Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hey, friends in blogland!

Hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and meaningful celebrations of whatever your holiday may be - Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, the cult of consumerism, - whatever - I hope it involved quality time with loved ones and some comforting food.

I have missed you all and I look forward to catching up with everyone in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thing Two

The highlight of my day today:

Sharing a companionable bowl of soup and some conversation with Thing Two.

It is so bittersweet, this little baby-faced boy on the brink of becoming bigger. On the brink of understanding the world well enough to stop crying when things don't go his way. On the brink of fewer cute misunderstanding of the language. On the brink of figuring out who Santa really is. The brink is so palpable to me right now. Everytime he lets me kiss that sweet spot at the corner of his jaw, where he still smells like a baby, I feel like if I just squeeze him a little tighter I might be able to keep him from toppling over that edge.....

I know, I know - it is his job to leap over that edge and it is my job to push him over if I must, ....but dang!

It just astounds me that in 8 years he will be hiding in his room all day, playing music I don't understand and emerging only long enough to grab some pizza and pretend to ignore me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Procrastination Is Not My Friend

My house is a disaster, I am hosting house guests in a week, I need to make inventory for a 2 day show this weekend, I have wholesale orders due, and all I want to do is climb in bed, pull the covers over my head and read a book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Mine! All Mine!



This summer, I borrowed a tecre and made magnets and pins to sell at my market stand. They sold very, very well, and I started wondering what I would do when my supply of magnets ran out.

A month ago, I bought a tecre of my very own!

My best selling magnet sets are made from recycled crossword puzzles, sheet music and atlases. I am not interested in cluttering my jewelry shop with magnet sets, but it occured to me that I could sell them from my blog.

So, available for your purchase:

Magnet sets packaged in recycled mint tins, tucked into pretty little organza bags!

Sets of 4: $5.00
Sets of 6: $7.00
Shipping of one set is $2.00 - anywhere in the world! Each additional set purchased adds .50 to your total shipping cost.

Choose from:
musical notes
crossword puzzles
sudoku (not pictured)
atlas pages (you pick the cities)
origami paper (pink, red or blue)

If you are interested in purchasing magnets, email me at gibson2750@comcast.net, and I will send you a PayPal invoice.

I Am One Forum Post Away

from getting irretrievably sucked in to the Etsy Gift Guide Forum Drama.

Somebody tell me to back away from the computer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Mini-Blog is Up and Running!

Etsy sellers - go add your mini's now!


Following is the press release from The Mini Blog:

"All things handmade.
It's a simple concept, a beautiful one too. Take the world of arts, crafts and handiwork and put it all in one place for shoppers to see.

Etsy.com (the place to buy and sell all things handmade) has done that by building a website where an artisan creates an online store to reach buyers and sell their work.

Those of us who use and love Etsy have taken the idea further by building a showcase where many shops within a category can be viewed simultaneously.

These unique galleries of handiwork are not only stunning and easy to navigate, they are also live and constantly changing.

The MiniBlog organizes and compiles thousands of items currently offered for sale from the hundreds of shops on Etsy---each run by the artisans themselves.

A “mini” is a comprised of 4 photographs the artisan has chosen to represent their work.
A mini allows a shop to offer a glimpse of their wares, enticing shoppers to step into their virtual stores to see more.
The minis change with the shops' inventory, making this catalogue a real time shopping experience that constantly presents new and fresh items for sale.

In addition to being an exciting way to shop, the MiniBlog also allows the viewer to explore trends in the art world. This project is something that has never been done before: it is live, ever changing, worldwide and open for free to every handmade artisan on Etsy.com.

Please use the MiniBlog to find new artists to buy from, write about, admire and be inspired by.

For those of you in the strong world of blogging and Internet, please link us and spread the word. The MiniBlog is 100% handmade and should be revered for its innovation, beauty and uniqueness. There is nothing else like it."

I am so excited to be a part of this project!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Little Headaches

For the past week I have been plagued by little, pesky headaches. Not bad enough to make me take to my bed and close the curtains. Just bad enough to make me cranky and a little bit mean.

Why don't I take some Tylenol and get over myself?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

As If I Am Not Busy Enough

In August I volunteered to help Ryan (she's a girl!) of LittlePutBooks with The Mini Blog, a new Etsy related blog that showcases Etsy sellers' minis by category. Listing on this blog is free for sellers. Buyers can click on any category and see an array of minis showcasing sellers whose work fits into the category.

There are a slew of volunteers helping Ryan upload the minis for each category, but as you can imagine, this is a huge job and we still need more helpers. Ryan has set up spots in the blog where the volunteers' minis are highlighted and she will be featuring a different set of volunteers on the front page of the blog each day.

Check out The Mini Blog for more information about how you can help.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Little Nurse

I was sick with a fever and some tummy troubles on Friday and my darling children allowed me an entire day in bed. And no, amazingly, they were not watching TV all day. And I only sent them to seperate rooms once, due to a great amount of screaming at one another. I have no idea why they were screaming at one another, and even if I were feeling well, I would not have asked. I have no interest in being judge and jury - both of you are unhappy with one another? Off to your rooms you go. Don't bother telling me it was his fault. I do not care. Go calm down. This discipline method grew out of laziness on my part, but it works really well. After 15 minutes or so, I usually hear one or the other of them creeping down the hall to the other's room to apologize. Then I think maybe hugs are exchanged and she reads him a story. All I know is that they are quietly playing in the same place again.

But the stunning part of my day was when I was starting to feel a bit better and asked Thing One to bring me some crackers. Proudly she came with two saltines and a little napkin.

"I am only bringing two because, when I am sick, you bring me two crackers and tell me to eat them very slowly. Eat them slowly, Mommy."

Oh dear me! I thought, she is really paying close attention! To every little thing I do! Every little random choice I make! And, of course, I knew this - that I am her example of how to be a Mommy, a wife, a person. But I think maybe in the hustle and bustle of the everyday, I was not as conscious of it as I should be.

Am I living the way I want her to live? Am I valuing the things I want her to value? Is our home the kind of home I want her to conjur in her mind when she thinks of home?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Cuteness

Thing Two and I were trying to think of words that begin with "N".

Thing Two: nardjana

Me: nardjana?

Thing Two: Yes, it a knife that bad guys use to cut bread.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Beadmeister

I am going to share a bead source.

I buy beads from this company, not because they are the best beads in the business (msbelle, you will find nothing you need here), or the best prices (though, often I can find an excellent bargain), but because the catalogue never fails to make me giggle.

Willis (self-proclaimed "Beadmeister, Planet Earth") is the man behind South Pacific Wholesale (in Vermont) and has been selling beads since 1974. And when his product newsletters come, I read them from cover to cover, because I must not miss any of the wit and humor. Go ahead, laugh at me and my nerdiness, but please, admire my honesty.

Under a listing for African Turquoise: "You know this isn't turquoise, right?"

Under a listing for Cherry Quartz: "Quartz? Yes, if sand is quartz, and glass is sand..."

Discussing his upcoming bead shows: "There will be a line - please be patient or act like you are."

He is very knowledgable about stones and very honest about his products: "I am not pushing my fluorite with pride."

So if you are as much of a bead nerd as me, go check him out and have a little laugh, and maybe pick up a strand of african turquoise for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Mommy, I Wrote A Song and It Is Called - Kings Do Things That Are Royal"

Oooooooooh, Kings do things
that are royal!
That are royal!
They eat royal food,
and they (mumble,mumble)-ood.

The knights fight the dragons
for the kings.
For the kings!

And the princesses dance
for the queens.
For the queens!
For the queens!
For the queens!

[Wanders away, chanting "For the queens!"
The wandering takes a little more shape and becomes a march back to me, still chanting.
The chanting stops abruptly when he reaches me.]

"So, Mommy? What was your favorite part of my song?"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Book Fair Mama

I am a busy, busy, busy book fair mama.
See you all in two weeks.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Closing in on 100


I am closing in on 100 items sold!

This is very exciting for me, as last March I set a goal of selling 100 items before the anniversary of my first item listing - October 20. Hopefully, I am not jinxing myself when I say I think I might make it!

The photo shows my newest earring style - Mini Modern Cones - a smaller version of my avatar earrings. To celebrate my milestone, I will be giving away a pair of Mini Modern Cones to every person who makes a purchase from my shop this week (now through midnight on Friday - or until I run out of cones). This offer is only good for blog readers, so please put "Blog Love" in the notes to seller to receive your free earrings.

And of course, whomever purchases my 100th item will receive additional goodies in their package as a special "thank -you."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Little Fantasy



Imagine that in that pretty tree at the curve of the stream, there lives a wee fairy. And this wee fairy grants WISHES.

Here is my wish (yes, after world peace, etc., etc.):

24 hours child free.

This is what I would do:

6:00AM to 8:30AM - Continue sleeping. When I wake up, the house is clean and there is not a bit of laundry to be seen. Thank's Wee Fairy.

8:30AM - snuggle with Geoff and a book and a bottomless cup of coffee on the front porch (um, it is a fantasy, so instead of the blue fold-up stadium chair on the front porch, there is a big wicker sofa with very soft fluffy pillows.)

10:30AM - make some jewelry

12:30PM - SLOWLY eat a tomato and basil sandwich on the patio with Geoff while enjoying the sights and sounds of our weed-free flower garden (Fairy, really, you have gone too far!)

1:00PM - Short hike along the Susquehanna River with Geoff

2:30PM - Browse Barnes and Noble (Geoff is there, too, but in the music section)

6:00PM - Dinner with Geoff at a restaurant that serves freshly, artfully prepared food, where one is encouraged to linger and have conversation

8:30PM - A movie with Geoff

*******

6:00AM - the next day - the two sweetest children in the world are AWAKE, but willing to climb in our bed and snuggle a bit before demanding breakfast.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Staying Out of the Etsy Forums: A Pledge

I hesitate to label this One Small Change - I have not done any small changes in more than a month and of the ones I set this summer, I have not kept up half of them. Hello, Coca Cola, welcome back.

Anyway, two things happened at once.
1. My dear friend Denys had to google me and post a comment on my blog in order to get me to return her phone calls. Denys and I have been friends since the dark days when Thing One was the only Thing, and she was not yet a talking Thing. We attended Gymboree classes once a week so that I could pretend to interact with adults. We wandered the empty halls of the mall on a Wednesday morning, just because we had to get out of the house. Then Denys appeared. Lo, a mom who could make me laugh. A mom who enjoyed talking about more than babies (though there was plenty of that talk too.) A mom who shared my political beliefs. Whoot! Feeling low at 4PM because you know it will be at least another 2 hours before Geoff gets home - call Denys and talk while making dinner! The weather is beautiful and you know a good mother would take her child to the park, but you cannot stand the thought of standing there mindlessly pushing the swing for an hour - call Denys - she'll meet you there and you will have FUN! Yep, my friendship with Denys saved me from some serious depression. Then you know the story - I moved, she started a business, I started a business....But my point is - this is a friend whose calls should be returned in a timely fashion.

2. Over a couple days, earlier this week I spent a sum total of at least four hours trying to unravel an Etsy forum mystery - who were the banned members? Why were they banned? Was it warranted? I read pages of forum posts, articles and comments on the UEN (Unofficial Etsy News) and various Etsy sellers' blogs. By the time I was done, I was exhausted by the drama, the narcissism and the negativity. I am too tired, (and smart) to share all my thoughts on this matter, and really, it has nothing to do with me, so who cares?

Since I am unable to read forum posts without getting sucked into the drama, I am done reading the forums.

Surely this will free up some time to make new jewelry, list new jewelry, catch up with blog reading, and actually have coffee with a (gasp!) real, live friend.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Middle Name Game

MissFickleMedia tagged me for the middle name game.

My parents gave me the middle name, Janel. I had never seen it spelled this way by anyone else, until I got to college and met the person who would become one of my two best friends. She has the same middle name, spelled the same way. At graduation, people thought we made it up.

J - Jewelry is the obvious one here. I would like to add Joy, because I try to approach life joyfully.

A - Avid reader. It used to be that when the kids were entertaining themselves, I would sneak off to my room to read a book. Now I sneak off to stalk my Etsy shop and catch up on my blog reading. Blog reading is still reading, right?

N - Natural. Most days will find me with no make-up at all. If I am selling at market or going out in the evening, I add some lipstick and mascara.

E - (over)Educated. I am one of those women - I am sure the media has a slightly derogatory term for us - who acheived a Master's Degree just in time to stay at home with her kids. I will probably never use my degree. But I don't regret getting it, and I certainly don't regret chucking the teaching career to stay home with Thing One and Thing Two for a decade or so.

L - Love.

Feel free to tag yourself.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Looking for a Fun Post

Found this on Leigh-Ann's blog:

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Princess MPV

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Mint Chocolate Chip Chocolate Chip

3. YOUR "FLY Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
S Gib.

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Green Otter

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Janel Lancaster

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)
Gibst

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
The Blue Lemonade

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
J. Mark Arthur

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Tova Kit Kat

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names)
Rose Eugene

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Book Fair Cometh

I am the Chairperson for the Scholastic Book Fair at Thing One's school. This is my third year, so it is kind of old hat. BUT, we have entered our 4 week countdown. I am about to be very, very busy.

And I am feeling a little passive aggressive about it.

Which leads to major procrastination on my part.

Which leads to late nights and panic.

Which leads to eating junk food and snarking at my family.

I predict that:

In four weeks I will be composing a post about why I am never chairing the Book Fair again.

In one year I will be referring ruefully to this post as I put off organizing my Book Fair materials.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

They Inherit Our Bad Traits Too (or Why I Am In Love with the Montessori Teacher)

Geoff and I are both first born children: perfectionists, eager to please, not so interested in trying things that might lead to (gasp! horror of horrors!) failure. Growing up, if I wasn't guaranteed success on the first try at a new skill or activity, I was not all that interested in trying. Geoff was the same way.

It is not so surprising then, that we have two children who, though different in so many fabulous and interesting ways, are both completely paralyzed by a fear of failure in any new situation.

Thing Two turned four a month ago, still wearing pull-ups. He flat out refuses to get on a tricycle or anything with pedals. He won't draw more than straight lines and don't you even think of asking him if he wants to learn how to write his name. Most of his sentences start with "When I am bigger, I will ....."
Is this healthy? Of course not.
Does his fear of trying new things cause him anxiety and frustration that lead to angry outbursts? Yes.
Am I worried about him? Nope. Not a bit.

We had all these issues with his sister. And on her own time, she decided she could do all the things we feared she would never do.

So, when I got a note from Thing Two's preschool three weeks ago, stating that they were combining the younger and older four classrooms and adding a more academic focus, I called up the local Montessori School and asked for a tour. After the tour, I called up the old preschool and withdrew his enrollment.

In the Montessori school, he will direct his time, and no one will tell him what to draw or when. He will be engaged in activities that are as challenging as he wants them to be in an atmosphere of structured freedom that I know he will find comforting and reassuring.

I knew it was the right place for him when we went to meet the teachers last week and he had the following two encounters with Mr. Ben (yes! a male teacher! in preschool!):

Thing Two: What is this?
Mr. Ben explains the task and asks if Thing Two would like to try it.
Thing Two: I don't have that at home. I don't think I can do that.
Mr. Ben: But that's why we come to school, isn't it? To try new things?
Thing Two wanders away and Mr. Ben does not press the issue.

Thing Two, standing in front of the chalkboard easel: Can I draw here?
Mr. Ben: Sure.
Thing Two: I only know how to draw rain (he draws a vertical line) and grass (he draws a horizontal line).
Mr. Ben: I bet you can draw lots of other things.
Thing Two: Nope. I don't make them the right way.
Mr. Ben: But your way IS the right way, buddy.

Is it just a coincidence that today Thing Two brought me a drawing of a pig? Two circles! Connected! With a face! and legs!

Yes, Mr. Ben. Thing Two and I adore you now. And when you bring out your guitar on that first day, Thing Two's hero worship will be undeniable.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Buttons and Magnets and Rings! Oh my!



Regular readers will remember my excitement when Liz of Hobbledehoy loaned me her 1 inch tecre machine. Here is a peek at some of the fruits of my labors.
I made rings with chiyogami paper, magnet sets with all sorts of recycled papers, pin back buttons with dried flowers, recycled magazines and more chiyogami paper, and subtle promo magnets featuring the same paper I use in my packaging. Very, very fun! Geoff used recycled magazines and the tecre to make funny celebrity magnets for his brother. Thing One had fun collecting flowers for pressing.
Last week I mailed the machine back to Liz so she can get started on promos for the holidays. It was so great to give the machine a test run. I am still on the fence about whether I want one of my own - when my current stock of promos gets low, I will have to make a decision, but in the meantime, thanks to Liz, I am stocked through Christmas.

In the spirit of sharing, I would like to send a little package of goodies - at least one ring, magnet set and pin back button - to the first five readers who comment here. Thanks again Liz!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

One Local Summer - Week Ten


Last night we had fritatta with red, green and yellow peppers and basil. We liked it a lot more than the green pepper and onion fritatta of earlier in the summer. I think the basil was a great addition. A side salad of tomatos and cucumbers. Also sweet corn of the "Honey Treat" variety - seriously, so sweet it could be dessert, and cantelope. This was our first local cantelope of the summer and it made us wonder why we ever bother with non-local cantelope. Is it worth eating when it has no flavor? And I guess that is what we were meant to learn with this project.
I am finally getting around to reading Barbara Kingsolver's book and I am determined to grow some of our own food (beyond meadow tea) next summer. Of course, Geoff's response to this idea was: "You are aware that vegetable gardens need to be weeded, right?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Photo Help



Ahhhhh! I cannot decide.
The brown background/the white background?
The white is a pain in the (beep) to adjust, but might get me into more treasuries. But no matter what I do, I cannot get it white-white anyway. Does the brown make my work stand out? Or is it too dark?
Please share your thoughts, and if you have time and are so inclined, please share YOUR photo set-up details - lightbox? natural light? camera?
I hate my photos!

The Danger of Watching Other People's Children

Sometimes, while walking and swaying with my cousin's daughter, trying to help her settle down for a nap, she fits so perfectly along my torso, her head tucked under my chin, her bottom resting on my forearm, her hand curled in my hair, I think, "Maybe one more...."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thing Two As He Pulled His Dessert out of a Quiznos Bag:

"Hello, cookie. I'm your Daddy."

Thanks Maia and Karen Beth

So, when I came home from vacation I discovered I had been nominated for two blog awards. When I shared this news with Geoff, his response was "What? You?" And when I told him one of them was the "Rockin' Girl Blogger" award, he just laughed and laughed.

Don't let this interaction fool you. He is a very loving and supportive guy. Really.

My pal Maia is responsible for the Rockin' award (I am pretty sure I was rockin' for at least a minute or two in 1991.) and I am thrilled to pass on to:

stilettoheights because, honestly, she really is rockin', even off-line. And her letters to celebrities are the sole reason I am excited to wake up on a Wednesday morning. (Okay, I love my kids, too. And coffee.)

zellmer because she refers to doing a great deal of rockin' pre-baby (and look at her picture - she's still rockin'), and her blog was the first Mommy blog I found that I enjoyed reading.

tracey because, well look at her playlist and try to argue with me. And because she writes a very engaging gardening blog that feels like it is about a lot more than gardening.

______

The other award was invented by Karen Beth of Zazazu. It is the "Uplift Award" and I am so touched that she mentioned me. I am not able to express how much it means to me that someone who reads my little ramblings finds them uplifting. I am also a little self-conscious, because she mentions my One Small Change series as a reason for the award, and I stole the idea from Gillian.

So naturally, I want to pass the Uplift Award along to

Gillian who inspired One Small Change and writes from Nottingham, England, which always gives me a little thrill. Her artwork is lovely, and it is wonderful to read about her process and the inspirations behind her work.

Eva whose blog is so lovely looking. When she is not writing about her beautifully embroidered animal creations, she posts thought-provoking and often spirit-lifting links, poems and quotes.

MissFickleMedia who has been so supportive of my work and my process. She is a kindred spirit and I always look forward to reading what she has to write about her kids. Also, I love watching her process as she develops new products and new looks for her popular pendants and gorgeous fine silver jewelry.

MsBelle because she is the kindest, most supportive blogger/seller out there. She is always the first person to comment on my new work, the first person to congratulate me on my successes, and I swear, she was even more excited about my front-page appearance than I was. It has been exciting to see her develop a signature look for her shop and even more exciting to see her work gain the attention it deserves.

Beck because she is the best writer in blogland and at least once a week she publishes a post that makes me think perhaps she is living in my head.

And finally, Karen Beth, can I pass the award back to you? Karen-Beth's blog is like a little yoga class for your brain. Amazing, serene photos and quotes that remind you to slow down, breathe deeply and appreciate all the beauty and goodness that surrounds us.

Thanks, friends.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Favorite Reading Spot


Favorite Reading Spot, originally uploaded by stephgibson23.

I'm back!
Vacations with the kids get easier every year. We read C.S. Lewis on the long drive out and J.K. Rowling on the long ride home. In between we ate a lot, read a lot, some of us went swimming, we all took long hikes around the lake. There was some marshmallow roasting, kayaking and a treasure hunt organized by Uncle Grant (Arrrrgh! Avast me Hearties!) Vacation perfection.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Summer Finally Caught Up With Me

Over the last two weeks, I have not read very many blogs and I have hardly commented on the ones I have read. I have only listed one new item on Etsy. I have not e-mailed people. I have only posted about things I felt I had an obligation to write.

So where have I been? What have I been doing?

overdue summer playdates with the kids friends
a trip to the northern woods of Pennsylvania
celebrating Thing Two's birthday
playing at the pool
planning and teaching jewelry making workshops at a day camp
reading Harry Potter
selling at Eastern Market
just to name a few of the activities that have been keeping me away from the computer.

What do you do with so many blog-worthy events, but no time to write about them? And I know I am missing great posts from you that I am never going to catch up with - it is strange to feel so disconnected.

And the next two weeks look just as crazy!

But I will be back in a couple weeks. I am looking forward to catching up with all of you.

Oh, and before I go, I have to thank Tamara of BlockPartyPress for so kindly including a feature about me on her blog. She has been doing a a terrific series of posts about inspiration and its sources. She was one of my first Etsy favorites and a source of great support in Jewelstreet's Creative Challenges. Thanks Tamara!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Happiness Swap


I just received these fantastic goodies from Liz Elayne as part of Karen Beth's Happiness Swap.
A wonderful tote from Liz's Maude series, filled with sweet, happy, little goodies: an idea journal, a pencil, lip gloss, gum, a beautiful handkerchief, a lemon scrub bar, and a collection of vintage buttons.
In addition to sweet bags, Liz is also the maker of wonderful flag sets inspired by Tibetan prayer flags.

Thanks Liz! I am so glad Karen Beth encouraged us to get to know one another - I love your blog and your Etsy shop.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One Local Summer - Week Five


This is a bit of a redo of last week's meal. We had a lot of goodies left over. I bought a hot pepper from a farm stand operated by inner-city teens. They have an urban garden in Lancaster (7 miles from me) that they plant and maintain with guidance from the adults who started the program. They have a stand at Eastern Market, which is also where I was able to purchase from Promisedland Farms and the farm that raises the free-range chicken in this dish. The hot pepper led me to make a chicken/veggie saute with a more Southwestern flair. In additon to the hot pepper and chicken, I used green pepper, green onion and red tomatos from Harvest Lane Farms, 3 miles away. My cheats were olive oil and seasonings.

The exciting addition to the meal was CORN BREAD! Last night, while wandering the grocery (our grocery store is a family owned dairy/grocery that puts a big focus on local producers) I found locally milled corn meal. The company is Haldeman Mills in Manheim, PA, about 20 miles from us. So I decided to make corn bread from scratch. This had my husband chuckling and Thing One wide-eyed with amazement. I found some flour in the bulk foods section that is distributed locally, and I am waiting for a call back from the store letting me know whether or not it is also produced locally. The milk came from the dairy at the grocery store. And the butter from Guernsey's Gift Market in East Petersburg (7 miles.) The egg was also local. So the only cheats in the cornbread were the sugar and the baking powder.

We rounded out the meal with sweet corn grown by my Dad's cousin (2 miles) and plums again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hobbledehoy!! or The Kindness of Strangers


I do not know Liz, the seller behind the etsy shop, hobbledehoy, from Adam, but when she read my forum post asking where I should buy a Tecre Button Machine, she offered to LOAN ME HERS.

For those unfamiliar, a Tecre is the pinback button making machine recommended by all Etsy sellers who use button machines. And they cost $250!

I have been wanting one for the longest time, because I think it would be so fun to send out little stephaniegibson pins and magnets (the machine makes those too) as promos to my customers. I could also use the machine to make rings that I think would sell like crazy at Eastern Market. I have saved up all my sales money for the last three months to justify buying one, but I was still thinking maybe this was an impulse buy that was never going to pay for itself. Now, thanks to the generosity of Liz, I can try one out and see whether it is really something I need to invest in, or whether it is just another craft gadget for the closet where all non-jewelry-related craft gadgets go to live sad, lonely lives, unable to entertain even one another, because, of course, they are all still sealed in their original packaging.

So, help me celebrate by checking out Liz's shop. Not just as a favor to me, but because she is selling fiber batts called Riot in the Batcave!

One Local Summer - Week Four


I am late blogging about this meal, but life got in the way!

Free-range chicken from a farm in Paradise, PA (15 miles), sauteed with zucchini, yellow tomatoes and fresh basil from Promisedland Farm in Millersville, PA (15 miles). Also in the saute were onions left over from last week's meal. The roasted potatoes are from last week's farmstand visit. The gorgeous plums were purchased at our grocery store and the produce manager told me they were grown in York County (30 miles).

My cheats were olive oil, garlic and dried herbs.

The saute was really delicious. I sort of made it up as I was going along. I will definitely make it again.

The only thing the meal was missing was some crusty bread to dip in the broth that was left on the plate! Still searching for a local baker that uses local grains.

Monday, July 23, 2007

One Small Change - Week Nine

At this moment, in my garden, there are weeds taller than Thing Two.

Of course, I blame you and all your wonderful blogs.

My small change this week - one hour, first thing every morning, before I am awake enough to realize what I am doing, I will spend it working in the yard.

Do you notice how my computer time is dwindling? No more evenings on the computer. One less hour in the morning.

Hmm. When do the little people go back to school? Maybe you will see me more then.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog Break

Took a little break this week and still feeling uninspired to write or do much blog reading.

I'll be back next week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Adventures of Ducky and Bunny


Ducky and Bunny (so named by Things One and Two in a temporary lapse of creativity) traveled to us all the way from Germany and the gentle, talented hands of Eva. They arrived in pretty paper wrapping, sewn closed with thread and identified with beautiful hand stamped tags. The design and workmanship of their embroidery is breathtaking.

Ducky was created just for Thing One. Thing One is a little too imaginative for her own good and often thinks up some scary things to torment her in the night. Her sweet, brave Ducky has the word "Courage" embroidered on the back, just to help her out a little when the dark is too frightening.

Bunny was created for a little cousin who has not joined us yet, but when Thing Two saw him, his eyes lit up. "Is that MY Bunny?" he asked with hopeful excitement. Well, how do you say no?

The two of them ran off with Ducky and Bunny and immediately began telling stories with them. Ducky's and Bunny's lives have been filled with peril and miraculous rescues since they arrived in our home. But I am sure they do not mind, because they end each day snuggled in the arms of children who loved them from the moment they saw them.

Thank you Eva. You are generous and thoughtful. The beauty of your spirit shines through in your lovely handiwork.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Small Change - Week Eight


The Brita Water Filter. It makes our perfectly good tap water taste better.
This is another ridiculously simple change that will make a big difference to us, and a small difference to the world. No more lugging gallons of water from the grocery. Four less giant water bottles going into the recycling bin each week. Much more cost effective.
When I think about it, I am embarassed that we did not make this change before. Why on earth were we BUYING water?!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Local Summer - Week Three


Life has finally resumed something of a normal pace, and I was able to make my first local meal this week.

I have learned a lot with this first meal. The most important lesson: ask questions. The Amish boy I mentioned in a previous post sold me some blueberries this week, and I wondered how they were growing blueberries. I was planning to ask for some tips. Well, of course, they are not blueberries his family grew; they are blueberries they bought at market! Silly me!

So, I was a much smarter shopper when I hit the nearby farm stand. I made the poor girl walk me through the whole stand and tell me the origin of everything she was selling.

Our first local meal consisted of red potatoes and green beans from Harvest Lane Farm, three miles from our house. A crustless egg pie (cheating! the recipe calls for ricotta, of which I could find no local substitute. I did however, choose the ricotta from New Jersey, rather than Oregon.) made with eggs from a local farm, and green peppers and green onions from Harvest Lane Farm. For dessert we had peaches that I purchased at Harvest Lane Farm, but were grown elsewhere in Lancaster County.

Delicious!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Boy Who Opened The Door

I am going to try to make a long story short. My aunt came to pick up the little girls we watch on Mondays (now to be known as Giggles and Smiley), and as she was walking in the door, Thing Two and I were rushing to the "potty." I usually help her get the girls into the car, so I gave Thing Two strict instructions to stay on the potty - "I will be right back. I am going outside to help Aunt Cathy. DO NOT get up until I come back." (Because he is still learning how to take care of the wiping, if you must know.)

Cathy followed me into the garage and as she closed the door, she said, "Uh Oh." The door was locked. Thing Two was inside on the potty alone, and I was locked out of the house. The neighbor with a key was at work. My mother was in Maryland.

So I freaked out.

I seriously was so panicked, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

After spending an eternity (maybe 2 and a half minutes) walking in circles around the driveway muttering "What am I going to do?" over and over, I thought I should check all the windows on the first floor on the off chance that we had neglected to lock one.

The most likely window was our bathroom window. I was standing there trying to figure a way to get to the window without destroying the screen, when I heard Thing Two singing to himself. We then had this conversation:

"Thing Two, can you hear me?
"Mommy? Where are you?"
"Outside."
"What are you doing?"
"Well, I am locked out."
"Hmm, Mommy, how are you going to help me when you are locked out?"

****LIGHTBULB****

"Thing Two, could you please get off the potty and go open the garage door?"
"Sure, Mommy."

Crisis averted.

When he opened the door, I said "You're my hero!"
He looked at me with frustration. "Mommy, superheroes save people from monsters. I am just the boy who opened the door."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Summer Fun


When you are three years old, does anything scream "Summer Fun" louder than an inflatable pool?

Nope.

In there all day, fueled by nothing more than popsicles and pure joy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

One Small Change - Week Seven

Yes, I know, for those of you keeping track, this is technically Week Eight, and I skipped Week Seven, but I am sure you will give me a pass.

I was debating about making this the week that I started composting the kitchen waste, but then:

Last night, instead of spending the evening reading blogs and stalking my Etsy shop, I sat on the sofa with a pile of glass beads and some memory wire (working on some inexpensive things for my market stand) and watched television with Geoff. He looked at me like I had given him a gift, "You are actually going to sit here with me?"

So, Week Seven's change - no more computer after 8PM. You may notice it takes me awhile to get to your latest posts, but I will read them eventually. From now on, after 8PM I can be found on the sofa, watching whatever it is my husband is watching. Even if it is some horrid reality show. I may have a pliers in my hand, but I will be there, on the sofa, keeping him company.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Garden Mystery


See the stems peeking out of the lily of the valley? Well at one time, they were much taller and I believe they are purple cone flowers (echinachea). What happened to them? Seem too tall to be nibbled by rabbits. I have never seen any sign of deer. There was a nearby plant (I think maybe it is a black-eyed susan) that was also eaten completely, leaving at least 8 to 12 inches of stem as well. Meanwhile the false sunflower and bee balm right next to these two plants were left untouched.

???????

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Grandpa




My grandfather passed away last week. After seven years of illness that ebbed and flowed, our family thought we were ready for the end, but of course we were not.

He was a farmer. A quiet man who commanded respect effortlessly, even sitting in his armchair. He was stern, but fair. Committed to hard work and a tidy garden. He was hard on his children but loved to tease his grandchildren. He loved to play cards and fish. He was never sarcastic, but often chuckled about people's foolishness. He was humble and kind.

He was the bedrock of a family that was unusually close and committed to one another. Of course, I had no idea how unusual this kind of closeness was until I was an adult. I thought everyone had grandparents and aunts and uncles who lived within 5 miles of one another; who met regularly for picnics, and card games and vacations; who never had harsh or impatient words for one another. I thought everyone grew up with cousins who were more like siblings.

The photos are the meadow of Grandpa's farm. A meadow he worked and played in his whole life. The last photo shows the view of the meadow from the porch. When I think of my grandfather, I think of him in his last years: too tired to work, but sitting on his porch, enjoying the view of the meadow and his great-grandchildren playing at his feet.

At the end, he was exhausted and he was in pain. There is no way to see his death, at 85 years of age, as anything but a blessing. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his wife and four children. But I am filled with sadness about what feels like a loss of all he symbolized to me: an idyllic childhood, a large extended family, the deep roots of the family farm.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mooooooooooooooo! Cards


My Moo Cards came today.

I am in love!

A little bright spot in an otherwise yucky week (I promise to post more about the yuckiness later - everyone is fine - but not quite ready to write about it.)

Happy, happy little cards!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Small Change - Week Six

I am a little late with this - we were in Cleveland all weekend visiting Geoff's family. I don't know what it means that I am desperate to get back to my computer after a weekend away, but it can't be a good sign.

After last week's embarrassingly simple change, I thought it was time for something tough. I found the perfect challenge for myself with One Local Summer. One Local Summer is a challenge to prepare one meal a week that is entirely made from local foods. You then share a description of the meal (and photos if you can) with the other participants. I became interested in the idea of eating more local food after reading two different and compelling blog reviews of Barbara Kingsolver's new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. One review was by my favorite book blogger, 50 Books and I am sad to report that I do not remember who wrote the other review I read. If it was you, please let me know and I will add a link. My interest in obtaining our food locally has only been increased by my participation in Lancaster's Eastern Market, which is, as far as I know, the only market in Lancaster where the vendors are selling only produce they have grown themselves.

The real challenge in this change is not finding local food, as I am lucky enough to be living in a county that contains "the most fertile non-irrigated farmland in the country."* The challenge for me will be planning a new meal around what is in season, rather than relying on my usual meal rotation which usually involves canned beans, pasta or something frozen. I signed up for this challenge just before it was closed, although obviously anyone can take up this challenge without linking through the Pocket Farm blog.


*This quote is loosely translated from something I read at the local children's museum. My point is that you cannot drive two miles without hitting a farm stand, and if you sit in my yard at 5PM on a weekday, eventually an Amish boy will come by with his little red wagon and try to sell you some eggs and a bag full of whatever vegetable happens to have been picked that day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Anklets?

So, I have never had slim ankles. Living in NYC as an intern with a daily food budget of $5, walking miles to the train in Hoboken, and miles across town to the theater I worked for, and more miles scouring the city for props, I lost so much weight I had the waistband of my pants rolled over three times. But still, chunky ankles. It has never occured to me to wear something that would call attention to this area of my body.

So, when Miss Fickle Media suggested I make anklets using richly colored pearls, my internal response was, "anklets? really? do people actually wear them?" But I think our Miss Fickle is a Marketing/Research and Development genious, so I gave it a shot. I wanted to combine pearls with czech glass, which was a knotting nightmare - all those different sized holes! The finished product also seemed too fragile to be worn on the ankle. I thought they would look beautiful wire wrapped, but that is very time consuming and would have required a price that I am not sure would have worked for a summer fun item. So I went with stringing on Softflex. I think they are very pretty and simple. I added two little dangling beads at the clasp for a little extra flirty-ness. I am not sure they really stand out in the sea of strung beads on Etsy, but I am trying out different ways of photographing them that I hope will make them "click-worthy."
So glad that Etsy makes it inexpensive to experiment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And the Winner Is......


CraftyMoose and the African Turquoise Earrings!

CraftyMoose (aka: seed bead genius) is a friend from the Creative Challenges run by Jewelstreet Designs. CraftyMoose's beaded flowers, art doll pins and other crafty goodness can be seen in her Etsy Shop or on her blog.

I asked Geoff to pull the name, since I was afraid I might peek. I had a photo of him holding CraftyMoose's slip of paper, but you could not read her name in the photo. His patience with this sort of thing is a bit limited, so rather than ask him to pose again, I will ask you to trust that we were on the up and up.

Thanks everyone for playing along! I had fun doing this - might try it again on my anniversary as a seller in October.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Etsyversary Give-Away


I just realized it is the anniversary of the day I signed up on Etsy. To celebrate, I am giving away a pair of earrings. The game works like this:
Check out this earring section. Post a comment letting me know which pair is your favorite. I will put all the commenters names (along with those who post on my forum thread) in a hat and do a drawing. The winner of the drawing wins the earrings with the most votes. I will perform the drawing on Wednesday at 8PM. Any comments/posts before that time will be counted.

Eastern Market, Lancaster PA

Well, I had a great time selling my jewelry here on Saturday. I shared a tent with Rachel-Marie. And our tent was between a farmer selling cucumbers like nobody's business and a woman selling delicious Ethiopian Food.
There was live music and local produce and six craft vendors. We will have more craft vendors on the second Saturday of every month. The market is only a year old and this is their first year to include the Arts Market. It is very exciting to get in on this at the beginning - it was such a fun atmosphere and Rachel and I had such a good time. I can't wait to do it again. See more photos on Flickr.

I am horribly behind in my blog reading - it will take me a couple days to catch up with all of you, but I promise I will!

Friday, June 15, 2007

One Small Change - Week Five


Look at this terrific shopping tote made just for me by Maia of the Etsy shop Glass Beach. It is upcycled from plastic shopping bags. She used a tutorial on the Etsy Lab's blog. I love the trees and the pink handles. Isn't she clever? It will be perfect for my potentially messy purchases at the Farmer's Market.
In other updates, I have had no problem giving up soda. This is very strange and I wonder what magic has occured, but I honestly have not craved it all week. And I have not really substituted anything - just water.
So, on to the new. Judging from my inability to keep up with my kitchen goal, I have decided to aim smaller on the cleaning front: make my bed every morning when I get out of it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Moms - Have You Seen This?


This pleases me beyond all expression.
Available on a button at Mutha Crafter.

UPDATE: She has a maternity Tee listed now too.

Up Coming Art Market

So, I have my first Art Market coming up, and I am as nervous as can be. The last time I did something like this was five years ago in some horrible Rotary fundraiser type event that my items were completely ill suited for.

Any tips from the pros out there?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The "Recipe" for Meadow Tea

Tracey asked so nicely. Here goes - it is not a recipe so much as an assortment of ingrediants that I throw together as the mood strikes:

about 5 quarts of water
a large bunch (as much as you can hold in your hand) of apple mint, trimmed 4 to 8 inches long, rinsed well
1 to 2 cups of sugar
5 or 6 lemons, scrubbed and sliced - make your life easier and pick the seeds out when you slice the lemons
lots of ice cubes

Bring the water to boil in an 8 quart stock pot. Once you have a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add the mint. Cover and allow to steep. I am not sure what a minimum steeping time would be, I let mine steep for more than a half hour. While it is steeping, combine lemon slices and sugar in a large bowl or pot and mash together until you have the lemons juiced and that juice has combined with the sugar to make a syrupy goo. (You could probably just use a lemon juicer and mix the juice with the sugar and save yourself some mess. I do it this way because nothing makes the kids happier than squishing the lemons and sugar with a potato masher.) When the tea has steeped for awhile, pour it through a strainer, over the lemons and syrup. Ideally the tea will still be warm so the sugar will dissolve nicely. I stir it around for awhile to make sure the sugar has dissolved and then remove the lemon rinds. You might want to save a couple to put in the pitcher for a pretty effect, but you don't want to leave them in there too long or they will make your tea bitter. When I am ready to serve the tea, I fill the pitcher with ice and pour the tea over the ice - the ice serves two purposes - to dilute the tea/lemonade mixture a bit and also to cool down the tea which will probably still be warm. This makes a ton of tea. We had 15 people at our house all day and I just kept taking the pitcher in, filling it with ice and ladling more tea.

Hope that helps get you started and wasn't too rambling - you can see that no one is going to ask me to write a cookbook anytime soon......

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Making the First Batch of "Meadow Tea" of the Summer







Perfect drink for Mom's birthday party.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

One Small Change: Week Four

Okay, this is the tough one.
No more soda. (Oh Coca-Cola, how I love you......)
It makes a huge difference when I give it up, but it is nearly impossible for me to stick to my guns on this one.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The List As I Originally Made It


Blog Pals treasury list, originally uploaded by msbellee.

Thanks Ginger, for getting a screen shot for me!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Treasury for You

I think I managed to get most of my regular commenters into this treasury:

Blog Pals

I know I missed some people, so I will be changing it out tomorrow.

Go look! I think it turned out pretty well considering I didn't go in with a plan other than to promote my friends.

Hugs to you all.

I Am An Idiot


So a week or so ago, I was lamenting that none of my bloggy pals had a bag I could use for shopping, when it turns out that the sweet and lovely Sara of Girls Can Tell had a PERFECT one. The perfect size and shape and greeny/blue! How did I miss that?!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Happy Anniversary?


So, apparently, our wedding anniversary came and went and we barely noticed. I have a vague memory of him leaving for work and whispering "Happy Anniversary" in my ear (I was still sleeping - he leaves at 6am), but that was the sum of the Anniversary revelry. No cards, no flowers, no presents, no dinner out.

Hmmm. Do you think it is time for Mommy and Daddy to take a wee vacation alone?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

One Small Change: Week Three


Okay, the kitchen thing - not so much. Better than before I publicly announced my good intentions, but still, anything that I don't really feel like doing is probably not going to happen once the kids are in bed.

Now, Change Number Two - shopping for a new shopping bag. There is a challenge made for me! "Oh no, please don't make me go shopping on Etsy! And you want me to shop for BAGS?! Oh the horror!"

So, I found lots of stuff I loved, and ended up buying the bag you see here, made by zerkahloostrah. Isn't it sweet? Can't you just see a baguette sticking out of there? And I am hoping Maia might be working on a bag for the potentially messy purchases - a fused plastic bag made from recycled grocery bags. How terrific is that?

And for this week's change: I joined the gym!

This is something I have been wanting to do since we moved here. There is a really great gym nearby that has wonderful kids activities, so I can go and exercise while my kids have fun and get exercise too. Because, as I mentioned above, I can plan to exercise after they go to sleep but it WILL NOT happen. We have not been able to afford a membership, but starting this month I am adding a baby to my little home daycare (2 days a week I watch my cousin's daughter, and now she is a big sister, so I will have 2 of them under age 2, plus my own kids - I must be nuts!) and the extra income will cover the membership. Whoohoo! I am so excited!

The plan is to go at least 3 times a week.

And it occured to me that these "One Small Change" posts could have a new name: "Steph: Cleaner, Greener and Leaner!"

(please don't throw things.)

Friday, June 1, 2007

History of a Garden, Part Two


This mock orange is actually rooted on the neighbor's property and is cascading over a four foot fence. It makes a wonderful screen between us and the neighbor's pit bull. All I do is trim the bottom branches a little to give some light to the lilies just below.

The photo does not really capture the scale of this shrub, but it is magnificent. Before the pit bull came along, the kids could play (standing!) back behind/underneath it. (Tracey: it is grotto-like!)

I cannot fully express my love of this plant. Our back yard would be completely different without it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The First Grade Play



Oh, the cuteness!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

10 Summer Outings

The summer always gets away from me. We are buying Thing One a new backpack and I am wondering what happened to the summer I fantasized about in May. The summer full of jaunty outings and crafty activities as promised in "Family Fun" magazine. The summer of my childhood memories: playing in the sprinkler, eating ice cream sandwiches and reading in the hammock.

So I have made a couple of lists (I am so good at lists!) to help me pace myself.

Summer List Number One: Ten Outings

1. A local amusement park for ages 10 and under.
2. The King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia
3. The Philadelphia Zoo
4. Hiking (hopefully this will happen more than once!)
5. My Dad's cabin in Potter County
6. Cape May, NJ
7. Annapolis, MD
8. A free concert in Long's Park
9. Longwood Gardens
10. My brother's house to visit the cousins

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

History of A Garden, Part One


Originally uploaded by stephgibson23
This little corner by the front porch was covered with English Ivy. Took me two afternoons (one last summer, one this past weekend) to get rid of all the ivy. Finally, four years after we bought the house, the ferns are free to breathe.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Love Summer

We kicked off the summer with a perfect weekend. A picnic with my Dad's family at one of my favorite spots in the whole world - my grandfather's farm. (more on the farm later). Dinner on the patio with our favorite neighbors last night. Their son is a year younger than Thing One and they play really well together, each new game starting with the phrase "Let's pretend..." I got a ton of work done in the garden and we survived our first power outage of the summer. And Geoff has the day off today, so more summer fun to come!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Would You Rather....

No, it is not one of those "revealing" questions games.

Wondering about my Etsy promo blog and whether anyone actually reads those lengthy (but fascinating!) interviews. Do you like the interview format or would you rather see a great photo and a short blurb with a link?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Friday, May 25, 2007

One Small Change: Week Two

Your Life is 40% Green

You're on the right track to living a green life, and you're definitely doing your part to help out.
You care about the earth, and hopefully this quiz has given you some ideas on how you can do more!


Well, I thought for sure I was doing better than that!

I have thought about using cloth bags for shopping, but here is the thing. We do not buy trash bags for our house. We use the grocery bags as our trash bags. So I think that kind of cancels out the fact that we do not use cloth bags. Although, I could use a cloth bag when I go to the farmer's market.

So, my new small change this week is to hunt down (hopefully on Etsy) and start using a cloth bag for market day.

And, I am sad to report that last week's change will have to carry into this week's change, because I only cleaned my kitchen one night out of seven. There are so many pathetic excuses for my slackness. Let's just say I am going to try better this week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What A Big Day!

Just stumbled upon one of my necklaces in a Trousseaux to Treasure Collection. See it here.

And I was in two different treasury lists with two of my bloggy buddies. A brown pearl themed list with Ginger from MsBelle and an orange themed list with Maia from Glass Beach.

And since I am the lamest girl in blogland, I could not figure out how to get a screen shot. Not with help in the forums, not with help from Mac. Bah. So, if you are curious, click on the links above.

I Am Becoming THAT Neighbor

So this morning while Thing One and I were out in the yard, I noticed the HS age neighbor slouching down the street toward his house with his backpack. We are not within walking distance of the school. Where did he come from? Why isn't he in school? Knowing that his mom was having some trouble getting him to go to school over the winter, you can imagine where my mind went for these answers.

So do you rat him out?

Feeling like the world's biggest busy-body, the world's oldest tattle-tale, I called his mom at work. Because I want to live in a neighborhood where we are all watching out for each other, where we pick up each other's slack, where the village is raising the child (oh, I tried so hard to avoid that last cliche!). And even though I am the last mom in the neighborhood who has not gone back to working outside the house, I am really hoping someone will be there to rat on MY kids when they are not where they are supposed to be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Artist Profile - Lemon Cadet


Stop by Mira and see my interview with Lemon Cadet. The place to buy adorable onesies and YETI PANTIES. You have to see them to believe them!

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Small Change: Week One

Inspired by this post by Gillian (of Gilfling), I am going to strive to make one small change in myself/my life every week, with the hope that in a year's time I will be a new, improved Steph.
My first change stems from something I read in this interview with Julie of Puffluna fame. She said, "...if you can't clean the whole house because you are too busy working, just make sure the kitchen is clean." And as I read this I realized that I feel stressed when my kitchen is a mess, but the rest doesn't really bother me. Sooooo..........

My first small change is to clean the kitchen before bed.
Every night.
No dishes in the sink.
Clean counters, clean floor.
Every night.

I'll report back in a week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Five Happy Things


I am sort of stealing this idea from Jenn. After the grumpy posts, it is time to share five things that made me happy (in no particular order) today:
1. Thinking about visiting the cabin pictured above. Middle of nowhere Michigan. A small lake. Lots of forests. Some books.
2. 10 more days until school is out for the summer. Thing One is really ready to be home for a while and Thing Two and I are really ready to have her here. We probably should do something more than lie in the sun and read all summer long, but I think she and I share that fantasy.
3. Thing Two and his cousin actually played together today, rather than shrieking "no, no, mine!" for 10 hours.
4. Chocolate ice cream.
5. "Lost" is on tonight.

Well, You Really Know How to Cheer a Girl Up!

Thanks to everyone who had good wishes for me. Thanks to Maia, who came up with the worlds greatest response to being over-tagged (I am going to get around to stealing that idea sometime this week!). Thanks to Sara, who invited me to participate in a trunk show at the EtsyLabs. And thanks to Elise for the nice little surprise in my in-box.

Thank you friends in the blogosphere! Hope I get to give you all real hugs someday!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Little More Whining

It is only a small fracture and I am able to complete the custom order, but I can't do anything very complicated and I don't see how I am going to do any gardening before we celebrate my Mom's birthday. Bah! I am so grumpy about it.

I realize there are people out there with real problems.

Promise to be ungrumped tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ouch!

I whacked my fingers against the door jamb while running Thing Two to the potty (yes, it IS about time!) and I think I did something bad to them. I taped them per my sister-in-law's instructions (she is a Physician's Asst.), but my pinky is all black and blue.

The worst of it is that I was in the middle of two different knotted necklaces, and I can't make knots with my hand like this. Or at least, I can't make knots that look nice. And I got a custom earring order tonight. Will I be able to wire wrap? I am scared to try it and see.

Arrrrrghhhhh!

(and yes, I am planning a trip to the doctor's tomorrow.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

What would you do?


The pink azalea on the right (we are not the ones who initially trimmed it into the shape of a rectangle) hangs about six inches over the walkway (currently obscured by the pile of English Ivy waiting to be taken to the compost center). If we trim the azalea enough to keep the walkway clear, we will be cutting all the leaves off and it will be a big bush of sticks.

So, my options as I see them:
1. Cut it back hard this fall, because then it will come back smaller next Spring? (I am really hoping this is true, but have no research backing this up)
2. Leave it as it is, because it is too pretty to get rid of. Visitors don't mind squeezing between the bushes.
3. Get rid of it. It is too big. Plant a smaller one in its place.
4. Leave it as it is. Dig out the green thing on the other side of the walkway and re-lay the walkway two feet to the left.
5. Pray some gardening genius who also reads my blog (you know who you are) will have a suggestion that trumps all the above.

Please, please share your thoughts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Boy Did I Drop the Ball

I think, at the age of 7, Thing One should know better than to whine for crackers while I am mid-sentence on the telephone. Shouldn't she?

Where did I go wrong?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Work Smarter, Not Harder


Two blog posts I read this week have made me start thinking about my shop and what I can do to make it more successful.

The first was Miss Fickle Media's post about her 1,000 sale in which she outlined her Etsy history. She wrote about working "smarter, not harder" which sounds good to me. She did a lot of research of selling trends and the habits of top sellers. This led me to believe that it is time to do some research of my own. After some light research of a few top jewelry sellers I see that they each have between two and five very distinctive, very simple items that they sell over and over again. So, what can my item be? Yes, well, it is going to take me more than a few days to figure that one out.

The second blog post belonged to Littleput Books. She has some terrific tips for Etsy sellers on her blog. In particular, tip #10 stood out for me. Sell What You Love. She suggests you get rid of any item that does not represent you at your best. According to this advice, I have several items that I should toss from my shop. That is going to be really hard to do, because it has happened more than once that just as I was thinking I should get rid of an item, somebody bought it. Nevertheless, Littleput is a very successful seller, so I am going to compromise. All the items that don't seem to fit with my favorite things are going on sale and will not be renewed. When they expire, I will put them in my box marked "old stuff" to be scavenged for parts at some later date. My second "Sell What You Love" plan of attack is that I am just going to stop worrying about the price and make what I like (see the photo above. $135) To some extent I have been doing this with bracelets and wire wrapped necklaces in the last couple weeks, and while those items have not yet sold, they do have lots of hearts, so i must be on the right track.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

One Reason I Love Blogging

Okay, so it is not really such a new idea that the internet makes our world smaller. But how often do you truly experience the results of this increasing sense that the world is your neighborhood,

Over the weekend I was driving around doing errands (read: having some alone time) and listening to NPR. They had a news story about a conflict between Russia and Estonia over a Soviet Era statue that the Estonians want to move from one place to another in their own country. Three months ago I would have listened while thinking about other things and would not really have taken any of this story in. But now, because of my blog-friend connnection with Eva, I actually listened with interest and wondered how Eva felt about it. I recognized the name of the capital city (Tallinn) and could actually picture it in my mind.

So, three cheers for blogging, which has made me a better citizen of the world!

Monday, May 7, 2007

New Artist Profile

Please check out my profile of lorimarsha, one of my long-time favorite Etsians, and maker of fabulous jewelry, handbags and clothing.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I've Been Tagged

Sylvia tagged me, so here are the rules:

• Start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself

• People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog

• Then choose another 7 people to get tagged and list their names

• Don't forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog

1. There was a long period of time from ages 24 to 33, when I did not wear any jewelry. I started wearing it again when I started making it.

2. I reluctantly purchased a minivan when my son came along. I just didn't want to be in that demographic. But now, I love my homely blue van. You would not believe how much yard waste I can take to the community compost center in that thing! Not to mention vacation gear.

3. I periodically get restless and need to make big changes - usually moving to a new house. But I am going to have to find a new way to shake things up, because I love the house we are in right now, and I know Geoff will not tolerate another move.

4. I am saving up my Etsy sales money to buy a button maker.

5. I hate taking my kids to the pool in the summer, but I feel like it is my duty as a mother to take them. If you survived childhood summers without going to the pool, please let me know. It would be quite a load off.

6. I have fantasies about taking our kids camping in Acadia National Park in Maine, even though I have never gone camping in my life and have no idea where/how to start planning such a thing. (Funny coincidence - as I was typing this, my daughter yelled from the other room, "I wish I could go on a camping trip!")

7. I love reading these lists, but hate sending chain letters. If I tagged you, and you don't feel like playing, no worries.

Friday, May 4, 2007

You Know Things Have Gotten Out of Hand When....

I set the kitchen timer for one hour, with the goal of catching up on the blogs I regularly read and often comment on. The timer is about to start beeping and I am only half way through. This is not good. This is too much time spent on blogging. But I love you all......

And I was tagged two days ago and still have not made my list or tagged anyone.

Nor have a checked my shop yet today.

The blog was supposed to support the shop, not replace it in my heart.

Something must be done!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mira

I finally have my first interview posted on my Etsy promo blog, Mira. Please stop in and check out my interview with Ginger Wagner, of MsBelle. She is a ray of southern sunshine and a talented jewelry maker. Come see why I love her!

See my new blog here.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend On the Chesapeake Bay


We have been visiting this spot at the top of the Bay since I was a teenager. Geoff and I were married here. We kayak, we eat too much, we spread out on the dock to watch the sunset. This year we built a fairy house in an old, gnarled tree.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" As Retold by Thing Two

This book is called "The Caterpillar and Food, Food," by Salamader and Captain Danger.

There was a moon and an egg. Then the sun came and popped the caterpillar out. He ated a leaf and some apples. strawberries. plum.

Then he ated foods that a boy wanted to eat.

Then, uh oh STOMACHACHE.

Then he ate a little leaf.

Mamorphsis.

Then look, look! A beautiful butterfly!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Lost Day

Thing Two and I spent the night awake with various disgusting gastro-intestinal maladies. But the beautiful result: spent the whole morning snuggling on the sofa while he watched PBS Kids and I drifted in and out of sleep. Just woke up and ate some jello.

Whatever it is I should have been doing today - forget it.

What a treat!

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Daughter, Myself

Thing One came home with a very poor spelling test. This was a bit of a surprise because she usually does well in spelling and in fact knew all the words everytime I quizzed her before the test.

"so, what do you think happened?"

"I don't know, Mommy. I was thinking about my pants and the snaps at the bottom. And maybe about my birthday and also..."

"So, you weren't focusing on your test."

Shrug

"I know you knew the words."

"I did know the words. And anyway, I am one of the smartest kids in my class, you know."

"I do know that. Which is why you should be doing well on the test."

"But who cares! I know the words!"

And here is the thing. I understand exactly how she feels. Tired of "proving" what she knows when she and her teacher and her parents all know what she knows. Nothing gets this kid's goat like reading comprehension questions. She hates to retell a story. She knows she understood it; why does she have to prove to you that she understood it? Most weeks she is willing to play the game, but some weeks it seems, she just needs a break from being the smartest girl in the room. I had a little bit of this attitude in school too. I knew I would do well if I tried hard, and sometimes, just recognizing my potential was enough for me.

So, how do I help her with this, when it was my problem too? And do I really need to help her with it? My "underacheiving" 3.85 average got me a scholarship to a better-than-average liberal arts college. I have always been a good employee at all my various jobs. I am happy. My life is good. Would I have been happier if I had worked for the 4.0? Would my quality of life be improved? I can't say "yes" to either question.

And yet I feel like I should have higher expectations for her. And certainly, I don't want to give her permission to be a slacker. But I really don't feel like the best person to be lecturing her on this point.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy Birthday

Seven years ago today in a delivery room with "NYPD Blue" on the television - who turned that on? why didn't we turn it off? - our lives changed completely.

So tonight we will all have Kraft mac n cheese, corn kernals and honeydew for dinner. We will try to resist the urge to ask how this happened, how seven years have already gone by. We will try not to imagine life seven years from now when she is in High School and has friends who drive cars. We will try not to be embarrassing to her as we beam and marvel at all the ways she is like us and all the wonderful ways she is different.

She grows more interesting and lovely by the day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Post Will Only Interest You If You Make Jewelry

I finally got my act together and opened a second Etsy shop to sell supplies. Right now I am using it to get rid of some of the beads and findings that have built up over the last 15 years. I am hoping that eventually I will offer some handmade supplies. When I break down and get a PMC kiln or get over my fear of torches, you can look forward to handmade beads, pendants, earwires and headpins.

In the meantime, fellow beaders, come check out Steph's Bead Box.

Monday, April 16, 2007

10 Facts About Me

I was tagged by JewelStreet to list 10 Little Known Facts about Me. I was going to give this a lot of thought before I posted it, but I am afraid I am going to forget about it, so I am just going to do this off the cuff.

1. I was never invited to a homecoming dance in High School. Not once. This caused a fair amount of pain at the time, but I like to think I am over it now. I once had someone I was working with say "You were the Homecoming Queen in High School, weren't you." Nope. Not even close.

2. I am afraid of the rapters in Jurassic Park. After Geoff and I went to see that movie, I actually asked him to sleep next to the closet, because I was sure they were going to come out of there in the night.

3. My first job was working in a factory, packing apples. I was 13 and so I suppose it was illegal for me to work there, but it was my father's business, and I was trying to raise money for a trip to Europe. I was invited to go with a family friend who was chaperoning her High School History students on a tour of six countries. My parents said I could go if I paid my own way. Anyway, the only thing that got me through the mind-numbing boredom of operating a bagging machine was watching the blond guy who put the boxes together. Can't remember his name, but he was very cute and listened to/sang/danced along with Huey Lewis on a walkman while he worked. Ahhh, 1983.

4. One of my favorite jobs was waitressing in college. I loved the physicality of it and the fact that I left with a wad of cash.

5. I was a complete technophobe before discovering Etsy. And while I am no expert, I have really enjoyed teaching myself how to do new things on the computer.

6. I won my High School's Poetry Prize at graduation. (maybe that explains #1)

7. I have never colored or permed my hair. Not even in the 80's. (maybe THAT explains #1)

8. I sometimes wish we were having more children. Usually, I wish this when we watch a movie about big families of grown children who come together in a giant colonial style house for a major holiday and the house is filled with chaos and love. I never wish this when I imagine being pregnant or getting up in the night with another baby.

9. I still feel ashamed about the time in college when I was editing the Features section of the school newspaper and I wrote a headline that was witty but insulting to a professor and to a visiting artist. There was no reason for running the headline other than the fact that I was in love with my little (not even very clever) witticism. Sadly for everyone involved, the editor of the paper disliked the professor, and so she ran it anyway. I never apologized, and I am sure he does not remember the incident anymore, but whenever I remember it, I consider sending him an apology.

10. I let my son watch way too much television.

Now I will tag Ginger and Eva. Have fun you two!