Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

Hope you all have an enjoyable day with friends and family! Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sharon Foster Art

I am somewhat obsessed with zinnias, and grow them in my garden every summer just so I can take pictures of them. So when I visited Sharon Foster's Etsy site recently, of course I had to get this original watercolor. And of course I had to get a few other zinnias, too, because they were just gorgeous.

She has lots of holiday items up right now which would make great gifts, and lots of cards (as well as my favorite florals). She also has some items which benefit AWBAR - Abandoned Wild Babies Animal Rescue - and Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary in Caledonia, MS.

The items I ordered are listed as "ACEO", which stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. They are always 2.5 by 3.5 inches, so they're tiny pieces of art about the size of a baseball card. I received my order a while ago, and while I was originally going to gift them, I am not sure I can stick to that plan. Winters here in Maine are interminable, and though the leaves have only been gone for about a month, I already feel starved for color and light. Quite simply, these little bursts of green and pink and yellow make me happy. So I may need to go back to Sharon Foster Art for more gifts. I'm keeping these for myself.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holy Cow! I mean, Sheep!

Last weekend I went to my first craft fair. I'm not sure how this particular fair has been in previous years, but this year, for us, it was pretty slow. Actually, it was very slow. The people were great, and it was very well-organized, but it was rainy and cold and maybe that discouraged people. It was a great learning experience for me to set up a table with my products (take a look at the photo below). I might even think about doing this again sometime.

By far the best part of the day was meeting the folks at the table next to us. Suzy Seames-Young is a primitive folk artist, and she and her husband had brought an extraordinary collection of her ornaments, dolls, and sculptures.

And did I mention the sheep?

I grew up on a little farm and have always been fond of lambs, so imagine how long I sat at my table looking at her adorable hand stitched lambs with their black wool faces and legs, and hand needle felted Coopsworth wool bodies? Yeah, this photo here is the little lamb I brought home with me. You can get your own at The Farmhouse Pantry.

I imagine if I did craft fairs I'd have to get better at not spending all of my money at other people's tables, but I've been talking about supporting other small business owners, haven't I? And I didn't want to seem like a hypocrite. If you think this was my only purchase at the craft fair, you are dead wrong. There were lots of great craftspeople there, with lots of interesting products, and I think I showed amazing restraint. Seriously.

Have any of you visited a craft fair in recent weeks? Or do you have a favorite local store you like to support? How do you help small businesses? Please let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Newsletter is Online

Our holiday newsletter went out today, with info about our reduced shipping/handling costs, free gifts with holiday orders, and a coupon for 10% off. If you'd like to start receiving info like this, please sign up for the mailing list. I usually send out a mailing every 4-6 weeks, so you will not be inundated, I promise!

If you'd rather just check it out when you feel like it, it's posted at our site along with all of our other newsletters. Check out our newsletter archive, and here's the latest with the specials and coupons and free stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Support Small Businesses: Craft Fairs

It's been so long since I've blogged, and I'm blaming it on the craft fairs. I'm still so swamped I can't write a REAL post, but I wanted to share a few details of some upcoming fairs that might interest you.

First of all, I am doing my very first craft fair this weekend. This is part of the reason I've been out of the loop. It's the Monmouth Friends Team Craft Fair, 96 Academy Road, Monmouth, ME. Stop by between 9 and 3 and say hi! Here's a map, if you're interested.

A friend and neighbor, owner of Casey's Crafts, is also doing this show...see the photo for an example of her hand painted work. I will be giving away some of these gingerbread ornaments to customers in the coming weeks. Details will be coming next week, so if you haven't joined our mailing list, you may want to.

If you are not near Monmouth, Maine, you'll still have a chance to see some of the Caseys' work. They will be at The Christmas Sampler on Thanksgiving weekend, at the ESE Better Living Center in West Springfield, MA. The Caseys' work is really wonderful--all hand made and hand painted with no airbrushing and no lead paint. (And for those of you who find this and are wondering: no, they don't have a web site yet, but I'm encouraging them, too! :0)

If you've been reading my blog, you've seen me rave about Dungaree Dolly's bags. Well, Dolly can be found at the 13th Annual Women's Gifts Arts, Music and Craft Sale this Saturday, November 15th from 10 am-5 pm. Check out her cool bags and gift sets at Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware, Buffalo NY.

I am convinced that supporting local artists, craftspeople, and businesses is something we ALL can do to help our economy! So find a local craft fair this weekend and go buy some hand made goodies!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sharing what you know, Vol. 2

Last week I wrote a post about the importance of sharing what you know. I've gotten several comments, both online and in private, for which I'm grateful. The point of this is to have a conversation, after all, and I hope that you'll join in with your own thoughts!

One person asked me why all of the examples of "teachers" in my post were men. That really struck me because I didn't think it was true. At first glance, I admit, it appears that way: my dad, the fisherman, my brother-in-law, of course all of them are clearly men. But I also mentioned my Twitter community, and they are overwhelmingly women. Of course you wouldn't know that unless you checked out who I'm following on Twitter. So I decided to tell you about a few of the fabulous women AND men I follow and why I think their tweets (and blogs and sites) are worth sharing.

• A business and lifestyle expert, Donna Maria Coles Johnson is the go-to guru for balancing work and home life. The founder of the Indie Beauty Network (to which I belong), her blog connects the personal with the professional, providing lessons from everyday life to help small business owners. Her tweets are timely: @indiebusiness

Jessica Knows Something You Need To Know—It's what the site says, and it's absolutely true, so bookmark it right now! Today is day seven of Jessica Smith's 15 Days of Marketing; click to start at day one and be amazed. Follow her at Twitter: @JessicaKnows

• Kayla Fioravanti from Essential Wholesale, formulators of hundreds of natural and organic cosmetic bases, writes a blog with the motto: Learn it, Live it, Pass it on! Always an inspiration...don't forget to follow her tweets at @essentialU

• If you've ever considered starting a web-based business, you must sign up for the E-Commerce Diva's newsletter. Jamila White is the E-Commerce Diva, and her newsletter offers tips to increase web sales. She also has an archive of free e-commerce articles at her site. Jamila's tweets are educational and entertaining, and you can follow her at @EcommerceDiva

• For those of you crafty people out there who are interested in making your own Christmas gifts, take a look at The Soap Queen's blog and see all of her tutorials for soaps, scrubs, salts and other gift ideas. Then visit her site at Bramble Berry for all the materials you'll need for your projects. You can follow The Soap Queen (Anne-Marie Faiola) at Twitter: @brambleberry

• Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is the brainchild of Peter Shankman, CEO, author, speaker, and grand-scale-connector-of-people. If you know anything about anything and want to offer that expertise to the media, check out HARO. And follow Peter Shankman's tweets at: @skydiver

• For crazy good content about writing online, for bloggers, e-tailers, and anyone who uses social media of any kind, Brian Clark's Copyblogger is the best. Period. Read it, learn it, and follow his tweets here: @copyblogger

• Ever have questions about how to use social media to accomplish particular goals? Ever wonder just how generous one person can be with their knowledge and insight? Visit Chris Brogan for lots of information, tips, and advice, and follow his tweets: @chrisbrogan

All of these people offer tremendous amounts of information and services every day at their sites, blogs, and on Twitter, and lots of it is given freely, just to help people out. This is by no means an exhaustive list of teachers, though, so please offer your own examples in the comments below!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Support Small Businesses

If you've been watching a lot of news lately about the economy, you might think all hope is lost. In the past month the stock market has tumbled, then recovered a bit, only to nosedive again. And again. It's kind of like a yo-yo, only with our financial future attached to the string.

In this same month, I also made a decision. I can worry about where I'll be in a year or five or ten, or I can focus on the things that I can do, both as a consumer and a business owner, to help improve the economy. One of the things I'm trying to do—and I'm encouraging everyone to do—is to support small businesses.

Here's where I make the necessary confession: yes, I own a small business; of course, I'd love to have more support! But I'm not just talking about myself. There are more than 27 million small businesses in the U.S. Did you know that according to recent statistics, about half of private sector employees work for small businesses; more than 45% of private payroll is paid by small businesses; and 60-80% of net new jobs over the past decade have been generated by small businesses?

What those stats tell me is that even though the focus has been squarely on Wall Street in recent weeks, we have to remember that our economy also depends on small, privately owned businesses. We have to remember that more than 75% of those small businesses are single-person businesses, many of them women, and that many of the remaining 25% have fewer than 20 employees. What this means to me is that a dollar spent with these businesses goes to a person, a small group of people, and ultimately a community, rather than a faceless corporation. And I dig that!

In the coming days, I'm going to show you what I'm doing as a business to work with and support other small businesses. (The photo is a teaser—one of our Limited Edition Holiday Gift Sets—and yes, that IS a Dolly bag!) I'm also going to share all of my favorite places to shop with small businesses so you can do it, too! Please share your comments to let us all know what you think of small businesses, and share your favorite places to shop with them!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Turkey Trot

The Flavor of the Month for November is Turkey Trot. You can make this holiday punch from:

2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups 7-Up® soda
1 cup Wild Turkey® bourbon whiskey

Or you can pick up our non-alcoholic version, a red lip balm with cranberry-citrus flavors. Gobble 'em up while they last!


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