Saturday, February 28, 2009

i'm a published photographer!...sort of

A couple of years ago, my husband and I had been discussing where to go for our vacation and I begged to go to London, England, which has been a long-time dream of mine. My husband didn't really care either way, but after a week in the historical city, he was as hooked as me.

We took many, MANY photos while there and I posted only about 5-6 of them to my Flickr account. Imagine my surprise when the Managing Editor of Schmap Guides contacted me to let me know that one of my photos, of Hampton Court Palace, had been short-listed for the London Schmap, 6th Edition!

Well, today I found out that my photo made it in! Check it out (Stephanie Caruso - that's me!!!)

(click on the photo for a larger, and better, view)

Ok, so when you get to the Hampton Court page, you actually have to scroll through a few of the photos before hitting mine, but it's still kind of cool for them to have found me when I had never heard of Schmaps before! Or, if you let it go, but stay on Hampton Court, it automatically scrolls through the photos, so mine pops up.

So, what is Schmap?

Schmap provides digital travel guides for 200 destinations throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More than 90 million Schmap Guides have been downloaded since March 2006! You can browse the maps online, and also on the iPhone and Nokia products.

Schmap has been praised by TIME, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PC World, CNET News, Lifehacker and TechCrunch.

Hmmm...maybe it's time I posted more travel photos to my Flickr account!

Want to see the full Hampton Court page? Click here.

Visit schmaps at

Check out my Flickr page.

Friday, February 27, 2009

i know everyone says it, but i really mean it!

Thank Goodness It's Friday!!!

I'm especially looking forward to this weekend because it's a longer one. Because I had one lonely vacation day left over from last year and my company abides by the "use it or lose it" policy, I had until March 31 to take that one single day. So I randomly chose a Monday in March and it's this weekend!

I plan on doing NOTHING!

No, seriously, I'll probably be doing lots, just un-fun, but necessary things like grocery shopping, laundry, dinner with the in-laws (wait, did I say that out loud?) and other various chores.

Hopefully I'll be able to "ambition" myself (don't you love turning random words into verbs?) into working on Etsy shop for at least a couple of hours each day (and by working, I mean creating, not just hanging out in the forums).

What do you have planned for this weekend?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

in the cafe spotlight: lilesj

Featured Etsian: lilesj
Shop link:

Dancing Pearls Earrings (by lilesj)

Give us the basics:

Liv'nGood Jewelry at in central NC. I combine chainmaille, silversmithing, and wire wrapping with semi-precious stones to create hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry.

What’s your favourite smell?
ooohhh that's a tough one - chocolate, lavender, gardenia, garlic bread - but not all together of course!

How long have you been doing your craft?
I'm pretty new. I took my first basic beading class in 2007 (the day after Thanksgiving in fact). From there I got a few beading magazines and in the back found and add for a chainmaille kit. Once that one arrived I knew I was hooked.

Midnight Dogwood Necklace (by lilesj)

What do you like least about your craft?
The HUGE amount of competition. Not from other artisans so much, but it's very hard to battle the "you want how much for earrings? I could get those at wal mart for 4 bucks" mentality.

What’s a normal day for you?
I still have a day job that pays the bills, so it's get up, go to work for 8, then back home. I usually carve out about an hour after dinner to work on some aspect of the business.

What advice would you give Etsy sellers just starting out?
Have patience, and do your own marketing. Etsy is a great place to sell, but it's definitely not "build it and they will come". You have to promote yourself and bring your own customers in - then anyone who finds you some other way is just gravy.

How do you discover new things on Etsy?
Treasuries definitely. I cruise through, looking for little yellow stars, about every other day. Then I check out the ones that haven't gotten much attention or comments and try to spread the love. I figure the ones that are already hot don't need my help.

Waterfall Earrings (by lilesj)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

trying out new things...

So I've filled my shop with buttons, bobby pins, ponytail ties and rings...what's next? Always on the lookout to create even more things, I'm in the process of adding even more goodies to pandacub's line of accessories!

Coming soon are button cufflink and button earrings (just waiting on some supplies), but this past weekend I introduced button brooches/pinbacks and non-button necklaces and earrings!

Now, the jewellery is a bit of a curveball, since, up until now, my shop has only been selling button-related accessories. To understand the jewellery thing, I'll have to take you back...waaay back.

I've always been obsessed with beads (am I part magpie?) since I was a child. I just can't resist them - shiny, colourful, a few years ago I finally decided to put my obsession (and growing bead collection) to good use and started making my own jewellery. Next thing I knew, I had lots of pretty necklaces and earrings and not enough time to wear it all. I started giving some away as gifts, but also toyed with the idea of selling them

A couple of years ago, when I first discovered Etsy, I opened up my first shop, blue pebble, and started selling my jewellery. I sold a few pieces, but just didn't have the time to fully devote myself to the amount of work that went into a successful business. So I took a break.

Then I fell in love with my little fabric buttons and a new obsession (with fabric) was born.

Last month, though, I glanced longingly at my racks and racks of beads and findings and half-finished necklaces and decided that I just couldn't let that part of me go. My wonderful sister, suziesaurus, who's my semi-business partner, encouraged me to start selling non-button goodies on pandacub as well, so here we are!

I'm a little weary about branching out, as I know many veteran Etsians preach "find your specialty, stick to it", but to me, it's still all about creating fun and affordable accessories to make every day life a little more sweet, whether it's button-related or not - I hope you agree!

Friday, February 13, 2009

in the cafe spotlight: blinkingmouse

Featured Etsian: blinkingmouse
Shop link:

Ask for the Stars Bracelet (by blinkingmouse)

Give us the basics:

My Etsy shop is called ‘Pretty Little Love Objects’ and can be found at I make individual, original pieces of jewellery that people can buy and treasure for many years. My mission is to put the romance back into gift giving (even if you’re just giving a little treat to yourself) so all my jewellery follows imaginative designs and uses quality supplies so that anyone receiving a Pretty Little Love Object gets a happy little gift getting moment in their day. I also make some paper items like cards, bookmarks and I even have a fancy dress mask up at the moment.

What’s your favourite smell?
I love strong scents like tobacco flower perfume but I also love lighter smells like jasmine (I’m a Body Shop perfume kind of girl).

How long have you been doing your craft?
I’ve been making jewellery in some form for about 5 years now but I’ve only been selling seriously for about a year. I started out making my own stretch bracelets in college, then moved on to making fun presents for friends and family when money was running short before realizing that I needed to make all year round because I had so many ideas.

Who/What inspires you in your craft?
I love fashion magazines photo shoots so I look in magazines like Marie Claire and Glamour to spot fun trends. I also read a massive amount of bead magazines like Bead Style and Bead and Button which leads you down the wayward path of buying more supplies. I never run short of ideas, just time.

Eat Cake, Live Happy Three Card Set (by blinkingmouse)

What do you like least about your craft?
Crimp findings! Whoever invented those little jewellery endings that need you to hold cord or ribbon in place while keeping your fingers out of the way of crimping pliers is the devil.

What advice would you give Etsy sellers just starting out?
Although I’ve been going for a year now when you look at my sales you can see that I’m still really just starting out. I’d advise that you don’t give up, small businesses take a while to grow. Take every decent, free marketing opportunity offered to you and try to think of your own marketing initiatives as they’ll be more in your control.

How do you discover new things on Etsy?
I love the front page treasury spot as it lets you find new artists really easily, I’ve bought a lot of spontaneous presents from people who were featured on the front page. If I’m looking for something specific I’ll try to use the search function but as we all know that can throw up a lot of unrelated craft so I mostly use the search feature when looking for supplies.

Everybody Loves A Sailor Earrings (by blinkingmouse)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

rushing the seasons...

I know, I know, it's only early February, but I'm done with winter and I'm ready for spring and summer! Where are you, my favourite seasons?

Perhaps it was this fabric and these cute little ponytail elastics (available in my pandacub shop) that have my mind on spring already:

Monday, February 9, 2009

in the cafe spotlight: herebirdiebirdie

Featured Etsian: herebirdiebirdie
Shop link:

Give us the basics:

My shop is here, birdie birdie. I'm based in Tacoma, WA, and I make one of a kind bags and cases from upcycled and repurposed fabric.

What’s your favourite smell?
I don't think I can pick one favorite smell! I love aloeswood incense, Virginia cedarwood, and the nicotiana flowers and nasturtium foliage in my garden.

How long have you been doing your craft?
I've been sewing for over 15 years now. I taught myself to sew making clothes for my doll when I was 8. (They were awful. But I still have them.) I started sewing bags about two years ago.

Who/What inspires you in your craft?
A lot of my inspiration comes from the fabric; I use these garments and pieces of fabric that have so much character. I also like to see what other people are doing with textiles in clothing and home dec, how they're combining prints and colors, how shapes and textures are combined in dishes and other objects.

What do you like least about your craft?
I have to buckle down and focus on one or two types of things to make! I found out it's better for my shop if I make things like bag sizes uniform and don't branch out too wildly with embellishments or shapes. In my ideal world (you know, the one in my head) I'd be sewing a zillion different kinds of things, painting, decoupaging, but in reality I have to put my nose to the grindstone and limit myself.

What’s a normal day for you?
Oh, truly boring. I parent two kids, one of whom is still at home all day, try to get breakfast and lunch on the table, walk my huge black Lab to pick up the older kid from school in the afternoon, hug and kiss my partner when he gets home in the evening, try to get dinner on the table, help round both kids into bed, feed four yowling cats and the Lab, and then put on my iPod and sew madly for a few hours. Sometimes, somehow, I find time to do a little housework, take care of my garden and make things that aren't for my shop.

What advice would you give Etsy sellers just starting out?
Well, I'm just starting out myself, but it seems to me like a lot of people have something they enjoy doing and imagine Etsy is a way to magically make money doing that thing the same way they always have. I think these are very rarely the successful sellers. I think if you want to actually make sales you have to study what sells well, and adjust your product accordingly -- and plan on setting aside and investing time and energy just for your shop on a regular basis.

How do you discover new things on Etsy?
I like to search for things that usually pique my interest: "bird" in the Vintage category is always dangerous and so is "vase" in Pottery and Ceramics. I click people's avatars in the forums, I notice people who like to swap and sometimes I follow the other favorites of people who hearted me. I found the most awesome metalworker recently by doing that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

50 books in 2009 - update 2

Here's update 2 for my "50 books in 2009" goal.

If you have any favourite books that you think I might enjoy, please leave me a comment or send me an email! I'd love to hear some of your book suggestions as I'm always look for something good to read!

1. I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles, finished Jan. 18
2. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, finished Jan. 27
3. Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie, finished Jan. 30

Monday, February 2, 2009

pandacub's panda cubs

I finally got my hands on some adorable panda cub fabric that I've been wanting forEVER. I got both pink and blue and I couldn't wait to create with them! I bought this fabric from Etsy seller, MyHeartandSew.

Of course, I had a good giggle as I looked at the cute little panda bears. The one that made me laugh out loud was this one - it's mooning me!

So, anyhow, here's the first thing I made with this new fabric. Some adorable blue pontail elastics! Like it? Check out these and other accessories I've made with this great fabric in my pandacub shop.

in the cafe spotlight: pennydogaccessories

Featured Etsian: pennydogaccessoriesjenngee
Shop link:

Recycled chain resin bubble ring (by pennydogaccessories)

Give us the basics:

My name is Kerry and I live in Leicestershire in the UK. My Etsy shop is pennydogaccessories, focusing on unusual resin jewellery, and a few seller supplies and acrylic bits and pieces thrown in. It's mainly resin stuff though!

What’s your favourite smell?
Fresh paint, it's clean and I like it. It's a whole lot better than the smell of resin!

How long have you been doing your craft?
Only about a year, but I am serious about it, so much so I am writing a book as well as magazine articles here in the UK.

Who/What inspires you in your craft?
Everything! I took my dog for a walk in the park this morning and picked up feathers, fallen leaves and sycamore seeds, all with the intention of embedding them later!

Red jasper or coral effect resin hoop earrings (by pennydogaccessories)

What do you like least about your craft?
The fumes. I craft in a separate room, but the smell often spreads throughout the house. It's a bit of a health risk.

What’s a normal day for you?
I get up at 6.45am, check my e-mails for sales, do a bit of moderating on and get ready for work. In my "real" job I work in marketing and design. I get to work at 8.30am and I am there until 5pm. I get home, walk the dog and do a bit of promoting, chatting on the Etsy forums, a bit more moderaing and a bit of making. I'll do some housework and cook a meal if the time hasn't escaped me. Then I'll go to bed at about 10.30pm. On a weekend I'll make a lot more, and I try and list something every other day.

How do you discover new things on Etsy?
I have recently taken to Pounce, though I love the search facility and the treasuries.

Refreshing citrus fruit mix resin pendant on 16 inch chain (by pennydogaccessories)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

my goals for 2009 - update 1

So, back in early January, I made some goals for myself for the year - and I thought it would be fun to see every month how I'm doing with each goal. Here's my first update!

Ok, first the more vague ones, like:
* cook more often and try new recipes (oh, and eat healthier too) - so far I have baked more this year than I did all of last year
* keep building my Etsy shop, pandacub - working on it
* spend more time with friends and family - having a great time doing this one!
* continued supporting the craft/handmade movement - definitely have been doing this

Alright, now the ones I can actually keep track of:
* read 50 books this year - finished 3 so far
* buy a house
* blog at least once a week - keeping up with this one so far!
* hit 250 sales by the end of the year (starting off 2009 with 59 sales) - up at 75
* get rid of all my old magazines by scanning and keeping only the useful articles

I'm hoping to add a few more goals to the list, but haven't been inspired to do acutally commit to anything else yet.

How about you? How have your resolutions or goals been coming along? Or do you have any suggestions for me? LOL.