Monday, July 30, 2012

Upcycle a picture frame and display the shells you found at the beach.

Last year before my husband deployed his father came to visit us and decided to take us across the state to the beach. It was the first time my kids had ever been to a real beach and they collected a lot of sea shells.

When we got home I grabbed an old picture frame {I save them when I no longer want them and I buy them at thrift stores} and went to work.



For this project you need:

  • An old picture frame, 8x10 is ideal but you can do this with smaller frames too

  • Sandpaper

  • Craft Paint, either paint to match your decor or paint to match your vacation photos

  • Glue Gun

  • Post Card from the trip

  • a few favorite photos from the trip

  • Sea shells from the trip

  • Scrapbook paper, either to match your decor or your trip

  • Acrylic Sealer

  • piece of cardstock the same size as the glass from the frame


Remove the glass from your picture frame and sand the wooden edges of your frame. Use a dry cloth to remove sand residue.

Next, throw a few coats of your base paint on there. If you're going for a beachy look, might I suggest these colors:



Then take your accent color and a sponge or foam brush or even a paper towel and randomly wipe it on there, you can see in this close up what I'm talking about:



While that's drying decorate your cardstock with paper, die cuts, photos and maybe a post card from your trip.

When your frame has dried spray it with acrylic sealer.

When that has dried put your frame back together, first the glass, then your page of memories and the backing then secure.

Now just hot glue some sea shells around, note that if your shells are only hot glued to the glass they will fall off eventually {I learned this the hard way}. I recently had to re-attach several of my shells. So be generous with the glue and make sure the shells on the glass are glued securely to the shells on the frame.



And there you have it! A few of your favorite beach photos, a post card from the beach and sea shells from the beach, displayed in a way that you can walk by it every day and remember how much fun you had!


So you don't forget it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Selling on Etsy.

One week ago I decided to open an Etsy shop. Previously I had used ShopHandMade.com but I never had any luck with that, so I moved everything except my purses over to Etsy.

I put about two things up there before I decided to do a little bit of research about it. Here are a few important things I learned:

PHOTOGRAPHY
Make sure you're taking good photos of your items. You're able to upload five photos per item and because customers are not able to touch your items, good photos are ideal. If you have small items, one way to make sure you're taking good photos is to use a light box or light tent. Better yet, make yourself a light tent. Here is a great tutorial for an inexpensive light tent, get creative. {I didn't get so creative, I take my photos on a piece of white poster board with another piece of white poster board standing behind it, next to an open window}

PRICING
Before you price you items you need to consider: cost of materials, time taken to complete item, Paypal fees, Etsy fees, cost of shipping materials and the cost of similar items other people are selling on Etsy. It's a lot to consider, and something I'm still trying to figure out. I don't think I've quite got that down yet, but eventually I'll get the hang of it and everything will be priced perfectly.

When considering fees, this is what I learned, assuming you are using PayPal as your payment method:

Item Price: $34.00
Shipping: $4.35

The following fees will be charged by Etsy:
$0.20 cents for the listing fee
$1.19 transaction fee when item sells <-- this is 3.5% of the item price, not including shipping

The following fees will be charged by Paypal:
$1.11 <--- 2.9% of total price charged, this includes shipping
$0.30 transaction fee

So when all is said and done you've just paid $2.80 in fees.

It doesn't seem like so much for a $34 item, but if your items are priced lower you won't be making much off an item. If you sell a small item for $7 with free shipping, after fees you've earned yourself $6.04 but now you gotta ship which will be about $2 so now you've made $4.

I'm just saying consider your pricing carefully. Like I said, I'm no expert and I'm still learning.

BRANDING
Honestly I read this out there a lot and I do believe the Etsy sellers are right when they say this, but truth be told, this is one thing I'm not jumping on. I like to sew different things and I like to paper craft different things. Personally I don't want my Etsy shop to be filled with one thing, I like variety.

But I do believe the shops with branding sell more than the rest of us. Shops that are known for selling a specific item do well. It's something to consider anyway.

SEO - Search Engine Optimization
I'm sure we all know about SEO. Here is a great post about SEO for Bloggers. I know, we're talking about an Etsy shop here, not a blog, but your item page is the same thing, basically! Numbers 6, 7 and 8 in that post don't apply, but the rest do.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
If you have a blog, blog about new items you've listed, but don't only blog about your store for obvious reasons.

If you don't already have a Twitter account, get one, then follow some people, and tweet your items. Like blogging though, don't just tweet your items, make sure you tweet other stuff too! If you're already on Twitter, follow me!!!

Pinterest is an awesome sharing site, but be wary of copyright laws. For me I only pin and repin my own photographs, which is perfectly legal. As long as you realize that your photo will be repinned. If you're already on Pinterest, follow my boards, I'd love to see yours. And for the record, I don't mind my photos being repinned!! So pin away.

STOCK UP
This is one I am still working on myself. One article I read said don't even open your shop until you have at least 25 items. I have more than that around here, I just don't have them all listed yet. Listing items is time consuming if you're doing a large number at once.

Another site says to get your stock up to 100 items. Yikes! It can be done though, I've seen shops with a hundred items or more.

Bottom line: if you walked into a store and they had two items on their shelf you'd turn around and leave, the same goes for Etsy.

BUSINESS CARDS
Get yourself some business cards and hand them out to everyone. Leave a stack at the laundromat, get creative. Also when you sell an item, make sure you include your business card when you ship, make sure that customer has a way to remember your shop.

I also read that printing something useful on the back of your business card will make people more likely to keep them. Print a calendar on the back, or a coupon code to your store. Get creative.

There are many great sites that will print business cards for you, or you can print them yourself at home. You can buy Avery business cards at Wal-mart then visit Avery.com and use their designs or design your own.

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There you have it, a few of the things I've learned in the last seven days about Etsy. Oh I'm sure I'll learn more along the way and I'll try to remember to share just in case I'm not the only newbie out there {I suspect I am not}. If I am the only newbie and you've got some tips for me, please share!



So you don't forget it.



 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organizing photographs.

Since I first got a digital camera in 2003 I take TONS of photos. And by tons I mean, sometimes hundreds per day. But then there are months when I take maybe ten photos. In any case, it's left me with all these photos that I have to have.

At first, when I was introduced to scrapbooking in 2008, I thought I could scrapbook every photo. It didn't take long for me to realize that just is not possible. By the time I realized it I had already printed hundreds and hundreds of photos of my kids. Plus there are the photos that sit on my hard drive waiting to be printed. Then add in the fact that I sometimes print 2-3 copies of each photo {for instance if I have a photo and all three of my kids are in that photo, I will print three copies, one for each child}.

That's a lot of photos.

I was talking to my cousin the other day wondering how on earth am I going to print and organize photos? ALL the photos? We came up with a few ideas.

The one I chose is based off of all the times I sat on my mother's living room floor going through her puke-green plastic box full of photos. A box I'm pretty sure was meant for recipe cards. I took that memory and how much I loved to do it and went from there.

My kids now each have their own photo box, which I purchased for $3.99 each at Hobby Lobby. In each box are their photos, in chronological order, and then a separator, and then family photos {aunts, uncles, cousins, etc}.

I even have a box for myself. In it are my out-of-order photos from birth and childhood, then a section for photos of my parents, and another section for family photos, then one more section for photos of friends {no, my parents did not take nearly as many photos back then as I take now}.
I hope that someday my kids will come and visit me and sit on the floor flipping through their childhood photos, laughing, giggling, picking on each other. And then I hope that when they are old enough and responsible enough to take care of those photos, they can take their boxes to their own place and maybe start keeping boxes for their own kids.

Here are some photo organizing ideas for those of us who have too many photos to put in albums or too many photos to scrapbook:




    • A box just for holiday photos, with a different section for each year, or a different section for each holiday

    • One box for each child, don't forget a box for your photos and your husband's photos

    • One box for each year, all photos from the year kept in the box in chronological order

    • A box for all those family photos we get in Christmas cards every year, and school photos

    • Keep a box of general photos you take of nature and the rest of the world around you

    • Vacations photos, a new section for each vacation

Those are just a few ideas. What else can we think of!? Use the comments to add to the list if you can think of anything.

How do you organize photos on your computer? Here's one way {the way I do it}:

Within each yearly folder, create a folder for each month, labeling them as below:
How do you organize photos on your computer while they're waiting to be printed?

Monday, July 23, 2012

RECIPE: Steak & Spinach Rollups.

Doesn't that look good? It is. Wicked good. If I was ever on Hell's Kitchen, this would be my signature dish... haha. I don't make it very often because it's kind of a pain and it makes a mess in the kitchen and I prefer to make things that require very little prep. But... when I do make it everyone loves it.

Note: I always make two steaks, which means 2 packages of spinach. One full package of bacon is enough for two steaks.

Prep time: about 40  minutes

Broil time: 14 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 - 1 lb. beef top round steak

  • 1 - 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

  • 1/2 - pkg. bacon

  • some parmesan cheese

  • dash of salt and pepper
Directions:

Fry up your bacon.
Isn't this fantastic!? my cousin gave it to me for Christmas. Love it!!
 To prevent a mess I recommend doing these next steps on an old cookie sheet. This will keep most of the mess contained.

Score your steak diagonally, and then you know, stretch it out a bit. The original recipe I started using says to beat it, but I have tried many ways and simply scoring it seems to be the best way to do it.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of bacon:
Next, a layer of spinach:

Now a layer of parmesan cheese, be generous with it, but not too generous:
Now roll it up! Use toothpicks to hold it closed.
Cut between the toothpicks.
Broil on high for 6 minutes. Flip over. Broil for 8 more minutes.
And that's that. They taste AMAZING, I promise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

TUTORIAL: Re-useable grocery bag, unlined.

**update: I have come up with a better pattern for grocery bags, with clean seams, using just three fat quarters. The pattern for that is available in my Etsy shop. **
I love the way this came out but I really wish I had a Serger, in which case it would have come out a lot better! I think I'm going to make a bunch more this weekend. Believe it or not I finished this in less than a half an hour.

I've been meaning to make one for such a long time and never got around to it until this afternoon. Now that I know it's not time consuming or complicated I'll be making them as often as I can with left over fabric from other projects.

The only things you need to make a super fast, super easy, re-useable fabric grocery bag (that is about the same size and shape as a plastic grocery bag) is ONE plastic grocery bag and 1 yard of 45" wide fabric.

First smooth our your grocery bag and cut the seams off the tops of the handles and the seam off the bottom:

You can go ahead and trim off those weird pieces that stick out the top of the bag and the sides of the handles, that's just where the bags attach to the dispenser thingy at the store.

Now smooth the bag out the rest of the way {now that you have cut the bottom seam  you can smooth out the folds in the sides}.

Now place your plastic bag over your folded yard of fabric. The bottom of the bag should be on the fold and the tops of the handles should almost reach the selvages. Cut out the piece, DO NOT CUT ON THE FOLD. Once cut you should have one folded piece that looks pretty much identical to the grocery bag.

Now with right sides together, stitch up the sides of the bag then across the two handles:
Now, if you wanted to, believe it or not, you could use the bag just like this. But we don't, so let's go on.

Turn your grocery bag right side out and fold the bottom corners into the sides:
** edited to add: You could box the corners as well, that might be better,  but don't cut them once they are boxed as that would make the bag weaker... **

Here is another view:
If I have described that wrong or my pictures don't show it in a way that you can understand it, grab an uncut grocery bag and examine the bottom of the bag and the way it folds in on itself.

Once your bottom folds are created, put about 5 stitches in it here making sure to back stitch to secure it, we're just trying to hold the fold in that spot:
You'll notice this bottom fold has made the handle want to fold in. So we're going to fold the handle toward the inside (just like a regular plastic grocery bag) and then fold the other side in as well and zig zag stitch them in place.

You may choose to fold and stitch the edges of the top of the bag and the handles, but let me say here that is exactly why my next purchase is going to be a Serger!! If you have a Serger, then serge all the edges and seams, including the handle before you fold it under!

Anyway, that's about it. Easy and you can do the cutting and stitching in about 20-30 minutes.

Look how nicely your groceries fit in there:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Handmade mini photo album.

A couple of years ago I used to make these mini albums all the time. A friend had asked me to make one for a wedding, my cousin had me make one for a baby shower, I made a few just for the heck of it, and now I've been asked to make one for a baby girl who was born just days ago.

I was pretty much just told: baby, girl, pink, include the baby's name. Here is what I came up with!
I edited the photo to remove her middle and last name
Here are a few of the inside pages:
The open book:
And I'm including for mom, an envelope of stamped embellishments so she can continue to decorate the pages:
I had a lot of fun making this. I think I'm going to start selling them, you know "Order now, tell me what kind you want, I make it and ship it to you" type of deal...


** edited to add: these are now available to order in my Etsy shop.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Most useful Pinterest-found tips of the week.

I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest this week searching for helpful or useful household tips and ideas. Here are ones that I found this week:
I'm not sure who originally figured this out, but it is amazing, genius even. For mine I used 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol to 3/4 cup water. For my second one (I have three kids, you never know when more than one will be hurt at the same time) I added food coloring to make it fun. Genius. Here's the pin.
I have one of these hanging over my kitchen sink for the sponge, an idea I got from a friend. But this week I came across a pin where these were being used to organize the pantry! These are super cheap, too, so you can't go wrong. I use a lot of vinegar around this house for cleaning and deodorizing, but it wasn't until I spotted this pin that I started using vinegar in the shower.

I saw this "Family Yearbook" pin and while I'm not jumping on the whole make myself some books train, I am jumping on the photo organization wagon. Which is why I ordered six photo storage boxes yesterday...
What did you find on Pinterest that you found useful this week?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upcycled jeans to maxi skirt.

I don't know how it happened, but somehow my favorite pair of jeans ended up with a hole in the crotch, so I couldn't wear them anymore.
I set them aside like I did my last favorite pair of jeans, which I couldn't wear anymore because they didn't quite fit right. It's a good thing I did because I saw a pin in Pinterest... a tutorial for using two pairs of jeans to make a maxi skirt. So that's what I did!
I used the tutorial written by mimi g. The tutorial is awesome and so easy to follow an understand, there's even a video.

The only thing I would suggest... see... I used a pair of jeans that were a little snug on me as the base and now the skirt is a little snug on my backside, so I suggest using jeans that still fit you.

I have another pair of jeans, ones that are too big and I'm going to try with those and fabric this time, see how it turns out. We'll see.