Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hangin' in the Etsy forums...

We’ve reached the end of another month! I’ve also completed an experiment and developed some answers from that study. I’ll share some of this with you tonight.

While Etsy represents a very small portion of my sales at this time, I’d like to see it carry a larger percentage as it is one of the easier methods I use to get my stuff out there in the public eye. It gives potential customers a way to reach me if they’ve seen me at a show or have come across some of my products elsewhere and want to order or just see what else I do.

I was one of those folks who simply set up the Etsy shop, threw some merchandise on there, told just a few folks about the shop, and sat back and waited for buyers to stumble upon my shop. I had a lot of other bricks in the fire and couldn’t take a lot of time for promotion. Okay, a few folks found me and bought a few things. I kept telling myself I would promote as soon as I had time.

Along about mid-February, I finally found some time to begin doing a little promoting. While I had worked up an elaborate plan for many promotional angles, I began working on one thing at a time. In this manner, I would be able to see what worked for me and what didn’t. (I’m still working my way through that list, by the way.)

I began with the absolute easiest for me. I started doing more frequent postings to my blog and I posted some things about my merchandise. I mean, I already had a blog though it wasn’t very active. Prior to that time, posts that directly concerned my shop were rare. Most were more life related. Next, I became active on the Etsy forums. I had doubts about how many buyers would find me there. I added my shop url to my signature line on other forums that I participated in. I also joined a few new websites that also let me mention my shop.

I stuck with these few methods on a regular basis for about 7 weeks straight. My views increased tremendously. Sales improved but have not been overwhelming but, at the same time, February and March are not the best retail times in any market and this year, they have been particularly slow months. My shop did get noticed. I was mentioned on several shopping sites and on other blogs. I’ve been approached by a number of brick and mortar stores that want to carry my merchandise (both wholesale and consignment) and I’ve been asked to write some articles.

So, for the month of April, I’ve spent some time catching up on those opportunities and have not done anywhere near the amount of posting on forums and my shop-related posts on here have not been as plentiful. Views of my listings have slowed down. (Luckily, my off-line sales have been pretty good in the meantime.)

At this time, I think I can safely say posting in the Etsy forums DOES increase views. I still believe increased views will eventually lead to better sales. It also forces one to see what everyone else is up to and others share lots of ways to promote. I’ve continually added to my list of promotional ideas I want to pursue - as soon as I find time. Starting tomorrow, May 1st, I will again be devoting a fair amount of time to posting on the forums.

If you are an Etsy shop owner and you’re not spending any time in the forums, you really should make the effort. I find the Business and the Promotional sections the most helpful. There is also a Site Help section that has been very informative, too. Even if you feel you don’t have the time to hang out there very often, you should at least check in occasionally and have a read. There’s a lot of great ideas floating around.

Well, I’ve gotta run - goin’ over to the forums for a while tonight. Maybe I’ll see you there!

I missed Wednesday!

Where, oh, where, did my Wednesday go?

Sorry I missed posting last night. Time just got away from me. Or, maybe, I just got away! We finished dinner, spent a few hours doing some competitive sodokus ( The Big Guy and I do this most evenings.), watched LOST, and, apparently, closed my eyes for just a moment… I woke up hours later, slumped down in my chair with a crick in my neck and just barely able to keep my eyes open long enough to stumble off to bed! The Big Guy had said his good nights when LOST went off. I guess I should have followed suit.

I’d had a busy day. I went to lunch with “The Aunts”. There are only three members of my parents’ generation of the family still with us - two of my Dad’s sister-in-laws and my Mom’s cousin - all of whom, incidentally. live in the same retirement village. I try to get together with the two aunts on a fairly regular basis for a lunch and chatter which can fill a day quickly.

We had lunch in the “pub” in one of the buildings there yesterday. After a pleasant meal, we paraded back to the older aunt's apartment for our gossip hour. I say paraded as I walked, one of the gals used her Jazzy power chair and the other traipsed along with her new walker. It’s bright red, complete with a basket and bag to carry stuff in and she refers to it as her “red Cadillac”.

I always take them something. This time, I took muffins. I spent Tuesday afternoon making six different batches of muffins, wrapping and labeling each individually so they could throw them in the freezer and take one or two out at a time. They are very enthusiastic recipients as neither does much baking these days. (The Big Guy was also pleased because there were lots of muffins left over, too.) I also always take something for show and tell and pictures. Neither uses the computer and, therefore, hasn’t been able to view my online shop, so I took some of my newest merchandise with me. All too soon, the afternoon grew short and I needed to head home.

I enjoy the gossip about what everybody in the family is up to, what each of us is doing (they are both still very active in their community there) and, invariably, there are stories from the past. I always leave with pleasant memories of days gone by. After each visit, I start thinking of what to take next time as a “pick me up.” I’m hoping to have some garden flowers ready to pick by next visit and before long, there will be fresh produce available.

I hope you all take time from your busy lives to spend time with the “older” generation. There is so much to learn from them and most thoroughly enjoy the company. They won’t be there forever, so don’t delay. If you can’t stop in to visit, at least give them a call. It does mean so much to these dear family treasures.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The lilacs are here!!!

My lilacs are finally blooming!!!

I have always loved lilacs. My mom had three humongous lilac plants in the back yard - we had purple, white and a purplish-pink shade. They stood higher than our garage and she rarely pruned them except around the garage door. They were sort of free-range plants and were, therefore, absolutely beautiful!!! Lilacs bloom on old wood. Often when a bush is pruned, those branches may not bloom for up to two years afterward. Since she rarely trimmed, Mom's were always super full.

Quite a few years ago, I decided I wanted the same effect in my yard. I went out and bought a lilac bush in one of those 3-gallon buckets and planted that little twig in the center of the back yard. It remained rather weak and scrawny looking for the rest of the season. It had three blooms on its tiny little branches that year. The next season, it grew a second branch and had no blooms. The year after that, it barely had leaves - let alone blooms. The Big Guy wanted to dig it up but I made him leave it.
He took pity on me and bought me a new plant which he planted right next to the original. That one grew but did not bloom that season. The next year, the newest plant had grown considerably and was full of green leaves but did not bloom. The old plant had leaves on one branch and one bloom.

After much research, I found most lilacs won't bloom the first three years. (Maybe that should be printed on their tags!) Since the original plant had a few blooms that first year, I was told it was probably a graft which explains why the other branches died off. Each year since, there have been a few more blooms on both plants. The second has always been the best performer. Last year, they actually looked somewhat full. This year, there are actually a number of buds on the plants. It just began to bloom on Saturday but I couldn't resist taking and sharing pictures already.

Since my lilacs give me so much pleasure while they are blooming, I wanted to see what lilac products other Etsy folks had to offer. There's quite a bit out there, so i did a Spotlight on featuring nothing but lilac items:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Watch for these upcoming posts ...

I've been taking stock of my plans for the next month or so and that includes topics I want to share here. (I've got a huge stack of notes about possible posts.)

Just want to give you a little heads up, here. There are two in-depth crafter profiles in the works and I'm almost finished putting together my next Marketing Series. I hope to bring you Part 1 of the series on the Ins and Outs of Craft Shows next week. There are a bunch of recipes and a few book reviews just sitting here waiting to be shared. I've also begun notes for a series on various craft paints and their particular uses.

Oh, yeah, I want to show off some of my new creations and a lot of great products from some of my fellow online crafters, too. (Look for some of these tomorrow.)

***I still need a few more participants for the Craft It Forward movement. (See yesterday's post if you are interested.)

So, go out and get creative in your world tomorrow. If we all spend more time crafting pretty, fun and useful objects, the world will be a much happier place in which to live.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So busy and still Crafting It Forward...

Are we absolutely sure there isn't any way to jam more than 24 hours into a day?

The last couple of days have been super busy. The tighter my time got, the more my mind bubbled over with ideas! Without time to sit down and post or craft, I scribbled note upon note to myself. I may have to double-post for a few days just to catch up!!


A little over a week ago, I told you about the Craft It Forward movement that I joined at the suggestion of my blogger friend, Audrey, over at I'm still looking for four more participants.

Here's how it works: The first five people to respond to this will get something handmade by me. (So far, only one person has signed up, so if you are among the first four today, You've got a free gift coming to you!)

There are a few disclaimers:
* I get to choose what you get and I make no guarantee that you will like what I make. (but I hope you will!)
*What I create will be just for you.
*You'll receive it this year (2009).
*You have no clue what it's going to be. It could be ANYTHING handmade ! (At this point, I haven't even thought about what you will get!)

IN RETURN, all you need to do is post this text into your blog and make 5 things for 5 people.

Respond in the comments section ... first 4 people signing in today win! Please leave a way in the comments for me to contact you for your address once you have posted about the "Craft It Forward" and offered prizes. Also, it would be helpful to now what your favorite color is.

Remember, it's a FREE gift!!!!

Another Rant .....

After many years working with personal injury litigation, I was convinced automated answering systems and voicemail were invented by and for the insurance industry. Now, I am convinced it was a joint effort. The insurance folks must have been joined by government bureaucrats to perfect the system. There have been a lot of hints to such a conspiracy for a while now but after my experiences this week, I am now positive the government was involved.

We have an EZ Pass. For those not located in the maze of toll highways that span the East Coast and the Upper Midwest, an EZ Pass works a lot like an automated debit card to pay tolls without needing to stop at every toll booth along the highway. (In the Illinois/Indiana area this system goes by I-Zoom.)

Basically, one establishes an EZ Pass account and receives a plastic electronic transponder that affixes to the inside of your windshield or dashboard. As you travel through a toll plaza an electronic reader receives a signal from the transponder (often at 60-70 mph) and deducts the amount of the toll from your account. When the account decreases to a certain point, it is automatically replenished by a charge to a registered credit card. The whole purpose of this system is to decrease congestion at toll booths and make such travel easier on the driver.

We’ve had no reason to ever try to contact the EZ Pass office in the four years we’ve had the transponder. That was until this week. Our credit card company had some sort of breach of data with their system and has issued new cards and account numbers. We received the new cards with the advice to change the account number with any automatic billing made to the cards. Seemed easy enough. All this could be done online. Well, that works, IF you can find your account number.

I finally decided to do business the old-fashioned way and called them on the phone. The website gives the phone number. Surprise, it is all automated. Once I managed to bypass the need for an account number, I rolled through numerous questions all answered by pressing “1” or “2”. There is no means to getting to a “live” person. I tried the obvious methods, like pushing “0” or simply not pushing anything. At some point when I made an “incorrect selection” or no selection at all, I would be disconnected. I finally attempted totally unrelated toll facility phone numbers. I reached two different live people who, after hearing what I was trying to do, connected me to the “appropriate” number. Yep, you guessed it. “Welcome to the automated EZ Pass line …” After two hours, I gave up in frustration.

Thursday morning, I set out with new resolve. I would drive to the nearest EZ Pass Service Center located across the nearest toll bridge to my home and take care of all this in person. Please note, that bridge is 19 miles away. (The good news is, we use a local decal-type pass for that bridge. The decal costs the price of one crossing and is good for unlimited crossings for an entire year. The EZ Pass would have cost the full price of a crossing with every use there.) I breezed across the bridge and zipped right into the Service Center. I told them my problem and they brought us right up on the computer. I had the transponder with me, the old credit card, the new credit card and my driver’s license for ID. Things looked promising.

Then, they realized the account is in my husband’s name. I could not make any changes. He had to do it. They could not give me the account number as my name was not on the account. I pointed out he cannot get there during their very limited M-F daytime hours. They said he should do it online. Once again, I explained he would if he had the account number. They suggested he write to the toll facility office to give them permission to deal with me on his behalf. (They do not have an email address for this purpose. One must use snail-mail.) I explained the credit card would change by Monday. They suggested he do it quickly. I was disgusted. I attempted to simply turn in the transponder. We would simply live without it. They can only accept it from him! I was a bit disturbed and left in disgust.

So, many lost hours later and a round trip of 38 miles, I still had not solved the problem. Back at home, I looked up another Service Center location that is actually closer to my husband’s office and stays open later in the evening. He would need to do this himself.That evening, I took another stab at getting to the account online. This time, I checked that we had forgotten the password and needed a new one. They advised one would be sent “shortly.” (“Shortly” is a relative term.) Our mail came very late that evening. What do you know? Our EZ Pass quarterly statement was in that mail! We now had our account number. There was also a notice that a monthly service fee of $1.50 will be charged beginning July 1st for the convenience of using the EZ Pass.

We do not use the Pass for daily commuting. Our use is occasional. There are no savings involved in using the Pass in our state although we do receive discounts on several Virginia and Delaware tolls when the Pass is used. I’m definitely questioning the convenience factor.

Tomorrow, we will be returning the EZ Pass. To be exact, The Big Guy, will be returning his EZ Pass.

Yeah, we’ll be back in that backed up traffic at most toll plazas again. Beep a “hello” should you see us there!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Craft shows are coming -

Craft show season is upon us in the Mid-Atlantic. In this end of the world, craft shows fall into two basic seasons - mid-late Spring and Fall.

Winter tends to be gray and cold, often icy, and folks tend to stay in. Don’t get me wrong - there are still a few big craft shows around. But not really enough to quench a true crafter’s thirst for an event. Summer in these parts, tends to be quite hot and extremely humid. Folks flock to the beach or pool or just stay in out of the heat. If they do get the urge to stroll around in the sun, they tend to gravitate to the cold beer booths or snow cones, not the craft tents. Again, there are a few notable shows but too few to be called a “craft season.”

Come the first week of May, however, the E-Z Ups spring up throughout the area. Shoppers generally head out wearing good walking shoes, prepared with cash and/or credit cards, a little tanning lotion and the urge to have fun. I’m already aware of at least 14 large craft events within an hour of my home that weekend. This does not include any smaller school fairs or festivals and such.

I’m already scrambling to determine which events to attend and how I can plan a course that will squeeze the most activities into the weekend. Of course, I have to be a bit surreptitious. I plan to drag The Big Guy along (Somebody has to carry the bags!) There’s a fine line between him enjoying the day and getting cranky and whining. I try to find events that combine good music, great food AND an excellent array of crafts. In 20+ years, I’ve learned to catch the warning signs of boredom and have figured out when to pull the plug. It’s an art! For this reason, the plan requires careful thought and must be put together using a priority system.

Sometimes, I even let him think he has come up with the plan! Like he has already stated where he’d like us to go this Sunday. (That was my plan.) My navigation skills even surprise me sometimes!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring seems to have arrived!!

I can tell Spring has sprung. How? Because I’ve gone through an entire box of tissues just today. My allergies have gone totally berserk just since Monday. We actually had dry, warm weather over the weekend and buds everywhere began to bloom. We used our window fan and apparently sucked in tons of pollen. I prefer to suffer through without medications when possible but I may have to admit defeat by tomorrow. This sneezing and sniffling is really getting to me tonight.

It’s been a few years since I had a bad allergy year and I really don’t remember how to cope well. My symptoms have actually eased a bit over the years with few severe bouts. I’m not sure if I’ve actually lost some of my sensitivities or if I’m just not exposed to as much since most places are now air conditioned and I’m simply not out in the air as much.

I think I've blown all creativity out of my head for tonight. I had lots of plans but just seemed to settle in and sit back with my tissues and wallow in the misery. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope you're feeling good and doing something creative. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Little Black Shirt

I started a new project today. One of my most favorite shirts got caught on something recently and suffered a devastating tear. I've racked my brain for some way to repair it that would preserve it's basic stately appearance and maintain its position as a mainstay in my wardrobe. Alas, I've had to admit defeat. There is just no way to stitch it up, patch it or camouflage it to keep it presentable. I've pronounced it dead.

I let myself wallow in sadness and grief for a day or two. I've tried to convince myself it was "nothing special." It wasn't expensive. It wasn't extremely unique or different. It was a plain, black jersey knit top with long sleeves and a round neck. It was tunic length with side slits at the hips. It was the shirt version of the Little Black Dress. It went with jeans for a pizza dinner or could be paired with a skirt or dress slacks and jewelry and could go anywhere. With a fancy scarf, it could be downright dressy! It fit well and was super comfy. I shall miss it terribly.

I looked for a new one just like it, to no avail. Neither Simplicity nor McCalls has a pattern for the exact same top. I tried to bring myself to throw it away. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head -- I can clone it!!!

I've spent the day snipping stitches on all the seams. I am making a pattern using the actual shirt and I hope to make an exact duplicate. I've never done this before (cloning, that is), but how hard could it be? Maybe I'll even make a blue one, too. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to snip those tiny black stitches on the black fabric. Who knew that cheap top was so well made!

So, go out there an be creative, too. Remember to consider ALL the possibilities.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just a little rant - the rain makes me grouchy.

Gray and dreary here today and VERY soggy! We received between 1 1/2 and 2 inches of rain in about 10 hours. I finally dragged myself out in the rain to go to the grocery store and it was just generally miserable out there. (We're paying for that wonderful weekend weather!)

I truly came home feeling very grateful to have the opportunity to climb into a nice dry vehicle to run my errands. I witnessed one poor soul walking on the sidewalk along the main road when someone, driving quite a bit over the speed limit, zoomed past close enough to the curb to send a huge plume of dirty gutter water up over the poor woman's head. I felt so sorry for her. She was already wet but this was adding insult to injury. There was absolutely no reason for him to be moving so fast nor to be so close to the curb that he hit the pooled water in the gutter like that.

Only two blocks later, I stopped at a stop sign and motioned a pedestrian to go ahead and cross in front of me. I figured she was on foot in the pouring down rain and much more eager to get in out of the weather than I, in my nice dry van. Would you believe the guy in back of me actually beeped because these few seconds were slowing his trip down?

Can't we just think about those who are less fortunate than ourselves once in a while? People aren't out there walking around in this weather for the fun of it. It doesn't take much for us to just give them a little consideration.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What a weekend!!

What a fantastic weekend!! The weather was the best we’ve had this year and the first “nice” weekend of Spring.

Literally, at the crack of dawn on Saturday, we headed out for our first BBQ judging event of the season. The trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore for this first contest on our annual circuit (Pork in the Park in Salisbury, Maryland) would take almost three hours. The drive was uneventful and we made excellent time. It was so good to see and talk with so many of our fellow judges that we haven’t seen since October at the last contest on the circuit.

When all was said and done, 92 teams participated in this contest making it the largest contest East of the Mississippi and raising the bar for the rest of the East Coast contests.

We certainly ate some excellent BBQ at the judging. Unfortunately, all judging at a KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) event is “blind judging” which means, as judges, we have no idea whose samples we are tasting. We are just as surprised at award time as everyone else and I applaud just as loudly for each winner. I don’t play favorites. All have worked very hard to produce the best tasting food they possibly can. (A lot of you have asked, so I’ll tell you more about the whole judging process later in the week.)

Some of the cook teams awaiting the awards.

Saturday had absolutely perfect festival weather - warm and sunny, but not so hot you thought you’d burn up. It did get up to 76 at the height of the afternoon and the sky looked like a painting. There was an abundance of shorts and flip flops in the crowd and many a person started working on their tan. And there was “many” a person there!! I have not heard any attendance numbers yet, but something in the range of 30,000 just on Saturday would not surprise me in the least. We left while there were still 2 more bands to perform for the evening and it took us over an hour to get from our parking space to the park exit! There were still, literally hundreds of folks walking into the event from quite a distance away.

Saturday's sunset. Just before 8 p.m.!! I kept trying to catch the actual sun but the trees kept blocking it out. (I was in a moving car!) So, I finally settled on the beautiful clouds showing the reflection.

We also had a busy Friday and a fun day today. So, it's been a long, full and fun weekend. Now, we're exhausted and it’s time to say goodnight. Se ya’ll here tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post at all yesterday and this will be a shorty.
We've got out-of-town guests this weekend and I spent last night getting ready for their arrival. Tonight, we got together with another couple and the six of us all went out to dinner at an Irish pub none of us had tried before. A good time was had by all!

We've got to be up before dawn in the morning as we're judging our first BBQ contest of the season and we've got about a three-hour drive to get there. The weather should be beautiful and the festival has great music scheduled for the entire day and evening. We will of course have to "work" at judging for a few prime hours. It's a tough job but somebody has to taste all those delicious entries!

Actually, judging the KCBS way means we each try 6 samples of each of the 4 required categories - chicken, ribs, pulled or sliced pork and brisket. So, ideally, I should taste entries from 24 different cooking teams. These usually represent the best-of-the-best and these cooks take their BBQ seriously.

If and when we have any life left in us by evening, we also have an invite for our guests and ourselves to drop in at my brother-in-law's for some partying. We try to fill our weekends with as much fun as we can. We may have to sleep in on Sunday to recover, though.

Don't forget to sign up for my Craft-It-Forward giveaway. (See my blogs from Tues. & Wed.)

Hopefully, I'll get back to y'all on Sunday with pics of a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Etsy Shops and a Craft It Forward Recap

Tonight I thought I'd share some items I've found in a few new Etsy shops. These range from some interesting photographs, beautiful handpainted iced tea glasses, lawn ornaments and some very dainty crocheted bears. To see more from each of these shops, just click on the photos and you'll be mysteriously transported to the artist's new shop over at Etsy. Please pay these folks a visit. They're new to the Etsy world and eagerly awaiting visitors.

Craft It Forward Recap :

I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) to find so few takers on the Craft It Forward giveaway I announced in yesterday's post. Maybe some of you just didn't get a chance to stop in and read last night so I'll recap here for all those who missed it.

I'm participating in a Craft It Forward project at the suggestion of Audrey over at
http://audreyscountry It's not really a contest. You just need to sign up to get a free gift.

Here are the rules: The first five people to respond to this will get something handmade by me. (So far, only one person has signed up, so if you are among the first four today, You've got a free gift coming to you!)

There are a few disclaimers:
* I get to choose what you get and I make no guarantee that you will like what I make. (but I hope you will!)
*What I create will be just for you.
*You'll receive it this year (2009).
*You have no clue what it's going to be. It could be ANYTHING handmade ! (At this point, I haven't even thought about what yhou will get!)

IN RETURN, all you need to do is post this text into your blog and make 5 things for 5 people.

Respond in the comments section ... first 4 people signing in today win! Please leave a way in the comments for me to contact you for your address once you have posted about the "Craft It Forward" and offered prizes. Also, it would be helpful to now what your favorite color is.

Remember, it's a FREE gift!!!!

Good morning!!

I just wanted to share a pretty sunrise with you as it is gray and dreary here again this morning. Supposedly, it will clear up a little later. I love to take pics of sunrises and sunsets. This one was last Monday. somewhere in Iowa, west of Des Moines on I-80. I know this becasue once we approached Des Moines, there was snow on the ground all around us!
No Takers ??

This is just a little quickie, I'll do the real post for today a bit later. I'm just really surprised that I haven't had many takers for the free give-aways with the Craft It Forward program. Honest, the only gimmick is you need to be willing to post the same idea and give away five handmade somethings to your readers, too. If you only guarantee that you'll do it before the end of the year, that gives you eight whole months to get that together. C'mon gang - show me some love and take a freebie!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Craft it Forward - Win a prize!!

My friend, Audrey, over at http://audreyscountry, has encouraged our fellow crafty bloggers to participate in a "Craft it Forward" movement. It's more of a game than a contest. but you still win prizes.

Here are the rules to winning:

The first five people to respond to this will get something handmade by me. There are some restrictions though:

* I make no guarantee that you wil like what I make.
*What I create will be just for you.
*You'll receive it this year (2009).
*You have no clue what it's going to be. It could be ANYTHING handmade !

IN RETURN, all you need to do is post this text into your blog and make 5 things for 5 people.

Respond in the comments section ... first 5 people win!

Please leave a way in the comments for me to contact you for your address once you have posted about the "Craft it Forward" and offered prizes. Also, it would be helpful to now what your favorite color is.

Chocolate sayings, thoughts and dreams...

I know I promised some chocolatey comments yesterday but, alas, I had a busy day, came home late in the evening and sat down. Once sitting, of course, the eyelids grew heavy - very heavy! I slept so soundly in my chair that my neck is still stiff tonight! Of course, I did convince The Big Guy we needed to watch a girly movie on the Hallmark Channel before I fell asleep. Seems he sat through the whole thing before he realized I'd faded and he could have changed the channel!!

Hope the bunny treated you all well and you had a great day!


So, now you're faced with a houseful of chocolate. Here's a few words of chocolate wisdom.

**I have a theory that chocolate slows down the aging process. it may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?

The 12-Step Chocolate Program : Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!
(Terry Moore - Chocolate Club)

**All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!
Lucy Van Pelt (Peanuts)

A chocolate in the mouth is worth two on the plate!

**Forget love - I'd rather fall in chocolate!

A little too much chocolate is just about right!

**Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then, just eat one of the pieces!

Simply put, everyone has a price. Mine is chocolate.


Want to read some chocolate fiction?

Try these two quick reads:

Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson


The Chocolate Puppy Puzzle by Joanna Carl

Okay, time to hit the sack and dream of all that candy and such. Then , I'll be ready to rejoin the crafting world tomorrow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Night Before Easter

Okay, folks - I didn't write this parody but found it online. I thought it was cute and decided to share just to give y'all a hoot! Unfortunately, I couldn't find where it originated from or who wrote this ditty. Hope you enjoy it.

"Twas the night before Easter..."

'Twas the night before Easter. All was calm and laid back.
Fred, the mouse in the kitchen, snarfed down a late snack.
The eggs were all dyed but still drippy and sticky ...
To be honest, they looked just a bit icky.

There were big jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and such,
And as Fred stuffed his face, he sighed, "This is too much!"
Phil and Rose were in bed watching late night TV,
While munching saltines with low-sodium Brie.

Then a sudden commotion rang out in the night.
It shook Phil and Rose, really gave them a fright.
Phil's hair stood on end, and his eyes bugged out big ...
Rose whipped off the covers and knocked off her wig.

They lunged to the window, yanked open the blinds ...
What they saw was amazing, it boggled their minds.
Across the night sky, with a noise like the dickens,
Soared a minivan drawn by eight overgrown chickens!

At the wheel sat a bunny -- cute, fuzzy and fat --
In designer blue jeans and a Panama hat.
Like a speeding space shuttle, those chickens they flew,
As the van driver called to each hen in his crew:

"Now, Ashley! Now, Sheila! Now, Kelsey and Bo!
On Bethany, Liza! On Daphne, on Flo!"
The van made its landing lickety-split ...
Nearly wiped out the shrubs and the barbecue pit!

Then up on the roof, much to Phil's consternation,
They squawked of egg prices and space navigation.
They made so much noise that Phil started to stammer,
"If you guys don't shut up, we'll get thrown in the slammer!"

Fuzzy hopped down the chimney, amidst all this racket,
And emerged from the fireplace, adjusting his jacket.
This bunny was chic, he had class, he had flair ...
Not your average bozo, not your typical hare.

His ears were enormous; his huge overbite
Was right under a nose like a pink neon light.
His manner was smooth, he was hip, he was cool;
This floppy-eared bunny was no fuzzy fool.

"While I'm here," he smiled, "Everybody relaxes...
I'm not selling storm windows, won't audit your taxes.
I'm just here to bring you some fun and delight.
Eat, drink, and be merry! Let's party tonight!"

So they sipped diet soda and swapped silly jokes,
Those birds and their bunny just being plain folks.
Then flop-ears said, "Hey, friends, we've had quite a ball,
But my chickens and I are now due in St. Paul!"

He crossed both his eyes. Then he wiggled one ear,
And he yelled to his chicken team, "We're outta here!"
As the minivan rose in the 3 a.m. sky,
He called our, "Later, Phil! And to you, rose, good-bye!"

As he sped out of sight, his two friends heard him say,
"Happy Easter to all! Have a Beautiful day!"

Author unknown


Friday, April 10, 2009

Peter Cottontail

Okay, I've heard the song on the radio once this morning and I can't get it out of my mind!!
Of course, like any other song that gets stuck in your head, I can't remember ALL of the words!!
CAN YOU? (Try to sing it all the way through first without checking out the lyrics below.)

So, after going over it at least a zillion times (okay, maybe only about 100 times), I finally looked them up online.

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppity,
Easter's on its way

Bringin' ev'ry girl and boy
A basketful of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter
Bright and gay

He's got jelly beans for Tommy
Colored eggs for sister Sue
There's an orchid for your mommy
And an Easter bonnet too.

Here' comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity Happy Easter Day

Look at him hop and listen to him say,
"Try to do the things you should"
Maybe if you're extra good
He'll roll lots of Easter eggs your way

You'll wake up on Easter morning
And you'll know that he was there
When you find those choc'late bunnies
That he's hiding ev'rywhere,

Here' comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppityHappy Easter Day.


Now, for the true Easter trivia question? Who sang the version that gets played on the radio most?

Give up?

Gene Autry (for those of you too young to recognize him, he was the "Singing Cowboy")


I've been dipping candy all day today. I'm now wearing chocolate, smelling chocolate, seeing chocolate (even with my eyes closed) and thinking chocolate!!! I keep reminding myself I do this out of love for the family but that doesn't stop me from getting pretty tired of this stuff!!! maybe I'll share some of my chocolate quotes with you on Sunday. I've already planned on telling y'all the story of the Night Before Easter, tomorrow.

Bet y'all have some funny Easter tales of your own.

Fried Fish Recipe

Okay, I promised a recipe for Fried Fish.

(Just because I don't enjoy eating fish doesn't mean I can't cook it. Besides, this works just as well when frying scallops and I DO like them.)

You'll need a heavy skillet (or a deep fat fryer), 4 fish fillets (catfish, pollack, haddock, any light fish) (you can also use 1 lb of sea scallops), 1/4 seasoned bread crumbs (or 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal), Cajun seasoning to taste, 2-3 eggs, hot sauce of your choice, oil for the fryer (I generally use Canola oil but, if you have it, peanut oil is wonderful!) (My m-i-l prefers "shortening." It's her secret to great cooking.)

Heat the oil to frying temp. Beat the eggs and a few drops of hot sauce together in a small deep bowl. Add Cajun seasoning (to taste) to the bread crumbs or cornmeal and mix well in another small deep bowl. Pat the fillets (or scallops) dry with a paper towel. Dip each fillet into the egg mixture and then dredge in the dry mixture. (I like to repeat this procedure twice although once is actually sufficient.) If using a skillet, fry the fillets until golden brown on bottom side and then flip to brown the top side. If using a deep fryer, let fish stay submerged until golden brown. Drain on paper towel to collect excess grease.

****Serve with hush puppies or corn bread, a green veggie like string beans and maybe some apple sauce.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Mid-West Fish Fry ----

While in Nebraska, we attended a Lenten Fish Fry.

Although I am a big fan of shellfish like crabs, shrimp, scallops, etc. (I AM a native Marylander!) , I do not enjoy fish (as in fillets), regardless of how you cook them. (I like to paraphrase George Bush, Sr.’s quote about broccoli, “I was forced to eat it as a child and I refuse to do it as an adult!”)

Well, there’s an exception to every rule. I was not looking forward to a fish dinner but tolerated it as everyone else in the family eagerly wanted to attend. Apparently, they never miss one! Oh, and The Big Guy LOVES fish!!! I used the theory that if you bread something and then deep fry it, it can’t be too offensive. I also used a lot - did I say A LOT - of cocktail sauce! (Just between us - it actually wasn’t too bad!)

I’ve never been to an event like this one! Churches here at home hold an occasional fish fry during Lent but those churches in Omaha do it every Friday during the Lenten season and they are huge events.

My brother-in-law insisted we had to be there when they started serving or “the line would be too long and there would be no seats available“. Dinners were served from 4:30 until 8 p.m. We arrived at about 4:20 and there were at least 150 people ahead of us in the line. We situated my mother-in-law at a table with her walker and let her save our seats. The line was already stretching into the hallway. (I understand it actually stretches through a tunnel and into the basement of the next building later in the evening. Some folks then wait as long as 2-2 ½ hours!!) They actually set up beer and wine stations at various points along the hallway so those waiting in line can enjoy a beverage! (Apparently beer is available at just about every event these churches hold! One-day liquor licenses are much more difficult to come by here and churches could not obtain one for such a dinner.)

The line did move quickly and we were soon enjoying our all-you-can-eat $8 meal. They featured fried and baked Pollack, mac’n’cheese, French fries, hush puppies, cole slaw and bread. (There is an easy access separate line for “seconds”.) There is also a huge bake sale table with a tremendous assortment of homemade desserts available only by the single serving for $1.

They hold continual drawings for various prizes including “the big prize” of a package of 4 Omaha steaks, a bottle of wine and a loaf of good bread, separate loaves of bread, desserts and gift certificates for local businesses and restaurants. They sell a limited number of tickets featuring two numbers about every 15 minutes. They then use those numbers for about 6 drawings. Then, the next set of numbers is sold and the drawings are repeated (same selection of prizes for each set of drawings). Losing tickets can be signed and dropped in a bin for a drawing at the end of the evening for a catered Easter dinner.

***I was stunned to learn they anticipated selling their 12,000th fish dinner for the 2009 season that evening!!

I was also a bit shocked to see they also feature a drive-thru for those who can’t take the time to come in for dinner! They had “staff” outside taking the orders at the entrance to the driveway and other folks delivering the meals in take-out containers a little further down. In the meantime, the Girl Scouts had a table set up along the curb selling Girl Scout cookies! Others walked the line with a selection of the bake sale desserts to sell. What an operation!!

By the time we left, about an hour later, the line did stretch as far down the hall as I could see. People were cheerfully drinking beer and chatting while they waited. All the seats in the dining hall (school gym) were taken and a number of people had simply planted themselves on the floor along the walls and hallway to eat their meals and socialize. Parking was now at a premium and the street parking around the church for several blocks was completely full. The drive thru line stretched at least two blocks. I have to admit, I’m glad I went and saw this for myself. It was like no church dinner I could ever imagine!!

Our family tells us this is not the largest in town (there are many held at the same time). At least two of the other larger churches also have live bands playing for the crowd’s entertainment. They say the young adults treat it as their Friday night out and party the evening away at the Fish Fry (just like a pub!)

Just the thoguht of staging such a production for one night stymies my mind!

I have to wonder just how many pieces of fish they cook in a given evening? The standard first serving was 4 pieces of fried or 2 baked fillets. Some folks took both and many went back for seconds and thirds!! Our family says they've never heard of them selling out early in the evening. Also, can you imagine how many volunteers are needed to pull this off?

If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll share my recipe for fried fish.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Road Trippin’ - Thoughts from the Road - Literally!

While on the road, I lived in hope that I might have the opportunity to use a computer and do a quick post. I made lots of notes to work from but, alas, I was internet free for the whole trip. Yes, I did feel withdrawal symptoms. So, here are few of those snippets I wanted to share from our first day on the road.


As we were heading West, we passed from one radio station to the next as the miles fell behind us, catching interesting bits and pieces along the way.

Near Warfordsburg, in Western PA, police are looking for someone who stole money from a gas station clerk. Seems the customer complained about the high price of a pack of cigarettes so the clerk pulled $60 from his own pocket and bet the guy he couldn’t find a store selling them for less. The customer grabbed the cash and left. He hasn’t been seen again. Wonder if he took the cigarettes, too.

Moving toward Cleveland, we caught The Bob and Tom Show. (The Big Guy listens to them each morning on his way to work.) They did a modern day version of the old Who’s on First routine, calling it Baseball Maze Makeover. Basically, they made fun of the current steroid rumors and claims among the current players. Very clever!

Then there was the news of the stalker on the set of Dancing With the Stars - seems he believed Shawn Johnson was speaking directly to him personally through the TV and ESP!!! I firmly believe Shawn’s mind was filled with thoughts like “one-two-three-one-two-three-turn”.

Moving through Sandusky (Ohio) there was a new and creative twist on doing local mission work. A local church was offering to pay for anyone to do their laundry at a local laundromat during a specific time period one day. There weren’t any specific qualifications necessary. They didn’t have to belong to the church, prove residence in a specific neighborhood or even prove they were poor. They merely needed to show up with their dirty laundry. The give-away would start at a specific time and last “till the quarters run out!” Let’s get real, who’s going to go to the great effort of carrying their dirty clothes somewhere if they didn’t really need and welcome this type of handout? It was a self-limiting effort, too. They weren’t just handing out cash, they were literally feeding the machine once the customer loaded it. I love to see churches and other charities do something like this where I believe the truly struggling folks benefit.

In Toledo, we were entertained by a radio commercial for a piano sale! A local store there had prepared a parody of Peter Cottontail that went something like this:
Here come’s Peter Cottontail,
Looking for a piano sale,
He needs to learn an Easter song
And ended with something to the effect of ,
Peter played his Easter song,
Everybody sang along

**This one took our award for creativity on this trip!

A billboard near LaGrange advertised a popular motel chain and across the bottom had the words “Free wifi and smart breakfast.” My road weary eyes saw that as “Free wife and smart breakfast.” My imagination then took over with visions of traveling businessmen taking advantage of the free “wife” feature. Among other services, maybe she would lay out his clothes for the day while he showered and then trot right over to the lobby to bring him back something from the “smart” breakfast bar. By the way, exactly what is a “smart” breakfast?

Near Chicago, another sign advertised the “Déjà Vu Gentleman’s Club.”
What is the déjà vu factor? Does this mean the dancers used to be young and good looking or are the current dancers daughters of the old dancers? Possibly, they just assume if you’ve seen one of these dancers, you’ve seen them all!

Okay, we were getting quite road weary at this point and soon stopped for the night in Davenport, Iowa.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finally home!!!

We’ve finally made our way home! (A day late.)

A passing snow “event” prevented our setting out on Sunday. With accumulation forecasts varying from 1“-3’’ to possibly 15” (“give or take 50 miles North or South”) , we figured we’d just hang out with the family in a warm, dry house for an extra day or two. The Omaha area only got a light dusting that never really coated the streets but there were 10” amounts nearby and parts of the Interstate were closed in Iowa for several hours due to white-out conditions. Leaving Monday morning, we found lots of snow-covered scenery but clear highways.

Today, however, was another story. We drove in varying degrees of snow flurries, snow showers and light snow that created a white out effect but never really coated the roadways for, oh, about 450-475 miles! We left Elkhardt, Indiana at about 6 a.m. and within a half hour were driving in a light snow. We pretty much continually had some form of snow all the way to Frederick, Maryland!

This pic was taken somewhere in Ohio this morning and is basically what we saw most of the way home today!!

Our friends and family are now referring to this as "The Franz Syndrome." Supposedly, it is a new national weather phenomonen. Wherever The Big Guy and I go, the snow is sure to follow! We're now 0-3 in the roadtrip department. In November, we drove home from Omaha and hit snow from mid-Indiana through Western Pennsylvania and we even brought snow to the Carolinas earlier this year!!

Do you think anyone will let us visit in the future ?