Life & Other Stuff

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



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Sunday, March 25, 2012

CRAFTCATION: Indie Business & DIY Conference

CRAFTCATION was an amazing conference! 

Supporting the DIY & Indie business movement, an enthusiastic group gathered this past weekend to talk about the DIY craft industry. Four days of innovative creative minds and experts in the indie business field got together to share their wisdom, network, and learn from one another. Beautifully hosted at the Crown Plaza in Ventura (a scene from Little Miss Sunshine was filmed here) right along the coast, the locale itself made it feel like a mini vacation.

Kudos to Delilah and Nicole of Patchwork . Their awesome idea to create and organize this event has ignited fire in many women who are eager to start or improve their crafty businesses. This event was impressively well organized and executed. Hard to believe it was the first one. It was incredible to be around like minded women.

It all started with the goodie bag (by Sweet Perversion). The saying on it alone was worth a chuckle. Notice the stylish, quirky fun zipper style lanyard (by Coats and Clark) to hold our conference badges. So much fun!

WOW! Chock full of goodies; a stuffed Monkey (thanks Mail Chimp), snacks and magazines, a fabulous water bottle and more. It was an amazing assortment of gifts to help us through the day(s) and beyond. From the very first moment of being welcomed creativity flowed.

Great business classes, sweet craft workshops, and simply meeting other like minded people was refreshing and inspirational. There was much to be digested, absorbed, and celebrated.

Amy Tan (of Amy Tangerine) led a workshop on creating mini books. A hands on class, we used materials from from her American Crafts line. Amy shared her business journey with us as we worked not the books. Inspiring to hear of ones success in the creative field.

A nice complement to the crafty start, Nicole Yasbinder (of Queen Puff Puff) shared her perspectives of owning a small business. Having a depth of advice, she taught us about protecting our business and what is necessary to become a seller. It was inevitable to be inspired by how she balances all her projects and still handle the business needs with grace. My mind was stretched as I started considering how I might move beyond "hobbyist" to "seller".

Lunch was at the Ventura city hall. A beautiful venue to lunch on organic sandwiches. Nom nom!

It was clear that many participants were hungry for the business classes, wanting expert advice on how best to run their businesses. Avoiding food coma, a large crowd of ladies squeezed into a conference room for discussion about pricing. Very impressed by Lauren Venell and her expertise on the subject matter. Her confidence in her business and services inspired the need for confidence in me. A great reminder that it's important ton know what one offers to their customers and even more so, knowing what one is worth.

My friend whom I attended this conference with suggested the next speaker. I was stuck, not sure which session to go to next so I followed her suggestion to attend Gustavo Arellano who is a writer at OC Weekly.

It was inspiring to hear about his success becoming a writer despite not having the journalistic background his field usually requires. He's gained fame through his column "Ask a Mexican". Though my business is not at the level of needing formal PR right now it was refreshing to hear that perhaps someday I will need to tap into what I've learned and put it into practice. The biggest lesson is to promote ourselves. Not to shy away from all our achievements and creative work but rather to know why what we are doing is important. And, BLOG. Blogging and social networking is absolutely necessary for success today.

The day ended on a high note for me. With dreams of becoming a photographer and through the practice of snapping my products I am always searching for ways to improve my blog photos. RadMegan fabulously went through tips and tricks for best blog photography. It was encouraging to hear that some of my techniques are on the right track. Her added suggestions have given me new ideas to try to make my craft better. Can't wait to try it.

Upon reflection I wish I could have stayed for two days and not just one. It would have been amazing to participate in other workshops, like the ones put on by Etsy. I'll have to wait until next year.

Thanks Delilah and Nicole for bringing all of us together. Fantastic job!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quinoa for Breakfast

A friend recently suggested I try eating Quinoa in place of my steel cut oatmeal for a change in my breakfast choices. Quinoa for breakfast? I'm not so sure about this idea.

Quinoa is related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Like oats it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Healthy!

So tonight, I cooked up some Quinoa. I added a touch of maple syrup, fresh pears, and cinnamon for tomorrow's breakfast. I'm hoping it tastes as good as it smelled.

Decluttered Space

Exhale. It's done. That disorganized space you've been meaning to tackle for weeks has just been decluttered and reorganized. What a great feeling! Everything is in its place. Strangely, life feels refreshed and under control. That breath you let out is full of optimism and hope. What new possibility lays ahead for me?

I love to organize. All those fun blogs about organization tips, I'm entertained by them. That label maker that prints the little labels for containers? Yeah, they're a guilty pleasure.

But, I'm also a clutterer. I hate to say it, but I shall self profess that I sometimes my stuff gets junky around the house and the next thing I know I have a large cleaning project waiting for me. Maybe I'm the only one in the world with this problem but maybe (just maybe) you can relate, too.

Today, I finally had an entire day without plans and decided to tackle at least one or two little projects around the house. Here's what I did to accomplish a bit of decluttering around the house.
  1. Plan. I have a lot of house projects to do but I'm easily overwhelmed so I thought of two spaces that I really wanted to tackle for this weekend; my coat closet and the space beneath my kitchen sink.
  2. Reuse or Shop. It's helpful to have containers, shelving, or other tools to help get things into a specific location. I already have some things at home that could be reused but at the risk of a little retail therapy I invested in some small shelving, containers, and boxes that would fit into my desired spaces.
  3. Removal. I removed everything or at least most things from the problem space.
  4. Sort, Trash, and Donate. Nearby I placed a bag marked with one of the mentioned intentions. As I sorted through all of my items I determined which ones I'd keep and which to get rid of. It felt so good to just let it go! And some items had to be placed in other parts of the house because they simply just didn't belong. Letting go made me feel like I'm opening my life up to a new possibility. A little bit more be a little bit more me.
  5. Re-place. I put the shelving, containers, or what nots into my space and placed the "keeping" items in its new place. I considered how to place the items so as to make it easy to take them in and out of its place. This extra consideration, I think, will make it easier in the upkeep.
  6. Simply Be. I took a moment and observed this new organized space. It felt so good to see fewer items there and know that only those things that are of greatest importance remained. I even found things I forgot I had. Smile.
Space #1. Coat Closet.
I considered which spaces in my house have been neglected and I picked one to start with. I needed that feeling of success so I started with the coat closet. It wasn't horribly out of hand but I had several bags that were on the floor and I found it frustrating when I tried to get the vacuum out. The vacuum kept tripping over the bags. Time for an intervention. I invested in a plastic container with drawers and placed my bags inside. Everything is now contained and in its place. My vacuum easily moves in and out of this small space. Success!

A small change like a container can make all the difference in decluttering. Now when I go into this closet I am sure nothing is going to fall out of it making life just a little bit easier and fluid.

Space #2. The cabinet under my kitchen sink.
Yikes! This space was getting out of hand. A few times, things were falling out and I had to push them in. And each time I went in there too look for something it was annoying to take that extra time to search for it.

So, I invested in some small shelving and baskets that would fit in this space. What a difference it makes!
SPACE #3. My Kitchen.
After the cabinet was reorganized, I was so refreshed by all this decluttering that I went on to declutter my countertops, some of the items in my cabinets, and two shelves in my pantry that have just been an accident waiting to happen. I simply had too many things shoved into that pantry and I knew there were items I wanted to donate but never took the time to take them out.

And in the midst of decluttering, reorganizing guess what I found? All the sushi makers my mom had given me! YAY! Guess I'll have to plan a party and have friends over sometime so we can make sushi in all different shapes, sizes, and even smoosh some spam masubi together. YUM!

(I forgot to take a before and after photo of the other spaces but maybe I'll include the "after" photos tomorrow).

Tomorrow, I shall tackle a few more spaces before the weekend ends. What a great feeling!

What do you do to keep yourself organized and decluttered?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Awkward Moment

I was getting ready to leave the restaurant after a birthday dinner for a friend. I stopped off at the ladies' room for a quick moment before heading out the door. A lady came out of one of the stalls. Looking in the mirror she said "I'm such a mess today".  Jokingly I commented on my own "mess" and told her we should just blame it on today's rain. I hadn't picked up on her emotional state until she turned to me and said she buried a friend today. She was a bit distraught. WOH!

A moment of awkwardness.

What do I say? What do I do? How should I react? I don't know this woman. But I had a greater sense (a God moment, perhaps) that I should just be still for this woman. Simply just be. So I stood there and I listened to her as she began to tell me a little bit about this man who passed away and how he had always been kind to her. It was difficult to follow what she was saying, it was as if she was just talking aloud and I was there. So she continued and I listened. Tears rolled down her face. She appeared numb and she said she had no idea how she was going to live the rest of her life with this burden. I didn't understand what that burden was but clearly she had a history with the person and some of her story expressed drama. She shared with me that she'd been in an abusive relationship previously and then something about this man who died. Her story wasn't clear to me but it was clearly to me her heart was conflicted and broken.

Oh, what I wanted to say. Oh, what I didn't have the courage to say. Oh, what I wasn't sure to say. I wanted to give her a hug. I wanted to tell her about Him. I told her it's so difficult to lose someone we care about and I'm so sorry to hear of her loss.

I gently gave her a shoulder pat (pseudo hug, right?) and expressed my condolences again.

She asked me what my name was and I asked for hers. Her name was Louisa.

A human moment, a God moment, a shared moment. All I could do was express kindness and listen.
Louisa, you are in my prayers tonight. Only One can heal your broken heart.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Love in the little moments

Today was the loveliest of days. It was busy but nothing extraordinary today. There were lots of events planned for today, all scheduled back to back. I was anticipating it to be a whirlwind sort of day but to my surprise there were so many little moments that caught me by surprise, reminding me that I am loved.

  • A hike through the woods. A little blue jay, most magnificent in color, entertained me as it bounced around looking for food.
  • Reminder of God's intentions. Ecclesiastes 7:29
  • A friend passed over a parking spot and gave it to me.
  • The little nephew shared his blue crayon with me.
  • Rum-Nutmeg-Gingersnap and cruncy peanut butter ice cream in an ice cream cone coated with chocolate.
  • Deep dish pizza. YOM!
  • A friend came over and walked my dog for me.
  • Hugs from friends.
  • My brother asking me how I'm doing and what's new in my life.
  • From my garage as I got out of the car, I could hear the excited whines and paw tapping on the floor above me. My pup was excited I came home.
A good day indeed!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Little One, Happy Birthday

Several of my friends celebrated their baby's first or second birthdays this past year. I couldn't help but create cards for them. I even created a gift bag for one.

Welcome Baby Sienna

I won the poll. I guessed right! Baby Sienna was born on a special day. MY BIRTHDAY! Right away, she became a special baby to me.

To help her mama (my friend) celebrate her little girl's red egg/1 month party I gifted her with thank you cards she could send to friends & family who gifted Sienna.

What I loved about these cards is that I was able to use paper that was very similar to the paper her mama used on the party invitations. Plus, it has a bit of an Asian flare to them.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

It's funny to me how a card can appear as "meh" to one person and "wow" to another.

I won some Eric Carle "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" stickers at a scrapbook crop retreat. I used them on this card. At the end I though this card was just "meh". But then I shared it with others and one by one they were all "wooo... wow...". I'm amused! What do you think of it?

Stick to 'em

Sometimes it takes a sticker to make the card what it is. So easy and super fun to put together.

Snowflake stickers.

Vroom vroom... beep beep. 3D car stickers made these super cute!

Same pack of car stickers on a different background. Simple but the effect goes a long way.