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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!