The Word of the Year.

When I started into this world of blogging several years ago, the "word of the year" started to become A THING.  It was everywhere and everyone was choosing one- their identity for the coming year.  If for some reason you've never heard of the word of the year trend, it is the idea that instead of making resolutions at the start of the new year, you pick an inspirational word to guide your actions in the coming months.  It's your theme song, if you will.  People have their word put on wall prints, their computer background, tattoos.  Okay, maybe that's going a little far, but you get the idea.  This word is huge and important and must be chosen very carefully and thoughtfully.

I have never chosen a word of the year.  Like I said yesterday, I prefer to make goals for the new year that are generally realistic and achievable.  I also have this huge fear of choosing something that is going to be my one, main guiding ideal and then life taking a turn and not being able to get where I was hoping to go.  "Where do you see yourself in five years?" is a terrifying question.  How can I even begin to answer that?  To answer questions like that makes me feel trapped to whatever I say, so even picking one word for the whole year seems daunting.

But for some it seems that choosing a single word is more realistic and more streamlined than coming up with a list of goals and resolutions.  I was reading this post from Tiffany Hahn yesterday and was really intrigued by the comments.  Some people have some really inspiring words and some really good reasoning behind them.  (I think "moxie" might be my favorite.)  The problem is, then, I want them all.  I want to relax and nurture myself, I want to be bold and fearless, I want joy and to create.  And moxie- I want moxie.  Maybe I could do a word of the month?

I ask you out there reading this: do you choose a word of the year for yourself?  Why or why not?  How do you go about choosing one thing, if you decide to do a word?  Do you keep it someplace as a reminder, or is it more intrinsic?  I'm really intrigued by this and would love to hear more.

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Progress, Not Perfection: A Look Back at 2014.

As the year slides to a close, I always like to take a quick look back at the goals I've set for myself the previous January.  This year was to be the Year of the Business, with all my goals featured in getting my shop more attention.  I think I did pretty well considering a few of them were pretty abstract:

1. Spend less time in front of the computer. (sub-goal: stop looking at gossip sites.)

Yes, and no.  I have definitely cut gossipy websites from my daily routine.  In the end, I really don't care what celebrities are doing and I would rather spend my time reading posts that are written by real people and driven by real emotion.  However, the computer is still a huge part of my days, to the point where I find that I'm missing out if I'm not constantly checking on things.  And being a small business and working with a team on different projects, I feel like I need to be there to respond quickly.  Plus I do a lot of buy and sell on that Facebook group, which also requires checking.

2.  Find a clear direction for this blog.


I've gotten the blog to a look that I'm comfortable with, but with all the craft shows I was doing in the latter part of the year, I totally fell off the wagon as far as writing goes.  I also was working on blogging on The Nutmeg Collective's blog, so my efforts were spread thin.  I do think I'm working toward a better, more consistent direction for the coming year....that counts, right?

3. Maintain the shop at over 100 items.

YES.  Done.  (Don't look right now.)  Overall I had my shop in between 100-150 items for a good part of the year.  Right now I'm at 94 because I've had to deactivate so much stuff that had sold in person- not a bad problem to have.  Once I go through my current inventory and get photos, I'll be able to bring it back up.

4. Branch out locally.

YES!  I love my team, The Nutmeg Collective.  Without them, I would not have gotten out there like I have this year.  In the past four months, even.  Right now I have inventory in two shops in the state: Hartford Prints! and the B:Hive Swarm Shop.  I did countless and countless shows.  Together we've organized three small events around the holidays.  I had a feature in Hartford Magazine.  I have made real friends and have found so much in the way of advice and local camaraderie.  It is the best.

5. Join a treasury team on Etsy.

Oh.  Well, I applied to a few of the more well-known, fancy treasury teams and didn't get in.  I won't pretend that that didn't sting a little bit but it was also not a total surprise.  What was a total surprise was that Etsy totally changed up the front page of the site and no longer features member-curated treasuries, so even if I had gotten in, it would all be for naught.

6. Improve product photography (again).

I don't feel like I've done much in the way of product photography this year.  I have been selling a lot in person and the shop isn't getting much play as of late.  But, I just got a new little iPad for Christmas and it takes really nice photos, so I'm hoping to work on that more soon.

Not terrible progress, especially since I have a lot going on besides the business.  A lot.  I feel really good about the point I'm at right now, and I'm looking forward to great things in the coming year.

How did you fair on your goals and resolutions for 2014?

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2015 Calendars.

2015 is almost here- can you believe it?  This year has completely flown by!  I've got a recap planned for later in the week, but first- have you got your calendar yet?  I took a peek through a few of my friends' Etsy shops, searched for local-to-me shops, and also hit up some old favorites to see what's new for the coming year.  If you are calendar-less, or still need a gift, here are some options:
Queen Vanna Creations

Gus got one of this perpetual calendars for Christmas (in Sesame Street print, of course).  These are awesome because they never go out of date.  Since there is no year on them, they can be used over and over.  I like it because Gus can physically change the date to see that it is a different number, and hopefully get the concept that each day has its own number.  These wooden calendars can sit on a desk or a shelf or a counter, and they make awesome teacher gifts (this former teacher would have loved one).
RiverDog Prints

Admittedly, I bought this one, too, just because December is my favorite puppy dog.  (It's hard for me to say that without thinking of Molly Shannon's SNL skit.  "I, a-love, a-DAWGS!"  Yes?  Anyone else?)  Anway, this dog-meets-birth-flower calendar comes complete with a small clipboard, making it perfect and easy to hang on an office wall or any other small wall space.  Mine is going in my mudroom- I have a frame that I'm going to put the month in and change it out as the year goes along.
 stationery boutique

How cutie patootie is this set?  Not only do you get a very sleek and modern calendar, but when you're done with the month, the top half comes off to become a post card.  So then you can send some snail mail to a friend you've been thinking of that month, maybe.  Genius.  I love, love all these fun prints.
Pen and Paint

You know how much I love Pen and Paint, and Lindsay does not disappoint with 2015's calendar (plus the cutest little hanger ever).  Each drawing matches perfectly to the month in all its hand-drawn loveliness.

This is not only beautiful, but useful too.  1canoe2 has come up with a reinvented tea towel calendar (remember those ones that used to hang on your Grandma's stove?), which could serve as a wall hanging, but can also be used as a dish towel and is eco-friendly to boot.
freckle paper

Another one that Gus would love- this calendar with a different object of motion on each month, called A Year of Go.  Hangable or frameable, these beautiful watercolor illustrations will keep you smiling all year.

Still looking for a gift for the man in your life?  This very minimalist letterpress desk calendar would be perfect.  Sleek and unobtrusive and set in a wood block, it's both functional and a showpiece.

Here's to a fabulous 2015!  Which one would you choose?

Also, congratulations to Ayla, who won the Favorite Things giveaway!  Your package of goodies is on its way!!

1000 Sales / Favorite Things Giveaway.

It's here, it's here!  Last week I told you that I had hit the big 1000 on Etsy and that today we'd have a giveaway to celebrate!  Woo hoo!  I've gathered up some of my favorite things, plus some goodies from my shop to give to one lucky winner.  In the mix:

A set of 5 printed pencils from Row House 14
Two super strong magnet clips from Queen Vanna Creations
A Carmel Macchiato soy candle from Cottage Wicks
Greeting cards from Print Therapy and Woodward Paper Co.
A felt brooch from My Hideaway
Tazo Awake English breakfast tea
Lint milk chocolate truffles and Caramel Brownie Bar
Black and White post it notes
Plus, a black and white infinity scarf, gray floral reversible headband, fabric basket, and red dot fabric button earrings from Milo and Molly

Good luck to all those enter, and thank you all for making this milestone happen!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 


When you open a shop on Etsy, you quickly realize that round number sales goals are huge.  Once you get that first one (followed by jumping and screaming), you want to make it to 10.  Then 100.  And while the in-between numbers totaling in the hundreds are thrilling, a huge goal is 1000 sales.  I have been hoping to make 1000 sales all year and as it got closer, made it one of my year-end goals.

On Wenesday night, I hit the big number.  I am thrilled and humbled by it, and am so happy to be able to do something that makes me so happy and that other people enjoy, too.  January 13, 2011 was the day I opened my shop, so this has been almost four years in the making, and I have learned so much in that time.

This weekend is heavily busy for us- a two-day market this weekend (come see me at Get Baked on Central Street in Windsor if you're local!), dinner with friends Sunday, and a Who-belation celebration at school today- but I have a super, fantastic, awesome, amazing Favorite Things giveaway planned for Monday, so please make sure you come back and check it out.

Also, as things around here slow down a little bit as the holiday season winds down, I'm hoping to come back to this space more, starting with a year-end wrap up and new goals for 2015.  I hope you'll join me.

Happy Friday!!


This has most definitely been one of the busiest weeks I've had in a long time.  Holiday show season is gearing up, and I'm using this year as a test run on a whole bunch of local shows to see if I'd like to do them again next year.  I had a great show last Thursday evening and another on Sunday afternoon, then this week was at events Tuesday through Thursday, all very long days including setup and break down, and while they were okay, I'm not sure I'd return.  I have another two coming up this weekend, as well, so tomorrow will be spent restocking.  I am so extremely happy to have changed my alarm back to its regular time as opposed to an hour earlier and not having to drive into Hartford work traffic again tomorrow.

While I am working on these shows, though, naturally everything else falls to the side, so I'm behind on emails, I haven't been blogging like I wanted to, I'm not up on social media happenings and so on.  It's a little like being in two different segments in my life- the online one and then the real one- and never the two shall meet.  Additionally, I'm turning into THAT mom who forgets her kid is going on  a field trip to the public library (even though it's only five minutes away and they'll be there for an hour), all the while trying to remember show and tell day, writing instructions of where everyone needs to be and when, and packing lunches while I'm also preparing dinner for the next day.  Don't get me wrong- I'm enjoying the shows and being busy, but man am I tired!

BUT...with the holidays coming, and since it's Friday (hooray!) I have a fun little field trip for you.  My dear friend Paige once again set up a gorgeous Handmade Holidays Gift Guide and not only is Milo and Molly featured in it, you can win one of my super-soft scarves, along with some other goodies from a couple of my other good friends.

You can check out all the goodies over at Little Nostalgia and then enter to win at the bottom of the post.

Also, if you're not already, consider signing up for my newsletter- holiday sales will be coming soon!- or my Instagram, where I'll be having a special sale for my followers.

Have a great weekend and hopefully you'll see me around here more next week!

Going Short.

I know I've talked about this before, but I've been starting to think that I want to go short.

Hair that is.  I haven't had short hair since I was 5 or 6, so the idea of actually doing this freaks me out.

But I am feeling like my hair is a pain.  On my best day, it gets flat-ironed, and it looks nice.  But more often than not lately, it gets pulled up into a ponytail or clips as I realize I don't have time to flat-iron it before we leave the house because I wait until the very last minute to get out of bed in the morning.  Sleep is more important than hair, and so is cleaning up the kitchen, making lunches, and making the bed, all of which have to be done before I worry about my hair.

The most natural place to start looking at various hairstyles, of course, is Pinterest.  Off I went, pinning away some cute cuts:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4

Then I remembered that I am indeed not a blonde and should probably find images more to my actual hair color for better reference.  (This happens more often than it should.)

1 // 2 // 3 // 4

I like the idea of having a little bit to play with in the front rather than an extreme pixie cut.  I pinned a photo of Anne Hathaway's recent chop and I just don't think I'm ready for that, partially because my mom has always had that type of short cut and I'm just not quite ready to look like my mother just yet, and partially because I worry that since it's thick, it will puff out on the side like cocker spaniel ears.;NewsLetter;Petwire;May-7;BreedSpotlight

Cute for her, not so much for me.

Then I actually found a few more cute styles while writing this post, while searching for "short chin" because I wanted to illustrate how I don't have a prominent chin like those ladies donning those hairstyles, so I wonder how I would actually look.  (You can have a gander at my "Hair" board here.)

 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

Also, I feel like your facial features become much more prominent, so would that mean that I would need to do more to my face beyond the maybe five minutes I spend on it now?

As you can see, this is a dilemma.

I need opinions.  Who's had short hair and loves it?  Who's had short hair and hated it?  Which of these styles do you like best?  (And yes, I know it's only hair and it grows back but it feels soooooo permanent.)

The Nutmeg Collective.

Hi everyone!  I know there's been an absence here, but I've been working on a huge project lately and I'm happy to finally share with you!  At the end of last year, I took over as captain of a local Connecticut team on Etsy.  Etsy teams are community groups with a common theme, and this one happened to be a group of CT-based sellers.  The team had gone dormant, and I was really looking for help getting out in the community, so I took the captain's leaving as a sign that this was what I needed to do. 

The team was called Hartbeat, which is a common Connecticut term, often referring to the capital city.  We stuck with the name for awhile, but upon realizing that there were many different groups referencing Hartbeat, we decided to change the name, and on July 1 we became The Nutmeg Collective.  Connecticut is the The Nutmeg State, so it seemed fitting.

Since we started, we've developed a core group of about 70 sellers who are looking to make their crafty businesses their job and are looking for more show opportunities, local selling venues, business advice, Etsy advice, and more.  Members are required to be active and involved, and it's amazing the friendships that have already formed.

We've developed a team blog (where I've been spending some time and totally abandoning this one!) that introduces our members, gives business advice, tutorials, and other Connecticut information, and have our first team-developed trunk show happening this coming weekend.  If you're local, we'd love to have you stop by.  Our Facebook page updates where our members are going to be selling and highlights their successes.  Out Twitter helps us connect with local organizations.  I'm really excited about this adventure and am looking forward to seeing where it goes in the coming year.  I hope you'll check us out!

Want to join?  Click here.

Comfort Food: Toast and Eggs.

Comfort food most often is something simple, easy, and has all the elements of a belly-filling meal.  It's warm and inviting and satisfies like no other.  One of my favorite comfort foods is eggs.  Eggs have always been an "alone" food for me, as in, they are my go-to food if I am eating alone- something that doesn't happen often anymore.  I love that they can be made in minutes in a variety of ways, and I always feel content when I'm finished.

Yesterday I had a rare moment of alone eating: Greta seems to have picked up a cold and was set up with a long Sesame Street video so she could chill out and relax.  This was right around lunch time, so I decided to make myself a treat- a dish my dad always made for my mom when I was little, simply known around our house as toast and eggs.  In full disclosure, I hated this when I was little.  I tried it a few times, but at that time I was a big food separatist- no two foods shall touch!  To have the eggs mixed in with the toast, with pepper of all things, was just too much for my taste buds.

Fast forward 20 or 30 years and this is my new favorite dish lately, and because my dad always made it when I was little, it's now a total comfort food that is suitable for any meal.  Simply made, it is two poached eggs broken over two slices of cubed, buttered toast with salt and pepper for flavor.  It sounds so simple, but there is something about the runny yolk mixing with the dry toast that makes for an amazing taste.  (Also, I'm having a moment over these daylight food photos- another rarity for me.)

To make this, poach two fresh eggs.  Start by boiling water in a shallow frying pan with a sprinkle of salt and a teaspoon or two of white vinegar.  When the water is up to temperature, slowly slide the eggs into the water.  Turn the heat off, cover and let them sit undisturbed for about 3 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on top of two slices of buttered toast that has been cubed.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and mix, breaking the yolk to incorporate it with the bread.  Sit quietly and enjoy.

It also helped my mood that I had farm-fresh blue eggs from the next town over, and the bread was homemade rosemary bread out of my favorite bread maker.  Just writing this is making me hungry, so I'm sure I'll be making this one again soon.

What are some of your comfort foods?  Do they come from your childhood?  Anyone have anything like this dish before?

Good Reads: #GIRLBOSS.

Despite seeing some negative reviews, when #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal popped up in the new books rack at the library, I grabbed it.  Some people loved it, some hated it, so I had to see what it was all about.  I had never heard of Amoruso or Nasty Gal prior to reading this, so I felt like I'd have a pretty objective read.

I ended up enjoying the book.  It's a pretty quick read, and for those of us who are running a small business, there are some really great snippets of advice throughout the narrative: work hard, be professional, and most importantly, use good grammar.  While there's not a ton of insider industry advice, the book is full of common sense business tips from someone without a degree in business, someone who started her business on eBay and built it up from nothing.  I can relate to that and her work ethic.  Some reviewers were turned off by the fact that she really pushed her hard work ethic, citing that this attacks those lazy Milennials, but I think it's a great, realistic message.

If you're building a business from the group up and want some kick-butt reminders that you can do it, I'd recommend giving this a read.

Have you read #GIRLBOSS?  Do you have any small business advice?  What's everyone got going on for the weekend?

The Underground.

I have become part of what I believe to be an underground network: moms like me who have loads of unnecessary, unwanted stuff and are willing to buy, sell, and trade it with other moms looking to take in such stuff.  Think Goodwill/tag sale for the digital age.  I joined a local group on Facebook.  You post a photo of what you have and the price and what town you're in, and wait to see if anyone comments back.  We message each other and make a deal and set up meeting spots and exchange cash for goods in public.  Scandalous.

This has helped me weed out a ton of stuff we've stopped using- our baby carseats, toys, coats, toys, books, toys, and in turn, I can use that money to pick up some things I might not otherwise want to buy new, like the two LeapFrog tablets I picked up- one for Gus, one for Greta- that they will use for a few years before they are onto bigger and better things, or the vintage German sled that I picked up the other day that will make a great porch decoration in the winter.  It's a faster, hyper-local version of eBay or even Craigslist.  Because it's a Facebook group, it happens in real time, and you could have your item in a matter of hours if you can plan to meet.

While this is a fabulous and handy tool for someone like me, I've had to set some ground rules for purchasing:

1. Only use the money I've gotten from selling off goods in the tag sale group to buy new things from the group.  I keep the cash separate from other money and use that to keep myself in check.

2. Decide if it's really something I need or need to get rid of.  I spent one week criss-crossing town to various meetups and was wondering if the time and gas was worth it, but it felt so good to get rid of things we don't use, and felt so good to pick up a few things the kids will love.  I try and keep this in mind.  If I would sell something for just a couple of dollars, it's almost more worth it to me to just bring it to the dump exchange and let someone have it for free.

3. Try to practice "one thing in, one thing out".  I picked up two amazing winter wool coats at the Goodwill a few weeks ago- one J.Crew and one Zara- for $30 each.  I already have two wool coats that I rarely wear anymore, so I listed them on the tag sale site.  I don't feel so bad taking in new things if I'm getting rid of others that are similar in nature.

4. Don't sell anything the kids are still using, no matter how much I want to get rid of it.  It's tempting to put all the things on the site, but if the kids are still actively interested in something, it stays.

Are you part of the underground?  What are your best trifting/tag sale-ing rules?  Is there anything on your current must-find list, or are you in clean-out mode?

Favorite Finds: Neutrals.

When I set off on this version of Finds, I noticed a theme to my most recent Etsy favorites: everything I've picked lately is in soft, neutral tones, which really shouldn't be a surprise to me- most of our house is done is tans, browns, and whites, and my wardrobe would probably never be called "colorful" (helloooooo, gray!).  Whether it be the palette of the season, or I just really love my neutrals, these all jump out to me as things I need.

Every time I put a pre-printed address label on my envelope, I've wished I had a fancy stamp to use instead.  I love so many of the ones in this shop:
Angelique Ink

Tea for two!  Such pretty and simple cups for your morning or afternoon tea:
Crow White Pottery

I love this long feather necklace.  Love.  It would look amazing on its own or layered with shorter necklaces.

Yes, why the hell not?  This should be my business motto, for sure.  I love the script and bold design.
Rowens Co.

 If ever there was a sucker for a little jar, it would be me.  What would you put in this?

This clock would make for an amazing showpiece over a mantle.  I love the wood piecing and its mid-century feel.
Ola Di Clock

I'm thinking that at some major anniversary I'd like to get an anniversary band, but I don't really want one of those standard ones.  This vintage setting could definitely fill the bill:
 Blue Ridge Notions

Which one is your favorite?  Do you gravitate toward neutrals, too, or are you drawn to color?  And really, why the hell not?


I'm going into this holiday season with a lot of fabric and color choices in the shop.  My theory has always been the more choice the better because something may catch someone's eye in one print that might not in another.  Or someone may be a pink person and all I have is green.  I don't want to narrow myself down to just one thing. 

On the other hand, this can be exhausting and time-consuming work.  Matching prints and colors for new items takes probably more time than anything because it has to look just right.  Part of the problem is that I love fabric, and when I see something, I have to have it.  This leaves me with a lot of choices, so I've been debating picking a handful of prints and buying yardage and offering those prints for a season.  Then switching it up with new fabrics, like an actual business with an actual collection.

The huge problem with this is I don't know if what I decide to pick is what the customer is going to like.  I'm also afraid that it would make my shop look too boring.  One of my in-person craft show shoppers told me I had happy fabric choices.  I like that.  So, the debate is whether making it easier on myself is better, or whether it's best to just keep on the way I am.

As a customer, do you like more choice, or does that make it more confusing?

Another Show and New Products.

On Saturday this past weekend I had a booth set up at the Hartford Hodgepodge in the middle of downtown Hartford.  It was absolutely gorgeous out this weekend, with sunny skies and temperatures hovering near 80- totally rare for late September Connecticut.  Traffic was decent, although I suspect a lot of people passing through there were going to anyway, since it's in between bus routes.  Nevertheless, I met some great people and made a few new contacts and had a lot of people take cards.

My setup was largely the same as the previous show, with the addition of trying out hanging some of the scarves (I'm not sure I like it) and adding a set of new ornaments.  After a busy day Saturday I finally sat down on Sunday and photographed my newest item- ladies' and girls' headbands.  It's really hard right now to take all the items I've been making for shows and get them online.  There are so many color options that just photographing can take forever.  Anyway, I'm trying out a different photo setup- instead of trying to achieve the perfect white background, I shot them in my workroom in natural light with a darker background, and I think the colors pop:

22 new headbands can now be found in the shop!

I have new bookmarks and baskets, too, and shot them the same way, so I'm working my way through the photos.



I like both, but the white background is more of a headache to get the right colors and I think the natural light on dark wood really makes the fabric colors stand out more true.  So it's a work in progress for now. Which do you like better?