Is this thing on?

For real. I’m not sure!


Toxins in Toys- Yeah, it’s a thing.

Recently I used the weird knowledge I’ve gained at my weird day job to write an article for Keep a Breast’s Non Toxic Revolution website.  If you have ever wondered how to find out if toys are toxic, I have outlined the ways to get the information. Just don’t ask me to do it for you, unless you are going to pay me and offer me health insurance.

Click here to read the post, then take some time to explore the rest of their site, they have a lot of great information and advice for living a healthy life.


North Park Festival of the Arts

Check out the North Park Festival of the Arts this Sunday, from 10 to 6 pm on University between 30th and 32nd. There will be fine art along with handmade goods from local crafts people, plus lots of good eating. I won’t be vending there this year, but I WILL be pouring beer in the Craft Beer Tent, so buy tickets and come visit me there! The non-beer portion of the event is free, though, and super family friendly. Plus, the weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend, so no excuses. See you there!
Click here for more information


Photography, Schmatography

One of my least favorite aspects of running our Etsy store is taking the product photos. My apartment is dark, I don’t have any charming backgrounds that all the other arty types seem to have, and holding a camera “steady” is not in my shaky-handed wheelhouse.  Another issue is my complete inability to grasp light and composition. I’m great at taking self portraits for my Facebook profile, but that’s where my photography skills begin and end.

Great photos are a no-brainer when it comes to marketing and advertising. In fact, that would be the first piece of advice I’d give to someone- get photos that highlight your work. But apparently I operate in a “do as I say, not as I do” manner, because the whole process of taking photos is so daunting that I have managed to rationalize bad photos with such excuses as “oh, they’ll get the idea” and “it’s DIY, if it looks too professional, it will turn people off.”

I would still be on that denial train, if I had not become friends with a product photographer (jarednelson.com, check out his site, he does more than products although that’s his specialty). Seeing how he can turn a simple kitchen whisk into a work of art made me realize there might be something to actually representing your product properly.  I periodically work for him as a hand model (where I also discovered the advantages of photoshop) and when I compared what I saw with my own eyes vs how the photos turn out, it became obvious that proper lighting and angles can make or break an advertisement.

Since he’s educated me on the subject, now I notice terrible photos on menus, flyers and websites all the time. When that happens, I always think “why wouldn’t they spend a little to make a huge difference in profit?”

That was also when I realized, I was one of those people. Why would I spend money on something nice when I could do something horrible for free?

Finally, I hired him to shoot a few pillows for me. Witness the difference:

The cowpoke pillow-

 

Red sugar skull pillow-

 

Fiesta Pillow-

Fridge Art Pillow:

Tattoo Flash Pillow-

 

Since I swapped out the photos, I have sold more pillows in two months than I did last year, without any other marketing efforts. Now, when someone sees my products, they can really SEE them, which makes them want to buy them.  I admit, I was stubborn about acknowledging this simple fact for way too long. With my ignorance behind me, I can now move on to showcase the rest of my products in the same awesome manner!

If you need the same kind of help, check out jarednelson.com.  He’s good.


Downton Obsession

Like a lot of people with great taste, I recently went koo-koo for Downton Abbey. I watched season 1 on Netflix Instant over the Christmas break, taking trips to the Abbey in between family time and parties. A friend who is savvy with the internet managed to score me season 2 before it aired in the States, and some friends and I watched it all in a few evenings, obsessively worrying about Bates, cheering for Sybil, and wanting nothing more than to hate Livinia and then hating that we couldn’t.

I had mentioned on Facebook that I really wanted to start rocking Downton Abbey-esque Edwardian hairdos but lack the skill to do so. That post lead to the revelation that my friend Kirsten used to be a wig stylist with considerable skill in the up-do arena. I put together a “hey, we’ll give you brownies and wine if you do our hair way too fancy-pants style considering it’s a Wednesday night” get-together and boom, a half hour and 32 hair pins later, I had a glorious crown of twists and rings.

Here is what she came up with for me. I loved it, but sadly it only lasted a short while. One thing I have that the Downton ladies do not? Layers. Turns out,  short layers can really break the staying power of an intricate up-do.

 

The short layers at the base decided to break away from the rest of the gang with a quickness:

And finally, the Visually Impaired Edwardian Hipster look:

Photos courtesy of Jared Nelson Photography.


Love Hurts

When my nephew was a year old, I took a knitting class where we learned to make this Baby Bobbi Bear pattern. I gave him the bear for Christmas that year, and it became one of his favorites, eventually receiving the kind of handling and necessary washings that the yarn just really wasn’t equipped to handle. The poor thing was soon worn down, so much so that I made him this replacement awhile back.

There was no replacing the original, however, and “Cuddly Bear”, as he calls it, has had many minor surgeries. At this point, I don’t think he has any of his original stuffing and only a few of his original threads.

I was called in for yet another emergency stitch session the other day, and this is the condition I found him in:

Not so great. I did what I could, but he is definitely looking more than a little Frankenstein-y at this point:

When I asked Shane what had happened, and what sort of monster had eaten his bear’s  belly, his response was, “I don’t know what happened, I just loved him too hard!”

How can you argue with that?


My Heart Runeth Over

In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to talk about things I currently love. Not like- LOVE.

1. Pilates. I bought a Groupon for classes at Club Pilates Encinitas and am now totally addicted. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the voucher expires, because machine pilates is expensive and I  am very poor. If you’ve never taken a class using a reformer or springboard, do yourself a favor and change that with a quickness. I have really bad scoliosis (as my doctor says, “it’s significant”. Yes, I’m super sexy) and so my back is in constant need of stretching. Pilates puts you in touch with all of your muscles and when done right, you leave feeling longer and leaner. It’s a fun workout- who knew you could do so many different things with so little equipment!-  and the smallest movements work your muscles deep inside them. I really, really love it.

2. Downton Abbey. Good gravy, if you aren’t watching the BBC mini-series currently airing on PBS, you need to catch up.  Class struggles, repressed romance, politics, rad 1914s fashions, Maggie Smith’s smart-tongued Dowager…if you like a high-brow soap opera, you are going to love this. Season 1 is on Netflix and Amazon Instant.

3. Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas! Sliced bananas covered in chocolate and frozen. Perfect snack for when you want a little sweet with a little fruit.

4. Game of Thrones. Not the books- lord knows I don’t have time for books- but the HBO epic fantasy. J-Nels and I watched season 1 over the course of a week.  All the creative names were a bit hard for us to keep track of, but even when you don’t know who a character is talking about, the action is still riveting.  Lots of surprise twists, violence and mayhem. We have to re-watch it so we can finally learn everyone’s names before season 2 starts in April.

5. Being able to see. After eight years of perfect vision thanks to Lasik, age finally trumped science and my eyes started to lose power. I can still see much better than before the surgery, but I did notice that street signs have been getting blurry, and faces in crowds aren’t quite as sharp. So, I went to the optometrist and am now rocking the four-eyed look. Nerdy, yes, but wow, it sure I love being able to see properly!


Bar Pink Holiday Bar-Zaar

This Saturday, from 5-9pm, join us at Bar Pink for a holiday bar-zaar! Lots of vendors with gifts under $20, and pink cocktails galore!

Click here for more info!


Sono Park Holiday Fest & Chili Cookoff

Man, this one is going to be fun! Join me on Sunday, the 4th from 11-5 at the Sono Holiday Fest and Chili Cook off. Food, beer/wine garden, bands, vendors so you can shop local for your holiday gifts…just good stuff!

Here is a link to all the info!


Local Color Craft Fair

Join me Sunday from 11-3pm at The Glaushaus to benefit The Museum School.
1815 Main Street, Suite B, San Diego, CA 92113

It’s going to be great, all the other vendors are awesome plus the MIHO truck will be there. Yeah. Good stuff!

Click here for more information!




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