Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Hand Crafted Kitchen: Week 2 Aprons

The countdown to the holidays has begun! Thanksgiving is this week and Christmas follows (as usual lol) just four weeks behind.

This year I’m focusing the series in the kitchen. What says kitchen more than the Apron?
It doesn’t matter if the kitchen is indoors or out, an apron means business!

MagPie Approved: My Grandma's Hand Embroidered Apron
Hand Embroidered, My Grandmas Apron

I received a most wonderful gift from my Aunt (Dad’s sister) recently. She sent some wonderful old family photos of my grandparents, aunts and uncles and some of the grandkids (my cousins, me included) But she also included my Grandmas apron. Pristinely white with hand embroidered flowers. Tucked in with the apron were hand tatted lace edged hankies and pillow cases my Grandma had made. Lace making amazes me, it isn’t something I ever picked up. Makes me wish I had.  

Once upon a time all of our kitchens were hand made!

As much as I LOVE my Grandmas apron I would be heart broken if I stained it or tore it somehow. Off to Pinterest to find the apron patterns! I am forever dropping beads and jump rings in my studio. That means umpteen hours on my knees with a flashlight hunting down the little um buggers under the armoire and dressers i use for storage. An apron might could catch those runaway items before they could ever hit the floor!

My kiddo as you know is a potter, she needs one that covers front and back - muddy hands!

I have two patterns tucked away on my boards that fit our needs beautifully.
They can be found here: on my  Pinterest Board

If you don’t sew or just don’t have the time this year, I took a few minutes to poke around and found some wonderful Handmade Aprons available for purchase.


MagPie Approved: HandMade Holiday Week 2 Aprons
Bonnies Sew Crazy on Etsy

MagPie Approved: HandMade Holidays  Aprons
Misses Country on Etsy
MagPie Approved: HandMade Holiday Week 2 Aprons
Linen Sky on Etsy

and on Handmade @ Amazon 

MagPie Approved: HandMade Holidays  Aprons
Victoria Eggs on HandMade @Amazon
MagPie Approved: HandMade Holidays  Aprons
HardMill on Handmade @Amazon

Oh my I LOVE this apron, perfect for my studio! It’s a bit out of my budget for right now, so I’ll have to save my pennies and wait on it a little bit. 

In the meantime I’m pulling out the sewing machine…….just as soon as I find some suitable material. I haven’t quite decided, duck cloth or ticking or just a heavy cotton…… decisions decisions!

The holidays are about sharing and caring, and I’d like very much to get the word out that hand made is heart made as is the holiday season. 
SO, If you like this post, and I hope you do! Please feel free to share it! Blog about it, Tweet it, Pin it, Instagram it and give it a shout out on FaceBook. Don’t forget to come back each week for another post in this years series: The Hand Crafted Kitchen

Thanks for stoppin by!
We’ll see ya next week!

Week 1 = Home Made Vanilla Extract

Coming Soon!

Week 3 Rolling Pins and Pastry Cloths

Week 4 Mixing Spoons and Oven Push Pulls

Week 5 Mixing Bowls

Week 6 Jars and Gifts in a Jar  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hand Crafted Holidays 2015 : The Hand Crafted Kitchen

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios, Woven Ribbon Heart
A Little bit of a Woven Ribbon Heart

If home is where the heart is, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and hand crafted is heart crafted, it just makes sense that this years Hand Crafted Holiday series be a Hand Crafted Kitchen.

The countdown to the holidays has begun! Thanksgiving is in just three short weeks and Christmas follows (as usual lol) just four weeks behind.

This year I’m starting the series off with Hand Crafted Vanilla Extract. It may seem a bit early but  vanilla extract takes several weeks to make and I wanted to give you ample time should you choose to make it yourself.

If like me you love the smell and taste of real vanilla extract, you can imagine just how deliciously good a made with love batch tastes. We have a family member who makes it every year and mmmmm it’s good!

In the spirit of the holiday season I thought I’d share that home made goodness with you. 
I’ve found recipes and kits, bottling supplies, labels and ways to decorate your bottles so that they’re as unique as you are! And I’ve also found a wonderful new shop on Etsy that sells A Beautifully packaged extract that has been aged for an entire year. 

I found a recipe at Tidy Mom that looked super simple to follow: http://tidymom.net/2012/recipe-for-vanilla/

and another here: http://theimprovkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/12/worth-extra-step.html  and this one also includes Vanilla Sugar, imagine that on some Cinnamon toast, or Cinnamon Rolls! mmmhmmm 

I just got this e-mail from King Arthur Flour with a kit so you don't have to hunt down vanilla beans:

and another kit on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/listing/254560165/

If you prefer to use the recipes above and source the beans yourself, I've found some fun bottles for your finished product:

MagPie Approved: Pinterest find Apothecary Jar Supplies
Apothecary Jars
Available HERE

MagPie Approved: Etsy find Apothecary Jar Supplies
Brown Glass Jars
on Etsy

You could use the really pretty labels provided with the recipe above but I also found some really Great DIY labels over at http://www.thebudgetdecorator.com/diy-label-projects-and-free-printables/   you might like to try.

MagPie Approved: Pinterst find  DIY  Labels
DIY Labels found on
Budget Decorator
MagPie Approved: Pinterst find  DIY  Labels
DIY Labels found on
Budget Decorator

I poked around on Pinterest some more and found some great tutorials on decorating those bottles:

Step by Step Photo Tutorial
found on this BLOG

Bottles Etched Using Martha Stewart Doily Stencils

If after all of this, you'd prefer to purchase your Artisan Vanilla rather than make it I found a cute little shop on Etsy with some wonderfully packaged Vanilla.

Wind Dancer Studios: Etsy Find Artisan Vanilla
Artisan Vanilla Found on Etsy

LOVE this vintage Vanilla signage found on Etsy
While I don't have any extract in my shop I do have some Smokey Quartz 
= Jewelry with gorgeous rich and smooth vanilla extract coloring =

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios Smokey Quartz Earrings
Found in my Etsy
MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios, Smokey Quartz Earrings
Found in my Etsy

Found in my Etsy

The holidays are about sharing and caring, and I’d like very much to get the word out that hand made is heart made as is the holiday season. 

SO, If you like this post, and I hope you do! Please feel free to share it! Blog about it, Tweet it, Pin it, Instagram it and give it a shout out on FaceBook. Don’t forget to come back each week for another post in this years series: The Hand Crafted Kitchen

Thanks for stoppin by!
We'll See ya Next Week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Just Keep Swimming!

Along with all the hand made goodness that has been consuming my life for the last couple of months I’ve decided it was time to give myself the gift of a lighter smaller stronger me.

I’ve always been very hands on in the construction of our house. When we started building it was really no different, I was very hands on and adamant about being environmentally conscious with the products we used. Having a big house made it even more so important as it’s a bigger footprint to be responsible for.  I even went so far as to source standing dead timber for our logs. 

Not wanting to use any more chemicals than absolutely necessary I opted for borate treating my sill plates over the arsenic filled pressure treated lumber for the basement. This meant my personally coating each piece of lumber with borate and while I was flipping 16 foot boards so I could coat the other side I tripped over a stack of boards the builder had set behind me. I went down, now maybe I would’ve been able to save myself had I not been holding a 16 foot board but all I could think of at the time was not braining myself with it so I held on. I held on as I felt the pop, I held on as I felt the burn. I held on as I hit the stack of lumber and slid sideways to the ground. 

My knee has never been the same and every time I’ve tried to get back to the gym or start running again my knee would tell me about. I’ve always been all out and gung ho so at first I thought I just needed a little more time to heal. Then I started gaining weight and the extra weight made it ache and I’d try to get back to the gym. Creating my own special downwards spiral. The more I tried, the more it hurt, the more I didn’t try, the more it hurt.

After several false starts - if you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you might even remember reading about some of them. I finally decided I needed this to be about the long term, slow and steady. No more all in or go home. That attitude had me going home and not achieving my goals - I don’t like not achieving goals. If I was going to make this happen I needed to allow myself to go at a slower pace. But going at a slower pace meant I needed some accountability, some one to keep me on track and give me a nudge every so often.

Every night as I drift off to sleep I think of the things I am grateful for. Special blessings of the day, some ordinary, some small, some big, reminders of the many things and people who are the good in my life. Sometimes I release things to the Universe, leave it up to God’s hands if you will. On this night I decided to release it and just do but I could use a little accountability to help me along. The next morning I had an e-mail from Bill Phillips on being over 50 and getting back to the gym, a challenge and a FB group to help keep you accountable. Believe it or not I had to take a couple days to think about it! My own personal GodWink as my friend Chris would say, and “well I just don’t know”…. I asked my son if he might like to be my work out buddy, he was my best  buddy when he was 4.  He and the kiddo had been working out together in the University gym but she graduated and he didn’t want to go alone so he’d been working out in our gym in the basement and hinting he needed someone to help keep him on track too. Make that a double wink.

So! Here we are about 5 or 6 weeks in, my scale hasn’t budged much but my measurements are shrinking, my clothes are fitting looser, my face is slimmer, I have a lot more energy and I’m a lot happier. My knee only hurt until I realized, it was the wrong knee and it was all in my head - just a little psychological self sabotage, a body at rest tends to stay at rest until a greater force comes along to change that.

But, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Quoting Dori, Just keep swimming!

My 25th anniversary is coming up this next year…. I’m thinking Jamaica sounds like just the place to be for that! 

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming!

Have a great week! Thanks for stoppin’ by!
We’ll see you next time!    I think it’s just about time for our annual Hand Made Holiday Series!  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What’s on the Desk Today

Wind Dancer Studios: Captured Hearts

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post on what’s new around here and I thought it might be a good time to share.

As you know I’ve been taking new photos of those items I’m listing on Amazon and some of those photos have found their way into their sister listings on Etsy. I have to say it’s giving me little glimpses of a look I think I really like. 

Even though both shops share listings I want each storefront to have it’s own unique offerings as well. To do that I’ve had to come up with a few pieces to put exclusively on Amazon.

So far I have some skinny bangles in aluminum and copper. While I was trying to get a decent photo of one of the necklaces I offer on Etsy I thought “maybe I should just remake this one, it’s just not hanging the way I want it to.” Which is REALLY funny because I had at least 10 good photos of it by that time! Shows you just how tired I was after taking over 500 photos lol

Wind Dancer Studios: Captured Hearts

You might remember the hubs bought me a pretty good sized baggie of gemstone hearts from an estate sale some time back. Yup, I have THE best hubs ever! He buys some really fun tools for me too!! I’ve since transferred all those hearts from the baggie to a mason jar tied with a ribbon which sits on my desk just as pretty as can be. I caught those hearts out of the corner of my eye and knew they were just the thing for a remake so I grabbed my jar…….. a hammer, my torch, and a dapping block……

Wind Dancer Studios: Captured Hearts

Wind Dancer Studios: Captured Hearts

….. and I made these! The fun thing is I can keep making these until I run out of hearts in the jar and I get a really cute necklace for my HandMade Shop on Amazon and if you want, you can even pick your heart!

I’m really happy with my Caged Hearts and you’ll be able to find them exclusively on Amazon just as soon as I get them listed.

Thanks for stopping by!

We’ll see you next time!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creating Cohesion From Chaos

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios, Copper Butterfly
Copper Butterfly available in my Etsy

I’ve been working on creating cohesion in my shop for some time now. It’s a process, no doubt about it. I knew I could use a little help not just in defining what I wanted that to mean but in keeping that cohesion once I found it. We all ooh and ah over the next greatest everything, and while I don’t necessarily chase each and every butterfly that flits by, I do meander along in complete awe on occasion.

Last Winter/Spring I joined in on B’Sues Build a Line Master Class. It was three months of Master Minding, research, defining and creating. I found that thing that I do no matter what I make, I found the well spring of my inspiration and was able to finally put my thumb on what I needed to bring cohesion.

The last couple of weeks everything I’ve sold on Amazon, I created during my Build a Line participation. I resisted some of the ideas Brenda had presented to us and Amazon insisted on them. Once I implemented them I started making sales first day. I respect Brenda’s knowledge, she’s very laid back in her methodology, she’s quirky and bubbly, but don’t let that fool you. She knows what it takes.

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios, Vintage Style Brooch
Brooch available in my Etsy

I made a brooch during that time, cute little thing. Brooches are making a comeback, so far so good, I like being ahead of the trend. Then the other day Brenda says “the key to selling brooches is to have matching earrings”  ……what? Runs into studio, tinkers……. tadaaa!  Earrings to make a nice set with the brooch!  

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios, Vintage Style Brooch w. Earring Set
Brooch w/Matching Earrings

Brenda is offering the class again this coming year, if you’re looking for that little something and would enjoy a Master Mind group I can recommend this one.  Build A Line Master Class

While we’re at it. I’ve mentioned before I was a Business Management major in college, and I’ve looked at the different coaching programs around the web, then I realized they were all telling me to do what I already knew. I know I also told you about Marie Forleo at the time but this feels like a good time to remind you she has great marketing and business advice.  You can find her here and on You Tube.

One last business resource courtesy of Brenda’s business board on Pinterest. Debbie of Work Your Art has an email checklist she sends out - her site says weekly but I only seem to get them every other week. It’s ok valuable stuff anyway, I like the blog and the to do lists they’re great reminders to keep working.

Now I’m off to take MORE photos, yup I’m getting more of those pieces I had planned for Amazon puled together and am also trying to get a more cohesive look for the shop on Etsy, there’s that word again!

Thanks for stoppin by!

We’ll see you next time!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Goings On....

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios,  Copper Rose

I’ve been hinting at lots of things keeping my attention away from blogging and making. I’ll admit it one too many things in the air and something is bound to get dropped, I know my limits and while I do push them they always push back lol So today, I’ll tell you about a couple of those wonderful things that have been perking around and about.

One: College finances have had me running in circles. My youngest is about to graduate, he’s been on scholarship this whole time but one of the rules to his scholarship is you apply for a Pell grant. They want to be sure you have every financial opportunity to help you succeed. This year the rules have changed a little bit on the University side of things, they want a whole lot more paperwork and we’ve had to jump through hoops as we’re self employed and just don’t have the paper work they’re asking for. I have provided all the alternatives necessary but it’s a pain to have to go round and round (especially when it’s ALL on file already) and it’s just emotionally draining and pretty stressful when they start talking about making him drop because the paperwork isn’t in order. But, he’s graduating this year! woo! I'm so Proud of the kid! He’s worked very hard for this.

MagPie Approved: the kiddo Rtistic Impressions on Etsy Paige Hickey Pottery
Paige's Pottery She's on Etsy too HERE

Two the kiddo, my middle, graduated last school year, has finally gotten her kilns (yes TWO of them!) and has been ordering all the goodies she needs to get up and running. We have boxes everywhere right now, it almost looks like Christmas has come and gone! I’m excited for her, she’s been a little down, not being able to play in the mud but her face is becoming full of happy again and that makes me very happy! — first firing delayed there’s a problem with the plunger that turns the kiln on/off and the second kiln has the wrong plug, both fixable just means a few more days until her first firing, and she has boxes of clay calling her name. 

Three, The Artisan Group. I joined nearly a year ago. I’ve sat back and watched how things were done. Felt overwhelmed at times, felt so not ready at others and I have learned quite a bit. Enough so that I  took the plunge and sent some things in to stylists for Bones and Mariah Carey’s newest movie project. I have no idea at this point if either will use what I sent, but it’s very exciting for me to even be considered.

Four Amazon! I’m thrilled to announce HandMade at Amazon is now Live! You’ll now be able to find me there as well as on Etsy. This has thrilled and scared me simultaneously and so far it’s a been very very good thing!  I’ve been contemplating Amazon for quite some time now, I’m thrilled they’ve opened Hand Made and that I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve made several sales already and I gotta say I’m really enjoying that! I get the feeling this is just the tip of the ice burg….. lots of good things coming!    My Shop:  Wind Dancer Studios

It is by no means finished, I’ve taken over 400 photos, edited most of them and have only managed to list a handful of items. But, now I want to overhaul my Etsy too. After 400 clean no prop photos, my Etsy storefront feels….. cluttered. So my mission is to continue loading Amazon with pretties I think will do well there and now freshening the look on Etsy. Eventually I think I may want them to be unified in look and that may keep me busy for quite some time! 

And now that we're mid-way through October I really need to get my mind wrapped around the upcoming holidays.  Pull together some wonderful handmade goodness to share with you.  I've been sharing my inspirations lately, I think holiday gifting ideas will blend nicely. I hope you've had a chance to see all those gorgeous photos I've been sharing on my FaceBook page if you haven't, why not? lol 

So that's just some of what's been going on around here, never a dull moment it seems. 

Thanks for stoppin by!
We'll see you next time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

of Photography and Neutral Backgrounds

MagPie Approved: the art of Juggling and Keeping it all up in the Air
MultiTasking the To Do List

With the pending launch of Amazon’s Handmade I’ve  been up to my ears in retaking photos for those pieces I intend to offer.  My camera died just in time for Amazon to give the thumbs up for setting up shop.  The kiddo as you know graduated Fine Arts with a focus in ceramics, but she started out a photo journalism major. The kid has a camera! Kiddo to the rescue, this is no point and shoot and I have zero familiarity wth it. She set it up for me, showed me how to manually focus and was gone. Some 200+ pics later the battery needed recharging and that leaves me time to write this, and descriptions and SKU’s and sort through possible posts for my FB page— multitasking getting just a little bit of everything done all at once lol

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios Green Dangles, Amazon Handmade
Long Green Dangles

Amazon has asked for white to neutral backgrounds no props. Neutral no props is not a problem, I’ve got antique linens, burlap and hand thrown pottery (kiddo again!) that serves quite nicely. 

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios Copper Bangles, Amazon Handmade
Wind Dancer Studios: Copper Bangles

White however, takes quite a bit more work. I’ve got a poster board that makes for a great back ground but it has a slightly reflective surface and a purple shirt during the photo shoot makes a pretty water color effect but…. I’m looking for a uniform white.

I managed the sliders well enough to get some of the photos to cooperate when Marica mentioned Foto Fuse. As we discussed it I realized  it works much the same way as PS Elements does using the magic selection tool and a paint bucket. 

MagPie Approved: Wind Dancer Studios Black Dangles, comparison editors
Photo Editor Comparisons

In the true form of an artist facing pending deadlines I researched all three methods for the better part of an afternoon. The kiddo observing this and now has a healthier self esteem - Mom does it too! lol  Here’s what I found:

I’m on a Mac Book, iPhoto was the photo software installed for many years, the newest updates are Photos minus i. It brought back some of the functionality that was lost along the way and just takes a little play time to figure out what each slider does and doesn’t do.

If you take the time you can create a very natural white background with soft shadows and a hint of reflection.

PS Elements,  I’m still running 9, is much the same however shortcuts and time savers were what I was hoping for so I elected to use the magic wand to select the jewelry then a paint bucket of white to douse the background. That worked great! Only problem is it’s fairly resource intensive and tends to unexpectedly quit after just two or three photos. There is a tool that works just like Foto Fuse for deleting backgrounds, I just couldn’t remember what to click to get to it.

Foto Fuse allows you to upload a pic, or import it from Etsy (spent a little time playing with that feature too!), hi light the area to be saved and deletes the background. With a little adjusting of brush sizes this works very nicely. Sometimes it looks a little unnatural but overall it’s the fastest method and is a good alternative when facing a time crunch.

I’m using a combination of the two. If I can get a natural white with Photos I’m good, but if it still has a hint of cast to it off to Foto Fuse it goes. I do actually like the water color effect so I’ve kept a copy of those as a secondary photo.

As for the product in use for size reference photos - the kiddo has stalled in her promised life size portrait for me….. she doesn’t like the size of her mouth, the one she drew. So I’ll wait until she does.

I’m off to write descriptions, create SKU’s and maybe make a few things as the battery is still charging. 

Have a great day!
Thanks so much for stoppin by!

We’ll see you next time!