Tag Archives: etsy

Feeling lyrical

I have been finding myself with lyrics of songs running through my head over the last few days. I made a treasury on Etsy yesterday called “Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to….” (followed of course by “Strawberry Fields.) As I sat down tonight to write this post the first thought in my head was “Do you ever stop and wonder…” which is the first line from Gomez’ Sound of Sounds. I read many years ago that if you listen to the lyrics that you find yourself singing absently, they will give you a good indication of your where your subconscious thought is. Now the first song I can work out easily – not so subconscious really – I saw a picture of some felt strawberry food, the song came into my head and away we went. But I do like the lyrics too – “Living is easy with eyes closed” and “There’s nothing to get hung about”…. quite psychedelic for a sweet sounding song really!

The second song? Ah. That is a little more complex. That shows that I am trying to work out how much of the last few days/weeks I share, and how much I make veiled references to, and how much I just don’t write about. Part of me wants to pour my heart out and completely overshare, but the sensible, logical part of me knows that this isn’t just my life I am writing about. So my compromise is to say that it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks, dealing with my boy and the issues that travel along with him. I have had to take time off work again, as I am worn out and worn down. I hate walking away from my team and not being a consistent leader, but I also know that I have to put my chicks and my health first. Miss N is leaving us earlier than expected, which is a shame, but means that she is home for the snow that she is missing. The best part of all of this though? My amazing mother, with the blessing of my father, flew in today to stay with us for a little while to help support all of us. The house feels lighter already. The boy loves her. He is insisting that she sleep on his trundle bed tonight, as Miss N is still in the spare bed. And bless her – she has agreed to do it. I am so lucky to have such wonderful parents, and that they are still fit and healthy enough to be able to do this.

The chaos of the week was added to when the washing machine decided to stop working mid-way through a cycle on Monday night. Of course the extended warranty finished a few months ago. I have never loved this machine – it has leaked and was noisy and no amount of service calls have fixed either problem. So, with the powers of internet research at my fingertips, the new one arrived today and has been put through it’s paces and we LOVE it. It is quiet! So quiet that we have checked several times to see if it is on! I feel more relaxed already!

But amongst the chaos was also joy. I awoke this morning to a notification that I had sold one of my bags, and that it had sold to someone in Arizona! The chicks have been waiting for the day when, in their words “some random person from overseas” buys one of my pieces. The middle chick announced “You are big in America Mum!” I laughed and enjoyed their joy and celebration! The bag is all bundled up, with a couple of extra gifts added, and ready to mail.

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The part that I really liked though, was that the purchaser has asked me to include the story of the fabric, and my philosophy in making it, etc, with the bag, as it is a gift. What a lovely idea! I am thinking that it might be a nice touch to add to other pieces that I sell, to personalise the sale even more. He also gave me some feedback about my search phrases, and other information on my Etsy shop, so it was a lovely exchange on all levels.

The other joy is the support that people offer when you least expect it. After a relatively public incident with the boy earlier in the week I have had lovely texts, random hugs “just because”, long late night phone calls to discuss craft, kids, and life, and quiet smiles of support over the heads of children being picked up from school. My community is amazing. My chicks and I are loved and supported – all four of us.

Other lyrics that have stayed with me this week include “It’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spend it with you” and of course, “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, Shaved her legs and then he was a she” but that is because I heard the news that Lou Reed has passed away. I was horrified to hear that Miss N (22) had not only not heard of him, but didn’t know his songs! Sacrilege! So I tormented the chicks and her with Lou Reed songs over breakfast and had a beautiful walk down memory lane. The best article I read about him was called “13 reasons why you will never be a cool as Lou Reed.” Says it all really.

With a bit more sleep under my belt, I hope to get back to sewing in the next few days. I have realised that with Mum here I can make all the Christmas presents for the family in New Zealand for her to take home. Which has focussed me on Christmas a little earlier than planned – which may mean that I am organised earlier this year. But let’s not hold our breath on that one! I am thinking of some Christmas gift lists I might put together for you all to help with handmade gift ideas – which as usual seems like a nice idea but is really my completely selfish way of working out what I want to make for my friends and family! I do have a head start though – I am a guest contributor on Sew Mama Sew as part of their Handmade holidays series for November, with my eco friendly gifts being featured on 10 November! (To say that I am excited is an understatement!!)

My final lyric that has been running through my head tonight is from Steve Earle’s ‘Every part of me’. “I love you with all my heart, all my soul, every part of me”. Sums up how I feel about my chicks really. No matter how much heartache I go through for them, I still love them with every fibre in my being. I am lucky!

I hope that your week is going well, and that the lyrics providing the musical score for you life are wonderful ones!

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Its the little things

Half way through the week already? The long weekend means that while the week feels like it is just starting, it is half way over. Which, on a cold, wet day, when staying in bed with a good book, or curling up on the couch with a dvd and some crochet is more appealing than venturing out to school and work, is a good thing!

Tonight I am pondering the little things that can happen in a day to turn a frown into a smile. While my day was not a bad day (I didn’t have to leave work to address issues with any children – yay!) by the time I got home I was feeling a bit flat. Contemplating the ongoing juggle of trying to be a competent employee and leader while also being a supportive parent to a child with ‘issues,’ and the way this is perceived by my colleagues, had me overthinking my work-life balance once again. This is not a struggle special to me – so many parents face it on a day to day basis. Trying to be a good employee, and a good parent, when the two don’t always sit well together. Combine it with a healthy dose of judgement from the media, other parents, extended family, and so many of us feel that we can’t win, no matter which way we turn.

Of course, my life is actually quite good. I have a supportive work environment, where I can have flexible working arrangements, where my staff understand that sometimes when my phone rings I need to run out the door, where I am paid very well to do a job that I like. The ‘issues’ that my family face are not insurmountable. No one is terminally ill. My children are healthy, intelligent and loving. We have a warm home, good food, warm clothes and the ability to be safe. I have found a creative outlet that keeps me sane when the walls seem to be closing in. The fact that some of my colleagues don’t see it that way is really about them, not about me.

But my mind was working through all of this, and I was wondering whether I was kidding myself that I can keep making things, be respected professionally, keep my kids safe and supported, when one little thing came along to make me stop, celebrate a success and remember that, in fact, I don’t really care about my ‘image’, but I do care that I am succeeding in many ways in my life.

The little thing? I opened up the Etsy website, and there, on the front page, in a handpicked treasury of bright and lovely things, was one of my bags. Yes. One of MINE!! The kids were thrilled, I was excited, and the world stopped spinning out of control and returned to it’s normal axis.  (It was featured as part of a treasury that you can see here.)

I let go of all the overthinking, all the teasing the problem until a new angle could be found, and just smiled and got happy. Perspective is a wonderful thing!

And having a clear head means that I can celebrate my other small successes of the last few days, and that we had a lovely family evening because I was no longer flat.  At dinner we have a tradition of each of us reporting our ‘best thing’.  The artist-in-residence had us enthralled with the report of her drama class, the boy had a list of 16 ‘best things’ that had us all smiling, and the eldest chick waited patiently to tell us the news of her class’ work in preparing for their theatrical performance.  So lovely to just sit and enjoy our time together – no TV, no fighting, and no stress.

On a personal level, I  had my first appointment with a personal trainer yesterday in a new bid to start improving my fitness.  I was very upfront about the need for the children to attend the sessions with me, and I think (hope) it is going to work.  The amusing part was watching the boy, at 6, spending most of his time wanting to lift weights in front of the mirror.  It starts early!

My recent efforts in getting more organised about this blog have paid off too, with a few new followers (hi and welcome!) and realising that sometime this week I passed the 200 follower mark (combining facebook and the blog). Another sign that I am doing okay in my own small way!

On the crafting front I am making up a custom order for a colleague who wants a bag for weekend wear, and wanted a zip up pouch to go in it (at my suggestion). So, here is the pouch I made – without a pattern. Something small – but I am proud of it!

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And finally – I offered to crochet a beret beanie for a friend who dropped in the other day and was admiring the black one I made for the artist-in-residence. While the children were training at martial arts last night I sat and started a new hat. And, in a first, did not have to unpick it once! I have about three rows to go to finish it, but for now – looking a little like a purple sea creature – here is the beret.

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So, as the mid-week ‘hump’ goes, my week is alright.  As I fall towards the weekend my approach will be to continue putting one foot in front of the other, remembering that my family is more important than anything else in my world, and that I am one of the lucky ones.  I wish you a great second half of the week, and lots of things that you can celebrate as successes.

Getting my mojo back

This has been a week of personal growth and revelations. It coincided with having to miss a lot of my paid work to care for children. Could be something in that!  I should post a warning that this post contains very little about sewing (for once) and more of my self-revelation musings!!

Having time at home gave me time to clear my head a bit, to think about various aspects of my life that I tend to tuck away into the ‘when I have time’ basket, and to rediscover parts of myself. I have written before about how I have found the process of making things gives me a chance to de-stress, to focus and to work through issues in my mind. What I hadn’t really appreciated before this week is that once I start that process, I also gain in creativity.

What have I achieved this week? As I wrote earlier in the week I came up with a plan for managing my blogging more regularly. I also spent some time preparing some posts for weeks when I don’t have as much time. I looked at my Etsy shop and realised that I didn’t like the overall look and feel of it. So I did some reading on taking photos, played with my camera a bit, tried out an Etsy App for ‘fusing’ photos (and abandoned it) and then re-shot all the photos for my Etsy listings. Instead of the outdoors backgrounds I had been using,  I have gone with white. I have used the macro setting to get some close ups, and to gain different perspectives on my pieces. While I can still spot room for improvement, I am much happier with it now. (And am happy to get feedback if you have time to have a look!)

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Before and After

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Before and After

I was feeling a bit virtuous by this time, so decided to keep going. I joined some Etsy teams, and created a couple of treasuries (curated collections of other people’s listings – not my own), and enjoyed that so will try to keep it up. Then I made the decision that I am still a bit directionless with all of this, so registered to attend a Right Brain Business Plan workshop with Canberra Creatives.  The timing is perfect as it is on while the chicks are visiting their grandparents during our July school holidays.  I am hoping to create a plan and focus my energy in one direction instead of stopping to look at every bright and shiny thing that comes along!

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Hey look – better light today!

All of this made me feel a lot more connected with the business side of my creating.  Which lead to my creation of the new bag design yesterday (in my last post) and a feeling that I had ‘got my mojo back’.  Which was interesting as I wasn’t aware that I had lost it!  This is a recurring theme in my life.  I think I am happily pottering along, then something happens and I find myself being truly happy again and realise that until that point I have been slowly sinking into survival mode for a while, without realising it.  A year after my husband left me some dear friends gave me a gift with a card that read “Celebrating the becoming of Theresa”.  It was a sharp reminder that by the time my marriage ended I had lost so much of myself, and hadn’t realised it.  Although the pain and grief that came with the end of my marriage was so strong, and still lingers these years later, the rediscovery of myself and the things that make me feel happy and alive was a gift that kept me going.

A few years later, after being a full-time single parent for a couple of years, I am conscious that I have lost a bit of myself again.  Creating things, and having another focus in life seems to be a good way of keeping those bits of me sustained when everything else is getting a bit much!  So the realisation that I had lost a bit of my creative mojo, when it returned this week, was a good reminder that I need to nurture that side of my life too.  I am not quite sure how to do this yet, but am mulling over a few ideas as I sit and sew bags and match fabrics and colours, so I will see what pops out at the end!

These are the fabrics I am playing with for my next set of bags!

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I hope that your week is full of love and support – and that you are able to nurture your mojo too!

Getting organised

With winter weather comes winter health, so this week I have had two of my chicks sick for a day each (so far) with throat infections.  I have also been dealing with some behaviour issues with the remaining chick.  All of this means unexpected time at home.  While the downside is knowing that my work is piling up in the office, the silver lining is that I have been using the time to be productive and get a bit more organised about how I want to manage the business side of my crafting.

The first thing I have done is added to my Tutorials page on this blog.  From now on it will have links to any tutorials I produce (quite aspirational as I have only managed one so far), any posts where I list links to other people’s tutorials (also aspirational with only one so far), plus links to any tutorials that I have used myself.

The second thing I have decided is to have a plan for when I blog – a blog timetable if you like.  Sunday nights seem to be when I am able to sit and write about the crafting and family activity of the week.  Friday nights seem to be a good spot to add posts with links to the many tutorials that I have collected from other generous crafters.  So that leaves mid-week.  I have lots of ideas for a regular mid-week post, so might leave that as slightly random initially until I work out what is working best.  (Some ideas include reviews of tutorials I have used, tutorials I produce myself, links to other great blogs etc.)

Then I downloaded an Etsy app so that my Etsy shop now appears on my Facebook page.  I had previously been loading photos into a separate album on Facebook and marking them when they were sold.  This is much more efficient!

I also worked out how to put my photos into collages, so that I can post multiple images within one image.  (Feeling a bit proud of myself at achieving all of these technological things and ignoring the fact that I could have done all of this ages ago as it really wasn’t that hard!)

Being home is also a bit dangerous…… too much access to online shopping.  Even though the Australian dollar has dropped a bit, the exchange rate with the US, and the amazing fabric range available there means that online orders are still worthwhile.  I have to praise the postage system used by Fabric. com – I ordered some fabric from them a couple of weeks ago (they are based in the USA) and it arrived at my house (in Australia) within 48 hours!   Given that it can take up to two weeks for a parcel to cross the country domestically I was blown away!!  So I have placed another order….. wonder how long it will take to arrive?

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A couple of dandelion pouches, with pockets inside – playing with fabric and playing with ideas!

Finally, having some extra time at home has provided a bit of extra sewing time (of course) and crochet time.  I had a chance to play at making some pouches as gifts for friends, and also made my first zipped pouch – just a bit bigger than credit card size, as a little gift for a friend who is about to travel.  It matches a bag I made her last year.  I forgot to take photos but can assure you that I found it so straightforward I will be making more!

I also made another bag for the shop – and added two pockets to the outside of it.  I like the extra storage they provide and am thinking of making one with a number of different fabrics to give it a different feel.

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Dealing with the behaviour issues of one of my chicks, and the impact on the school, my work, and the other chicks that flows from the issues can wear me down and take its toll.  I have written before about how crafting helps me to clear my head and maintain some sanity.  This week crochet has been my escape.  The results are a few more rows on the afghan (that should be finished while the weather is still cold!)

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Now that I am feeling a bit more organised it might be time to plan the next thing to make!

I hope that your week is going well, wherever you are.

 

Finding time

The week has flown by!  I am convinced that it is the shorter daylight hours that make things fly past so quickly – or it could be our busy timetable.  It has just occurred to me that with the children’s winter sports activities there are only two days a week where I have no commitment involving delivering a child to some activity or another.  This could explain a lot!  I am trying to be disciplined about using my time efficiently to fit around the timetable, otherwise my little bits of ‘me’ time, those precious moments when I get to make things, will disappear completely.  I didn’t do too badly this week, although housework and making the children eat vegetables everyday may have been the sacrifices….

In a roundup of the week I have finished my first ‘giveaway’ on my facebook page, with a lovely winner from a farm in Western Australia the recipient of the art folder.  I have made 10 pencil rolls and listed them in my Etsy shop (my first new listing in quite a while!), made an art folder as a gift for a special little boy who turned 5 this week, crocheted a beret for the artist-in-residence (so fitting!) and prepared to make some more art folders.  So with a bit of juggling,  ‘crafting’ didn’t miss out this week!

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The artist-in-residence’s chosen photo of her new black beret!

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A Star Wars art folder for “Cha Cha”. 

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I also created with sugar this week, for my team at work.  Part of it was a promise to bring in my Thermomix and show them how it works, and part was an excuse to have a bit of a break for the team, talking about things that aren’t related to our jobs.  I made vanilla bean icecream and chocolate supreme icecream in advance, along with salted caramel fudge and coconut ice.  Then I took the Thermomix in and made warm chocolate custard, fruity dream (which is like soft-serve icecream but made completely from frozen fruit whipped with an eggwhite), and an orange sorbet on the day.  Sugar, sugar, sugar!  My kids were happy as they got some of the leftovers!     I was happy as I was ‘making stuff’, and those of my team who were able to attend were happy as they had sweet treats to sample.  Next time I am needing to do some ‘creating’ I will have to remember this trick – I might do a savoury sample for them next time.

On Saturday night I went out to dinner with friends at a lovely, trendy local restaurant.  I have had to admit that I have become a bit of a recluse over the last year or so.  I don’t go to the movies, rarely go out to dinner, never have an after-work drink, and rarely invite friends over for a meal.  I am not complaining – this is how life is at the moment – but it was nice to get out with adults, nice food, wine, conversation and enjoy their company.  I really should try to do it more often…….

I am sitting here contemplating the week in front of me and wondering if I will get the time to make some of the things that I want to make….  I hope so!  My head is buzzing with ideas – I just need more time (as always!).  Short of giving up sleep altogether, or quitting my job (which would have some fairly dire consequences like losing the house and not being able to feed the children) I think I have to find a way to be content with the small pockets of time I can find and savour them.  I suspect this is another one of life’s lessons – appreciating what I have and enjoying the moment instead of looking for the next moment.  Hmmmmm…..although I have improved in my ability to do this over the last few years, I am probably about due a reminder on this lesson!

I hope that you too are able to remember  to simply enjoy the moment this week.