October 30, 2010


today, we drove up to Glendale, AZ to visit Roseglen Shelties... I've been waiting (somewhat) patiently for the phone call from Helene. The puppies were seven weeks old a few days ago, so this weekend was the time!! Here he is-- isn't he cute?? (and the puppy, too-- haha!!) Helene said he's got quite a personality, and that he was one of the first puppies to start developing a personality. But, he's running a bit too close to the top of the size range for his age, so she's concerned he'll grow too large to show. (top size range for show is 16 inches tall.) So, Helene's loss is our gain. He was definitely not tentative at all; he came to us pretty easily (after getting used to seeing "strangers" in his territory, that is), he played with us, and he explored around the room with no hesitation at all.
The puppy had never been around any of the adult dogs besides his mother, so this was his first exposure to an older dog. The older dog is Kokopelli, who is actually his grandfather, and Bisbee's brother. (it still amazes me that a 3 year old dog can be a grandfather, which makes Bisbee this puppy's great aunt... lol!!) Helene brought Koko inside so we could meet him. The puppy was looking for milk, which of course he wasn't going to find, but then he got interested in trying to pull Koko's tail, which bodes well for how he and Bisbee might interact.
Kokopelli is a gorgeous dog, very similar in temperament and looks to Bisbee, although he's not quite so delicate in the legs and nose as Bisbee is (since he's a male). He was extremely friendly, coming up to meet us, and happy to play! He was equally as happy to just crash with Helene on the couch, which is also quite similar to Bisbee.
Here's a shot of Helene and the puppy... she does such a great job with all of her dogs, both in breeding and handling. The puppies get plenty of attention from her and her husband, which is great, and Bisbee is a very mellow, laid-back dog overall, which is also good, since Shelties can be a bit over-anxious sometimes.
here's another puppy shot-- isn't he just the cutest?? He'll be coming home next week... by then, we hope to have a name finalized for him!

October 29, 2010

for my fellow Etsy sellers, there have been some very important changes lately that WILL affect you!! PLEASE READ

If you are a seller on Etsy, I think you NEED to read this post, and then browse around the Etsy forums for more information. Link to the main Etsy forums HERE.

Etsy has been making major changes lately, and they never notify all users about anything. So, since I know most Etsy sellers don't frequent the Etsy forums, I'm posting them here---

the first one is wider listing pages that greatly affect the photos and seeing (or not seeing) the item description. The photos were made HUGE-- if you have vertical photos, they will not be seen in their entirety. If your photos are smaller, they may end up with gray bars on the edges to make them fit the new, larger space. Even if you have relatively square photos, the page re-design to huge photos means that in most cases, the item description is "below-the-fold" and people will have to scroll down to read it. In addition, they have redesigned where the clickable things (your avatar, etc) take a shopper when they click on them, and most of them take the buyer NOT back to your shop, but to your profile or even OUT of your shop. Many threads in the forums about this topic, but one of the main (it's huge, sorry about that) is here: wide listing page thread.

the second is a change to the profile pages that will connect ONE profile to ALL the shops an owner may have (if they have more than one shop). Not a huge change, but it still changes the way your profile page looks. Click here to read a forum thread about this.

The third is a change to the way item results are shown-- there is no "jump-to" page box at the bottom of a list, so buyers have to scroll through pages sequentially to look at items in a category or after a search. A buyer can no longer type "34" in the page box to jump to the 34th page of a category or search. This means that realistically, only the top pages (i.e., most recently listed) in a category will ever be seen by a casual browser, because they probably won't want to keep scrolling thru page after page to ever reach the 34th page of a category or search results. Click here to read a forum thread about this.

The fourth one is the most recent (I think) and is a MAJOR change to the way results will be shown when buyers are browsing by clicking on a category or doing a very general search. Etsy says it's only minor, but I believe, along with many other sellers, that it is a HUGE disservice to the sellers, and will be very negative. Etsy has changed the functionality of the site to ONLY list 50,000 results when a buyer clicks on a category page or does a general search. This may sound like a huge number, but depending on how saturated the category is (think jewelry, clothing, art, or wedding, for example), this number of items is a VERY small percentage of the actual items in the category-- as low as 2% or 3% in some cases. And, since the default search is "most recently listed" this limitation will now only show the last few day's listings of jewelry, for example. Read this link for a very concise explanation of this issue.

These kinds of changes are being made almost daily, and can negatively affect casual, low-volume sellers who may not know they're being made. Especially since it's (supposedly) going into the holiday shopping rush-- if your views/sales have dropped off, these changes may be why.

And since Etsy doesn't feel like they NEED to tell ALL sellers about these things, I (along with other sellers who are concerned about these changes affecting our sales and views) am trying to do what I can to get the word out.

October 26, 2010

...eye candy for fiber artists

if you want to see/buy wonderfully shaded and patterned hand-dyed fabric, go here... Random Acts of Dyeness blog... I came across this blog while I was reading an artist's newsletter online. This artist hand-dyes fabric for her own work, and sells her extras. The colors and patterns are luscious!! It makes me (almost) wish I was a fiber artist, but I know if I bought any of this, it would only languish in my closet. Above is a rainbow selection; below is a collection called "Some Like It Hot." All collections of fabric are $30-- not knowing anything about hand-dying,that sounds really reasonable to me.

For her works for sale, go here: Deborah Lacativa's website.

I love the internet-- you never know what you'll find! (all images borrowed from her website and blog)

October 25, 2010

playing catch up...

some photos from the last few weeks, finally off the camera. (I have a problem remembering to get pictures off the camera- I finally HAD to, because the memory card was full and I had to make room to take more pictures!) A couple weeks ago, we drove up to Cave Creek, AZ and spent the a few hours looking in some really neat Western interior decorating stores, and ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant... the restaurant, El Encanto, had a pond and an outdoor courtyard, alont with some of the best Mexican food I've had in a while. The restaurant had its own floor show; the ducks, geese, and turtles in the pond would hang out and wait to pick up whatever diners would toss their way. This might be hard to see, but the duck on the right has a "top-knot" of feathers on top of its head... it looked quite a bit like a bad toupee!! We had to ask the waiter about it; he said it's just a particular kind of duck, and thast they've nicknamed this particular duck "James Brown!!"
These ducks were quite friendly! This little female was very tame, and would come right up to us. (of course, the "duck-chow" we bought to feed them might have helped, but still, it was fun.)
Here, she takes a bit of kibble from Tom's hand, with a few of her friends waiting a bit farther away behind the fence.
We bought a fresh chili ristra while we were up there. We weren't particularly looking for one, but we've wanted one of these for years, so we jumped at the chance to pick one up. They have a wonderful roasted aroma!! The peppers have dried over the course of the last couple weeks, but they're still gorgeous, and quite a traditional decoration. They should last us for at least a couple years. (we could actually use them to cook with, too, but I think we'll probably just emjoy looking at them.)
now, on to a few pieces of artwork that I've made over the last few weeks. This is a 4x4 canvas piece that I have for sale right now in my new online shop, at ArtFire.com. (check it out here.) It started out as layers of acrylic paint over a collaged base, then I added a bit of text and a distressed photo of a dragonfly (I took the photo a couple years ago when we visited the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, when my parents and sister came to visit). It still looked like it needed "something" to finish it off, so I added some gold flourishes with heat embossing.
These are 6x6 collages on 3/4 inch plywood; I bought an entire sheet and had it cut up into different sized pieces to use for artwork. I collaged the background with vintage text papers, then added cut-paper borders, a bit of glitter, and focal images that I hand-cut from black cardstock. The owl is already sold, but the cat's still available. I probably won't list it for sale till next Halloween, though, since Halloween is almost here. (where did the time go, anyway??)
This jaunty fellow (also sold) was also hand-cut from black cardstock; this one took small scissors and an exacto knife-- it was fiddly, but well worth it-- I just love his bow tie! It's also on 3/4 inch plywood, this time an 8x10 inch collage. Sort of like making a journal page, but one you can hang up!! (I will definitely be making more of these.. they're a lot of fun, and besides, since I bought a 4 x 8 foot piece of plywood, I have well over 40 pieces of wood!)
And lastly, here's a tag I made from just the bits and pieces on my desk. I needed a "thank you" gift to put in with an Etsy shop sale, and didn't have lots of time to pull it together. So, I worked with what I had... most of the time, doing that works lots better than I think it will!! (I love that little hummingbird stamp, too... I definitely need to find it on my desk, and put it to work again.)

October 24, 2010

weekend in pictures...

okay, this didn't happen this weekend, but a few days ago-- it's hard to see, but Ariel is grooming Butters, and Butters is letting her do it!! They still do plenty of hissing and spitting at each other, but it's nice to see them getting along better.
a "just-by-chance" portrait of Bisbee that I snapped while she was waiting to go outside for a bit of sun. She always has that sort of worried look; she never likes to be looked at straight on--if you look right at her, she always looks away.
We had a busy afternoon today; now that it finally cooled off and feels like fall, we carved some jack-o-lanterns and roasted the pumpkin seeds this afternoon while we watched football. (I say we, but Tom handled the seed-roasting duties, along with making a batch of chili for dinner.)
Tom's finished jack-o-lantern, looking quite cheery!
I, on the other hand, went for the scary, fanged jack-o-lantern, along with a couple scars here and there.
not the best picture, but here they are out in front of the house. Hopefully it won't be too warm this week, so they'll last till Halloween!

October 15, 2010


"A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form. It's a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path. This is especially true when it comes to creative pursuits."

from the book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty.

I found this quote while looking up information about National Novel Writing Month (which is November, by the way), but the sentiment isn't just applicable to novel-writing, it works for anything. Especially for me, since I'm one of those people who gets easily paralyzed by overthinking and self-criticism. A deadline forces me to brush those pesky voices in my head aside, to "make it work with what I have" because I don't have the time to find the "perfect" piece of paper, ribbon, etc. or to make it "absolutely perfect" before I'm done. And in the end, I'm more creative because of it: while my projects sometimes turn out totally different than I might have done them if I had more time, they're usually pretty good results, or ever pretty darn good, actually!

(part of this is because of my ability to be easily side-tracked-- if I actually did take the time to find the "perfect" piece of paper, because I knew it was in my stash somewhere, I'd re-surface two hour later. ...after finding four other things I looked for earlier but couldn't find, paging through a couple magazines that caught my eye, getting an idea for at least three different projects that I'd start if only I had time, and then totally forgetting what I was looking for in the first place.)

see, it's happened here, too! all I wanted was to write down this quote so I wouldn't forget it, and I've gone off on a tangent about my creative and organizational processes...

Anyway, I'll be back soon with more photos of my estate sale finds from last weekend. My friend Melissa sent me a link to a site that lists local sales, and I am trying very hard not to be tempted by the listings.

October 10, 2010

I should be asleep right now, but I just had to show you...

my estate sale haul from this weekend! I'll be taking pics and scanning more things individually, but I couldn't wait to share the overview pics. And this was totally by accident, too! A friend and I had gone to a craft show in Scottsdale which was a disappointment (too much stuff that was too similar, and it had quite a large number of items that were not handmade and/or commercial). On the way back across Shea Blvd, we saw an "estate sale" sign, I made a U-turn, and we spent the next couple hours happily immersed in boxes and piles of stuff, a la the "American Pickers" guys!! this pic is Saturday's haul-- I didn't want to get too many things, so I tried to limit myself by thinking, "what would I do with this?" before I picked something up. Sherry, on the other hand, picks things up and sorts thru that question after she gets them home. Thus, I did miss out on some things, because we do like some of the same sorts of things. But, I still got some cute stuff!! vintage greeting cards (from their trash pile; more to come about that later), little chotchke items, a couple vintage glass canning jars, and a tiered chrome serving tray from the 50s-60s. After we got back to Sherry's house, I said, "gee, I wish I had gotten that small muffin tin... maybe I'll go back tomorrow" (meaning today.) Sherry was game, so we did.
The small muffin tin is in here, I swear!! along with lots of other yummy stuff... LOL!! We did some more rummaging thru their garbage/castoff pile, and even got to go thru desk drawers of paper items that were still inside the house. (I think they appreciated the fact that we came back again!) We told the woman running the sale that we liked paper items, so she let us look thru them even before she sorted thru them. Which is good, because some of the things she probably would have thrown away, but since both of us are artists with a high regard for paper ephemera, we rescued most of them.
The contents of this packing box is mostly photographs, with some other paper items and vintage greeting cards added in for good measure. I've started sorting through them with the help of a magnifying glass, and I can't wait to get some of them on the scanner. The sale was the estate of a 90-year old woman who recently passed away by the name of Aurelia Booker (isn't that a great name--- Aurelia!). It's kind of tragic, in a way, and now I'm wishing we had taken all the photos and paper ephemera, since there aren't any family members close who would want them. We have managed to piece together some of her life already-- her son Charles died during WWII, and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. We even found some of their correspondence to each other when he was in the military.
This is a close-up of the tiny chotchke pile from yesterday. I'll show more closeups of the individual items, but I wanted to whet your appetite! (and mine-- it's like Christmas, almost, sorting through these things!)
This is the tiered serving tray-- no marks on it, so I don't have any idea of the maker, but I do think I scored, since I only paid $2.50 for it! I'm thinking late 50s, early 60s, by the looks of it?? I'm going to use it as a display piece for the craft shows I have coming up... (oh, I didn't tell you about those, did I?? I will in a couple days.)
(This is the canning jar I told you about on the phone, Mom.) Presto is the company, and it has a two-part glass and aluminum lid. This was another of the things that we dug out of the junk pile behind the house... I think the lid was on a different jar originally, so I am sure happy I managed to grab both of them! I didn't even realize that until I got them home-- talk about lucky! If this is the half-pint size (I'm no good with those measurements- whaddya think, Mom??) then it could be worth about $15, from the quick internet searches I did.
This is one of the greeting cards I found in today's searching. She is just darling!! It was never used, the colors are not faded at ALL, and it's even die-cut on the upper edge. Early or mid-1950s, I'm guessing, by the style??
Here's the inside, where you can see that the cuteness continues!! This gives you a better look at the die-cut edge around the little girl's head, and isn't that little winking dog just great?!? He would certainly cheer me up when I wasn't feeling well, that's for sure! I think I'll sell most of these things in my Etsy shop, or use them as art supplies, but I'm not sure I can part with all of them... maybe after I live with them for a while. But I will show you more pics (after the camera batteries charge up), that's for sure!!

October 04, 2010

we set the alarm for 12:30 am last night...

--what would get us up in the middle of the night, you ask?? This: This is a variety of "night-blooming cereus," an unusual cactus that has huge, striking blooms. You can read about it here, and scroll to the bottom of this page (bottom left photo) to see a picture of a mature specimen. Only problem is, they don't bloom during the day! We got our cactus from a friend of Tom's a couple months ago, and have been keeping a close eye on it the last couple weeks once we saw the flower buds start to appear. Yesterday afternoon, it looked like these two were going to open-- we checked on it a couple times throughout the evening, but no luck, by the time we went to bed. So, the alarm clock was set.
The flowers are 6-7 inches long, and about 5 inches across. I'm assuming they're pollinated by some sort of moth, but I can't find any info about what kind. According to the internet, the flowers are very fragrant, but I couldn't smell a thing. Maybe my nose wasn't awake yet?? The internet also says the plant will eventually grow to be a branched clump 30-50 feet high, but that it's a slow-grower. (thank goodness!! But it will eventually make a very impressive statement in the backyard.)
Although I was perfectly willing to stumble back to bed and save looking at the photos for this morning, they were definitely worth waking up for!