Monday, January 31, 2011

For everyone who wished we'd get lots of snow this winter. Your wish has come true threefold! A powerful blizzard is soon to move through Calico Petals and I'm beginning to wish and yearn for an early spring!
Thoughts of lavender and butterflies, forget me not and lush green grass linger in my mind.

Indoor spring thoughts are taking shape at the studio regardless of the snowy landscape outside.

Spring always brings fresh ideas and creations and is my favorite time at Bittersweet and Calico.

Those pondering thoughts of colorful blooms and pretty flutter bugs will be confined to indoors. Bittersweet's new spring line, "Botanical Blooms" is sprouting and it's roots are boldly escaping their boundaries! I can't wait to put it all together!

Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.

Jill 00

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

♥ Heart Felt Thoughts about Handmade...

This is the busy production time of year for both Calico and Bittersweet. It's also my favorite time. After Christmas, I begin working on new spring creations for both small handmade companies.

It feels as though my winters have been spent creating forever. In fact, I can't recall when I didn't entertain the idea. I guess 14 years of making stuff for a living would be considered a long period of time. I am very fortunate to have such a soulful occupation. I try to count my blessings each and every day.

I was thinking the other day about how I've always been so easily bored doing the same thing. I have never had a long attention span. Although I'm kind of doing the same thing, creating the new spring lines. I never get bored  because I'm allowed to design new ones!

I began to think about how each year I contemplate the ideas and how I employ and implement each one.

A considerable amount of time goes into marketing of each item as well as packaging.
In fact, packaging, presentation and marketing are definitely the top three ingredients for making or breaking your sales.

Everything I make needs to stand out from the crowd, so to speak. Price points are also important.  Depending where you live, pricing can be tricky. I live in the Midwest.
I became more aware of price points after owning a shop for 5 years.

Living in the Midwest does have its downfalls when it comes to selling handmade.
Handmade just hasn't gotten the respect it deserves in my part of the world. Those are personal thoughts, but ones I believe to be true from experience.
So, how do you combat such nonsense? What are some tricks from the trade?

I would say the top three components in running a successful handmade business must include the following.

Passion, No 1
Persistence, Always
Perseverance, Never give up, EVER!
There are going to be times you think you should, but that is when you should begin seriously thinking about not quitting.
I forgot a very important component!
Always listen to those little voices and trust your judgment. If you make a wrong move, which you will, then you learn from that experience and move on. Don't dwell on it.

The experience will help you to make wiser decisions on down the road.

There you have it. My personal advise for running a successful handmade business.

Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.

Jill 00

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vintage Valentine

I'm sharing some vintage Valentine love on my big sister blog, Bittersweet.
Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vintage February

Advertising postcards Bittersweet Cottage Design created for Aggieal's Attic Vintage Boutique.
A vintage sale offering 50% off! Oh my!
Here's a little peek into Aggieal's boutique.

Yes, I agree, sweet vintage indeed!
Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Monday, January 10, 2011

For the love of snow and an established neighborhood...

If you have visited Bittersweet blog then you know that this is my neighbors beautiful estate across the street.
We've lived in our home for 22 years and during that long time period so has Mrs. P., the owner of the stately old house.
When we first moved to our 1921 home most of our neighbors were elderly. Now they have passed and new occupants have moved in with the exception of Mrs. P.
Her home is always picture perfect in the snow. She has Bittersweet growing along her fence in front that I admire each Fall. A fruit cellar and carriage house that sits on the acreage, all lovely and admired from across the street.

Today I'll enjoy making a large pot of gumbo. I don't use a recipe, but in case you want to make some this is the ingredients I have used to make it for many years.

Cook whole preferably organic chicken in large stock pot until done. Do not discard broth, save for gumbo. While chicken is cooking in another pan, pour 2 - 3 T. of peanut oil in pan and add 3'4 cup of diced celery, onion, green pepper 2 cloves garlic.
Saute those ingredients for 5 minutes.
When chicken is done, de-bone and return to broth. Add sauteed veggies and garlic.
Pour in 1 can stewed tomatoes and organic chicken broth if you like lots of broth.
Add, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, dash pepper.
Cook on low covered for two hours or more. Add okra, I use a large bag.
Allow to cook for another hour or so. When ready to eat add two cups of cooked rice, brown or white, your choice.
Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Jill 00
Two hugs are most always better than one

Friday, January 7, 2011

If you read Bittersweet's blog then you'll know how I recently changed the look of my living room and fireplace mantle. You will also know the oval picture above is an actual photo of my great grandmother's family as well as my second cousins great grandmother.
I am so very blessed to have a collection of these old photographs and treasure each and every one of them.
I'm now on the hunt for two small antique mirrors to hang on each side of the picture, creamy to match the look and add cohesiveness.
I've also put in a request to my carpenter husband to build enclosed book cases on each side of the fireplace.
Finally, my book collection in one handy place. I will love that and I'm so very excited to have it.
He has however informed me that we have a number of home projects that take priority over the cabinets, one being the painting of our vintage home. We were planning on painting last year, but somehow it got away from us and we postponed it to this year.
Our home is not an easy home to paint. It's 1920 stucco and the home itself stands over 40 feet in two sides.
Luckily for my husband I'm not afraid of heights and can assist him in the house painting, prepping.
We have lived in our home for 22 years this February. I love my home! Although ownership of an older home automatically comes with continual maintenance. Again, luckily for my husband I have experience in most carpenter skills and enjoy the before and after of old home projects.

I have cut and layed quarter round trim around hard wood floors that we did ourselves, messy by the way, the re-do of wood floors. Knocked out walls, kind of fun, hung sheet rock, not my favorite thing, the mudding and taping, yuk! Installed new cabinets, ceiling to counter, painted the exterior many many times, and too the interior almost as often as I change clothes. Cut and placement of new cedar molding around exterior windows, new storms. The list goes on and on.... The painting,,,
Always go back to neutral colors it seems.
We've installed new dishwasher, furnace, air conditioner, gutters, hot water heater, thermostat, a new roof, driveway, major landscaping. All of which since it's been 22 years is time to start that list over!

Doing the work myself gives me a feeling of contentment and pride.
This year I hope to experience more hard work and those same feelings.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.

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

Monday, January 3, 2011

Slowly back in the groove...

Refreshing as it's been to have time off and to do nothing,  I'm also ready to get back to work! I'm not a nothing to do kind of girl. I'm happiest when I'm busy. Don't hold it against me please, it's an inherited trait I believe.

Baking up some yummy deserts for family has been enjoyable. Have I told you how if I weren't a soap maker I would be a baker?

After I made these the other day Lennis came to me and said, "I believe this has been my most favorite baked good you've ever made!" Who knew? I used to make them all the time before we met!
We each indulged fork in hand and ate every bite of one of these with a smile on our face and an occasional, yummy undertone heard throughout the sweet home.
I then realized after I gobbled down the sweet treat that it was quite similar to eating an entire pie.
The recipe calls for a double crust pie dough, enough to make 4 dumplings, so yes, it is truly like eating a pie by yourself!
A little desert therapy now and then never hurt anyone! In fact, I'm sure it to be good for the soul. Indeed....

Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one


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