Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter vacation re-visited....

Every year about this time Bittersweet and Calico Petals takes a long winter vacation.  The studio closes through the month of January and life in general is at a much slower pace. 
 The winter rest is not typical of what most refer to a a vacation, but rather a time to reflect on current business thoughts as well as future ones.  Mostly the time is spent pondering and creating new designs for Spring.

This coming spring will bring with it a seasoned 14 years of owning my own business.
I have numerous stories and real life business experiences within my possession that I consider to be a metaphor of a trunk filled with precious treasure.

Although I've always taken the path less walked, not yearning to be big and mass produced, and realizing which opportunities were right and which were wrong has always been the most valuable lesson learned. Both businesses have been operated by instinct and grit, with many stop to smell the flowers along the way. 

As the old year closes and the new one approaches I feel blessed and honored to continue to stroll along the winding road. 
Sometimes not knowing what's behind the next turn can be overwhelming and unsure. An occasional trip is sure to happen.

The most important lesson I've learned...
Never quit what you love to do! 
There are always new treasures awaiting your discovery alone, and although cliche, I do really believe. If the going gets tough, then yes, the tough get going!
That's what you're made of, right? 

 Enjoy a caring and sharing New Year, 2011!


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sugar Plums Danced in my Head...

I've been rummaging through studio pictures from this past summer. It's always bittersweet to look at these photos and reminisce about past creations.
The "Flirty Frocks" were a favorite summer creation.
Creating new handmade is always a satisfying feeling.

The months of December and January are usually centered on the focus of new spring and summer creations. I look through pattern books and search fabric swatches for new ideas and looks.
I've always considerd Bittersweet and Calico to have their own style. Every attempt is made not to copy or duplicate other creations.
Although I like some of the designs I see in magazines, I really don't want to saturate the market with similar creations. 

Making a living from creating with my hands is beyond rewarding.

It's always so very soul satisfying when a customer contacts me to say the still have a handmade Bittersweet or Calico from many years ago.

Fourteen years ago when I quit my secure weekly paycheck job I had no idea what the future held. 
Although it's been challenging at times as the owner of a small business, I've never looked back or had one single regret. 
If you're a maker of handmade and hold down a regular job but are desperately wanting to make the big plunge I say "go for it!" 
Through passion and hard work you're destined to be a success!
Always trust your instincts. That's the best advise I can offer.

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Natural Home Keeping Woman...

When creating new Bittersweet and Calico products generally I focus on things that I like and use. Linen water's and natural aromatic laundry soaps and home keeping essentials are atop the list.

Using smell good natural tinctures and days gone by aromatic additives helps to make normal hum drum household chores a pleasant home keeping pleasure. 


Off to do washing and ironing, sweet!

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.

Jill 00'
Two hugs are better than none

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brave Girls Club

My friend Mandy sent me this link.
I think you will enjoy.

a link to their blog too.

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Another banner changement. Into black and tan at this moment in time.
Studio corners tone on tone.

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chutney Love...

I'm not a seasoned canner, but every time this year I prepare and can fresh jars of Cranberry Chutney to give as gifts to my friends and family.
The recipe only makes 6 half pint jars so I'm fastidious in choosing who receives a jar.

I love this simple recipe and using fresh cranberries to make it.

Canning is not difficult to do. Mostly time consuming. I don't use any special tools or gadgets to can. I have a large stainless still pan for boiling the jars and then remove them with a wooden spoon handle. That's kind of funny to watch, me maneuvering the glass jars on a narrow handle, but nevertheless it works.

Personally, I would much rather receive a handmade gift for Christmas over anything else!

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photo Arrangement's...

I enjoyed using the outdoors for
product shooting last summer. You can't beat the lighting and sharp detail that natural light produces in pictures. This is one of my favorite shots. I had just picked the hydrangea's and their mossy green and powder blue variegated display brought joy to my eyes.
Using the old tattered scale as a prop was even more fun.
I tend to lean toward a simple less cluttered look rather than a bunch of stuff gathered.

It's cold outside now and winter is settling in for a spell. I don't think I'll be taking any outdoor product shots soon, but as soon as Spring ushers in her warm breeze I'll be back at it.

I recently designed a sign for a friends business kind of similar to the pictures above.

Still some tweaking to do, but this is the prototype sign for her new boutique.

I really like it. I also designed another sign for her second business. The two boutiques will be back and back with one another. Kind of tricky when designing signs so close to one another, but these are going to look grand!

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Friday, November 26, 2010


We've made fresh batches of everything Bittersweet! Aromatic Holiday Soaps, Linen Soap Bags, Peppermint Laundry Powder, Pinnie Aprons, Moisture Rich Body Creme, Sugar Baby Exfoliate, Peppermint Lip Balm, and over 100 more unique handmade essentials that if gifted will surely please the most fastidious recipient!
Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Monday, November 15, 2010

My friend Julie...

H'm that postcard design looks very similar to your new blog.
After designing this card for my friend Julies upcoming open house I loved the flashy colors and holiday graphics so that I.....

You would love my friend Julies shop!
The boutique is nestled on the main floor of a
beautiful century old home which is the perfect
backdrop for the vintage theme you will find
throughout. Cottage, Shabby-chic and Romantic
style decorating is my niche. It's all about lacy
linens, pretty plates, teacups and saucers, old
floral hats and beaded purses. Pictures, with
unique frames, from the 50's and earlier cover
the walls more here.
I took this picture a few years ago. I absolutely love this soft pink gown.

If you ever decide to visit my little town, make sure you drop by my friends adorable shabby chic shop!

Enjoy caring and sharing holidays.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Apron Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Mary LeAnn on winning the pinny giveaway on our sister site Bittersweet and the little soap company.
We will be treating Mary LeAnn with the lavender pinny and some Bittersweet goodies too!
Happy Holidays Mary LeAnn!

Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than none

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Holiday Vintage Studio and a GIVEAWAY!.

The Saturday Studio is decking the halls and feeling anxious about the upcoming open house!
Once I get things put together I think a little slide show would be in order so you can peek around.

The holidays are always special at Calico Petals and Bittersweet Soap!
This holidays theme is "a natural Christmas." Only making one purchase, the frosty glistening tree everything else green and recycled and re purposed. I'll be sharing some creative holiday decorating ideas on the slide show.

Don't miss out on the apron giveaway at Bittersweet. Will be posting Monday!

Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friends of Calico and Bittersweet

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Kelly. She's the proprietress of Farmstead.
Kelly has one of the most prettiest most unique farms you'll ever see!
Farmstead has horses, chickens, a beautiful barn, stunning out buildings that are move in ready, tents decked out for cozy camping with girlfriends complete with old fashioned tub.
She also offers creative retreats each month. At the retreats you can learn how to make a variety of handmade things.

When I had my shop downtown Kelly opened a shop next door. We became shop neighbors and friends during that time.
She's since closed her shop as did I and we're both branching out in exciting directions.
I'll be working with Kelly on some logo design work this week. Her new adventure is still hush, hush so I can't spill the beans. Darn it, don't you hate that?

Anyway pop on over to my friend Kelly's blog and check out Farmstead. I think you'll like it there.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Always pass Halloween right up around here. Not my favorite holiday. Wait a moment is it considered a holiday? Oh, I guess it is categorized a holiday, interesting.

If you are into Halloween then here are some vintage postcards from my library you may copy and use.
Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The shape of things to come at Calico Petals...

The process of transforming the studio into holiday-ish mood has began!
You can keep track of my progress by visiting my other little cottage blog,  Bittersweet.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are always better than one

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tis the season continued...

Oh so behind schedule with these.... Had to move shipping up to safely guarantee I'll have them out on time!
I have always loved this vintage image of the little boy, timeless....
Digging my little slogan, "Unwrap the Holidays." Will be perfect to add to the holiday soap packaging.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than none

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October Mood

I"m very fortunate to have access to my rich family history.
Believe it or not my uncle has traced my family back to 1200 where we came from Pakistan. Yes, I know it just doesn't seem possible to go back that many generations, but we have.
We then go to England, France and Germany and Ireland.  The history is quite interesting to say the least. This is on my Dad's side of the family.

My Mother's side doesn't go back quite that far, but nevertheless I do have a record back to 1700 or so.
If you have little or no knowledge of you family's past, I would highly encourage you to investigate a bit and dig up some family history.

I enjoy looking at my family's history books and keepsakes to learn a bit more about how they lived during different decades.

It's very satisfying to know about my great, great, great ancestors.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Monday, September 27, 2010

Illustrations I love...

Kate Greenaway is one of my favorite illustrators. Although her illustrations and writings date back to simpler days I believe her drawings still capture our lives today.
Her children's images are unique and detailed allowing them to stand out from the crowd.
Wouldn't it be grand if the world resembled a Kate Greenaway drawing?

Enjoy caring and sharing days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pondering once again...and again....and again...and again....

Oh yes, my favorite past time pondering random thoughts of marketing, branding and creating. Usually includes right brain overload, or is it left?  Doesn't matter I guess.  Sorry, I was born this way!  I'm not really sorry either, cause that's the way God made me and I'm honored and blessed and count those dear blessings every single day!

Well, Miss Jill so glad you spoke your mind on that!

Designing and branding for my two cottage companies also tops the favorite lists on what I love to do.

So many ways to go too.
Victorian, Vintage, Retro, Contemporary, Cottage, Country and the list goes on.

When I begin creating a logo the first thing I begin pondering is whether that image, design will appeal to most.

For instance...
Some folks don't like country and some dislike Victorian. If they happen upon your logo and disfavor the look of it then chances are they move on down the road.
I always try to convey this message to my clients.
Bottom line is you want your brand to stand out and attract everyone, right?

Anyway, this is something I've learned along the way and I now consider it to be one of the most important components when designing anything.

Contemplating designs for Calico Petals. Just wrapped up something new for Bittersweet. 
The three words under my company title ring true to my heart!
Always follow your gut, it's never wrong!

Off to cut bars of soap.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Show Ready...

This is a shot from last fall when Bittersweet and Calico Petals participated in a showing of their wares when Vintage Market hosted temporary events at Zona Rosa. VM no longer hosts these special showcase events and I really do miss them.
It was fun to be surrounded by kindred spirits and be next to my friend Julie, who also did the shows.
It's hard to believe how fast time goes by and how it's already this time again but a year later.
I don't have any shows planned this fall other than our annual open house the first week of November when the holiday soaps make their debut.
The pinny apron was always popular at this show.
This is a shot of the new owner of a fresh floral pinny.
 Doesn't she look sweet?
Then I took this shot of some fellow show girls all decked out in our new fall hats.
Don't we look cute? Left to right, Ann, Heather, Tony, and Jill

The creamy tone on tone mix of holiday goodies was satisfying to the eye as was this show.
Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Friday, September 3, 2010

a pinny for your thoughts...

I have been offering the pinny apron at Calico Petals and Bittersweet for a few years now. They are copied from a 1967 McCall's apron pattern that my friend Sharon, (aka the pattern fairy) shared with me several years ago. Sharon teaches sewing if that tells you anything. She's an excellent teacher. Although I have never experienced her teaching class first hand, I can tell by our visits that she is patient and very knowledgeable about all aspects of sewing including sewing machine tips.

I on the other hand am stubborn when it comes to learning new things. I have always been a hands on gal. In fact I will tell you a little secret...
I flunked out of sewing in home economics class. I hated it! I preferred wood working class. Give me a band saw and a chunk of walnut and I can create a lovely coffee table!

Present day and realizing how things do change, don't they?

I love to sew now! No I'm not an expert on the craft, but I do give it my all when I create a new piece. French seams, blanket stitch and blind hem stitch all terms in my vocabulary now and if you want to strike up a conversation with me just mention any of the above!

I have probably made and sold 100 or so of the pinny.
I believe a great way to learn how to do something is by doing it over and over and over. Eventually you get the hang of it. Then you can move on to another sewing project and follow the same guidelines.

  It's funny... Nowadays I sew hats, purses, aprons, frocks and the list goes on.
I love looking at the apron hall tree filled with fresh pinny's.
So for you girls out there that would like to sew but think you can't. Know that you can! I believe it's a matter of timing. In fact I believe that philosophy holds true with just about everything in life. I will spare you with my long drawn out philosophical debates.

Enjoy caring and sharing hand crafting days.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than none

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The studio is taking on a mellow mood lately.
This is a busy time of year for both Calico Petals and Bittersweet Soap.
Full throttle soap manufacturing kick in next week and the design details for this seasons holiday soap wrappings are beginning to take shape.
This is a picture was taken 5 years ago or so when I had the boutique downtown.
It's funny how some of the packaging comes back around.
It's strange how my taste has changed since then. I do still like the black and white shopping bags. They became a wonderful marketing tool. Everyone knew they were Bittersweet bags and it was a thrill to see them here and there hanging on customers arms as they browsed merchant windows.

My friend Linda took and created this picture of my store front when I first opened. What a great days gone by picture that fills my mind with happy shop owner memories.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gifts from friends...

I feel blessed to have caring and sharing customers/friends that honor and treat me with gifts.
Last Saturday a customer and friend, Marcy presented me with this adorable vintage bunny.
She also shared the story that came with the rabbit which made the gift even more special.
She had spotted the vintage bunny at a thrift shop years ago when her daughter was a wee one.
Marcy said the little pink rabbit had sat in her daughters nursery when she was a baby.
She recently began to clean out some of the old and thought it appropriate to return the rabbit to the thrift store in which it was purchased so many years before.
She returned to the thrift shop some weeks later only to find the pastel rabbit was still sitting on the shelf at the thrift shop.
She was saddened to see that no one had purchased the vintage rabbit.
Knowing that the thrift shop destroys items after a certain amount of time she quickly picked up the rabbit and purchased it once again.
She presented me with the sweet bunny and told me that story.
I am thrilled to have the ceramic rabbit as he proudly sits atop the apothecary cabinet in my shop.

Thank Marci for caring and sharing.

Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Friday, August 27, 2010

Keepsake Box

I've talked about the little keepsake boxes Bittersweet makes before and how the original idee came from my creative Mom.
My Mom said, "Jill, you need a little box for the soap to fit into." That's a great idea, I said, and the little box was born. Appropriately called, "soap box" around the studio since a bar of my hand crafted soap fits perfectly inside the box.

Over the past thirteen years and since Bittersweet was established I've made thousands of these little boxes.
When I had the shop downtown they sold as fast as I could make them.

It was funny to see the soap box assembly line sitting on my kitchen counter, in the dining room, and in every corner.
I always made them in the same order. Decoupage, allow to dry, paint, allow to dry, varnish, glass glitter, and once again allow to dry. A few secrets too that I learned while creating the little box.

I was thrilled when HGTV called and wanted to feature the little box on their network. They called shortly after my Mom had passed away from Leukemia, and it meant so very much to me to share a creation that came from her especially on national television. I feel blessed to have had that wonderful experience.

Let's see, that was probably 8 or 9 years ago. I'm always amazed on how fast time goes.

So nice of them to still have the episode featured on their web site. Thanks HGTV, especially to you Celia!

Enjoy caring and sharing days.


Jill 00 (Two hugs are better than one)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not so stuffie...

It's a true blessing to be able to create and make things for a living. I've never taken one moment of the blessings for granted. 

Having worked as a bank manager, code inspector and marketing director in my younger days allowed me to appreciate and respect the precious gift that comes with creating. 
Not that those jobs were disliked. I enjoyed and respected each of them without a doubt, and learned a considerable amount from each.
 Having said that I also know that my yearning to create has and always will not only offer a source of bread & butter, but a true genuine feeling of peace that helps me go become a better human.    

As I sit and begin creating a soulful interlude of happiness runneth over my entire psyche.  
The quiet pluck and tuck moments are ever so soft and nurturing. 

Enjoy caring and sharing nurturing days.

Jill 00 (Two hugs are better than one) 


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