Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feature Shop: Funny Farm Creations

Happy Wednesday! Today's feature shop is Funny Farm Creations! Meet Julie, a member of our Facebook Team and an active member of the SAHM of Etsy Team. Find out what inspires her and what she loves to shop for on Etsy. Cheers! -Cori of Peace, Baby! Batiks

What is your name?
Julie

Where are you located?
Right outside of Galveston, Texas

Tell us a little about yourself.
I've been a SAHM for three years. I have a 7-year-old stepson, 3-year-old daughter, and a 2-year-old son. I'm due in June with another little girl. Before becoming a SAHM, I worked as a mental health therapist treating children and adolescents. My mom bought me my first sewing machine two years ago. I had never sewn a stitch but thought it might be fun to learn to sew a thing or two. :) I became addicted immediately!!! I love creating fun and unique items for children and it's definitely become my "therapy."

Minky Monogram Diaper Cover
What type of merchandise will shoppers find in your shop?
I carry a wide array of items, mainly for children and infants. Diaper cover sets, bath wraps, aprons, dresses, applique shirts, and onesies. 

What inspires you to create?
My own children, mainly. I've found that as my children's needs develop I have new ideas for items I want to add to my shop. The seasons and fun new fabrics also inspire me!! I've become a certified fabric junkie. I love just browsing fabric shops and thinking about all the new items I could make!

Children's A-Line Ruffled Dress
How do you balance mothering and running a small business?
It's HARD. My children and family always come first, so often times the creative ideas in my head don't come to fruition very quickly. It definitely takes patience and a willingness to work into the wee hours of the night to get orders complete, but I have a real passion for it so it doesn't often seem like "work." I think that is the coolest part about it -- I LOVE what I do.

What is your favorite thing to browse Etsy for?
Fabrics, definitely. I've added SO many fabric shops to my favorites lately. I love finding something new and different, something I haven't come across before. I also love some of the handmade jewelry out there. It's gorgeous!

Onesie/Little Legs Set-Blue Plaid Owl
When you're not crafting, what are you doing?
When I do have some free time outside of family and my shop, I love to spend time with friends. I've been fortunate to find a wonderful mom's group in which I've found unbelievable support and encouragement though the last several years.

Onesie/Ruffled Diaper Cover Set
Where can we find you?
My Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/FunnyFarmCreations
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Funny-Farm-Creations/450013645690
Blogspot: http://www.myfunnyfarmcreations.blogspot.com

What is your favorite shop (not yours) on Etsy currently?
My favorite shop is Mateo & Tobias (http://www.etsy.com/shop/mateoandtobias). I LOVE all the wall art and fun plush animals!

Children's Bath Wrap/Cover Up

Monday, March 28, 2011

Build a Better Blog #4: Adding the Extras

This is my final week of Build a Better Blog!  I've had a lot of fun putting these ideas together...and I hope the tips I've offered have been helpful!!


This week I'm focusing on the extra stuff you can put on your blog:  button, badges, banners, and other fun extras!

First off, I just want to tell you right now that I am NOT an expert...but I know where to find them!!  I've borrowed the following link to some of my favorite resources for all things technical!  So I'm cheating on this one and just giving you all some of the tools I've discovered for doing things yourself!!  (A huge thanks goes out to all those who have written these fantastic tutorials!!!)

BLOG BUTTONS

Here are some tutorials on how to make your blog button and badges...and how to get the code to share them with others!!

Blogging With Amy has THIS fantastic walkthrough on making blog buttons, and getting the code onto your blog!

Musings of a Housewife has THIS one, with some suggestions on how to make it readable and fun!

Welcome to Linneyville has THIS tutorial for Picnik.com on how to make your button *cute*!

BLOG BANNERS

Here are some links to tutorials that are all about making your blog banner fun and cute:

Blissfully Domestic has THIS one on using Picasa to make a fantastic photo banner!

Songbird Nesting has some great tips in THIS one about the feel and overall look of your blog banner...and how to install it in Blogger!

And All About Us has the nitty gritty how-to with Picnik.com on THIS one!

BLOG FONTS & TITLES

Kevin and Amanda have THIS great tutorial on how to add a cute font to your blog post and sidebar titles!

Makin' Cute Blogs has THIS one on adding images to sidebar titles!

EVERYTHING ELSE!!!

The Blog Guidebook has TONS of great tutorials and resources available for bloggers who are looking to spice up their blogs!  Seriously...if I haven't linked to anything you've found helpful yet...check THIS one out for sure!!

Soooooo....I hope you find some great info and tips here!!  Thanks for joining me for my Build a Better Blog series!!  I hope you all have a great time beautifying you blogs!!!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Chicken Quesadillas



Spinach Artichoke Chicken Quesadillas

Here's what you need:



1. Tyson Grilled Ready-to-Eat Chicken Breasts
2. Spinach Dip: I get mine from the deli section at HEB
3. Steamable frozen Artichoke hearts
4. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
5. Large Flour Tortillas
6. Butter

Supplies:
Mixing Bowl
Wooden spoon
Skillet big enough to accommodate tortilla size you chose
Spatula

Ok, so I have to warn you this is one of those recipes that I make just by sort of looking at the way things are turning out. I have no idea how much of each thing I use, but I like my filling substantial with plenty of chicken to keep it meaty! So just watch how things are coming out and add or take away as needed. :)

Warm an empty skillet on the stove on Medium heat. While it's heating, steam the artichokes in the microwave according to package instructions. Then, warm your chicken in the microwave according to the package instructions. Chop chicken and artichokes into small pieces so everything blends well. Add to mixing bowl. Add a couple of spoons of the spinach dip to your chicken and artichokes and stir until it looks like the portions are pretty equal. Add shredded cheese to mix until you are pleased with the cheesiness of the mix. :)

Butter one side of 2 tortillas. Place your first tortilla butter side down in the skillet. Spoon mixture onto tortilla and top with unbuttered side of 2nd tortilla. Flip when bottom is brown and toasty and remove from skillet when 2nd tortilla is also brown a toasty. Mix inside should be melty and bubbly. Cut into slices and serve! Repeat it necessary... and it's usually necessary!!


...

I hope you all get a chance to try out this dish and come tell me how you liked it. It's one of my favorite easy dinner ideas!!

Oh yeah, and please think happy thoughts for my internet!! Without it, I feel like I'm missing an arm!!

XOXO

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Feature Shop: The Cuddle Corner

Good morning! We have several active members on our team who have been here and worked hard since nearly the start of the team. Today, meet one of those members: Stephanie of The Cuddle Corner. We appreciate all you do, Stephanie! -Cori of Peace, Baby! Batiks

What is your name?
Stephanie

Where are you located?
Albuquerque, NM

Tell us a little about yourself.
I have two beautiful boys and have been married to my wonderful husband, James, for almost nine years now! After graduating from college, I worked as a software engineer for The Boeing Company for about three years. But, James and I decided we wanted to start a family and wanted to be closer to our own families when that point came. So I left cubicles and yearly raises for laundry and diaper duty. I always knew that I wanted to be a Mommy and that, if at all possible, I wanted to stay home with my kids! God has blessed me with the opportunity to do just that and I love every day of it!! Well, aside from the days that I want to pull all of my hair out, but you know...

Personalized Camouflage and Green Full Size Hooded Bath/Beach Towel

What type of merchandise will shoppers find in your shop?
My shop has stuff for babies and toddlers as well as a few things for mommies! I love to do things that are personalized, and applique is kinda my thing. I've got hooded towels, special occasion Ts, sibling Ts, diaper bags, embellished burp cloths, nursing covers, and a couple of other things.

How/why did you get started?
I had actually never even heard of Etsy until my sister-in-law told me I should try to sell my things there. So I looked in to it and thought I would give it a try!


Diaper Bag in Chocolate Brown and Sweet Baby Blue Elephant

How long have you been crafting?
I never thought of my self as artistic, but I love to imagine things up and then try to create them. I have only been sewing for about a year.

What got you started sewing?
They say necessity is the mother of invention and I have found that to be true! I was pregnant, and  it seemed like everyone we knew was also having a baby and baby gifts can get very expensive! I had just gotten a sewing machine and I thought, what was the one thing that I loved when my son was born. The first thing that came to mind was a full-size hooded towel.

Bright Pink Short Sleeve Big Sis / Sister Toddler Sibling Tee Shirt

What inspires you to create?
My little ones and the little ones of my family and friends! Also, life's everyday challenges.

What is one thing you need to have with you while you craft?
Definitely a good pair of scissors!

How do you balance mothering and running a small business?
It is definitely a challenge. I mostly try to get stuff done while my oldest is napping. I know that won't be much longer, though, so I'll have to come up with a new plan. :)

Personalized Boys Navy and White Raglan Style Baseball T Birthday Shirt

What is your favorite thing to browse Etsy for?
I love to look at all things girly -- bags/purses, frilly things, jewelry, sewing accessories!

When you're not crafting, what are you doing?
Playing with my boys, doing house work, going to Bible study or church, hangin' out with my hubby, or visiting my family.

Set of 2 Personalized Burp Cloths in Blue/Green Diamond

Where can we find you?
www.thecuddlecorner.etsy.com
www.facebook.com/thecuddlecorner

What is your favorite shop on Etsy currently?
Atouchofstardust or jessicalynneart (I heart my Pug!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Eli Elephant by Little Birdie Baby Shop

Happy Tuesday! Or Happy Tutorial-ing... uh? Not sure if that one works, but in any case I'm happy to have you here this Tuesday. I'm really excited about today's tutorial because it's the first one I've done start to finish without an outside pattern or anything. And he's just so stinkin' cute!



Meet "Eli"
He's an elephant, just waiting to meet your little one. 
{even if your "little one" is a dog, it's still a fun project!}



OK, here's what you need:

12"x12" fabric of your choice
needle & thread or sewing machine {I used to be a needle & thread-er, I feel ya guys!}
coordinating piece of felt, or felt scraps
polyfill


Start by pressing out your fabric so it's nice and smooth...



Then, fold your fabric in half with the right sides facing each other.
Draw your elephant shape. He doesn't have to be perfect, he's plush!



Next, sew all around your outline. 
I used the wonky looking zig zag, but I like to see the thread on the outside all "rustic style."
I would suggest pinning your fabric together so everything stays straight.
 {I didn't pin but I used flannel, and it sticks to itself pretty well.}



Be sure to leave an opening to turn inside out. {see pin}
I like to use the space at the bottom because it's less noticeable when you have to sew it back up.



Now cut out your shape! 
I use pinking shears to keep things from fraying {just in case}, 
aaaaand I like the way the little zig-zaggy edges look. Never said I wasn't a dork!



Now get to turning!
{I find that it helps to start by pushing the trunk out first, since it's furthest from the hole.}



Now it's time to stuff him! 
I got this little chopstick-y thing in a bag of polyfil, I'm pretty sure they all come with one, but you can use a chopstick or even a pencil to help get the stuffing in all the little corners and crannies.



Ta DA! All stuffed and ready to sew. I don't usually stuff them too full, just because little baby hands can grab on and chew on it a little better when it's not sooooo full.



I don't know if this stitch has a name, but I stitch in kind of an X pattern. 
It's easy, sturdy, keeps the fabric flat when I'm finished, and goes along with my other rustic edges.



Now for the ears...
Cut ears from your scrap of coordinating felt. 
Mine are about 2 inches long, and just kind of floppy looking and oval shaped.



You can sew these on and they'll turn out great. 
However, I do something a little different...I use embroidery floss 
{because it's heavier duty and you won't run the risk of those sweet little baby hands pulling an ear off} Loop it all the way through the elephant to the other side so his ears are "tufted" to his head like a pillow.
Just pin both ears down to it's head, and it will be easy-peasy.



And here you are! A little Eli the Elephant of your very own. 
{Of course, you can always make him girly and name her Ellie. I don't mind. :) }



OH wait!! 
And if you partner him up with a matching burpie, bib, and jingle block, 
you've got yourself a rockin' baby shower gift set in no time flat! ;)



I hope you all enjoyed this week's tutorial! If anyone makes their own Eli/Ellie, be sure to show me! I love seeing what everyone's adaptations are. :)

Come link up your projects for the week below, I can't wait to see what you've been working on!! Feel free to grab a button if you're linking up!



XOXO



Tutorial Tuesday: Embellished Hand Towels by Little Birdie Baby Shop

I have new towels for my kitchen!




Maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal, but I can never find anything that I like that matches my kitchen. First of all, it's cherry red {already painted when we moved in} with kind of a hodge-podge of mismatched appliances, and ugly cabinets to top it off... so I have trouble accessorizing. Secondly, truth be told - I'm picky. It can get ridiculous at times. I still don't have a matching set of bath/hand/wash towels for the master bath because nothing I've come across speaks to my splishy-splashy side. 
Eh, all in good time I guess. HAHA!

I'm getting off topic, sorry! 

So I'm excited about my little kitchen towels! 
There's only one thing that could make this whole scenario better, and that's if I had made them. 
Oh wait! I DID! Yay me!

P.S. The whole project cost under $2 to make {that's less than $1 per towel!!} 
Now that's a winner in my book!

And because I love you all so much I whipped up a little tutorial so you can make your own fancy pants towels using a couple of scraps and your pocket change. Let's get started!


~ Dressed Up Hand Towels ~

Wal*Mart, 2 pack, $1.68. 
SCORE!


My fabric was a little scrap left over from a jelly roll, ribbon was a scrap from my white felt wreath, and the lace stuff a scrap from a ribbon scrap pack I bought at Hobby Lobby ages ago. You don't need much of anything to do this project, these particular towels are only 15" wide to give you an idea.

First, lay your pieces out across the short side of your towel to make sure they are long enough with a bit leftover at each end to fold under and hem. I left about an inch on each end.



I started with my fabric since I knew I wanted it on the bottom. I planned to sew the ribbon and the lace over the top of the raw edges of the fabric so I wouldn't have to do any more hemming than necessary.

I folded under and pinned the edges down first, then used the wonky little zig-zag stitch 
to attach it to the towel. Clean edges, pretty little ziggy zaggy.


Next, I pinned and basted down the long edges. I know I'm going to be attaching the ribbon and lace 
over the fabric, so I mostly just need it to stay down and in place. The real reinforcing will come later.


Now more pinning for the lace...
{what is that stuff? Seriously, I have no idea what to call it, so I'm just going with lace for now.}
And again with the wonky zig zag stitch to make sure this stays in place and can be machine washed.


I did the same thing for the ribbon on top that I did for the fabric: 
Pinned and basted on both the top and bottom long edge. 
Somehow I managed to miss taking the pic on this one so you'll just have to use your imagination, haha!

Iron out any wrinkles, and ta-da! Pretty little dish towel!



They're SO easy, and you already have an extra towel, so why not make it two?


 Two is better than one anyway, I think. :)



Since I made these two, I've been digging around in my scrap box for other coordinating colors to make more. I could seriously solve my entire house-wide towel problem with what I find in my scrap box. :) 
But wouldn't they make great gifts? Housewarming parties, hostess gifts, wedding shower... 


Now let's see what you've been working on this week! I'm excited that our little linky party is growing, thanks to you all for participating and spreading the word. Don't forget, once we have at least 10 link ups I'll do a Saturday post featuring my favorites from that week. 

Grab yourself a button if you're linking up this week, and you can find all the parties I'll be linking up to this week up top under the "linky parties!" tab. There's lots of great spots on that list so definitely go check them out, and let me know if you have a party that I can add to my list!


<a href="http://littlebirdiebaby.blogspot.com/"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_M4ScfszGUqE/TXZer6bpeNI/AAAAAAAAA_E/DY0sWbkkvWE/s144/Tute%20Tues%20LB.png" height="144" width="144" /></a>


XOXO

Monday, March 21, 2011

Build a Better Blog #3: Get Noticed!!


So you've started to make the design of your blog reflect you and you are working on improving the quality of your photos...so now what do you do?

This post is all about how to promote your blog!

There are so many wonderful resources available for bloggers out there!

1. Build your content!  A pretty blog won't get you noticed unless you have something to say!  Once you have your blog set up, you need to start adding CONTENT. 

Content can be anything from a picture with a caption to a tutorial to a recipe to something you've made for your shop!  Be yourself!  Write about what you like - what interestsyou!  The more content you have on your blog, the more traffic you will get.

2.  Join a Link Party!  A link party is simply a list of links that the author of a blog 'hosts' for a certain period of time.  They can be general or very specifically themed.  (I personally contribute to several link parties each week!)  They are free to join, and are a lot of fun!

There are several types of link parties out there - some of the most popular are: crafts, recipes, home decor, photos, and blog hops!

A blog hop is a special type of link party that gives other bloggers the chance to visit and follow your blog -  as you visit and follow other blogs, too!  It's a great way to 'meet' fellow bloggers and make Blog Land 'friends!'

Here's a really great link to a fun blog that keeps a running list of weekly link parties going on:

The Girl Creative



3. Leave and respond to comments! In addition to linking up your content at a link party, you also need to visit other links and leave comments! Not only is it just good etiquette...but it's also good karma! People LOVE to get comments...so if you leave a positive comment on someone else's blog post, they are more likely to return the love, and leave a comment on your blog, too!


4. Link to other blogs! If you see something that you love out in Blog Land, share it on your own blog! Make sure you link back to the original author's post and pictures, and be sure to let them know! It's always flattering to know that someone liked something you did! 


5. Be consistent! Try to aim for at least two to three posts on your blog each week. If you are inconsistent with the amount of posting you do on your blog (ie going for long periods of not posting anything), people will be less likely to continue to follow your blog. Make a simple goal to start with, so that you don't get burned out. Be flexible about it, too! 


6. Advertise! If you have a little extra revenue, advertising is a great way to get your blog or shop noticed. Several of the 'Big-Time' blogs offer advertising spots on their blogs. You can also so some self-promotion by offering a giveaway to follower or hosting a contest of some kind. (I'll be posting next week about how create your own blog buttons for people to post -- you can usually use these button for advertising, too!) 


For more fantastic resources about blogging tips, visit these links to the Pro's:





A girl and a glue gun


Good luck, gang!  Happy Blogging!!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Treasury Thursday: How to Make a Treasury

It’s Treasury Thursday!  No this has nothing to do with Pirates or even the SAHM of Etsy Treasure hunt that is coming up.  Treasuries are the member curated collections of Etsy products that Etsy Admin often pick to put on the Etsy home page.   They are a great way to promote other SAHM of Etsy’s team member’s  shops and show the rest of the world the beautiful, fun, colorful, or strange items you have found exploring Etsy. 

There is a Season for Everything by Pam's Baby Bakery

Let me see if I can take a little of the mystery out of treasuries and make them a fun and effective way to promote our team.    Before we all get totally lost, let me define a couple of word in terms of Etsy and treasuries:
  • Hotness-a measure of how popular a treasury is based on views, clicks, and comments.  The exact methods for determining a treasury’s “hotness” are not completely understood and seem to change periodically as people think they have figured out ways to “trick” the system.  Treasury listings are sorted by hotness.
  • Views- the number of times someone has looked at the treasury.
  • Comment- it is as simple as it sounds.  Leave a note under the treasury. 
  • Clicks -  How many times the “magic” item is clicked on.  They “magic” item is often changing.


Now that we are all speaking the same language, what is a good way to go about building a treasury?  A good place to start is to pick a theme; colors can be a good place to start,  but you can use anything else your imagination can come up with.  Once you have a theme, it is time to fill in your slots. 
·       Here’s a few more tips to make making a treasury easier. 
  •       To help support the SAHM of Etsy team, be sure to search for items with the tag “SAHM of Etsy” that all team members should be tagging their items with.
  •       Chose items that are well photographed, especially for the first 4 slots.  These are the photos that show up on the treasury list page.
  •         Mark items as favorites when you see them.  When you sit down to build your collection searching your favorites is much easier than searching all of Etsy.
  •       Make you treasury “private” if you don’t have time to finish the entire thing in one sitting.  Then you can save it and come back and finish it later.  Just don’t forget to change it to “everyone” when you finish ;) 
  •       Open two windows or tabs.  One for your treasury and one to look for items.  If you navigate away from your treasury without saving it your work is lost.
  •       Include all different types of items and price points in your treasury.  The broader the variety the “hotter” the treasury is likely to be.
  •        Use a different shop of every slot and only use your own shop once if at all.   The idea of a treasury is to show off other shops not to promote your own store. 
  •       Tag your treasury like you would an item in your shop and include both “SAHM of Etsy team” and “teametsy.” 
  •       Share your treasuries with everyone.  Maybe also take a minute to link to this post and  let them know what a treasury is. You can easily share any treasury by clicking on the icons under the “share” section to the right of the treasury.  (SAHM of Etsy team members also should add it to the discussion thread for the month.)


Treasuries are really a fun and creative way to get to know what products are available out on Etsy.  Enjoy, have fun, and don’t think too hard.  Treasuries truly are enjoyable even if you don’t make it to the front page.