Monday, October 26, 2009

A Paperless Birthday Celebration

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty when I find myself doing un earth-friendly things...just because it never dawned on me that there was an alternative. I fully admit that when I created Bird-E Towels for my family, it was more based on a desire to stop spending money on paper towels as a way to stretch our household budget a little further. And I LIKE the earth-friendly aspect but that was not my primary motivation at the time. Since then, I have changed many of our un earth-friendly habits and it feels fantastic.

We now use and LOVE our stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottles. My 4 smaller children have the smallest sized bottle which we pack in lunch boxes as an alternative to juice boxes. And we have a complete set of the 27 oz bottles, one for each family member that we keep refilled in the fridge. Easy to grab when we are going somewhere. No more bottles of plastic tasting water here and NO trash to worry about!

When making purchases, I now think twice before I purchase stuff with plastic or with big bulky plastic packaging that will just end up in a landfill. I haven't totally avoided it but at least I'm thinking about it and making decisions that make me feel like we are making a tiny bit of difference. One small example that comes to mind is that I am buying bars of soap from a local seller at our arts' market. Virtually zero packaging compared to the squirt pumps that I would buy and toss after one use. And it lasts longer, too, so it ends up being a better value.

So last night I was at Target, shopping for birthday gifts for my baby girl and I stopped by the gift wrap. My first thought was 'Why is this stuff so expensive??' My second thought was.....'Why do I HAVE to wrap her presents in paper that will be thrown away?' Well, there is something nice about seeing a stack of prettily wrapped packages so I knew that unwrapped gifts wasn't the answer.

Enter lightbulb moment:

Aha, I have lots and lots of pretty fabrics. Couldn't I just wrap her presents in fabric and tie it up with a ribbon??? And that's exactly what I did. I didn't even serge or sew the edges. Chances are that I will use this particular fabrics for something else so no need to worry about raw edges. I just fold it so that so raw edges were showing. I'm sure that someone else could do the folding more justice but this is kind of in line with how I wrapped presents with traditional paper...just get her done.

I am pleased with the results!! I'm sure that this would not be the most cost effective thing for a non-seamstress. But maybe there are other reusable things that could be used to wrap presents to avoid paper. A pillowcase comes to mind. Or a fancy apron could possible be folded and tied around a gift using the straps. A reusable grocery tote, a kitchen towel for smaller gifts....just all sorts of options that could be part of the gift and not produce any trash. Heck yeah!

Now I interrupt the talk about paperless gift-giving and will share some photos about my baby girl's 3rd birthday. I love this little girl with all my heart and can't imagine what life would have been like without her. She was our rainbow baby and she helped heal our hearts from the loss of her big brother, Nolan, whom she never had a chance to meet. We are pretty darn sure that she's the last kiddo so she will probably always be referred to as the baby...even though I'm pretty sure 3 is the official cut-off for calling your child a baby among other adults.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Lily! You are such a joy to, funny, adorable!

Make a wish!


Um, OK - clothes!

Now we're!
This isn't hard to open and none of that annoying paper ripping sound.

Who are these kids and why couldn't I be an only child??

So this little paperless experiment was a great success! Not sure I can pull it off for Christmas but I know birthdays will be a cinch. No more trashy paper!!

As I approach the gift-giving season with my business, my mind will definitely be on providing complete gifts that will not require excess disposable gift wrapping for my customers. So, keep an eye out for Bird-E Towel sets 'all wrapped up' in drawstring gift bags. A few are already listed in my store and they have been quite popular already. I enjoy making stuff that has a bit more color then my best selling product so it's all good. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween Inspired Creature

I really love bright colors and bold color purple and orange. I came across a box of felt in my studio last night and I felt the need to create. My toddler 'helped' me. This guy is soft and squishy and my youngest daughter thinks he's her best friend. He has big bug eyes that I made using non equal size imperfectly round 'circles' that sewed in yoyo fashion to create the eyeballs. I added hand painted eyes that I purchased from etsy a while back.

And he looks just as good upside down as he does right side up.

I didn't really have a purpose in mind when I made him but I have a feeling this fella is going to stay here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I love getting stuff in the mail. One great thing about running a business is that I get to spend money and get packages in the mail. Like a double dose of retail therapy! Today, USPS brought me 2 things....another roll of fabric and a box from the Atlanta Thread Company. I love the Atlanta Thread Company!! They ship so fast. I have gotten package in less then 24 hours from order to my doorstep. The had a special promotion this month where you would get a free pair of ginghers scissors with a $75 I did just that. I picked the pinking shears since I already own every other size of ginghers with a few duplicates in there, too. I also picked up needles for my industrial serger, 12,000 yard cones of thread and some new maxi-lock cones to add to my collection. Plus a lint roller, fray check and seam stabilizer.

Today was a bit frustrating as I spent the morning working on financial stuff and my numbers weren't adding up. It took me way too long to figure out the problem was related to e-check transactions in paypal. The payment was reported in one time period but didn't clear until the next. The accounting not easy for me. I think I'm actually pretty good at math and that's not the problem. it's just keeping track of all these bits of information and assigning account numbers and transferring things and doing journal entries, blah blah blah. I would really like to just stick my head in the sand and ignore it. (I wish that was really an option!)

Well, I better cut this off and get to sleep so that I can wake up at a reasonable hour.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where are you?

My mom and her husband, (not referred to as my stepdad, he's just her husband, Tom) just arrived for a super quick visit before their 'fabulous' vacation in Florida including a cruise to the Bahamas. She signed up through one of those crazy cheap web offers and I'm not sure she hasn't been scammed in some way. If they get on the cruise and someone asks them for more money, ha, ain't gonna happen. And they won't be doing any of that expected tipping either.

So right before she got here, I called to see where she was. I'm heading towards the beach. 'Uh, why?' was my reply. I was trying to figure out if she had an overwhelming desire to see the beach at midnight. Ya never know with her. 'I couldn't find your street.' {{banghead}} So instead of calling me, she just randomly decides to head towards the beach which is 30 minutes from my house.

'Mom, where exactly are you?'

'I see a McDonalds.' (There are 114 McDonalds in Jacksonville.)

'Uh, need more information. What street are you on?'

'There's a Chick-Fil-A.' (There are 18 Chick-Fil-As in Jacksonville.)

'Mom, please tell me what street you are on so I can get you back towards our house.' The unspoken part is 'SO THAT I CAN GET MY TIRED BODY IN BED AND NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR YOU.'

I then had to hand the phone to my amazing husband. He knows thing. He can walk you through directions over the phone and give you things to look for on the way. Not that *I* have ever needed his services. OK, ya got me. I call him all the time when I get my own city. But hey, this is a big city not some podunk little town.

Back to my took her longer then we expected and I called her again. 'There's a Walgreens.'

'What street, Mom????' How many Walgreens are there in this city?? 56

We got her here.

I told her not to leave any valuables in her truck or in the back because we've had some thefts. My oldest dd had a slumber party last night and someone stole one of her friend's bikes from our yard. It was locked to our camper. They just clipped the bike lock. Anyhow, so my mom decided that they needed to bring in the grill and their cooler. Yes, they brought a full sized grill on their vacation. My dh wasn't too keen on that idea of bringing the grill in so he came up with an alternative plan of having them back in so that the back of their truck wasn't wide open for the sticky finger 'shoppers' that come through in the middle of the night.

Now it's 1:00 a.m. and i really need to go to bed but I wanted to post my most recent creation, the Bug Bucket Bag. Bug bucket bug, big buck bag, bucket. You try saying it 3 times fast!

Isn't it cute??? I hand-dyed a vintage linen napkin and turned it into a fabulous bucket bag. It's in my etsy store if you want to read more details. I'm too tired to type it all out again.

Night all!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I find is absolutely fascinating to feedjit statistics to see who has visited by blog. Of course, I don't really know who stumbles across my blog..just basic information like city/state or country. Sometimes I get a little extra bit of information based on which blog post is hit first. I've gotten quite a bit of traffic from the etsy bulletin boards, particularly one post about studios. I linked my studio more then a week ago yet I still get at least a few visits a day from that. Just fascinating stuff.

As far as my business goes, I struggle daily with decisions that will affect the future of my company. I grapple with the biggest question of big do I want to take this? Is it OK to apply pressure to myself to get orders out the door at the cost of perhaps slightly neglecting my stay at home mom duties? I don't know the answer. I do get the feeling that my husband get annoyed at my small 'failures' i.e. not having any plan for dinner when he gets home, not keeping up with laundry, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing laundry (perhaps on an emergency basis) and the kitchen gets cleaned multiple times a day...and we are all eating. It's just hard to get excited about cooking and cleaning...when it all just has to be done the next day.

I am excited about my business. It gives me something...that I just can't quite put into words just yet. Or maybe it's just that I'm exhausted. {{yawn}}

I am proud of how quickly things have progressed with my business but I do have times where self-doubt tries to take root in a corner of my mind like what if more then a day goes between orders. I wonder how I'm going to make all the right decisions without making any monumental mistakes along the way.

I was able to pay myself another small payroll check today. I bought groceries with a portion of it and that felt great.

Must go to bed. I can't write a blog post without posting a pic so here goes..

This is something my 6 yo son created with some of the groceries I bought. Can you tell what it is????

It's a robot! Of course. Now you see it, right? ;) It's also the makings for chili. There was a once a month chili recipe on my favorite recipe website that used tomato soup instead of sauce and I'm going to do that one tomorrow. It's a sweet chili that most kids like.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Riverside Arts Market 10/3/09

My haul from the Riverside Arts market today...

I have to say that there are REALLY nice vendors at the Riverside Arts Market. I think I spent about $17 for all the above stuff. The pumpkins were free gifts with my son's $3 purchase of blackberries. That's what he wanted to spend his money on. And when the vendor knew he was spending his own money, he loaded Ethan up with 2 bowls of the delightful berries. And he made each of the kids take a mini pumpkin. See, nice people. And this is not the first time that we have been gifted like that at the Riverside Arts Market.

When I have been a vendor at the Riverside Arts Market, it has not been uncommon for people to give a small token of their work. Copperhead Mike (I think that's his name) gave me a hammered copper sand remind me that he wants me to make him a long sleeved tie dye shirt when I do my next batch. Vendor have given my children fresh fruits and veggies, too. And if I thought long enough, I bet I could come up with half a dozen other examples, too.

I love participating in the Riverside Arts Market as an 'artist' and I love going as a Riverside neighbor. And it's not really about the stuff that's for sale. While at the market today, I chatted with quite a few vendors that I have become acquainted with. It's nice to walk through and have that personal recognition. I also ran into a store owner who really wants my product in her store. That was a good contact for my business! Not 100% sure that I'm going to do it but I am certainly considering it.

Another really cool thing is the Children's Creativity Corner. I had my 3 youngest children with me today and they got to make slime to take home. What a thrill that was for them. (haha, my slime farts. Mine does, too...haha) They also had a beautiful corn snake and the children were allowed to touch it. And that my friends was FREE entertainment. woohoo!

I have been on a bit of a Riverside Arts' Market hiatus, as a seller, I mean, but I'm thinking I'll be signing up for a spot sometime within the next 2-3 weeks.

Where Did September Go?

Poof, there went a whole month. Must do better about blogging! I think I got sucked into facebook and keeping my Athena Creates fanpage updated.

I have been feeling rather energized lately. With school back in session, I have had time to keep up with my etsy orders and I've had some time to create new stuff.

I had a lovely local customer, Carla, request a large quantity of Bird-E Towels for her wedding reception and I was able to oblige. She was my second (or third?) bride who wanted my eco-friendly alternative at her reception. She was rather excited about how large her stash of Bird-E Towels would grow once the reception was over. So cool! Once the initial order was done, she commissioned me to sew napkins and a tablecloth using fabric her friend had dyed. Absolutely gorgeous!

I couldn't bear to toss the scraps so I made 2 little drawstring giftbags for Carla. My wedding gift to her. She hasn't picked her order up yet but I hope she likes them. :)

I also made an adorable chinese inspired upcycled dress. Cute, cute, cute! (if I do say so myself) It started as a thrift store find, a like new chinese shirt. I cut the bottom off and added a gathered skirt using some of my precious stash of linen. It ended up a tiny bit shorter then I had intended (why can't I measure first and then sew? LOL) Anyhow, when my little one modeled it, it reminded me of the short dresses we wore in the 70s when I was growing up and I decided it was very cute. I think this would also look fabulous with a pair of jeans on the tot.

I used bits of the print to create a few more items for my etsy store, too. I love using up scraps of fabric!