2010 :: views from my back porch

One thing I have always loved about being in Kansas is the chance to witness some gorgeous skies.  And with our house being on top of a small hill, I feel like I could just touch it sometimes.  I especially love watching the seasons change and seeing a different sky every single day.  All from the comforts of our humble deck--an ordinary place to be, yet full of extraordinary sights.

Through all the undulations between happiness and tears, I hope your year was filled with magic and moments that left your heart in awe.  Here's to the wonderful memories with our loved ones, the experiences that have helped us grow, and a new year brimming with hope and surprises. 

Wishing you the warmest and brightest of Holidays!  See you in the brand new year! 


Mystery Revealed

Remember when I asked if you could guess what this was?...

Well, I had no idea it was so far beyond recognition, but a few people did guess correctly that it was something that came out of my oven.  No one really knew what, and most of you were probably afraid to find out.

So drumroll please......

This is what it was supposed to look like.  

Yummy mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top!  It only took me 2 tries.  So lesson learned.  DO NOT set your oven to "Broil" hoping you can brown the top for "just a minute".  That is, unless you want to recreate the surface of the moon after it's engulfed by hot molten lava.  Good thing I didn't ruin Thanksgiving dinner with this mishap.  My husband got everything else right.. the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin rolls.  All made from scratch.  And all I was responsible for was putting the marshmallows on top and baking this dish.. and what do I do?  burn it to high heaven.  I was also in charge of the green bean casserole (something I've made many times before) and guess what?  I burned that too because I had it in there with the sweet potatoes!  Not my proudest moment, but thought I'd share so you don't goof up like I did.  Anyone else have any cooking disasters to share so I don't feel so alone?  ;)

Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!


Can you guess what this is?

Here's a quick and fun little contest for you.  Guess what this is a photo of!  
The prize:  knowing that you are a genius.

Some hints:
This is not a macro shot.
This is not what it should look like.
I am responsible for this.
I am not proud of it.

I'll post the answer tomorrow.  :)


Featured Artist and GIVEAWAY :: One in the Hand

Cozy up this holiday season!

I'm so happy to introduce my latest Featured Artist, Ashley from One in the Hand!  In real life, she is one of my greatest long-time friends ever.  And I'm thrilled she's now on Etsy with her super adorable shop.  Ashley makes sewn and knitted cozies for mugs and those boring paper cups.  Why not make your warm, fulfilling beverages even more special and save the environment at the same time?  I know how much my morning coffee means to me, so why shouldn't it get the cozy treatment?  Even though I may still be in my jammies, at least my coffee mug can look good.  Ashley uses an eclectic mix of patterns and textures so there's something for everyone.  Whenever possible, she uses re-purposed materials (such as the insulating lining on the inside of the cozy).  Ashley also donates 10% of each and every sale to her local charity.  Currently, donations are going to Streetwise, a Chicago-area publication that helps homeless or near-homeless people get back on their feet.  It's no wonder that I adore her--she just has a giant, generous heart.

And speaking of generous, Ashley is giving away a set of THREE cozies (winner's choice)!  These would make great stocking stuffers or gifts.  Or you could keep them for yourself!  One for the office, one for the car, and one for home.  Giveaway details are below the interview.  She's also having a BLACK FRIDAY SALE (11/26 thru 11/29) - Everything will be 15% off plus free shipping; purchases of 3 or more cozies will be 25% off plus free shipping.

Thank you, Ashley!  Now let's get to know this lovely lady.  :)

.......................... the interview .........................

A random fun fact about yourself:
I greatly enjoy those icebreaker sort of activities that you have to do at work retreats.

The first 3 random words that pop into your mind:

What's your favorite read of all time?
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Any guilty pleasures?

Jersey Shore.  I can’t help it – I love Pauly D!  AW YEAH, ETSY YEAH!

If you could be any place in the world right now, where would it be?
At a magical concert in a small club where I get to pick the musicians.

(Ok, now onto business)
How would you describe your work?
Cute, bright, practical.

How long have you been at it?
I listed and sold my first item in November 2009.  I spent the year prior to that learning to knit and sew and slowly coming up with the idea.  First I just wanted to make gifts for people, but they said I should try to sell them, and I thought, why not?

So for you, is it an innate talent or practice makes perfect?
Both.  I’m somewhat of a tactile learner; I suppose I must have some talent since I was able to pick up knitting and sewing pretty easily . . . but I practice all the time and learn what works best through trial and error.
Do you dabble in any other forms of art?
I doodle.  No, really, I have some impressive notepads from office meetings!  :)  I am a former musician and dancer as well (I say former because I don’t create or perform anymore, I just appreciate).

Share something about your creative process that most people wouldn't know.

I really enjoy waiting until my family has gone to bed, and then sitting down at the kitchen table with my laptop and sewing machine.  I’ll listen to music or watch entire tv show seasons, movies . . . It’s meditative and I get a lot done.  I’ll stay up all night sometimes, doing this.

What do you do when your inspiration and creativity is tapped?
I take a break.  This isn’t how I earn my living, so I have that luxury.

When not hard at work on your designs, what would we most likely find you doing?
Cracking up with friends, trying to stay off of Facebook, hanging out with my husband and 3 kids. 


In a parallel universe where you are not an amazing artist, what would you be?

Oh, to be a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar strapped to my back.  Wait – a singer/songwriter who saves the world!

What are some of your favorite etsy shops?

Blue Order – Awesome music-themed practical art
Circa Ceramics – Modern, bright bowls and cups
Just Hatched – Wooden toys inspired by nature
Besu – Funky accessories – pouches, buttons, wallets . . .

What's at the top of your etsy wish list?
This kelly green messenger bag from theleatherstore

And, as a fun tribute to my inner psychologist, what might this be?  

It’s the Japanese flag in black and white!  Duh.

.......................... end interview .........................

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

The winner will receive 
a set of THREE cup cozies 
of his or her choice!
(winner will be selected on Wed. Dec. 1st) 

CONGRATULATIONS to Scott (Blue Order)!!!!

How to enter (required):

*  Visit OneInTheHand and tell us what your favorite pattern is (you can also browse the sold section)
*  Leave a separate comment about what you'd like to see more of (e.g., a particular theme, pattern, color, texture that you don't already see in the shop)

(you only need to answer one or the other to enter, but you'll get 2 entries if answering both. you must leave some way to contact you (email, blog, or etsy shop) so we can reach you if you win.)

Bonus entries:  Please leave a separate comment and contact info for each entry (each comment will be assigned a number and the winner will be selected by a random number generator).

1) "Like" One in the Hand on Facebook
2) follow Ashley's blog: http://thirstybabies.blogspot.com
3) follow Ashley on twitter: @ashjray
4) tweet the giveaway (include @ashjray and @eNVeDesigns for verification)
5) "Like" eNVe Designs on Facebook
6) follow me on twitter: @eNVeDesigns
7) follow my blog
8) join the mailing list

You have one week to enter.  The lucky winner will be selected at random next Wednesday, Dec 1st.  Good luck! :)

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday! 


Demystifying the eNVe Wrap and Thread Necklace

You know, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own brain that I forget that others may not share my perspective or view things with my personal frame of reference.  My Wrap and Thread necklace design is a fitting example of this.  While doing my first shows the past couple months and getting to meet customers in person, I was really surprised by how many intrigued and perplexed looks I saw on people while they browsed my Wrap and Thread necklaces.

Frequent questions included, "so what is this?"... "how does this work?"... "where's the clasp?"... "how do I close the necklace?".  It did help when I displayed photos of various necklaces worn several different ways along with a brief written description, but more often than not, I was asked to demonstrate how to create the different looks, like the styles below.

[For those of you reading this who are not familiar with my Wrap and Thread Necklace design, it's a long, open-ended strand of gems and chain interspersed with at least one link along the strand.  There's no closing clasp so you wear it by wrapping it around or doubling it up, and threading the end through the link, which you place in front (like a lariat necklace).  My original Wrap and Thread designs included one or two links, but have now evolved to include designs with up to 5 links, some with handmade toggle-like closures, as well as double-stranded styles.  The more links there are in the necklace, the more styles you can create.]  

I'm really happy that everyone spoke up because it was definitely a lot of fun getting to share with folks how this design came to be and showing them how super simple it really is to change up the looks!  And if people didn't ask me, I wouldn't have had this realization.  Even after my demo and explanation, some people joked that they would still need a written tutorial to remember how to wear it.  It never really occurred to me to write a tutorial because it isn't a complicated design, and I thought having a few photos of the different ways to wear it would be explanatory enough.  But after those shows, I had an epiphany.  Wearing this necklace is intuitive to me, but that's because it's my brain child and I've been experimenting with it for years!  Since the inception of this idea about 5 years ago, it's been in my mind and on paper in so many different iterations.  And I've thought about it so much, have done so many revisions on the design, and have taken hundreds of photos of all my different Wrap and Thread necklaces that creating the various looks with one necklace is second nature for me.  Obviously, this may not be the case for most people browsing my jewelry.  Sorry for the momentary lapse of clarity, everyone.  I'm happy to announce that I finally got a clue.  :)

So for the next few installments on my blog, I'll highlight the different Wrap and Thread styles I've come up with so far, and maybe include with each post a tutorial on how to create several key looks.  Do you think a tutorial would be helpful at all?  I'd love to hear your opinions on this!


Warm Hearts Whereabouts :: last stop before heading home

Where has the traveling necklace been?

sunning in Sweden with Carita!

Being a bracelet girl, Carita wore the necklace as a layered bracelet.  And is it just me, or is the grass greener in Sweden?  ;)  Thank you for taking the time to participate in the project, Carita!  And what a lovely ring you've paired with the Warm Hearts necklace!

Carita makes incredible jewelry pieces featuring gorgeous rough, raw gemstones, fresh from the earth.  I adore the organic nature of her work.  Here are just a few of my personal favorites from Jealousy Design:

This is the final stop of the first international tour.  Next stop: USA! 

You can still sign up to participate in Warm Hearts Around the World
(my traveling necklace project, raising awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

Click here to read more.


Featured Artist :: Lilliput Loft

 Hi everyone, I'm back!  And I'm so thrilled to be featuring the lovely ladies behind lilliputloft!  I discovered the amazing work of Vicky and Jill, a mother-daughter duo, when searching for some quiet books for my kids.  When I found their shop, I was instantly enamored by the Curious Garden activity book--their unique and clever take on exploring the world of Alice in Wonderland.  I can definitely see my daughter captivated by this book.  Heck, I'm turning 33 this week and even I would have fun with it!  :)  Aside from their wonderful fabric books, there's a wonderful selection of enchanting and whimsical mobiles, dolls, wall hangings, etc.  The detail and imagination in their work is just incredible.  I hope you'll take a moment to explore!

.......................... the interview .........................

A random fun fact about yourself:

Vicki: I have a very strong sense of smell. Some perfumes, etc. that most people enjoy…I find unbearable.

Jill: I am very addicted to organization and storage systems!

The first 3 random words that pop into your mind:

Vicki: white; garden; green
 Jill: discombobulate (I’m serious!)

What's your favorite read of all time?

Vicki: The Heaven Tree Triolgy. (The Heaven Tree/The Green Branch/The /Scarlet Seed.)

Jill: anything by Phillipa Gregory

Any guilty pleasures?

Vicki: Cream Buns with mock cream and a dollop of red jammy stuff (must be first left in the fridge so the mock cream forms a hard solid lump)

Jill: Good coffee and great food.

If you could be any place in the world right now, where would it be?

Vicki: Paris/France

Jill: A gorgeous old castle in Europe 

(Ok, now onto business)
How would you describe your work?

Vicki and Jill: whimsical with a touch of childhood nostalgia and elegance.

How long have you been at it?

Vicki: Creating?...all my life. Etsy Shop(Lilliput Loft)?..just under one year.

Jill: Since having my daughter (now 2yrs old) I have really been able to let the creative juices flow. Before that, I worked in the Early Childhood Education industry so most of my creativity was focused on having a very fun and,creative classroom.

 So for you, is it an innate talent or practice makes perfect?

Vicki: Natural talent, but practice makes better.

Jill: I definitely inherited some of my mother's talent, but I lack a bit of confidence in my own ability.

Do you dabble in any other forms of art?

Vicki: drawing; pottery; sewing; papier mache.

Jill: Scrapbooking (though I never have time for it at the moment!)

From where/how do you find inspiration?

Vicki and Jill: Really, inspiration can strike at any tick of the clock anywhere at all. Could be from a photo or song or thought or thought process.

Share something about your creative process that most people wouldn't know.

Vicki: Just start with an idea. If it starts to fail, assess whether it can be salvaged or abandoned.

Jill: Organization! I have multiple folders full of sketches, templates and notes regarding how items are to be made….all neatly catalogued of course! See…I am addicted!

What was your most memorable creative experience?

Vicki: Would have to be my Enchanted Trees.

Jill: Creating the ‘A Curious Garden’ fabric quiet book. It was a request from a potential customer. It took sooo long to design and create but it is the item that makes me the most proud!

What do you do when your inspiration and creativity is tapped?

Vicki: Move on it! There is nothing like when you start a new project, and you are on a roll! So invigorating. Everyone needs a project, of some sort.

Any memorable low points that you've learned from?

Vicki: Yes. The first night after I started working with the papier mache on my very first tree. In the middle of the night, we heard a loud bang. It was the tree completely collapsing in on itself from the weight of the thoroughly saturated wet paper.

Jill: Realizing how much I could realistically sell my Fabric Quiet Books for. So much work for so little profit! Not worth it at all, other than the pleasure from knowing that there is NOTHING else like them available on the web.

What is your formula for success?

Vicki: Just keep chipping away at it.

Any advice for those having a bad case of artist woes?

Vicki: Don’t give up. Just try to think outside the square a little.

When not hard at work on your designs, what would we most likely find you doing?

Vicki: Gardening. Playing with our 2 year old granddaughter. Housework.

Jill: Playing with my gorgeous daughter, Elliana.

In a parallel universe where you are not an amazing artist, what would you be?

Vicki: I would also need a few extra inches of height and a slimmer body shape…Then I would be a fashion addicted girly girl and dress up a lot. So my wardrobe would be filled with all manner of clothing and accessories in many boxes …instead of all manner of craft items in many boxes.

Jill: I am actually living my dream life right now! I always wanted to be doing crafty things and being a stay-at-home-mum.

Anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask about?

Vicki: Creating items for Lilliput Loft, in partnership with my daughter Jillian, is a dream come true. A dream I never actually dreamed, but one that has eventuated.

What are some of your favorite etsy shops?

Vicki: I love amazing art dolls and slightly weird things that don’t actually do anything, but just be. And I am addicted to creating treasuries, so I have very many shops that I frequent for beautiful photos of items for my many treasuries.(just check our ‘favourites’ and you’ll see what I’m talking about!)

Jill: I love girly shops that sell elegant accessories, clothes and toys etc for little girls. I don’t like fashion for me, but love little girl fashion!

What's at the top of your etsy wish list?

Vicki: To be a ‘name’ (Lilliput Loft) that people remember with fond thoughts and delightful memories….and lots and lots of sales would be very nice.

Jill: To be able to make enough ‘supplementary income’ from this ‘crafty’ thing, to be able to stay at home with my daughter and not have to go back to ‘normal’ work!

And, as a fun tribute to my inner psychologist, what might this be?  

Vicki: “Down the rabbit hole!”

.......................... end interview .........................

 Jill and Vicky, thank you both for taking the time to share some thoughts behind your beautiful creations!


Warm Hearts Whereabouts :: Sunny day in Serbia

Where has the Warm Hearts Necklace been?

 spending a sunny day in Serbia with Zorana!

Zorana, thank you for taking part in my little project and allowing the necklace to visit Serbia!  And thank you so much for telling your students about the Warm Hearts Around the World project and its mission.  Big hugs to you and your beautiful boy!  Alex says hello too.   Maybe sometime in the future, we can all go back to Boston and hang out again!  :D

Next stop: Sweden!

You can still sign up to participate in Warm Hearts Around the World
(my traveling necklace project, raising awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

Click here to read more.