Blog Business

Countdown to 2015

Wow. They say time flies when you are having fun so I must have had a blast this past year. I did have a blast. It was a great year full of new people, new experiences, and lots of new stuff going on. Thank you for sharing 2014 with me.

creativelive with Tara swiger marketing for crafters class july 2014
Something new I did in 2014

I make resolutions every year. Some resolutions, I make every year, like “I resolve to wake up earlier”. That one is pretty hit or miss. But I will resolve again this year to wake up earlier. I will never give up on that dream. Some of my resolutions were resolved. Did I use that right? IDK. I resolved to make a beaded snake and enter it into the Fair, and I totally did that. Bonus: I won 2nd place in my division. Boom. I also resolved to join a Fantasy Football League and I did. I came in 4th out of 6, but I was fine with that. Next year, I will do even better. I resolved to have a tweet read on live TV, preferably on “Dancing With The Stars”. That did not happen, mainly because DWTS is live on the East Coast and I would have to watch it on my computer at 6pm Pacific Time, and so, obviously. However, my name was read multiple times live on CreativeLive, by hosts and by a couple of instructors, so that trumps a tweet on DWTS in my book.

creativelive with Tara swiger
Jane and I are looking cute and ready to rock


Stuff that was not on my list of resolutions included attending a CL class, being briefly interviewed live on a CL class, and taking a trip to San Francisco all by myself. But I did all of those things. I did not resolve to join a community of creative cohorts who have changed my life in so many ways, all for the better. That totally happened though.

take a chance
totally nailed this

Wednesday is New Year’s Eve and Greg and I will celebrate in Death Valley. We will probably raise a glass of tawny port and toast to the New Year at midnight Eastern Time, because we are old and like to go to bed early. On New Years Day, we will eat our traditional dinner of black-eyed peas and greens for good luck. And we will make our resolutions for the new year, so stay tuned for that. Be safe everyone. xo


After a long day in class
Life is good…


PS: Right now though you can get my ultra cool planner

the Red Scorpio Goal-fulfillment System

(or R.S.G.S) in my Etsy shop.





Cards and Candy and Retrospection

So, I googled retrospection to be sure it was a word and thought I found something called retrospection syndrome. Upon looking more closely I realized it said retrospection synonym, which proves I am on WebMD too much. This is my last new post of the year. Happy Holidays, everyone and thanks for all of your kind words of support this past year. You guys make it fun.


It’s Tuesday, December 23rd and I haven’t made my cards yet, but no big deal. It’s only 1pm and I don’t have much else to do today. Just the way I like it.


I used to, a long time ago when I was first married, make a huge deal about Christmas. Or rather, the BS attached to Christmas. Lots of decorating, buying gifts for everyone, and wrapping them up all fancy, curling the ribbon and all of that.  Every year I would get super stressed out and having kids made it worse. One year, Greg said something to me that changed my life. Like every bit of it. I will paraphrase now since he said it so long ago I don’t remember it word for word. But he basically said that I worked so hard to make Christmas ‘perfect’ that I was pretty much ruining it for myself, and a little bit for him since he had to watch me run myself ragged and be miserable.


It's a Tree!
It’s a Tree!



Light bulbs. Skies parting. Yes, focus on the important part and everything will be perfect. Nobody remembers how the gifts are wrapped. I don’t even wrap gifts anymore, I just bag them. Wrapping is a waste of my time, energy & resources. I am not saying that you are wasting your time if you love wrapping gifts. I am saying you are wasting time if you are doing something you hate because that’s what you’ve always done, or that’s what everyone else does. Just make your favorite part the very best you can. Applicable in all situations.


The stockings were hung...
The stockings were hung…


We still have deep held traditions in our household. We decorate a tree because I love doing that. I retell the stories of our special ornaments, like the Hickory Farms ornament. The kids make fun of me for using the same candy canes year after year & we joke about how many years it’s been. We hang the stockings that my Mom made for each of us. And we make candy.


"For Julian's first Christmas, we were so poor that we had no money after Christmas until payday, so all we had to eat for 3 days was sausage and cheese from Hickory farms and a popcorn tin."
“For Julian’s first Christmas, we were quite poor and had no money after Christmas until payday, so all we had to eat for 3 days was leftovers, sausage and cheese from a Hickory Farms gift pack and a popcorn tin.”


One of my most prized possessions is a cookbook given to me by my Mom when I moved out on my own, “The Doubleday Cookbook”. This is the best cookbook ever and the only one I ever use. It tells you how to cook everything from abalone to zucchini. It has a recipe for every kind of cookie in the known world. And it tells you how to prepare squirrel. Enough said. This book is literally a family heirloom. In fact, when my daughter got serious with her previous boyfriend, I sought one out on eBay so that I could pass my copy down to her as a wedding gift and still have one of my own. I might give her the eBay one though. She is not careful with her things.


The Cookbook
The Cookbook


So every year, the four of us get together and make candy. They still live at my house, but it is no easy feat getting all of us together. And they get to hear the story of how I tried to make peanut brittle using the family cookbook when I was about 10 and how I burned the shit out of myself because boiling sugar is super dangerous and kids shouldn’t make candy on their own. I was a latchkey kid.


Best. Candy. Ever.
Best. Candy. Ever.


We used to make cards too, when the kids were younger, usually potato stamped cards. I don’t send cards anymore, but I do make special cards for my parents and Grandpa. It’s 2:30 now, so I should really get on that.


Happy Holidays, everyone! Enjoy them in your favorite way.




Blog Business

Your Business Needs These 4 Things to Be Successful

Cool headline right? I learned that from the internets. But you should still read this post, because your business really does need these four things.



I recently watched a series taught by Kari Chapin for CreativeLive called “Jump Start Your Handmade Business“. Kari presented four segments, one for jewelry businesses, one for beauty products, one for paper goods and one for sewing businesses. For each class, Kari listed some important things that one needs to start a business, such as supplies and skills, but Kari listed the common necessity for all businesses was courage.



Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!


You must have courage to start a business. Because it is hella scary. There are so many things to be scared of. Failure. Success. People being mean to you. People ripping off your ideas. You must be prepared to get roughed up a bit.


I had to redo the one of the boys 3 times


Another thing that I feel is vital to success is stamina. There are going to be lots of days where you feel like you cannot do one more thing. I have been so busy lately with holiday orders, and some afternoons I feel like I can not bear to poke one more bead with a tiny cord. My fingers ache or worse, go numb. At those times, I just recall how much I hated my last job. I would string a million beads before I would go back to working there. What I am doing is a gift, and that helps me soldier on.


Only half of these turned out the first time
Only half of these turned out the first time


Perseverance was another key word last week. I had a batch of resin fail. It messed up three different orders. I wanted to throw a temper tantrum and a pity party. But I knew I could not let my customers down. Even if it meant going back to work after dinner. That’s how it is when you work for yourself. Do it again and do it right.




And last but not least, patience. I feel that patience is key for life in general, but especially if you are an entrepreneur. There are a lot of overnight success stories that have taken 10 or more years to come to fruition. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you feel like it’s not going fast enough, examine what you are doing. Maybe you can tweak your workflow to get faster results. Maybe not. But don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away.

It’s like a bottle of syrup. It seems like it takes forever to start but pretty soon your pancakes are swimming in it.


PS: Face palm, big time. As my dear friend Kris with a K reminded me…

I would add #5: Friends Who Get It.

It is, in those moments of resin failing or blog posts disappearing or zero days off for a month straight…it helps SO much to be able to see another brave, persistent, BizKitten rockstarring it out along with you.


So, 5 things. Your business needs 5 things. And a lot more. Pretty much all of the things, if you are going to be in business for yourself. Still worth it.



Flashback Friday ~ If You Are Going to Craft, Do It Right

Finishing up some orders so they will get where they are going in time for Christmas. I still have a lot of nice jewelry in my shop if you are looking for a neat and different gift for the spicy lady in your life. Greg has some calendars which are pretty spectacular too. Or maybe you will make your own gifts this year. That is awesome. Whatever you do, please read this flashback from March first. You will be glad you did.


I do crafty stuff all the time, but often forget to photograph my projects and take notes so I can blog my creations. I am getting better, though. However, I would rather not blog than to post a craft idea that is untested or doomed to failure. I also will not post craft ideas that are lame or ugly. I read a variety of craft blogs and some of the crap that gets posted is embarrassing. A lot of it is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve seen some DIYs that are D-I-no thanks.

some cool earrings I made
some cool earrings I made

Not trying to be a hater, I just don’t think you’re doing anyone a favor by posting a crap craft idea just so you have something to post.


Case in point: A blogger who I recently began following posted some ideas for Valentines day and one idea was a photo coaster. I was intrigued so I clicked the link for instructions. Basically, buy a coaster size wooden plaque blank, paint the edges and then Mod Podge a photo onto the top. Now I am not criticizing this idea because it is too easy. Some of the best ideas are the simplest. I am criticizing the horrid technique.


WiR 1017145
I made this lovely necklace too

First off, the author doesn’t specify that you need to use a laser copy for this project. You simply cannot use ink jet prints to decoupage. The decoupage medium instantly causes the inks to run and bleed. You must use a laser print or photocopy.

Second, this blogger instructs you to seal the coaster with 2 coats of Mod Podge. Nope. You could seal it with fifty coats of Mod Podge and as soon as you set your wet glass on it would be ruined. Mod Podge is not a sealer or a finish, even though the label says it is. Trust me, I know from experience. Mod Podge glossy will stay tacky-ish almost indefinitely. Even if you never set a glass on these coasters, if you stacked them they would bond together after a very short time.


Sparkly ring
I make these for fun

This is not a Mod Podge hate fest, I myself use it almost daily, but any crafter who tells you to seal a project with Mod Podge is wrong, frankly. There, I said it. You must use some sort of finish over Mod Podge to properly finish it. Even the folks at Mod Podge will advise you to use sealer.



Mod Podge now comes in a dozen “flavors” now, so last time I was at the craft store I checked them out. I was curious whether Mod Podge’s Outdoor formula would work for a project I was creating. Upon reading the instructions I learned that it would need to cure for FOUR WEEKS before being placed outside. Does that seem reasonable? Not to me. Go buy a can of clear coat for a buck or two at Home Depot and properly seal your project so that it will last a lifetime. You owe it to your crafts and to the special people you make them for.


I stenciled this shirt and blogged about it


Here are a few links for some handmade coasters on which you can actually set a drink: