January 23, 2011

Simple Abundance

I had never heard of this book until a friend mentioned it recently. I checked it out from the library and started reading it shortly after the new year. There is a short essay for each day of the year, with the purpose to guide you to a life of contentment and simplicity. It sounded like just what I needed.

I like that each day's reading is very short - I've had no problem finding a few minutes to read it as part of my morning routine. While nothing I've read so far has been especially earth-shattering, it has been nice to start each day with something to think about and keep me focused on what is important. It can be a little cheesy at times, but I'm ok with that because it does seem to be making a difference for me. I look forward to reading it every morning, and I think it is playing a part in helping me stay calm and focused throughout the day.

Quite ironically, we found out some news last week that has drastically changed all of our plans for 2011. The routine of this simple little book has helped me stay positive and embrace what is to come.

January 14, 2011

{ this moment }

Cookies in our "cave".

{ this moment } - Inspired by Soulemama, a Friday ritual. A single photo, capturing a moment from the week. A moment to savor and remember.

January 13, 2011

Things we love: Mama K's Play Clay

We've finally had a chance to break out the Play Clay my kids got for Christmas. Oh my, this stuff is just downright awesome!

Mama K's is no ordinary play dough. It is Gluten Free, and made with Organic essential oils to give it the beautiful scents of Lavendar, Bergamot, Lemongrass, Geranium, Sweet Orange (my favorite!), Cardamom, and Chamomile.

It has the wonderfully smooth texture of homemade play clay, with vibrant colors and exotic scents that made our hands and kitchen smell wonderful while we played with it. Oh yes, I played too. I promise if your kids have this out, you won't be able to resist.

We all enjoyed smelling each flavor and trying to decide which was our favorite. Playing with these felt like an indulgence of the senses, and I love the little storage containers they come in too.

MamaK was an Etsy featured seller recently, and you can read more about her here. Check out her shop for individual tubs of clay, sets, and these adorable Mini Clays, which my 4 year old thinks are awesome - and are perfect for using in the car or in a waiting room somewhere.

Thank you MamaK, for making such an amazing product!

(And no, this is not a sponsored post in any way. I just wanted to share since I think these are so great!)

January 12, 2011

Put it on the calendar

The end of 2010 was busy and stressful. So naturally, I've been pondering how to make sure 2011 is more peaceful and organized. We got off to a bumpy start, but now I'm feeling better about where we're headed for 2011.

Magnetic Chalkboard by NameDrop on Etsy.

On a friend's recommendation, I signed up for the free site cozi.com, which is an easy to use family calendar site - you can color code things for each family member, make grocery lists, send things to your phone, and I set it up to email my husband and I our weekly calendar each Sunday. (No I'm not being paid to mention their site - Ha! I wish! - I just really like it.) For some reason, Google Calendar just wasn't doing it for us. But this is working great.

Instead of muddling through the weeks, struggling to find time for everything (and each other), I've made us a weekly schedule that has specific time allotted for our work, family time, and even time for my husband and I to have one-on-one time with each child (and each other). This is already helping us feel more productive and at ease with our weekly routine.

Mini Goals Chalkboard by MaryKateMcDevitt on Etsy.

I've also scheduled time at the end of each month to organize our business receipts, etc. for the month using Outright. So hopefully next year's taxes will be easier (compared to the scary huge pile of receipts and papers I have been shoving into a binder all of last year.)

Of course, as important as the schedules and calendar themselves, is the flexibility to make changes as needed - and know when to throw the day's schedule out the window too ;)

Even though it took me until mid-January for the inspiration of a new year sink in, I'm feeling pretty good now about the next 11 months!

January 9, 2011

What a year!

One year ago today, we listed (and sold) our first leaf puzzle on Etsy. Never in a million years would I have imagined what the year would be like. (Yes, our Etsy account was created in 2007 when a friend and I had a short-lived attempt at selling some burp clothes and bibs! It sat dormant for a few years, used only as a buyer account, until I used it to list our first toys in Jan 2010.)

To summarize this amazing year will be difficult, but here goes:

We never set out to start a business. It still blows my mind that we can even call what we're doing here a business. There was no plan, no budget, no goals. Make things. See if anyone will buy them. Repeat. Had those first few items not sold right away, we likely would have moved on and not thought twice about selling anything again.

In April, with less than 3 months experience and only 60+ sales, our leaf puzzle was included in Etsy's Earth Day Voter. What a lucky day that was! It was pretty exciting, but really we were blown away when our item won. Of course we thought our puzzle was pretty nifty, but never would have expected to get the most votes among so many other wonderful earthy goodies!

The voter gave us a nice boost in our shop, and things continued along and slowly we got busier and busier... until one day in August when I checked my email and saw the convo that every Etsy seller dreams of - we were chosen to be a featured seller in September. I'll make a whole post about this later, but it was quite an adventure. A huge learning experience for us, as we were still a fairly new shop.

Our 2 days as featured seller were great, but probably the biggest lesson of this year was do not underestimate holiday shoppers on Etsy. Oh my goodness, November and December was a whirlwind of production and shipping and "holy cow I had no idea it would be this busy!"

We also ended the year by finding out we are a finalist for NASA and Etsy's Space Craft contest! We will be sending in our Blast Off Space Set for final judging in February. What a fun honor!

And just like that, our first year is behind us. We can finally get to some of our "to do list" for new items we've been wanting to make, and try to get more organized for 2011. (I am not looking forward to taxes and tackling this pile of receipts on the desk that we started saving once we realized this was actually turning into a "business"!)

2010 was a fun, busy, whirlwind year for us on Etsy. I will share some more of what we learned in upcoming posts. I am really thankful for everyone who cheered us on, gave advice, shopped in our store, voted for us, hearted us, and helped make this a fantastic year for our shop and our family! Thank you!

January 7, 2011

Wood Heart puzzle for Valentine's Day

Just listed this little heart puzzle in our shop today.


Thanks to the internet, I can plan meals for my family in a few minutes a week (and email grocery lists to my cell phone!). I can keep in touch with friends across the country, and make new ones. I even met my beloved spouse on the internet (10 years ago, oh my!), and now we've used the internet to start our little business on Etsy.

But recently, I had another really awesome experience that has me once again wondering how people made do without this connection we use every day. What would the woman in this photo think if someone tried to explain the internet to her?

I have no idea what she would say, but it would have been in Hungarian. I also have had no idea what she had written on the back of this photo. Neither did my dad, who showed it to me, along with a box full of old documents, letters, receipts, immigration records, and all sorts of genealogical goodies that reside in his attic.

But I was determined to find out. So I had my mom sneak up there (they live in another state) and find a few things from the box to scan and email to me so I could have them translated. Online translation sites were not working well (or I couldn't read the text clearly enough to enter it right) and I quickly learned that professional/certified translation services are pretty pricey, so decided to take another approach. I did a quick google search for websites about the Hungarian language, and explained my request in a few emails to the addresses I found.

Within a couple of hours, I heard back from a woman named Sarah, a missionary who has a website with information about the country and language, who was happy to have me send the scans to her. The same day, she responded with the translation for the back of this photo:

"My sweet daughter, it has been a long time since I have seen you and my sweet granddaughters Ersi & Rozi (Elizabeth & Rosi), send kisses from their grandmother. God be with you & with us also.

Elizabeth was my grandmother. So it sounds like this photo was from her grandmother, my great-great grandmother.

I printed out this translation, with a few others, for my dad and gave it to him with his Christmas gift. He was pleased to learn the meaning of some things that had been lost to us in language and time, and I was very thankful for this stranger who was so happy to help me!

January 6, 2011

LOVE is in the air

I'm not sure what I enjoyed more - making this wooden heart banner, or taking photos of my sweet boy holding it...

More hearts coming soon!

New year, new blog

I've considered starting a blog for us for a while now, but the only way I was able to finally convince myself to go ahead with it was was to make one condition. If I get tired of it, or it becomes one more thing to do on the ever-growing list, I am giving myself permission to stop. ;) So there you have it! A new blog - an almost-resolution that really isn't.