CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Monday, December 22, 2008

Here we go a-Wassailing


Here we go a-wassailing among the leaves so green
Here we come a-caroling, so fair to be seen
Love and joy come to you
And to you your wassail too
And god bless you and send you a happy new year
And god send you a happy new year.

I'll do a later post on lines in Christmas songs that make you go "whaaa?" But if you don't know what wassail is, you're missing out. From very ancient times the Saxons used the toast, "Waes hael!" (good health!). In later times carolers and merrymakers carried a large bowl of the stuff from door to door to share and spread good cheer. People also blessed their fruit trees with it, believing it would help them produce better in the coming year, hanging toast soaked in it for the robins, who were believed to represent the good spirits of the tree.

As a result, the above is by no means the only wassail song for this time of year, but it is the best known. If you don't know what it sounds like the midi can be found HERE.

So what is the stuff? Well, it's been different over the years. If you get yourself a bottle of Chaucer's mead it usually comes with a packet of mulling spices. That would indeed work for wassail (and is soooooo good....). But I will bestow upon you the recipe that has graced every Christmas party since I discovered it for my chilly outdoor November Renaissance wedding:

Wassail

1 gallon of cider (not the clear apple juicy stuff, good hearty cider)
3 tb. light corn syrup (honey works too)
a sugar-cinnamon mixture
3 Granny Smith apples
1-2 lemons
cloves
whole cinnamon sticks

Put the cider in your crock pot. Heat the corn syrup in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Cover it (trust me on this... you don't want to be cleaning corn syrup off the top of your microwave). Slice your apples, on the thick side. They look better if you do horizontal cuts so you can see the little stars in the core. Remove the seeds though. Dip the apples in the corn syrup, then coat with cinnamon sugar. Put in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until they're soft. Add to the pot. Slice your lemon (again, not too thin) and stud each little section with a cinnamon clove. Drop in the pot, with 4 or 5 whole cinnamon sticks. Let it brew for a few hours before your event. I have heard of a little pineapple juice or cranberry juice being added, and I don't think it would hurt it a bit.

This makes nonalcoholic wassail, to which you can then add some mead, or spiced rum, or whatever alcohol takes your fancy, if you like. It's really awesome with nothing at all added, though. This way you can serve some to the kids, too. In fact, when I showed up to the middle school Renaissance club party this year all I heard was, "Where's the wassail!" since I failed to bring it. It does indeed seem to make people happy (even without the alcohol!). My friend Mike takes us round the neighborhood caroling every year at his Christmas party, and while we don't bring the wassail bowl to share, it sure does taste fantastic coming in partially frozen afterwards.

Waes hael!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ornamental

I love Christmas tree ornaments. I add a few every year, preferably handmade. This year I bought a snowy white lacquered egg with a wintry scene inside and glittered snow dripping from the edges of the opening... I love it and I wish the fabulously talented artist was on Etsy so I could share, but I got it at a craft show. Still, there's plenty of ornamental talent for your perusal. Start a new tradition... add a handmade ornament to your tree this year.


Polymer Clay Filigree Ornament by Starless

There are more of these stunning creations in Starless's shop, including a snowflake and a seahorse one, all of which are jaw-dropping gorgeous.




Iridescent Beaded Ornament Cover by June Moon Beads

I really wanted to do something like this this year but never got around to it. Guess I didn't need to... these are gorgeous. She has several others in her shop to match your tree's color scheme.



Handpainted Large Teardrop Mouthblown Ornament Set by GretaGEM

It was nearly impossible to choose one set of GretaGEM's ornaments to feature. You really must go look at her shop. Every one is a jewel... and she's done 3000 hand painted ornaments this year alone! (Not to mention, I was stunned that the prices on these beauties is so reasonable... you pay more at Hobby Lobby or Michael's for something made in China!)


Icy Elegance Quilled Snowflake by Forever Filigree

These are so pretty... put it on your tree, or add them to a wrapped present for a stunning presentation. Like real snowflakes, it seems like no two of these are alike, and everyone is uniquely beautiful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gift Game/Pass the Parcel [Carnival]

This carnival asked for a holiday tradition. Since my family has always loved games, one of my favorite traditions (we have lots of normal/sappy ones too) is called The Gift Game.

This tradition is incredibly fun, if you have enough people for your holiday celebration. Every Christmas Eve my family gathers for a late dinner, laughter, sometimes other games, but always The Gift Game. Then, at the stroke of midnight, one of the kids gets to be Santa and passes out the gifts from under the tree.

Here's how the Gift Game works. (Also great for holiday parties instead of Secret Santa!)

Ask each person to bring at least two gifts worth under $5 or $10. (based on your family's or guests' general budget). These can be dollar store finds, things they made, things they don't need anymore, trinkets, gags, toys, candy, whatever. There's no minimum on price; it can be a bag of holiday M&Ms. It should include items for everyone of age to participate -- things for kids, things guys would appreciate, things women would appreciate. Every item should be wrapped -- the more interesting the wrapping, the better!

You'll need a pair of dice and a timer of some sort, preferably one that makes a noise when time is up.

Here's how the game works. You put the presents in a pile in the middle of the table and hand the dice to one person. A roll of 7 or 11, and the person can take a present. They then pass the dice to the next person. Keep it moving quickly. Once all of the presents have been distributed, set the timer for 7 minutes (if you have a huge group make it more time, or a smallish one, a little less... I also recommend 2 pairs of dice for more than 10 people). Once the timer is set, start the dice going around again, only this time on a roll of 7 or 11 the person can STEAL a present from one of the other people. When the timer goes off, whatever you have is yours.

Although the spirit of Christmas usually prevails after all the stealing, and people end up giving the presents to people who would like them.

One year I had two sewn-shut mini stockings, one with a rock and a $5 and a note that said the person was "nice", and the other with a piece of coal that said they'd been "naughty." :)

~~oOo~~

Another game I've instituted at holiday parties recently is called Pass the Parcel and is actually a game that dates back to medieval times. Again, buy an assortment of cheap/small gifts. You then wrap a parcel in layers. Each layer is a square of scrap fabric (thrift store time!) tied securely with a ribbon, and has either a gift, or a "forfeit." A forfeit is a slip of paper with some silly task written on it that the person must do (think truth or dare), such as sing a silly song, impersonate an animal, take this candy ring and propose to the person of your choice, take this pencil and have the person next to you draw a mustache on you. Be creative, but not cruel.

Here's how the game works. Have someone controlling the music, preferably some festive and fast holiday music. The guests stand in a circle and when the music starts begin passing the parcel. When the music stops, the person holding the parcel opens a layer. If it's a gift, it's theirs. If it's a forfeit, they have to do the assigned embarrassing task.

If you have mixed adults and kids at your party run separate Parcel games for them, and if you have a lot of guests have 2 parcels (but don't let them open them at the same time, do one at a time).

Every time we've done this (I've instituted it at our middle school Renaissance club's Christmas party) it's been a blast. Try it this year :)

May your Christmas be full of laughter!

Monday, December 8, 2008

December Specials & Free Stuff


For the month of December you'll get a free gift from my shop with any purchase over $5. These will tend to be earrings or rings, so if you have unusually sized fingers or earring preferences (i.e. nickel sensitivity) let me know when you buy.

Also for the month, gift boxing and wrapping is free! Please send me a convo or email when you order to request gift wrapping if your item is a gift. One less stress this holiday season! I've been told I do very nice gift wrapping, by the way. It's kind of an obsession of mine. I may post a picture if I get to wrap the stuff that's hiding in my closet today.

Don't forget I do custom items, so you can visit www.youvegotmaille.net to create the perfect present, or request a gift certificate in any amount so your recipient can design their own jewelry.

Happy holidays from my household to yours!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snowflower [Carnival]


Snow Crocuses Photo by SimplySaren

Crocus

naked branches scratch the leaden sky that bears down upon
necks bent against winter's bite
and people rush in, stamping, shivering, unraveling
scarves and chills
in the welcome warmth that is home.
the long months of digging out from beneath the oppressive snow
grow tedious after the cheer of the holidays is passed
and the white
Christmas
you wished for (when will it END?)
has become tarnished, traffic painting it
carbon monoxide black.
Just when you thought the tip of your nose would never thaw,
the sky clears
the white gives way to muck that's almost worse than the snow that still lingers in places
and blessed March
brings purplewhiteyellow messengers of hope
daring to push delicate petals through the crystals and muck
and for the first time since the fluffy flakes first limned the trees in white
and took your frosted breath away
you remember to
stop
and
look

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We'll Miss You Sara :(


Up until now I have been very happy with the organization that is Etsy, and really hardly any complaints at all. Sadly, that changed this weekend.

I found out that Etsy (for reasons they are unwilling to disclose) is terminating the position of Sara (sarawearsskirts) who has been Teams liaison. It occurs to me that Sara is the reason my opinion of Etsy personnel is so high. In the months since I've joined and shortly thereafter started Etsy Chainmaillers' Guild she has been the "face" of Etsy for me. A real person I can contact when I need something Teams-related (which is usually what I need), super helpful and friendly, and professional.

So needless to say I was disturbed when I heard that not only are they letting her go, but they're eliminating her job as liason. Now, Teams leaders cannot go in and edit their team page -- that's one thing Sara did -- so my first question is, who's going to edit the pages (personally I think Teams leaders should have been able to do this themselves a long time ago).

Most disturbingly, no teams leaders were notified of this, it was discovered backhandedly via Sara's blog and then Etsy forum thread. Why the secretiveness and lack of communication?

I think Etsy is a wonderful place to do business, but if there is no one to step up and take over what Sara has been doing, it will lose a lot of the "homey" feel that makes Etsy so beloved to me. I really hope they're not going for more of a corporate feel. :(

Sadly, there really aren't any non-vague answers from admin, although to their credit, it is the weekend. We'll see what Monday brings. All that was said was that another guy will be working with us and teams will be taking "a slightly different direction" in '09.

Needless to say, Sara, if you chance across this, you will be very much missed. To me, you ARE Etsy and so much of makes it what it is. I wish you all the luck in whatever you choose to do next; whatever it is, they will be very fortunate indeed to have you.

Oh, and here's the thread if you're interested. http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5942855&page=1

And Sara's blog if you know her and would like to tell her she will be missed. http://girlscantell.typepad.com/all_things_girls_can_tell/2008/12/end-of-an-era.html

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peppermint Twist

Our featured EtsyBlogger inspired an entire feature on the wonders of peppermint and candy canes. Feast your senses.


Christmas Elf Stocking PDF Pattern by LifeBarn

There have GOT to be sugarplums dancing in that head. Hey, it's cold out there, and if you've got a little bald-headed thing you carry around on occasion, it needs one of these! Knit yourself some elfy goodness. Bet you'll never forget baby's first Christmas.


Candy Cane Lampwork Icicle Ornament by RuskinDesigns

I have a kitten. This is sad, because I adore glass ornaments, and in particular handmade glass ornaments. I have several similar to the one above that are clear. I got brave and put them (and the one made out of an egg with a snowy scene inside it) on my tree this year despite the insane 6-lb. furball I live with. Cross your fingers for me, so far he's been more nice than naughty... well, since I removed the tree skirt so he couldn't play hide and pounce with his kitty toys.
But I LOVE this ornament... candy canes and iciciles... it seems like a natural combination now that I think about it, but I've never seen anything like this that I can recall. So cool!


Peppermint Candy Cane Tutu by Hannah's Tutus

Wow I have a baby thing today. I think it's cause my 15-year-old isn't really that into it this year.... sadness. Wish I had a handful of Christmases to look forward to with a little one. But there will be nieces, nephews and grandkids, one of these days!
So if you've got a little girl, here's what you're going to do. You're going to buy one of these A.D.O.R.A.B.LE. tutus, you're going to make an appointment at your local professional photographer, and you're going to make this your Christmas card this year. Everyone you send them to will treasure them forever. And you'll also have something to drag out on prom night to embarrass the heck out of her.


Candy Cane Silver-Cored Lampwork Bead by Elysium Beads

Yeah, I know, more glass. Can't help it... I love glass, and you have to admit it lends itself to candy cane imitation.
These are some of the BEST lampwork beads on Etsy. I spent about half an hour looking at them yesterday, because I intend to try some Viking Knit in anodized niobium and sterling silver with a focal lampwork bead on the necklace at some point in the very near future. So, rest assured, I will be buying from these amazingly talented people. If you're a glass addict like me you owe it to yourself to look at these little works of art.


Peppermint Bark Brownies by Edith and Ethel

I had to put some sort of food in this feature, since, well, peppermint is food, and I said "feast your senses." So I searched Etsy's food section for peppermint and as soon as I saw these... oh man.... I stared. I drooled. Chocolate and peppermint are a match made in heaven. If, on the off chance that you want to buy me a Christmas present.... there ya go. Instant holiday bliss.


Peppermint Stretchy Chainmaille Bracelet by You've Got Maille

It occurs to me that I never do any shameless plugs in these feature bits, so here it is. My holiday item for the year since I somehow haven't had time to do all the other sugarplum ideas dancing in my head. I'll even put a big jingle bell on it for you if you want. :)


December's EtsyBlogger


Limited Edition Candy Cane Soap

Being a peppermint fanatic, I promise I'll be trying that soap. One of the best things about the holidays, is Peppermint.

I used to frequent Etsy's forums. There, I came across a soap maker asking the question: "Have you tried handmade soap? If not, why not?" Couldn't really answer that. Then Naiad kindly sent me a sample bar, and I was... am... hooked.

So I'll ask you the same question. Have you tried handmade soap? If not, why not? It's much gentler on your skin than store soap. The lather is dreamy. The scents are amazing. You'll stand around in the shower longer because it's so great. You'll never go to Bath & Body Works again. I swear to you I have laid in bed in that twilight between awake and asleep, trying to think of a good reason to get out of bed, and there have been a few times that handmade soap has been that reason.

I haven't tried Spotted Cow's soap yet, but like I said, I need that peppermint soap, so... I will be. But if I haven't, why should you?
1) Free sample with every order
2) 8 bars ship for the same flat rate
3) She does gift wrapping and gift baskets
4) On your gift list... who couldn't use soap? She has guy stuff too.
5) Not just soap... spa/bath accessories, bath bombs, kid soap, sugar scrub, crochet bath accessories, soy candles...

Seriously. If you haven't tried handmade soap spring for the 5 bucks, do yourself a favor, go buy. Your holiday stress (that you're not supposed to be having... see post below!) will wash away.

Oh, and check out her blog too! http://SpottedCowSoaps.blogspot.com


Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday SALE!!



You've Got Maille
is joining with 49 other Etsy Bloggers in a gigantic holiday sale. Check out our shop -- 10% off everything and free shipping on any order over $30.

WYSIWYG Beads
, my supplies shop, is a little low on stock right now but I'm working on that. It'll also have 10% off plus free shipping on any order over $20.

Check out our other great bloggers who are saling this weekend, as well! Avoid the crowds and buy handmade... your gift recipients will thank you :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Interlude [EB Carnival]


The question: How are you going to prepare your business for the holiday rush?

The short answer: I'm not. Not really.

The long answer:

So far, I've done four craft shows in the past three months (two of them "holiday" shows), all with moderately pleasing success but nothing to write home about. Sales both online and at fairs have definitely picked up since the onset of the holiday season, which is great because it means I can afford more materials.

On the other hand, it has also meant cranking out massive amounts of the same thing, something I do not particularly enjoy and that turns art into drudgery. The last thing I want. This is still a hobby before it's a business and I'm honestly not sure I want that to change.

I really wanted to do this Dickens of a Christmas Victorian show in "historic Franklin Tennessee" thing, but I'm too late to apply for it. Besides that, the booth fee was $165, it's a drive, and if it decided to have a blizzard on December 14, 2008 in Franklin, Tennessee... well, sorry, no refund.

That's a bit scary.

But I have decided that it's time to prepare myself for bigger shows with bigger advertising, bigger attendance and therefore bigger booth fees, so that is the direction my business has decided to take. I think for the most part, unless one comes up and bites me like it did last week, I'll skip most of the upcoming Christmas craft shows. I also am considering setting my sights on Middle Tennessee Renaissance Faire and will need to work on some themed things for that.

One thing I HAVE done is prepare a custom item catalog where you can pick a design, pick your colors, choose a focal pendant or your beads, and I make your design to specs. More info about that on my website: http://www.youvegotmaille.net The great thing about that is that there's no stress of building up a stock. I love doing custom orders, too.

Reason two: I'm suffering a little burnout. I have wanted very much to try some new techniques, new stuff, new designs, and have had to back burner everything to make sure I had enough stock for craft shows. So the near future holds for me some experiments in macrame, peyote bead weaving, wire wrapping, polymer clay, wire tree making, and a wacky idea I had "Christmas Ornaments for Geeks." I used to paint Warhammer miniatures and I have half a closetful (well not quite) and I thought they might make cute and amusing Christmas tree ornaments if adapted. They will show up on Etsy, maybe even in time for Christmas decorating. A lot of the above may get integrated with my first love, chainmaille. I love the way wire wrapping looks but doing it is stress for me (especially when, as with the pendant above, the results are nothing like the picture in my head), whereas weaving maille is like needlework: mostly mindless and relaxing, once I know the weave well.

But I've decided not to stress about ANYTHING related to the holidays, because that takes the fun out of them for me, so I am going to have a chat with my inner child, sit down at my workbench and play instead of working. The results of that are usually better, anyway.

Etsyblogger of the Month: Storybeader


I just love donut beads and this one looks so native. It's brought to you by Storybeader, and the letters O and W, and the number 0.

Deb (aka Storybeader) is a super nice person and I'm thinking she's visited my Blogger Carnivals more than any other single person. Not only that, but she makes beaded jewelry that isn't your run-of-the mill (there's a lot of mill out there). Best of all, every one comes with a haiku! Here's the one for the item above

Union, the joining
Together of elements
From both earth and sea.


I love this item too.

Colorful disks, side
By side, form a long strand that
Matches all your shirts.

Heehee... and they look like a pack of Necco wafers!

Go check out her shop and her blog.

New FAE Exhibition


Please check out Fantasy Artist's of Etsy's latest Exhibition with New Beginnings as it's theme. I thought this one was really interesting to see the way our members interpreted it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Letter from the (almost) President


I mostly try to keep politics out of this blog (sometimes unsuccessfully, I know), but on the day after the election I want to say something. I got the following email with the subject line "How this Happened" at 11:18 last night. Before Obama's acceptance speech, and about 20 minutes after Florida pushed him over the 270 electoral votes he needed to win.

Deanna --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,

Barack


This touched me. Before he went to celebrate his victory, he took a moment to thank the people who campaigned for him and donated to his campaign, and to claim his victory, not for himself, but for them. He did the same in the acceptance speech. "This is your victory," he said. "We didn't start with a lot of money..." And that's true, he didn't have Mitt Romney money to spend on this himself, he didn't have lobbyist money. What he did have, and does have, is an incredible ability to inspire. Two thirds of people under 30 voted for Obama. And -- this is the statistic that is important to me -- 11% of the electorate yesterday was people who have never voted before. Three quarters of those voted for Obama. Even John McCain, in his concession speech, tipped his hat to Barack for his ability to inspire people to come to the polls. That is remarkable.

I said in a myspace bulletin yesterday, urging people to go and vote, that the next president will be the first since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to inherit a country under both financial and foreign policy crises, and that I believe Barack Obama can step into those shoes. And the letter above reinforced that opinion. Roosevelt's famous fireside chats took advantage of the most current media of the day to step into people's homes and make them feel like the president was their friend and concerned about their problems. Barack is taking advantage of email, youtube, and the Internet to do the same. I had the feeling last night as I read that, that I could send him a letter and he would read it. And it would matter. I don't know if that's the case -- and I'm aware that the email could have been pre-written and sent by one of his "people." Still, the feeling is there, and the fact that he inspired it impresses me.

I saw history made last night, and not because the first black man became President of the United States. I truly hope that within my lifetime we can have an election with a woman, or a person of any non-white race, and it's not a big deal. We can look at their personhood and their qualifications and not this periperhal stuff. No, that's not what I mean by making history. Last night, for the first time in my lifetime, I had the feeling that the man we elected is a great man. There have been few enough of those in American history, and fewer still in the oval office, and heaven knows we need one now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let it Snow

It snows here in Tennessee, but on most days it's gone by noon. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the snow where I grew up in Cleveland. I'm not sure I'd rush back to it -- I don't miss shoveling the driveway or digging the car out in the morning -- but my wish for this season is one good, lasting Tennessee snow.

I have memories of cutting out snowflakes in paper, making beaded ones for Christmas tree ornaments, of snow angels and snowball fights and sled riding... in honor of those memories I present to you these Etsy items.


10 Snowflake Christmas Cards by Sarah Knight

These are so pretty... and because they're glittery I'm guessing the picture doesn't do them justice. Have you been sending Christmas cards the last few years? I confess I've neglected it, but I think I am going to remedy that this year. It's so nice to be remembered with a Christmas card, especially if, like me, you're not at home this holiday season. Sarah has these in a variety of color schemes, check them out.


Snowflake Fairytale Kitten Cameo by Spellbound Wings

This is an original print by the artist applied to a cameo... is it not adorable! It gives me visions of chainmaille settings to put it in, silver and deep blue... while you're visiting this cameo definitely check out Melissa's other items if you like cats or fantasy (or both!), her paintings are breathtaking and her jewelry is fantastic. Be sure to take a peek at the full sized print of this work of art and magic.


Snowflake-tini by Artistic-tini

I can just imagine standing around at a holiday party with a chilly martini in these fantastic hand painted glasses! Check the shop for tons of holiday and other themes handpainted onto glasses (not just martini glasses). I know I always say look at the shop, but these people are really talented! :)
I'm not sure the blue would match my beloved appletini or cosmopolitan so I'd probably have to go with the pepperberries and pine glasses.... now I'm really looking forward to that New Year's party!


Frosty Blue Snowflake Suncatcher Whirl by Creations in Glass

I was pretty sure when I started this blog post that I would feature something in glass. Snowflakes are so crystalline, it's hard to imagine not portraying them in glass. Well, Creations in Glass has done a gorgeous job. If I had a sunny window (sadly, I don't... all my big windows are north-facing) like my mom's house I can just imagine the morning sunshine dancing off this and throwing sparkles all over a room. You need that in the winter, especially up north!

If you live where you get a solid few months of winter, instead of grumbling the next time the snow falls, pause for a moment and enjoy the wonder of it. The way it coats the trees, the way it sparkles as it falls, the pristine perfection of it new fallen. Then take the kids out and do something fun this winter and think of us poor snowless people here in the south :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Candy Cane Lane craft show report



I and my bud Rachelle from DeLavande attended the first annual Candy Cane Lane Craft Show this past weekend. Since I put in my application a bit late, I was kind of "out back" and I think I missed out on some traffic, but I also paid a third of what the people in the indoor booths paid, and since the day was gorgeous it wasn't a bad deal. LLORE also put on a little skit with our dances that went fairly well, despite the tininess of the stage. I sold a wire wrapped sterling necklace I'd made just two days before and a keychain and pair of earrings. The fudge was a smash hit (I can't count how many people walked by and went "Ooooohhhh, fudge....") and I sold 5 lbs. of it. The peanut butter fudge was an especially big hit :)

That's me at the booth above in Renaissance garb for the dances, attempting a maille choker that I gave up on because the AR was a little unworkable. I also gave out lots of catalogs. All in all not a bad day.

I've hit a restless phase. I wouldn't say I'm exactly bored with chainmaille, but I have the urge to branch out and do a few new things, maybe some peyote, maybe some macrame, maybe some new forms of wire work. I also am kicking around creating a line of "Christmas for Geeks" ornaments. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh fudge.


I've been reading the latest Blog Carnival posts from Etsy Bloggers; the last one was either a scary Halloween story or a recipe, so I was inspired to share. This weekend I'm doing a Christmas craft fair, and in addition to my chainmaille and wire I thought I'd make some fudge to sell. I typically make it for friends and familiy at Christmas time and I thought I'd share my recipes for chocolate and peanut butter. Except now I'm hungry. Darnit. Oh, by the way, I got both of these from allrecipes.com, which is the awesomest place to get recipes. I hardly buy cookbooks anymore. I love being able to read a review on a recipe and suggestions for modifications before making it. I suggest recruiting stirring help for the fudge ahead of time or if you're making more than one batch you will feel it the next day :)

Creamy Chocolate Fudge
1 7oz jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional.. I usually do a batch of each)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Line your pan (I use a loaf pan but you can use an 8 x 8 pan) with foil. A double boiler works best for this so as not to scorch your chocolate, with about an inch of water in it, but you can also use a saucepan if you're careful. Combine marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, butter & salt. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly (CONSTANTLY! your arm WILL hurt). Remove from heat, pour in chips and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla, pour into prepared pan. Chill at least 2 hours, 4 is better, until firm. Pull out with foil and slice.

Creamy Peanut Butter Fudge
4 cups sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 can evaporated milk
1 7oz jar marshmallow creme
1 16oz jar peanut butter (buy the cheap stuff, it won't hurt this, but nothing that separates)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Line pan (loaf or 8 x 8) with foil. In double boiler or saucepan combine sugars, butter & evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes STIRRING CONSTANTLY. Remove from heat, stir in marshmallow creme until incorporated and melted, then stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Spread in pan, refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Pull out with foil and slice.

Enjoy! These make great presents for friends and family if you're too poor for fancy gifts (or even if you're not)... not too many people hate fudge. Watch out for diabetics though. I may look for a sugar free recipe this year. Stay tuned for the Chocolate Covered Cherries recipe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yay for cool people and good ideas!


Crystal Waterfall Peyote Pendant by Time2Cre8

Seems like almost every time I do a feature post I discover another way cool person on Etsy. This time I featured that stunningly cool Obama cuff (see post below!) and when I wrote to tell Mary Lou at Time2Cre8 about the feature I mentioned that I keep going back to look at it. Well, guess what... she suggested a trade, which I happily did, and now it's mine :) Yay! And I STILL keep going back to her shop and going "OOOOooooohhhhh...." all over again. Like the pendant above. Who'da thought you could take humble seed beads and make something that's totally black dress stunning? (not that I've stuffed myself in a black dress in years!). As it turns out, she even grew up in Cookeville about 30 miles from where I live now. If you haven't looked at her beadwork, GO DO IT. It's completely amazing.


Army Man Soap by Anniepoo

Hadn't planned on doing an item feature today but I ran across this while browsing the Time Machine (my name is Deanna, and I'm an Etsy addict...) and it's so crazy cool I had to mention it. These little army mans are coated with enough soap for one little bod washing, so once your lil guy is done soaping up he can be in ur base killing ur dudes and MIGHT actually get clean in the process... without leaving the soap in the water and wasting it, cause it's single use. After a few days he'll have a collection. What a cool idea! There's "booger soap" for single use hand washing, too. You KNOW she's got to have little boys, and I'm wondering if that just might get my 15-year-old to wash HIS hands on a regular basis. Check the other stuff in Annie's shop too... she's got molded soaps pretty enough for the guest room soap dish, and other stuff that 's fun enough, it might make you think about taking a soak to play with little mans yourself ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Holidays!!



Okay, I'm psyched because I've been so busy that I suddenly realized... the holiday season kind of kicks off this weekend! I spent the years between teenagerhood and about six years ago not celebrating holidays so they kind of mean a lot to me now. I get a huge kick out of the whole holiday experience and I gotta tell you, the people (and I think they are in the majority) who are a huge drag on the holidays, I just don't get. Do you really hate them that much? Maybe you should think about why, and what you can do to make it better.

So I have two things to say to you.

One, don't stress this year. I mean it. If it means doing things ahead of time so you're not cramming at the last minute and hating all of this, DO IT. Do your shopping online, and start RIGHT NOW. I have a crazy suggestion... go to Etsy and start looking for presents. There's unique stuff in every price range that you'll NEVER find at Wal-Mart. You can skip the wretched experience of fighting holiday last minute shopping crowds and let your mailman bring YOU the stuff this year. My brother got caffeinated soap one year. I got my hackey sack loving friend a chainmaille one. Another friend loves Friday the 13th and I got him a Jason keychain. Make a list. Shop online. Do it now. A couple of other favorite sites for unique item shopping: ThinkGeek and CafePress. And -- I confess it, I won't sell there but I shop there for Christmas all the time -- Ebay. Go to Etsy first though.

Two, renew your holiday traditions this year. If you don't have kids, go kidnap a niece, nephew, even a neighbor kid. (Make cookies. Decorate a tree. Carve a pumpkin. Hang lights. Search for a simple online craft to do. Make pine cone ornaments, or a really pretty one thet commemorates this year. Decorate a tree outside with strung popcorn and pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed and celebrate with the birds and squirrels.) And remember what the holidays looked like when you were that little. They were magic. They still are, if you let them. I have a couple of really fun traditions that our family does that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks that I hope will make your family's holiday odyssey more fun.

Oh, and keep a journal or blog about what you're doing for the holidays and give me a yell here so I can share with you. :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Did you notice? It's election time!

With, I think, the most serious issues facing the US in my lifetime, this election is going to be the one that makes a really big difference in the future. Please, don't let yourself be without a say in the direction the future takes. Please vote on November 4. I make no secret about my Democratic leanings, but even if you're going to vote for McCain, vote!

In celebration of our choices in America, I give you a few nifty election-related, mostly humorous Etsy items.


Election 2008 Shadow Puppet Set by Orange Moon Toys

Is this not so cool! With this handy set you can reenact the debates they way they should've been!
"Your mama so fat, when they foreclosed on her house they couldn't fit her out the door!"
"Oooh, you so did not say that!"
"Did so!"
"Well MY plan is going to make it so your fat mama can STAY in her house!"

Yeah, I'm a responsible voter.


"If I'm Not a Real American" Button by Button Empire

This is in reference to Sarah Palin's little faux pas the other day: "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns... pockets of what I call real America, pro-America areas of this great nation." Sorry, fake American big city peeps. On a related note, Paper Machinations has a button that says, "Big City. Real American. Registered voter." Gov. Palin has since done her best to remove her foot from her mouth.


Obama Beadwoven Peyote Cuff by Time2Cre8

K not so much on the humor here. Have you ever noticed an election to have an instantly recognizable logo before? I thought this was a rather nifty candidate marketing technique and great design for embodying his whole "Hope" campaign theme. Maybe the logo's been done before and I didn't notice. Anyway I saw this cuff and went "OMG That's so cool!" because it is. You should buy it, because I'm a poor Democrat and can't afford to. But I would if I could!


Cthulhu for President Cross Stitch by Nrapture

I don't think I can say it better than the designer of this extremely cool cross stitch pattern. (which you can buy from her shop either as a pattern to make yourself, or a finished piece). If you vote for him, you'll have the privilege of being eaten last. Y'know if this was a button I'd probably buy it. Don't know who Cthulhu is? He'd be H.P. Lovecraft's ultimate embodiment of evil. Or you could just vote Republican.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm kidding! George Bush and his entourage aren't running this year.


One more time. PLEASE VOTE!!!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just Not Scary (Carnival)



So my Renaissance group is participating in this Haunted Hollow hayride thing. Originally we were supposed to do the Thriller dance we're learning for Thrill the World, but people don't come to haunted hayrides to watch people dance, apparently. We hadn't even gotten stared when they left. So, to Plan B: just scare the crap out of 'em. A lot of our group (particularly the ones still in high school) get a huge kick out of this. I came the next night dressed as a gypsy with my crystal ball -- it lights up and looked really darned cool with the fog machine -- and my predictions of doom. While the rest of our group jumping out at people and screaming for blood seemed to do some decent scaring, I was mostly ignored. My voice isn't scary. My hair? THAT was scary., ratted and sprayed with white hairspray. Actually, maybe more "creepy". I think I'm really just not cut out for the scaring thing.

But I can dance.

Oh, and I'm also really good at making OTHER people scary. The above pics are Brandon in zombie-in-progress and zombified. I had more requests to do people's zombie makeup/wardrobe than I could fill. Dammit, Jim, I'm an artist not a monster!

An update: On October 25, 2008, our small group of 33 people danced Thriller simultaneously with a total 4177 worldwide throughout 92 cities in 10 countries, shattering the previous year's world record. Here's our Thrill the World dance:

video

I'm tagged like a killer whale


Orca Mug by Mudfairy (OMG is it not adorable!)

Jill at Liv'n Good Jewelry tagged me. I think they're tracing my migration with a radio somewhere now.

So now I have to tell you 7 obscure facts about me. Then I go attack... I mean visit... some other bloggers and make them do the same thing. Problem is, I just changed the layout on my blog and it ATE my favorite bloggerpeople (that sounds like it should be a song with a folksy 70s acoustic guitar accompaniment... well except the getting eaten part). I'm rebuilding my blog list so if you visit, please comment so I can visit your blog and add it to my list (if I like your blog!). This is a major bummer, because that was how I navigated to other blogs I like to read, rather than "following" them. Lesson learned.

I shall present the rules more clearly.
1. Link to your tagger list and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your blog by leaving their names & links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 things you never wanted to know about Dee:
1. A lot of the time, I'm pretty sure I know what animals are thinking, especially my own animals (5 cats, 2 dogs, 1 bird).
2. The Democrat would have to be pretty awful to make me vote Republican. If there was a democratic Sarah Palin, that'd do it.
3. I play violin, viola and piano and love to sing (soprano) in choirs, or anywhere else for that matter. But I rarely sing in the shower.
4. I am the spelling master. There are a few words that trip me up (usually drug names) but for the most part I can see something once and spell it from then on. And I actually found work that that's useful for!
5. I homeschooled my son Brandon for K-2 and 6th grade. He's now 15. I love teaching just about anything.
6. Can't live without my coffee, but my coffee must have plenty of flavored creamer in it. My friend said, "That's not coffee, that's dirty milk."
7. I have been told that my aura is green, which means I'm a healer by nature. Seeing auras is something I've never managed to do.

7 people I am going to pester with this:
1. Rachelle at Delavande
2. Mary Ann at Morning Sky Jewelry
3. Pam at Get Silvered
4. Janine at Athena's Armoury
5. Karla at Thyme2Dream
6. Tammy at Dragons Fire Chainmaille
7. Erin at e-Maille

There, I'm done!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thrill the World 2008


An update on what LLORE is doing: we're making something of a departure from our usual Renaissance reenactment to be zombies this Halloween season. We're participating in Haunted Hollow's hayride at Hidden Hollow Park 2 weekends this month. And on October 25, 2008, we're joining Thrill the World in an attempt to shatter last year's world record (1700 or so people) doing the Thriller dance simultaneously worldwide. (also part of our act for the hayride). If you're in Tennessee, come on down and be scared! Check our myspace for details.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Craft Show Report #2


Last weekend I shared a booth with Delavande at Sandbar Arts and Crafts Festival, Rock Island, Tennessee. A small fair, but the booth fee was beyond reasonable, and it had an extremely homey feel to it (complete with announcer with serious Tennessee accent that I sometimes found difficult to understand... and he kept encouraging people to go see the "erotic animals" in the petting zoo... think he meant something else.)

As far as sales go, I did not bad but not great. The above bracelet sold; people seem interested in copper as arthritis relief, and I think those six-in-one bracelets would be great, if it works. However, people in general definitely do not seem to be in a buying mood these days, for which I can't blame them, with all the media about how the economy is going down the crapper, and gas prices what they are (although they are down a bit). Saturday I did better on sales, Sunday I had the feeling people were wandering around looking vaguely at the displays, but not REALLY looking, if you know what I mean. Sad times, might get sadder.

On an amusing note, I had these pretty glass orb paperweights holding my earring display frame up. These always get lots of attention and I could've sold them several times over. In the afternoon, though, we got a lot of direct sun right on the booth, and well... the paperweights set the table on fire (so that DOES work!). Russ saw a little whisp of smoke, and when I went to take the tablecloth off, it was fused to the table with a hole and a burn mark. Yikes! Glad it was synthetic melty material and not something more flammable.

I did pick up some really nice stuff myself -- AMAZING homemade flavored cider, some really good goat's milk soap, a pendant that I intend to make into something spectacular with maille, and Russ couldn't stop raving about the homemade rock candy. Of course, I spent my profits and then some, but a good time was had by all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day Job



You asked for it, EtsyBloggers blog carnival! Time to talk about the day job. Actually, people are usually quite interested in what I do for a living -- medical transcription -- mainly because I have worked from home for the past 12 years (with a full time job break here and there, but I was still doing the transcription part time... can't resist the extra money). Everybody would love to work from home. Wouldn't they?

Well, I love it. I have juuuuust barely enough self-discipline to keep up with my work (I have to type whatever doctors dictate in a given day, whether it's a lot or a little). It's flexible, so I can cram in some jewelry making, rearrange work for weekday appointments, be there for my son's school events, decide on a whim to go for a hike in the middle of the day with my husband when he's off work... you get the idea. And if I can't sleep (which happens often), I can stumble in my jammies to the computer and get my work done at 3 a.m. because I know I'll be sleeping in the next day.

So, how did you get involved in this wonder of home labor, people ask me. I'm not much help there, I'm afraid. I'm a good speller, I bought a medical terminology book or three, I had a quasi-medical background in the veterinary field as vet tech, and my mom was doing it and had decided she was sick of it, so she taught me. Sat with me as I typed and whenever I was stumped on what a doc was saying (trust me, most of them do NOT speak carefully, and those are the ones whose primary language is English!), she'd help me out. After that, whenever I was stumped (which still happens 12 years later, but not that much), my really fantastic boss will listen to the tape and tell me what I'm hearing.

What exactly do you do? A doctor speaks into a machine that turns his babbling into a sound file. My boss emails me the sound file, which is basically a patient record, or sometimes letters to other doctors. I listen to it and type (all run through my computer, with a USB pedal that controls the playback -- in the old days we had a minicasette machine). I then email the completed medical document back to her, she double checks it and sends it back to the doctor's office. I've worked for my boss for 12 years and have met her face to face exactly once. I moved from Ohio to Tennessee and still work for the same company. How cool is that? Depends on how much of a people person you are, I suppose. I do sometimes miss the human contact.

So, how can YOU get into this field? First, caveat emptor. There are as many medical transcription scams out there as any other work at home deal. While I won't endorse anything as I have no experience with it, this website is a good place to start: http://www.mtdaily.com/faq.html#23 and this course looked good enough to bookmark when I was interested in certification: http://www.meditec.com/medical-transcription-course-outline.html. Be prepared to pay for a course.

Are you cut out for this? Some considerations:
1) Are you a good speller? Good with words? Most medical words are combinations of latin and greek root words, so once you learn basic medical terminology it's pretty easy to put most things together, with some exceptions because, well, this is English.
2) Are you a fast typist? Most employers pay by the keystroke, which means the faster you type, the more you get paid by the hour. And if you're really fast, and you know how to maximize the AutoText in MS Word and other features of your WP program, you can make GOOD GOOD money for the time.
3) How self-disciplined are you? Working from home isn't easy. Your family might seem supportive now, but they know your work is flexible and they WILL ask you to drive crap they forgot to work/school, take them places, help with stuff.... even if they feel bad when you're still working at 9 p.m. You HAVE to learn to make work time work time (at least most of the time), stay OFF the phone (your friends will understand even less how valuable your time is), and say no sometimes. And sometimes the midmorning nap has to wait till you get work done (I know, sounds rough, doesn't it?). If you've got a toddler who isn't good at entertaining themselves for hours at a time (are any of them?), I'd recommend getting someone to watch them for a few hours a day anyway, either in family or out.
4) Got a hubby with a good job that provides health insurance? Cause I've never come across the work at home med trans opportunity that provides it. Sadly. Also, nearly all places have you working, not as an employee, but as an independent contractor. Translation: you are your own business, and therefore must pay both employer and employee taxes. Translation: tax time is a bitch. So being disciplined with sending in that quarterly tax money is a plus (haven't mastered this yet myself).
5) One caveat: with advancements in voice software, I have a little bit of concern about the future of my job, but since doctors, as previously mentioned, do not speak slowly and carefully, so far they have not been able to be trained to create medical records without a lackey to translate for them. This may change in the future though.

A few other recommendations, if you get into the field: Stedman's is your friend. Their medical spellchecker will save you HOURS of thumbing through books looking for a word. And I'd definitely say to get a Word Book on your particular field of medicine. Check half.com and Amazon's used books, although I'd recommend getting the latest version of the spellchecker.

If you're REALLY interested and have questions, I'm open to emails from other Etsians (but not the world at large). Dmedtrans@blomand.net

Can't think of much else at the moment. If you're not interested this'll probably have been an excruciatingly boring blog post, but I do get a lot of people asking questions, so there it is. Since I currently spend far more on chainmaille & wire wrapping supplies than I am making from it, I won't be quitting the day job any time soon!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Etsyblogger of the Month: BF Beads


Aquamarine & Apricot Baby Friendly Nursing Necklace

As soon as I saw this shop I thought, what a great idea. Tough, claspless jewelry that's strong enough for a baby to tug on while he/she is nursing, and if you've ever nursed, you know... those little hands are strong and they want to hold on to or play with something at meal times! Instead of sadly resigning yourself to not wearing jewelry for the next three years, get something that's tough enough to survive, interesting enough to play with, yet still pretty enough to draw compliments from the non-teething crowd! Also check out her other shop, Mama's Magic Studio, and her blog, Mama's Magic.

FAE Fright Night Exhibition



Fantasy Artists of Etsy's latest Exhibition: Fright Night is live. Check it out HERE. Tons of talented artists in a variety of media displyay their wares in a Halloween theme. Happy haunting!

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Craft Show


Well, Saturday was my first craft show, at Liberty Square Festival here in Sparta. Not bad for a first run, really. The item above sold (although it's on my custom item catalog and can be reproduced), along with MANY stretchy bracelets and keychains, and distributed many of our custom item brochures. I'm pretty happy with the results. Our Renaissance group, LLORE, also performed, with a few glitches :)

In other news, our website is live! Check it out: http://www.youvegotmaille.net It's mainly for creating custom items, with galleries of our one of a kind items, too.

We'll be at Sandbar Arts Craft Festival at Rock Island State Park this weekend Saturday and Sunday (if I survive till Sunday!) sharing a booth with Delavande, so if you're in Tennessee come on by! LLORE will be there, as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Magic (EtsyBloggers Carnival)


Advent of Fall Pendant by Elysian Fields


There's something in the air in autumn. The bite of promised cold, the smell of harvests past ripening. Magic, maybe.

Since I moved to Tennessee I love fall more than I used to. Up north, fall was a threat of a long, hard, cold winter. Autumn was a time to pull your resolve around you like your favorite cozy sweater and bear down to endure the snow and the dark days. Here, it is a respite from the oppressive summer heat and humidity, like a deep breath that stills the soul to peacefulness. You remember to look, because something is different.

The trees are magical. Shades from purple to amber to blazing red dress their leafy crowns until they create one of the most perfect wonders for a small child: raked piles of leaves. When I was young I had a dog that would follow his tennis ball ANYWHERE, and it still brings a smile to my face to think about throwing his ball into a three-foot-high pile of leaves, watching him take a flying leap into it and vanish. The mound would then move like a thing alive, until he emerged with his prize, triumphant, with a comic dry leaf or two stuck in his fur and an enormous smile on his face. Of course we took plenty of our own flying leaps, too.

Autumn is change, more than any other season. It is both celebration and preparation. It is ripened apples and harvested pumpkins, it is the crunch and rustle of leaves beneath your feet. It is dew that shifts to frost, coloring the world in subdued hues as dawn shades the morning in matching lavenders and peaches. It is the smell of a knit sweater that you pull out for the first time this year, the smell of last year's you that will never be quite the same. It is the most spectacular sunsets, and harvest moons, and a clear night sky in which each star seems sharper, more focused. It is gathering, both the harvest and the family, and thankfulness. Even up north, it was the contentment of knowing that, no matter what the winter or the future holds, we will survive it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

EtsyBloggers Featured Member for September: Joey & Aleethea


Oh man, these are some cute kids' clothes! Makes me miss having anklebiters around :)

Our beloved EtsyBloggers leader, Joey & Aleethea, is our featured member for September. If you've got munchkins you MUST visit her shop. And she's having a sale this month!


And right now on her blog http://joeyandaleethea.typepad.com/blog/ she's having a giveaway so GO VISIT!

(It's a really fun blog too so you should visit just for that reason!)

Chainmaillers' Guild Trunk Show Presentation

In case you'd really love to hear what I said at the Trunk Show tonight, here's a handful and a half of links to the stunningly talented chainmaillers in the Etsy Chainmaillers' Guild. This is the presentation I'll be giving tonight. This will be moved to the Guild blog after the contest but I don't want to make the contest hard to find for now.

Chainmaille can be…


Ancient















.....Or Modern












Fun....












...Or Fancy

















Colorful....













....or Understated








Simple...












...Or Intricate












Distinguished...

















....Or Spunky












Delicate...



















...or Bold











Dressed Up....













...or Jeans-Casual










Masculine...










...or Feminine












It's Very Touchable














And Not Just for Jewelry
















The possibilities are Endless.

















If you're interested in learning chainmaille yourself, here are some of our guild members who can help supply you with the things you need:














One of the wonderful things about Chainmaille is the outstandingly sharing chainmaille community. You can learn many weaves at http://www.mailleartisans.org … and if you decide to make and sell maille here on Etsy, we welcome you to the Chainmaillers' Guild.