Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Etsy Shop Feature: This Pretty Nest

I can’t remember exactly how I came across This Pretty Nest, but I am in love!! I love the style and colors used in this shop.

Isabel post earrings – I’m currently in love with gigantic, round, dangly disc earrings, and small, molded florals lik these. So freaking cute.

The Modern Necklace No. 7 – I love the necklace but I think the staging makes the whole thing even prettier, don’t you? I want wallpaper like that!

Color Wheel Necklace – Another necklace I want, and I don’t even wear necklaces! My birthday is only 5 months away, don’t forget!!

Degas Necklace in Black and Blush – So romantic. Again, with the staging. *sigh* 

The Denim Necklace – this necklace SCREAMS “I’m On A Boat”!

Seriously, check out Tamar’s shop This Pretty Nest. Your eyes will pop out of your head.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dance Party Friday! 90s Jams

This week's Dance Party is time stamped: 1990s, y'all! The 90s were my teen years - I started middle school at the beginning of the 90s and should have graduated college in 2000 (I did go to college but dropped out my junior year when I got pregnant). Some say the music you listen to during these years is most impactful and is what you return to more than any other period . . . it has something to do with developing sexually. Could be true, but what I do know is that there was some great music going on then.

Let's just go chronologically, shall we?

Here we have a classic. I had the BBD tape (Yes, tape! You know you're not too young to have had tapes. Well, some of you) and I played it constantly in 6th and 7th grade. I have a vivid memory of traveling with my family to Branson, Missouri one of those summers and listening to that tape on my walkman over and over, everywhere we went. This song has always had a special place in my heart, and my friends and I love to trip out over it.

It's one of those songs - all you need is to hear the intro and people just GO WILD, you know? A couple years ago, friends and I went to see New Kids On The Block (shut up, it as incredibly fun and yes, we did lose it like when were in 5th grade, AND?!) and the Jabbawockeez from America's Best Dance Crew were one of their opening acts. They had Poison in their routine and like I said, as soon as everyone heard those staccato drumbeats at the beginning, we went crazy. I have it on video, everyone is watching them, the energy level is still kind of low, and then that song hits and screams erupt all over the place.

THEN, last summer I went with friends (some of the same from the NKOTB concert) to a big concert at The Chicago Taste (a big food & music festival every summer), where we saw: Slick Rick, Rob Base, Doug E. Fresh, BBD and Salt N Pepa. IT WAS RIDICULOUS! So much fun, just thousands of people ranging from their 20s to 50s, singing and dancing and drinking and having a good time. I lost count of how many times we sang, "Never trust a big butt and a smile" and the part from the chorus, "It's driving me out of my mind . . ." and the "ahhaaaaaaaaa" from the very end of the song.

Oh come on. Tell me that you don't throw your remote/drink/sandwich/baby on the floor when you hear this, and start doing the Humpty Dance. Tell me you don't. SAMOANS!!!!

Oh, 8th grade. Which came first, Black folks calling White girls "Becky", or Sir Mix-a-Lot calling them "Becky?" Chicken or egg? Chicken or egg? That year, my friend Tara invited a few BFFs to her cabin for the weekend. We ate, went swimming/boating on a little pond . . . and listened to this song 173 times. It was basically on repeat for 2 days straight.

I've professed my undying affection for my Beasties before so I won't go into that again. I will say that as a kid, I'd heard License to Ill and then in 8th grade, came across the masterpiece that is Check Your Head. THEN I caught up with Paul's Boutique. I know everyone loves PB the best, and I get why. Still, CYH is and always will be my favorite Beasties album. Likely has something to do with it being the album that made me fall completely head of heels in love with them, but also, I just love the sound. CYH and Ill Communication are kind of twins among the other albums. They each play a mix of hip hop, punk, funk, instrumentals . . . and they're also when the Beasties first introduced topics like Buddhism and higher consciousness and respecting women. PB is their big departure, musically, from what they were doing before. But CYH was their first real step into maturity and their first album that showed something besides party-all-the-time.

Freshman year! One of my BFFs, the lovely Ngan of eNVe Designs, the one who inspired me to start an Etsy, the one who I have spent hours and hours talking with about serious and silly things, my first dance partner in crime - this was our song.
Ngan and I at a homecoming dance senior year.

*dreamy sigh* A Tribe Called Quest. So. Have I told you how I met my husband? WELL. It was 1998, I was in college in Kansas, and hanging out at a friend's house - I was going to move in with her in a couple weeks. Our university (Kansas State) was very close to an Army post and a few Army dudes came over that night because one of them had a crush on my soon-to-be-roomie. Here's the scene: roomie is in the bathroom, ignoring dude, putting on makeup 'cause she's going to go out. I'm laying on the living room floor, watching Friday (I mean, how 90s can this story get??), chain smoking (I smoked for about 6 months during college and I now allow myself an annual cigarette). Army dudes were in various chairs/couches in the living room. I sat up and began quizzing them about the music they listened to. That's what I did to determine if someone was cool or not. I still do it, but not to see if they're cool, just to get a small sense of who they are. Anyway - they were all into Master P, who was HUGE at the time. I have never been a fan, just don't really like his sound, that's all. Nothing personal, Master P! Then I get to the guy who would turn out to be my husband, and he says he likes A Tribe Called Quest. And I swooned. Actually, I just took note of him, told the roomie I thought the one on the couch was cute, and I left to go to some party. We met the guys a few weeks later at a Goodie Mob concert and from that night on we were together.

Yet another "The Intro Will Make You Slap Your Mama" songs. I may or may not have spent months leading up to my 10 year high school reunion, obsessing about dancing to this song with my friends. I also may or may not have bumrushed the reunion DJ and begged him to play this song. If you were my Livejournal friend you'd have been subjected to this song about 92 times. I'm not sorry.

I bought this CD my freshman year in a music store in Breckenridge, CO, I think, on Spring Break. I listened to it all through high school college, and well, ever since then, I guess. But it was a staple for me during the 90s. This is my favorite song from the album. I've only met 2 or 3 people, ever, who really, really dig this band. It's always a special day when I meet that person.

I don't know if this was ever a single, but if you, like every teenager I knew, ran out and purchased Warren G's Regulate album, you may have fallen in love with this song the way I did. I've continued to be a fan of Warren G . . . his biggest hit was his first, but he's consistently put out lighthearted hip hop with great musicality.

My friends and I liked the movie Judgment Night, but we really got into the soundtrack. Every song is a rock artist (from indie to metal) and a hip hop artist, performing together.

Ok - I think that's enough for today! At least from my vault. I'll continue my 90s Dance Party next week. Do you have any requests?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen, and What Actually Did - Advertising

This week I’ve been writing about my recent journey of small buiness improvement . . . my small business being my Etsy shop, One In The Hand, where I sell sewn and knitted cup cozies (for now!). I’ve talked about the changes to social media and the changes in products I’ve worked on . . . what I thought would happen as I implemented changes, and what actually happened.

Today I’m going to talk about advertising.

What I Thought Would Happen

When I got more involved in the handmade Twitter and blogging community, I was inundated with the way the community supports each other through all the advertising, sponsoring, giveaways, contests, etc. That’s actually how I got involved in this community – Jody from The Fabric Shoppe, one of my favorite Etsy fabric sellers, ran a giveaway of some of my cozies last winter. One of the options for entry was to follow me on Twitter. I gained a lot of followers through that giveaway (my first of that type) and jumped right in. As I mentioned in my social media post on Monday, I didn’t completely fit in, but eventually found some nice folks to enjoy friendship and collaboration with.

I thought my connection to all the bloggers and Twitters and shop-owners would drive traffic to my shop. I thought I’d find a group of blogger BFFs and we would take over the handmade world and be sought-after for movie deals and consultation work. Ok, not really. But kind of.

Oh, and I’ve stressed over getting a blog button made. How in the world would I ever generate another sale without a blog button?

What Actually Happened

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have “following frenzies” every once in a while. I’ll get in the mood to find something new to read and I’ll end up following a handful of people on Twitter, or bloggers, all at once. These are almost always topic-driven. Well, it’s hard to keep up with all those blogs and twitter accounts, and I recently found myself unfollowing quite a few bloggers and people on Twitter because I just couldn’t keep up with everything they were writing.

I suffered a bit of guilt over this, even though most of the time I doubt the people ever knew I was following them in the first place. I also feel guilty when people follow me because of a giveaway (I’ve done a few more since last winter) and I don’t follow them back. Sometimes I do follow people back out of obligation . . . but most of the time we don’t have a ton in common and I just don’t get much out of what they have to say. I’m sure some of them follow me for giveaways and then unfollow (so far I haven’t watched my follower numbers so I’m just assuming), which is honestly fine with me.

Oh – well, I have developed a few friendhips and small partnerships, things that I hope will grow over time. But – now don’t tar & feather me for this, fellow crafters – I don’t see all the giveaways, sponsorships and whatnot as being that beneficial. FOR ME, AT LEAST. Maybe it’s because I’m not using my blog as a way to make money, maybe it’s because I can’t seem to write only about handmade stuff . . . but so far, I haven’t seen any of that stuff translate into sales. I know, I know, it takes time and maybe a giveaway-Twitter-follower will buy something from me this winter. But I don’t know, man. I’m kind of over it. At least, in terms of feeling it is an essential part of my ability to progress. Please understand, friends, I am NOT knocking you if that’s what you enjoy or if it’s been successful for you. I know there are positives to it all. It’s just not a good fit for me.

Changes I’ll Be Making

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop participating in giveaways. For me, that’s an easy, inexpensive and fun way to advertise my items. I won’t, however, participatein giveaways that require people to follow me in any fashion, as entry options. So if you’d like to host a giveaway of my items, contact me, by all means. And you can ask people to follow you as much as you like. But I don’t want anyone to follow me for a contest. It makes me guilty when I don’t follow back or when I unfollow after realizing we’re not a good fit.

I probably won’t be doing any blog sponsorships. It’s possible that I will find a blog that I feel is the perfect fit and that I feel will really give me a return on my investment, so I’m not completely ruling I out. But it won’t happen often. I like the idea of supporting my handmade peeps, but I would rather just buy something from them than pay for sponsorship – I simply don’t think they’re that effective.

On the same token, I will not be asking for blog sponsors. I’ve been waiting on this anyway until I get the new site design up and until I got enough followers to make it worthwhile for those buying the spots . . . but now I don’t think I will get into it at all. I don’t want a cluttered sidebar full of stuff no one looks at. I want my blog to be focused on ME and what I like. I feel selfish saying this, but dude, it’s business. I want my blog to represent my brand, not everyone else’s brand. That is not to say I won’t ever add someone’s blog button to my site or that I won’t have a link list directing readers to other blogs. I will. I just don’t want to deal with money making things complicated. I don’t want to feel pressure to write about something might not completely believe in or be excited about. Like I said – I *do* want to support others and I would rather do that directly through the handmade items they create. I promise, if I like your jewelry or artwork and wear it or have it in my home, I am going to write a great review of your product and talk you up. I don’t want to be paid t do it. Again – I am NOT knocking you if this works for you. I know that (most) people who take sponsorships do it thoughtfully so that the businesses they support are in line with their own beliefs, asthetic, etc. For me, for now, I am not interested in generating revenue directly from this blog. If that changes, I’ll deal with that then.

What do you think? Have giveaways, sponsorships, blog buttons, etc worked for you? Have they not? What are some of the positive things that come from these methods of advertising? What are some of the drawbacks?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen and What Actually Did – New Products

I’ve been working on making improvements to my small handmade business, and yesterday I wrote about what I though would happen with changes in my “social media game” – what actually happened – and how I’m changing up my tactics.

Today is more of the same, but today I’m going to focus on another major area of improvement I’ve been focusing on: coming up with new products to sell in my shop.

What I Thought Would Happen

My cup cozies sell the most in November and early December, for a number of reasons (that I have deduced). First, even though cup cozies work just as well on cold drinks, they’re thought of as a hot drink accessory . . . and people drink hot drinks more in the colder seasons than in the warmer seasons. Additionally, my items are cute and great as gifts, which are obviously good to purchase in the gift-giving holiday season. Because my item aren’t too expensive, they’re also very popular with small gift exchanges. I’ve been told a number of times that they’re used as stocking stuffers and as office “Secret Santa” gifts.

I have ideas for increasing my sales during the cold months, but I really hoped to find a way to greatly increase sales during the other 10 ½ months of the year. I did intend to work on new ways of marketing my cup cozies, but I decided coming up with new products that weren’t tied to the cold months as the best way to increase sales. I also was excited to put my creative hat on and see what new products I could come up with. “I’m not going to just be the cup cozy lady anymore!!!!”

What Actually Happened

Well, I have come up with some new products, but I still haven’t put them in my shop. This is for a few reasons. My first new product idea was well-received in theory, but my guinea pigs (friends who agreed to test them for me) all reported problems with the item functioning the way it was supposed to. They were cute and well-made (universal ageement on that, phew!) but they’re not ready to be sold.

Another product I’ve developed is a little intimidting because it requires more labor and materials. Plus, I’ll likely have to pay more attention to customization because everyone will need a different size.

A third product is easier to make, but I don’t feel it’s the most original thing in the world. I think it will be popular, but I’ve been bitten by the “I must make something UUUUUUUUNIQUE” bug and that sucker has buried his head deep. I am still struggling with this – create and sell something that is great, cute, well-received . . . but not that different from what others are making?

What I’m Changing

I’m going to keep working on it all. I’m going to try to figure out how to make my first new item functional. This will involve more test pieces being given out. I’m going to have to decide if I can commit the time to making the more customizable second product . . . and honestly I just don’t know what my final decision will be on that one. And for my most recent product that I think will go over well but isn’t one-of-a-kind? I’m moving forward with it. Some of them may have to settle for being “just” super cute and well made. But some are going to be taken a step up into uniqueland. I’m working on some ideas that can add a little “flavor” to these items.

What I need to do with all of them, though, is buckle-down. I’ve been going through a period of very little motivation to actually create. Lots of reading and talking about handmade business strategies, but very little time spent on actually making the things that the business centers on.

What about you? Are you working on new products for your business? Am I the only one finding that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be to come up with good ideas? How do you feel about being unique? Are you ok with selling something that someone, somewhere (or a few someones . . . or many someones) is making too?

Monday, May 23, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen and What Actually Did – Social Media

If you’ve been following along with my blog posts, you know that I’ve been working on making changes here there to improve my (very) small business – my Etsy shop, One In The Hand, where I sell sewn and knitted cup cozies. Since late 2010, I’ve gotten very involved in a certain corner of the handmade community on Twitter, I’ve gotten very involved in my local Etsy team and I’ve put together a plan for making my shop one that has sales year-round, not just in the busy shopping season before Christmas.

I’ve gone into this period of transformation thinking that certain things would produce certain results, and it didn’t happen. Other things happened. So today, I’m going to tell you about some of the things I thought would happen and what happened instead. And then I’m going to tell you about recalibrating my compass and the somewhat different direction I plan to travel.

Today’s post is going to focus on social media.

What I Thought Would Happen

Especially once I stumbled upon the handmade Twitter community, I thought that my connections and friendships would increase traffic to my shop, and thus increase sales. I thought that by posting more often on my Facebook shop page, and offering a variety of post-types, I would get a lot more interaction with the people who are “fans” of the page. With my blog, I thought that writing regular posts related to the handmade community, and partnering with other bloggers, I would gain blog followers and get a lot of exposure, which would lead to more sales.

What Actually Happened

Instead of all my tweeting relationships leading to more sales in my shop, it has led to relationships with other handmade business owners. I have gone through a few stages of feeling like I don’t fit in with these ladies . . . trying to gain their aproval . . . resigning myself to the fact that I am just not enough of a glittery unicorn for them to notice . . . and finally seeing the dust of my flurrious (yes, I said flurrious) tweeting settle to reveal a small number of meaningful relationships, both within and without the handmade community.

With Facebook, it took a while to kick in, but I am beginning to see a liiiiiiiiitle more intraction with my Facebook fans. Mostly, though, it’s still just my longtime real-life friends who are responding to my posts. Still – improvement is improvement! At the same time, Facebook finally made it much easier for me as a shop owner to interact with other handmade fan pages. I have definitely spent a lot more time commenting on other pages *as my shop* (rather than usng my personal profile) than I ever expected to do. Sometimes I’m able to interact on a daily basis, but I’ve at least maintained weekly interactions with other fan pages.

Bloggity, bloggity blog. Well, I’m kind of all over the place with this blog. And for now, that’s ok. My intention with my blogging was to provide another look at who I am as a person, not just as a person involved in handmade stuff. I think I have been pretty successful at that. I’ve shown my thoughts regarding what I want to do with my shop. I’ve talked about racism a little bit. I’ve highlighted some handmade artists I think are doing great things. I’ve shared things that make me laugh and that I hope will make my readers laugh. I’ve shared music, which I love (even more than I love anything handmade, shh, don’t tell). I’ve steadily gained some blog followers and recently, have received an increase in interaction with my readers – i.e. comments from them. I’ve been surprised to notice that readers are most responsive (by leaving comments) to my posts that show a lot of humor.

One thing I never, never expected, was to tap into the area of philanthropy as it relates to the handmade world. It has been really invigorating and inspiring to see so many people interested in philanthropy! It’s also been so exciting (and a little overwhelming) to brainstorm with my fellow handmade peeps, the ways we can collaborate with each other to make philanthropy accessible to others.

Changes I’ll Be Making

First – Twitter. I gotta tell you, Twitter has kind of taken over my life. You get such instant gratification from Twitter and you get in the habit of sharing every little thought . . . you get to the point that things begin to seem more and less interesting based on how tweetable they are. Or how drastically they will impact your ability to tweet. For example, I have taken a cab from the train station to my office, just so I could tweet for a few more minutes. Normally I walk, it takes me around 10 minutes to get from the station to my office. 10 minutes, folks. I spent $8-10 on a cab ride, more than once, because I wanted to tweet a little longer, and I knew I had a full work day which would keep me from sharing some super important thing, like . . . a link to my blog. Or a photo of someone rudely taking up too many spaces at the bike rack. Really, Ashley? Was it that important? No, it wasn’t. It was a waste of money and it was lazy and it shows a dependence on something that should not be that important to me.

Also? I tweet way too much while I’m at work. It’s one thing to take a 30-second break here and there, but there have been days when I review the day’s tweets, and realize that I didn’t just spend 30 seconds here and there. This is not only a waste of my employer’s resources, it’s also not worth it. What if I lost my job because of it? Or what if I was looking for another job and the potential employer found my Twitter profile (which I want to keep public) and decided I wouldn’t b responsible with my time with them? Could I really blame them? And you know what? All this tweeting hasn’t led to any sales!! The only sales I’ve gotten from tweeting – that I can tell – are from when I was giving all my proceeds to the Red Cross after the Japanese earthquake. Tweeting may be turning into income for some people, and more power to them. But it isn’t doing that for me and I have to cut way, way back. So. I am going to work on cutting back not only during my work day but overall . . . because for me, at least, one feeds the other. I already had to deal with my family thinking I was online too much, but if it were to impact my ability to provide for my family? OH HAIL NAW. I cannot let that happen.

I have to say that before I really admitted that the tweeting wasn’t leading to sales, I was so fearful of cutting back. But now I am pretty sure that excessive tweeting isn’t going to make my sales skyrocket. I would rather be more strategic and focus on keeping the small number of real friendships alive.

Facebook changes? Really not much right now. I still haven’t implemented all the things that I put on my goal list, so I’m just going to keep at the list. Facebook is a territory I still need to explore.

Blogging is also an area that I’m not going to change much, except that I’m still working toward the major changes I intend to make. I’m still working with my friend the graphic designer to come up with a cohesive brand for my shop/blog/Twitter/biz cards. I’m still working on coming up with regular, varied content that is (hopefully) interesting to different types of people. I suppose what I will be changing . . . is what blogsI follow. I am still working on culling who I follow on Twitter and in blogs. I am done following out of guilt and I am done following to win contests. I am done following without really inspecting someone’s content to see if it’s the sort of stuff I want to read regularly. And I am done leaving blogs I never read on my Google Reader list because I’m scared I’ll hurt feelings or miss a potential collaboration. If I don’t read your content EVER, I’m going to “unfollow” and hope you will still be nice to me when we “run into each other” online. I plan to be nice to you!

Tell me, friends – what are some of the things you thought would happen one way in regard to social media, that didn’t happen that way? Are you making any changes? Do you think your original hopes might still be realized?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dance Party Friday! Chillax . . .

Today's Dance Party is going to be a mostly chilled out collection of songs. Sit back, nod your head, and do a little dance in your chair. No need to get up . . . not if you don't want to.

New band for me, Little Dragon. Haven't heard much from them yet but I like this mellow beat.

The other day, Gina from the hiyaluv blog & etsy shop said something about her "jam jams" (pajamas) and it made me think of this song. I remember car dancing to this quite a bit, years ago.

Here, we have a special request from Miss Amy . . . SOON TO BE MRS. MIKE!! That's right, folks, Amy & Mike of recent Dance Parties got engaged yesterday! Yes, I am living vicariously through them because I didn't really get engaged, I just got pregnant :) . . . SO WHAT?! Let me have this, ok? So, yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations, peeps.

Mike (aka MR. AMY) is my current guy-friend-who-I-trip-out-on-music-with, but long, long ago, Mike was named Andy. Or, I should say, I used to have a different guy-friend-who-I-trip-out-on-music-with, back during high school and college, and his name is Andy. We're in touch via facebook but it's been years since we've hung out (about 700 miles separate us). Anyway, we send each other new music we're into every once in a while and he recently turned me onto the album Maximum Balloon, which is a solo project of a dude from the band TV On The Radio. I'm really enjoying getting to know both the solo project and TOTR. I recommend that you do, too!

This was a song some friends and I listened to a lot my sophomore year in college. I think we listened to the whole album but honestly this is the only one I remember.

The second CD I ever purchased. Still love it!! DPs for life!!



I hear the ticking of the clock . . .


Sorry, Ann, it’s GUITAR SOLO TIME!!!!!!!!!


I said guitar solo, dude. No one knows or cares about you. This is lady rock. And your hair doesn’t mean a thing.




Is that . . . Duff from GNR?


Hellooooooo, back to lady guitar solos!!!! Focus, please.


I’m crying real tears here. Believe it.


I hope you will take me seriously as a lady rock person. To convince you, I am willing to roll around onstage and get dirty leaves all up in my hair. Where they came from, I don’t know, I mean, we’re completely inside.


Still crying.

heart thought

Whatevs, dude is playing Oregon Trail.


How do I get you alooooooone . . . alone.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things I Dislike That Everyone Else Loves

The TV show “House”. Mainly, Dr. House. I don’t think I would even care if everyone didn’t think he was the most amazing thing since sliced bread. Um, America? We’ve seen sarcasm and grumpiness before, right? What is so groundbreaking and astonishing about House doing it every second he’s on screen?

 Whatever might he say if you pulled off those bandaids? Might it be . . . an insult? HOW NEW AND MINDBLOWING AND WORTHY OF ACCOLADES! I mean, seriously – it’s not that I hate his attitude. It’s that I don’t get why everyone seems to think his attitude/character is the so freaking revolutionary and enlightening. It’s nothing new!


Disney World. Everyone wants to go there, and no matter how many times I say, “No, it just doesn’t seem like a good time to me”, people try to convince me otherwise. But there are adult areas! And resorts! And shows! So . . . basically it’s Las Vegas + Mickey Mouse. STILL NOT MY CUP OF TEA. I’m not knocking you if it’s yours – it’s just not mine. I don’t find it magical, I find it overpriced and exhausting.

Yay! Let’s fight thousands of hot, stinky strangers to stand in line for 2 hours to buy a $37 hot dog! Yay!


Baths. Ok – once a year or so, I enjoy filling up the tub with hot water and soaking. But it’s never as fun as I hope it will be. I can’t seem to get comfortable, maybe it’s because the walls of my bath don’t slope. So I can prop my head on the edge but the rest of me floats. And I’m bored. I’d read a book but my hands get the pages wet and that irritates me. Hot tubs – fun. Heated pools – lovely. Showers – awesome, omg so awesome. Baths? Really, just, no thank you.

Yes, this is how I feel. “Am I supposed to be enjoying this?” And I’m little! I totally fit!


Designer brands. Whether it’s a Coach purse or an iPhone or Seven jeans or shopping at Whole Foods . . . I suppose I shouldn’t say I hate designer brands. I. Just. Don’t. Care. At. All. If I show any brand loyalty it’s because I particularly like what that brand has to offer . . . but it’s likely that I also like some other brand that offers the same thing. I suppose what I hate or don’t get is liking something just because others do, or liking anything put out by a certain brand, no matter what it is. Like, always having to get the new Jordans (Nike). I just don’t get it – some of them are SO UGLY! But because they’re Jordans, you decide you like them. Really? You’re going to spend $100+ on something that you would think was ugly if it was another brand?

Come on, dude. You know these are fugly.


Bunting. YES, I SAID IT! You are free to like it as much as you want, my crafty friends, but I just don’t get the appeal. Sorry?


Cake. Caveat: I luuuuuuuuuuurve carrot cake. But everything else? Meh. It’s usually dry and the icing is too sugary sweet. I’d rather eat some dark chocolate or pretzels or a cookie or something.

What do you hate that everyone else loves?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wee Bit Wednesday

I'm taking a mental break from the crippling job of coming up with a stage seating plan for the commencement (graduation) ceremony for my employer. It's not difficult, just requires my brain to work in a way it doesn't really like. Plus, it requires concentration without interruption, and I have very little of that in my work day. Whatevs!

Anyway, I'm eating lunch and thought I'd fill out the meme below. I saw it on Shannon's Growing Sweet Pea blog and the original linkup is through Leigh Ashley's blog (nice name, chica!).

{one} do you watch the history channel? if so, what’s your favorite program?
I haven't had cable in a few years, so not lately. But I loved the History Channel back in the day. No particular program, but anything historical archeological or religious usually caught my attention. Yes, I first typed "historical". Shut up.

{two} what is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Read, watch movies, lay around, sew, knit, play online. Which is basically what I like to do most days, except on rainy days I don't feel as guilty about not being outside enjoying nature.

{three} what does your dream house look like?
I love Arts & Crafts Bungalows or Craftsman homes. I'd love one of those with a great front garden, porch to chill on, big backyard & garden, nice patio or deck for chillin . . . sunny rooms, little nooks & crannies, wood.

{four} what state were you born in?
Texas! However, I was raised in . . . Kansas! I'm super nostalgic about it now that I don't live there any more. I miss the plains and the farms and the slow way of life, but when I lived there, I hated that people thought I lived in the country. I was a city girl, damnit! Now I'm REALLY a city girl and I know how country I actually used to be! ;)

Also, Kansas's state motto is, "Ad astra per aspera" which means, "To the stars through difficulty" which I respect a lot.

{five} do you have a change jar? if so, what do you use it for when it gets full?
Currently, we're filling up a change jar that will be donated to the Emergency Fund as part of their Small Change Matters campaign! Even a dollar or two can make a difference to someone in need! I'll be writing more about this soon.

{six} what’s the first website you look at when you get on the computer?
Gmail! Loooove it.

{seven} what is your favorite breakfast?
I prefer savory over sweet. Hashbrowns, bacon, eggs . . . throw in some cheese and peppers and I'll max!

{eight} what’s the most memorable trip you’ve ever taken?
I haven't been on a ton of big trips, but I think the 2 that stand out in my memory the most are going to Florida to compete in college dance team nationals, and having a grown-up girls' weekend in NYC last year.

{nine} do you prefer your coffee black or with cream/milk/sugar?
I prefer to have a bit of coffee with my mega-overload of milk and sugar. I love chocolatey concoctions the most. I would love to appreciate coffee black, I feel it would make me much cooler than I am. But I just don't. I do love super dark chocolate though. Not the same . . .

{ten} have you ever done a professional photo shoot?
Nope! Making a claw with my hand while surrounding the Tiger painted on the basketball court, along with my fellow college dance teammates . . . probably doesn't count.

It was kinda like this except it involved spandex:

Black, White, Awesome

Someone in Etsy “hearted” my “Rudie” cup cozy:

and it turns out all the items they’ve hearted are black/white or checkered! So that led me on a bit of a clicking journey and I decided to make a black and white treasury. Click on the image below to go to the actual treasury, comment, like and see more from the shops featured.

black white treasury

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hard Truths Aren’t True, Just Hard To Read Without Putting My Fist Through A Wall

psychology today Psychology Today recently published an article written by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, an “evolutionary psychologist” and regular contributor to PT via his blog-space there, “The Scientific Fundamentalist: A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature”.

Kanazawa’s article was titled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

Someone on Twitter brought my attention to the article and I read it, getting more upset the more I read. The article is no longer accessible on the PT website but you can read it in its entirety here.

The article basics: Research indicates that we think Black men are more attractive than other men, but we think Black women are less attractive than other women.

I now have a copy of the article from someone who had the foresight to copy/paste it into a Word doc, but I did get to read it all the way through before it was taken off the site. The only reference to the research done to stake these claims is the mention of the “Add Health” survey taken by respondents (men and women) in three stages. It says that respondents were surveyed three times, with the same questions each time. There is no link to what Add Health is and there is no other information provided in the article about who administered the survey, who these men & women are, how many there were, what races, ethnicities, ages, etc. they were, or what questions were asked.

I Googled, “Psychology Today Add Health” and then “Add Health” and found a few different results that pointed to “Add Health” being a shortened name for a major study. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health interviewed over 20,000 teens and over 17,000 of their parents about many things, however, the survey is considered to be in general, about sexuality. Beginning in the mid 1990s, teens in the United States were surveyed, then a few years later were surveyed again (though surveyors weren’t able to find the entire original sample group), then a few years later surveyed again. The study reports its findings from the entire six year period.

Having read this far, you might think, ok . . . so what? A poorly referenced article tells us that according to a major U.S. study, teens and their parents think Black women aren’t as attractive as other women. That really sucks.


Here’s the “and”: MY BAD, the language of the article doesn’t actually say that people think Black women are less attractive. It flat out says, Black women ARE less attractive. For example, it says,

“It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.”

It also states that there are differences in intelligence, based on race:

“Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women.”

Bell Curve, anyone?

It gets worse. This article states opinion as though it were fact and it misuses and mis-states the results of research undergone for other purposes . . . but it also is operating under the premise that the European standard of beauty is the standard that all should be judged by. That photo up at the top? That’s the image that PT ran with this article. The findings that Americans think Black women are the least attractive of all the races? Sad and disgusting, but indicative of our accepted and perpetuated standard of beauty. Guess which race has features that consistently do NOT fit inside the measurements of that photo? And guess which race does?

Though the accepted cultural belief that Black women aren’t beautiful – are actually LEAST beautiful - is very sad, it’s not shocking to me. What IS shocking (Wait, why? Why is it shocking?) is that an enormous publication like Psychology Today would publish this crap. You know, it would have been one thing if they’d published the findings and said, “Man, we have work to do! We all know beauty is subjective and these results point to some serious problems in our society’s perception of beauty. What can we as psychologists and mental health professionals do to combat this?” But no – they published an article that had ZERO links to references, stating that Black women ARE less attractive than other women. Period.

Did you know that people of color (POC) are largely under-represented in the field of psychology? I work with psychologists and people studying to become psychologists – I see the anecdotal evidence to this five days a week. Guess where else POC are under-represented? In receiving care for their mental health. And of those who do receive care? They are usually treated by someone who is White.

That editors at Psychology Today saw this article as fit to publish boggles my mind. We have GOT to do better.

Here are some more great takes on this article:

Kristen Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan (includes 2 great videos and a comment from me! ha)

Racialicious (includes awesome graph and snippets of blogs from all over)

Confessions of a Cybernegress (last sentence packs a punch. So true!)

Kristen Howerton again – thoughts on the way Twitter was used to call out Psychology Today

And here is a letter from another author published on Psychology Today . . . Hmm . . . should they be off the hook?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chuck Klosterman & my friend Jenny Mae

I have an online friend named Jenny Mae who I intend to meet one day. Until then, I enjoy her via ye olde internets. Jenny is a gardening, plug-wearing, red/baking/Jesus/music/tattoos/family loving, kinda-sorta anarchist in Columbus, Ohio. She’s also on Twitter, where she provides good thoughts and hilarity.

A while ago she passed on her responses to Chuck Klosterman’s 23 questions that he asks people before deciding if he can love them. You can read all of Chuck’s questions here and here (plus the answers that each of those bloggers gave), and if you google his name + 23 questions, you’ll find even more. But now, I’m going to share with you a couple responses Jenny Mae gave that show why I love her . . .

7. Defying all expectation, a group of Scottish marine biologists capture a live Loch Ness Monster. In an almost unbelievable coincidence, a bear hunter in the Pacific Northwest shoots a Sasquatch in the thigh, thereby allowing zoologists to take the furry monster into captivity. These events happen on the same afternoon. That evening, the president announces he may have thyroid cancer and will undergo a biopsy later that week.

You are the front page editor of The New York Times: What do you play as the biggest story?

i'm far more interested in the paranormal, mysteries of the world than politics so the president is the low man on the totem pole right off the bat. if the president DIED, sure but a biopsy? i say good day sir! i'd run sasquatch because he was shot and an injury is more sensational and interesting than just being captured. HOWEVER! the loch ness monster was most certainly captured in scotland so this might finally be my "in" with david tennant (who is scottish, duh) if i profile nessie.

8. You meet the perfect person. Romantically, this person is ideal: You find them physically attractive, intellectually stimulating, consistently funny, and deeply compassionate. However, they have one quirk: This individual is obsessed with Jim Henson's gothic puppet fantasy The Dark Crystal. Beyond watching it on DVD at least once a month, he/she peppers casual conversation with Dark Crystal references, uses Dark Crystal analogies to explain everyday events, and occasionally likes to talk intensely about the film's "deeper philosophy."

Would this be enough to stop you from marrying this individual?

i can deal with the dark crystal if he can hang with my doctor who. win/win & lose/lose

18. You have won a prize. The prize has two options, and you can choose either (but not both). The first option is a year in Europe with a monthly stipend of $2,000. The second option is ten minutes on the moon.

Which option do you select?


(Jenny doesn’t believe we’ve been to the moon)

20. For whatever the reason, two unauthorized movies are made about your life. The first is an independently released documentary, primarily comprised of interviews with people who know you and bootleg footage from your actual life. Critics are describing the documentary as “brutally honest and relentlessly fair.” Meanwhile, Columbia Tri-Star has produced a big-budget biopic of your life, casting major Hollywood stars as you and all your acquaintances; though the movie is based on actual events, screenwriters have taken some liberties with the facts. Critics are split on the artistic merits of this fictionalized account, but audiences love it.

Which film would you be most interested in seeing?

the real one. i’m much more concerned about people's opinions that i know and love and clips of my actual doings than someone else's interpretation. however it'd be boss to see who plays me.

*  *  *

And here are a few more questions that I simply thought were funny.

23. Consider this possibility:

a. Think about deceased TV star John Ritter.

b. Now, pretend Ritter had never become famous. Pretend he was never affected by the trappings of fame, and try to imagine what his personality would have been like.

c. Now, imagine that this person—the unfamous John Ritter—is a character in a situation comedy.

d. Now, you are also a character in this sitcom, and the unfamous John Ritter character is your sitcom father.

e. However, this sitcom is actually your real life. In other words, you are living inside a sitcom: Everything about our life is a construction, featuring the unfamous John Ritter playing himself (in the role of your TV father). But this is not a sitcom. This is your real life.

How would you feel about this?

5. You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: Every three years, someone will break both of your soul mate's collarbones with a Crescent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: You must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear--for the rest of your life--sound as if it's being performed by the band Alice in Chains. When you hear Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it's being played by Alice in Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it's being covered by Alice in Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you).

Would you swallow the pill?

14. For reasons that cannot be explained, cats can suddenly read at a twelfth-grade level. They can't talk and they can't write, but they can read silently and understand the text. Many cats love this new skill, because they now have something to do all day while they lay around the house; however, a few cats become depressed, because reading forces them to realize the limitations of their existence (not to mention the utter frustration of being unable to express themselves).

This being the case, do you think the average cat would enjoy Garfield, or would cats find this cartoon to be an insulting caricature?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dance Party Friday!

I didn't think Blogger was going to let me get this Dance Party started! All it took was a little patience, and BAM! Dance Party Friday is back on.

No strict theme again today, these are all just songs that really, really make me dance. If these come on, no matter where I am, I kinda have to shake it. Just saying.

This song swings and hits. Never misses.

One of my favorites by Mos Def - You know the motto - Stay fluid even in staccato. This song tells a great story about Hip Hop's origins, present and future.

Now this song? I've likely put here on my blog about 37 times. It's also on my Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, mp3 player, laptop and of course, etched in my mind. I've always loved Wham! and George Michael, and this song. But sometime in the last year, my work buddy Sara and I realized that we both loved this song. One of us left the other a voicemail of nothing but this song. That continued back and forth and evolved into singing it in the hallways and elevators at work, posting it on each other's Facebook pages, texting it to each other and generally finding a way to bring it up once a week or so. It's "our" song. If we were 4th graders, we'd couple skate to it. I daydream of us going dancing and hearing it come over the soundsystem . . . if we're not already on the dancefloor, we BUMRUSH it and do this amazing freestyle dance that occasionally comes together in choregraphed sections that neither of us practiced before. Just like in the movies!

So I told Amy (one half of Mike & Amy from last week's DPF) about the song & she asked me to play it today . . . should I expand my daydream to include Amy as part of our spontaneous club routine?! I think it will depend on how she handles getting a text message every other day with a random lyric from this song. Will it break her? Or will she embrace it and begin hearing it at the most inappropriate times? Like when someone tells you about something their baby did, and you think, "AND NOW YOU TELL ME THAT YOU'RE HAVING MY BABY, I'LL TELL YOU THAT I'M HAPPY IF YOU WANT ME TO" which makes you think, really, George? As if the "Last Christmas" video wasn't proof enough that you are NOT having sex with women.

My favorite version of a great Beasties song.

Get down, Get Low . . . fun at the club!

Not a big hit for Madonna but a great club song. This is a song that gets better the louder you listen, the more bass you have.

I wish I could have found the performance of this song from the Chris Rock show in the early 2000s. It was awesome, namely because of the 4 backup dancers who were doing all kinds of stepping & partner tricks.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Headbands, Humidity and HOLLA!

I am going to crank this puppy out! Let’s see if I can put together a blog post in 2 minutes or less.

First, if you have a minute, I’d love for you to go to my shop’s Facebook page and weigh in on the headband photos I put up this morning. Would you wear something like that? How would you want to see it modeled or displayed? What information about it would you want to know?

Next, the weather in Chicago has finally decided to be NOT COLD AND SNOWY ANYMORE, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy! Of course, warmth in Chicago is never too far ahead of my nemesis: humidity. Jerk. Humidity makes you sweat even if you’re just strolling along at 8am and the temp is only 75 degrees. Humidity makes your curly hair go nuts and it makes your straight hair die a flat, flat death. I asked on Twitter if I was allowed to complain about the humidity yet, and was told no, to appreciate the NOT COLD AND SNOWY ANYMOREness of the situation. So that’s what I’m doing. I can’t wait for BBQs, ice-cold drinks, swimming, a little gardening and coming inside to air conditioning for a reprieve.

Finally, here are a few things that have recently caught my eye on ye olde internets.

Citrus Leaves Hard Cover Book by Allison of the fuzzy grapefruit shop at Etsy. Allison is one of my Chicago Style Crafters teammates and an awesome chick to boot.


Converse and Flower Record Vinyl Glass Metal Frame Pendant Necklace by blue order on Etsy. A favorite shop and seller of mine – Scott and his wife Rosemary come up with some of the coolest art and accessorites. Cool functional art – right up my alley.


I’m already married and didn’t even wear white to my wedding (I wore wine! as in red!), but I think this photo and this sash are beautiful. It’s the Ivory triple flower bridal sash with pearls and rhinestones by another Etsy teammate of mine, Steph of the shop Clark and Diversey.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dance Party Friday!

Today's Dance Party is going to be a mix of stuff I've been listening to lately. No theme!

I can't wait to hear more of her stuff, I love this song!

Just try and tell me that this song doesn't KILL. Listen loud! I don't speak Portuguese but I've listened to it so many times over the last 13 years or so, that I can sing along with it. I love how you can hear so many different influences from around the world in one song.

I'm a big Fleet Foxes fan and was excited for their new album that just came out. I don't know the rest of it very well, but I do know this song because it was released prior to the rest of the album, and I've of course listened to it a bazillion times. What I love about it - and the rest of their album - is that there is a really old school, 60s, Simon & Garfunkel vibe going on. Can you hear it?

I had this CD in college, it's really, really good. The other night on Jimmy Fallon, the Roots played it a bit on one of the commercial intro/outros. I got so excited to hear it!

I have no idea who this band is, but it's the only Dance Party USA video I can find. Do you know how much I loved this show when I was a kid? I luuurrrrrrved it. It was hands down, my favorite show. I wanted massive hair like the girls on the show, and had a crush on both Chris "Batman" Buster and Chris Tully. Chris had an older brother named Ed who wasn't as cute as Chris. Chris was a White Boy Who Could Dance so we all loved him. Pretty sure they all had rat-tails. And who can forget Princess, who was in love with Prince and dressed like him? Not me! I drew this amazing picture of them all dancing on their yacht, which is what they did in the summer time when they went to the beach for the show. This awesome link captures a whole lot of details from the show, so if you were a fan, read & crack up.

Speaking of 80s dance songs, this one is still one of my favorites. You could switch up some of the obvious 80s instruments (I imagine a keytar was part of the recording of this song) and this would still be a great pop/r&b song today.

Speaking of keytars . . . I've always loved this and enjoy throwing it at people every so often:

George Michael, who you should know by now that I love (and follow on Twitter) says this song is pure sex. Hmm.

I enjoy both this song and the video.

If you don't know Josh Ritter yet - GET TO KNOW HIM. He's outstanding.

Look! A request! This one goes out to Mike and Amy, basically the cutest couple around. *gag* NO, I'M SERIOUS. They're really cute.

Thursday, May 5, 2011



Some of my favorites from The Best Obnoxious Responses to Misspellings on Facebook. Enjoy!


And, the one that actually made me cry, I laughed so hard:

I love you, Daniel. Wherever you are.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5 Minute Personal Cards

Tonight I’m attending the Emergency Fund’s Annual Meeting and Reception! I’m excited about it, so of course I Tweeted about it this morning . . . and then realized that I don’t have any sort of business cards to hand out.

My affiliation with the Emergency Fund is through my Etsy shop, but it doesn’t feel right to hand out my shop cards at a function like this. However, it wouldn’t make sense to hand out my 9-5 job’s business cards, either – because there’s not an obvious connection. We’ll just ignore the fact that I’ve been in my “new” role at work for over two years and just realized this morning that I still haven’t gotten new business cards. They are obviously in hot demand. /sarcasm

So on my way to work, I stopped by Kinko’s (there’s one across the street from my office) to see if they had any blank biz cards that I could print on. They did! This afternoon, I took a 5-minute stress break (accreditation prep is no joke, folks) and threw together my card. I decided to go super simple and a little quirky. There are 200 cards in the pack but I only printed 20. I’ll probably not hand out more than 2, but the others can be used in the future, and I have 180 left to print up in various ways, as needed. I got the Avery Clean Edge Business Cards, and they do come apart with a clean edge. I’d say 1 out of 10 had a tiny bit of perforation “teeth” left after pulling them apart and those rubbed off pretty easily. Neither Kinko’s nor Avery asked me to write any of this!

Here’s the front – just my name & personal email:

card front

And the back:

card back “Wife. Mother. Higher Ed Professional. (Very) Small Business Owner. Excited About Philanthropy. Likes To Wing It.”

I also used my scissors and tape to whip up a last-minute card holder, using a cute card someone sent me. Inspired by this post about repurposing cool paper into envelopes.

I figure that’s sufficient for tonight. I’ll let you know if I actually got to hand any out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Crisis Fatigue

Where I work, we occasionally have small discussion groups called “Difficult Dialogues”, which are open to employees and students alike to attend. There is always a specific topic – something that isn’t super easy to talk about – and they’re considered a time when you should be free to share your thoughts without fear of judgment.

One I went to last year was on the topic, “What Are the Conditions of Your Giving?”

We talked about what what conditions must be met before we give our time and resources to people in need. For example, what reasoning do we go through in our mind to decide if we’re going to give cash to a panhandler? What about to charitable organizations, or disaster relief situations? What prompts us to give to some and not others? What must the recipients do, or do for us, in order for us to give? It was a really thought-provoking discussion. We talked about how we feel about panhandling (very common in Chicago), whether we give anything to those who ask. Who we don’t give to and why. What we give (money, food, discussion, cards with info about shelters, etc).

One thing we talked about quite a bit, that I hadn’t really thought of as being related to this topic, was going through fatigue. Giving fatigue, crisis fatigue, save-the-world fatigue.

This discussion happened sometime after the February 27th, 2010 Chile earthquake. How do I know this? Because we talked about how after the Haiti earthquake (from January 2010) received such news coverage and we all felt so heartbroken and tied to that event. We all gave money and helped raise money and talked about Haiti. It was in the news, you couldn’t get away from it.

But then just 6 weeks later, a massive earthquake happened in Chile and there was mass destruction and loss of life as well. And the world – we – didn’t respond the same way.

Some of us in the room said that we had a personal connection to Haiti, and we think that’s why we responded so strongly to Haiti and not to Chile. But most of us agreed that we were experiencing fatigue. We couldn’t handle seeing any more images of devastation. We couldn’t seem to find the motivation to get out and fundraise again, so soon after Haiti. We were ready for lighter things like funny movies and focusing on our families and going about our normal lives. We were just worn out from all the heartbreak and didn’t have the energy or motivation to go through it again.

We examined this a few ways, but I’m bringing it up now because I see it happening again.

If you’ve been following my blog awhile, you know that I’ve been involved in raising some money for the Red Cross to benefit relief efforts in Japan after their huge earthquake & tsunami. I got really involved in those efforts, and I got involved in the Handmade With Purpose blog’s efforts, and I got involved with the Emergency Fund, who I’m donating some of my shop proceeds to.

And then, tornadoes started developing across the Southern U.S. (article & video in that link from Weather.com)

I was raised in Wichita, KS – we have tornadoes every year and there’s always some damage. Every few years, a major tornado causes horrible damage & takes lives, somewhere in our region in Kansas, Oklahoma, sometimes Arkansas or Missouri. So this is the sort of thing I personally know pretty well and feel a strong connection to. Normally, I would be ALL OVER drumming up participation in some sort of fundraiser or putting together lists of orgs you can donate to, sharing info about the individuals who are doing small but important things on their own to help.

But I haven’t. I’m worn out. I don’t know what the official name for this is, but I have crisis fatigue. And I feel guilty about it.

I know that the world’s problem resolution doesn’t reside on my shoulders alone, and that I can’t be expected (by myself or anyone else) to give over-the-top energy and work to every important cause that presents itself. But I still feel sad that I’m . . . not more sad.

Have any of you experienced this? I’m sure you have, I imagine it to be a really universal thing. I suppose I want to explain why I haven’t jumped on this . . . and why I won’t be able to jump on every crisis that happens. Even the ones that might have a more personal connection to my life.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...