Thursday, July 30, 2009

Okay, so I got in tonight after 11 hours on the road (following the 13 on the road yesterday) and found problems with my scheduled posts here on the blog!

Everything posted as planned but did not reflect the actual posting date. Instead, they appeared under their draft dates which means some dates had 5 posts under it and they did not appear in the order I had planned. I feel so bad for all those guest bloggers whose items did not show up under the correct date that I had promised!! I'm sure many of you missed some of those fantastic pieces. I went back and fixed the dating problem tonight and they now appear in the correct order but I need to get you all to glance though and read some of those you missed.

There was a really excellent article about protecting yourself and your work written by Woolly Boo and appearing on July 20th. If you are selling your work out there, you really need to read this item. It's carries a lot of vital information. Another really informative piece ran on the 24th about balancing your business and personal craft lives. On the 19th, Fred discussed the benefits of checking out your local thrift shop. There were lots more interesting and amusing pieces that you may have missed due to the date problems, so if you've got a little spare time, please go back and read through these items. I had a great group of friends and family help out and I'd like you to get the chance to appreciate them, too.

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On another note, I came home to find Etsy had deactivated a number of my items as they are labeled "Onesies," a trade-marked name owned by Gerber. The ironic thing is, my items are painted on Gerber onesies! I guess I need to go back and list them as one-piece rompers or body suits ("made by Gerber") before I can publish them again. As I had stated in my announcement paragraph on the shop that I was on vacation, it was not a huge problem to have these items be inactive during that time. I will fix the problem and get them back out there tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm glad to be home and ready to hit the sack! Talk at you in the morning!!

Toddlers don't roll cookie dough into balls and other facts of cooking.

One thing I’ve learned about all of you, Dear Readers, is - You LOVE good recipes. So, while I was baking a batch of homemade cookies to pack as “car nibbles” for our road trip this week, I thought I’d share the recipe with you and tell you a cute tale about cookie baking from back in my really naïve days!

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Obviously, this isn't one of the nephews. She is, however, one of the nieces and she IS baking. What can I say? It's the closest I could come for illustration purposes using my picture files.

When two of my nephews (We’ll just call them “Li’l Kid” and “Toddler“) were little (and I was somewhat inexperienced at cooking with kids), I was watching them one day when I decided to bake some peanut butter cookies with them. It seemed like a good idea at the time ! In, literally, hundreds of hours of babysitting in my youth, I guess I’d never tried to bake cookies with any of the toddlers along the way.

The first thing I learned that day was that children under two years of age definitely have trouble with the concept of rolling a ball of dough between their hands. After squashing that ball of dough between his palms like a vice, “Toddler” then made fists, causing the dough to ooze between his fingers. (He was actually enjoying this.) His next move was to attempt to wipe the dough off - in his hair, his clothes, on the furniture, the rug, etc. After squirting him down, that little munchkin went down for a nap! I decided “Li’l Kid” and I would continue without him.

At the ripe old age of four, “Li’l Kid” had rolling these balls down to an art in no time. I did, however, learn four-year-olds don’t comprehend gently pressing the fork into the cookie to create the criss-cross design. His efforts resembled a stab or a jab or, actually, were more like a steamroller. Those were some ugly and lop-sided cookies !!

At the end of the day, they were proud to show Mommy and Daddy the cookies they made regardless of how unappetizing they looked!

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RICH & CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Assuming you all have accomplished rolling dough to form balls and can gently press with a fork, you should have no trouble at all making these.

The thicker the cookie, the softer the cookies will be.


1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda, in Tbsp. boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour

Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla, peanut butter and eggs, blending well. Stir in baking soda. Mix dry ingredients and add gradually, mixing well. Scoop out by teaspoonful and shape into ball. Place on cookie sheet and flatten in criss-cross pattern with tines of a fork dipped repeatedly in granulated sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350°.

Makes 4 dozen.

Store in tightly covered container. Can be frozen up to 3 months. (But I seriously doubt they’ll even make it into the freezer!)

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Well, I hope y'all enjoy your cookies as much as I'm enjoying my vacation!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Do you know how close Christmas REALLY is?

Christmas is coming and it will be here before you know it. There are only 21 weekends left till the big day. Do you have all your Fall and Holiday shows lined up? If not, now is the time. In fact, it’s a little late to register for the really popular annual events. Better get moving.

Next question - How much holiday merchandise do you have ready right this moment? (You only get half credit for those left-overs from last Christmas that didn’t sell and didn’t work for anyone on your personal gift list.) You can’t sell it if you don’t have it to show. Set up a production schedule now and get cracking.

If you are on Etsy, you may have noticed those Sellers who are participating in the Christmas in July promotion. At this point, I can safely say, they have a leg up on me. I have begun producing Christmas items but I haven’t started marketing them yet for 2009.

To get your full listing price value (4 months of exposure) on Etsy, you need to get your items listed by early August. Check with the Post Office and find out the “Ship by dates” and note that in your shop announcement. This will be especially important to those who need to ship overseas. If your items are custom-made and take some time to produce be sure to set realistic cut-off dates for holiday orders. At least two of the big commercial gift shows attended by retailers occurred this past week. Store buyers are lining up their Christmas product line now. Have you talked with any brick and mortar shops you deal with about what they might be interested in this holiday season?

Me, personally? I’m working on gingerbread men this week. How about you?

So, while you’re stretched out there on the beach house, sketching out your Christmas designs or at least thinking about them, drinking a HUGE margarita (or such), why not wear a Santa hat? It’ll put you in the mood and confuse your neighbors!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Great Home Remedies

I thought you’d enjoy some helpful tips while I‘m wandering the highways and byways. (Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for irresponsible use of any tips listed below. You‘re on your own! )

1. If you’re choking on an ice cube, simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat. Presto! The blockage will instantly remove itself.

2. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.

3. Avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

4. For high blood pressure sufferers - simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives then you’ll be afraid to cough.

7. You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use the duct tape.

8. Remember - everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

9. If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

Well, hopefully, these tidbits have solved one or two of your problems.

***Remember, I accept no responsibility for unaccepted results from the use of any of these tips.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Murphy’s Other Fifteen Laws !!

Just a bit more wisdom I’ve stock piled to share with you while I’m traveling around the country!

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We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law, you know, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” BUT, did you know that there are actually fifteen more Murphy’s laws?

No ?!? Well, by all means, Dear Readers, read on …

Murphy’s Other Fifteen Laws !!

1, Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

3. He, who laughs last, thinks slowest.

4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.

5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.

7. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

8. The 50-50-90 Rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.

9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world, end-to-end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them.

10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

11. The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those who got there first.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

13. Flashlight : A case for holding dead batteries.

14. The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in the dark.

15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.

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Hopefully, you’re all just a wee bit wiser, now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guest Blogger, Tom - Father and Son Bonding

Traveling is so much easier when you’ve got talented friends and family that are willing to share some great (sometimes embarrassing stories) as Guest Bloggers. Today’s Guest Blogger is my nephew(-in-law), Tom. Tom and my niece have their hands full with a rambunctious, inquisitive, curious and playful, soon-to-be 2-year-old boy. The Little Guy is definitely all-boy and keeps them on their toes! A short while back (during the NCAA tournament), Tom spent a day at home with The Little Guy and just had to share the special experience.

Without further ado, here’s Tom :

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I love my son. We play together and he adores me to the point my wife is becoming green with envy. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have one day during the work week to just spend time taking care of my boy. That day, however, was a test.

Some background info is needed. I had been trying to occupy as much time as possible that day because I had to fast for a life insurance physical at noon. So, as I was scarfing down my sugar-free chocolate pudding at 8 p.m. the night before, I was trying to think of what I could do to keep my mind off snacking and my butt out of the kitchen. Sleeping would certainly take up 6-8 hours, but I needed more.

I decided to wait until late that night to fill out my NCAA tournament brackets. After my wife and The Little Guy went to bed, I started filling out my sheets. My buddy runs a pool and set it up online for the first time this year. I usually play two sheets in his pool but there was a problem with the site and I could only fill out one bracket. I alerted him via e-mail that night, assuming it was too late to do anything.

I awoke around 9 a.m. and showered and got ready to start my day. I had the baby monitor by me in case The Little Guy woke before 10 a.m. As I was getting dressed, I looked in on him and he was still asleep. The phone rang and it was my buddy telling me the website issue was resolved and I could fill out my second bracket. At the same time, The Little Guy was stirring. I was conflicted. What could I do to buy time, fill out my second bracket and keep him safely occupied? I had planned to give him a bath before I took him downstairs for his breakfast.

I ran the bathwater and got him undressed and prepared for his bath. After washing him, I decided I would let him splash around for a bit with his tub toys. He has foam letters and a miniature basketball net with three colorful balls he “dunks.” Lately, he had started dunking his letters and getting them tangled in the net. A perfect time to submit my final bracket on line.

I could hear an ESPN talk show on TV in the background and I was intrigued by some of what I was hearing. I figured I would grab my laptop and listen at the same time. However, I was afraid if I brought the laptop into the bathroom, my son would splash me and damage the computer. I decided to sit on the steps facing the bathroom, close enough to hear the TV in the bedroom. I could see my boy’s perfectly round head over the wall of the tub and I acknowledged him so he knew I was right there.

I have to admit, I was trying to tune him out so I could hear ESPN but his splashing got louder and louder. I was getting increasingly frustrated and as I looked up to tell him to settle down I saw the impossible… he had pooped in the tub and slam dunked one!!!

Panicked, I snatched him out. He was not smeared but his hands were gooped up. I was worried if he was done and fearing he would “grow another tail” while I went to wrap him up in a towel. Luckily, he was finished. I cleaned him up, dressed him, kissed him and put him down. But that boy has mad skills. He b-lined for the laptop, put a move on me, reversed his footing and ran straight for the tub. I got to him just I time and put him in his crib. Cleaning the tub would be a daunting task, so I called a time out, sat down and filled out my final bracket, just in time.

I recouped and started the daunting clean-up. He was playing with some toys in his crib, so I had time. Sadly, the three “fudge rolls” dissolved into a field of 64. I found myself “panning” for toys like a 49er during the gold rush. As I narrowed the field from the “S__t 16 to the Final Four,” I knew victory was at hand. All that was left was to cut down the poop-filled net.

So, to sum it up, I was able to complete my fasting for, after this, I had no appetite at all, thanks to my dear son. I got my bracket in and, even though The Little Guy gave me a sign from God, I decided not to pick “Duk-e” again.

It was my “One Shining Moment.”

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Okay now, I KNOW all you mom’s are now laughing not AT Tom, but in support of him as we all know, it could have been you with a similar mess!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guest Blogger, "The Friend" - 25 Reasons I owe my mother

We’re still on the road but a friend is Guest Blogging for me today. My friend, who wishes to remain anonymous here, will be known only as “The Friend” . “The Friend” home schools and recently reminded me of why Mom is the best teacher for our children. After all, Mom is our first teacher. She begins to shape and mold our lives right from the day of conception. Hopefully, she will have the opportunity to continue educating us for many years. “The Friend” provided these 25 things their Mom taught them while growing up.

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25 REASONS I OWE MY MOTHER

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”
2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week.”
4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”
7. My mother taught me IRONY,
Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”
9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
“This room of yours looks like a tornado went through it.”
12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate.”
13. My mother taught me about the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
“Stop acting like your father!”
15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
Just wait until we get home.”
17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
“You are going to get it when you get home!”
18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”
19. My mother taught me ESP.
Put your sweater on. Don’t you think I know when you are cold?”
20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”
21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”
22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
“You’re just like your father.”
23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”
24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”
25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you !”

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So, were y’all home schooled, too?

Maybe you should thank your Mom.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guest Blogger, Rhena - Craft Balance

In a few weeks, my family, replete with parents, husband, multiple siblings, SOs and children will head off for the beach on the Jersey Shore. It will be a lazy week. And we will spend it lounging seaside, eating sweet Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and, when we’ve had too much family together time, walking alone or in pairs in the sand and on the splintery grey boards at the bird sanctuary.

The stresses of jobs and creating and writing and day-to-day family life will seem a million miles away and so I will inevitably ask my two nephews (8 and 5) and my niece (2) what they want to be for Halloween. October will seem far enough away that I can convince myself that it might just never come at all and so promises for elaborate, handmade costumes will slip easily from my lips and into their ears. We will discuss colors, materials, and details and it will only be months later, when I am sitting under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights in Joanne’s Fabric’s pattern section that I will wonder why I made such promises.


“Because you love making these costumes every year,” my husband will remind me.


And it’s true, I love making them and I love making baby blankets and purses and embellished onesies and scarves and sweaters for my loved ones. It was making these things after all, that brought me from hobbyist to small business owner.


But, as I’m sure many other crafters have experienced, my “crafting for business” time has taken over my “crafting for family” time. A sweater I promised for my husband TWO (yes TWO) Christmases ago sits zipperless and unhemmed in a plastic box. In another, a baby play mat that was originally intended for a friend’s child who is now much past needing “tummy time” waits, unquilted. My dad’s Christmas present from last year is a mass of yarn and needles. A plastic sheet covers our new (by which I mean, a year old) bathroom because I haven’t made the time to sew the fabric into curtains. It’s not that I don’t WANT to complete these projects or that I love these people any less, it’s just that crafting for sales has stolen my focus. Besides, there are summertime bonfires and trips to the bakery and walks around the lake to be had. And the tips of my fingers are already raw and bleeding from creations for the shop.


Is this one of those situations of what happens when a “passion” becomes a “job?” Will I ever be able to make the time?


I have debated knitting a time vortex of some sort so that I can have more hours in the day, but if science fiction has taught me nothing else it is that playing with time always leads to trouble. And so I must inject into my life a little reminder of the joy that comes from crafting an item for a friend rather than for a sale. I will hunker down and sew the curtains because I know that every morning, when I go to take a shower, I will be grateful that they are what they are and not a plastic sheet. I will finish my husband’s sweater because when he zips it up and smooths it over his chest and belly, I will know that it was my hands that are keeping him warm this winter. This October when my sister and her husband are embarrassingly thankful for the costumes, I will rely on my husband to remind us that I love to do this. And the kids will smile or, as 8 year old Desi did last Halloween, will look in the mirror, puff out his chest, hold his wooden sword, and exclaim, “I look like a real knight!” I will remember that no sale could ever match that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Blogger, Dawn (and Nikki) - "Better Than Cake" Cake

Okay, I had to ask everybody for a little assistance in pulling off these blog posts while I’m traveling this week. Today’s Guest Blogger is my niece, Dawn, (who, incidentally, is also the one responsible for getting these posted correctly each day while I’m gone!)

I wanted to run Dawn’s daughter’s really easy, tasty recipe and I wanted Dawn to do the intro. So, take it, Dawn ….

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This is a cake that Nikki makes and everybody likes -- including M. my sister-in-law, who doesn’t like cake! This is how the name came about.

Nikki made this and, since she didn’t want to hurt her feelings, M. tried it. Well, M. liked it so much she ended up eating 3 big pieces of it !!

After Nikki and M. finished their last of many pieces, they both decided to attack my last bite. The two of them, armed with forks, were fighting for MY last bite and they ended up sending the piece flying in the air. You can probably guess who ended up wearing the piece. ME !!!

Of course, they thought it was hysterical. After it landed on me, it bounced off onto the table and the two of them went in for the kill. I had the last laugh though, sort of. Not realizing where the piece landed, I put my elbow down on the table just as the two of them were going after that piece and, YUP, I put my elbow right in it !!!

“Better Than Cake” Cake

1 Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix
1 can Pillsbury Funfetti Vanilla Frosting
10 Oreo cookies

Mix the cake as directed on the box.
Chop about 4 or 5 cookies into small pieces and add to the batter, mix and pour into a 13” x 9” pan.
Bake per instructions on the box.
Once the cake has cooled, frost it and then add the Funfetti sprinkles.
Chop the last of the Oreos and spread on top of the icing.

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Thanks, Dawn and Nikki !!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Not ready for publicity?

I'm disappointed. I had hoped to present some pics today of a crafter that I came across at a recent show. She does painted ornaments. Unfortunately, she is a bit blog-shy (something like camera-shy) and did not want photos taken, telling me she was not ready to be "blogged." I tried to convince her publicity was a good thing but she stood firm. She said she'd take my card and "get back" to me. I did find her website is not active at this time, either.

To be honest, I really wanted to show you her display pieces. They were a little different and gave a really nice, uniform and easily viewed appearance. She had taken chicken wire and framed it in wooden frames measuring about 2 1/2' x 5' (just "eye-balling" it here) and then attached the frame to a base of plywood about 8" wide, angling the frame like an easel. She had a weight (looked like they were possibly cinder blocks covered in canvas) sitting on the back edge of the base for support. The multiple frames sat side-by-side on her table tops and were further secured with bungee cords holding them to the frame of her tent. The ornaments were then hung in neat orderly rows on the frames.

The only drawback I could see was the time it would take to hang all those ornaments. While they are finished with a glaze or shellac that makes them pretty sturdy, they are still fragile enough that they need to be packed individually.

The product itself was well done. the items were handpainted and then "appliqued" with centered pictures. I would have used the term "decoupaged." She had a huge selection of dog breeds, cats and more, and a variety of popular "characters." (For reasons that will become obvious, I have carefully remained vague in my description of the product to protect her anonymity.) Prices were very reasonable. (Why wouldn't she want some publicity?)

There were a few things about her display of note though (other than the stands):

First, she had "something for everyone's interest." This is a great way to make sales. Everyone collects or "loves" a particular item. If they can get that picture on a unique item they are strongly tempted to buy.

Secondly, and most importantly, a tremendous amount of her stock featured licensed characters and figures. Did she have permission to use those licensed characters or their likenesses? This is a dangerous territory for small crafters. Large companies like Disney/Pixar and Nickelodeon protect their licensing rights in a very big way. Yes, they have pursued and enforced this against the "little guy" and they've won.

Now, you might be thinking they wouldn't bother with a little old community craft market. You'd be wrong.

I know, for a fact, that both of the aforementioned companies do roam the craft shows and the online markets looking for violations. One of those companies actually hires craft exhibitors to do this for them while showing at such events. They are equipped with fill-in-the-blank Cease and Desist Orders to distribute to violators and these are enforceable.

They will note the crafter's name, show, what products are being presented using licensed characters, date it and "formally" serve the crafter with the legal document. The crafter must immediately pull all of those items from their tables and displays. This can be enforced by the local police authorities. They then report back to the company who pursues it from there. Fines can be hefty.

We'd all love to capitalize on the popularity of Dora, the Yardigans, Garfield and such, but the cost can be very high. I suggest you don't do it. The sweet, elderly lady selling dolls or candles or whatever next to you could be a spy!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More about Bill Elliott

I recently showed you the fantastic stainless steel sculptures Bill Elliott has created and promised you a little more information soon. Well, here it is:
Bill started playing with stainless steel about 27 years ago while working for a research and development firm. They let him have some stainless scraps and he took them home and played with them a bit. Soon he was making some mailboxes, flagpoles and other odds and ends. Folks seemed to like and want them.

Bill says stainless steel used to be considered an exotic metal and was only used for limited applications like dinnerware, cookware, hospital use, etc. As people and manufacturers discovered the strength of the alloy and its corrosion resistance, they found a thousand uses in every industry imaginable. Production ramped up to meet the demand and stainless became readily available.
He started making stainless steel lighthouses about 9 years ago. People liked them and they began to sell. The waterfront community Bill lives in is known as Miller’s Island and his “Miller’s Island Lighthouse” is especially popular in the area.

Recently, Bill began dabbling with marine themed sculptures as he enjoys everything about the Chesapeake Bay and the Ocean. He used to be a commercial diver in Maryland and Louisiana and was an oyster diver on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
His sculptures are large, weighing about 200 lbs., but the size allows him to put more details into his designs.

Stainless is a costly and difficult material to work with, a fact that keeps the prices of Bill’s creations on the higher end.

The Miller’s Island Lighthouse runs $2700, the dolphin statue is $2600 and the “mating Crabs Under Attack” comes in at $3200. The Flower mailbox is $1800 and the smaller Barn mailbox is $450.

The football themed mailbox was $650. The individual Blue Crab was $450 when I saw it, but Bill says the prices on these pieces would need to be higher now due to the cost of the metal and the amount of time it takes to produce them.
The Blue Crab has 38 pieces that need to be cut and welded to get just the right stance for the crustacean.

In talking with Bill, you know he loves his craft as his enthusiasm just bubbles up. He is more than happy to discuss the individual sculptures and thoroughly enjoys people’s reactions to each piece.

Interested in discussing a custom design or ordering from Bill? Contact him at his e-mail address at Elliottfamily00 at Comcast dot com.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Guest Blogger, Woolly Boo - HOW TO PROTECT WHAT IS YOURS

While I am on vacation, there are a number of Guest Bloggers helping me out. Today’s Guest Blogger is Selma from WoollyBoo who is presenting some excellent MUST READ info on protecting your work from others and your personal assets, should someone be injured by one of your creations. PLEASE take time to read this important information. Selma has done a fantastic job of describing various aspects of these issues and presenting the facts in clear, concise language that we can all understand.

***WoollyBoo is a mother/daughter team that makes all natural products for your baby’s healthy and peaceful sleep. They produce mattress covers, comforters and pillows of 100% natural cotton and unprocessed wool. No chemicals are used in their production process. These materials contain naturally occurring deodorant and mildew barriers that prevent the development of germs that cause odor and material breakdown. The fine wool allow air circulation shown to have a calming effect on babies. Please take some time to check out their shop. I’ll tell you more about them once I return from my trip.

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HOW TO PROTECT WHAT IS YOURS

Reading the Community pages on Etsy, I’ve noticed a lot of posts about various copyright, trademark, or patent infringements, especially in the last few months. And the community members have given some really good advice. To make sure the information is available to all Etsians, I’ve consolidated it into this article. I know it looks a little long, but trust me, you want to read this. If not for any other reason than for your general education. For those that decide to take this route, I hope these simple steps help you along.

Protect yourself and your assets

There has been some discussion whether or not it is necessary for Etsy Sellers to incorporate. The short answer is no. But, here area few things you should consider. For example, do you own a home or a car or some stocks? Why am I asking this? Bear with me, since I have one more question for you. What happens when one of your customers develops a serious allergy that lands them in the hospital, and the doctors trace the allergy to some of the ingredients in your product? Then your customer decides to sue you, regardless of how much they like you or your product. Health care bills are very high these days. So, the judge says you now have to pay for the hospital bills. You say: “I can’t afford it. I’ve only sold three pieces this month for a total profit of $25.” Then the judge says: “What else do you have that we can sell?” See where I’m going with this? Protect yourself. It’s only a few minutes and less than $150 to register a company on your own in any of the states. Or you can pay Legal Zoom $650 and click your mouse twice. Whichever. No judgment here.

Here are the links to a few states and their Department of State or Secretary of State offices that have jurisdiction over the new business registrations:

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/corp/filing.html

http://www.nj.gov/treasury/revenue/gettingregistered.htm

http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/be/forms.htm

http://www.corp.delaware.gov/howtoform.shtml

I’ve also included a link for Delaware, since most large companies choose to register there. Why? Delaware has very favorable corporate laws. It’s simple as that. But, sellers beware - should you choose to register in Delaware, most other states require you to file “Foreign Entity” registration, otherwise you can’t operate. That’s another $125.

Note: To maintain the registration, you are required to pay an annual tax. In Delaware, it is $250.

Congratulations, you now have a profound right to collect Sales Tax, which you can fork over immediately to your state government and hope they repair the highways as they have been promising for years.

Now that the State knows I exist, what next?

Now comes the tricky part: if you only registered with your respective state, when you go to open your checking account, the bank is asking for your FEIN. FEIN? What is FEIN?

FEIN is your Federal Employee Identification Number. Technically, you only need it if you have employees. But, if you’ve done this before, you know that everyone and their mother is asking for your FEIN - your bank, your credit card issuer, UPS, FedEx, your local Costco. No kidding. It’s like the Social Security Number for your business. Here is the link where you can apply for one:

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0..id=102767.00.html

Protect your name and your logo

This refers to the name of your company (your name could be Sarah Jones, and you incorporated as Sarah Jones, Inc. or Sarah Jones, L.L.C.) as well as the name of your products, which could be one and the same, as in my case (Woolly Boo L.L.C., the owner of Woolly Boo TM). I read a post recently where one of the comments stated that more and more sellers are using a TM sign next to their names and the names of their products. Then, shortly after that, there was another post from a different seller about Taggies TM, and, I am paraphrasing, a comment to the effect of “try making something with tags and see how fast you get slapped with a lawsuit.” So, instead of despairing about yet another highway robbery of your name, why not be on the other end of the equation and be the one slapping people with lawsuits. Granted, we are artists who want to create and not be bothered with all this paperwork. To those I say, I hope you have a really, really good lawyer or nerves of steel and really thick skin.

To protect your name and logo, you have to file a claim with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can find the instructions and forms here:

http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm

Note #1: You don’t have to file a Trademark protection in order to use the (“TM”) designation. Why? Because it’s what is called a “common law” - when you start using (“TM”), you’ve put the world on notice that this is your property and nobody else has a right to use it. Very simple.

Note #2: Should you still decide to register your name and your logo, please be aware that it costs $250 per category - $250 for the name and $250 for the logo. If you decide to register colors in the logo, or specific font, that’s another $250 each. So, take it slow. To protect the broadest spectrum of rights, stick to the simplest options. For example: Tribeca Film Festival in New York only registered their name, which gives them a very wide field of operation. It also allows them to change their logo, poster concept, and color combination every year, if they decide to do so.

Note #3: Before you do anything, check the trademark database, TESS. Just in case someone already had a same idea as you.

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4001:cdnt0n.1.1

Note #4: The Service Mark (“SM”) also falls under this category, as I’ve noticed a few Sellers that provide services on Etsy.

Protect your words and images

Copyright infringement seems to be a HUGE issue on Etsy. Sellers are lifting the whole shop and product descriptions. They’ve also taken photos, regardless of how bad the resolution, and used them, if not on Etsy, then on other unrelated sites. First of all, that is very uncool. Period. If you have a writer’s block, well there are a number of people on Etsy that can help you with that. Maybe even people that are selling the same product as you. Just ask.

The copyright law is rather simple as it relates to Etsy Sellers. To quote USPTO: “The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine.” See, simple.

If you want to proceed with registration, here is the link:

http://www.copyright.gov/

The fees are actually not that cost prohibitive, if you are filing just a few things.

Note: It used to be required to write “All Rights Reserved” or “Copyright by…” or (c) on your work, but that is no longer the case. Most nations in the world now follow what is known as Berne Copyright convention. What that means is that everything that was created in the U.S. after April 1, 1986 is protected regardless if you can see the notice or not. But, it is also true that if you post a notice, it will make people think twice about copying your work without notice (see the end of this article).

Protect your work

Patent protection is the hardest of all. Did you really make something that nobody else in the world has ever made before? Think long and hard. The patent protection is also governed by the USPTO. Here is the link:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/howtopat.htm

If you decide to go this route, I strongly suggest you get yourself a good lawyer. This is a long and expensive process, as the government does not grant patents that lightly.

In conclusion, you can do all of these things, or none at all, or any combination - it is truly up to you. You should also note that Etsy is a pretty good source of information. Check out the Copyright FAQ below. It’s more legalese than what I’ve written and you may prefer to read that.

http://www.etsy.com/faq_copyright.php

Happy selling!

Note: The above article is for information purposes only. It does not constitute a legal advice, which you can only get from your legal representative. Woolly Boo L.L.C. does not claim to be an expert in the field of business registration or any other legal form, and should any of this information prove to be incorrect, the article will be amended accordingly. For the most accurate and up-to-date information about the laws governing the registration of businesses and related subjects, you should consult your legal representative.

(c)2009 by Woolly Boo L.L.C.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Guest Blogger, Fred - Thrifty Finds !

My friend, Fred, is our Guest Blogger today, lending a post while I'm away:


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Everyone is looking for fun stuff to do in a tight economy. If this is the case for you, don’t forget your local thrift store.


I have heard of many a crafter finding a prize at a thrift store. Expect the unexpected when you go. Not only are there great used items there, but you are bound to find brand new items at a great bargain as well.


With the recent interest in going green and recycling, what better place to go? If you like to embellish clothes, you are all set with racks and racks to choose from. Picture frames, art and other home décor items are readily available. Furniture ready to be restored (or made more funky) is waiting to be picked up. Jars, vases, pitchers, glasses, etc ready for that little embellishment that you have to offer.


Besides all the crafty items ready for you to pick up, going to a thrift store is just plain fun. Take your kids or grandkids there for a different shopping experience than they are used to.


For a fun little shopping trip that will be sure to provide a bargain or unexpected inspiration, go check out your thrift store and you’ll be helping out the community while you do it!


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Thanks, Fred !!


Fred is the webmaster at CraftBuddy.com, a social gathering place for crafters of all skill levels in all sorts of crafty endeavors. Those who join and participate in CraftBuddy are truly a circle of friends as evidenced by the friendly banter that fills the various forum threads there on a daily basis. Look for a long in-depth post here about Craft Buddy in August. In the meantime, why not stop over and check them out for yourself. Here's a short-cut to get your there!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Guest Blogger, "The Dog" - If a dog was our teacher...

We’re still wandering the Midwest, so here are few more words of wisdom from another Guest Blogger, "The Dog".
The sweet little gal in this picture is a member of our family. She’s my niece-dog, Angel. Isn’t she beautiful ? I took this shot, but if you’d like to see more pics of this darling, please visit my niece’s photography site at Deviant Art and her Etsy shop.

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If a dog was our teacher …

This is great advice !!!

If a dog was our teacher, you would learn stuff like:

*When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

*Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

*Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

*When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience !

*Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

*Take naps.

*Stretch before rising.

*Run, romp and play daily.

*Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

*Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

*On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.

*On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

*When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
*No matter, how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.

*Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

*Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

*Be loyal, Never pretend to be something you’re not.

*If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

*When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently

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Not bad advice, huh ?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Check out the plans for the next 15 days !

It's been a really busy and hectic day here, getting ready for starting our road trip tomorrow. I started early and I've still got quite a bit to get done. I'd rather stay up late and have just about everything ready to walk out the door before going to bed. That way, all I have to do in the morning before leaving at noon is shower, dress, pack coolers and nibbles into the car and make my final internet contacts before turning the machine off for two weeks! Then off to pick up The Big Guy from work and we're hitting the road.


Since there will still be somebody here at the house, I had to be sure there was some food and such here and I did a fair amount of housecleaning today. I also did some baking to take with us. (Those darned blueberries must be multiplying!!) There are still a few things needed here at home that I hope to finish before resting tonight.


I know I'll be going through withdrawal since I won't have computer access for the whole trip!! My shop is marked, showing I'll be away and any incoming orders won't be processed until 7/30. I haven't forgotten all of my Dear Readers, either. I've gathered a great bunch of Guest Bloggers who are providing some great articles for you and I've prepared some posts in advance just so you won't forget me.


Check out what's showing in this space for the next 2 weeks:


Be sure to look for a fantastic piece by WoollyBoo on Monday telling you how to protect yourself from various business liabilities and how to protect your work from various craft pirates out there who are lurking all around the web just looking to grab up ideas and descriptions and use them as their own. It's a long article but includes some really important information for anyone running an online shop.


Later in the week, Rhena, of Larsandaddie, will discuss balancing your business craft life with your personal creating. Other Guest Bloggers will be talking of thrift store treasures, mother's wisdom and a Dad's adventures in babysitting. There will be some humorous pieces and some thought provoking items. For those that enjoyed Bill Elliott's sculptures last week, there's an interview with Bill.


Some of these Guests have shops, blogs and websites of their own. Please stop in and see them at their own places after meeting them here. I'm sure they'd like the company!


I'm hoping to find a few minutes to post tomorrow but, at the moment, I'm making no guarantees.


So, please go out there an enjoy yourselves for the next two weeks and be creative and inventive while I'm gone. I'll want to hear all about it when I get home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Artscape - July 17-19

Artscape is the largest FREE public arts festival in the country and it's happening outdoors and in tents for the 28th time in Mid-town Baltimore this weekend!! Over 350,000 visitors attended the annual event last year. Held at the intersection of Mt. Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street (near the Maryland Institute of Art and the University of Baltimore) , the event will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The festival features over 150 artists, fashion designers and craftspeople, visual art exhibits on and off site, including exhibitors, outdoor sculpture, art cars, photography and the Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize, incredible live concerts on 3 outdoor stages and a full schedule of performing arts including dance, opera, theater, fashion, film, experimental music and performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Free concerts include Dionne Warwick and Robin Thicke and many more. (Remember folks, this is FREE!)

There are family events such as hands-on projects, demonstrations, competitions, children's entertainers and multiple street theater locations. There is an amazing array of international foods and beverages available throughout the festival site.

Artists and craftspeople come from all over the country to participate. There is a fascinating display of "art cars" - cars that have been elaborately painted, decorated, bejeweled, adapted, built upon, etc. Five up-and-coming fashion designers will be competing in a fashion show.

If you can get into town to see this one, it will be well worth your trip. Artscape is definitely an experience and there is nothing else in the country like it.

If you are not familiar with the area (and even if you are), the best thing to do is locate one of the suburban Metro stops and ride the Metro into town (State Center stop) as there is very little parking in the area. You could also use the expensive parking located in the Inner Harbor area and use public transportation to the festival.

For more info, check out the website at http://www.artscape.org/.

I will miss this one as we will be out of town this year, but I'd love to hear feedback from any of you that do attend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blueberry Orange Bread

I’m STILL working my way through the blueberries!!! There’s bread baking now, again!! (It freezes great!!!)Many of you have asked for the bread recipe, so, here by popular demand is the recipe for

Blueberry Orange Bread

2 T butter
¼ C. boiling water
1 T grated orange rind
½ C orange juice
1 egg
1 c sugar
2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powderCombine the butter with the boiling water. Add 1 T orange rind and ½ C orange juice. Set aside.

Beat the egg and sugar until fluffy.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the orange juice mixture. Start and end with the flour. Mix well. (Batter will be thick.)

Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350° for 55 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in bread comes out clean).
Cool in pan for 10 minutes.If desired, you can make a glaze using 1 tsp orange rind, 2 T orange juice and 2 T honey to drizzle over the bread. I usually do not glaze mine. If you are planning to freeze your bread do not glaze before freezing.

¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 C fresh blueberries

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Guest Bloggers?

As some of you know, we will be heading West on Friday to visit my Mother-In-Law and other family members. In between gathering the many things needed for the trip, doing laundry, organizing for the packing, and figuring what I need to do here at home for those not traveling, I'm busy putting together some posts to leave for your reading pleasure while I am on vacation. I've lined up some humorous pieces, an in-depth interview or two, a few helpful tips and some guest bloggers. If any of you would like to post as a Guest Blogger, please contact me ASAP. I need to have copy and any photos in my possession by noon on Thursday so I can review the piece and pre-post it. So, if you have something to say, please let me hear from you.

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Well, I've got more berries to do something creative with, laundry to switch and lots more to do so i need to get a move on. Talk with y'all again tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Warn your friends, everyone!!!!

In honor of my birthday this weekend, a friend sent me this warning and urged me to let all my acquaintances in on this terrible crime wave, too. So, I'm sharing this bulletin with all of you so, you too, can be on guard against such terrible attacks!!

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You've heard about people who have been abducted and had their kidneys removed by black-market organ thieves. Well, this kind of cruel theft is happening with other body parts as well !

My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years ago. I went to sleep and woke up with someone else's thighs. It was just that quick. The replacements had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Whose thighs were these and what happened to mine? I spent the entire summer looking for my thighs. Finally, hurt and angry, I resolved myself to living out my life in jeans. And then the thieves struck again.

My butt was next. I knew it was the same gang, because they took pains to match my new rear end to the thighs they had stuck me with earlier. But my new butt was attached at least three inches lower than my original ! I realized I'd have to give up my jeans in favor of long skirts.

Two years ago, I realized my arms had been switched. One morning I was fixing my hair and was horrified to see the flesh of my upper arms flop to and fro with the motion of the hairbrush ! This was really getting scary - my body was being replaced one section at a time. What could they do to me next?

When my poor neck suddenly disappeared and was replaced with a turkey neck, I decided to tell my story. Women of the world, wake up and smell the coffee ! Those "plastic" surgeons are using REAL replacement body parts - stolen from you and me !!! The next time someone you know has something "lifted," look again - was it lifted from you ?

THIS IS NOT A HOAX. This is happening to women everywhere every night.

WARN YOUR FRIENDS !!!

P.S. Last year, I thought someone had stolen my boobs. I was lying in bed and noticed they were gone !! But when I jumped out of bed, I was relieved to see that they had been hiding in my armpits as I slept. Now, I keep then hidden in my waistband.

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Ain't it great having friends!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Some new designs...


Okay, I've been promising some pics of my newest creations. These two sets were designed for family gifts.

I haven't yet decided if one or both will end up in the shop, too.

For the fishing tot, the shirt features a large fish who actually seems to be having a friendly conversation with the bait worm! The front of the shorts has a bucket of colorful bait worms, a float and a baited hook painted as if hanging from the pocket. Attached to the rear pockets are a few "keepers" and a "Gone Fishin'" sign.















For the beach babe in the crowd, these jeans shorts feature painted on sunglasses and a bottle of suntan lotion (both matched to the shirt) as well as shells she might have found on the beach. The lavender-colored tank top has the beach ball, pail and shovel and beach umbrella as adornment.













Hope you like these!!



It was another busy day with a family event this afternoon and visitors at home this evening.

That's all for tonight folks.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's my birthday! (Gawd, am I old!!!)

Another week has come to an end. How does time fly by so quickly sometimes?

Again, I did not get a posting done last night. I’d love to come up with some fancy excuse, but I was just plain tired after a somewhat hectic week. We didn’t even go to the park for the Friday night concert, choosing to relax at home instead. I even got to bed early.

Today was my birthday and we got up and out early to make the best of it. We started with a breakfast buffet and then , for lack of other exciting opportunities, we decided to head for our local casino. I didn’t win but we did have a fun-filled day and, if you calculate my losses over the full nine hours we were there, I’m not too big a loser! Since we are card-carrying regulars there, the casino also gave me a generous meal comp for a birthday gift so dinner was on them.

I came home to quite a few birthday messages (and some rousing renditions of Happy Birthday) on the answering machine, a few cards in today’s mail and a couple of phone calls after we got in. (A few folks had tracked me down on the cell earlier, too.) Now, I feel REALLY old!!! (The Big Guy and I celebrated with a nice meal and cake and such last night.)

I have some pics to post of the cute outfits I made for gifts for a family event tomorrow but, just to maintain the surprise, I’m not going to post them until after that party. Some people have e-mailed me asking for the bread and muffin recipes. (I guess we’re all getting flooded with blueberries and such!) I’ll try to post them in the next day or two, also.

For now, this old gal is exhausted and needs to get to bed. I’ll talk at y’all, tomorrow.

Have a happy creative fun-filled Sunday!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The blueberries are here!!!

I've got a long list of things to do this week and I really didn't have time to devote to being Little Susie Homemaker or a Martha Stewart wannabe BUT the blueberries arrived. You know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth - I simply smiled and said, "Thanks."

My mind was saying, "OMG, I hope I can find room in the fridge for all these!" Of course, the refrigerator comes in handy for a day or two, but the fact remains, you need to DO something with this bounty in a timely manner. You can only nibble so many and you can only throw a minimal amount on a bowl of cereal in the morning and how many bowls of cereal can really be consumed in a morning before everyone is late for work?

So, I started baking. (In case your paddling the same boat I am, I'll share a few ideas here.)

First came an old family recipe : Blueberry Zonkey.

It has long been a favorite. I’m not sure where the name or recipe originated but when we mention it, no one has ever heard of “Zonkey.” It can be made with any fresh fruit (berries, peaches, apples, etc.), but we particularly like it with fresh blueberries. My sister-in-law makes it with mixed fresh fruits, too.

3 Tbsp. melted butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 pint fruit
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Mix first 5 ingredients together, beat well and pour into a greased 8” square pan. Place the fruit on top of the butter. Pour on the water and then the sugar.

**NOTE : The ready to bake pan looks very strange as it goes in the oven - sort of “swampy.” It creates a nice crusty top while baking.

Bake at 375° for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

(I was going to post a pic of the finished zonkey, but I left the guys alone in the room with half a pan this afternoon and came back to find an empty pan! I think they consider an 8" pan similar to a personal pan pizza!!)


Then, I moved on to Blueberry Mini-Pies.

For these, I start with ready to use refrigerated pie dough. (If you're so inclined, you can make your own dough of course!) I roll the circle of dough to make it just a little thinner and then use the lip of a glass tumbler to cut mini circles approx 3 1/2" in diameter. I can get 10 mini circles from the two pie pieces in a package.

Set these aside while you mix the filling.

1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. flour
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
"pinch" of salt

Place about 2 T. of the mixture in the center of each circle of dough. Fold each circle in half and seal edges with a fork.

Cut 2-3 small slits in the top of each pie.

Place pies on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden brown..

**You make a glaze for the baked pies with 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla and add milk to reach the proper consistency to drizzle.

You can also make these into fried pies simply by frying them in about an inch of hot oil in a saucepan until nicely browned on each side. Fried pies are best served warm and particularly good with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top!

I've still got berries left so I'm planning to whip up some muffins and maybe some blueberry bread, too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Stainless Steel Sculptures

This past weekend we attended the 33rd Annual Dundalk Heritage Fair in northeastern Baltimore County, Maryland.

Finally, something new and different at a craft show!! Not only that, it is genuinely original, handmade work and created by a really nice person who was great to chat with.
Check out these fantastic stainless steel sculptures by Bill Elliott:




Bill’s display was easily visible from the street as we approached the entrance gate and caught my attention immediately.








When I got the chance to stop and talk with him about his work, I learned this was the first time he’d shown at a craft show though he has been doing these sculptures for awhile




Bill’s from one of our local waterfront communities and I can just picture these dolphins or crabs in someone’s yard, either waterfront or street side to welcome guests arriving by car or boat!





For those who are looking for something just a little smaller, you can get a yard crab. Anybody can have a watchdog but only a few are brave enough to guard their walkway with a giant crab!






Looking for something more practical? Check out these mailboxes. Large, roomy and sturdy, the barn will hold all your fan mail and Etsy envelopes!




Bill enjoys his work and knows your favorite football fanatic will really love this football helmet style mailbox mounted on a goal post!







Stainless steel is definitely not your run-of-the-mill (No pun intended.) medium to work with and takes a lot of skill and practice.It is an expensive material to work with but leaves you with an impressive, weather-worthy sculpture. I hope to bring you a more detailed interview with
Bill as one of my featured artists in the near future.

This last photo is of Bill's lighthouse sculpture. Unfortunately, I cut the top off when i took the pic! (How embarrassing!)


I’m sure Bill would love to discuss any custom requests you may have. At this point in time, he does not have a website but can be contacted by e-mail at: Elliottfamily00 at comcast dot net.

Or you can drop me a note with a contact number or e-mail address for Bill to get back to you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rush, Rush

Sorry, not much time to chat tonight. We've got houseguests and it's been a very busy evening. They're here getting the last of their youngin's set to start college next week. (Yes, they're starting in July! It's an odd schedule.) They spent most of the afternoon at the admissions office getting all the paperwork straight and checking out his housing.

Of course, I haven't gotten any work done today. I can't really blame my guests as they were out all afternoon. I MUST do some constructive work tomorrow. I have items to list but need to take photos and such before I can do that. I have products to finish and gifts to make by the weekend. My head is full of ideas but my hands haven't been too busy. I've got to work on coordinating those efforts tomorrow.

I did manage to draft my Working the Shows Wednesday post for tomorrow so be sure to stop in and see the really interesting work of a sculptor I met this weekend.

Well, someone wants to get to sleep in this room now, so I need to sign off. You know how it is when you've got a full house at times like this.

See y'all tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just another sleepy Monday

Well, it was back to the old grind today. Or, at least it was supposed to be. I just couldn’t get my act together today. There was absolutely no motivation at all. I did most of the necessities but not all the stuff I should have done. We’ve got overnight guests arriving tomorrow morning again and I did nothing to prep for them except a little grocery shopping. I guess it’ll be a busy morning tomorrow.

The most important omission of the day was not working on my Etsy shop at all. I hardly even looked at it. There’s plenty to do like taking some photos, listing some of my new items and actually making more stock. In an attempt to justify my laziness today, I reminded myself I don’t like to list on Mondays. It seems so many people block load on Mondays that single items get lost immediately in the hubbub. I usually don’t list more than one item per day. However, I could have worked on production or at least done some promotional work. Nope, I was just lazy. No other explanation.

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A few months back, I told you I was trying an experiment to see how well Twitter worked for promotional purposes. I have to admit, it does get me views. I still believe more views will lead to more sales - eventually. I do now have one sale that found their way to my site through Twitter.

I will admit I do not spend all day sending Twitter notes. I try to do a few in the morning and a few sometime later in the day but I try to keep actual promotional plugs down to between 20% - 25% of my total Tweets for any one day. After all, it is a social network not a sales machine.

I also do not go out in search of Followers with all my energy. I know this flies in the face of my theory on more views = more sales as the standard train of thought is more Followers = more people to view your site. I just don’t think the various folks out there trying to push dating services, money making schemes, online marketing techniques, etc. are my target audience. I do pick and choose those folks I want to follow by reading their profiles and reviewing their recent posts. I have also chosen to unfollow a number of people whose messages push products or activities I am definitely not interested in, or spend all their time discussing dating, singles bars, etc. as I have nothing in common with them and I don’t think they are part of that target population I am going for. Some just get on my nerves by aimlessly posting the same one line sentence numerous times a day. I do have some faves that I do look forward to reading and have developed some dialogue with and I enjoy their posts.

All in all, I’m just not sure it is an efficient marketing tool. I plan to continue it for a while longer as I do enjoy posting there but I’m not sure it’s worthwhile from the business vantage point. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, click here.

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I’m told I need to be active on Facebook now, too. I have a Facebook account but have not been active. At the moment, I just haven’t had the time. Maybe that will be my next universe to conquer.

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In the meantime, I’m planning to conquer the laundry in the morning and do a little straightening up before my company arrives. If I get up early, I could paint a bit, too!


Here’s hoping you were all a lot more creative and productive than me today.

A very LATE Sunday post!! (Sorry.)

Okay, we were back on schedule on Sunday arriving at the Heritage Fair by noon for the first musical act of the day.
The weather was fantastic all weekend, hovering in the very low 80s and breezy during the day and actually dropping down to some chilly temps after dark. Today was no exception with a bright blue sky and white fluffy clouds. We would normally expect temps in the mid 90s with high humidity this time of year. (The last time I participated in the craft portion of this event, the temps hovered between 98 and 105 degrees for the ENTIRE weekend!)





Fins
(a local beach rock group)

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The crafts section:
I took time today to wander through the craft section and talk with some of the crafters there. Until last year, the crafts were all in a very large tent at the back corner of the fair - sort of the forgotten stepchild syndrome. Last year, they did away with the large tent and moved the crafts to the front of the fair right next to the entrance gate. Crafters used their own individual canopies. This was a good move. The crafts were closer to the main events and easily accessible to shoppers. (In past years, it was often not worth the hike back to buy something after thinking about it for awhile.)

They kept the crafts at the front this year and expanded on the number of spaces a bit. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of buy/sell mixed in. (There is a Commercial Row elsewhere at the fair for resale items.) When I did this show a few years back, it was juried. Apparently it is no longer a juried event or they don’t care just who “handmade” the items. Much of this was made in China, Ecuador and Mexico.

There were some good quality crafts available in some categories and I will discuss those and highlight one of those unique displays in Wednesday’s Working the Shows post. The good news is, those I spoke with were having a good weekend and were selling well. They were also happy to be close enough to the hub of activity to hear the entertainment these days.

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Great music:

The Blues Brothers even stopped by!!!

Sundays at this event usually feature some of the better local and regional entertainers throughout the day and today was no exception. The featured act of the evening was Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. He put on a great show tonight, bringing back many memories for those of us that actually watched The Monkees the first time around on TV. Micky played to a huge crowd and introduced his sister Koko to the crowd. Koko sings with the band and was even a backup singer on some of the original Monkee's albums.



A GREAT time was had by all!!




Micky Dolenz and band.
I hope your weekend finished up on a good note, too!! (Don't forget to check in on Wednesday for more about the crafts there today.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks!!!

We ARE getting OLD!!! After our late night on Friday we got a late start on Saturday.

The original plan went something like : Leaping out of bed, eating breakfast at home and then heading down to the Heritage Fair (the one I told you about yesterday morning) for a full day of music before trucking over to our favorite viewing area for the fireworks.

So, what did we really do? Well, I rose early but I sure didn’t shine! The Big Guy slept in. I mean really slept in. I was beginning to think about going in to see if he was still breathing when he finally came wandering out of the bedroom!

We’ve sort of made a tradition out of watching the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest on TV each year on the 4th. The play-by-play coverage and the color man can be absolutely hysterical. The first time, we watched just for kicks but then we started thinking of it as a holiday thing. These competitive eaters take the contest VERY seriously!! On year’s we go out early, we’ve actually taped it! We had plenty of time to watch it at home yesterday. I wasn’t even dressed yet at that point! Incidently, Joey Chestnut won again this year, eating 69 hotdogs and rolls in 10 minutes! So, the much-coveted Mustard Belt remains Stateside! Hey, if ESPN devotes plenty of time to coverage, it MUST be a bonafide sport, right?
This picture gives an idea of how many other fireworks were visible from this vantage point. The big blue burst was part of the community display we were there for . The larger burst in the background was part of what spectators were setting off while watching the professional display. Both of the fireworks visible to the right were parts of other commercial displays a few miles away on the waterfront. The two spots on the left were merely individuals setting them off from their yards.

I’m an absolute fireworks fanatic. I still love them as much as I did as a child so we finally got our fannies out of the house about 7 p.m. and headed straight for the fireworks. There’s a high hill behind the community college a block or two from the fireworks that provides a fantastic vantage point and easy parking on roomy lots without the humongous traffic problems. The spectators always fire off a tremendous amount of fireworks right there on the college property before the big show. This year, some of these were absolutely fantastic and of professional sizes! The hill gives us a great view of the professional display for that community as well as views of a number of other commercial displays in the distance and a huge amount of stray blasts by individuals in their own yards all around us.

It was a great night to view these displays and we actually watched fireworks all around us for well over 2 ½ hours last night! I loved it!! I tried to take some pics of the beautiful sprays of color against the night sky but my camera has definite limitations in that area. Hopefully, you can appreciate some of it from these shots.



The picture on the left shows some of the many fireworks visible in the distance AFTER the one for this community finished! (The red lights on the far right are tail lights!)
The very top picture shows some of the spectacular items shot off by spectators on our field BEFORE the community display started.

Considering fireworks (with the exception of hand-held sparklers) are illegal in Maryland, the police were extremely tolerant at his event. They merely advised folks to move away from the crowd when shooting them off and did keep them off of the brand new soccer field just completed on the property.

I hope y'all had a glorious 4th!!!