone off in front of the door but why do they then need to sit there and wait at the curb. Can't they pull down into the parking area while they wait? They could then watch and pull back up there when their shopper actually came out of the store. This way, those who wish to load their vehicle at the curb could do so without double parking and blocking the traffic lane. But then those other people probably aren't as "entitled", are they?

Don't even get me started on the handicapped spaces!"

Incidentally, my van has a sturdy vinyl bumper strip down the side that absorbed all those bumps by balloon girl and her dad. I'm glad I didn't ruin her joy in that balloon. She did seem awfully happy! (Did I mention one of my favorite childhood reads was "The Big Red Balloon"?)

So, the next time you're out shopping, please think about the driver of the vehicle in the next car and give them an inch or two. Oh, and try not to slam your door into theirs. It really is the considerate thing to do.

"One Stroking" with Donna

This is actually yesterday’s post that I had “technical difficulties” with and simply couldn’t get it posted. I definitely will never be referred to as a “Techie!” Thanks for bearing with me. I hope to post again later today with “today’s” posting. We’ll see.


Donna Dewberry

Did any of you catch Donna Dewberry on HSN this past weekend? I don’t normally watch HSN, QVC, etc. (Although, I have done quite a bit of shopping at the QVC Outlet store in Rockvale!) but in flipping channels I saw her name and tuned in for a few minutes. For those who aren’t familiar with Donna, she developed the “One Stroke” painting technique that is taught in so many craft stores. I don’t use her method but it does fascinate me and I enjoy watching her. She can definitely produce some great results with what looks like very little effort. It’s kind of a “painting for dummies” approach!

Donna, I believe we’d be on a first name basis if we ever met in person, was pushing some new products and doing some demos to encourage folks to buy these items. (Why else would she have been on the Home Shopping Network, DUH!)That’s why I REALLY like to watch these shows. You never know when you’ll learn something! I did, too. She was using one of the standard plastic paint pallets and covered it with plastic wrap before putting her paints in the little indentations. Makes clean-up a breeze! WOW! So simple, I can’t believe I never came up with this one.

If you’ve always wanted to try decorative painting but were hesitant to just jump in, this may be the technique for you. Donna has written dozens of books and produced almost as many videos and tutorials on the subject. She gives clear, concise, step-by-step instructions. Her newest guide features clear, wipeable practice sheets that you place over her picture of the stroke and practice your own. You then wipe it clean and try again and again until you can get it right. Another one of those “wish I’d thought of that” things!

Donna is also one of those “Mom made good” success stories. She was home with seven kids and just wanted to make her home a little more attractive, grabbed some paint and thirty years later has become a craft-world icon!!

Check out Donna and her painting supplies on her site at or for a quick, thumbnail glimpse, jump on Plaid’s website at www.plaidonline,com/Designers/donna-dewberry. For those of you lucky enough to have the new PBS channel called CREATE, I understand she is on twice a day M-F with a general how-to show. I’ve also heard she’s now trying to revolutionize the sewing world with a “One Stitch” technique. Haven’t actually seen that yet though.

So go out there and be creative today! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Technical Hiccup

It seems this blog is having some sort of technical difficulty at the moment. I'm trying to figure out the problem and will post today's write up as soon as I can get it working. For whatever reason, this space has been coming up blank but you can pull others from the archive list. Yesterday's comments come up without a problem when you pull from the index of past posts. I'm definitely not very savvy when it comes to technical things so I may need to go in search of help. Maybe I'll find a 14-year-old who can fix it. We all know the kids are much more up on this stuff than us old folks.

Hopefully, this little message will post and overcome that big empty space that kept coming up. I will try to post again later. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Check out

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day/Weekend! The Big Guy and I spent a laid back weekend “doing nothing special.” We’ve been together long enough that “just hangin’ out” without anything scheduled feels good. Years from now, we will look back and laugh at this as the year we had “breakfast for dinner” as our romantic meal. Let’s just say, we didn’t plan well. Oh, and the apple juice really did look like wine. (If only I’d thought to use the wine glasses!)


After a fairly non-productive week, I need to buckle down and work this week. Under the guise of doing some “online promotional efforts” I ended up doing more web browsing than promotions and I didn’t produce a heck of a lot of new merchandise either. I did get some items made up to fill a few orders and renewed a few items in my shop at
Please check them out now that they’ve moved back to the top of the list

Some of my computer time over the last two weeks was actually business related. I got involved in two new craft business sites. Both are very promising and growing quickly.


Recently, T. Adam Kendall, also known on etsy and artfire as infivision, decided he wanted a better social community to promote handmade. While ning offers this to some extent, he felt it was too generic and has a poor user interface. In a quest for something better he developed Designed and created in under a week, ByHand serves as a free social network for those who make handmade and those who buy handmade. Adam is assisted by his wife, Rebecca, known to many of you as "Soapdeli", the lady behind Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen products. Here's a run down of what you can currently expect from the site: (new features seem to be added daily)

*Artisan Directory
*Member Blogs
*Social Networking
*Private Messaging
*RSS Feeds

Rebecca put together this great description of these features. The best way to get to know each aspect, however, is to stop by the site and check it out for yourself.

The Artisan Directory is for artists and crafters with a business. Artisans can add their business along with where they sell online, social network profiles, and more. Members can rate and review these shops which helps shops further build their reputation online.

The Forums are where users can chat about handmade, ask for advice, promote shops, or just kick it! Have a question about a new technique you heard about? Are you a buyer looking for a handmade craft? This is the place!

All members also receive their own blog. Member Blog entries are placed in the Community Blog for crafters and buyers alike to read and enjoy. Buyers can review products or make recommendations on their blogs or share artist interviews, while artists can promote their craft, selling tips, tutorials, run contests, and more. Members can also choose to have their blog entries posted to the front page of ByHand. Everyone can help promote handmade by taking part in this vital section of the community.

The social networking features of this site allow you to connect with other members of ByHand through all the various sections of the site. Any time you see a profile that you would like to connect with, just click on them. Members choose the type of connection they want to make, whether they be a customer, a favorite artisan, or a favorite supplier. Members can even make notes on connections to help remind them that they want to shop with artisan A for a gift for dad or reconnect with artisan B later for future, joint promotion!

Chat allows members to communicate in real time with other members of the ByHand community.The private messaging function allows members to send messages back and forth to other community members. Safer than giving out an email address for making those first time connectionsThis is great for buyers and sellers to connect on custom projects and more.

Additionally, RSS feeds can be added to all member profiles. Add up to five feeds. Include the feed for personal or favorite blogs or an online shop! For example, sellers can add their Etsy shop feed to the RSS feeds in their profiles and other users will see their latest product photos and content just by mousing over the feed!

All members also receive their very own memorable URL. This URL can be viewed from the profile page. Sellers can utilize this URL to promote their businesses! A URL is much more professional than a simple or address, giving users who aren't technically savy a great way to direct folks to ALL their online selling venues without having to buy their own domain.

Interested? Just go to to register today. It's free!

I’ve spent a number of hours checking this site out for myself and am slowly getting involved in as many aspects as work for my particular business. I hope to tell you more about each area as I settle in.

In the next few days, I’ll also tell you about another relatively new site run by Timothy Adam known to many craft folk from his many helpful tutorials and other informative posts,

So, let's all go out there and get creative this week!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hearts and Smiles to Y'all !!!

This cute little guy is our family’s very own cupid! (This was taken last Valentine’s Day.) My s-i-l has always decorated to the hilt for every holiday and continues the tradition by “decorating” and photographing the first grandchild for every little occasion. We now look forward to interesting pics celebrating every holiday in full garb!


Since I don’t always get a chance to chat with you on the weekends, I thought I’d make a point of wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day today. I hope you have big plans - time spent with your loved ones, special treats, lots of fun. Don’t forget to share lots of hugs, cuddles and smiles.


Here’s some more love laughs and smiles I found to share:

*Sales ad at a store: “You are my one and only” Valentine’s cards, now on sale 4 for $5.” -- Unknown
*”I wanted to make it really special on Valentine’s Day, so I tied my boyfriend up. And for three solid hours I watched whatever I wanted on TV.” -- Tracy Smith
*I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon. -- Author Unknown
*”Before I met my husband, I’d never fallen in love. I’d stepped in it a few times.” -- Rita Rudner
*Love is an ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses. -- Thomas Robert Dewar

And my personal favorite:

*Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots. -- A Hoosier Farmer

And a serious thought or two on the subject:

*Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile. -- Sean Connery
*All you need is love. -- John Lennon


Feeling creative?
Complete the following verse with two lines of your own:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue...
Go ahead and share your version with us in the comments section!

Have a terrific Valentine’s Day, everybody!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thinkin' Jambalaya

I’ve been busy planning meals that can be cooked without my oven. Many of my friends and readers have shared ideas. I’ve got a whole list to try. Jennifer suggested jambalaya as it cooks on top of the stove and makes a great meal. I agree. In fact, the night the oven blew up, that’s what we had instead of the meal I had planned. We love Cajun food and I’m known for it. I make jambalaya frequently and I only know how to make it for a crowd so we almost always have some in the freezer. That evening, I quick thawed a container in the microwave and threw it in a pot. By the time the smoke cleared, dinner was late but we enjoyed it anyhow.

Most years, we host a Mardi Gras party with lots of food and decorations. My guests object to wearing costumes but they will usually try some hats, small masks and lots of beads just to humor me. (People will do most anything for a good meal!) This year, Mardi Gras is Tuesday, February 24, and our schedule just isn’t working out so we’re not doing the party. I guess, ultimately, it’s a good thing. Normally, I would be getting started on stockpiling the food by now and would probably miss my oven big time.

Since it will most likely just be us for dinner, we’ll probably just pull more jambalaya out of the freezer or I might make a batch of gumbo or shrimp creole or chicken. Normally, there’d be some of each and a King Cake, too. As just one couple, we’ll have to choose just one meal. I’ll still decorate and I’ll beg The Big Guy to wear some beads but it won’t be the same. Since we won’t be using them, I thought I’d share some of my recipes. You know, in case you’d like to party for me. To do it up right, you need to get started. These dishes usually taste best when they’ve had time to sit and let their flavors develop for a couple of days. They also take some time to make, so plan ahead.


Tonight’s recipe is jambalaya, possibly the best known Cajun dish. The origin of the dish is controversial. I’ve heard many versions (almost as many as there are kinds of jambalaya!) The one I like best is a story of a regular customer coming into a New Orleans tavern late one evening after the kitchen had begun to clean up for the night. He supposedly asked the owner if there wasn’t something they could serve up for him to eat. The Cajun cook was told to throw whatever he had into a bowl and mix it up. The dish was christened with the Cajun word “jambalay,” meaning to “clean up the kitchen” and the name stuck. I like the gist of this explanation better than any others I’ve heard.

1 - 1 ½ lbs. andouille sausage, sliced crosswise in ¼” thick rounds
(Any hot or spicy sausage will work - I have used kielbasa, chorizo and other hot sausages.)
¾ lb. cooked ham - chopped into ½”-¾” chunks (I have even used a can of Spam for this!)
1 - 1 ½ lbs. cooked chicken
2 lbs. shrimp
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped peppers
3 cups chopped celery
2-3 jalapeno peppers - partially cleaned
7 (14.5-15 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies or flavored with onion, garlic, basil, etc.
1 (24 oz.) jar salsa (medium or hot)
3-4 Tbsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning
2 Tbsp. cayenne
6-8 cups cooked rice

· I like to brown the sausage but it is not necessary as smoked sausage has already been cooked. I just think the browning adds a little extra flavor.
· Saute the onions, peppers and celery together over medium heat in a large heavy pot until they are tender. This combination is known as “Trinity” and is the basis of most Cajun dishes.)
· Add the salsa, tomatoes, meats and seasonings to the pot. Stir to mix well.
· Allow the pot to brew on medium low heat for approximately 90 minutes. Add the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly.
· At that point, check the flavor. If you think it needs more heat, add a little extra cayenne and some black pepper. If you really like it hot, add additional jalapenos or don’t clean the original three. If when you taste it, it’s too hot, add more tomatoes.
*** Remember, the spices will expand with time. If you’re not sure you want to add more heat, leave it alone and serve it with a bottle of hot sauce!

This will make a tremendous volume - but freezes fantastically !! We almost always have a container full in the freezer. We also entertain with it frequently. What an easy party! Pull it out of the freezer, thaw and heat. Add corn bread and we’re ready for a crowd.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I know what I'm getting for Valentine's Day!

Let me start by saying this will be the 22nd Valentine’s Day I have spent with The Big Guy. I have long since given up on thinking I’ll get candy, flowers, or jewelry. Sometimes, he does come up with a card but only if he finds something humorous and sort of off the wall. He’s not your run-of-the-mill romantic. We usually eat at home on Valentine’s Day as we prefer not to fight the crowds. I usually do prepare something special. Generally, we do go out for a nice meal the weekend before or after and refer to it as our Valentine’s dinner.

This year, I am getting a big present. It’s something I really need and actually, as of today, want. We picked it out tonight but it won’t be delivered for two weeks. I can wait. My new stove will arrive on the 26th! Maybe before, if we’re lucky. (Since I do love to cook it’s not quite like the standard “vacuum cleaner for Christmas thing.”)

Yes, there is a background story.

I added excitement to my life yesterday by blowing up the oven. (No real fire!) The Big Guy worked late and called to tell me when he was heading home so I could start dinner. I immediately turned the oven on to preheat. The kitchen and dining room were dark and I was in the living room working on the computer. Suddenly, I heard some strange sounds coming from the kitchen. It sounded like someone banging around empty cookie sheets. (I make similar sounds when getting them in and out of the cabinet.) Then there was some sizzling sounds and the entire kitchen seemed to glow. The glow rose and fell in degrees! It looked like aliens were taking over!

I rushed out and turned the oven off. The oven was full of thick dark smoke. I left it closed and self-contained. I didn’t need to deal with the smoke detectors going off. I assumed (and turned out to be right) the electric coil heating element died. I couldn’t get to the plug to unplug it so I just kept a close watch on it and kept checking the cabinets on either side and feeling the wall to be sure the fire wasn’t in the electrical wiring in the wall or something.

By the time The Big Guy got home in an hour, the smoke had dissipated and you could clearly see where the coil had burned and melted right through. We pronounced it dead!!

Which brings us to going out for dinner tonight with stove shopping afterwards. I know we can’t eat out every night for the next two weeks, so I’m taking suggestions for creative meals made in the microwave, crock pot and on the Forman or my electric indoor grill. Maybe a gal can have too many appliances. Without them, we’d have to eat out more this week !

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CPSIA Impact

Anybody want to meet me out in the back alley? I've got some contraband onesies you might be interested in!

Thought I'd give you all another look at some of my now "illegal" merchandise! Just can't trust those zippers, grommets and snaps!! Oh, and that paint must have somehow changed it's chemical makeup once I used it. It passed all the safety standards when the manufacturer put it in the bottle but once I added it to an outfit, it needs to be tested again. Sorry, can't afford that even if I could find a lab willing to do those tests!

So, I ventured out into the world today to see just what impact the CPSIA had on local businesses when it kicked in last night at midnight. Oh yeah, I also needed groceries so I sort of had to go to the store anyway. In short, it appears the new law had almost no impact on the local large retailers. Surprised? I am.

I anticipated near empty shelves at Dollar Tree, limited selections in the children's departments at Walmart and Sears, and definitely fewer toys in the kids' aisle at CVS. Nothing appeared any different. They appeared to have the exact same products as they did yesterday, last week, last month and even last year. I don't believe manufacturers have already rushed to create, test and deliver new merchandise that meets today's standards. Until a few days ago, they believed they'd be allowed to sell off stock made prior to today that did not meet the new standards.

Manufacturers and retailers believed they would be allowed to sell existing inventory even if they did not meet the new phthalate standards. They had been operating on that premise right up until last week when, with four days before the new standards kicked in, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that, like the new lead standards, the new phthalate standards would also be retroactive. Anything sold or distributed for use by children beginning today, February 10, 2009, MUST meet the new toughter standards.

The stay everyone has been discussing does not change that. The stay merely says you don't need to test to prove that. If you are confident, based on materials and component certifications and information, that your product satisfies the limits, you are able to continue business as usual, at least until this time next year.

Also within the past week, the CPSC issued an easy to read Guide to the new law. They clearly itemized a list of materials that are considered to be "safe" and will not require certification or testing. Most textiles, yarns and fabrics are included in that list. (You can view that guide at

However, zippers, snaps, grommets, metal eyelets, rhinestones, metal closures, most buttons, vinyl and some screen printing inks can, and often do, contain lead. You may need to test such components. There doesn't seem to be anything definitive out there concerning velcro and I personally wonder about the glue or fixative used in Stitch Witchery type products that are often used with appliques. The manufacturers of those goods have not been forthcoming with appropriate product information. Paints and other surface finishes and any metallic trims must be tested as of today.

The big retailers appear to be ignoring the new law today. The little shops have paniced. Many crafters have either eliminated all children's products or closed down completely. Several consignment shops in the neighborhood actually closed at the end of January as the bulk of their sales were associated with children's merchandise and they knew they could not afford the required testing. Another of those shops intends to close within 90 days as her lease required three months notice. In the meantime, she has eliminated all children's products and expects to operate in the red for the remainder of her lease. A popular local craft fair has been canceled as a number of participants have now withdrawn. Two churches have canceled their annual rummage sales and one is closing its thrift shop.

I have not closed my business - yet. By the same token, I have not sold anything today. My merchandise does need to be tested as I use fabric paint. I paint onesies, jeans and other garments featuring snaps and zippers. I have spent approximately 30 hours online and on the phone attempting to locate a 3rd party tester who will test only a few individual items from time to time. I need to know exactly what the price for such testing will be. So far, I have been unable to find any such lab.

As I make a lot of one-of-a-kind items, I anticipate the cost of testing to be totally prohibitive as it would need to be added to the products price. I can't imagine selling a onesie for $500 or more! I have added a few adult items to my product line. I don't enjoy making them as much as I do the children's designs. I am busy praying the revisions proposed in a current bill before the Commerce Committee will pass, complete with its component testing provisions, but I'm not holding my breath. I think Congress will quickly try to wipe their hands of this issue and leave it in the laps of the CPSC who I also believe will interpret the current law very conservatively. At this point in time, I don't know what I'll do personally. The law seems to be "clarified" almost daily by the CPSC. It's sort of like the old adage about the weather, "If you don't like it now, just hang around a while. It will change."

For the first time since starting my business, I'm hoping I don't sell anything today as I am just so totally confused!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A whiff of Spring!

What a weekend! The sun was out. The mercury climbed. It was WARM - well, we at least hit the 50s on Saturday and the 60s on Sunday! It was rejuvenating. I know winter's not over but it was a fantastic break for most of us.

Those weeks and weeks of cold had bred a little distrust. When we woke to comfortable weather on Saturday we were a little leery. The phrase, "this must be a trick," lurked in our minds. We did the usual winter thing and went to the movies. (Okay, we are motivated by cash flow to some extent. Weekend morning movies in our neighborhood are really cheap so we saw the 10 a.m. showing.) When we emerged from the theater at noon, the sun was shining. People were out and smiling. It felt good. Saturday turned out to be a great day!

Sunday was even brighter, considerably warmer and really invigorating. We got out and walked in the sunshine. There were no splotches of ice to worry about. We had company in the evening and everyone was happy and in a great mood. I think we all needed this little shot of Spring!!

Movie Review: Taken

The movie choice this week was "Taken" starring Liam Neeson as a former government (CIA-type spy) "preventer." You're left to your own definition of what a "preventer" keeps from occurring but it appears he and his colleagues knew of worldwide threats and terrors that the masses are quietly protected from. He is torn between keeping his most prized possession, his teen-aged daughter, safe where he can see her or being the benevolent parent she wants who allows her to see the world on her terms. When, against his better judgment, he goes with the latter he audibly witnesses her kidnapping via a transatlantic phone call and his almost super-hero skills kick in to save his little girl. The action is riveting and fast moving. The premise of two young pretty girls traveling alone in a foreign country with limited language skills being kidnapped by powerful men who wish to sell them to the highest bidder is believable. It does happen in part of today's real world. Most of us can identify with Neeson's parental need to "save his baby at all costs." We can only wish we would have his "specialized skills" should such a situation ever arise in our lives. This one gets a full five stars.


As expected, there is constant news coming in concerning the CPSIA. As previously announced, the CPSC has issued a 1-year stay regarding enforcement of some portions of the new law. While products must meet the new lead and phthalate levels as of tomorrow, the certification and 3rd party testing requirements have been delayed. Basically, we can only market children's merchandise that we know or can reasonably deduce meet those standards. In my personal case, I believe my products are safe as they are made using only previously tested components. I have not introduced any unsafe or non-tested materials in the act of embellishing these commercially manufactured and marketed garments. Those garments had to be tested by that manufacturer before being sold to me on the retail market. The paints I use have been tested by their manufacturer. At this time, I will continue to produce and market the safe, quality merchandise I am known for.

On Friday, the Commission issued a lengthy press release which further clarified a number of items that they are now deeming "SAFE" as those products are extremely unlikely to contain any hazardous levels of either lead or phthalates. There will be further clarifications forthcoming as more products and components are reviewed and analyzed. There was a bill introduced in Congress last week suggesting revisions to the law as passed this past year. That bill has been referred to Committee for review at this time. One of the suggested revisions pertains to the use of previously tested and certified components.

I will try to keep my readers updated as information becomes available. I am also trying to only convey information issued directly by the CPSC or Congress so as to avoid all of the confusion and speculation circulating at this time.

So, until next time, enjoy the sunshine and live creatively.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's FRIDAY !!!

T.G.I.F. - It's been a long cold week and now they're predicting sun and a little warmth over the weekend. We should get into the 50s! I know winter's not over but it seems we're getting a break -- a chance to thaw a bit.

I did get some creative work in today. no painting but I was able to sketch out some new fish designs and I prepped a few garments. Now, I can start right in painting this weekend.

Fishy Fishy

My business began with a fish - thus, the name "Splashin." I've done a lot of other, many better, fishes but that first, cartoon-style fish has sort of become my signature design and he pops up everywhere on all kinds of products. We call him "Fishy Fishy."

I first designed Fishy Fishy for an outfit for our niece, Katelynn. The Big Guy got such a kick out of him that he wanted one on a shirt for himself. I didn't take him seriously but, after much prodding, I finally painted him a shirt featuring Fishy Fishy. It's a good thing. People see it and ask for business cards!! Who knew men could be so whimsical?

Fishy Fishy pops up everywhere!

The Big Guy also has a wardrobe full of other, more realistic, fish and sea creatures that I've painted. Many are based on the tropical fish in our own tank. These too present many opportunities to hand out cards. Although I've been doing adult clothes for quite some time I am just now starting to feature them in my etsy shop.

I plan to have quite a few "adult" shirts, aprons and such in stock for Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts this year. I know it's hard to be thinking of those big days already but they really are "just around the corner" and I need to get busy creating and painting stock now. I think I may have finally found my mojo again.

I sure hope it gets warmer soon. I'm afraid my mojo may run away again just to get out of the cold!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let's hear it for the boys!!

A friend was bemoaning the fact that they were expecting “yet another grandson!” She wanted a little girl to dress in those “cute” girly clothes not just “bland boy stuff.” “Bland?” Has she checked out all the wonderful, creative and CUTE clothes for boys available from the many talented, artistic crafters out there in the world?

First thing I did was congratulate her on the new life she would soon be cuddling and cooing over. In all fairness, she was genuinely happy to announce a new baby was on its way but she had , momentarily, given in to her desire for a little girl to fuss over.

Next thing I did was point her in the direction of my shop, and showed her just some of the great CUTE little boy items I sell. (These are just a few of what I offer for both boys and girls!) Want to see more? Click the etsy mini on the left and you’ll be whisked off to my online shop.

Finally, I put together a collection of quotes and sayings reminding her how captivating that little guy will be once she gets her Granny-hands on him! Thought I’d share a few with you, too.
Let’s start with a true definition: "A boy is a noise with dirt on it." - Author: Unknown

Then, where can we find little boys?

“Boys are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket." -- Author: Alan Marshall Beck

What can we expect from little boys?

Erma Bombeck, mom to two boys, once wrote, “With boys, you always know where you stand. Right in the path of a hurricane.”

"Blue jeans and trucks,
Scrapes on his knees,
Running in the dirt
Being a tease
Making a face
Build and destroy
There’s nothing like
Just being a boy!"
Author: unknown

my personal favorite:

"Boys are God's way of telling you that your house is too neat."

So, to all you Moms (and Grannies) to boys (and girls!), take some time to do something creative before the kids get home today!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why eat strawberry shortcake?

Help! I'm surrounded by magazines, newspaper ads and TV shows pushing all kinds of delicious goodies for Valentine's Day!! They're making my mouth water... and my tummy growl. I HAVE to BAKE, NOW!!!

As I dig out the bowls, mixer and canisters, I realize how much I miss our little Midwest Baker's Assistant - Katie ! Just watching her wield her little rolling pin is entertainment. (The finished product is often not very photogenic!) The important thing is - we all have fun in the process. Can't wait to make that 1200 mile drive to visit after the Spring thaw. (We're not big on cross-country drives this time of year!)

One of the big Love Day suggestions is strawberry shortcake which brought this great little list to mind:

Just a few of the perfect excuses for having some strawberry shortcake.

Pick one:
(1) It’s less calories than two pieces of strawberry shortcake.
(2) It’s cheaper than going to France.
(3) It neutralizes the brownies I had yesterday.
(4) Life is short.
(5) It’s somebody’s birthday. I don’t want them to celebrate alone.
(6) It matches my eyes.
(7) Whoever said, “Let them eat cake,” must have been talking to me.
(8) To punish myself for eating dessert yesterday.
(9) Compensation for all the time I spend in the shower not eating.
(10) Strawberry shortcake is evil. I must help rid the world of it.
(11) I’m getting weak from eating all that healthy stuff.
(12) It’s the second anniversary of the night I ate plain broccoli.

I'm not sure where I originally found that list so I can't give it full credit but I did quote it in a family cookbook I made last year.

So, until we chat again, be creative, make something good and tasty, and ENJOY!!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maybe it's my mojo coming back - slowly.

Late last night, I finally took time to revamp the Welcome Page for my etsy shop as well as my Profile and Shop's Policies pages. It's basically all the same info - just rearranged, I did add a little language about the safety of my merchandise. I've been meaning to do this for quite a while now.

With the CPSIA threat out of the way for now, I've begun to add new children's merchandise to my shop. The two newest additions are my Fun Frogs Set, featuring a onesie and matching pants, and a Tool Man In Training Onesie. I've offered the latter as a 2 pc set for a while but keep getting requests for just the onesie so I've finally listed it by itself.

If you're looking for something different for a little one in your life,

please check out these and others in my shop at


Today went a lot better than yesterday. I'm not sure I've actually recovered all of my mojo but I did find some energy. Since the creative juices hadn't started to flow, I threw myself into the mundane necessities of life like laundry, grocery shopping and cooking.

The Big Guy took pity on me last night and fixed dinner so I decided he deserved a decent meal tonight. He thoroughly enjoyed his pork enchiladas and black beans this evening. The best part (for me anyhow) is there's enough leftovers to constitute a second dinner from the effort.

I've never learned to cook for just two people. When I worked 45-50 hours a week, I used to spend one entire day cooking and stockpiling a bunch of meals for the freezer. Favorites have always been things like jambalaya, pulled pork, chicken parmesan, stuffed shells, etc. I'd do that like once every six weeks or so. Since I've been at home full time, I haven't stopped that system I still appreciate painting all day and then being able to produce a quick home-cooked meal by simply heating something up.

Here's one of the recipes I like to use for such meals:

CHICKEN PARMESAN (without breading)

**When I make this to stockpile, I simply prep the chicken and then freeze it in a freezer bag. It only takes a few minutes to assemble the chicken with the sauce and cheese before putting it in the oven.

4 boneless skinned chicken breasts
Salt-free lemon pepper
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 jar tomato sauce of your choice (I usually use Prego)
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
Shredded mozzarella
*Generously sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper. Coat a non-stick pan with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom (1-2 Tbsp.). Brown the chicken slowly over low heat. (The slow cooking tenderizes the meat.)
*When chicken is cooked through, place the breasts in a baking dish and cover with tomato sauce.
*Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste.
*Top each breast with a handful of shredded mozzarella.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until cheese bubbles and browns.
*Serve over spaghetti, cooked as directed on the package.

Add a salad and garlic bread and you’ve got a meal!

I hope to get some new painting done tomorrow. We'll see.

Till then, think creative thoughts.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Have you seen my mojo?

Sorry, I haven’t written much in the last few days. I’ve been fighting a cold and have just had no umph. My motivation seems to have chosen this weekend to hibernate. The brain’s been busy but the hands just haven’t wanted to get involved.

We did finally get some decent weather over the weekend although I didn’t feel up to really enjoying it. Saturday evening, we spent a nice evening at a wine and restaurant tasting with two of my cousins and their spouses. There was a huge array of wines from around the world available to try and many local restaurants provided samples of some of their offerings. Some of those restaurant samples convinced us to plan to visit a few in the near future for a full meal. The best part of the evening was getting a chance to sit and chat with people we just don’t see enough.

There was good news this weekend. On Friday, Congress delayed the enforcement of the CPSIA for one year to allow the law to be refined and the CPSC to determine how to enforce this broad law and to determine what, if any, exceptions should be made. The new standards for lead and phthalate levels will still go into effect this February 10, 2009 and products must comply with those numbers. The delay refers merely to the certification and third party testing requirements. For those of us producing products which we know contain none or minimal (safe) amounts of those hazards, this is definitely a win. It will allow us to continue making the products we love to create. It is my hope that the Commission will determine that component testing and certification will be sufficient for folks like me who can show documentation that all components used are safe before I even touch them.

Now, I can now set about creating new children’s merchandise. I had put that part of my production on hold pending the outcome of all the chaos preceding that February deadline. I had also put a hold on all promotional plans I so carefully outlined in December. My self-promotion had been a little weak last year and I spent most of December mapping out a stronger push for this year. Unsure of what would happen in the marketplace with the new law, I simply went into a holding pattern with those efforts. I do still plan to continue adding some grown-up items to my inventory. It can’t hurt to expand my customer base.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll find my mojo (I know it’s around here somewhere.) and get back into the groove. My paints and brushes are calling my name and my shop needs restocking. I’m sure I’ll find something more interesting to share with all of you. In the meantime, stir up your own creative juices and enjoy your day.